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My 1st build, gaming system ~$750ish, looking for advice

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January 25, 2010 12:07:36 AM

I am looking to build a computer for the first time. I thought that with enough research, I'd be able to figure it out on my own ... instead I think I've turned my brain to mush. After reading several posts on here and seeing some excellent advice, I thought I'd give it a shot myself and see if typing all this out either helps me clarify my thoughts or get some great advice of my own.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: within a month (as soon as I get my build template nailed down)

BUDGET RANGE: ~$750ish (very loose on the budget, more concerned with meeting my priorities but also like good value)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: online gaming (MMO / FPS), videos on the internet, homework (MS Word, PowerPoint, etc)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: case, monitor, mouse, keyboard .... speakers not needed but would appreciate a good set for cheap. Can re-use power and fan, but suspect they will need replacing as well. After upgrading my "box", I would probably end up upgrading my monitor and get a gaming mouse and keyboard within a few months.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: dont care. Microcenter within 1 to 1.5 hour drive (would need a HUGE deal to drive there and back)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: see below

OVERCLOCKING: Never overclocked, but interested in trying it

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not now, but almost certainly in the future

MONITOR RESOLUTION: current monitor is 1600x1200, would probably upgrade that within the year - I would have a good excuse to get a new display after getting a sweet system =)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: priorities are: 1) running any game currently available at very high settings, and 2) future upgradability. I would like to be able to come back in 1-2 years and bump the performance to make it last another year or two, albeit not as a top-performance machine. I assume that 'bump' would likely come in the form of a second SLI / CrossFireX card and possibly some additional / upgraded memory.

Here's what I'm leaning towards at the moment:

Motherboard: AMD3 socket to 'futureproof' my system and allow for maximum upgrades in a year or two. Also think I need a minimum of 2x PCIe x16 slots to allow the second GPU later? Not sure of any other specific future expansion details I need?

Processor: AMD primarily for the value, since I'm not looking to pay Intel top dollar for top performance. A Core i5 750 is only $4 more than a Phenom II x4 965, but I think the motherboard is where I really get more value from AMD. Leaning towards quad-core because it looks like more and more games will start making use of 4 cores (seems like 2 cores is max efficiency at the moment). So, I think I'm looking for the best performance quad core, AMD3 socket processor that I can get right now ... but not sure what that is? That being said, can anyone explain the difference to me between the Phenom II x4 and the Athlon II x4? According to this page from AMD, the difference is 2.8ghz vs 3.4 ghz, and the TDP (45-95 vs. 65-140w, but not sure how important that is).

Graphics card: My plan is to good an excellent GPU atm with either CrossFireX or SLI and then add another one down the road to bump my performance, especially since multi-GPU scaling should really start taking effect over the next 1-2 years. I think going AMD is forcing me to go for CrossFireX, right? I haven't thought too much about the GPU because I know I need to nail down the mobo and CPU first.

So that's what I think I know so far .... where have I gone wrong and what is the next step?
January 25, 2010 2:40:48 PM

+1 for being able to see the value in AM3 - the only AMD socket for the foreseeable future, unlike Intel's mess. I'm pretty sure Intel will come up with either new chipsets for new cpus or a whole new socket.

PhII & 750 may cost about the same. It's been argued to death. The difference is the price of a mid-range mobo. ~$100 for 790X & ~$150 for P55. Either can do Crossfire, but the $200 P55 can do SLI as well.

AnII & PhII are 2 animals. AnII doesn't have L3 cache which can be important depending on the application. I don't think the article mentions that PhII overclocks better and is the cpu of choice for overclockers. Especially the Black Edition.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-l3-cache,241...

Here's my specs:
--
quantity of item 1


LG DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS50

LG DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS50 - OEM
Item #: N82E16827136167
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

Protect Your Investment (expand for options27-136-167|hide options27-136-167)

Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan

The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info27-136-167.0.18)

* 1 year: $6.99
* 2 year: $11.99



$23.99

select item 2 quantity of item 2


SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822152181
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



$54.99

select item 3 quantity of item 3


MSI 790X-G45 AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard

MSI 790X-G45 AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813130249
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

Protect Your Investment (expand for options13-130-249|hide options13-130-249)

Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan

The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info13-130-249.0.18)

* 1 year: $9.99
* 2 year: $16.99



$99.99

select item 4 quantity of item 4


VisionTek 900297 Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity

VisionTek 900297 Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video ... - Retail
Item #: N82E16814129141
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$20.00 Instant


$309.00
$289.00

select item 5 quantity of item 5


OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC ... - Retail
Item #: N82E16817341017
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$25.00 Instant
$25.00 Mail-in Rebate Card17-341-017

$99.99
$74.99

select item 6 quantity of item 6


OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK

OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820227346
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

-$10.00 Instant


$89.99
$79.99

select item 7 quantity of item 7


AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103674
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy



$165.99

1

Newegg Promotional Gift Card

Newegg Promotional Gift Card - $10.00
Item #: N82E168GC000001
Your Promotional Gift Card will be emailed 30 days after invoice.



