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PC Upgrade (mid range gaming system) help needed

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November 11, 2010 4:48:24 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: End of November at the earliest (Black Friday!), end of December at the latest.
BUDGET: ~$600 (I'm flexible on this to a degree)
SYSTEM USAGE: Gaming, trivial PC tasks (web surfing, word documents, movies, etc)
PARTS PREFERENCES: None
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (if it actually makes a significant difference and doesn't blow up my computer, 'yes!')
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably in the future... but probably not needed right now

NOTES:
I'm planning on doing some upgrades to my current PC, but I don't really know where to start. I already have a case that I bought a year ago and haven't used yet, so ideally I'd like to get parts that would fit easily in that. Also, I am certainly on a budget and am not looking to run Crysis 5 on Mega-Awesome graphics settings. However, I would like a powerful PC for a decent price - one that will keep me going for a while, but one that will also allow for upgrades over time as needed.


Parts NOT Required
(I am most likely going to keep these unless someone points out something much, much better...)

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM

Case: COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W

Keyboard
Mouse
Speakers
Monitor



Parts OWNED and may need to be upgraded
Graphics Card: Radeon HD 4850 1GB

I'm not sure if this is a good video card anymore, since I've had it for over a year and it was not very high-end at that point. It appears to run everything fine... however, I've been having some driver issues with it, being unable to install ATI's CCC without having blue screens of death. The card does work fine with drivers from Windows, so I can live with it if the card is still good for modern games.



Parts NEEDED
Motherboard

RAM

Processor

Sound Card?? (Are sound cards even worth it? I've never owned one, and always have had USB headsets... I'm definitely not an audiofile by any means, but if they are good/cheap I would take the plunge.)

And anything else I forgot...



Thank you so much for any advice you can give me!

More about : upgrade mid range gaming system needed

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November 11, 2010 4:56:05 PM

ok, here's my reccomendation:

Phenom II X4 955 ($140)

AS Rock 870 Extreme 3 motherboard ($100)

4 GB DDR3-1333 (G.Skill or Mushkin) $60

G.Skill Phoenix 60 GB SSD ($130)

HD 6850: $180

Total $610
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November 11, 2010 4:59:18 PM

^I like
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November 11, 2010 4:59:28 PM

1) Are AMD CPUs better than Intel? As I mentioned in my post, I have no preference... however, I have always thought the i5 / i7s were the winner for this generation.

2) What's the reasoning behind the SSD? Is that in replacement of my current HDD, or just in addition? I admit that I do not know much about SSD. I may need to do some research :) .

Thanks for the advice!
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November 11, 2010 5:01:34 PM

1. No they are not "better" but for gaming a 955be will more than suffice
2. The SSD's are for your os/ applications that you use often they are very very fast making load times nothing. No not to replace your hdd just in addition
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November 11, 2010 5:05:07 PM

No real changes, ScrewySqrl's recommendation is pretty good. Just popped in to provide some SSD articles to read.

Anandtech's SSD Relapse - a good overview of the technology, but a few months old, so the product recommendations are a bit dated.
bit-tech SSD Buyer's Guide - pretty recent, good overview of the various controllers
techreport article on SSD value - recent, includes comparisons vs. traditional HDDs.
Anandtech article about the C300's value compared to other drives
Anandtech article reviewing new VRs and comparison with SSDs
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November 11, 2010 5:35:12 PM

coldsleep said:
No real changes, ScrewySqrl's recommendation is pretty good. Just popped in to provide some SSD articles to read.

Anandtech's SSD Relapse - a good overview of the technology, but a few months old, so the product recommendations are a bit dated.
bit-tech SSD Buyer's Guide - pretty recent, good overview of the various controllers
techreport article on SSD value - recent, includes comparisons vs. traditional HDDs.
Anandtech article about the C300's value compared to other drives
Anandtech article reviewing new VRs and comparison with SSDs



you missed the very newest (Today), a round up of the best enthusuast SSDs

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/samsung-470-sandfor...
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November 11, 2010 5:51:12 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
you missed the very newest (Today), a round up of the best enthusuast SSDs

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/samsung-470-sandfor...


I didn't miss it. :) 

I'm reading it right now, trying to determine if there's any new info in there. I read the conclusion first, and it seems to follow the message from the articles linked, C300 256 GB > all SF-1200 drives > Intel > others.

