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$1200 Gaming Rig opinions wanted

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March 30, 2010 4:49:11 PM

I REALLY appreciate any help and/or opinions, so before we even get started I'd like to thank anyone that takes the time to offer advice.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ~ 4/15/10

BUDGET RANGE: +/- $1200 (before rebates, any rebates are a bonus)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Writing, Surfing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor (have 19" crt max res. 1600x1200, that i'm happy w/ but if can fit a nicer monitor in budget...cool beans), speakers (always wear headphones), possibly OS (have a student copy of XP, not sure if I can upgrade it to W7 or not so I may need)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: NewEgg COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US of A

PARTS PREFERENCES: None really (have had best experience w/ AMD, nVidia, Antec PSU's and Corsair memory, but am very much open to change if others are better and/or cheaper, so whatever gives me the best bang-for-the-buck is what I prefer ;)  )

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (again, if it fits within budget and is worth it, absolutely)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600x1200 (max my 19" CRT can support, but if can fit a nice new monitor in budget...)

CASE: would like a window, and temp readouts on case, but most important thing is that it keeps components cool

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: doesn't need to be super quiet, or flashy, just want everything to run smooth... My general plan is to build a rig that is fairly nice and will run my games decently for now, that I can possibly upgrade in the future (more RAM, an additional VPU etc.)

Hi all, I'm a longtime lurker on these forums but haven't ever felt the need to register...until now. I am getting ready to build myself a new machine, and could really use some advice of those "in the know" on the current hardware options so I have an idea of what's in my range. Just a little background first so everyone knows where I'm coming from and what I'm looking for...I have built my own comps in the past so I'm not a total newb at this, that being said the last rig I built back in late '05/early '06 I wasn't really looking ahead enough, and although everything was pretty much top o' the line back then, I got burdened w/ parts that weren't really upgradable (939 socket MB and such), so that's something I'd like to avoid if possible.

Thanks again for everyone's anticipated assistance, it is very much appreciated.

More about : 1200 gaming rig opinions wanted

March 30, 2010 5:16:57 PM

Here's one of the best towers you can get for $1,200. It's overkill for your monitor, so there's a build below that fits a good monitor in the budget.

CPU/Mobo: i5-750 and Asus P7P55D-E Pro $375
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5870 $420. Overkill for the current resolution, but if you upgrade soon, it would be good.
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
PSU: Corsair 750W 80+ $100 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24

Total: $1,184

CPU/Mobo: X3 440 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $195 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5870 $420
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
PSU: Corsair 750W 80+ $100 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $190 after rebate

Total: $1,194
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March 30, 2010 10:29:16 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Here's one of the best towers you can get for $1,200. It's overkill for your monitor, so there's a build below that fits a good monitor in the budget.

CPU/Mobo: i5-750 and Asus P7P55D-E Pro $375
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5870 $420. Overkill for the current resolution, but if you upgrade soon, it would be good.
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
PSU: Corsair 750W 80+ $100 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24

Total: $1,184

CPU/Mobo: X3 440 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $195 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5870 $420
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
PSU: Corsair 750W 80+ $100 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $190 after rebate

Total: $1,194



Lookin good, thanks much for taking the time to give me some ideas. I have a couple questions though...

First, from what I understand, if I go Intel I want the Lynnfield core over the others correct? I only ask this b/c I noticed a i7-930 (bloomfield) for roughly the same price as the i5-750 alone. Now, I understand it's a different socket and would need a different mobo, but I'll deal w/ that later. Also, how important is "Hyper-Threading" in this generation of CPU's? From what I've read only the i7's have HTing, and would it (HT) really even make a noticeable difference?

Also, will the i5 cause a bottleneck w/ that GPU? I'm assuming that if I stick w/ my current monitor, and thus my current max-resolution, that it won't bottleneck b/c the card + cpu would be able to handle what's thrown at it, but if I did upgrade my monitor for a higher resolution that there might be the potential for a bottleneck. Is that the case? Not that it really matters unless you tell me that the i7-930 I mentioned above is a better option when considering budget and such.

In regards to the ATi 5780, how does it stack up, price/power wise to a comparable nVidia model? You don't need to give examples or anything, I'm just curious b/c I've only ever had one ATi GPU and it was a PITA, the drivers were cumbersome and not very easy to use, and the card itself was ***. Now, I guess I should mention this is going back awhile....the GPU I'm talking about was a RAGE, lol, but that should give you an idea of how much I disliked it. It pretty much caused me to go nVidia in my next 3 rigs after. This is actually the first time I've even considered going w/ an ATi since, and that's only b/c I hear they've made many improvements in all areas.

Lastly, from what I've read (and remember I haven't really done too much research as of yet) Intel CPUs are pretty much blowing AMD out the water in this generation. So how much better performance wise is the first build then the second? Are we talking like 2 FPS or 20 FPS?

Thanks again for taking the time out to help me out, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
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March 31, 2010 12:35:51 AM

I'm not sure where you saw a 930 for $200 (other then Microcenter, where the i5 would also be really cheap). Hyperthreading makes no difference in gaming. Games just don't use it. HT is definitely useful when encoding and doing heavy CPU work (which gaming is not).

The i5-750 will not cause a gaming bottleneck. It's almost impossible to have a modern CPU that is the bottleneck instead of the GPU. All of the gaming benchmarks you see for CPUs are created using artificial handicapping so they can actually show a difference.

Read the Fermi review. The 480 is more powerful, but it's $500. It also could burn a whole through a space shuttle with the heat it puts out. Of course, that's after it causes you to go bankrupt trying to pay for the electricity it requires...

ATI is a completely different company since AMD bought them several years ago. If you take a look at the "Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money" article Tom's posts every month, it's basically an ATI catalog.