Subtotal: $788.94
--

$750 is not enough for 965 + high-end GPU. IMO, a gaming rig should have a highest possible GPU. The dualie/quad CPU at 2-3Ghz is more than enough. None of your usage require quad cores, BTW. You can swap out the cpu for this to fit the budget:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The 600W is enough for even HD 5850 CF.
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January 25, 2010 2:49:56 PM

Quote:
AMD primarily for the value, since I'm not looking to pay Intel top dollar for top performance. A Core i5 750 is only $4 more than a Phenom II x4 965, but I think the motherboard is where I really get more value from AMD.

Amen to that! I'm not sure where your getting the $4 difference, but at Newegg the difference is more like $10 ($190 vs. $200). I would consider the 955 over the 965, because it'll OC about the same and it costs about $25 less!! An AMD system is more value orientated, so your right there.

The Athlon II x4 620/630/635 are the "Budget" quad core CPU's from AMD. I think they are the better buys right now too! You will get more mileage out of a quad core than you will with a dual core, IMHO. The dual cores are just fine right now, but as games get programmed to take advantage of more cores, the quad cores will start to shine a bit better!

Here's a very good build, but doesn't have an OS. Did you need an OS too??

CPU - $99 shipped! The x4 635 should be out soon and then the 630 will be at this price, so look for that CPU when it comes out (maybe this week?). This CPU will be just fine for gaming. It's on the lower end of things, but with a good GPU you should be just fine.
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo - $88 - $10 MIRc = $78!!! One of the better mobo's in this price range. It does only have 1 x PCI-e slots, but I think by the time you want to upgrade the GPU, there will be a better single GPU out there that will do better than 2 x whatever you buy now.
GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU - $290 shipped! This GPU will last for quite a bit! It's the most important part of a gaming system, so spend as much as you can on the GPU to get the best FPS.
POWERCOLOR AX5850 1GBD5-MDHG Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM - $94 shipped! One of the faster sets of RAM that run at stock voltage (1.5v).
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case/PSU combo - ~$140 - $10 MIRc = $130!! You get a tool-less Case w/3 x 120mm fans and a very good Corsair 650tx PSU!!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

HD - $55 shipped! Fast and cheap! What else do you need?
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner - $30 shipped! Comes with the software to read/burn DVD's!!
LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R 24X DVD-R SATA Black 24X DVD Writer - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total ~$795 shipped!! Obviously if you need to fit an OS (Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit) into the price than we can change the GPU down to the 5770 (about $110 savings). This would allow the $105 OS fit into the budget. It's up to you, but the bigger the GPU you can get, the better the gaming will be (in general)!
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January 25, 2010 3:31:48 PM

banthracis said:
lunyone's build is pretty good.

He didn't include an OS or Optical though, so here are some money saving suggestions.

PSU/Optical
OCZ 700w and Lite on $96.98 w/ $25 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Case
Go with an Antec 200 or 300

Antec 300 $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU/OS
Sapphire 5850 and win 7 premium 64 bit $384.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

I didn't include the OS, but I DID include the optical (look at last item - DVD Burner).

Antec 300 is $75 shipped (it has $15 shipping!). That is why I selected the Rosewill w/Corsair PSU combo for $130 after MIRc. Did you have a better deal with a quality PSU??

The 5850 and Win 7 combo is a good buy though :) 
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January 25, 2010 3:48:46 PM

Oops, missed the burner I guess.

The OCZ stealthxstream is a very good PSU, capable of handling a xfire 5850 system w/ OC's. The PSU is only $60 after MIR, and the combo brings the optical drive down to $11.

I recommend the antec 200/300 because they've been extensively reviewed as quality budget cases. I can't find any good reviews for the Rosewill case though.