EDIT: After reading the article, I didn't really see anything new in it. The Samsung 470 looks interesting, but needs more testing/maturity.
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November 11, 2010 7:39:55 PM

Whew, thanks for the reading material coldsleep. It was definitely helpful!

I would just like to make sure I am understanding it fully. Say for example that I own 3 video games, Starcraft 2, Crysis, and Warcraft 3. If, out of those 3, I only played SC2 every day, I would only install SC2 and my OS on the SSD and leave the other two games on a regular HDD? Or, would I install no games on my SSD and just leave it for OS and applications such as Microsoft Word?

Secondly, since no one recommended a sound card, I presume it isn't really that necessary for someone who isn't an audiofile?

Finally, it seems like everyone is in agreement with ScrewySqrl's recommendation, and the reviews seem good for each of the parts. I think I might wait until Black Friday to see if there are any deals on these parts and go from there. I would just like to confirm, all of these parts should fit in the case that I listed as owning, correct? It looks like they will, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything.

Thanks a lot for the recommendations so far everyone, and I'm still open to more!
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November 11, 2010 7:56:12 PM

Yeah, I'd go along with those parts too. And no, you won't need a sound card.
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November 11, 2010 7:59:59 PM

Glad you enjoyed/learned from the articles. :) 

Yes, I would only put the most used games/applications on the SSD. I have a 128 GB SSD that has the OS, a couple of games, web browser, & office suite on it. I save pretty much everything and have less-used games on a traditional hard drive. The office suite is probably unnecessary to have on the SSD, but it doesn't hurt. You do want to keep some space free so that the SSD has room to do wear leveling.

Onboard sound these days is pretty good. You are correct, sound cards are generally recommended for audiophiles only. You can always add a sound card later if you find the onboard underwhelming. Easier than buying one and dealing with the hassle of returning it if you find you don't need it.

I'd say ScrewySqrl's recommendations are pretty much perfect, you'll probably find deals here and there, and I wouldn't worry too much about RAM or GPU brand if you find a better deal.
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November 12, 2010 2:00:03 PM

I've done some searching on Newegg and Amazon and think I have found all the parts. It appears NewEgg, as I expected, is the cheapest so far. Still, the total is coming up to about $650 which is ok, but I'd prefer a little bit less. I'll have to hope for some sales in the coming weeks or just bite the bullet now.

If someone could ease my mind and tell me that these are the correct parts, I'd greatly appreciate it... :) .

MOBO

GPU (choosing one of the two):
SAPPHIRE GPU (has better ratings, but is also more expensive. Since they are all based on the same model, I'll just grab whichever one is cheapest)
GIGABYTE GPU

CPU

RAM

SSD (I noticed that NewEgg is having a sale on the 120 SSD version of this for $200... again, that puts me over my limit, but I wonder if it would be worth it...)

And, one last SSD question. Is the main benefit of a SSD to load applications faster? Honestly, if all it does is make Windows 7 boot in 10s instead of 30s or whatever it takes now, I could live without it. Plus it would take down my final cost by about $150... I have no problems with load times with my current setup, so I doubt a SSD would make my life too much better, unless I am still missing something.
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November 12, 2010 2:44:43 PM

You might also consider this Corsair XMS3 4 GB kit for RAM. 1333 MHz instead of 1600, but it's $10 less after MIR, if cost is an issue.

SSDs are definitely not must-have. The benefits are: faster application loading, faster boot times, faster game save loads. The system feels a little more responsive overall, but it's totally not worth going over your budget for. I love having one, but they're still mostly a luxury item, and I really only recommend adding one after you've already maxxed out the other areas of your build.
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November 12, 2010 2:59:23 PM

parkcarshere said:


And, one last SSD question. Is the main benefit of a SSD to load applications faster? Honestly, if all it does is make Windows 7 boot in 10s instead of 30s or whatever it takes now, I could live without it. Plus it would take down my final cost by about $150... I have no problems with load times with my current setup, so I doubt a SSD would make my life too much better, unless I am still missing something.


I say this many people, and it would ESPECIALLY apply to you. You're on a pretty tight budget, stay AWAY from the SSD. It'll make your stuff boot faster, thats really bout it man. SSDs are just too expensive, their prices will go down ridiculously within a few years.