You're talking less than 2 FPS in the real world. Intel CPUs are nice, but they're super expensive. To go from the X4 955 to the i5-750, it costs you the $40 CPU difference AND a $50 motherboard premium. To get to the i7-930 from the X4 955, it takes $130 for the CPU, $200 for the board and $60-80 for the third stick of RAM. That's a lot of money taken away from the GPU to get practically nothing in game.
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March 31, 2010 2:29:11 AM

i mostly agree with madadmiral, however i suggest taking the amd path. an i7 build is just too expensive, and it sounds just a bit overkill for your uses anyway. the i5 is a viable option, however, if you wanna upgrade in 3 years, you can just put in an 8-core am3+ amd cpu, with intel, the 1156 socket is on a long path to nowhere. i also dont think the small, but noticable price difference makes up for the lack of future proof, and tbh, a relatively small boost in performance. also, a 5870 might be a bit overkill at any rate, so it might be wiser to get a 5850, but ill put in a 5870 anyway. in that case, heres a build:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

after rebates and such, the final price is 1056.92. this is the complete build, and if you want, it leaves plenty of room for a good monitor, like this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

hope this helped :) 

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March 31, 2010 8:22:02 AM

I found the i7-930 for $294 @ Newegg.... Which, now that I look closer, isn't close to the price of the i5 by itself, I mistakenly took the price comparison from the combo you linked earlier when comparing it to the i7-930. After an even closer look, I'm guessing it's not really that great of a deal, as comparable i7's on the Lynnfield core are a few hundred dollars more then the one I linked on the Bloomfield. Not to mention that for the price I'm not getting a mobo either :whistle: 

I've done a bit of research into the different sockets and cpu's since reading ares1214's, and it seems that the AM3+ socket might be the slightly better choice? I'm not sure I fully trust the future of the 1156, it seems to be Intel's "2nd string" as it were, relegating their middle and lower tier CPU's to this socket, while keeping the good stuff on 1366, while AMD seems to be using the AM3+ for mid-range and top-shelf. Am I off with this?

Keeping in mind that I would like some kick now, and at least some flexibility in the future, would an AMD and the AM3 socket be the better choice?
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March 31, 2010 11:55:55 AM

in my opinion yes. also, if you look at benchmarks (go to hardware canucks, but links from them dont show up here) and you will see that the 955 actually beats the i5 750 in quite a few things, and equals it in gaming. im not saying the i5 750 is slower, as it isnt, but the mild performance difference isnt enough to notice for a gamer/surfer. i also own a C1 955 (got it in the first week they came out) and this thing is amazing. i however also got it when it cost $245, produced more heat, and didnt oc as well, so now they are even bettter with the C3 revisions. also, intel and amd have very different views on sockets. dont worry, im no amd fanboy, but intel sucks, and amd rocks when it comes to this. for the intel path, it was "buy a 775 mobo, ddr2 ram, and a 775 cpu...have to get rid of it all, buy a 1156 mobo, dual channel ddr3 ram, 1156 cpu...get rid of it all, buy a 1366 mobo, triple channel ddr3 ram, and i7" and i dont see them changing that anytime soon. with amd its "buy am2+ mobo, ddr2 ram, am2+ or am2 cpu...upgrade the cpu to a way faster am3 cpu...upgrade mobo and ram to am3+ after 3 years, repeat the process" amd progresses, make better mobo, and MAKING THEM BACKWARDS, FOWRWARDS, AND SIDEWAY( :lol:  ) compatible with the cpus, where as intel just gets rid of it after 2 years, and starts a new one, screwing everybody who just bought it, as they no cant upgrade. lastly, the 955 is about $40 cheaper, and the mobo is about $20-80 cheaper, so you will probs save about $100. so yeas, in my opinion, amd is the better choice.
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April 10, 2010 2:17:36 PM

It looks like I'm going to be doing the build over the next week, and a lot of the really good combo's you guys found for me have sadly expired, so I took some time and put together a list and I would like some honest opinions. I didn't really delve the depths for better deals, or combo's, nor can I say with certainty that the parts I'm going to list here will give me the best bang for the buck...so please, by all means critique away, I am very open to suggestions and recommendations.

So, I managed to stay just within my $1200 budget...without shipping...and without a monitor. So if anyone sees a way to get either of those things below the cap, well, it'd make me happy ;) 

CPU - $185.99 - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz (this really looks to be my best choice for the price, but the 955 might be a better/cheaper choice? the 965 is only 20 beans more so that's why I went with it, but is it worth it?)

mobo - $199.99 - ASUS Crosshair III Formula AM3 AMD 790FX ATX (I choose this mobo b/c it had a lot of + reviews, and has a really nice sound chip built in, but I have a feeling there may be better choices w/ faster RAM speeds and such that overlooked)

mem - $133.99 - OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (memory is where I had the most trouble finding something that works well w/ AMD. I had originally picked out a set of G.Skill Ripjaws, but read that they won't run at advertised speeds on an AMD platform and have be turned down to be stable, I ended up w/ these b/c I read good reviews from AMD users)

GPU - $419.99 - SAPPHIRE 100281-3SR Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX (There seem to be at least 2 different versions of this exact card listed on NewEgg, from what I can tell the only difference is a slightly higher clock speed on this one, and this ones model number ends in 3SR, while the other ends in 2SR...whatever the hell that means, but I assume that higher = better? )

HDD - $55 - Seagate 7200.12 500 GB

PSU - $100 - Corsair 750W 80+

Case - ~ $100 +/- totally undecided on a case

SATA DVD burner - $24

-------------------------------------------------------------

Total - $1200.96 (this is before shipping and any rebates)

So, any opinions on this build? Other components that might be a better choice, or combos I overlooked, and if it's possible I'd like some suggestions on squeezing a nice new monitor in the budget somehow as I'm currently stuck w/ my old 19" CRT w/ a max resolution of 1600x1200 @ 85 Hz. Thanks guys, I really appreciate any, and all of the help you can give.
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April 11, 2010 2:42:43 PM

cool, im making a build similar to this. in my opinion go with the HAF 922 case, $90 after rebate, and the MSI 790fx-gd70 mobo, higher ram support, great overclocking and save $35, however notice it doesnt have the fancy sound stuff if u want that. you could also save some dough on the RAM if u wanted, but if u're going for quality looks like what u picked is good. you've done ur homework, nice build. oh and u also might want to look into a cheap aftermarket cooler, ur choice, here's a combo with an excellent one with the cpu u selected:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

in terms of a monitor, depends on the size/resolution ur going for, but a good large 1080p in order to put ur 5870 to good use and ur looking at $190+, here's an awesome deal:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

hope this helps
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April 11, 2010 4:04:52 PM

thanks for replying Zaknafiend, that is an awesome monitor, I'll have a hell of a time trying to cut down prices of other components to fit such a nice monitor within my budget, but I still appreciate it. Also, I've never bought a CPU cooler, do you think it's worth it? I mean, I can totally understand how it helps, I'm just wondering how necessary it is if I'm not going to OC'ing, or OC'ing very little.