It may be perfectly fine of course, but I don't like to recommend something that doesn't have quality reviews or personal experience backing it up.
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January 25, 2010 3:57:43 PM

Yeah the case just came out, so I'm expecting that the reviews should be around the corner. I normally don't recommend cases that I haven't read about or have had personal experience with, but this one looks good and is a bargain w/the Corsair 650tx PSU, which is much better than the OCZ PSU, IMHO. OCZ PSU's have been getting better, since they bought PCP&C a year or so ago.
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January 25, 2010 4:56:05 PM

FYI Currently the 965 is only 4 dollars more than the 955 at Newegg. At least till the 3rd of Feb. If you consider the 10 dollar Newegg gift card you get when purchasing the 965

***Edit Never mind found the same deal on the 955 as well. Sorry about that.
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January 27, 2010 5:44:27 AM

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted - it was just the kind of advice / confirmation I was looking for before moving into the final decision step.

I decided to max out the motherboard (hoping it will allow very solid upgrades for 2-3 years) and the GPU (crucial to gaming today, and could be doubled down the road to upgrade performance again if programmers work out the current multi-GPU scaling issues). Everything else will either be high-value (but hopefully not high-dollar) or flat out recycled (free! yay!) from current system.

Current (and nearly final) build plan, based on composite recommendations:

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 (C3 revision specifically, I think I read somewhere that's easier to overclock?)

Motherboard: (all links provided for product specification, not pricing)
I'm looking at GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

And maybe even the ASUS Crosshair III Formula AM3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard mainly because it was the only board I could find with dual x16 for the PCIe 2.0 slots. Again, not terribly important for today, but could dual x16 slots make a significant difference compared to dual x8 slots 2 years from now? You guys would have a much better opinion of that than I do right now ... so what IS your opinion on that detail?

I nixed the MSI 790X-G45 AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD for a couple reasons: I heard so many good things about Gigabyte, the memory was 8gb (instead of 16) of DDR3 1200 (vs 1333 standard and 1666 OC on the others), and even the (getting WAY in the weeds here ...) the chipset was AMD SB710 (vs 750, which I read is better). I say all this to say: I very carefully considered each product suggested, and in comparing them all was able to detect a few small differences that allowed me to aim toward the best of the best.

Also axed was GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard for a few of the same reasons stated above: basically, some small numbers that probably realistically are performances measures undetectable to the human eye. I do have to say, this may have been the most high-VALUE board I saw .... looks like an great mobo for an awesome price. I'm just going to go a little more elite on my motherboard for reasons stated above.


GPU: I noticed that both GPUs recommended were Radeon 5850 .... coincidence? I think not, so I stuck with that and found:

the HIS version (with Cypress Pro specified in the GPU section), and also

the Sapphire version (not Cypress Pro)

I read someone state that best ATI GPU makers were XFX, Diamond, HiS, and Sapphire .... thus the reason I am leaning towards these two particular brands and not the Powercolor or VisionTek .... all of these priced out for me between ~290 and ~310 even with shipping (also found a Diamond with same specs in that price range), so what are your thoughts on the brand names here, and that Cypress Pro detail?

Speaking of XFX, I found two 'big daddy' GPUs:
a $360 Radeon 5850 Cypress Pro and a $440 Radeon 5870 Cypress XT, each with subsequently better specs than the batch above. That's a jump of $60 from the ~300 group, and then another jump of $80. But, I DID say that I was looking to go high-end on the GPU ... is the extra $60 or $140 ($60+$80) going to make a difference I can see (725mhz, 765mhz, 875mhz core clocks)?

PSU: will edit and consider tomorrow ... it's already past midnight!

Hard drive: will edit and consider tomorrow ... it's already past midnight!

RAM: will edit and consider tomorrow ... it's already past midnight!

OS: Windows 7. Yep, I'll take the plunge. I still have XP, skipped Vista entirely (thank god!) but I'll give Win7 a try.

Items not listed, but plan to recycle: monitor, keyboard, mouse, case, DVD, CD. The case (which is ATX) I think is my biggest "if" right now ... but if worst comes to worst I'll order a new case, too. My DVD and CD drives still work fine, can't even think of the last time I used them (low mileage, I swear!), so I'll go for a recycle ... just gotta check to make sure they'll actually plug into the new mobo.

So, between the plan to buy and the plan to recycle, have I left out any important pieces?

Now that I have a good idea what pieces I want, I'll do some heavy comparison shopping to figure out the cheapest way to get them. I'll start with the links you provided already, but I think I'll post the final plan with links and all before I hit the "PAY" button just to make sure I didn't goof.

