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Gaming build for 800-1000+ USD

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February 25, 2011 12:34:03 PM

As a preface: I’m debating whether I should upgrade now or wait it out a little bit further down the road. I use my computer for 90% gaming and the rest just general computer use. The price isn’t really an issue, as I could afford the upgrade now or later. I’d appreciate any advice users more versed in the current tech could give me regarding my budget and potential upgrades (and the corresponding increase in computer power and gaming) vs my current setup. I have listed the parts I am currently utilizing down below. I realize there is always going to be something better right around the bend, I’d just like some reassurance that I should be looking to upgrade now or if I should just keep what I’ve got for the moment and reconsider upgrading 6 months from now. At the moment, most of my PC playing is just WOW and Starcraft 2 with a few odds and ends in between. While my computer may not be running everything at ultra max, it seems like it handles itself well. However, Dragon Age 2 is releasing next week and I have already preordered it and plan to play it a ton. Other notable PC games I’m anticipating (off the top of my head) include: Total War: Shogun 2, Portal 2, Rift (possibly), Starcraft 2 Expansion, Diablo 3, Skyrim. Thanks for the help!

Approximate Purchase Date: up in the air depending on everyone’s advice (could be immediate, could be later down the road)

Budget Range: 800-1000 (could go a few hundred more if the added value is worth the cost)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming is most important, then web surfing/video watching/normal computer type stuff

Parts Not Required: I have these from my current computer and think are still pretty good but please let me know if you think I should ditch these for upgrades:
Videocard: SAPPHIRE 100282SR Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)
Case: COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP Black/ Silver Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)
PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)
OS: Windows 7
Keyboard/Mouse

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com preferably, though any reputable company is fine

Country of Origin: US

Parts Preferences: Fairly open to whatever is the best rated and used currently

Overclocking: Maybe – I have light/moderately overclocked my current computer and would likely do the same with a new computer.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe – I have never used SLI or Crossfire before, as I usually just grab a new video card every couple of years once the card is no longer up to snuff for whatever game I’m trying to play.

Monitor Resolution: I’m at work at the moment so I’m not positive but I believe the monitor resolution is 1920x1080. The monitor is the Samsung 2494LW 24in.

Additional Comments: My current computer is using an ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard, Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor (OC’d to 3.6Ghz), Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory (also OC’d to go with the processor but I can’t remember the exact setting, think it’s at 400) and the above mentioned PSU and video card, alongside a standard 7200 RPM 16MB Cache 640 GB hard drive.

I am intrigued by solid state drives, though they are obviously expensive. I read some people mention loading certain programs on it for faster retrieval and then using a separate drive for normal storage. How will does this work and is it noticeably faster? How difficult is something like this to setup? I have only ever used 1 internal hard drive at a time.

If I should get a new case – I would prefer a larger one so that I have enough room to work in it and would prefer all the side panels to be solid (ie, I don’t want to see the inside wires, lights, etc).

Thanks again.
a b 4 Gaming
February 25, 2011 1:25:12 PM

Your build looks fine for now. Obviously, what's holding you back is the Core 2 Duo CPU, but it's good enough to handle what you're doing for a while. If you're just itching to rebuild, I'd wait for a month at least until the LGA1155 motherboards are re-released, or even longer to get the replacement for the LGA1366 boards (I've heard it called the LGA1365 or LGA2011 socket). I certainly wouldn't be buying anything until then.

You don't need a new case or a new PSU. You could replace the 5850, but it's still a good card. I'd look more at getting a second one for Crossfire. Here's what I'd recommend if you decide only to wait the month or so for the Sandy Bridge motherboards:

CPU: i7-2600K $330
Mobo: Asus P8P67 Pro $190ish (or whatever the replacement for it is)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2x4 GB DDR3 1600 CAS Latency 7 $150
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $65 ($60 on Amazon I believe). The F3 would be a lot faster, but you can leave it out, especially if you get a SSD.
GPU: XFX HD 5850 $180 after rebate (the Sapphire one is deactivated, but it technically doesn't matter what brand)

Total: $910. I'm not sure if you have an OEM copy of Windows or a full copy, so you might need to throw in an extra $100 for another OEM license.

You could drop down to 4 GB of RAM (a 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CL 7 kit) and save $85. If you then left out the F3, you'd have $235 for a SSD. I'd look at the G.Skill Phoenix Pro 120 GB for $240ish right now, but OCZ's Vertex 3 is due out soon. However, a SSD isn't necessary for gamers. You'll get faster loading times, but little else. I don't personally think it's worth it yet, but I'll be more interested if the 120 GB SSDs drop under $150.

