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First Time Builder: Budget Gaming PC

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February 6, 2010 12:03:58 AM

I'm a college student, and gamer, studying games for my senior thesis (and potentially as a grad student, if my plans fall into place). Unfortunately, newer games have finally outstripped my current hardware. Even more unfortunately, my budget for a new box is limited. Hence why I'm looking at building a computer for the first time.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the month, hopefully. BUDGET RANGE: ~$750 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming only (I use a laptop for everything else).

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I'm planning to re-use my old desktop case, disk drive, hard drive, mouse, keyboard, monitor and speakers.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Probably newegg.com, COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: No brand loyalty here (well, Mac, but I can't actually afford one).

OVERCLOCKING: No (I'm going for longevity) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Eventually, yes.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: ~1600x1200.

Basically, I need a system that can run all modern games now and that will have room for upgrades later (as budget allows and software demands). I'm looking at a system unbalanced in favor of CPU, allowing me to add a second graphics card at a later date. Also, since I need this system to last (I can't afford to replace it), I'm not going to attempt overclocking as a hardware newbie. Here's my current plan:

CPU: Core i5-750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: Radeon HD 4890
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: ASRock P55 Pro
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any advice, suggestions, or issues that I've overlooked? I've tried to research throughly via this site and a couple of others, but a great deal of the technical nuance is still gibberish to me. :cry: 
February 6, 2010 12:27:41 AM

that looks good! you will get more than enough gaming performance out of that, i just want to add that with a system like that it might be a good idea to look into some good cooling! not that you haven't already, im just making sure :) 
February 6, 2010 12:34:25 AM

Well-balanced and within your budget. You did not describe your current case. Since you plan to re-use it , I hope it has at least 2 120mm fans (1 front lower intake and 1 rear upper exhaust, or that you can mod it to hold them because the 4890 will generate some heat. You may be able to get by with adding 1 120mm to the side panel by cutting hole (center it directly across from the 4890), and add the fan a a grill to protect the spinning blades.
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February 6, 2010 1:22:53 AM
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Corbeaubm said:
I'm a college student, and gamer, studying games for my senior thesis (and potentially as a grad student, if my plans fall into place). Unfortunately, newer games have finally outstripped my current hardware. Even more unfortunately, my budget for a new box is limited. Hence why I'm looking at building a computer for the first time.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the month, hopefully. BUDGET RANGE: ~$750 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming only (I use a laptop for everything else).

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I'm planning to re-use my old desktop case, disk drive, hard drive, mouse, keyboard, monitor and speakers.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Probably newegg.com, COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: No brand loyalty here (well, Mac, but I can't actually afford one).

OVERCLOCKING: No (I'm going for longevity) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Eventually, yes.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: ~1600x1200.

Basically, I need a system that can run all modern games now and that will have room for upgrades later (as budget allows and software demands). I'm looking at a system unbalanced in favor of CPU, allowing me to add a second graphics card at a later date. Also, since I need this system to last (I can't afford to replace it), I'm not going to attempt overclocking as a hardware newbie. Here's my current plan:

CPU: Core i5-750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: Radeon HD 4890
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: ASRock P55 Pro
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any advice, suggestions, or issues that I've overlooked? I've tried to research throughly via this site and a couple of others, but a great deal of the technical nuance is still gibberish to me. :cry: 


Your build comes to $760 including shipping. With the $20 rebate for the psu, it then becomes $740. So for $25 dollars less, you get a cpu that is neck and neck with the i5, a gpu that supports DX11 and is much stronger than a 4890, and ram that has a smaller latency. Plus, the mobo and the psu support crossfire so you can slap on another 5850 when they come down to $200 in the future.

As you can see, the 5850 beats the 4890 in every benchmark:






AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
$160 + Free Shipping


POWERCOLOR AX5850 1GBD5-MDHG Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
$290 + Free Shipping


A-DATA Gaming Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333G (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model AX3U1333GB2G8-AG - Retail
$95 + Free Shipping


ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
$100 + Free Shipping


Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply

$80 + Free Shipping

Total = $725
February 6, 2010 3:51:49 AM

Wow, thanks for the alternative build! A couple of questions about it though:

1) Would that less expensive CPU be able to take advantage of two of those higher-powered cards? The numbers look higher on it, granted, but I've heard that AMD and Intel processor speeds aren't directly comparable (though I haven't figured out exactly how they're different). Is AMD really just plain more bang for the buck in this case? This site's article on CPU/GPU balance was pretty much the #1 factor in determining my original build.

2) Would that power supply be enough to power a second card of that calibur? The newegg calculator gave a power requirement of ~720w for two of the less powerful HD 4890 cards, which was one of the reasons why I went for the 750w power supply in my original list. The fewer components that I have to buy twice, the better.

Thanks,
February 6, 2010 4:10:40 AM

Corbeaubm said:
Wow, thanks for the alternative build! A couple of questions about it though:

1) Would that less expensive CPU be able to take advantage of two of those higher-powered cards? The numbers look higher on it, granted, but I've heard that AMD and Intel processor speeds aren't directly comparable (though I haven't figured out exactly how they're different). This site's article on CPU/GPU balance was pretty much the #1 factor in determining my original build.

2) Would that power supply be enough to power a second card of that calibur? The newegg calculator gave a power requirement of ~720w for two of the less powerful HD 4890 cards, which was one of the reasons why I went for the 750w power supply in my original list. The fewer components that I have to buy twice, the better.

Thanks,


1. The Phenom II x4 955 can easily keep up with two 5850s. Any modern quad core cpu can juggle two gpus.

2. Each 5850 uses less watts at full load than a 4890 thanks to its efficient 44nm fabrication process. The 5850 is also cooler and quiter than a 4890 too.

Don't trust psu calculators. They are unreliable. Instead check the specifications for the gpu from the manufacturer's website.

500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX technology in dual mode)
http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/ati-rad...

Maximum board power: 151 Watts
Idle board power: 27 Watts

http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/ati-rad...

I doubt you will really make such a powerful card (by itself or crossfired) use 100% of its firepower. So you will be using alot less energy then the max power draw.

February 6, 2010 4:49:02 AM

Thanks again! That's superb news, particularly since I took a closer look and realized that my case doesn't have sufficient cooling... so I'm going to need a new one for this build after all. Plus my old hard drive is so old that it might not work either, so I probably need a new hard drive as well. But to balance it out, I've been able to free up another $100 for my computer budget, so I may just add a case and hard drive to the build that you suggested.
February 6, 2010 5:17:04 AM

Corbeaubm said:
Thanks again! That's superb news, particularly since I took a closer look and realized that my case doesn't have sufficient cooling... so I'm going to need a new one for this build after all. Plus my old hard drive is so old that it might not work either, so I probably need a new hard drive as well. But to balance it out, I've been able to free up another $100 for my computer budget, so I may just add a case and hard drive to the build that you suggested.


1. The Samsung f3 hdd uses a single 500GB platter which makes it faster, quieter, cooler, and use less energy than other hdds:

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$50 + Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. For the case use either of these two combo deals here. Both cases can cool two 5850s fine, but the Antec 900 has more room compared to the Illusion which may be a little cramped.

Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Antec NEO ECO 620C 620W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
$155 + $15 Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
$130 + $10 Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Heres a combo deal for the ram and mobo:

ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

A-DATA Gaming Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333G (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model AX3U1333GB2G8-AG - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$185 + Free Shipping
February 6, 2010 7:53:13 PM

Best answer selected by Corbeaubm.
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