Need Guidance on Building a Budget Gaming PC

Hi, I am new to the forums and have never really looked into building my own computer until recently. I have a laptop that I use for school and would like a desktop at home to put all of my useless non-sense, basically to keep my work separate from my games. Unfortunately, my desktop at home is more or less useless right now. It has an AMD Athlon XP1800+ 1.4ghz about 512mb memory and around 40gb HDD. All in all, its nothing special and it needs an upgrade or a completely new build.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as possible I suppose
BUDGET RANGE: I am hoping that what I want can be done with less than $600-$700 after tax/shipping

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: GAMING more or less(HoN, Borderlands, SFIV), and just overall smooth functionality

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, Speakers, Monitor

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Preferred something within Canada, but besides that no real preference

PARTS PREFERENCES: I was recommended by a friend to get an Asus P5E mobo and an Intel E8500 cpu, and other than that nothing specifically. I found OCZ PC3-10666 Platinum RAM - 4GB, 2x2GB, 1333MHz, DDR3, Low Voltage, Dual Channel for less than $100 so that seemed pretty reasonable.

OVERCLOCKING: MAYBE, not aware of the exact functions of this. Will it save me money and compensate for a lack of speed with a lower cpu?

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes / No / Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1024x768 or 1280x1024

So here is my dilemma: I am not sure whether it is more cost efficient to buy a pre-built desktop, upgrade my current desktop(if it is possible based on how old the hardware is), or just build my own.

If I buy pre-built I can upgrade it from there in the future when I have the funds.
If I upgrade my own I will save time and money on new things I do not necessarily need.
(I don't think this is likely as my hardware is quite out of date. I searched for the Athlon XP1800+ on the forums and all of the posts were from 2001-2003)
If i build my own I can make sure it has potential for upgrades in the future, but I will need completely new parts, especially since the main function of it will be gaming. Also, i fear that I will be spending more this way as I am not sure if my monitor will be able to handle a new video card and such.

ALSO, my friends were suggesting I just buy a new laptop instead of a desktop.
Opinions of laptop vs. desktop ?

Thank you in advance ! and if I am being to vague please let me know what you guys need to know. All help is greatly appreciated !
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  1. 1) Yes I would build from scratch. Store bought computers are knowen as 'dead end' builds - ie. they lack the ability to be upgraded substancialy. and yes, it would not be worth while upgrading your current computer, I am using a XP2800+ and it has finally started falling apart so I am building a new computer too.

    2) Build a desktop, laptops are fine, but you cant beat the price/preformance/experience/cooling of a desktop computer.

    3)See if your budget allows for either an Intel i5 setup with a 1156 socket Motherboard or else you cant really beat the price to preformance ratio of a highend AMD system. I have gone for a AM3 socket Phenom II system, should be good.

    Look into it. Good luck
  2. Yeah cjtai, hamiac has the right idea. Just go for it.

    If you're intimidated and want to see step-by-step videos, check out THIS LINK

    If you're looking for parts, / have the best deals.

    What's your budget? I'll put some things together, explain why each part is good, and see if you're interested.
  3. My budget is around $500-600 but if absolutely necessary then i can go to $700.
    I was thinking of a motherboard that would allow me to upgrade when necessary.
    I can start off with 2GB of ram and up to 3 or 4+ if i can afford to later on/need too.
  4. CPU
    Ahtlon ii X3 $84.99

    G Skill Ripjaw 7-8-7-24 DDR3 1600 $114.99

    ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO $99.99

    or if you want to leave xfire open
    GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H $114.99 w/ $15 MIR

    Spinpoint F3 7200.12 500GB $54.99

    Best HD for the price range since the 500gb spinpoint F3's disappeared. The 500GB 7200.12 ones are the ONLY one you should consider. If you want bigger, go with the 1TB spinpoint F3.

    OCZ Stealthxstream 700W
    $79.99 w/ $30 MIR

    5770 $159.99

    OPtical Drive
    LG $22.99 free ship

    Case $54.99 Antec 300

    Total: $672.92 before shipping and $45 MIR
  5. 1280 x 1024 is a wee bit of a cherry picker of a resolution :P A 9600GT/HD 4670 could cut it but hey why not move into HD 4770/GTS 250/HD 4850 country?

    Edit - this config off Newegg USA
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