BTW, Lunyone: love the pic. Have you seen the machinima version of "Yeah, Toast!" ?

Thanks a million to p55ibexpeak, lunyone, banthracis, and OSU43130 for the help getting me this far!
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January 27, 2010 6:06:50 AM

Quote:
BTW, Lunyone: love the pic. Have you seen the machinima version of "Yeah, Toast!" ?

No I haven't. My picture is from TF2 (engineer) :) 

As far as your selections, I understand your hesitancy with the 710, but it is more recent than the 750, and TBH the 750 isn't that much better. I know this is your 1st build, but your spending friviously, IMHO.

Thoughts:

* I don't think your ever going to need the extra Crossfire slot, just my opinion. You can always upgrade to the latest single GPU solution when you think you need more power. I have an SLI mobo, but I haven't even used the 2nd slot (not that I couldn't), but that is my point. 99% of people will not use the second slot for Crossfire/SLI. I'm not saying you won't, but chances are you won't.
* The mobo does make/break upgrades down the road, but the one I linked should cover any needs down the road. If it doesn't and you need to change mobo's anyway, you'll feel better than you didn't spend too much on the initial purchase.
* The 5850 is a good buy, I just wouldn't spend over $320 for one. I don't really think that the extra $50-60 on the 5850 is going to give you noticable results. I have Sapphire/Powercolor GPU's and haven't had any issues. I prefer Sapphire, because they have been around longer (I think) and their prices are pretty good too.

Mind you these thoughts I have acquired over the last 10 yrs. of building systems for friends and family. I'm not an expert, but I've made my share of mistakes over that period of time. You can buy whatever makes you feel good, but I'm just stating where I'm coming from, so you can make an informed decision. :) 

What case do you currently have that you might be considering using??
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January 27, 2010 12:44:02 PM

Don't bother with the more expensive 5850's. Stick with the $299.99 ones.

Sapphire one comes combo'd w/ win 7 for $20 off. The XFX one has a free game and a longer warranty.

The more expensive ones are factory overclocks, but you can get the higher speeds on 99% of 5850's w/ 4 clicks in ATI Overdrive.

I'll even list them here!
1. Click the lock icon to unlock ATI Overdrive.
2. Drag slider to MAX Core speed
3. Drag slider to memory speed.
4. Click apply.

Easy!
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January 27, 2010 1:41:00 PM

Quote:
No I haven't. My picture is from TF2 (engineer) :) 


Yeah, the machinima is an engineer in TF2. Somebody took the semi-famous "Yeah, Toast!" song (from the Bob and Tom Radio show) and made a 'music video' to go along with it - absolutely hilarious.

Back on topic .....

I do appreciate the thoughts / experiences / explanations as to WHY you are recommending one thing over another - it helps me make a more informed decision that will accomplish my priorities.

For the GPU, I agree that most people won't add second Crossfire / SLI card. I'm not 100% I will either. But, my strategy is kind of like those people that are today saying "buy two 5770s for the price of one 58xx and get equal or better performance!" I'm strongly leaning toward the Sapphire 5850 right now (~290), with an eye toward picking up another 5850 in the future (for probably under $200 by then) and having performance equal to / better than a single Radeon 6200, or whatever model # they come out with 12-18 months from now.

Which leads me back to the mobo: that's why I want to leave the possibility of having dual GPUs (I don't see myself ever going for tri or quad). The tricky part is: will the PCIe slot speed (dual x16 versus dual x8) be particularly important 12-18 months from now? I have no idea. Bottom line, I can take a chance on the dual x16 slots being important and shell out $200 bucks now, or take a chance on dual x8 being sufficient and shell out $90 now, with the possibility of having to pick up another board 12-18-24 months from now. Another reason I did like the look of the Asus Crosshair III was the extras it came with (overclock poster, etc). Several reviewers said those extras helped make overclocking easy - something I want to try but have no experience in. Alternatively, I could get an open box deal on the Asus for ~150 ... I expect the mobo would be fine, but some of those previously mentioned parts may be missing (no open box guarantee). And, yes I don't want to get a motherboard that does everything I need now and handle upgrades for 12-18-24 months, but no, I don't want to spend money that doesn't get any discernibly improved functionality or performance. Decisions, decisions ...

For the case, the one my current system came in (it is an eMachines that I have had zero problems with, amazing product for under $500) seems to be just fine. I figure once I nail down al the specific parts to go in it, I'll look at their measurements / configurations and see if they will fit in my case. If not, I'll add one of those to the list.

