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[New System Build] Budget gaming, HTPC

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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 7:58:32 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within 2 weeks

BUDGET RANGE: $300-700 Before / After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, HTPC (5.1 LPCM?), Internet, Word Processing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:

-ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-NZXT Apollo ORANGE NP Orange SECC Steel Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-XION PowerReal XON-600F14T-201 600W ATX12V SLI Ready Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-Pioneer Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-R 32X CD-RW 40X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-Currently own: copies of Windows XP, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows 7 64-bit
-Currently own: all peripherals needed (monitor, HDTV, speakers/receiver, keyboard, mouse, router, modem)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, ncix.com, tigerdirect.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA (Idaho, no Fry's in sight)

PARTS PREFERENCES:

-AMD or Intel are both fine for CPUs, but I would prefer parts that work with above listed components if possible - OC'able
(considered phenom II x4, core i5 750 so far)

-HDD that's fast and stable, at least 750GB 7200 RPM

-Motherboard with solid audio options (though I will pass sound through a discrete HDMI graphics card), good overclock ability

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, with above cooler (9700) -> Would like to end up in the 3.7-4ghz range

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No / Maybe (likely not, 2 cards not worth the heat output/power consumption imo)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Looking for the best gaming I can get at the lowest price. I'm willing to consider DDR2 or DDR3 RAM, though I'd buy 4-6 GB of DDR3 and 6-8GB of DDR2 (this would be a Win7 64-bit box).

I misplaced the box on the above CPU HSF, it was being used on a p965 E6400 build that died. I'm not sure if I'd need different mounting brackets to continue using the Zalman.

I currently have an AMD 720 BE system that uses 2x Radeon 4850 in crossfire. Performance is decent on the crossfire but not amazing, so I was considering removing one temporarily and using it in the current prospective build, then adding a 5800 series card when the drop in price and putting the 4850 back in it's crossfire box.

I would consider, but do not currently need, a blu-ray drive (I currently use a PS3 for all my blu-ray viewing). I'm thinking of waiting until prices on good burners drop before going this route.

Do most modern motherboards require an additional PCI wireless card to run a hybrid wired/wireless network? I'm a newb with wireless networking, I have a d-link wireless router but I've only used the cat5 direct connection so far on it. It would be cool to be able to stream media to the PS3 as well, but is really unnecessary since the computer will be hooked directly to my HDTV via HDMI through an Onkyo 5.1 receiver.

I am a very big fan of combo deals and rebates where I can find them. Basically...I'm cheap.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 8:10:31 PM

Welcome to the forum.

First off, you are going to want to replace that PSU... Here's a much better one

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

It looks like a i5 is just out of your budget, so here's a 955 setup.

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...

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

Comes to about $660. If you wanted to stick to Intel here's the two parts you would need

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

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

As for the wireless networking, you can either get a pci card or buy a usb receiver...
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 8:34:00 PM

Wow, thanks for the fast reply. So it's looking like I'm going to have ditch the old PSU, but I can probably swing using the same case and HSF. Would that Zalman 9700 I listed be compatible with core i5 you linked? Or any newer Intel cpu for that matter?

The wireless card can wait, it's not really essential for what I do, but good to know I can add it in the future.

The 5770 I am up in the air about. My current 4850 is a 512mb setup, so the extra memory would definitely be beneficial for gaming at 1080p, but not sure the chipset is actually that much of an upgrade to justify the price. I do like that it would consume less power and probably run cooler than my current card, so assume the 5770's OC fairly well also. But I could probably get by on the 4850 for a month or two and upgrade in the summer if I had to. Also, how important is it to match ATI GPUs to AMD CPUs and Nvidia GPUs to Intel CPUs?

What are people's thoughts on using more DDR2 vs. less DDR3 RAM? I've read that newer intel CPUS only take DDR3, and certain AMD motherboards use either DDR2 or DDR3 (the AM2+/AM3 boards anyway).

Newegg does have a decent combo deal/rebate on this motherboard and RAM right now:

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

It's a bit pricey, but seems like a decent board if it's worth the price premium over a standard AMD board...though I'm not sure it is.
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Related resources
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 8:44:18 PM

I'm going to disagree a little with jbaker. I don't think you'd be well served to get an X4 955 and a low quality board. Instead, my build would look a little like this:

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 5770 $160
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650W $75

Total: $605

On to the questions.

Yes, the Zalman would work.

