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Opinions Requested for ~$800 Gaming PC

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April 14, 2010 3:21:13 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Friday-ish (04/16)
Budget: ~$800, though I could be convinced to increase it slightly if needed
Used For: current/slightly older gaming (SC2, Civ5, L4D2, Fallout 3, etc.)
Part Not Required: keyboard/mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, optical drive
Preferred Website: whatever is cheapest
Parts Preferences: (see below)
Overclocking: most definitely
SLI/Crossfire: in the future
Monitor Resolution: around 1920x1080 (1080p)
Additional Comments: Nothing I have chosen is set in stone, but I've done a bit of research and feel that my build is pretty solid. What I'm looking for are people's comments on the specific parts I've chosen as far as performance/reliability/compatibility goes, as well as possible weak points that might hold it back from really soaring.

Basically, I am trying to maximize bang for buck while at the same time get parts that will be upgradeable if I ever need to. Here are all the parts I've chosen thus far:

Antec Three Hundred Illusion
instead: Antec Three Hundred ($50 at Microcenter, purchased)
WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" HD ($75)
ASUS M4A89GTD PRO W/ USB 3.0
instead: GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 ($115 at Microcenter)
AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto
MSI R5770 Hawk Radeon HD 5770 1GB
instead: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 5850
Rosewill BRONZE 1000W Modular Power Supply
instead: haven't decided
OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 Dual Channel Memory
instead: haven't decided

Obviously I plan on unlocking the cores of my CPU (::crosses fingers::)  and overclocking everything to whatever is stable and suitable for my needs. Any advice would be wonderful, but if you do say something please back it up with evidence or constructive commentary. Thanks in advance for your help!

Cheers.

[edit: forgot to include optical drive in 'Parts Not Needed']
April 14, 2010 3:38:40 AM

Go with a Spinpoint F3-500 GB but faster and $20 cheaper than the WD.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This combo also saves you $15 and is the exact RAM & CPU as you selected.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

You also forgot an optical drive, go with this case & optical combo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Finally, a 1000W PSU is severe overkill for a single 5770. Even if you were to go CrossFire in the future, you can get away with a 650W.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 14, 2010 8:51:05 PM

I'm hoping you haven't bought this yet.

Frankly, the X2 555 is a bad buy. It's too expensive and not powerful enough. You can just as easily get the X3 425 for $30 less and do the same thing.

You really don't need an 890 chipset. All the 890 gives you is the ability to add a six core CPU without updating the BIOS. Wasted money for both the board and CPU.

That RAM has compatibility issues with a lot of boards. I would avoid it at all costs.

Finally, the 5770 is weak for 1900x resolutions. You'd need to Crossfire very soon to get the full benefit out of it.

Here's a full build that I would recommend:

CPU: X3 425 $70
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $125 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
GPU: HD 5850 $300
HDD/PSU: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB and OCZ StealthXStream 700W $95 after rebate. This drive is about as fast as the Samsung, and is slightly better in gaming.
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $83 after rebate

Total: $793
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April 14, 2010 9:10:37 PM

I agree with Madadmiral for the most part, but, as an owner of both an X2 555 and a GA-790XTA-UD4, I can say this mobo can unlock the 555 to an X4 B55. Even if you cant, this is a Black Edition CPU, so you get the unlocked multiplier. I can run it as a dual core at 4Ghz with full stability and great FPS. So if all goes well, an x4 B55 for 100 bucks is a steal if not, its still a monster @ 4GHz. Oh and the new beta BIOS for this MOBO also supports hexcore. (F3F) Bonus.

Another note on the 790XTA-UD4 it only has 16 lanes, so you will run at x8 x8 if you do crossfire. Something to think about....
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April 14, 2010 9:14:29 PM

16x/16x is only a 4% performance gain over 8x/8x, and only noticeable with 5970s. It's not something to worry about.

As for the X2 unlocking, yes it is possible. However, the x3 can also unlock. Chances are better that it will unlock and be stable. If you looked at the monthly "Best CPUs for the Money" articles, you'd find that the X3 440 (an updated X3 425) is recommend for budgets from $80 to $120 (or more accurately that the X2 555 and X4 620 are NOT recommended).
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April 14, 2010 9:21:20 PM

MadAdmiral said:
16x/16x is only a 4% performance gain over 8x/8x, and only noticeable with 5970s. It's not something to worry about.

