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$1200 gaming computer.

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August 24, 2010 4:58:34 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Anytime from next week til a month later.

BUDGET RANGE: 1200 give or take 200.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Surfing the internet.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, os.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Doesn't matter. I'm just looking for the lowest cost.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US, California.

PARTS PREFERENCES: It seems that the gtx 460 is the best bang for the buck graphics card out right now.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes / Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes / Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: (1680x1050, 1920x1080). Hmm, I don't know about this. With 1680x1050 I would be able to run games at higher settings for a longer time. With 1920x1080 I'd get more space and a better looking game. Does anyone have any suggestions here?

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I can make a stop at a microcenter which has an i5 750 for 150, or the i7 930 for 200. The i5 750 is sold out though, so I dunno about that. I would also be ok with an amd processor if its a better deal. I think that if I could get an i5 750 at microcenter, that would be the best deal. I heard that the motherboards for i7s are really expensive aren't they? I know I want at least one gtx 460 1gb in my build. I'm wondering if any of you guys think that with my budget it would be a good idea to get SLI gtx 460 1gbs? I see that there are many benchmarks out showing that the SLI scaling is excellent and that two gtx 460s will even beat a 5970 in performance. I've heard about problems such as microstutter though, could someone explain that to me? Also, I'm not really that worried about upgradability because I like to just upgrade the entire system as a whole. My previous computer was a q6600, 8800GT, and 4GB of Ram. I usually wait about 3-4 years before upgrading. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

More about : 1200 gaming computer

August 24, 2010 5:14:34 PM

I think with your budget, the 460 isn't a good idea. You don't want to start a build with dual cards simply because you don't have any where to go from there. Also, there are some killer deals around for the 5850/5870, making them extremely good buys in some cases.

Here's what I would get for $1,200 (checking combos and prices):

CPU/Mobo: i5-750 and Asus P7P55D-E Pro $340. Obviously, buy the i5 at Microcenter.
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $93 after rebate
GPU/PSU: HD 5870 and XFX 750W $460
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $73

Total: $1,041

If you don't mind dropping another $100:

CPU/Optical: X4 955 and cheap SATA DVD burner $162
Mobo: ASRock 870 Extreme3 $90 (or the Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H for $140)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $93 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $650
HDD: Samung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
PSU: XFX 850W $125 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90

Total: $1,285

Total: $1,285. This would allow you to drop in a second 5970 (not that you should need to with only one monitor) in a number of years and have a build that's pushing more like six years of useful life. Also, the AMD CPU will allow you an upgrade path, where Intel will not (the LGA 1156 and LGA 1366 have about 3-5 months left before being replaced).
August 24, 2010 6:09:38 PM

I agree with some things, and definitely disagree with others. 5870s / 5970s are not the way to go right now unless you specifically want ATI gear. Their 6xxx series might take the cake again, but right now you're right on track with 460s. You aren't going to beat them. I'd go with:

i5 750/760
Evga / Gigabyte SLI motherboard (I've got the EVGA P55 FTW, definitely like it)
4gb ram
2x gtx 460
650-750w psu
And whatever hard drive and case you want.

I won't go find prices and everything for you - but honestly, it'll be cheaper and quite a bit faster than a 955 and a 5970. Quad crossfire is not the way to go in the future anyway...
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August 24, 2010 6:23:14 PM

I completely disagree. Adding a second 5970 will be a cheap and easy way to get a huge gain in performance. It's something like 65% scaling (Crossfire doesn't decrease over a higher number of cards like SLI).

I also don't like EVGA motherboards. I've found them to be overly pricey and lower quality. Also, Gigabyte has major problems with their P55 boards. They don't allow you to use both USB 3/SATA III and dual cards at the same time. Really, the only quality choice in the P55 area is an Asus board. The main recommendation is the P7P55D-E Pro.

As for a i5/dual 460 build, you'd save about $100, but would have a lower efficiency PSU (larger ones are natively more efficient), which increases the cost of the build over time. In addition, you'd have absolutely no upgrade path. You wouldn't have a better CPU to drop in it and you wouldn't have a cheap GPU upgrade. There would also be practically no performance gains. The CPU won't increase gaming performance in the slightest. In fact, I'd argue that you're performance would be DECREASED simply because the 5970 can be overclocked a lot. It's technically two 5870 GPUs on one card, only they've been downclocked slightly. Once you undo that, the 460s will quickly fad away. The 5970 is a great value simply because you're getting $740 worth of GPU power for $650.