I'm diggin that keyboard you mentioned, the MSI 790fx-gd70. It looks pretty good, has better memory capability, can support CrossFire w/ 2 cards @ 16/16 (instead of 8/8 like a lot of mobos), and 4 @ 8/8/8/8...although I HIGHLY doubt I'll ever get more then 2 GPU's, it's nice to know the option is there if I wanted it. Not to mention it's included in some nice deals w/ the X4 965 that I want....

Check this out, it's the Phenom II X4 955 3.4ghz + MSI 790fx-gd70 + HIS 5870 1GB for $697, yeah it's the 955 instead of the 965, but from comparing specs it looks like the 965 is nothing more then the 955 w/ a higher clock speed so that's a non-factor I guess. The only thing about this combo that I hesitate on is the GPU, I've never dealt w/ HIS, and know even less about them in general...while on the flip side, I know Sapphire is to ATi, kinda like what BFG is to nVidia, they just flat out put out a better product then the competition, kinda like the "top tier" manufacturer of their chip-sets.

Then there is this one, which is just the X4 965 + MSI 790fx-gd70 w/ a free copy of MW2 for the PC for $351. There is also a version of the combo w/ the 955 instead for $20 less.

In any case, thanks for pointing out that mobo, it's looking like that's going to be what I am going to get unless someone suggests something better.
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April 12, 2010 2:42:48 AM

no prob, yeah its going to be tough to fit a good monitor into that budget, i am facing the same problem. one more thing to consider is if you are into being up to date with support of next-gen stuff, the 790fx will do fine, and as you noticed it is very expandable and has insane RAM maximums, but depending on when you are planning to buy, you could opt to wait for the mid-range nvidia fermi cards that will be coming out (cheaper than a gtx 470 lol) or for the current card prices to drop. also, MSI is releasing the 890fx-gd70 some point in the near future, i am not sure exactly when, but it will have usb 3.0 and all the goodies that come from the latest and greatest. however this is an awesome build, and i always say u cant just wait and wait for prices to drop and new stuff to come out, cause u'll never get anything. anyways, hope i helped and good luck with the build, you wont be disappointed.

EDIT: Plus the Thuban hexacore AMD Cpus due out soon are gonna kick butt if u want to invest in one, and the great thing about AMD is everything works together, with Intel at the moment there are a million sockets and processor types. With AMD however, their next-gen stuff will all be reverse compatible with these sockets, so ur not gonna have to buy a new MoBo etc. for a looong while.
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April 12, 2010 3:01:23 PM

so can BE 965's for $180 from a reputable retailer and be OC'd to like 3.7 Ghz on a stock cooler, and 4.0 on aftermarket, go look at some comparisons of both processors hooked up to a 5970, there is no intel domination even though it's +$60
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April 12, 2010 7:12:19 PM

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$110 - $20 (Free shipping)

MB: GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$140 (Free shipping)

Reason: Sata 3.0, USB 3.0 (2 ports, rear panel). Remember to disable the onboard MB graphics in the Bios.

Ram: Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100 (Free shipping)

Reason: This is the ram of choice for its ability to be overclocked (or, since you are not overclocking, undertimed, at default voltages) in several reviews here at Toms.

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$120 (Free shipping)

Reason: You said no overclocking, and that is the reason to buy a Black Edition AMD CPU. Further, the Phenom's are negligibly faster than the Athlon's at the same clock speed. Therefore, save some money and buy the fastest Athlon.

CPU Cooler: Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$40 - $15 (Free shipping)

Reason: This is still one of the best CPU coolers on the market for its price, and they easily install on AM2-3 CPUs.

DVD: HP Black (with Lightscribe, Retail)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$30 (Free shipping)

Reason: Buy a retail drive as one of your drives and get a legal copy of DVD burning software as part of the purchase. (Nero in this case.) Further, if you choose to make Lightscribe disks, you'll already have a drive for it. If you want a 2nd drive, like I do with all of my builds, pick up an OEM drive and add $25 to total build drive.

Video Card: XFX HD-585X-ZAFC Radeon HD 5850
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$310 + $8 shipping

Reason: I almost always buy XFX graphics cards due to the extra $10-$20 being worth the lifetime warranty XFX provides. (As opposed to the 2-3 years other manufacturers provide.)

Case: ? (My traditional "go to" case is the Antec 300, but I build machines in the $1k and under range. You need to pick a slightly larger one for your price range that will enable you to keep the same case as you add a 2nd video card for Crossfire in a year or 2, as well as upgrade your entire system in a few years.)
Price: For this build, plus the cost of additional quality fans for additional slots, I am allocating $125.

Sound card: Integrated into MB.
Network card: Single 1Gb port integrated into MB.

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100 (Free shipping)

Reason: You seemingly don't have a lot of data/music files (no larger capacity or separate data drive vs. operational drive), and money would be better spent on a new monitor versus a SSD boot drive. (Where you can upgrade from your 19" CRT.)

OS: Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100 (Free shipping)

Note: If you qualify for a student version, buy a student copy of the same software and save quite a bit of money. I am including this version in the total build price.

Total: $1175 - $35 (rebates) + $8 shipping

Other info for this build:

1. $125 maxium of case and fans needed for the build, pre-calculated.
2. Look at a student version of Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit to save ~$60.
3. Find yourself a nice ~22" WS LCD monitor with a refresh rate of 5ms or 2ms for ~$150 and move away from the CRT monitor as your next "upgrade." (Or, use the new widescreen as your primary, and the CRT as a secondary monitor.) I personally like Asus 22" (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) for $170 - $20 + $9 myself.
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April 14, 2010 2:36:02 AM

/\ that guy knows what's up if ur lookin for bottom line price with a monitor in there,
/ \the build wont have the performance of the others above but definitely won't thin ur wallet as much.
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April 14, 2010 2:12:23 PM

Userremoved said:
Excuse me but why is there a low end CPU with a high end GPU?

Because this is a gaming build and the X3 is more than enough for games at 1600*1200. At that resolution, CPU really isn't a bottleneck. You need a "good" CPU only if your playing games like GTAIV, FSX,etc.
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April 14, 2010 3:14:04 PM

+1 to Shadow's comment regarding the cpu. However, if you are buying/building a new system today in this price range, I am of the opinion that it should, at least, be capable of 4 simultaneous threads. (Whether that is a 4 physical core cpu or 2 physical and 2 Hyperthreaded.)