Thanks again Lunyone, and keep the info and experiences coming. I'm digesting them as fast as I can!
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January 30, 2010 7:48:51 PM

banthracis - Thanks for posting those four steps. I've bookmarked and will refer to them when I get my new system, for sure.

I think I'm pretty much settled on getting the Sapphire 5850 GPU, or a comparable one around $300. I just don't think the extra $60 or $140 for the super-speed 5850s is actually going to be worth it.

I'm going to have to take a break from all this for about a week - my team is doing a certification next week and I think that will tie up all my free time (it certainly is taking this whole weekend to make sure everything is ready to go on Monday). Thanks again to everyone who pointed me in the right direction, I should be able to jump back into this next weekend and maybe even finalize everything!
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February 19, 2010 3:23:23 AM

Okay, I've learned more over the last couple weeks than I had ever imagined. I finally decided to just go ahead and build a new system from scratch (except for the monitor), so that answered a lot of questions for like whether I would need a new power supply, hard drive, case .... even mouse and keyboard. The new and improved total is $1068.45 shipped (this includes estimates of $100 for memory and $100 for power supply, see below). I could probably drop the drop under $1000 pretty easily, which I may do just to do it, but I started at a crazy-wild guess of $750ish, and that was planning on re-using a lot of pieces which I will now keep and just have two systems. Heck, if I went cheaper on case, mobo, and CPU, and shopped really aggressively for deals, I could probably get it down to $850. We shall see .... but for now I need some more feedback from the pros:

Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair III Formula AM3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard Open box for $153.49 - I dont mind taking a chance on an open box from Newegg with the reputation they have .... if it doesn't work I can always send it right back and get something else.

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ965FBGMBOX - Retail $179.99

I know I'm taking a little bit of a chance with this Mobo/CPU combo, but I'm guessing it has been long enough that the Asus Crosshairs are shipping with the new BIOS, which DOES support the AMD 125w CPU (at least, Asus' website says they do). I figure if worst comes to worse, I'll have to flash the BIOS myself. First time for everything, right?

Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100282SR Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail $309.99

Also, I saw an Asus 5870 open box for ~$300. I think Ill get it. I figure if it doesn't work (even thought they say it is functional), I can return it and just use the money to get one of the 5850 cards, or if it goes dead after the 30 day return period I should be able to get Asus to replace it, right? 5870 performance for 5850 price .... I think I'll take a little risk on that.

Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Sniper SGC-6000-KXN1-GP Black Steel, ABS Plastic, Mesh bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $119.99 (combo discount with case)

I'm not sold on the case ... mainly got it for the $30 combo deal and the good reviews it got. I'm okay with it, but haven't really seen a case that made me go "Wow!" And yes, I think I've looked at every single case Newegg sells that is made by Antec, Cooler Master, Lian Li, or Themaltek ... I guess looks just don't matter that much to me, though if I saw one I thought was really cool, I'd happily shell out some extra cash for it. I can't decide if I like the Lian Li case with the dragon-thing diagram on the side ... I'd end up either really happy with it, or disgusted by it. =p

Power Supply: It seems the particular power supply doesnt matter: it ought to be a reliable brand, provide enough juice, be small enough to fit in the case, and have enough connectors to power everything. Did I miss anything? Looks like I need either a 24 pin or a 20+4 pin, and I've been looking at Antec, Cooler Master, and Thermaltakes, in the 650w-750w range.

Memory: Uggghh ... I still don't know enough to just throw one down here (must ... learn .... more). I'm thinking 2x 2gigs of DDR3 (either 1333 or 1600) from OCZ, Corsair, or Crucial is the way to go right now. Looks like I should be able to get it for ~100 and that leaves me room to add in two more sticks later or if memory rates plummet (or I win the lottery) toss the old two and throw in four brand new shiny sticks of memory.

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $104.99

Okay, the critiquing (both good and bad) starts ..... now! =)
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February 19, 2010 12:41:00 PM

The thing with flashing the BIOS yourself, is that if you get an older revision with that board, you'll need a different chip to even boot. You won't be able to use your new one to flash it. That said, ASUS has been good about rolling the new revision out, and most everyone who has bought one of those boards this year so far has gotten the new revision from the factory.
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February 19, 2010 6:34:38 PM

mfb236 - the Asus website talked about being able to flash (I think they used the term flash ... maybe they said update?) the BIOS using a USB drive. I got the impression that I could use my old computer to download the BIOS to a USB drive and then stick it in the new one and voila! So that's not the case?