Also, I don't like the idea of dropping nearly $1,200 for a build that's going to be obsolete in under three months. Intel's releasing the LGA 1155 socket as a replacement this year.
August 24, 2010 6:52:02 PM

My favorite part of this was how adding a 5970 is 'cheap and easy' lol. You should let me know where you shop if that's the case haha...

460s in SLI will actually outperform 5870s in crossfire at high resolutions. HardOCP has a nice article about it... Also, 5970s won't be able to run at 5870 clocks. Those are basically called Asus Ares, and are a bit more money (almost double last time I checked). And don't even get me started about overclocking 460s...

Anyway, Mad said it earlier, if you want to keep your computer for 6 years, follow his advice and buy two 5970s. If you want the best performance for your buck right now, i5 quads + 460s are very tough to beat. Listen to your heart lol.

Also, for your questions: don't worry too much about microstutter. People complain about that no matter what part they add into their computer (SSDs...video cards...processors). Just update your drivers and whatnot and you'll be fine.

And as for your monitor resolution - go for 1080p. If you're going to spend $1200ish on a computer, you'll want that resolution for sure. You'll have plenty of power for it.

Lastly, i7 9xx series motherboards (1366 socket) are a bit more expensive. $200 will get you a nice one, however, you should also buy 6gb (triple channel) memory instead of 4gb, which is a little pricier as well. If you want to spend a little bit more money for a little bit more performance - that would be the way to go.
August 24, 2010 7:08:52 PM

I said it WILL be cheap. You won't need it for a good four years, possibly longer. Once the 5970 has gotten some age to it, it's price will be quite low, just like all the "monster" cards of the old days are today.

You mean at resolutions no one is playing at? Anything above 1080p is meaningless unless you've got the 5970. Once you've past 1080p, pretty much every card becomes unplayable. The 5970 is the exception, as it can handle playing games at 5760x1080 (a.k.a. Eyefinity with three 1080p monitors). It plays Crysis with max details at that resolution.

A 5970 is able to run at 5870 clocks. You just need to push it a little. I know you can get it close without even touching the voltage, and once you start upping that, there's a lot you can get out of it. If you get lucky, you can even get it up there without messing with the voltages.

Upgrading to an i7 isn't going to get any performance. The i5 is just as good in game as the i7, so why spend the extra $200 ($50 for the board, $50 for the RAM, $100 for the CPU)? That's just getting insane. At that point, you'll have spent an extra $300 over a better AMD build.

I'll concede that the i5/460s would get slightly higher performance (not a significant amount), but you'd be building a throw away. In three to four years, when you're starting to struggle to play new games and starting to look around for improvements, you're going to need a new build to the tune of about what you spent now to get probably a 50% performance gain (if you're lucky). With the X4/5970 build, you'd be able to throw down a couple hundred and get around 65-70% performance gain (the scaling of the 5970 with an improved CPU).

Let me put the choice this way. If you don't care about having a build last a long time or having cheap and easy ways to boost performance a great deal, the i5/dual 460s is for you. If you want equal performance now and the ability to greatly improve performance when you need it without replacing the computer, the X4 955/5970 is the way to go.

I know what I'd pick, but I like my money to stay in my pocket.
August 24, 2010 8:09:26 PM

So for money to stay in your pocket, you will spend more - in order to get less performance... Interesting... I'm thinking you work for AMD.

Also, that whole 'in 4 years I'll upgrade' bit is also garbage lol. I'm sorry, but I don't want to upgrade to a 2nd 7950gt, or add a Phenom II hexacore into my old AM2 board with DDR2-667 lol. I mean the guy who started this forum in the first place said himself: "I'm not really that worried about upgradability because I like to just upgrade the entire system as a whole." Smart move. Buying a more expensive yet worse setup now in order to 'plan for the future' is really not a good idea ever.
August 24, 2010 8:14:29 PM

The money stays in your pocket and you get roughly equivalent performance. And I certainly don't work for AMD.

I'd rather pay the extra little bit for the option to upgrade. It's the whole idea of being prepared.

