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New Gaming Computer - $1000 Range

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February 23, 2010 12:39:35 PM

Hi all, I'm new to the community. I was hoping to find some advice on what type of gaming pc I could build for around 1k. My main "benchmark" for this computer will be running Aion online at max settings for best visuals without having any freeze times / choppy gameplay. Don't care what parts are used, but WOULD like the pc to be somewhat easily upgradable in the future incase I move to a different game or Aion releases new expansions that require more resources.

If you want you can exclude these from the 1k price limit (can still list monitor though if you want and i'll prolly get it later down the road):
Monitor (I've got a big crt monitor still that works just fine, would like to switch to a lcd someday though)
Operating System
Mouse/Keyboard/Speakers


Main goal is to have a fast running, visually stunning PC without breaking 1k or going too far over. (Never heard that before huh? lol)
I don't want to cut myself short by buying something that will be next to impossible to upgrade in the near future though. Also I've never installed liquid cooling either if that does come up, might need advice on how to best do that.

Thank you all!

EDIT: I'm pretty much leaving it ALL open to your suggestions just as long as it is within or close to the 1k budget.
a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 12:44:40 PM

CPU/Mobo: X4 620 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $221
RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $105 after rebate
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate
GPU/PSU: HD 5870 and Antec Earthwatts 750W $463
HSF/Optical: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus and cheap SATA DVD burner $40. HSF only needed if you want to overclock the CPU.

Total: $974. This PC will play any game at max details at 1900x. Aion will not need anything nearly as powerful, but this is the most powerful gaming PC you can get for ~$1,000.

The monitor I see recommended a lot is this 21.5" Asus 1080p for $160 after rebate.
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February 23, 2010 12:56:31 PM

Any special setup or anything tricky? I've built a couple computers before but it's been a couple years. Appreciate your fast response and great job on keeping it below the 1k mark there.

Also, anyone got any suggestions on what might be better than this for 1k? Or opinions on MadAdmiral's specs? (just wanting to get a double confirmation on this setup being the best selection, or maybe another setup to consider)

Once again thanks, also note fan noise is NOT a concern for me really, unless it sounds like a train going through the house otherwise I don't care.

EDIT: Oh, and what would be some good upgrades on your spec later on? Is that 64bit (looked at mobo but not seeing if it's 32 or 64)? Just want to see how far this thing can upgrade later on and what my next steps would be on hardware purchases later. Thanks!
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 1:06:28 PM

There shouldn't be anything special about putting it together, but you might want to review some of the newer guides to building to be sure. You should probably also read up on the BIOS settings.
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February 23, 2010 1:49:26 PM

Mad's is a great build.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 1:54:41 PM

I wouldn't change anything on that build.

Upgrades for later? Once prices come down, you could buy an SSD and use that as your boot drive. You can always get more RAM (though more than 4 GB isn't currently necessary) or a newer graphics card. Blu-ray reader at some point?

Eventually, AMD will be releasing newer processors for this board, though I don't think anyone knows exactly when the next big performance increase is going to drop.
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February 23, 2010 2:35:22 PM

Yeah I assume getting the same type of ram would be an option.
What would be the next step up for graphics card?
Not really worried about Blu-ray, I own a ton of dvd's and no blu-ray so probably won't worry about that for a long time.

I did a quick look on Solid State HD's and it seems that they don't last as long typically, but they are faster. You suggest using a SSD only as the boot drive though? Any particular reason besides just allowing the system to boot up faster?

Also how many fans should i buy for the case and what sizes? Any other accessories? Might sound like I just want everything listed, which I do. (I just want to make sure that I don't screw up majorly when I purchase this all in a week or two lol)
Read on the cpu fan that I should probably buy a better fan than the one that comes with the cooler. Which shouldn't cost much and should push more cool air through the cpu, allowing me to overclock this a little.

Any other ideas and what's the best tools used to test monitor/ram/etc that you use to test performance? Interested in finding out how to best overclock this when I get it setup without accidently blowing it up lol.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 2:46:00 PM

The SSD as a boot (and app) drive makes the computer SEEM really fast. You boot faster, programs installed on it load faster, and loading time in games goes down. It doesn't actually do anything to increase performance though. The reason the SSDs don't last as long is that they don't like having to rewrite data. So if all you put on them is programs, you're not constantly rewritting them, allowing a longer life. The other thing is that when the drive "dies" it turns into a read only drive, which also has no effect on programs.

You don't need to buy any additional fans or anything extra. An aftermarket cooler is only need for more than a minor overclock. A good one is the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus ($30) if you decide to OC.

The "Step-by-Step Guide to Building a PC" has a lot of benchmarking/testing software near the bottom of the guide.
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February 23, 2010 2:52:18 PM

Thanks MadAdmiral, you've truly been a great help. Definitely on the right track for building my new pc.

Last question:
What would be some good recommendations for a better video card than the one listed? After the 5870 HD Radeon am I getting into the area where it's more money than it's worth at the moment?
Also what would be the next step down video card wise and would it be worth saving a couple bucks there?

Just wondering how far on the "cutting edge" I am with the Radeon 5870.