Also, I realized today that I left the hardrive off the build .... again. =/ I had been waffling about splurging for an SSD, which I don't think I'll do.
I think I better go through and edit the build to include a hard drive, and bring it down under $1000, too.
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February 20, 2010 12:02:01 AM

Okay, this is take # .... three? Four? Seven? Awww, I forgot how many times I've tried this already. Here's my most recent build:

208.49 - Motherboard - ASUS Crosshair III Formula AM3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard
- or -
193.49 - Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-790FXTA-UD5 AM3 AMD 790FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
I think I'm going with the Gigabyte mobo: it has dual PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (which was main thing I was looking for), it has USB 3.0 (which Asus Crosshair III does not), and .... it's in stock. =p

159.99 - Processor - AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition 3.2 GHz 125W
I know I'm taking a little bit of a chance with this Mobo/CPU combo, but I'm guessing it has been long enough that the Asus Crosshairs are shipping with the new BIOS, which DOES support the AMD 125w CPU (at least, Asus' website says they do). I figure if worst comes to worse, I'll have to flash the BIOS myself. First time for everything, right?

$312.99 - Graphics Card - XFX HD-585A-ZNBC Radeon HD 5850 Black Edition (with discount from combo with CPU)
Honestly, I love the looks of the Sapphire Toxic Edition, but in the end the "double-lifetime" warranty won me out, since I'm planning on keeping this card a minimum of two years, the point at which other manufacturers warranties stops. Anyone think there will be issues with adding a second 5850 in 18-24 months to this particular XFX card I've picked out, in order to achieve CrossFireX?

134.99 - Case - Antec 1200 Black Full Tower
Changed my mind ... I like the Antec 902 and the 1200. I figure the 1200 is about as future-proof as it gets for cases. Heck, I might use that thing all the way up until I get my subcutaneous cortical link installed! =p

109.99 - Power Supply - Antec CP-850 850W Continuous Power
I think this is a little over-kill, but it was the most logical combo they had with this case. There was an Antec 750W True Power paired with the Antec 902 case, but for the extra $50 I'll take the case I like better (1200) and a bigger PSU.

107.99? - Memory - OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
The Gigabyte motherboard offers several combo discounts with various colors of OCZ 2x 2GB memory (black, gold, obsidian, platinum ....) anyone got an idea on which would go best with this system? I just haven't gotten down to the nitty-grittys yet on memory and don't know enough to make an informed decision other than type (DDR3), size (2x 2GB), and speed (1600). Start talking about Cas Latency and Timing schemes and my eyes just glaze over ....

104.99 - Operating System - Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
There is a combo for $15 off this OS and the Asus Crosshair III, actually making the Asus cheaper than the Gigabyte .... but the Asus Crosshair III is still out of stock. =/

and this time (insert drumroll here), WITH a hard drive in the plan!

47.99 - Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar Blue WD2500AAKS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
250GB may be smallish, but I don't have that much on my computer right now ... I have an external where I keep most of my pics / movies / music / etc.

Total Price: $1058.93 with free shipping on everything, $95 in instant savings, $69 in combo savings, and then a $20 mail in rebate to make the cost 1038.93 ... I think I'm gonna like newegg! =)

So .... comments? How is it looking?

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February 20, 2010 12:22:27 AM

Get a Samsung F3 500 GB instead of that Caviar Blue when it comes back in stock. Its only like 7$ more I believe and it is much better. The read/write times are much faster so apps/OS will load faster
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February 20, 2010 5:14:00 PM

banthracis said:
Don't bother with the more expensive 5850's. Stick with the $299.99 ones.

Sapphire one comes combo'd w/ win 7 for $20 off. The XFX one has a free game and a longer warranty.

The more expensive ones are factory overclocks, but you can get the higher speeds on 99% of 5850's w/ 4 clicks in ATI Overdrive.

I'll even list them here!
1. Click the lock icon to unlock ATI Overdrive.
2. Drag slider to MAX Core speed
3. Drag slider to memory speed.
4. Click apply.

Easy!


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you do this you have a high chance of having an unstable system. From what I've always read you should increase Memory / Cpu speed 10 mhz at a time then run Furmark to test to see if your video card is capable of running at these speeds. If it passes without any artifacts (little blue / green dots / discoloration etc. ) then you are clear to increase cpu / memory speed by 10 more mhz untill you reach the point at which it artifacts, then back off 15 mhz and your all set.
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