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Dead PC, ~$700 replacement needed urgently

Last response: in Systems
May 1, 2010 5:45:08 PM

My last build was around 2005 but I've been out of the 'tech loop' since then and find myself struggling to take stock of everything considering my time requirements. I need a build as soon as possible, as my previous one has been damaged despite holding up well this far.

(If it's relevant, the basic specs of my previous build: x2 4400+, 7800GTx2, 4GB, 1TB, X-Fi. Little of it is salvageable.)

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: May 2010, as soon as possible.
BUDGET RANGE: ~$700 or ~£500. Lower is better.
--Adobe Creative Suite 4/5 (Flash & Photoshop in particular)
--Valve/Source Engine game library
--Constant web browsing, general multitasking
--RAM hungry games(Elder Scrolls, STALKER, casual MMO)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Headset/Speakers, Optical Drive. Antec EarthWatts EA-650 650W PSU.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: ebuyer or overclockers. I am content to order from newegg or amazon, but international shipping costs must be included in my available budget. Websites offering pre-made custom builds are fine, if applicable.
PARTS PREFERENCES: My past CPU experience has been with AMD, but from what I've read I should be leaning Intel? I strongly prefer nVidia GPUs and Antec cases, but efficiency and compatibility are my chief concerns.
OVERCLOCKING: No, though I'm open to the possibility.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, as an option in the future. Two cards not necessary immediately.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 native, 1280x800 fixed aspect ratio for gaming. HD not needed.(Samsung SyncMaster 930BF)
The PSU was bought fairly recently, and as it coincides with the March $750 System Builder Marathon I will likely default to that build if needed. HDD 500gb minimum. On-board audio is fine as I haven't fully diagnosed my X-Fi card yet - at the least it can simply be a future purchase. OS not needed, but Windows 7 Professional wanted if possible within the budget. At least two USB ports on the front of a case desired, not required.

The components I care most about are the motherboard and the CPU, and the amount of longevity/future-proofing that can be done with them. Desires for the motherboard are not using all RAM slots (allowing a future upgrade) and at least 2 standard PCI slots, 1 for a soundcard and possibly room for an exhaust fan.

With most games I use low graphical settings where possible and my emphasis is on FPS consistency. I would also want a motherboard with the option of SLi/CrossFire even though it'll be using only 1 GPU to begin with. For these reasons, it is not a problem for the GPU to be the slight bottleneck of the system, knowing that a future 2nd GPU would eliminate the bottleneck but not outclass the CPU. (Within the capability of the PSU, of course.)

To reiterate, my main concern is "value*performance/efficiency" with a strong CPU, lasting motherboard and the availability of adding more RAM/another GPU. I'm aware that this might be a tall order considering my budget, in which case the core of CPU/MoBo/RAM is my priority.

This post was somewhat rushed, so apologies to any missing or mistaken information.
Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.

May 1, 2010 10:30:13 PM

ok, here is a basic build you can add upon should you desire it.

if im not missing anything, which i believe im not, the final price is 550 pounds. now, for my explanation. you mentioned future proofing to the build, which is why i did some of the things i did. the mobo is the new 8xx mobos from amd, so it has USB 3.0, and SATA 6, as well as just having some perks over all. i went amd because, it is better on a budget, and it has been proven to be much more future proof (intel changes sockets every 2 months, amd has had am3 for QUITE a while, and am3 will be backwards compatible with am3+). a lot of the better ram there is sold out, so if you can wait, id buy some of the ones that are not sold out at that time, like this:

the gpu is likely more than you need at that resolution, and even at HD it is ample power for most games. if u really want to crossfire it, the mobo and psu have the ability, but i doubt you will need to. you have plenty of $ left if you want to upgrade the mobo, cpu, ram, or vid card. the case is a very good antec, and a nice mix between gaming and work. the HDD is 1 TB, and basically the best u can get outside of ssd and 10k...if i forgot anything, or if u have anymore questions, well ill be here lol. hope this helped :) 
May 1, 2010 11:53:16 PM

I just saw one response so, I decided to check it over and chime in ...

... I didn't go thru all the links but I saw SATA3 and a 1TB drive and a 5770 ...

... That looks great for the budget you gave ... I was a bit surprised.

= Approved ! =
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May 1, 2010 11:56:04 PM

150 pounds under budget no less :D 
May 2, 2010 12:02:03 AM

So ... Did you give 'em 4GB and at least 3 cores ?
May 2, 2010 12:11:51 AM

its a C3 955, with 4 gigs of 1333, 1.65, 7-7-7-21 ram...there were better rams, but they were sold out...
May 2, 2010 12:15:27 AM

Just finished an article on RAM scalings ... (here) ... very interesting.

In a blind test ? ... I'd bet your Tea, ... OP (and Co.) could not tell the difference.

(Like 1fps ... ... may-be)

May 2, 2010 12:16:45 AM

i know, but the better ones were 1600, 7-7-7, and 1.65 or 1.5, and they were cheaper :p 
May 2, 2010 12:19:35 AM

BTW ...

1333c7 = 1600c9

May 2, 2010 12:23:02 AM

yep, i knew that. but 1600c7>1333c7...obviously :lol: 
May 2, 2010 12:24:29 AM

YES ... And that diff is roughly equivilent to +0.1GHZ (x4BE-CPU)

= Hmmmm =
May 2, 2010 12:31:44 AM

and is better considering its cheaper lol
May 2, 2010 9:07:30 AM

ares1214 said:
ok, here is a basic build you can add upon should you desire it.

An excellent build, thank you!
(My budget was $700 or around £500, but considering what can be done with an extra £50 I'm definitely not complaining!)

My only concern is the possibility of a CrossFire upgrade - that motherboard only has 1x PCIe 2.0 slot, but I am out of the loop so I could be missing something.

Would this motherboard work as well?
The only differences I can find are a second PCIe 2.0 slot at the cost of a PCIe x4 slot, an eSATA port, 2x IEEE ports, and 8+1 power phase rather than 4+1. Does any of this make a significant difference? It's from the same line just a different model and £5 more.

Everything else you've suggested sounds great - I love the case and HDD, and the positions of the CPU and GPU on their respective hierarchy charts elsewhere on this site. :D 
May 2, 2010 10:54:47 AM

well, here was my reasoning for an 870 chipset. the 7xx chipsets wont be the future proof ones that you want, and all 8xx chipsets have sata 6 and usb 3. also, the only other ones either have integrated, which is kinda a waste, and then theres the 200$+ 890FX, which sure, are the best, but i doubt you will be needing more than 2 gpus...
May 2, 2010 11:43:23 AM

All true and I break ranks by pushing it ... I am thinking more of the NEXT build.

= Al = $179 for the ASUS or Gigabyte

May 2, 2010 12:14:26 PM

well as long as it has 2x pci 2.0 slots, and is 8xx chipset, it should be sufficient. if u can get that without spending 200$, then thats the smart move
May 2, 2010 1:06:49 PM

Sorry to muddy the waters ... forget the 890FX ... 890FX ... 890FX ... etc.

Have to go tend to my money tree.

= Al =