The last build I purchased parts for (and am nearly finished building) used an AMD Phenom 2 720 (OEM, since retail chips are hard to come by these days). Further, I included a mainstream SSD 40 GB drive as a boot drive. (An Intel V series) The system, however, reused a 9800 GT 512 MB video card that was still completely functional... so no video card purchase.

The 3 core chips are good for today, and possibly the next year or 2. However, I believe in 2-3 years, software will have caught on to the prospect that users typically have at least 2, most probably 4, cores in mainstream systems. As such, the X3s will be at a disadvantage to the 4 core system. And, in this price range, you should plan ahead for this.
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April 14, 2010 4:45:53 PM

^ The AMD AM3 X2/X3 are a good choice right now due to the fact that AMD will release 6 core COUs starting at $200-300 (for BE version). So you can upgrade later imo for a better CPU. ETA on the X6s are Q2 2010.
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April 14, 2010 5:04:17 PM

Yeah, I did some research into the Athlon II X4 635, and I have to say that when I came to some side by side comparisons with the Phenom II X4 955 (or 965), I was underwhelmed. I mean, yeah the Athlon is a good bit cheaper and would allow me to fit a monitor into the budget, and the "artificial" gaming and task oriented benchmarks had the Athlon standing up very well to the Phenom, but looking at the numbers in the actual in-game benchmarks, the Athlon 635 is destroyed by the 955...by a good margin. From the results I saw in the other non-gaming benchmarks if I only wanted this rig for surfing and other daily tasks then the Athlon would be ideal, especially at that price, but the last thing I want is disappointment when I load up a new game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting my fps to be in the hundreds in newer games for what I'm paying, but I would like at least respectable numbers and the ability to stand up to new releases for at least awhile.

So, all that being said, and unless I'm missing something, I think I'll stick w/ the Phenom.

Let me also drop a question on you guys...

When I picked out my parts in my most recent post listing the parts I was looking at, I had picked the 140w version of the 965. Well after looking at my choices again I noticed that there is also a 125w version of the 965, that seems to be newer. As I understand it they are identical except for the power draw, it's just a newer version of the same CPU that has a lower power requirement, but the performance remains the same correct?

Also, if I got the 125w version, I wouldn't need to choose a different mobo right? The MSI 790fx-gd70 supports CPU's w/ a power requirement of 140w...so I assume that includes everything below 140w right? Logically I would think so, but you never know so I just ask to be safe.
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April 14, 2010 6:46:50 PM

On a "single thread vs. single thread" run, a Phenom will typically be 5-15% faster than an Athlon. However, it is like I said in the last statement of my 2nd post, the problem right now is software... not the hardware. In the references you posted, the tested games truly only scale to 2 threads... maybe 3. Game testing is done with only the single game (and the OS) running on a minimal install in most circumstances. With that said, it really depends on what type of computer user you are.

When I use an application (game), I make sure it is the only application that is ACTIVELY using system resources. (Meaning, I make sure Antivirus isn't running a scan, I don't have 20 tabs open in a browser or 2, etc.) My mate, on the other hand, leaves all of this open/running...

As a result, even in the sub-$1k range, there refurbished system got a 3 core (Since I got a good deal on it... and it was a Phenom over Athlon because of the same deal. Otherwise, a 4 core Athlon would have been purchased.)

For me, I will find the fastest clock speed and cache available... so, if I was building myself a new system today, I would end up with a 2 or 3 core Phenom.

To each their own, based upon their computer usage style.
------------------------
As for the 125w versus 140w CPU, as well as the MB:

1. The 125w CPU should use less power, have the capability to overclock higher (if you change your mind on overclocking), and generally be a better CPU than a 140w.
2. If you check the motherboard's CPU compatibility list, you'll be able to confirm whether the change is ok. (It should be.) Further, it should be even better with the 125w... especially if not overclocking... because you will have less chance of blowing out the MB's power phases in the long term. (This is because the 140w CPU taxes the system more.)
------------------------------
Also, think about what Shadow is saying on the X2/X3 right now versus buying a X4. Naturally, when the X6's are released, the X4s will drop in price... and the X6 will be top of the line. The X6s will probably not be clocked as high as the X4s, so you will still run into the software threading issue I am talking about. But, you could easily purchase a X2 now... and at the end of the year buy a X4 upgrade.
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April 14, 2010 7:18:04 PM

The 965 is just a overclocked 955.

OCZ ram isn't that great, I'd stay away from it.

Here's with a monitor



And without a monitor.

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April 14, 2010 9:08:23 PM

Lord_Foortwenti said:
Yeah, I did some research into the Athlon II X4 635, and I have to say that when I came to some side by side comparisons with the Phenom II X4 955 (or 965), I was underwhelmed. I mean, yeah the Athlon is a good bit cheaper and would allow me to fit a monitor into the budget, and the "artificial" gaming and task oriented benchmarks had the Athlon standing up very well to the Phenom, but looking at the numbers in the actual in-game benchmarks, the Athlon 635 is destroyed by the 955...by a good margin. From the results I saw in the other non-gaming benchmarks if I only wanted this rig for surfing and other daily tasks then the Athlon would be ideal, especially at that price, but the last thing I want is disappointment when I load up a new game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting my fps to be in the hundreds in newer games for what I'm paying, but I would like at least respectable numbers and the ability to stand up to new releases for at least awhile.

Your looking at benchmarks at 1024*768?!?!?! This is kind of a pointless thing to do considering your planning to game at 1680*1050. At this resolution, the differences between CPUs are negligible.

See the carts here for benches:
UT3 (1680*1050)
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q...

World in Conflict @ 1920*1080:
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1199/9/
Pay attention to this bench. As you can see, there is only about 4 fps difference between the Athlon and the Phenom. Also see the lower resolution bench. Notice anything?

DIRT2 benches: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1199/10/


Same game 1680*1050:
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q...

Supreme Commander @ 1680*1050:
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q...

Crysis @ 1680*1050:
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q...


As you can see, at higher resolutions, the CPU really doesn't matter. Above 1280*1024, the GPU matters SIGNIFICANTLY MORE than the CPU.


