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Opinions on this Mid-Range Gaming Build?

Last response: in Systems
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February 18, 2010 12:02:23 PM

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Potentially next week - don't mind waiting though.
BUDGET RANGE: ~AU$1200

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (highest settings on 1680x1050, med-high on 1920x1200), audio editing, internet and uni work.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Case (bought a Thermaltake Xaser III 2nd hand a while back).

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Buying locally.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Australia.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Wanted it to be Intel-based, but for no good reason - please convince me otherwise if necessary : P.

OVERCLOCKING: Eventually.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Want to leave the option open for Crossfire in the future.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1200 (on a 23" monitor).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm basically trying to either lower the price slightly, or better the build for approximately the same price. I'm fairly reluctant to spend this much money on a comp (never bought a proper PC before, just school-bought laptops) and I'd consider it over-budget now. But I want it to last a long time, and be reasonably upgradable - being able to throw in another 5770 a year or two down the track perhaps (I know the MB is an issue here with limitations on the second PCIe 2.0 channel), although i'm pretty sure i'll keep this cpu till I replace the mobo. For what it's worth, I'm also buying a cheap netbook...well and truly making up for the lack of past purchases, hahah...
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Here's what I've got planned:

CPU:
Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 AU$229 (US$205)

MB:
ASUS P7P55D LGA 1156 PRO Intel P55 ATX AU$217 (US$194)
OR
Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P AU$219 (US$196)
OR, as a cheaper option,
Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3 AU$129 (US$116)

Memory:
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (don't know the timings for this) AU$135 (US$121)

GFX:
Powercolor Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB AU$179 (US$160)

PSU:
Antec Earthwatts EA-650 AU$117 (US$105)

Monitor:
Acer 23inch X233HB 5ms, AU$156 (US$140) after $39 cash back

Hard Drive:
Seagate 7200rpm 500GB - AU$59 (US$53) (the place I'm buying is out of Spinpoint F3s)
...and I might throw in a small SSD at some point in the future.

Optical Drive:
Samsung 22x SATA - AU$38 (US$34)

OS:
Windows 7 Home Premium - AU$115 (US$103)

Current total: AU$1247 (US$1117) (+AU$70 assembly and testing)


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So what I'm wondeirng about for the most part is the motherboard - are these models reasonably future-proof? As I've said before, I figure the i5 will do me fine for a while - by the time I replace the CPU I'll probably replace the mobo. But is it worth planning to chuck in a 5770 in the mid-long term with the P55 restrictions on the second PCIe 2.0 channel?

And just generally - is there anything you'd change? Better/cheaper parts? Any suggestions massively appreciated! Ta!
February 18, 2010 12:19:50 PM

I would get at least the HD 5850. The 5770 is a little under powered.

In order to afford the 5850, switch to an AMD build. Specifically, the X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4. If that doesn't get there, drop down to the X3 425, and then increase the price from that until you reach the budget.

AMD is kind of the king of price to performance. Right now, the top CPUs they offer (955 and 965) don't really match up to the i5/i7s, but they're also much cheaper, especially once you consider the board. For example, a 955/Gigabyte USB 3 combo is $300 (US) vs. i5-750/USB 3 combo at $390 (US). With your budget, and intended use, I would definitely go with AMD to afford a bigger GPU.

If you don't switch to AMD, look into the Asus P7P55D-E Pro board. It's a lot better for Crossfire than the ones you listed.

The hubbab about the P55's Crossfire restriction is much ado about nothing. It's only a 4% loss in performance compared to the X58. Not worth the $300.

Other than that it looks decent.
February 18, 2010 10:35:24 PM

Awesome, thanks for the help. Just a few questions:

The 955 scored only 1 second slower than the i5 in the most recent TH 3dMark tests - is that just an anomaly? And in general, how future-proof would you consider the AMD mobo to be? Is it likely to be able to handle the next round of AMD processors?

Also, swapping to the 955 and GA-790XTA-UD4 will only save me AU$50-60, so I probably wouldn't upgrade to the 5850 (which is about AU$190 more than the 5770) : (. Still think the performance drop is small enough to justify saving a few bucks?

Thanks again mate : ).
February 18, 2010 10:48:58 PM

Well I seem to remember reading that Bulldozer will need a new socket. I don't know if something is coming before Bulldozer. AMD will probably do a revision of their current Phenom Quads which I'd bet would have just as much longevity as an i5 750. I consider the 955 to be a very capable (if not amazing) gaming chip. So it doesn't surprise me that it would be comparable in a synthetic benchmark, which you probably shouldn't pay that much attention to.
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