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Opinions on an economical, upgradeable gaming machine.

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June 2, 2011 3:21:59 PM

Hello,

As the title says, I'm looking at tossing together a new gaming PC. I want something with solid performance now that I can upgrade to keep up with increased demand without wasting parts. I'd love some feedback from the community. Here are the parts I've got thus far and my rationale behind them:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cheapest SATA dvd burner they had.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

According to the review on this site, it's got plenty of room and is easy to work with, with a lot of the features I want and a low price tag.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I wanted a 1TB hard drive and this had the fastest interface and largest cache size of any 7200 RPMs. Would love an SSD or high RPM SATA but those are out of my price range. I figure that a higher performance drive can be added later, or another one of these can be popped in with a RAID 0 configuration.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Excellent reviews online, great brand (I've had a few MSI mobos and video cards in the past, all rock solid) and has 2 PCIe slots that can both work in x16 with crossfire support. OC Genie definitely a plus. Not Bulldoer compatible, but I think I will live.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I wanted either a 6950 or a 560 ti, and the motherboard I selected will do crossfire for future upgrades but not SLi. The 6950 seems to give great performance for games now and in a year or so I can plop in another when things start to slow down.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I was a bit wary about looking at a PSU from a brand I didn't recognize, but some digging around revealed solid performance at a great price.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Once again, I was a bit wary, not because of the brand this time but because from what I've read, it's best to go with 8 GB for a gaming rig. However, I thought that I would get better performance in the long run by getting one 4 GB stick with great speed and timings then putting another one in later rather than getting an average 8 GB set. According to reviews I've read, these seem to work well in dual channel mode even though they would obviously not be a matched set.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

The processor here is known to OC extremely well, and while I will be starting with stock cooling, that can easily be replaced a paycheck or two down the line. An H70 or similar cooler a little later should provide me enough OC headroom to keep this viable for a few years. Windows 7 included because, well, that's the place I found the best combo, and therefore the cheapest legal option for using the OS.

Total: 903 plus shipping at the time of this post.

Proposed order of upgrades:

Another stick of RAM
Better CPU cooling and OC
Either SSD or identical HD for RAID
Identical video card for crossfire

Any thoughts or reactions would be greatly appreciated.
June 2, 2011 3:47:28 PM

Maybe consider this board...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Built one recently with this board, not from newegg though, but seemed solid.

Maybe consider 4 gb ram kit with 2 2gb sticks to take advantage of dual channel.

I would dump the PSU, I've been told what is best for high power cards is a single 12v+ rail, the idea is that if the rails are split, the card could pull too much power from one rail, and blow the PSU. Consider this one instead. It's a little more but will give you room to grow.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Then maybe the money you save can go into a 570 or better card.
Related resources
June 2, 2011 3:57:22 PM

With dual channel ram, does the stick size matter? Will a 4x2 GB perform as well as a 2x4, or a 2x2 + 1x4?

Also, will a 650 W PSU be enough for 2 6950s, an overclocked CPU, etc?
June 2, 2011 4:03:00 PM

if u want 8GB it best to buy it in 2x4GB so it be matched. you will need at least a 750 to crossfire two 6950 and overclock. of course the corsair power supply finder recommend at least a tx950. but i heard a hx850 can produce hanlde a load up to 1000w
June 2, 2011 4:16:36 PM

i would go with the tx750 if ure on a budget i would choose a 2x2GB stick. the company gurantees the memory are matched
June 2, 2011 4:20:49 PM

Awesome, thank you.

WRT the motherboard, does having x16 on both cards in a crossfire configuration really make a large difference? If not, I can dial back to a less expensive chipset.
June 2, 2011 4:23:27 PM

not really u be fine with the 890fx board 8x/8x vs 16x/16x is only about 1-2% difference for about $50 more so TomHardware says it isnt worth it
June 2, 2011 5:20:46 PM

I'm looking all over for the benchmarks about that; can you provide a link, please?
June 2, 2011 5:30:34 PM

Never mind, found it.

So, if 16x/16x isn't really necessary, what's the best chipset to look for here?
June 2, 2011 5:47:36 PM

How about this board?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I used an MSI version of this board for someone else I worked with on a build. On the MSI, all that was needed to do for it to recognize an x6 1090t was a bios update. After that, it was happy and so far I've had no complaints after 3-4 months. And you would save 50 bucks over the board you chose, and still gives crossfire.

What does everyone else think?

*Edit*

I just saw this.... don't know much about Jetway, haven't used their boards, but if you want to take a chance, found this. It's only 70 bucks, and allows crossfire. Biggest drawback is you max at 8 gb of ram. But I'd say within a couple of years by the time you get to where we need more than 8 gb of ram, you're probably going to be ready to upgrade anyway, would let you put more money elsewhere though.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2011 6:08:50 PM

you should definetely go for a 990fx board, so you can upgrade to bulldozer/future CPUs, it is also a great option since they support SLI too. eg:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

you could also wait till the 7th july (5 days) until bulldozer comes out and buy your rig then.
June 2, 2011 9:12:22 PM

Is there expected to be a bulldozer cpu at a price point near the 955? I'm all for getting the latest technology but I'm trying to spend as little as possible, and with the current OC headroom available it looks like a chip I'll be able to stay satisfied with for quite some time.

I looked over the ASUS mobo (the 790 X) recommended there, and I notice that it does not have 6 gb sata hookups; does that matter with less than an SSD? I don't care whether I end up with a crossfire or SLi board; the 6950 and 560 Ti are extremely close in price and performance.

BTW, this will be hooked up to a 1080p HDTV, so I don't need to worry about any resolutions above that.

