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< $900 Budget Gaming, purchasing in one month

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May 21, 2010 9:00:21 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: In a month or so
BUDGET RANGE: $900 or less
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (FPS, Source, Civ V), Programming, Number Crunching
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: mouse, keyboard, speakers, OS
SALVAGABLE PARTS: SoundBlaster Audigy 2, BFG 7600GS, x2 120GB 7200rpm HDD, x1 320GB 5400rpm HDD, DVD-RW drive, 450W PSU, assorted cables
COUNTRY: US of A
OVERCLOCKING: Yes
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 or 1920x1200
Looking for a budget gaming PC that is low-profile: quiet, small, lower power usage, etc. These aren't mandatory but they are great pluses :D 

I have a laptop (C2D@2.2Ghz, 8600M GT) that is not able to run TF2 as well as it used to thanks to the many glorious content patches. Currently it can get as low as 25fps on a full server. Also I want to be able to play many "newer" games I have sitting around in their full glory: Arkham Asylum, Unreal Tournament 3 (probably for like 1 day, lol), Crysis, etc

I'm going for a desktop because laptops are 1) more expensive and 2) not as durable for extensive 3d gaming. I want 60fps minimum, no matter what, even if I have to lower details a bit. I will be running two monitors eventually, though for shooters I'll only be using one for the game.

THE CURRENT VALUEMART LINEUP:
Processor ($115): Core i3 530 to be OC @ ~4.0Ghz, but will also use an AMD with similar punch
Motherboard ($100+?): Should run two graphics cards, one PCI card
Memory ($100?): 4+ GB DDR3 - let me know of any good deals here I can use
Graphics ($320): Radeon 5850 - I'm waiting for the price to lower on this one
PSU ($80?): 650W brand name something - Will I need this much?
Case ($70?): Something nice to look at but not obnoxious with teeth and stripes and *** (read: ULTIMATE GAMING CASES)

I will OC anything as long as it doesn't require an obnoxious cooling solution/fan rpm/crazy wattage consumption.

Also, a few questions:
1) I have a old 7600GS in good working condition, is there anything I can use that for?
2) I also want to get an SSD for the boot drive, should I go ahead and get one now or wait several months or so?
3) The prices are going to go down on the 5850, right? Righttt?
4) Should I make this platform semi-future proof or just keep it a static build? I'm leaning to the latter, so should I go ahead and spring for a quad-core? If its static I can probably skip on the CrossFireability and save some $$$ on the motherboard and PSU.

P.S.: This need to build a new PC primarily comes from TF2, which I play competitively at a non-trivial level ;)  With a c2d@2.2ghz and a 8600M GT (I believe that's equivalent to a 8600 GS on a desktop) its still CPU bound. :pfff:  The game engine is an old retrofitted Source engine with multithreading hacked in, so it ends up using something like 1.5 cores with threading on typically. The TF2 devs release content updates about once or twice a month, which while making the game more awesome also ends up slowing the game down a few fps each per patch. Also, I need to avoid any and all lag/stutters. I figure I have a month or two before 6v6 (the competitive format) drops to unacceptably low frame rates. As it is the inability to maintain a steady 60fps greatly affects my in-game performance in some of the newer but laggier maps.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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a b 4 Gaming
May 21, 2010 9:13:27 PM

I went $5 overbudget, but I'm hoping that's not a big issue...

CPU: X4 955 $160. Much, much more powerful than the i3s. In fact, I wouldn't recommend an i3 period.
Mobo/GPU: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 and HD 5850 $400 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $120
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $20
HSF: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus (usually $30, but is currently very expensive at Newegg. Wait for the price to drop before buying it.)

Total: $905
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May 21, 2010 10:13:56 PM

1> You can probably wedge it under a door to hold the door open.

2> Good question. They are still getting larger faster and cheaper pretty rapidly. Its a judgement based on price/performance vs time spent without the benefit.

3> Not likely in the next 6 months, possibly not until the next series comes out in a couple years.

4> I dont think there is much "semi-futureproof" capability right now. Intel just started increasing performance by changing the architecture, which means today's motherboards wont likely run next gen CPUs. The ability to upgrade from pentium to pentium duo to core2duo to core2quad all in one socket seem to be over.
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May 21, 2010 10:33:40 PM

get this and replace the athlon with a phenom.
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May 21, 2010 10:53:00 PM

tolham said:
get this and replace the athlon with a phenom.

Yuck. Paired older, power hogging GPUs is no way to buy a flexible system you will be using for a few years.

The system builder builds are built solely for "bang for buck" today with no consideration to utility or flexibility over the lifespan of the computer.
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May 22, 2010 10:09:41 AM

Best answer selected by dpyro.
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May 22, 2010 10:27:30 AM

MadAdmiral said:
I went $5 overbudget, but I'm hoping that's not a big issue...

CPU: X4 955 $160. Much, much more powerful than the i3s. In fact, I wouldn't recommend an i3 period.
Mobo/GPU: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 and HD 5850 $400 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $120
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $120
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $20
HSF: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus (usually $30, but is currently very expensive at Newegg. Wait for the price to drop before buying it.)

Total: $905


That looks like an excellent build, I really like the mobo/GPU combo! I won't need the DVD burner, I have an old IDE DVD-RW so I can pop that one in and save $20 there.

dndhatcher said:
1> You can probably wedge it under a door to hold the door open.


:D  Maybe they'll be some OpenCL/Mathlab application for it? I won't be holding my breath, though.

How much do you think I can overclock the mobo/cpu/gpu? It's not necessary because its looking powerful enough already, but more value couldn't hurt, and the unlocked multiplier will definitely make things easier for a relative noob like me. Any money I save on the PC can go to needed peripherals: fast/good display that's Ghostbuster-certified, short-throw keyboard, eventual replacement Razer mouse.


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