Mid-end Gaming Build (AMD, Nvidia, maybe SLI?)

Approximate Purchase Date: February?
Budget Range: $300-500 with existing hard drives and single GeForce 9800 GT
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Desktop use, intermediate gaming/LANbox portability (maybe), definite room for expansion/improvement
Parts Not Required: Have monitor, speakers, hard drives, one graphics card
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Microcenter
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: AMD, Nvidia only; preference for Gigabyte mobos, XFX cards, Coolermaster/Thermaltake cases, Gskill RAM
Overclocking: Maybe, not really necessary
SLI or Crossfire: SLI probably, but I'm not married to the idea
Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 max, maybe 1400x900 for higher-end gaming
Additional Comments: Needs at least 8GB DDR3 for strategy gaming (Sins of a Solar Empire, SimCity, Civ4-5, etc)

Intermediate user, experienced budget builder.

I haven't bought a game in the last 12 months due to a bad mobo choice last build. I'm planning on turning my current multiple-use desktop into a server for the home network, and replacing it with a brand-new gaming machine. I've got a single, mid-range Nvidia card that I hope to use in some kind of SLI config, but like it says, multi-GPU is not required. I've already got the drives and Vista 64 license, and want to just rebuild my current machine better, faster, stronger (and maybe smaller).

My current machine has a crappy-ass M3N78-Pro mobo that only supports one single channel of memory, only at 800mhz, and only up to 4GB. It can run Mass Effect 1 at medium settings, L4D 1 and 2 at high settings, and Sins, Civ4, and SimCity4 at low, on account of the crappy memory. It'll handle modded Oblivion at 'Very Low.' Basically, I just want a gaming rig that can keep games running for the next few years, with room to upgrade the graphics/processor 2-3 years down the line.

I've made 5 builds so far, mostly budget workstations for friends and family, and no really high-end stuff. Multi-GPU virgin, but curious. Have had bad experiences with ASUS mobos, and have gotten awful bang-per-buck with Intel and ATI (which sucks, considering license restrictions). Looking at a few MSI and Gigabyte boards with x16/x16/x8 at the very best, x8/x8 at the most likely, and x16 mATX if I can find a video card that's cheap and worthwhile. As for chipsets, I'm looking almost entirely at the dual- and quad-core Phenoms (If I had the money, I'd maybe spring for one of those fancy X6's, but I don't). Memory is 8GB minimum of DDR3, DDR2 if I absolutely have to keep it in-budget.

I'm not ready to jump onto Windoze 7 yet, and am fine with only Dx10.

Looking at:
MSI NF750-G55: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130235&Tpk=nf750
MSI 890GXM-G65 (as a portable mATX alternative): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130269&cm_re=890-_-13-130-269-_-Product
MSI 890FXA-GD70: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130274&cm_re=890-_-13-130-274-_-Product
Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128441
Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128435
Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H (mATX) : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128439

Thanks for the help.
3 answers Last reply
More about gaming build nvidia
  1. AMD won't do SLI very well.

    $500-ish will get you an AMD system with a better video card than your 9800GT.

    Athlon II X3 450: $80
    AS Rock 880GM: $60
    HIS HD5770: $130 (w/ $20 MIR)
    Mushkin 4 GB DDR3: $40
    WD 500 GB HD: $40
    Antec 400W Neo Eco: $45
    Rosewill R101: $30
    cheap DVD burner: $17
    Extra fans: $8
    $450 total before rebate. a GTX 460 768MB model would be $30 more
  2. iI agree- actually look no further than the Dec 2010 $500 SBM - one of the few SBMs that i actually applaud :P
  3. fluffywarthog1029 said:

    I'm not ready to jump onto Windoze 7 yet, and am fine with only Dx10.

    So, you are fine with Vista? Cause XP won't do DX10.. :o

    Vista is the Windows ME of this generation. Even Microsoft is not pushing Vista anymore. :pfff:

    Win 7 is what Vista should have been! :bounce:
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