Thanks again for all the advice in this thread; I used to stay on top of all of this stuff when I was in college but it's been a while and I haven't kept up.
June 2, 2011 9:14:10 PM

nope bulldozer start at 190
June 2, 2011 9:15:53 PM

Yeah, that really won't work out, sadly.
June 2, 2011 9:35:21 PM

i had a biostar one time it was ok
a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2011 9:40:06 PM

I'd dump the power supply......... 1st time I ever heard of that brand. The video card, like to know what games you play and the monitor res/size......... 1gig cards don't cut it any more AFAIC.
a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2011 9:43:31 PM

you should atleast go for a 990fx or 890fx board such as the biostar so you can upgrade to a bulldozer CPU in the future if you want to.
June 2, 2011 9:43:54 PM

As I said, I play in 1080p (aka 1920 x 1080.)

According to my research, unless multiple monitors are used or resolutions go into the 2500x1600 zone, 1GB seems to work fine. I've already switched the PSU out for a corsair 750.

What I'm really curious about now is the necessity of SATA 3. Will SATA 2 work just as well with an SSD? Will I notice the difference? If not, I'm changing out for the ASUS board mentioned. If so, I'm keeping the current mobo. Nothing I've seen has those features at that price point, and I really like the board layout and MSI's overclocking software. I think it's worth the 10 bucks over the biostar.

If there's a bulldozer capable motherboard at around that price, I might grab it, but I'm trying not to buy anything that I plan on replacing within the next 2 to 3 years. It's a bit of a gamble, but I'm hoping that an OCed 955, 8 gigs of well timed 1600, dual 6950s and either 2 sata 3 HDs in raid 0 or an SSD will be enough to keep me in high visual settings for quite some time.
June 2, 2011 9:48:08 PM

u dont need sata 3 for hard drives and some ssd benefit from sata 3 but there newer and more expensive any ssd is faster than a hard drive. i have 64GB Corsair 64V i paid $120 for it. i still have 38G left after windows install.
a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2011 9:50:39 PM

BS on the 1gig works fine stuff. I've been down that road. Some of your games will spit and sputter. Buy it if you want. You'll have to scale back on your settings under certain circumstances. I forgot to ask....... why don't you just buy the $89 or $99 W7 OEM ? Who needs to pay $225 for an opsys ?
June 2, 2011 9:52:14 PM

true. but i hard to stomach $200 for a motherboard on unknown performance of the bulldozer process. and bulldozer isn't in his price range seeing the 965 is $140 and the cheapiest bulldozer is gonna start at $190. i personally buy a motherboard that will accept the bulldozer processors so i could upgrade when i got the money.
a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2011 9:57:00 PM

the original mobo he listed is fine, its got a 890fx chipset which should support new AM3+ CPUs with a simple bios upgrade.
June 2, 2011 10:25:49 PM

That is the W7 OEM; it's 225 because it's a combo with the CPU.

I had thought that the AM3+ would have a different footprint and was therefore not compatible with the BD chips.

Also, what exactly is the disadvantage of the 870 chipset?

EDIT:

Comparing the socket from the motherboard I originally suggested to one that has been advertised to work with AM3+ (ASRock 890fx deluxe 5), there is one more hole on the AM3+ socket than in the MSI, so that one if officially a no go with bulldozer. I'm still not sure whether the 955 won't cut the mustard in a year or so, though, and it's hard to tell without some data on the 3+ chips.
June 2, 2011 10:45:25 PM

bulldozer uses the same pins. but requires a motherboard with a black socket to take advantage of the power features of the bulldozer processor. some motherboard manufactores are gonna release bios updates to make a am3 motherboard support a am3+ processor. msi asus and asrock

this one for asus

http://razetheworld.com/hardware/asus-current-motherboa...

these msi motherboards support bulldozer through a bios update

MSI 890FXA-GD70
MSI 890FXA-GD65
MSI 890GXM-G65
MSI 880GMA-E55
MSI 880GMA-E35
MSI 880GMS-E35
MSI 870A-G54
MSI 870A-G54H
MSI 870A-G46
MSI 760GM-P33
June 2, 2011 10:49:19 PM

if u want guraanted compatibily i go with one with a motherboard with a black socket like the asrock 890fx deluxe 5 that one u can crossfire with. that would be ure cheapest board for upgrablity right now.

these motherboard all have the black socket

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
June 2, 2011 11:01:33 PM

Interesting... I'll have to look into exactly what features these are.

Looking on newegg, there's a 2gb 6950 for 10 dollars more, so I figured wth and added it to the cart.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As I said, I also switched the PSU to the aforementioned corsair and I've added the following memory in lieu of what I had:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Finally, I dropped the HD size down a bit to keep costs a bit lower:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If the AM3+ chips will work with the motherboard I had listed, I think I'll keep that one.

Any other changes to make? Remember that I'd like to be able to get away with this setup, a second video card, extra memory, RAID 0 array and a better cpu cooler and have it last me for a good 2-3 years.
June 2, 2011 11:41:10 PM

yep that mainboard is suppose to take bulldozer with a bios update. what hard drive are you getting you listed the memory twice. should do you pretty good for 2-3 years
June 3, 2011 3:20:35 PM

looks good to me
June 3, 2011 9:05:39 PM

Alright, thanks. I'll start picking up what I can here and there (definitely on a budget) and keeping an eye on their deals.
June 4, 2011 1:41:13 PM

Not sure personally if I would want to go with ATI for graphics, though I'm an AMD guy all the way. Haven't there been some known issues with ati drivers?
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