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Looking for a good pc for gaming

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July 27, 2009 4:08:58 AM

Hi, I haven't looked at pc's since I bought my laptop from (http://www.powernotebooks.com/) about 2? years ago. And with the new intel i7 I'm confused as to what to buy. (best bang for your buck type of thing). I never liked amd since the only one I got ten years ago from gateway had so many problems.

I would like a system that can run all current high performance games as well as games coming out next year, at preferable high settings. Right now I'm just using a dell intel P4 3.2Ghz, 2gb ram, with a X1900 series card. It runs fallout 3 pretty decent has fps issues in some cases. World of warcraft has some FPS issues in certain areas (raiding, pvp, large cities.) I'm also big on mutli-tasking, I usually run a couple browsers in the background/music/vent/email..etc while playing a game. So I'm not sure how much ram I should get, I was told with win xp, the most I could get is 2gb anymore would be unused? which is why, my current pc only has 2.

My price range would be 1000.00 - 2000.00 USD.

I'm looking for pre-built customizable pc's because I don't want to deal with the issues of figuring out what parts are compatible with what, and end up frying components as I never built a pc before. I found this pc on a review from HP and seems like a good deal, but as I haven't been looking at pc's in so long I'm not sure if it will meet my expectations listed above.

http://computers.toptenreviews.com/gaming/hewlett-packa...

I'd appreciate any advice or help in finding a PC that suites my needs.

More about : good gaming

July 27, 2009 6:06:38 AM

The HP looks like a good all around PC but as a gamer it allocates two much money to the i7 computer and not enough to the graphics card - resulting in less gaming performance. Also I did not see anything about the size of the PSU - a very important consideration for upgradibility and gaming in particular with the high power requirements of better graphics cards.

I suggest you look at the Dell line of gaming systems - not necessarily because they are the best choices for the price - although both HP and Dell seem about comparable in the quality of their systems, with Dell arguably still a little ahead - but to see how they allocate resources between components. Dell has systems designed for gaming - as they note in the descriptive material - including the 625: base price $799, PSU 750w, CPU starting with Athlon X2 5600; the 630: base price $899, PSU 750w, CPU starting with E8400, and the 730x: base price $1,599, PSU 1,000w, CPU starting with i7. The video cards also get larger with the price. Now you can get a good gaming system for less than $1600 with the i7 if you want it.

One key question is do you want to pay the relatively high premium, from a gaming perspective, for the i7. It will speed up any other work you do - especially video encoding if you do it, and will best future proof you system. If you are willing to spend up to $2000 you should definitely consider it. However you can still get an exceptionally fast gaming system that will handle all the candy and be future proof - relative to the CPU - probably for years to come - maybe except for all but the competitive gamers looking for the 2% to 5% edge. So it all depends on what your price/performance preferences really are.

For a gaming system the video card is king, as you probably already know. You can build a fast system around a core 2 E8400, a better system with AMD or Intel Quad PSUs - especially if multi-tasking as you say, and and finally you have the i7 at the top end.

If you have not, I suggest you read these articles about comparative systems where they build and compare low end, best bang for the buck, and high end PC's and compare results - you can see the component lists, some discussion about why they picked those components, and see comparative gaming performance tests. It should give you a better idea of the price/performance matrix and maybe a starting point - particularly about PSU selection, graphics cards, and supporting components.

First on THG this article - and go back and read the linked articles about respective systems (note that while they are build-your-own pc's - they will help educate about the respective components when you go to purchase a complete system and how price will affect performance):

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-sff,2312.ht...

And this trilogy from ExtremeTech:
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2349271,00.a...
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2347620,00.a...
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2344012,00.a...

Then when you have some idea about the range and CPU, you can hone it to more information about selecting a video card - over which you should have quite a bit of control even in a factory build but customizable system:

First the best graphics cards for the money - ignoring those costing less than $200:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,...

