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Gaming Budget Advice

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July 19, 2010 4:00:35 PM

Hello once again Tommies!


Here is my dilemma:
I am going to be starting my masters program in September and I really want to game (SC2 especially) while I have the time. I need a laptop/netbook for school usage with excel/word. At the same time, I want to build me a gaming rig for SC2 and a couple other FPS. Here are my options as I see them:

OPTION A
Get a $300.00 laptop for school from BestBuy: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Toshiba+-+Satellite+Laptop+...;+Celeron%26%23174;+Processor+/+15.6%22+Display+/+2GB+Memory+/+250GB+Hard+Drive+-+Black/9988402.p?id=1218205766215&skuId=9988402
And custom build my gaming rig around Thanksgiving period to take advantage of the discounts (especially on the peripherals).

OPTION B
Get this $1700.00 Toshiba Qosmio http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/toshiba-qosmio-...

The pros of Option A are that I will get greater bang for my buck and it's something I really want to do. The cons are that I will have to sell my desktop after 2 years, which might be difficult to do (I might not be able to get more than $800 for a $1600 system). In addition, after spending $300 on that laptop, my gaming rig build will be down to a budget of $1600 which will have to include monitor/mouse/keyboard/speakers.

The pros of Option B are that I will get one system for less money than Option A and that I'll be able to take it with me after I leave school.

My questions are:
1) What are the discounts on computer hardware products from resellers like Newegg during the thanksgiving period?
2) Which one of the above options will you go with personally?
3) Will you be able to wait till thanksgiving to start playing SC2?!?!?

Thanks for the help in advance guys.

More about : gaming budget advice

a b 4 Gaming
July 19, 2010 4:31:14 PM

1.) Unknown. They usually run a lot of really good deals on hardware for the weekend of Black Friday. I know last year, I build a $1,200 build for about $800, but that included a 10% Bing cashback offer. I still haven't seen better prices yet, but that's mostly because RAM prices have skyrocketed since then (I paid $140 for 8 GB, it'll cost you $210 now). Newegg usually publicizes the deals in their forums a good month in advance.

2.) I'd personally go with option A. $1,200 ($200 for the monitor, $100 for keyboard/mouse/speakers, $100 for the OS) buys you a monster gaming machine, assuming you build it yourself, which is highly recommended. If all you're looking to play is SC2, you can even do that with only spend $950 or less for everything. I'll post what you should be looking at if you were doing it right now. Also, you wouldn't necessarily have to sell everything from it. The GPU would be fairly small, so if you kept the box, you could take it with you. Same for the CPU, RAM, HDD, and optical. The PSU would be in the middle range in terms of portability (it's box is kind of big), so it might be iffy if you could take that with you. You'd only need to get rid of the case and motherboard for sure. That'd only be a replacement cost of around $200-300 if you could keep the PSU or $400-450 if you couldn't. It's really easy to move a computer if you dismantle it first. There isn't much of a chance of breaking parts if they're packed carefully. The monitor may be hard to move, but it would have decent resale value.

3.) It doesn't matter if I could, it matters if you could. And it'd be more like halfway through December. Also, it's not like the game demands a huge amount of power. You could probably play it on the laptop with every turned down.

Here's the best gaming build (with monitor and OS):

CPU/Mobo: i5-750 and Asus P7P55D-E Pro $360
RAM: G.Skill Eco 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $105
GPU: HD 5870 $385 after rebate (with free game)
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case/PSU: Antec 902 and TruePower 750W $175 after rebate
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $18
Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $180 after rebate
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100

Total: $1,358

Here's the build that would max out SC2, with plans to sell the board, PSU and case in two years:

CPU/GPU: X4 955 and HD 5770 $295 after rebate
Mobo/OS: Asus M4A77TD and Windows 7 $160 after rebate
RAM: GeIL 2x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 9 $83
Case/HDD: HEC 6T Series 6T10BB and Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $70
Optical/PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W and cheap SATA DVD burner $44 after rebate
Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $180 after rebate

Total: $832
July 19, 2010 4:43:27 PM

Ty for the advice admiral!

