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Moderate gaming rig for $600

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December 23, 2009 3:49:09 PM

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within a week. Probably this weekend or Monday. $600 after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming mainly. I play WoW, WC3, gonna pick up L4D2 and maybe CoD:MW2 soon.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Have a CM690 case and an OCZ 700w gamextreme that's been recently RMA'd, so it's practically brand new. Also, have a Seagate Barracude 250gb HDD and a dvd-rw/cd drive as well. No OS required either.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I prefer newegg, but I also look at tigerdirect and zipzoomfly to see if their deals are comparable.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Right now, I'm not sure how I want to go. I've looked a lot at the AMD triple cores with high clock speeds, as well as maybe going up to the i7-860 as well. I'm just not sure what will get me more power for the cost right now. Also, I'd like to go with a DX11 card, which will limit my budget somewhat on a CPU/MOBO if I opt for a 5850.

OVERCLOCKING: I'd like to be able to start overclocking to save some money. Also, SLI/X-fire is an option if I can get strong performance for my current budget.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm just looking to upgrade my old gts8800 512mb and old q6600 with the first stepping that doesn't OC nearly as well. I'd like something that can play the newer games and ones to come (SC2/Diablo3) on relatively high settings at 1920x1200. Mainly, those parts are going into a different computer for my sister, and I get my choice on some prime pieces for my "new" rig. Just wondering what the wonderful community at Tom's has to say. Thanks a bunch.

More about : moderate gaming rig 600

December 23, 2009 4:23:04 PM

You seem to have a good grasp on things. Either an AMD x3 core with a 5850 (which would be the best in raw gaming performance) or a quad core and a 5770 (which would be a stronger multitasking build).
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December 23, 2009 4:45:40 PM

Thats also a low frequency quad. A faster triple would give better gaming performance if that is the main goal.
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December 23, 2009 5:18:48 PM

Except the only X3 you can get without sacrificing the board is a 425 or 435 (2.7 GHz and 2.9 GHz). The X4 above is 2.6 GHz. Doubt there's too much difference once you start overclocking.

There is a dual core combo using the same board for the same price: X2 550 BE 3.1 GHz

Here's a board with only 1 PCIe slot: ASUS M4A77TD for $75 after rebates. With that, you could buy X3 720 2.8GHz for $119, leaving you $4 over budget.

BTW, the fastest triple core is 2.9 GHz. So I think the quad core just slightly below that is a good choice.
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December 23, 2009 5:36:15 PM

Clock for clock the Phenom II is generally a bit faster than the Athlon II also. Any of those CPUs would be good, its all pondering relatively small performance differences.
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December 23, 2009 7:19:44 PM

I appreciate all the replies. One concern of mine about the number of cores I should have is this: With respect to gaming, what exactly will I lose by going with a fast (3.1ghz) dual core vs. the 2.9ghz triple core and the 2.7ghz quad core? I had this dilemma 2 years back when the e8400/q6600 decision crisis was out and I don't know that I made the BEST decision with my quad core. It's been flawless, but I'm still under the impression that I'll see better performance with a faster processor with less cores, just I won't be able to do "multithreading" things as well due to less cores. Is that incorrect in my thinking?

I'm assuming the pros to having a dual core is that the stock speeds are faster, and in the case of the x2 550 BE 3.1 GHz it's got an unlocked multiplier for easier/better overclocking. The triple cores can have their 4th core unlocked (they can right?) turning them into a "quad-core" of sorts, without taking a major hit, if one at all, to standard clock speeds. They also sport the ability to handle multiple tasks better due to having more power in different cores. Then, the actual quad cores do that to an even greater extent? Just trying to make sure I have all the facts before I make a decision.
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December 23, 2009 8:18:13 PM

A triple core CPU is a quad core that failed factory testing on one of the cores. Sometimes you get lucky and the failure wasnt bad so when you unlock the core its stable enough for normal use, usually the factory is correct and unlocking the 4th core makes the CPU unstable.

GTA4 and Crysis seem to use multiple cores pretty well, but most games are single threaded so a dual core runs them about the same as a quad at the same clock rate. Because of background junk (antiviruses, auto update, etc) you generally get a reasonable performance increase from a third core but very little from a fourth for most games.
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December 25, 2009 7:07:52 PM

Okay, so I think I can expand my budget about another $100 or so, so I've been looking and I want to see what you guys think about this:

-SAPPHIRE HD5850-$299.99

-AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE + ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard + G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600-$333.98 after 10.00 MiR

-COOLER MASTER Hyper 212-$28.83

Grand Total- $662.80 after MiR including Shipping.

Does this sound good enough for some solid new gen gaming, considering I'm going to OC the processor to around 3.8-4ghz?
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December 27, 2009 9:36:06 PM

Absolutely. This is a great build for gaming.
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