If you're really not worried about upgrading, there are some good performing LGA 775 CPUs out there. Why don't you recommend those?
August 24, 2010 9:03:49 PM

Because they don't perform as well as what you need to pay for them. Same reason I wouldn't recommend buying a 5970 in 4 years.

Now as for money... money spent on a computer is just that, spent. It leaves your pocket. $100 spent is $100 spent, period. More money spent = less money in your pocket. And if you're saying a 5970 is a better investment than an 460 SLI system, tell me that again in a month or two when a) ATI releases new cards and the price drops or b)nVidia releases new cards and the price drops...

And, for example, which system is better 'prepared' to play Crysis 2? The one that is faster, or the one that can be upgraded 3 years from that time?
August 24, 2010 9:07:27 PM

They're equally fast, making them equally prepared for Crysis 2. What makes one build better than another is in the small details. It's getting something that will last for several years longer for the same budget, which is the 5970 in this case.

The money saved is the money you don't have to spend down the road. Instead of shelling out another $1,200+ for a new build, with the 5970/AMD build, you'd be able to pay only a couple hundred (I'd guess at most $300) for a new CPU and a second 5970 and have a high end computer again. That leads to a savings of at least $900.
August 24, 2010 9:21:31 PM

GTX 460 is a much better buy TBH, 5970 quadfire is outright stupid because it's.... quadfire and has excessive microstutter and driver issues.

i5+460 is a very solid combo IMO.

Also, above number calulations are stupid. 4870x2 is still at least 300$ itself, and next-gen CPUs that would outperform the i5 are going to be at least 150$ for the forseeable future, not to mention that the only additional cost of upgrading in i5 build is the motherboard, an expense of 150$ MAXIMUM.
August 24, 2010 9:47:10 PM

Similarly fast, yes. $225 cheaper, yes. This is what I mean:

$200 Radeon HD 5830 costs $9.09 per FPS
$200 GeForce GTX 460 costs $8.70 per FPS
$290 Radeon HD 5850 costs $10.74 per FPS
$320 GeForce GTX 470 costs $9.70 per FPS
$400 Radeon HD 5870 costs $12.90 per FPS
$480 GeForce GTX 480 costs $11.43 per FPS
$680 Radeon HG 5970 costs $15.11 per FPS
$400 GeForce GTX 460 SLI costs $9.76 per FPS
$960 GeForce GTX 480 SLI costs $19.20 per FPS

My other point is this - in 4 years when your 'investment' of $250 (which should easily be $350 with interest after 4 years) for 'future-proofing' your video card setup is ready to be used, and you're going to buy another card - perhaps $200 for a video card and $200 for a processor. Oh, and then there's Windows 8. $100. Oh, and Blu-Ray is the new DVD. $25. You're up to $875 to keep that PC basically (assuming nothing breaks out of warranty). Meanwhile, us GTX 460 folk will sell our systems for $325, and we will buy our new PCs for $1200, and be at the same point as you, but with a brand new system with a fresh new warranty. With cases that shoot laser beams. And power supplies that also make coffee. And video cards that plug directly into our brains. You'll see.
August 24, 2010 9:54:05 PM

I tend to disagree with jason, not because he doesn't have good points, but because we live in the age of console-gaming-has-stranglehold-on-industry-for-games. For this fact, I think MA's point of being able to run the new games will hold (let alone the fact that most people don't like change, ie. the 70% of PC gamers who still use Windows XP). But, since the OP said he doesn't care about upgrade-ability and just wants to purchase an entirely new computer in 3-4 years time, I would say for the OP's intended purpose the i5 + 460 (SLI) is the right fit.
August 24, 2010 9:56:48 PM

Jason, where are those performance numbers coming from? And prices? They seem a bit off, cards overall are a bit cheaper while GTX series performance is a bit higher since the latest drivers.
August 25, 2010 12:43:36 PM

Way to add a lot of things that aren't included in what we're talking about, jason. The BR and Windows would affect both builds. And people rarely upgrade their OS for a current build. That's usually only done for a new build.

Also, $100 return over 4 years on $250? That's absolutely insane. At most, interest will earn you about 4% per year now (I know, I work with Investments every day). That's $290 after 4 years. And really, for general consumers, the return is going to be down around 1% now, which is only $260 after 4 years.