So, I HIGHLY recommend you save the money and get a better GPU. Or you can upgrade to a X4/X6 when the X6 CPUs come out for quite a bit cheaper than current prices and sell the X2/X3.
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April 15, 2010 7:09:14 AM

Ok, so after reading all the posts in this thread, and taking all the advice into consideration, I think I've got a pretty damned good build worked out here, please feel free to point out flaws, faults, or (especially) incompatibilities. I have everything in a cart and saved but I'm not ready to hit the button yet, I wanted one last opinion...

Cpu: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2GHz 125w = $159.99

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX = 139.99

Memory: G.Skill 4Gb (2x2GB) DDR3 1600 1.35v 8-8-8-24-2N = $119.99

GPU: XFX 5870 1GB = 419.99

HDD: WD Caviar Green 500GB = 54.99

Optical: HP Black Multiformat DVD Burner LightScribe Support = 29.99 (I actually am going to also recycle one of the Samsung DVD/CD-RW drives from my current system and throw it into the new build)

PSU: Corsair 750W ATX 12V SLi Ready = 109.99

Monitor: ASUS Black 22" 2ms Widescreen LCD = 169.99

Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid-Tower = $99.99

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Total: $1304.91 including shipping and before rebates (after rebates it's $1254.91)


So....I'm going to go about 50 bucks over budget as it stands now after all is said and done, and my wife will take every cent of it out of my hide, but for what I am getting I think it's worth it :sol: 

I went w/ the Phenom over the Athlon simply b/c I didn't mind spending the extra few bucks for it, and really the only reason I did is b/c I probably won't have the opportunity to upgrade the CPU within the next year, and for that time I may as well have the all-around better choice, no?

My biggest concerns are the memory, and the case. I have absolutely zero experience w/ G.Skill, and their memory seemed more focused on Intel, w/ a lot of it underclocking on AMD platforms, but to be fair nearly all of the AMD users that posted reviews said that they simply had to manually set the timings to advertised speeds and it was perfectly stable. They have a lot of good reviews all around, and that particular set I linked above looked pretty good w/ decent timings, and a low voltage requirement. And if it does underclock on first boot I can change the settings to bring it up to advertised speeds.

As for the case, it actually looks like a pretty solid case for the price (getting it on sale from $139). It looks to have great air flow, hell w/ 3 120mm and 1 200mm it damned well better, lol. That being said I'm wondering if I won't be listening to a minor squall whipping up every time I start playing a game though. I've also never had a case w/ a bottom mounted PSU, but I don't think it should be an issue if this case moves air like I think it will.
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April 15, 2010 2:10:02 PM

1. Drop the WD Green and get a Samsung F3 or WD Black. The Green is too slow.

2. Imo, grab the X2 now and upgrade to an X6 later. Like I said above, an X2/X3 is more than enough.
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April 15, 2010 2:32:18 PM

Agree on dropping the WD Green. Samsung Spinpoint F3 is the same price at 500 GB and last I checked, had free shipping.

Disagree on getting the X2 & upgrading later. 3-4 cores is all that are really needed for gaming/websurfing/etc. right now, it's likely the OP won't feel the need to upgrade the CPU for 2-3 years...no sense in "limping" along with 2 cores for that long.
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April 15, 2010 2:54:21 PM

Also agreed on the Spinpoint:

500 GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55 (Free shipping)

I looked around, and several people have confirmed the 5870 will fit in a Antec 900 case.

You didn't include an aftermarket CPU cooler or the OS. (Spending the $25 on the Sunbeam cooler in the build in my post will be much better than using the AMD retail cooler.) As for the OS, I am going to assume you are going with a student version of Win 7 for ~$40.

Other than that, looks good, parts wise.

Now, advice: With the decision to go with a Phenom 2 955 BE chip, you really should think about some very basic overclocking via increasing the CPU's multiplier via the Bios. The chip naturally runs at 200 Mhz x 16x to achieve its 3.2 Ghz speed. Once you have the system built and the OS installed, simply go into Bios setup and change the CPU multiplier from 16x to 18x. This will give you an increase of 400 Mhz to a total of 3.6 Ghz, and you are nearly guaranteed to be able to achieve this with no problems.
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April 15, 2010 3:17:17 PM

Hello, just thought I would let you know that your cpu choice is the old c2 revision and not the newer c3. There is a $4 price difference but from what I've read the c3 revision has a better integrated memory controller and uses less stock and overclock voltage, thereby running cooler than a c2. If you already knew this I apologize. :( 
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 15, 2010 5:34:42 PM

tcisaki: thanks for pointing that out, I noticed that there were 2 versions of the 955 BE 125w and couldn't for the life of me see any difference besides the model numbers, so I just picked...guess I picked wrong. Thanks much for pointing that out though, I swapped the old out for the new in my cart and in the link. Thanks :) 

shadow and coldsleep: Allow me to explain my thought process on how I ended up w/ the WD Green 500GB. At first I had the WD Black 1TB, and then I started thinking about how I would most likely never fill a 1TB HDD, and wanted to trim a few bucks off, so I looked at the model, specs, and price, and then went back and looked at similar HDD's. I ended up w/ the WD Green b/c it looked like the same thing as the Black, only w/ a smaller capacity, is that not the case? The Green has the 32MB cache just like the Black, both are 7200 RPM and 3 Gb/s SATA...I notice neither of the WD's list Average Seek Time or latency, is that what the difference is between the Black and Samsung and the Green?

What about this one? It's a WD Caviar Black 500GB 7200 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb for $69.99

Is that worth the extra $15 over the Samsung?

terr: regarding an aftermarket CPU cooler, you're right, I didn't include it in the build. The only reason I didn't include it, and I'm hesitant to is b/c I'm already over budget, and I've never used an aftermarket cooler before and haven't had any problems. I don't know, I can most definitely see the benefits of having one, I just don't know if it's $30 worth of benefit.

And yeah, you called it, I'm having my little brother get me a student copy of Win7 Pro 64bit. Well, he is actually getting me a "free" version that is available through his university to students of certain majors, so I'm gonna see how that works out. He is able to d/l an burn an install package through his school network, and is given a unique auth key and everything...sounds too good to be true to me and I've been trying to tell him that it probably won't work forever and he's too damn stubborn to just ask one of his comp-sci major friends, or one of the school network admins. There are actual physical Student copies available for sale for about $50 bucks in the Student Store, but he keeps telling me I won't need it. I'm thinking that after he graduates next year my license will semi-expire so that I wouldn't be able to do anymore installs if I needed to, but he read me the license agreement, and it pretty much said that it's good for life as long as he doesn't switch majors...we'll see I guess. If anyone has any experience with this kind of license let me know please, I could really use some advice from someone famiiar with this kind of license.

