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Cheap(ish) i5 gaming rig - need opinions

Last response: in Systems
February 12, 2010 12:01:33 AM


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, graphics (photoshop & painter)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: anything not listed below

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: cheapest shipped price :sarcastic:  COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States


OVERCLOCKING: hopefully SLI OR CROSSFIRE: at some point, yes

My parts list (prices include shipping where applicable):

Intel Core i5-750 - $200

Cooler Master Hyper 212+ - $30

ASRock P55 Extreme - $140

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) - $115

Rosewill Xtreme Series -S-B 750W Continuous - $80

Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EADS 1.5TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - $120

XFX HD-489X-ZSFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - $207

Thermaltake V9 Black Edition Case - $120

Approximate cost: $1012, not including case fans, misc hardware, and peripherals.

I'm building this rig to replace a dying AMD Athlon XP 2900+ with a GeForce 6600GT and 1Gb of DDR ram. Obviously, this rig would be a dramatic improvement over my existing system, so while I know that this would be a fairly weak gaming system, I really don't care. :kaola:  It'll do. What I'm looking for is any input on the components I chose. Especially:

1. The mobo & psu both state that they're crossfire ready. I know nothing about crossfire or sli, and despite a crash course over the last couple of days, am still not clear on all the details. This mobo lists specs as 3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, then goes on to say there's one at x16, one at x8, and one at x4. Is that normal? Will crossfire work properly when I eventually get a second card, or is it going to be gimped?

2. I read somewhere that Intel P55 boards can't stably handle memory that needs 1.65V or higher, but now I can't find that article. This memory needs 1.65V - will it work? Was that article full of it? (please be yes) edit : just re-read the specs and right there, plain as day is "Specifically Designed to compatible with Intel Core i5 and Core i7 for Intel P55 motherboard".

3. I'm a little concerned about clearances. I've read a few reviews of the mobo that say it's a very tight fit to squeeze the HSF in with the RAM so close. A couple of reviews mentioned the specific HSF that I'm using with this mobo and said it fit, but they all had RAM whose heat spreaders didn't have giant stupid teeth sticking up into the air. Can anybody comment on whether it'll all fit together?

4. Not entirely convinced on the 4890. I've been poring over reviews, and it seems to be a solid performer for the cost. Performance is usually better than the stock 57xx series but less than the stock 58xx line, while it outperforms the lower end GTX 260s but lags behind the higher end 260s. Outperforms everything I've been able to find at the same price point, anyway. But there aren't many of them to be found. I'm concerned I won't be able to find another when I'm ready to go crossfire, and I really can't pony up another $200 now.

5. While I would prefer not to go any higher in price, any reduction in price without a drastic reduction in performance would be fantastical. :bounce:  The only things that I can immediately think of to reduce price w/o a reduction in performance would be to change the case and the psu. The case I'm actually going to get used, for a significant reduction, and I think that the 2 included 23cm fans will move enough air quietly enough to do away with having to buy a couple of case fans. That should offset any savings I'd get from buying some dirt-cheap box and the attendant fans. The psu is already fairly cheap for its rating - I'd prefer not to go with some off-brand with it - that was my tendency for years, and I've got probably 5-6 blown psus in my junk pile to show for it. Rosewill's had a bad reputation in the past, but this particular line has gotten some pretty good reviews. As for the rest, I'd prefer to stick to the more reputable manufacturers than go with some no-name brand to save a buck. If there's a cheaper, comparable alternative from a quality manufacturer for any of my parts, please advise!
February 12, 2010 11:51:40 AM

1.) It's kind of normal. Most boards only have two PCIe 2.0 slots. They usually operate at 8x/8x in Crossfire (which is the second 8x). The board you picked is saying the last slot only operates at 4x, which means it's useless.

2.) That line doesn't mean anything. But those sticks will work just great.

3.) No idea. You'd have to find some pictures or Google it to know for sure.

4.) I wouldn't get the 4890. I'll get to that in my changes below.

