Modest Gaming on SFF PC, $5-600ish

Hello all,

After running exclusively on laptops for about ten years now, I'm thinking about putting together desktop. The two main factors driving the switch are some friends bugging me to join them on a few games (not terrifically excited about it though) and a sweet new monitor/HDTV combo (1920X1200) that taxes the laptop a little more than is comfortable. But I'd like to stick with the smaller form factor for a number of reasons.

So in short:


BUDGET RANGE: $500-600, not a fan of rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: development, internet, gaming, movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, os, perhaps ram and video card (see notes)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg, amazon, frys


PARTS PREFERENCES: Kinda have my heart set on one of the 'Glamor'-styled Shuttle cases... vain, I know

OVERCLOCKING: If the system tolerates it maybe, but would prefer less heat/noise to more power


MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200, though I don't expect to game anywhere near that. I'm used to running games 640x480 on my laptop so pretty much anything will be a step up.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The dudes that are tryin to get me set up have offered up a bunch of their old parts. The ones that seem relevant are a 4gb kit (2x2gb) DDR2 PC6400 Ballistix CL-4-4-4-12 that I could pick up for about $50 instead of the current price and a video card that I think is a 7900 GS, not sure what brand, that's free to me.

I'm really open to opinions on any part of the project but here are some of my thoughts so far:

AMD Option:

Case/Mobo: SN78SH7. Sold out and discontinued most places but gets decent reviews. Could order one from Tiger Direct for about $240 shipped or get the demo model from my local Fry's ($200 minus whatever I can haggle down).

Processor: Figure I need to look at a 65W processor if I'm not gonna overload the dinky 300W supplies Shuttles provide. Only option I see for a 65W AM2+ Phenom is a 9150E that doesn't sound too hot, though the $80 price point is nice.

Intel Option:

Case/Mobo SP45H7 / SG45H7. The P45 version seems to get vastly better reviews even though they're similar systems; unfortunately I can't locate one to buy. G45 version has quite a few negative reviews on Newegg but I could pick one up for around $240. Not sure what to make of the difference in reviews.

Processor: Leaning towards a Core 2 Quad, and the cheapest 65W one there is the 8200S it seems, for $240.

The rest of the computer seems pretty easy:

RAM: $50 for the 4GB of PC6400 4-4-4-12 Ballistix mentioned above
HD: Either scrounge an old hard drive for the time being or get an ad item at Fry's sometime soon (~$80?)
Video: 7900 GS for free. I presume it'll fit / not kill the power usage? Sorry, not too knowledgeable here.
Optical: May not even bother right now, probably just a simple DVD burner ($27) if I do

Thanks for any input
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  1. You might have to spend more; you already have a monitor and an OS, right? Check out the $700 build here:,2506.html
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