As for setting it up, all you have to do is format both drives and install the OS on one of them (in this case, the SSD). Then you install programs as normal, just you need to pick where you install them. It's recommended that you only install your most used programs on the SSD (like browsers and your absolute favorite games). It's also recommended that you leave about 20% fo the SSD empty as well. Also, considering that when a SSD "fails" it really just becomes read-only, you shouldn't put anything except programs on it. That way you keep all the functionality of the drive if it were to fail. All other data and programs should be installed to the other drive. There are even some tweaks you can make to get the full use out of the SSD, but I don't have a link to them on hand. You should be able to find them easily through Google.
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a b 4 Gaming
February 25, 2011 8:42:25 PM


http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=P67%20Extre... $155 @ newegg
ASRock P67 Extreme4

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Price: $251.98 FREE SHIPPING
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel ...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $99.99 FREE SHIPPING
G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $249.99
GIGABYTE GV-N560OC-1GI GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

*Start with the first link and work your way down.

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2...

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sandy-bridge-core-i...

http://www.guru3d.com/article/core-i5-2500k-and-core-i7...

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-rev...

http://www.asrock.com/news/events/201102ex/warranty.htm... <----- Look for the B3 Stepping Chipset Logo/Sticker on the new boards

http://www.madshrimps.be/articles/article/1000116#axzz1... <---Review on that Asrock motherboard after the latest bios

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1098/pg2/asrock-e... <---Review on that Asrock motherboard after the latest bios

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4080/welcome-to-sandy-bri... <--- Review before the latest bios...and it still stomped the Asus and Gigabyte boards :) 
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February 26, 2011 11:39:40 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Your build looks fine for now. Obviously, what's holding you back is the Core 2 Duo CPU, but it's good enough to handle what you're doing for a while. If you're just itching to rebuild, I'd wait for a month at least until the LGA1155 motherboards are re-released, or even longer to get the replacement for the LGA1366 boards (I've heard it called the LGA1365 or LGA2011 socket). I certainly wouldn't be buying anything until then.

You don't need a new case or a new PSU. You could replace the 5850, but it's still a good card. I'd look more at getting a second one for Crossfire. Here's what I'd recommend if you decide only to wait the month or so for the Sandy Bridge motherboards:

CPU: i7-2600K $330
Mobo: Asus P8P67 Pro $190ish (or whatever the replacement for it is)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws X 2x4 GB DDR3 1600 CAS Latency 7 $150
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $65 ($60 on Amazon I believe). The F3 would be a lot faster, but you can leave it out, especially if you get a SSD.
GPU: XFX HD 5850 $180 after rebate (the Sapphire one is deactivated, but it technically doesn't matter what brand)

Total: $910. I'm not sure if you have an OEM copy of Windows or a full copy, so you might need to throw in an extra $100 for another OEM license.

You could drop down to 4 GB of RAM (a 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CL 7 kit) and save $85. If you then left out the F3, you'd have $235 for a SSD. I'd look at the G.Skill Phoenix Pro 120 GB for $240ish right now, but OCZ's Vertex 3 is due out soon. However, a SSD isn't necessary for gamers. You'll get faster loading times, but little else. I don't personally think it's worth it yet, but I'll be more interested if the 120 GB SSDs drop under $150.

As for setting it up, all you have to do is format both drives and install the OS on one of them (in this case, the SSD). Then you install programs as normal, just you need to pick where you install them. It's recommended that you only install your most used programs on the SSD (like browsers and your absolute favorite games). It's also recommended that you leave about 20% fo the SSD empty as well. Also, considering that when a SSD "fails" it really just becomes read-only, you shouldn't put anything except programs on it. That way you keep all the functionality of the drive if it were to fail. All other data and programs should be installed to the other drive. There are even some tweaks you can make to get the full use out of the SSD, but I don't have a link to them on hand. You should be able to find them easily through Google.

Thanks for the help. You mentioned waiting a month for the the LGA1155 re-released, checking out newegg, I only see LGA1156 atm. So the 1155 is forth coming in the next month or so? If I go the overclocking route, is there a particular heatsink you'd recommend for the processor?
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a b 4 Gaming
February 26, 2011 1:14:39 PM

The LGA1155 CPUs are still being sold (the i5-2xxx and the i7-2xxx), but the boards had to be pulled because there was a design flaw related to the SATA ports. There is a revision coming that will fix the issue. Supposedly, it's due out in a month or so, but I've heard talk that some manufacturers have started shipping the revision. I think ASRock's P67 Extreme4 (which I'd recommend) is one of those.

As for overclocking, I'd recommend the Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B (SCMG-2100 in some places) for about $40.
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