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Need advice on 1st time gaming build

Last response: in Systems
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December 24, 2009 3:05:22 PM

First off.... Hi all! (new to forum)

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Soon, after Xmas/new year BUDGET RANGE: Looking generally for bang for buck, no set budget but within reason.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS(win7), case, sound card, possibly GPU (explained below)
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Anywhere UK based however use newegg for links+details COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UK
PARTS PREFERENCES: CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E400 or E500.
OVERCLOCKING: Yes / No / Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes / No / Maybe - Have been toying with it, not sure if worth the money.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: Currently - 1440x900 But will later buy new monitor at either 1600x1200, 1920x1200
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
I would like some degree of future-proofing (outlined below). I would also like a quiet computer (to keep in mind when looking at CPU fans)

As stated I would like dual core CPU, but I would like a motherboard which will allow me to upgrade to a quad core in the coming years, simply switching CPU's (done lots of research and for the moment I want to stick on dual core). I would also love an eSATA port on the mobo but not essential.

I currently have a Gigabyte 8600GT GPU. I have been toying with the ideas of: SLI'ing this card now OR getting a mobo with ability to SLI/CrossFire and for now just upgrade to better card and in the future (a few years) SLI/CrossFire the better card OR scrap the whole idea of 2 GPU's. I have no preference between ATI/nvidia.


I started creating a system on the concept of SLI'ing the 8600GT but prefer the idea of upgrading the card to SLI/CrossFire it later on. Here is what I came up with but would like better reccomendations:
Mobo: MSI P7N SLI Platinum - nForce 750i - LGA775
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
RAM: Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 PC6400 OR G.SKILL PI Black 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 PC6400
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 320GB 7200RPM
PSU: CORSAIR 620HX
Already own:
Case: NZXT HUSH ATX Case
GPU: Gigabyte 8600GT 512mb
Sound Card: Creative X-fi XtremeGamer


I am also unsure wether it would be best to stay on DDR2 or move to DDR3 (this may start to push my budget somewhat though and I will be OC'ing whatever I get)

Thanks for taking your time to have a read and any suggestions you may propose.
December 24, 2009 3:30:06 PM

We really need a budget. What's within reason? $600? $1,000? $3,000? Anything above $700 will guarantee a quad core...

Don't use LGA775 CPUs. It's very old tech, and Intel has since moved on (twice). If you want something really cheap, go AMD. For what you've posted, you've been out the game for way too long...

You absolutely want to be using DDR3. It's the same price.

Here's a reasonable ~$725 (no OS) build.

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Quad Core $165

Mobo: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO $120

Combo: X4 955+ASUS M4A79XTD EVO Saves $20

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 mhz CAS 7 $100

GPU: Radeon HD 5770 $155

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB $55

PSU: If you're planning on Crossfiring in the future: OCZ StealthXStream 700W $80
If not: Antec Earthwatts 500W for $60

Case: That NZXT isn't very good. Antec 300 Illusion $55. Cheap and excellent.

Optical: LG 22x SATA DVD Burner $28

You don't need a sound card.

EDIT: Here's a CPU+Mobo+RAM combo: X4 955+ASUS M4A79XTD EVO+G.Skill Ripjaws 4 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 9 for $334 after rebates. The RAM isn't as good, but altogether the saving might be worth it.
December 24, 2009 4:42:43 PM

If you want a higher quality quiet case, the Antec P183 is worth looking at. For me the 300 illusions fans running at low speed are quiet enough, but quiet is pretty subjective.
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December 24, 2009 5:01:21 PM

Except the P183 is $90 more expensive.

And quiet is subjective. I think my Antec 902 is quiet...
December 24, 2009 5:16:07 PM

My god man, where'd you get that build from? Last years issue of PC gamer or something?

FYI DDR2 is now more expensive than DDR3.

For the price of the Core 2 duo you linked, you can get an i5 which blows it out of the water.

Nvidia GPU's have a worse price/performance ratio and are a full generation behind ATI now. The only place I'd even consider a Nvidia card is at the $100 point.


Give us a budget and we'll work out something for ya.
December 24, 2009 5:28:36 PM

Last years? I'd think it's more like 2 years ago...