And then look at the chart for the performance of individual graphics cards (note that 30 frames per second is considered playable and anything over 60 fps you wont even notice the difference):

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-card...

I think your CPU choice will be between the Intel Q9650 - which will provide all the power you asked for now and for the next two years - and the i7 which is top of the line, faster (but you likely wont see much if any additional speed in gaming - but in video encoding and the like), and provides a longer term upgrade path - at a price of $200 to $400 more including the upgraded mobo it requries and depending on manufacturers price.

For the Video card - well the sky is the limit - but I think you might want to consider going with the GTX 285 (about $400) or 4870x2 (about $500) today on a SLI or Crossfire mobo and add a second one later when gaming requirements increase and the price of cards fall - or if you feel rich - and you should still have enough room if you want to spend up to the high end of your $2,000 budget - you could go with 2 now. See these two compared here (a selection form the graphics charts linked above):

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-card...

Note that I prefer nVidia because of the superiority of the cuda feature which allows the CPU to offload some of the processing to the game card this speeding up performance, particularly on non-gaming applications. It is new and just starting to be implemented more but I think it will spread quickly.

Note that you need to decide if you might SLI or Crossfire in the future to pick a compatible mobo now and to get the right size PSU so you don't have to replace and upgrade it later.

Also note that you need to decide now if you want to be able to overlock now or in the future - as it affects some of the same things plus you need to consider it with respect to pre-built systems as some many not allow OC and for others it voids the warranty. However if you are paying a little extra to get high end components, which I am assuming above, you will get little extra performance from overclocking - except possibly better video encoding performance from OC the CPU.

Now I have probably given you enought to consider for the moment- maybe more than you wanted. But I also suggest you look at the Cyberpowerpc.com website. They are a manufacturer that provides an intermediate option. They sell pre-built systems, but give you much more control over the individual components so you have more choice, can getter better components that are more easily upgraded than the pre-built systems, and may more easily be able to OC. You might want to look at the pre-packaged systems they provide, which are pretty decent options themselves, and play with customizing them.

When you can tell us which CPU and video cards are the best fit, we can better help you configure a system. Alternatively, you might narrow down your budget range and ask for the best gaming system for say $1200 or $1500 and if, possible year or nay on the i7 CPU (since that can have a major cost impact not directly related to gaming performance). People can suggest the best system and normally feel free to suggest savings that don't affect performance when available or options to upgrade from there to increase performance if significant. Also, personal preferences and style come much more nto play with the cases. Do you just want the best gaming case or are there some particular cases you like. A convenient place to look for good options is on the Cyberpower customization list.

Other important items to address are:
1. Normally as quoted here, systems do not include monitor, O/S, keyboard, mouse, or speakers. What is in your stated, or revised budget? Normally it is best to leave these out and select to match your own preferences - or to ask about them separately as they introduce another host of variables and the O/S and monitors are addressed in separate forums.
2. What size monitor will you use? While normally not included in the budget, it does become significant in video card selection.
July 27, 2009 8:58:20 AM

Wow, thanks for all that information, I spent about 2 hours reading the links and quickly skimmed some parts but learned a lot and will come back to it surely. It has been very helpful. Thank you!

After reading those articles, I'm very interested in building my own PC, (I've always enjoyed learning about PCs since highschool. Just never got around to building my own.) Although I'm still leaning toward a pre-built PC, for the hassal free part, it seems if I built my own and buy a bit cheaper components with, proper overclocking I can reach the same results. Would this assumption be correct? I will search around a bit more and check out cyberpowerpc.com and customize it, taking your advice into consideration.

I would have to say I would primarily use this computer for gaming so, as suggested I would go with the intel Quad instead of the i7. Maybe some minor photoshop and video editing using fraps(for in game footage).