EDIT: Btw, this is by far one of the best forums I've been to. Quick responses, very informative, and VERY helpful people here. Thank you all for your help.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 3:03:11 PM

Techincally, no. The 5970 is two 5870 GPUs on one card, but downclocked slightly. This can be undone very easily. So for $650, you get the graphics power of two $400 cards. And that's the only video card that's higher than the 5870.

Some people consider the 5870 a bad upgrade from the 5850, as you get 15-20% performance increases for a 33% price increase. I consider that to be a good buy in technology, considering that upgrading from the i7-920 to the i7-950 is a 200% price increase for a 15% performance bump. In addition, the differences are actually tangible for the GPUs (i.e. playing Crysis with max details at 1080p vs. not).

The 5870 is greatest single GPU available.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 3:33:35 PM

While it's true that SSDs have a shorter life expectancy, it's not like, 6 months or anything. The other thing to consider is that they never mechanically fail. Once an SSD "breaks", it simply becomes read-only, meaning that you can still get all of your data off of it easily, unlike a traditional hard drive that fails.

The suggested use for SSDs is to put your OS and your most frequently used applications on it, but not files that change a lot (don't use it for scratch space for editing software). Your programs will load faster and your computer will boot faster. It won't really offer any improvement in gaming performance, but your experience using the computer will be a little more pleasant, as the system will respond more quickly than with a traditional drive.

As MadAdmiral mentions, there aren't really a lot of upgrade options after the 5870 right now. it's the 2nd most expensive ATI card right now, which really means that you're waiting on the next series of cards to come out before you buy a new one. That's not a bad place to be.
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February 23, 2010 3:38:53 PM

A good option would be to buy one 5850, which can max out any game today at 1900x1200 except crysis.

Then when you find that you are having trouble playing games at desired resolution/settings pop in another 5850 and your good to go.

The 5xxx series of video cards have very good crossfire scaling.
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February 23, 2010 3:48:36 PM

So a SSD would be useful for holding a server emu? If it breaks it can still read the files, just as long as the mysql database is located on a different device that allows read/write? Or would "executing" of files on a dead SSD not be possible? Just thinking that if it reads faster, it might be a decent option for a game server as long as you aren't recompiling and updating it much.
(Sorry, that's a little off-topic. Just gave me some food for thought though)

Whitefang -
Yeah I was reading the "Best video card for your money" website and I remember seeing the 5850 on the list and was wondering about that. If it truly is a 33% increase then I will probably go with the 5870 as that does sound like a good trade.

EDIT: Guessing the boot and certain key programs would be best used for SSD and not apps that are updated frequently or the OS folder entirely due to frequent updates. (Unless placing it on there for backup purposes)
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 3:56:38 PM

That's a 33% price increase. The performance increase is something like 15-20%.

I wouldn't worry about updating programs, unless they do it many, many times a day everyday. And it's not like you can only write to it a few hundred times. It's just a tip to keep it working perfectly longer. This could also be something that gets fixed as the technology improves. SSDs are still pretty new.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 4:00:21 PM

I really don't know one way or the other about using it for a game server. Executable programs should be fine, but yeah, I wouldn't put a database on an SSD.

And seriously, the mean time to failure for an SSD is still on the order of a number of years. I wouldn't worry about it that much. Put your OS on there, put your most frequently used games and Photoshop (or GIMP or whatever), store the files you're working on somewhere else, and you'll be fine. One thing you could do is make sure that your browser puts temporary files on a different disk, but that's about the only change I would bother making.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 23, 2010 4:06:22 PM

So 15-20% performance increase. Like I said...
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February 23, 2010 4:28:53 PM

Yeah I was just posting the FPS increase so he can get an idea of what fps both video cards will have.
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February 24, 2010 1:34:51 AM

Do you guys think that getting a flatscreen monitor is a great idea or since the 5870 supports it or buy a big screen tv or a projector?

Just tossing around some ideas, would be pretty sweet playing on a big screen tv or having the whole wall for gaming with a projector.

Any ideas, I need food for thought! lol =)
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February 24, 2010 1:44:40 AM

ok just go with what Mad Admiral originaly suggested but definatly upgrade that monitor to see a great performance increase later down the line! I have the ud4 gigabyte board he mentioned it is an awesome board i love it!!
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February 24, 2010 1:46:41 AM

only get the projector or tv if they have a contrast ration of 3000000:1 or better and if they are capable of 1920x1080 or better
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a b 4 Gaming
February 24, 2010 10:30:40 AM

@darkjuggalo: I have to ask. Why do you always triple post?

Playing on an HDTV is nice, as you get a much larger screen for less. I have my PC hooked up to my TV right now, and can give you my big annoyances with the setup. First, I'm playing from my couch, which is very comfy, but makes some games harder to play. I'm just not as good at them as I am at a desk. Second, text is slightly blurry. It's not noticeable all the time, but it's there. I think it's likely that this problem is bigger on smaller TVs.
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February 24, 2010 3:44:36 PM

This looks like a nice setup, I was prepared to come on here and ask basically the same question. I even play Aion... :) 

I have put everything from MadAdmiral's list on my NewEgg shopping cart, but I did have a question on if I should get additional thermal compound? I did choose to get the Cool Master HS/Fan.

Thanks.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 24, 2010 3:47:18 PM

You don't have to. The HSF will come with compound already applied. If you're trying to push it extremely high, you might find the couple of degrees worth the extra $10 or so.
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