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Summer gaming build - need budgeting help!

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May 19, 2010 5:41:54 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: End of June, middle of July (hopefully) BUDGET RANGE: Under $1000 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Linux, Audio/Video entertainment, Internet, School

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, speakers, monitor

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com, but I've heard I can pick up parts at a local microcenter for cheaper... COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU with NVIDIA GPU

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Most likely no

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: See post

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G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-6GBNQ (microcenter alternative, same price, better?)

Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor (microcenter, cheaper)

GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard (microcenter, cheaper)

GIGABYTE GV-N26OC-896I GeForce GTX 260 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card (there is no reason I'm going for GIGABYTE on both mobo and gpu, they just both seem like excellent deals) (considering cutting to this)

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply (microcenter, cheaper)

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6402AAEX 640GB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

NZXT LEXA S LEXS - 001BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Logitech Deluxe 250 Black 104 Normal Keys USB Wired Standard Keyboard (microcenter alternative, cheaper)


I'm looking to game on this computer, not hardcore like pushing the limits of Crysis and benchmarking kind of thing, but just enough to play most games on high settings on a 22" monitor. I'm not absolutely positive of my budget at this point, but I don't like to sacrifice build quality much at all. I'm not very willing to cut performance for a budget. I know what I want and have a hard time settling for anything else, so I'm in need of some help.

What I have in mind so far is almost definitely an Intel Core i7. Nothing can beat them right now, and I'm more than willing to have the cheapest version because it still outperforms almost everything else on the market. Going with an AMD will just make me shake my head every time I see my computer since they are, and have been, inferior processors since around 2005. Furthermore, I want a good motherboard. Of course it needs to be pretty high end so it doesn't bottleneck the i7 itself, but I justify spending on the motherboard since I'm going to need it to last me a good while and I can use it across more than one build. USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0 are a plus just for futureproofing.

I'm willing to sacrifice a little on memory and a graphics card. Right now I'm planning on using DDR3 1333 memory at 7-7-7-21 timings since it performs nearly as well as DDR3 1600 at similar timings but the 1333 clocked sticks are considerably cheaper. Graphics cards drop price quickly on the street and you can (somewhat) easily pick up last months behemoth for half the price this month (not exactly but you know what I mean). I really do prefer NVIDIA though. I've had NVIDIA cards all my life and they've never let me down. I remember overclocking my FX2000 and getting artifacts in CS:S. Plus, I will be dual-booting Linux on this computer and ATI drivers are absolute *** in Linux.

Storage I'm not worried about either; I have a 160GB drive in my lappy now and I comfortably fit everything I have with 50GB free space. I can use the lappy as network storage along with my current seedbox that has 215GB free on it now. However, this may change if I install many games to my OS drive, but hard drives are so damn cheap these days a 500GB is completely justified in my mind. I'm just not going to need anything fancy like multiple drives for RAID etc, but a dedicated OS drive would be nice. SSD maybe if the prices drop.

The case and power supply are also worthy to be spent on in my mind since, again, I can use them over multiple builds. There just doesn't seem like there are many worthy places for me to cut performance for cash!

Also, are there any soon to be released products I should know about so I don't make the mistake of purchasing something and the next day something wildly better comes along? Or at least make the prices on some other products drop? This happened to me with the iPod photo, I got one and the video came out next month.
May 19, 2010 6:39:23 AM

^ First let me make few things clear...
1. The new gen AMD Phenom II CPUs are not crap.
2. The gaming performance of the i7 is very much comparable to the i5 750 and the Phenoms too...And doesnt offer any significant performance increase in single card configurations...

I think just rather than going for the fastest CPU around, you must look into what suits your requirements the best.
A little bit of reading on the Core i5 750 and the AMD Phenom II X4s would really help...
You can get a Core i5 750 + P55 mobo + Nvidia's latest GTX 470 for the same price or even less than the above i7 setup and I can assure you that it will beat the i7 in any of the games...
May 19, 2010 7:07:03 AM

This would be my pick of an overall powerful build...
Core i5 750 - Cheaper @microcenter
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte P55A-UD3 - Dont think that it is cheap and hence low quality...It has proven its stablity in the World Overclocking competition - providing some of the maximum stable overclocks for the Core i5/ i7 CPUs...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM - GSKillz 4GB DDR3 1600MHz CAS 7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU + Graphics card -
EVGA GTX 470 + OCZ 600W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Related resources
May 19, 2010 4:30:36 PM

I like the PSU + GPU combo you suggested. That GTX 470 would definitely satisfy my gaming needs for a while. The 100W increase on the PSU is a nice addition as well.

Like you suggested, I'm reading more on the i5, and started with this. It seems apparent to me that the 920/930 i7 is a waste of money, even if it is $80 cheaper at microcenter than newegg. The i5 scored nearly the same in benchmarks as the i7 that I was looking at. However, the i5 still outperformed the X4's to a considerable margin, at least on paper. So I'm comfortable moving from the i7 920/930 to the i5 750.