If the budget is under the build I posted, only about $425 of that is an absolute minimum for a decent gaming computer (the HDD, optical, case, Antec PSU, GPU, w/ $75 for the RAM). There's about $100 worth of wiggle room with the rest...
December 24, 2009 5:37:03 PM

You're quite right MadAdmiral, I have been out of it too long, been reading up on stuff for over a week and more and more new stuff I never knew about keeps popping up, so I decided to post up on here as its all getting too much to take in, lol.

As an upper limit on budget I would say around $800-$1000 mark (being around £500-£600) but any savings on that is a bonus, i'm not exactly looking to spend every penny.

That looks like a much better build than my old-school ideas lol, seeing all your replies makes me feel 60 years old haha, so glad I posted on here.

Never had an AMD processor, Ive only really been looking at intel but I shall do some more researching. I would agree though that an ATI card is in order, I think I would like the ability to CrossFire it in the future so I would go for the higher wattage PSU.

So given the higher budget than $750, what would be good to improve on MadAdmiral's build?
December 24, 2009 5:50:51 PM

You can get an i5 on that budget. Here's the changes.

CPU: i5-750 $200 (unless you're near a Microcenter, then it's $150)

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P $185

The rest is the same. If buying both from Newegg, there's a $20 off combo

Total: $838 from Newegg, $808 from Microcenter.

You could also keep my build above, but switch the GPU for an HD 5850 for $300. The total on that would be $883.

An i5/5850 would be $983 (Newegg) or $953 (Microcenter).
December 24, 2009 6:05:54 PM

Would the i5 core be better than the AMD? I read somewhere that AMD can be overclocked really well, not read much about the i5's yet, shall have a gander inabit though.
December 24, 2009 6:08:37 PM

The i5 is the best CPU for gaming. The i5 is able to automatically overclock itself. If not all four cores are being used, the chip shuts down the inactive ones and overclocks the active cores. I believe they set a limit on this feature at 3.2 GHz, but I'm not sure if that can be changed. I do know it can be beaten by a manual overclock.

Pretty much, the i5 is the choice of any gaming build with a budget of over $800.
December 24, 2009 6:22:05 PM

I agree with admiral, it depends on how much you want to spend. Right now the i5 games as well as any CPU you can buy at any price. If you want to push the budget lower and get nearly as good performance, keep the same graphics card and drop the motherboard/CPU to an AMD AM3 socket motherboard (around $130) and a triple core CPU (around $110).

i5s overclock to around 3.6 without voltage increases and can be pushed over to 4 GHz pretty often. Probably best to take the 3.6 and not stress your power and cooling systems. Also its newer architecture makes it faster than older processors at the same clock speed.
December 24, 2009 8:49:53 PM

I have been checking availability and price of these products on UK websites and all seems available except the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P mobo, I can only seem to find the GA-P55A-UD4 version which going off gigabytes website has one less RJ-45 port and lacks the 'Support for Smart TPM' feature.

I think I will go for the i5/5850 option aswell.

Also the Antec 300 illusion case is not available anywhere only the regular Antec 300 which does not have the two front 120mm tricool and actually costs more than the one on newegg (as in UK), any other good cases around that price? Not willing to shell out for that P183.

Plus I was thinking about a modular PSU to better manage cables if the price increase is not too much.

Thanks a lot for your help so far though, opened my eyes a lot. Glad I posted, nice to find helpful friendly forums, I shall be making this my new regular tech forum! Lots of stuff for me to browse through!
December 24, 2009 9:04:11 PM

Look at the Antec 200, its cheaper and about the same size as the 300. Just buy one or two cheap antec 120mm fan/s (LED or not, your choice) and put them in the front fan slot/s. Coolermaster CM 690 is another case to check out.

If you get a case with a bottom PSU mount (like all antec gaming cases have) the extra cables just sit on the bottom of the case so modular is not as big of an issue. The Antec True Power series is semi-modular (half the cables are modular) which can give you similar results at maybe a decent price.
December 24, 2009 10:15:44 PM

Agree with everything dnd's said. The main difference between the P55 and P55A are the USB 3 and SATA 6 GB/s ports. In addition, the A fixed a slight problem of the Foxconn sockets, which would cause system failure when massively overclocking (like 4 GHz+).

I'd look around and try to find a board with the USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/s to stay future proof. If you can't find any for roughly the same price, and don't plan on a super overclock, the P55 board would be fine.
!