As for the X2 unlocking, yes it is possible. However, the x3 can also unlock. Chances are better that it will unlock and be stable. If you looked at the monthly "Best CPUs for the Money" articles, you'd find that the X3 440 (an updated X3 425) is recommend for budgets from $80 to $120 (or more accurately that the X2 555 and X4 620 are NOT recommended).


Exactly 4%? LOL I don't think its thats cut and dry, as CF advantage differs greatly from game to game. All I'm saying is, CF is a great way to extend the life of your PC. Why skimp in an area that you can future-proof for $40. The X2 555 did receive honorable mention in the latest "Best CPU...." It's a 955 for all intents and purposes, if you get lucky like I did.
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April 15, 2010 1:39:31 AM

Yes, it's exactly 4%. Tom's did a study of it.

I agree that Crossfire is a good thing, but you don't need 16x/16x (which would be about $100 more than non-Crossfire boards). 8x/8x is good enough and usually costs about $30-40.

Honorable mention is not a recommendation. It's a "if you've got absolutely nothing else to spend your money on". The X3s could also potentially unlock to be a X4 955 as well...
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April 15, 2010 6:14:53 AM

dksite053: I notice that HD has a 16 MB cache vs the 32 MB cache of the drive I selected, does that not help it win out in speed? I will look into that option, for sure.

I have that bundle selected already, but thanks for pointing it out!

I don't need an optical drive and have updated the first post to clarify.

I realize 1000W is overkill, but it's also on sale for a good discount and it's modular (something I kind of like a lot). Any modular suggestions?

niklas_13: Any particular reason?

MadAdmiral: Thank you for the great suggestions. Here are my thoughts:

CPU: Aren't the Athlon's seriously hampered by the lack of L3 cache? Also, if the core unlocking is an issue with the X2, why wouldn't I just go with a Phenom II X3 720 (same price as the one I selected, though I didn't see that before).
MB: I really like the one you selected, and it is now in my build. Thanks!
RAM: Any reason why that set is superior to the many other similarly spec'd/slightly cheaper modules?
GPU: I like the idea of 'splurging' on a nice card now and then setting it up in crossfire down the road when it's halved or more in price, so I'll also be adding that one to my list.
HD: I guess I have the same question for you as dk, above: why doesn't the cache matter?
PSU: Any suggestions on a cheapish modular PSU more in my watt range? What should I be shooting for with the 5850? 700ish?
Case: I actually found the Three Hundred on sale at a local Microcenter, so I'll be sticking with that one. (and I don't need the optical drive, as noted).

goatsword: Thanks for your input. The crossfire issue doesn't concern me much, but I do kind of share your feelings on the processor.
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April 15, 2010 6:44:29 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Yes, it's exactly 4%. Tom's did a study of it.

I agree that Crossfire is a good thing, but you don't need 16x/16x (which would be about $100 more than non-Crossfire boards). 8x/8x is good enough and usually costs about $30-40.

Honorable mention is not a recommendation. It's a "if you've got absolutely nothing else to spend your money on". The X3s could also potentially unlock to be a X4 955 as well...



I agee regarding the X3, tests here at toms showed that the difference between it and the phenom II x3 720 was marginal at best.

About unlocking the Athlons cache to make them into phenom - that could only be done with the first batches as the locked cache was physically removed on the later revisions.

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April 15, 2010 12:17:26 PM

The lack of an L3 cache doesn't actually affect much at all. Also, it's not like you're trying to build a computation monster. It's better to save the money on the CPU and invest it in the GPU.

The Ripjaws are the cheapest non-OCZ sticks of 1600 mhz CL 7 sticks that I've found. I say non-OCZ because OCZ has compatibility issues with many, many boards. I believe the cheaper sets are usually either 1333 mhz or CL 8 or 9, which makes them slower, especially when overclocked.

The cache on the HDD doesn't matter as much because the drives are 500 GB platter drives. They're just faster than drives with smaller platters.

There is a reason that PSU was cheap. It's crap. And frankly, modular units aren't that useful any more. All quality cases have a bottom mounted PSU. That means the excess cables sit out of the way and out of sight already. If you bought a modular PSU and a bottom mounted case, you'd be paying twice for the same feature.
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