What I'm still not so sure about is what that means for the motherboard. The i5 won't support the originally intended LGA 1366 so that means it doesn't have the triple channel memory or multiple 16x PCIe lanes (also no QPI but that doesn't seem to matter too much). I know I said I wasn't planning on doing SLI anytime soon, but in the future I might. There's two things for me to consider here: I won't be able to buy a card right now that I would want to SLI with since the mobo and ram cost more so I'll have to dish out the price for two similar cards later, but would I really want to SLI on the slower LGA 1156?

How much of a difference does triple channel vs double channel memory make? And what about the SLI performance, just for futureproof? The Core i7 860 is the same price as the i7 920/930... It doesn't perform that much better than the i5 750 on gaming benchmarks, but does on other productivity tasks. Is this at all indicative of future gaming performance that would make me consider the $20 extra that I would have been paying for anyway with the i7 930?
May 19, 2010 4:49:50 PM

Scratch the SLI question, that new motherboard only has one PCIe x16 2.0 slot anyway. I don't think it's worth paying $50 more for a second slot that only runs at 8x.
May 19, 2010 5:26:17 PM

x8 x8 vs x16 x16 isnt that much of a performance difference
there is a benchmark on tom's somewhere, i just dont remember where and too lazy to look
at the 1000 budget range as a maximum i would strongly be against anything over an i5-750 build
since you need an OS, keyboard, HDD and case as well, gkays build might even be over budget
(although it is a nice build)
if your priority really lies in gaming, going with the i7 stuff just doesn't make sense
that said, if you r still really set on the i7 stuff, then i would make a few changes to ur build

i7 930 instead of 920 - 930 is replacing the 920 anyway and your microcenter link is to the 930 anyway
470 instead of gtx 260 - go with gkays combo deal, which means u also get the better psu
seagate 500 GB 7200.12 instead of WD HDD - better hard drive for $50
antec 300 case instead of NZXT - decent case for real good price on newegg $50
OS - 100 plus or minus
this brings ur total to about 1165 after rebates before tax

if you want to see ideas for a build thats not i7 i can help with that too

hope this helps and good luck!
May 19, 2010 6:29:24 PM

I don't need an OS, my university has Windows 7 enterprise for free. I'll have to wait till I get back to school for it, but I'd rather be patient than spend. I can still do a lot with XP that I have as well as Ubuntu. Plus I might even be able to get Windows 7 from my dad's work for free, haven't asked but it's a possibility, they just upgraded his laptop to 7 for him.

I am definitely going for the i5 now, here is the build I have set up:

Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750
$199.99 -$5.00 Instant $194.99

GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
$139.99 -$10.00 Instant $129.99

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$54.99 $54.99

EVGA 012-P3-1470-AR GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
$349.99 $349.99

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC ...
$99.99 -$25.00 Instant $74.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
$119.99 -$10.00 Instant $109.99

NZXT LEXA S LEXS - 001BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
$89.99 -$10.00 Instant $79.99

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
$25.99 $25.99
Subtotal: $1,020.92

Comes out to $930.91 after rebates with a combo deal and if I buy from microcenter.
May 19, 2010 9:29:54 PM

looks good, though i would try a couple things:
can go with a cheaper dvd drive like LG or LITEON for a savings of five whole dollars!
look for deals on newegg with the items on ur list, for example gkays suggestion for the video card and PSU would save u an extra $20 and give u a $15 mail-in rebate

other than that: good luck and have fun!
May 20, 2010 4:46:12 AM

^^ Nice build...
The reason for 600W PSU is that the new Nvidia cards are power hungry and dint want to skimp on the PSU...And also for the fact that the mobo doesn't support SLI, IMO having a single powerful card would make sense...And also the newer cards only become more powerful so you can later change to a single more powerful card when needed...And am sure that GTX 470 will last you long even maybe even till DirectX 12 cards arrive... ;) 

And dont forget to buy a CPU cooler if you want to try overclocking...Even at stock speeds, they would keep the CPU cooler than the stock HSF...
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-RR-B10-212P-G1-Univ...

And like beerhelmet said, some good cheaper DVD options...Both are about $20 and are very good....
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|27-118-030^27-118-030-S01,27-106-289^27-106-289-TS

Good Luck...
May 20, 2010 5:13:16 AM

Maybe you can squeeze in a HD 5870 in place of that 470.
May 20, 2010 5:19:27 AM

^ Well ATI cards are the way to go, but when using Linux, better to stick with Nvidia cards as they have better drivers...
May 20, 2010 5:25:16 AM

Honestly, ATI's drivers have been pretty good recently for general desktop Linux stuff. Unsure about gaming on Linux.
!