As for OC'ing...yeah, I think I am going to do a very minor OC on the CPU to bring it up to at least 965 BE speeds, and I may have to adjust the timings, latency, and voltage on the RAM I choose b/c all G.Skill RAM seems to have an issue where it is underclocked on AMD systems on boot. But from everything I read you just have to manually set everything to advertised specs and it will run stable and smooth.

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April 15, 2010 6:07:28 PM

Glad I could be of help, the different part#'s confused the hell out of me to at first :pt1cable: .
If your thinking about picking up a WD Caviar Black 500 GB, I noticed they're having a sale on the 640GB today (this is the model I got at the same price a few weeks back.)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/Apr-0-2010/Storage...

It's promo code EMCYRZS32. Great price for this drive, comes with 5 year warranty.
Green version = slower but less power usage 3 year warranty
Blue version = Middle of the road 3 year warranty
Black version = Top end, faster, a little louder and more warranty

I'm not sure about quality over Samsung, I almost went with them as I have never had a problem with any product from them. If I have any problems with WD than I may switch over. My CPU (same as yours) and RAM will get here this weekend so I can finally finish the build I have been buying parts for in the last few weeks. Good luck with yours keep us updated.
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April 15, 2010 6:23:58 PM

In regard to the hard drive, the listed specs on Newegg cannot be fully trusted in the way you compared the stats. 2 drives with the same cache, rotational speed, and capacity can have radically different real world performance numbers. (Different companies rate their products differently since an industry wide standard doesn't exist.)

The linked Samsung drive for $5 more than the Green drive is definitely a good "upgrade" over the Green. However, in my opinion, paying $15 more is too much for a 500 GB WD Black. Stick with the Samsung.
-----------------
As for the CPU cooler, retail coolers (those that come with retail CPUs), are generally only made for a CPU to run at its stock speed and voltages. In most cases, if you purchase an aftermarket cooler, your CPU will run at a lower temperature than it will with the retail cooler. As such, even if you don't overclock, then the CPU should last longer and run more reliably if you spend the little bit more on the aftermarket cooler. If you overclock, then this effect is especially true.

One note on the MB and any aftermarket cooler: Put the ram into the MB before you put the cooler on the MB. This is because this MB doesn't have much room around the CPU socket. Aftermarket coolers will overlap your choosen ram when you put the ram in the proper slots. (The slots closest to the CPU socket.)

In regards to the free Windows, I don't honestly know. Although, according to the license agreements on all student versions, you both aren't following the "law/license" anyway. :) 

Lastly, that is why I mentioned the easy method of OC'ing your chosen CPU. You shouldn't have to increase the voltage to the CPU to increase the multiplier to 18x, especially since the MB will try to do it for you anyway. If you really want to get into CPU OC'ing, something that I don't do... as I only "minor OC" all my systems, then there are many things you need to do to find the limits of parts (MB, CPU, ram) at various voltages... then dial them down 1-2 steps below the limits. Personally, I would just increase the multiplier (change from Auto to 18x), and change the CPU voltage from Auto to "the value it currently shows when you are in the Bios during this change." This will allow you to OC and force the MB to not put any more power to the CPU. (I personally leave AMD CPUs at their default multipliers... and undervolt slightly... since the users that I build systems for typically leave them running 24/7.)

And, manually dialing in ram settings is easy. Plus, once you have done it once, you will be more prepared the next time you build a new system down the road in your life.
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April 15, 2010 6:53:31 PM

Just a quick note, the WD Green is definitely not a 7200 rpm drive. It's a 5400 rpm drive. If you check the specs on either newegg or the WD website, they very carefully do not list the speeds of the Western Digital drives for the most part, especially for the greens.

The WD Caviar Greens are excellent storage drives, but they're not very desirable as boot drives.

As far as I know, the +$15 WD Caviar Black does not a single 500 GB platter, it uses 2 250 GB platters. Using a single 500 GB platter gives better performance due to the density of data on the platter, meaning the drive head has to move less in order to get to the right spot. This leads to increases in speed, and reduces heat/energy consumption and wear on the drive itself. (Whether or not any of this affects you in the long run is a matter for you to decide, but at $55 with free shipping, I think it's hard to argue.)

Of course, disk selection is entirely up to you, but at 500 GB, the performance recommendation is Samsung Spinpoint F3 or Seagate 7200.12. At 1 TB, either of those 2 models or the WD1002FAEX Caviar Black (not the FALS).

For more specifics, you could check out the THG Disk benchmarks, though some of the products aren't on there, like the WD1002FAEX. I think the Average Read Throughput chart is interesting/useful, but others may apply to your situation more.
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April 15, 2010 7:20:45 PM

Good eye on catching that sale on the WD Black 640Gb...that's 5 beans cheaper then what I was about to pay for the 500 Gb version, and puts it into the "worth it" category as now we're only talking 10 bucks more then the Samsung 500Gb for another 140Gb.

I have experience w/ Samsung optical drives as I have 2x Samsung DVD/CD-RW in my current system and I've had no trouble with em...of course, just b/c they make a decent optical doesn't mean they make a good HDD, but I don't doubt that they do. I have actually always used Maxtor drives, and they merged w/ Seagate since I built my last computer, so I'm trying to keep an open mind. I must say I have always heard good things about Western Digital so I feel comfortable buying one of their drives.

terr: Shhh, ixnay onay alkingtay boutay hetay legalilay dowswinay 7ay....I know we're not following the license agreement "to the letter". Personally, I'd rather just have him buy me the student copy from the student store and be done with it...but he's a lot like me, stubborn, especially when he thinks he is right. So, I'll take it as it comes.

I've done some minor OC'ing and tweaking before, so I'm familiar with the procedure for the most part, and I've already found some pretty detailed guides dealing specifically w/ my mobo and cpu, so I don't think I'll have any problems.

