First time build

I was recently gifted a CPU and motherboard which, while not top of the line, are certainly better than what I currently have. I figure it's a good excuse to upgrade the entire system and since I've never built my own computer before, I would like a little advice on pulling it all together.


BUDGET RANGE: Approximately $800 after rebates (but including shipping). My long-term goal is to eventually replace the CPU/motherboard, so I don't want to invest heavily in items with a limited tech lifespan, but am willing to spend a little extra on items I'll be able to move along to future builds.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (primarily World of Warcraft and single-player games. I'm not much into the super-intense multiplayer games), web browsing, word processing.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I was gifted an Intel E6600 (2.4 GHz dual core, 4M L2, 1066 MHz FSB) CPU along with a Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS4P (P45) motherboard. Neither are what I'd choose today, but hey, they're free! I also have a Soundblaster Audigy 4, keyboard, mouse and Envision 22" monitor.


PARTS PREFERENCES: None, but I don't want shoddy parts.

OVERCLOCKING: Unless I get a lot of "this is a bad CPU to overclock" responses, I'll give it a try. I can't afford to overclock too aggressively, however.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not until I upgrade the CPU/motherboard.


PROPOSED PARTS LIST: Based on various sources on these boards and outside reviews, I've come up with what I hope is a fairly reasonable parts list. That said, I don't know whether they'll all play nicely together and whether there might be better options out there (either better-priced or better-quality are both welcome).

Case: I'd originally planned on going with an Antec P182 (~$150 + $30-40 for additional fans) due to its solid construction, removable filters (I live in a 100+ year old house) and good air handling. Unfortunately, the GPU I'd planned on scavenging just burned out, so I'm going to have to cut some corners here to stay in budget. I'm currently leaning towards the Antec 300 Illusion (~$65) as a compromise.

CPU Cooler: Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer ($25)

Memory: I have two options that I'm considering:
1) G.Skill 2 x 2GB DDR2 800 MHz (4-4-4-12) ($100)
2) G.Skill 2 x 2GB DDR2 1100 MHz (5-5-5-15) ($105)
I don't actually know which is better - the faster speed (to go with overclocking?) or the better timings, so a recommendation would be greatly appreciated.

Graphics card: Again, two options that I don't know which would be better:
1) XFX Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1 GB 128-bit, DirectX 11 ($180)
2) XFX Radeon HD 48901 GB 128-bit, DirectX 10 ($190)

Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB (7200 RPM) ($100). I may cut back to the 750 GB version to save $20.

Optical drive: Samsung Lightscribe SATA II DVD-R ($30)

Power supply: Again, lots of options. 650W should be sufficient for my current usage, but I'd like to have extra headroom in case I go SLI/XFire down the road. I'm also not certain just how useful a modular PSU would be. Currently considered options (I've stuck to Corsair for high reliability/reasonable cost):
1) Corsair 750TX ($90). This seems like the best value to me currently.
2) Corsair 850TX ($120). More juice, but more money.
3) Corsair 650HX ($120). Modular, slightly higher rated PSU, but less power.
4) Corsair 750HX ($140). Modular, best efficiency of the bunch.

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium ($110, going with retail version since it's essentially the same price)

Other: APC Back-UPS RS 800VA/540W ($125) APC's calculator says this should be enough for even an i7, but I don't know enough about UPS's to know for certain. Again, help/recommendations would be useful.

Another potential purchase would be a fan controller (my motherboard doesn't support fan control and the Antec's fans all require removing the case to change), but I'm not certain it's something I truly need.

Thanks in advance for any help you can help!
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  1. Well if they are free, then you do what you gotta do!

    CPU cooler: Arguably one of the best price to performance cpu coolers out in the market. It its in the same price range but without any annoying rebates.

    I really wouldn't spend more than what is necessary for parts you won't reuse, like RAM.

    7200.12 is next in line to the continuously sold out F3 in the hard drive hierarchy. Go with the new 500gb platters.

    Between the two, go with the 5770 for newer technology, energy efficiency and all that good jazz. You won't notice the extra performance from a 4890 while playing WoW since it's not GPU intensive.

    If you crossfire dual 5770, and still with some headroom, a 650w Corsair should be all that is needed.

    Use whatever budget you have left on some sweet peripherals. Or just keep it and buy a new cpu/mobo a bit earlier than whatever time frame you had planned, in my opinion of course :).
  2. Thanks for the great thoughts! If you don't mind, I have a couple of questions regarding them.

    CPU Cooler: Any reason you feel the Coolmaster is better? Frostytech has the CCF rated slightly better in terms of cooling, but it also shows great performance at low fan speeds as well (50 dB is admittedly pretty loud for a fan, compared to the 30dB for only 2-4C temp difference. The Coolmaster's low speed fares pretty poorly on their tests).

    RAM: RAM is one of the areas I don't have much knowledge in, although it's also one area I didn't want to spend a lot of money on (I was actually given 4 Crucial Ballistix 1 GB sticks by the same guy who gave me the CPU/mobo, but he said that one or more were certainly bad). I may just skip RAM new altogether to start with and see if I can get at least two of those working. I assume there's no reason to go above 4 MB total RAM at this point?

    HDD: If I can find the F3 somewhere, should I go with that instead? The prices of all three drives are pretty similar.

    GPU: Will I notice a difference between the 5770 and 4890 in games like Oblivion or Dragon's Age? They're not quite as GPU-intensive as Crysis or the like, but they're no slouches either if I want as many bells and whistles as I can get.

    PSU: The 750TX is only $10 more than the 650, which seems to me to be a worthwhile upgrade for long-term upgradeability. Is there any reason I should aim to keep to a smaller PSU?

    Thanks again for your help!
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