The 5770 is a lot better than the 4850. It's also better for the future (my build) when you can add a second one for cheap. It's not important at all to match ATI to AMD and nVidia to Intel.

I wouldn't build anything new with DDR2. There might not be a huge performance increase, but DDR2 is basically dead. The new Intel CPUs will only accept DDR3, and the older AMD boards could take DDR2, but they're not recommended.

That board won't work with AMD CPUs. It's an Intel board. And not a high quality one at that.

EDIT: A much better gamer, capable of playing games at max details at 1900x, would involve switchin the board and GPU to : Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 and HD 5850. It will bring the total to $695.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 8:46:24 PM

It doesn't look like that HSF will work with the i5... It will work with the Phenom II though, and maybe could find an adaptor. Yes, you could absolutely stick with the 4870 for a while, the 5770 is not much of a performance upgrade from it. There is no need to match AMD/ATI or Intel/Nvidia parts together, the parts themselves work the same independent of what they are paired with. It's best to stick with DDR3 for the Phenom II, there's really no need to use DDR2 unless you were trying to stick to a lower budget. Only see a link to a motherboard... The board is very nice and a good deal and will support crossfire should you want to in the future.

Here's a nice cheap HSF for you to check out
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 8:53:06 PM

@MadAdmiral

I like your build as well. I suggested the 770 board because the OP did not seem to think that he was going to consider crossfire, and I don't think it's really low quality. Regarding the GPU, the performance of the 5770 is not greatly different from that of the 4870, and to stay in budget it would certainly be reasonable to wait off on upgrading the GPU. To be clear, I would never buy a new 4870 though... Anyways, I assumed that you were referring to the i5 build when you linked that motherboard.

Edit: the last sentence is referring to the OPs post. :) 
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 8:57:27 PM

There's a 28% FPS difference between the 5770 and 4850 (using the "Sum of FPS Benchmarks All Resolutions"). I'd consider that a sizeable gain. I'd also consider the additional features as worth the cost, especially for an HTPC card.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:00:08 PM

:(  4850 not 4870. Statement retracted.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:00:22 PM

Sorry, the memory for the i5 build to the linked mobo would be: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (additional $20 off when purchased with mobo).

If the motherboard isn't generally recommend (reviews aren't that favorable so far) I'll just avoid it though.

It looks like DDR3 is going to be the way to go also. How big of a performance difference would be expected going from 4 to 6 and even to 8 gb?

The Zalman 9700 would probably be a good fit with an AMD system, but it was being used with an intel system before...so that's the only mounting bracket I have for it. I wonder if Zalman sells spares?

This will be my 5th system build, but I'm really behind on the current tech and trying to get caught up.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:01:33 PM

For your uses you wouldn't see hardly any benefit from the additional RAM.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:05:07 PM

In what you have listed as your uses, you will see no gain in going to 8 GB. I say 8 GB because 6 GB is for triple channel boards (X58 or the i7-9xx). It wouldn't run properly on a P55/AM3 board.

To be honest, with your budget, I'd generally avoid Intel. Their CPUs are better, but that won't matter in gaming. You'd also pay at least $40 more for the CPU and about $50-75 more for the board. That's an extra $90-115 that's better spent elsewhere in the build.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:31:07 PM

Thanks again for all of the advice.

It looks like I'll be going with an AMD board, 4gb DDR3 RAM (did not know you can't run 6gb), and likely an x4 955 BE. I noticed that the 955 is a 125w cpu and the 945 is a 95w. I've read that the 955 is easier to overclock, but would the 945 be just as effective shrunken down?

I did find a HSF cross mounting clip for AM2 boards but it seems a little pricey:

http://sharkacomputers.com/10070-zm-xmc-am2.html

From the image shown, the retention clip looks identical to what I'm using now in the intel system...I wonder if I could just use the same clip. I'm assuming AM2 and AM3 boards use the same style of retention clips and mounting brackets.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:33:48 PM

The main advantage to the 955 is the fact that the multiplier is unlocked. If you plan to reach ~4GHz (as you stated you wish to) then the 955 would make doing so easier for you.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 5, 2010 9:36:13 PM

Technically you can run 6 GB of RAM on a dual-channel board, you just reduce the performance by not populating the slots correctly.

To complicate things even more, you could populate 4 slots with 2x2 GB and 2x1 GB and keep dual-channel, but that's probably more complex than it needs to be. Might as well go for 8 GB at that point.
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