And it looks like I'll probably be buying everything tomorrow morning if all goes well, so there's still time for last minute adjustments...
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April 15, 2010 8:00:16 PM

As for WhiteFang's suggestions:

I purposely never use Combo specials or sales from Newegg for pricing on forum posts, as you never know exactly when a poster will actually purchase the items. (So, I limit myself to item by item pricing.) With this said:

PSU: I have no personal experience with Antec PSU's, but the main difference between this Antec and my listed Corsair unit is the Corsair unit's use of a single 12v line with high amperage versus the Antec's 4 12v lines. The Antec is rated for a 56a maximum across all 12v lines, while the Corsair has a 60a maximum over the single line. As a result, the Corsair is the better unit, on paper, for graphics and CPU power. (Further, you don't have to worry about overloading a single 12v line on the Corsair due to too much power draw. This is why a single 12v line is preferred over multiple lines.)

Ram: If you decide to go with an aftermarket cooler on your MB, you cannot buy the other G Skill ram. This is because the CPU cooler will most probably overlap two of your ram slots, and these ram chips have raised heatsinks. Ram heatsinks, as proven by this website, are typically pointless. Further, this ram gets its faster timings due to the increase in voltage (up to 1.65v). Stick with your chosen ram.
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April 15, 2010 8:01:16 PM

To play devil's advocate, $10 for 140 is pretty good...but you're getting 2x 320 GB platters. :) 
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April 15, 2010 9:23:36 PM

Ok there Mr.Devil's Advocate....so, is the 10 beans worth it or not? I'm guessing the seek time will be a touch slower on the WD Black 640Gb then on the Samsung Spinpoint F3 500Gb?

Personally, I don't really care too much about the extra 140Gb, right now I'm using a 250GB drive that I've had for almost 3 years now and I still haven't filled it...that being said the reason I never filled it is only b/c I reformatted about once a year on average for one reason or another. It would get close to capacity, within 20Gb's or so, but whenever it'd get that close I'd always make room.

I don't know, I guess I'll play it conservative and go w/ the Samsung...it's cheaper and it sounds like it'd be faster then the 640Gb WD Black.

As for the changes in case/PSU and RAM that whitefang suggested, I think I'll stick w/ what I got. I'm kind of impressed w/ the G.Skill I choose, especially if it works @ the advertised timings and speed w/ such low voltage.

The case is actually the same as the one I choose (which I have to say I am kinda excited about...looks like a good case), and the PSU doesn't really seem to have much on the Corsair one I choose above. Also, Corsair is a name I know and trust, although admittedly I have never used one of their PSU's, only RAM...but Antec, as far as I know makes good cases, but that's about it.


One, and one last thing that no one has answered...can anyone please suggest a decent internal card reader? I've looked over the Card Reader choices and don't recognize any of the manufacturers names, so if anyone has any experience with any of them, be it good or bad, please let me know. The only requirements for the Card Reader are it needs to have SD and micro-SD slots, everything else is gravy, I don't need extra USB or firewire slots, nor extra headphone/speaker outlets as the case comes w/ all that good stuff. Also, I'd prefer if it was 5.25", but I realize most of them are 3.5...my case doesn't have any native 3.5" slots, only a 5.25" > 3.5" adapter. Heh, it's funny after floppies went the way of the dodo I was sure I'd never find myself actually wanting a 3.5" slot on my case, lol.

Thanks for everything guys, everyone has been great and really helpful so far. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
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April 15, 2010 10:08:35 PM

No, antec is one of the best brands in PSU's.

Corsair, PC power and cooling and Antec are the best PSU manufacturers. Then comes seasonic, silver stone, and lastly OCZ.

The antec earthwatts PSU I suggest can output much higher then what it lists. It is also modular, and is an incredibly stable unit. The Corsair PSU you selected is just as good, but isn't modular, it's also a much older unit, and doesn't come with the combo.
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April 15, 2010 10:41:04 PM

coldsleep said:
Agree on dropping the WD Green. Samsung Spinpoint F3 is the same price at 500 GB and last I checked, had free shipping.

Disagree on getting the X2 & upgrading later. 3-4 cores is all that are really needed for gaming/websurfing/etc. right now, it's likely the OP won't feel the need to upgrade the CPU for 2-3 years...no sense in "limping" along with 2 cores for that long.

Actually, it's not that long. The AMD X6s should be out by end of Q2 2010.
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April 15, 2010 10:44:38 PM

whitefang said:
No, antec is one of the best brands in PSU's.

Corsair, PC power and cooling and Antec are the best PSU manufacturers. Then comes seasonic, silver stone, and lastly OCZ.

The antec earthwatts PSU I suggest can output much higher then what it lists. It is also modular, and is an incredibly stable unit. The Corsair PSU you selected is just as good, but isn't modular, it's also a much older unit, and doesn't come with the combo.

You do realize that Seasonic makes the top end Antec, Corsair, PC Power PSUs right? :D  :lol: 
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April 16, 2010 2:27:17 AM

Yep. They also make XFX now.
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April 16, 2010 1:56:22 PM

As for a card reader, you are going to be hard pressed to find a "big name" manufacturer of them. For things of that caliber, it is pretty much find the hardware and go... with the hardware's reviews to determine whether it is good or not. Since you are going with Newegg, Rosewill products have a decent reputation for working properly. But, again, the best bet is to just find one that has what you need and go with it.

And, I don't have time to look at the Antec 900 case, but you will need to make sure that the case comes with the adapter for the 3.5" reader. I know with 300s you would have to purchase separately.
------------------------
Edit: You may want to think about a USB powered external card reader. This way, if you ever need to use it on another computer, you can.
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April 16, 2010 9:04:38 PM

terr: Yeah, like I said earlier, the case doesn't come w/ a dedicated 3.5 slot, but does come with an adapter. And yeah, after looking the card readers over I'm just gonna narrow it down and find something that seems decent.

whitefang: after taking a closer look at that case/PSU combo you posted, I decided I'm gonna go for it. It has the case I choose to begin with, and included a pretty good PSU (from what you say), and is going to save me about 80 bucks, which will get me VERY close to my original budget after rebates, which not only makes me happy, but my wife too ;) 

I have to admit I don't know the intricacies, and benefits/problems, of having a single 12v rail, or multiple...but I read this article and am a bit more informed now, but it seems impossible to know exactly how everything is split amongst the multiple 12v rails correct? In any case I don't see a problem w/ multiple 12v rails, it seems it's mostly beneficial so that, combined w/ the savings equals good deal IMO. Thanks mate :) 
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April 27, 2010 3:47:43 PM

Hey guys, so I had an issue w/ my CC when I ordered, and had to cancel the order....