5.) There's a reason the PSU is cheap. It's a POS. You don't want to pick a PSU based solely on it's price.

Changes to the build:

I highly recommend going with AMD in your price range. It's cheaper, and will have absolutley no impact on gaming (if you stay with the same card). The reason I would go with it is that you can easily get a much better card with the AMD build.

CPU/Mobo: X3 425 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $197
RAM: The sticks you picked $115
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $95. Faster and better than anything WD has.
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate
Cooler: CM Hyper $30
PSU: Silverstone 750W 80+ Bronze $90 after rebate
GPU: HD 5870 $390

Total: $1,007. Prices may vary, as will the combos.
February 12, 2010 4:44:37 PM

I might take something like MadAd proposes but drop the 5870 to a 5850 and increase the CPU to a Phenom II x4 955. Would be better if the graphics usage is more CPU intensive.
Related resources
February 12, 2010 4:50:20 PM

dnd's right. I pretty much saw the gaming and posted my standard low cost, high performance gaming build...
February 12, 2010 5:18:23 PM

??? What about 2 5770's in xfire for about $350 vs $400 for a single 5850 (Note: could get one now, then the 2nd latter)

AMD / Intel i5-750, Your choise, I tend to go with the i5 (probaly not much diff overall)

Concur with getting a good PSU - Don't want to spend all that money and have PSU fail, or worst thake out your system - Just not woth it.

A GOOD 650 Watt will run an I5-750 and a pair of 5770's just fine.
February 12, 2010 5:21:59 PM

That's $400 for a single 5870. And I would get the 5870 in that case. Crossfiring at the start isn't a good idea, as it removes an entire upgrade path.

There isn't much difference in performance between the i5 and 955. However, there is an $80-100 difference in the price, once you count the board.
February 12, 2010 5:36:40 PM

Admiral, your rigth about the cost diff ( $130) which is the diff in processor - Motherboard is a wash. I'd spend (Infact did) the difference

Note NOT tring to get into that AMD Vs Intel garbage!!!!

But thats the diff between an Admiral and an enlisted Chief.

Old Joke, an enlisted guy and an officer go to the John - How to tell the diffence. The officer washes hands, the Enlisted does not - Parents taught him to not pee on self O"WELL
February 12, 2010 5:45:57 PM

I'm using the price difference in comparable boards, specifically USB 3/SATA III board w/ 2 PCIe 2.0 slots at 8x/8x.

CPU: i5-750 $200 vs. X4 955 $166 ($34)
Mobo: Asus P7P55D-E Pro $190 vs. Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $140 ($50)

Total difference: $84. That's a huge amount in a gaming build. It's most of the difference between an HD 5850 and 5870, or the ability to play Crysis on max settings at 1900x and not.
February 12, 2010 6:20:15 PM

In your first post you said "X3 425" and 790-XTA-UD4 ( Could not google a "XTD"
Gigabyte board does not have Sata 6, Just USB3, Ausus board has both - Reason for cost diff I think).

PS - Don't disagree, OP could go for either amd, or intel and would be happy.

As to performance, You are right. Gaming is GPU related, which was his #1 in importance. As to CPU performance, I think the i5 is the beter choice. Ie vedio editing - Not listed by the OP, But important to me, for less than 10% of toal build cost - My choise is still the I5.
February 12, 2010 6:24:10 PM

I did say the X3 425, but it's not really a comparable CPU, so for a fairer comparision, I used AMD's most powerful CPU. It's a change that favors Intel...

It is the "A" not the "D". I fixed it. And it does have SATA III.
From the specs page:
Storage Devices
PATA 1 x ATA133 2 Dev. Max
SATA 3Gb/s 6
SATA 6Gb/s 2 x SATA 6Gb/s

I agree that either are a good choice, but it's a budget based choice. And in this case, AMD is better.
February 12, 2010 6:36:19 PM

Your right, Missed the sata6. Your also right on cost diff - Me I'd still go for the I5 - BUT as I said that's me for the $84 diff. Mainly for the Video editing/encoding.

OP - ENJOY either way!!!