I would like Christmas gift suggestions for expansion to my son’s gaming pc. I believe that he primarily plays games like World of Warcraft and Starcraft. What would you suggest as supplements to the pc that was custom made? If we are looking to spend $100-200, what would be the nicest upgrade for him at this time, a second graphics board, additional memory, speakers, or some other suggestion?
He built his own pc this summer and these are the components that he used:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz
Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Power Supply: APEX AL-D500EXP 500W
DVD: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
Motherboard: ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO
Graphics: XFX HD-567X-ZNF3 Radeon HD 5670 1GB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
Hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM SATA
Monitor: LG Flatron W2053TX
Speakers and Mic: Sennheiser Gaming Headset
We would like this to be a surprise which is why we are not asking him directly. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Your son would see the most gaming benefit from a bigger graphics card. Unfortunately, it appears that the motherboard only does CrossFire at 16x/4x, which isn't recommended. It can still be done, but you will probably see better results by just getting a stronger card to replace the current one.
I would suggest looking at either a GTX 460 (1 GB version) or an ATI 6850. They have similar performance, and whichever you can get a better deal on is the way to go.
He won't see much benefit from moving to 8 GB of RAM. A processor upgrade might make a small difference, but probably not enough to be worth the price.
The other item you might consider is a 60-120 GB SSD. That won't have much of an impact on gaming either, but they do make the computer feel a lot more responsive in day-to-day use. If you are considering buying today, the G.Skill Phoenix Pro 120 GB is on sale for $187[/url]. It's the best deal today, as 120 GB SSDs are normally around $230-240.
I guess both of those suggestions are around $180. If you want to go a little lower, the GTX 460 (768 MB) starts around $140 or so, as does the ATI 5770.
You could also get another 1 GB 5670 for around $100. The 16x/4x CrossFire isn't going to cripple performance, though the single-card solution is simpler.
I'd agree with coldsleep, an upgrade to the video card is the best option. Since you have a 1600x900 monitor, I'd say a 768 MB GTX 460 would be a perfect choice as a replacement: $134.99, $119 after rebate
Oh, right, I managed to look up the monitor and then forget the resolution by the time I got back to recommendations.
The Best Graphics Cards etc. article mentioned previously suggests that the 5670 should be more than adequate at the monitor's resolution. I guess it really depends if he's been talking about having any problems with gaming, or if he's been satisfied so far.
I certainly wouldn't go higher than a GTX 460 or 6850 for a replacement card at that resolution (leaving aside that a larger card is out of budget).
Getting kind of outside of the box, I use one of these for WoW and StarCraft, and I really like it: Belkin Nostromo SpeedPad n52. They're out of stock at newegg, but they're available online at Best Buy (and in-store in some places), amazon, etc. It allows you to program various keystrokes and modifiers/switches that are more easily accessible with a single hand.
that depends on what you get him. If you get another 5670, it would be an additional card. Anything higher up the chain (Like the 768 MB GTX 460 I suggested, of a 1GB version of it or a 5770 or 6850) would be replacements
Also, I see you are using an apex power supply. I cant say i know much of them. I certainly agree on the video cards, but i would highly recommend a better power supply. If you hook a new card to that old supply and it would be too weak and fail, you could potentially even fry the motherboard. So i think if you dont upgrade the power supply with the gfx card you will be playing with fire.
Thanks for the warning about the power supply. I will look into upgrading that for him. It would be a shame to pay for upgrades and then damage the components. Having all of these extra eyes and expertise is so nice, I am much more confident in my shopping.
A lot of guys like newegg and various sites. Personally, I like microcenter. If you look at microcenter.com, they have a store locator. I have one about 45 minutes out from me and love it. That's where I buy 90% of parts for my customers. They have dirt cheap pricing. Like the price of newegg, tigerdirect, etc, and will even match those prices. It's a brick and mortar store, picture the size of walmart, but all computer parts, electronics, etc, and half the price of best buy. Literally. They are always running specials too, like buy an amd athlon II quad, get a board for like free, or 12.99, etc. Good stuff.
Microcenter is great, if you have one in your area. Most/all of the bargains they offer are in-store only. The problem is that there are only 20-30 stores in the nation, so it's hard to recommend it as a general solution for most people. Newegg & tigerdirect only offer their deals on the web, so you can at least bank on everyone having similar access to them.
The closest one to me is 2+ hours away, so it's not worth it unless I'm headed that way for something else.
Understand that. I'm fortunate enough to have one close, so don't have to order, gives me an advantage over my competition who orders stuff, not about to tell them that is there, lol. I would tend to trust tigerdirect more than newegg myself. Newegg has good deals, but I've heard of some customer service issues from people I trust, like my parents with newegg. Like restock fees on bad memory that got came to them bad in the package. I might buy from newegg from time to time, but be aware.