I also decided, at the last minute, to save a couple bucks so I went for the 5850 instead of the 5870. But now, some of the components I wanted are no longer in stock, or are no longer available so I had to change some things up and I was wondering if you might be able to help out. For reference, the rest of the major components are:

AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 125w = $159.99
Gigabyte 890GX = $139.99
G.Skill 4GB DDR3 1600 = $119.99
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB = $54.99
HP Black Multi-DVD burner w/ Lightscribe = $30.99
Antec Earthwatts 750W PSU = $109.99 (combo)
Antec 900 Black Steel = $99.99 (combo)

First, the GPU I was going to get,

XFX 5850 1Gb = $309.99,

is very sadly out of stock. There are some alternatives from other manufactures in the same price-range, but I was wondering if you all thought I should hold off for a few days and wait for the XFX to be restocked? Or should I just go with a card from another manufacturer?

I was looking @ cards from Sapphire, ASUS, and Gigabyte specifically, but have never bought a GPU from any of these companies so I don't know what kind of quality to expect, I know ASUS and Gigabyte put out solid mobo's but know nothing of their GPU's. Sapphire I know even less about, from what I understand though, they are kind of like what BFG is to nVidia, in other words they put out some of the best ATi cards. That being said, I have heard some real horror stories about their Customer Support, and I know they don't offer a lifetime warranty, but hopefully I wouldn't need to deal with that. Any opinions?

Here are all of my current options for 5850's

Also, the monitor I was going to get, the

ASUS 22" 2ms LCD = $169.99 is no longer available. So...

I was going to go with this:

ASUS 21.5" 2ms LCD = $179.99 ($159.99 after rebate)

That monitor looks to be the same as the one I was going to get, only 1/2" smaller. Maybe I'm missing some small detail or something, but otherwise the one I am favoring atm is $40 cheaper then the next ASUS monitor, a 23" 2ms @ $199.99 (w/ no rebate).

Any help is very much appreciated.
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April 27, 2010 4:57:02 PM

^ Looks good to me. What you have selected is a solid set up. Go for it.
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April 27, 2010 6:31:30 PM

Thanks Shadow, if it looks good it's due in part to your input :) 

Since I posted last, the 22" ASUS became available again, but after comparing it w/ the 21.5" I found the 21.5" to be slightly superior w/ a higher resolution (1920x12xx on the 21.5" vs 1680x1050 on the 22") and a slightly higher refresh rate, so I'm gonna pay the extra 10beans and get the 21.5".

As for the GPU's...since my last post the Sapphire I was looking at, along w/ 2 other Sapphire model's I was considering, went out of stock. So my choices (I'm trying to keep it below $350) are down to ASUS, MSI, PowerColor, Diamond, and Gigabyte. All of which I am unfamiliar with as far as GPU quality goes, so I'd appreciate any advice on that, but short of that I think I'm gonna wait a day and see if the XFX 5850 I want comes back in stock.

And damn it all....as I was going to post this, my RAM went out of stock too. If it doesn't come back in stock in the next 24 hours, I will be choosing between one of these memory sets (mostly b/c they are listed on my mobo's mem-support page while none others are, I know that doesn't mean the others won't work, but why take a chance right?), and I would REALLY like some advice:

G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB DDR3 1600 7-8-7-24-2N 1.35v = $124.99 (seems to be an older, more expensive, version of my first choice or some such as the model numbers are exactly the same except for one number, this set that # is 7, my first choice that number is 8 )

G.SKILL 4GB DDR3 1600 9-9-9-24-2N 1.5v = $109.99

Basically, when I comes to RAM I know that lower CAS latency and timings is generally better correct? So, by that logic the first set would be the better choice b/c of lower CAS and tighter timings? I did some reasearch and they both have 2N Command Rates, thusly, the first of these two sets is the better choice if my first set doesn't become available?
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April 27, 2010 10:04:26 PM

This XFX 5850 is in stock: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All are good brands, but I prefer ASUS and XFX.


As far as RAM goes, yes you are correct in your thinking. BUT, do realize that RAM speed and timing do NOT affect real world performance in 98.999% of the cases. My opinion of RAM is as follows: Get the most amount (as in GB) of quality (as in Gskill, Corsair,etc) RAM as possible for your budget. You WILL notice more RAM versus Faster RAM (as in 2GB vs 4GB, 4GB vs 8GB,etc).
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April 28, 2010 12:56:32 AM

Ok, one last question (I hope/think)...

I went and took a closer look at some of the combo's, and through some playing with different possibilities I found another ~$50 savings. The only problem is, b/c of the combo's components, the savings comes at the cost of either RAM timings or a superior GPU manufacturer. So I am now wondering which would be the better choice, keeping in mind both GPU's have the same advertised speeds, and both sets of RAM are G.Skill DDR3 1600?

An XFX GPU + 9-9-9-24 RAM (this combo is $10 cheaper total)

or

a Gigabyte GPU + 7-8-7-24 RAM (this combo is $10 more total)

I know it's pretty ridiculous to even ask....it's only $10 difference between the two and I would usually just take the best pieces out of both choices and get those regardless of the combo, but if I did that it would cost me about $50 more then with the combo choices I just mentioned.

I'm guessing the better choice is the XFX + the "slower" RAM, b/c I am guessing the difference between the RAM timings will be hardly noticeable and will probably only equate to something like 1~3fps when it comes down to it, but then again the Gigabyte GPU + "faster" RAM might be a better choice if you take into consideration that the mobo is Gigabyte too, so there may be some synergy between the GPU + mobo b/c they are built by the same manufacturer? That's my thought process on the whole thing, but when it comes down to it I am not sure and wanted a more informed opinion.
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April 28, 2010 1:50:11 AM

Personally, I'd go with the XFX. I've had good experience with them since the nVidia 7xxx series cards.

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I'm guessing the better choice is the XFX + the "slower" RAM, b/c I am guessing the difference between the RAM timings will be hardly noticeable and will probably only equate to something like 1~3fps

Not even. More like .5 fps.

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Gigabyte too, so there may be some synergy between the GPU + mobo b/c they are built by the same manufacturer?

Nope. There is no such thing.
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April 28, 2010 2:10:07 AM

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too, thanks a lot for all the help, I really appreciate it
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