OK here are a few specific things:

1) I would like a SSD if I'm building a rig myself. A 60gb SSD will do fine, so you can add an average price of $150 on that.
2) Need speakers (the logitech that I want cost $89) and a gaming mouse, and a gaming keyboard
3) I am in love with a samsung led 23" monitor that retails for around $300 (but your Asus looks fine as well)
4) The HAF 922/932 case would be pretty nice

The problem is that looking ahead, after I finish my masters in 2 years time, I will almost certainly have to sell the desktop...how much will it depreciate by? If I buy the qosmio on the other hand, I can take it with me when I move and hence use it for around 4/5 years without running into too many problems (it has an i7, BD reader and an SSD).

Additionally, do you really think that I can run SC2 on that $300 toshiba satellite?

Thanks for your help, it's truly appreciated.

Btw, I'm just trying to play the devils advocate here. My heart is truly set on building a rig by myself, but I need to ensure that I'm making the right decision. 2k is a huge investment for me (the MBA fees are going to slaughter me enough as is)
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July 19, 2010 4:51:19 PM

Hmm, taking what you said and assuming that that was the average, a $1200 machine for $800 means a discount of around 33% in 2009. Do you think that the discount will be at least 10% during the thanksgiving period this time around?
a b 4 Gaming
July 19, 2010 4:58:51 PM

1.) I'd hold off on adding a SSD right now. They're just too expensive and the prices will fall.

2.) I left room in the budget. Gaming mice/keyboards are just a waste of money. Pick up a decent cheap set (the Microsoft set I use was like $50). If you really need to, I can drop the price of the expensive build by $100 without changing performance much.

3.) I wouldn't spend that much on a monitor. Chances are that it's a 2560x monitor (not 1920x1080) in which case you're going to need to spend more on the GPU.

4.) Those are good cases, but not really necessary. The Antec 902 is excellent as well.

You shouldn't realistically expect to get much for the desktop. Computers essentially don't have a resale value. Keep in mind that you can part it out (i.e. sell each part separately). That would be likely to net you more than selling it as a whole. Just check out the deals section to see what full builds sell for.

I still don't see why you think you'd have to sell the entire thing. If it's just an excuse to build a new one, the first build would still be a great performing build in two years. Even if you don't think it's powerful enough, you could still reuse a lot of the parts as a base for the new one (add a second GPU in Crossfire, use the PSU, keep the case, keep the RAM, keep the HDD, etc.). If it's just because you'd be moving, you could easily take some of the parts with you, specifically the most expensive ones (CPU, RAM, GPU). If you take that cost out of a build, a replacement wouldn't cost much. Generally, over half the cost of the build is in those three parts.

It probably can't (the link doesn't work). That was definitely an exaggeration. I have no doubt that it could on a $1,000-1,200 laptop though. Games like SC are meant to be played by the masses. That means low requirements. If the game needed a lot of power to run it, it wouldn't sell as well since not that many people would have a system powerful enough.

EDIT: No idea on the discount. The straight discount was 10%, which won't be coming back (Bing's ditching the cashback program). The majority of the savings were cyclical/timing savings. I saved a good $70 on the RAM, almost entirely due to the market price for DDR3 being really low then. Saved $40 on the case due to a daily deal. Another $50 on the OS on an amzing combo when Windows 7 first came out. Finally, I saved another $60 in rebates. That leaves around $60 (5%) that could be attributed to deals that may return this year.
July 19, 2010 5:08:56 PM

1) Hence waiting till thanksgiving?

2) I do not want a completely watered down system as SC2 is not the ONLY game I'll be playing on the system.

3) It's just an LED 1920X1080, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4) Fair enough, however the 902 is relatively the same price as the 922, the combo deal makes the 902 sound more attractive though. However, since I'll be purchasing this machine (if I do go with this option), it will happen in November, so the combo deals are going to change etc...