Considering that AMD's top of the line CPUs are $200 now, I highly doubt you'd pay $200 for a two or three year old one down the line. I'd say the most you'd have to pay for one is $100, and that's being generous. The $200 for the second 5970 is probably fair though, but only as a high ball.

All told, with you selling your old PC for $300 (what you'd really get) and buying a new one for $1,200, (say $1,300 with Windows), you'd spend a total of $2,500 over four years. Take away your $10 of interest, and it's $2,490. With the 5970, you'd spend $1,300 now, $300 in four years for a total of $1,600 over four years. I'll even give you the extra (unreasonable) $150, which still leaves you with a good savings of $740 with the 5970. Now that's a chunk of change...
August 25, 2010 2:27:17 PM

@sp12 -> http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

I guess those were the 768mb versions that they benchmarked, which would explain the prices and slightly lower performance... But still, the value is clearly there. For me, I'd also get the XFX 5970 which would be just over $700.

@MadAdmiral -> I'm not going to argue interest rates, whether this man has any debt, or what sort of financial situation he is in. Also, your numbers are quite off for someone who works with investments every day... What happened to the savings of AT LEAST $900 from before? And really, now you're starting to compare an old, dated system out of warranty with an old operating system to something brand new that will have drastically better performance. Also, why aren't you currently running your Athlon X2 5600+ with DDR2 and two 7950 GX2s on Windows XP?
August 26, 2010 1:28:15 AM

Hey, I've read through all of the postings but I've decided to go with the i5 SLI 460 builds. MadAdmiral has some good points with the 5970s perhaps being a better investment but I'm not really the type who would want to hang on to a system for 6 years. Also, I can't justify spending more money for a 5970 right now when two 460s are just so similar in performance. I also think by the time I upgrade in 4 years or so, whatever new build I get for 1200 or so will be much much more than a 50 percent performance increase as MadAdmiral said earlier. By this time, I also will expect that if I went with an AMD build, by this time in 4-5 years the processor will be obsolete and AMD may as well have changed which socket they use which will make a new processor/motherboard/ram necessary anyways. With how fast technology moves along in the computing world, I find it easier most of the time just to build a good and best bang for the buck build at a certain time then later just sell or give the old computer to a family member and get a new build in a similar format. There are many changes that could happen in 4 years, and I would rather adopt to the new technologies of the time which probably will might have extra support for perhaps things like DX12 or may be much more efficient in general for everything, rather than be stuck with old technology.
August 26, 2010 5:28:39 PM

Right on.
September 1, 2010 9:12:53 PM

Hey everyone its been a while since I posted. I've already bought my parts and now I'm just waiting to get it back. Any opinions on how I did?

Intel I5 760. 170 At Microcenter. With Tax 184.88. I think this was a really deal because of the excellent price at microcenter.

ASRock Extreme P55. 125 at Newegg. With tax 135.93. This also comes with a main-in rebate for 25 but I won't include it here. I thought this was a pretty good motherboard for the price and someone else on a different forum recommended it to me. I've read some reviews also and it seems that the ASRock Extreme gives a lot of features for its price.

GSKILL 2x2gb ram+ XFX 650W Power Supply combo. With tax this came out to be 185.31. The combo took 25 dollars off and the XFX had a deal going on where 15 percent could be taken off which took another 18 dollars off.

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB= 63.61.

Coolermaster HAF 932= 130. I realize that this was probably the part where I splurged most on my build. I really liked the way the 932 looked after seeing it at Frys and I enjoy having a lot of room to work with. The cooling on the HAF 932 is awesome to which will be great when I overclock my system.

Asus DVD Burner+ 2 Copies of SC2 + 2 Gigabyte 460 1gb. The gigabyte 460 1gb was 230 each, but they had a deal going on where each copy of starcraft 2 only costs 40 dollars. I needed a copy of SC2 and I'm going to sell a copy to a friend for 45. This in total will cost me 564.39.

Coolermaster 212 Hyper Plus. 30 dollars.

In total, this cost me 1294.12 for the desktop and a copy of SC2 including tax and shipping and handling. How do you think I did for that much?
September 1, 2010 9:26:06 PM

Looks solid.
!