Save like 100+ right there by avoiding an SSD
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November 12, 2010 3:52:05 PM

reaper: He already has a HDd he's carrying over. the SSD goes in his budget right now since he's NOT getting a case, windows, hdd, or psu.
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November 12, 2010 3:55:05 PM

I understand, but an SSD is not really worth it especially since he's on a budget, he could use it towards something else, more money saved = better
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November 12, 2010 3:56:13 PM

nonsense. An SSD is the single best upgrade you can give a computer in terms of apparent speed.
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November 12, 2010 3:57:51 PM

He wants to game, he'd be better off with a better GPU for better gaming rather than booting the game faster, SSDs are nice, but pricey..
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November 12, 2010 6:54:41 PM

If I did happen to skip out on the SSD, would I be better off putting that money towards an upgraded GPU, other than the one ScrewySqrl initially mentioned, or should I just keep it for later upgrades (possibly towards an SSD in the future)?

I presume the 6850 would allow for another 6850 to be Xfired in the future, allowing for a fairly cheap boost in performance if I were to keep this video card.
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November 12, 2010 6:58:10 PM

I personally think it'd be good to save the money so you can crossfire the suckers together, but thats just my opinion
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November 12, 2010 7:03:46 PM

you could get a 6870 instead with the savings.. although the 6850 OC's VERY WELL.
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November 12, 2010 7:05:22 PM

Don't bother getting a 6870, just 6850 OC it if you'd like, then simply crossfire when you feel like it
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November 12, 2010 7:08:01 PM

well you can obviously OC a 6870.. but they don't do near as well as the 6850's.


*The DF-85 case went up $40 overnight on the egg Gahhh!*
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November 15, 2010 8:33:29 PM

I appreciate the help guys. I am most likely going to buy the parts that ScrewySqrl suggested.

One last question: are there any "comparables" to this video card so that I can know in case I find a deal on another card? I was reading the review for the 6850 here on Tom's Hardware and saw this quote: "At $200, the GeForce GTX 460 is more powerful than the Radeon HD 6850 and offers some stiff competition." Additionally, I read the review regarding SLI vs Crossfire and they seemed to suggest that SLI was better (although the differences were not too bad).

Is there any reason why everyone here suggested the 6850 instead of the GTX 460? Or if there is a better deal on either, I should just grab the one that costs the least?
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November 15, 2010 8:36:19 PM

Cause 6850 > 460

The number is bigger, it's obvious

No but to me, it's a personal preference

I just like Intel for CPUs and AMD for GPUs
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November 15, 2010 8:42:58 PM

parkcarshere said:
Is there any reason why everyone here suggested the 6850 instead of the GTX 460? Or if there is a better deal on either, I should just grab the one that costs the least?


Assuming an SLI-capable mobo, the above is what I would do.

The primary reason that people are suggesting AMD cards is because most AMD mobos can CrossFire, but cannot SLI. With the 6850, if you wanted to go CF in the next year, you could do that. If you buy a 460, you would be stuck upgrading to a new card and selling the 460.

Right now, the competition between nVidia & AMD is so close that the 1 GB 460 and 6850 as well as the 470 and 6870 are all aggressively priced in relation to each other. The performance difference between either one in a given pair is relatively minor, meaning that you should go with the best price/warranty.
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November 15, 2010 9:52:39 PM

Thanks again. Give the mobo that was suggested to me, it appears to be SLI and XFire compatible, so I guess I will just go with whatever I can find for the best price. Again, I appreciate the help everyone!
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November 15, 2010 9:52:59 PM

Best answer selected by parkcarshere.
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November 15, 2010 9:57:18 PM

parkcarshere said:
Thanks again. Give the mobo that was suggested to me, it appears to be SLI and XFire compatible, so I guess I will just go with whatever I can find for the best price. Again, I appreciate the help everyone!


If you're talking about the Asrock 870 Extreme 3, that is CrossFire-capable, but not SLI-capable. It has 8x/8x PCI lanes, but for AMD mobos, only nVidia northbridges do SLI.
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November 15, 2010 10:02:34 PM

As always, you are completely correct, coldsleep. I must have been thinking about another MOBO I was considering, but the ASRock 870 Extreme3 most certainly does not have SLI capability. I appreciate the reminder... !

I shall stick with the 6850 then, unless I find a great deal on the 6870 :) . I really wish I could give you partial credit for the "answer" to this thread since you have been so helpful... thank you yet again!
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November 16, 2010 1:52:09 AM

No worries, the best answer thing isn't that important. It's more important making sure that people get the right info. :) 
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!