5) I would need to sell everything on it because I highly doubt I'm going to live in Arizona after my masters. I will either be moving to another state or out of the US completely (depending on where I get a job)

6) The link to the bestbuy computer:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Toshiba+-+Satellite+Laptop+...;+Celeron%26%23174;+Processor+/+15.6%22+Display+/+2GB+Memory+/+250GB+Hard+Drive+-+Black/9988402.p?id=1218205766215&skuId=9988402
a b 4 Gaming
July 19, 2010 5:16:49 PM

1.) Fair enough.

2.) It's actually not a watered down system. The 5770 is a great gaming card. If I really wanted to put something up there that would only play SC2, I'd have thrown in a $30 GPU. The 5770 can be reasonably expected to play every game with max details at 1600x resolutions, many games with max details at 1080p, and all games at 1080p with lowered details.

3.) There is no reason to pay $300 for that monitor...

4.) True, but the Antec case/PSU combos are pretty static. Here's another combo that's always there that would free would the case: HD 5870 and XFX 750W $430 after rebate. You can pretty much count on the combos from the same company to always be there.

5.) Again, you'd be able to keep parts with you. Excluding the case and motherboard, all of the other parts can fit in a duffel bag. The biggest GPUs aren't longer than 12". A CPU box (with HSF included) fits in one hand. Just make sure to keep the boxes and the anti-static foam and everything will move perfectly fine.

The only thing that'd need to be different if you moved out of the country would be the PSU, due to the different voltage standards. It's not like AMD or Intel makes different CPUs for different countries...

The link still doesn't work. It just says that the page may not exist any more. It's not a posting issue, it's an issue with going to Best Buy's site.
July 19, 2010 5:42:44 PM

What about the speakers? Still going to have to add $89 for that :( 

Also, what do you think about what I might get (Worst case scenario) in terms of discounts during the thanksgiving period? I ask because when I speak to my mother, she tells me most retail outlets offer 45% off on household items during this period. Computer components don't usually have a massive markup on them to begin with, so I doubt it's going to be as high as 45%, but as someone who has experience in this sector (and I know you said it's hard to call) what do you think it's going to be like? Give me an estimate or some ball park figure, SOMETHING!!!
a b 4 Gaming
July 19, 2010 5:57:03 PM

To get the speakers into the first build:

GPU/PSU: HD 5870 and XFX 750W $430 after rebate
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $73
Rest is the same

Total: $1,412 with speakers. These changes won't really affect the performance. They're mostly price changes. If that's still too expensive:

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $285 after rebate (with free game)

Total: $1,337.

To be honest, no one can answer about what to expect in terms of discounts. It's not like the typical retail stores that have huge clearance sales for Black Friday. Newegg's deals (apart from the cashback offer) are generally restricted to specific parts, categories of parts or combos. For example, last month had a promotion for most motherboards being 10% off. I've seen specials run for storage devices, cases, PSUs, and CPUs. It varies pretty much week to week.

Will prices be cheaper then? Certainly. Tech prices fall as time goes on. The Intel chips will be cheaper because of the new sockets coming out. The GPUs will be cheaper because they're not brand new. RAM prices should settle down. It's just that no one knows how much cheaper they'll be. About the only way to guess what the deals will be is to follow Newegg (and other sites) on Facebook, Twitter, etc., subscribe to their newsletters and read through their forums. That's as good as you can get.
July 19, 2010 6:15:53 PM

So do you think that this is definitely the route to go instead of the 1 high end laptop solution?
a b 4 Gaming
July 19, 2010 6:23:53 PM

To be honest, I'd probably get the cheaper build. That way if you do end up having to sell it, it won't hurt as much. If you end up keeping it, it's got enough upgrade potential that you'd be able to make it into a extremely good gaming machine without spending a lot more on it. I'm sure there are cheaper monitors too.

I find that using laptops for gaming gets really expensive and really don't offer that much. They get really hot, which means frequently stopping your gaming to let the machine cool off.
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