I have a question about the video card. I currently have a Radeon x1900 series Crossfire card in my PC. Would it be too old and outdated now to buy another one and crossfire it to the PC that I buy thus saving some money in the long run? Basically would it perform better than the single card you suggested (GEFORCE GTX 285) ? And when it comes to SLI and crossfire does it have to be the same exact card or can it be from the same series? Because If I were to buy the geforce 285 and SLI it in the future wouldn't there be a better newer card by then and it would then be outdated?

As for all the extra's (mouse,keyboard,monitor) I was including that in my price range which is why I left alot of space between 1k-2k. I'm not picky at all when it comes to look, I'm more about performance. So when it comes to the case I have no need for the flashy lights and see through panels. I'd probably just go with any 22-24inch wide screen and be perfectly happy with it, I don't know much about resolutions or refresh rates and how that effects gaming.

Thank you for the time and help you have provided it has helped me greatly!
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July 27, 2009 2:02:47 PM

I am afraid your x1900 is so old and slow that not only do you not see it on the 2009 gaming cards but it does not show up on the 2009 mainstream chart. But if you go back to the 2008 chart you can see that it has about 1/3 the power of a single 4870 card - so I roughly guess that in crossfire they would hava about 1/3 the performance of a single GTX 285. See the following link, and if so inclined you can manually compare the game performance of a sinle x1900 with the 285. In crossfire it would have approximately twice the power of a single card - usually a little less but the difference is probably not significant given how many times faster the 285 is.

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-char...

When talking about BYO - please don't use the term "cheaper" components. One of the advantages of BYO is getting quality components - for their own value, the better proteciton of the system, and to enable OC. But yes one advantage is buying a lower speed, lower cost PSU and OC it. You can also do the same with the graphics card - just you can usually also OC it in a store bought system - assuming the PSU is large enough to take the extra load. The bigger cost advantage is not having the manufacture's markup, and, to a much lesser extent, not having to buy some components that are too large given the mix you are trying to get to achieve maximimum performance. But yes, the performance/price ratio of a BYO should definitely be higher on the original purchase - and as the links below demonstrate - the value gets even higher when you can more easily upgrade and even more when a major upgrade can replace purchasing an entirely new system to upgrade performance.

For a broader look at build v. buy, you might look at these two recent threads:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/53575-2-challenge-bui...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/268819-31-home-build-...

Yes, SLI or Crossfire need to be the exact card - should be same manufacturer and model.

Yes, if you were to upgrade in the future, there would be newer cards. You might say, be able to get a new card that for the same price as your original GX 285 that had twice the performance. But by then the GX 285 would cost half the original price. So you could buy another GX 285 at half the price and have performance, when combined with the old card, equal to the new card while spending only half as much. Note that this savings can be achieved also with a pre-built as long as you purchase one with the SLI/crossfire mobo and a sufficiently large enough PSU.

Good luck on your continuing research. If you are honing in on the graphics card you might want, the next step might be to google a few reviews for the card - to become familiar with the differences between several makes -usually not that large but still some - and as they usually have some performance rankings with other cards in proximity to its performance rating - allowing you to better find the right level of card for your preferences.

This one is a particularly good review since it compares the 280, 285, 295, and 4870x2

nVidia's GeForce GTX 285: A Worthy Successor?
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-285,213...


You might also want to read this article about cuda:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-cuda-gpgpu,2...

Cheers.


July 28, 2009 6:04:59 AM

I decided to consider building my own pc and here is what I found BYO vs Cyberpower. I may not be using exact same spec's just what choices I was given and things I selected based on my needs/wants.

Cyberpower PC I'm looking as customized.

* *BASE_PRICE: [+1005]
* CAS: NZXT Zero 2 Crafted Series Steel Full Tower Case (Black Color Trim)
* CS_FAN: Default case fans
* CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-920 2.66 GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
* CD: (Special Price) LG 22X DVD±R/±RW + CD-R/RW Dual Layer Drive (BLACK COLOR)
* CD2: NONE
* FLASHMEDIA: None
* FAN: Thermaltake V1 Gaming CPU Cooling Fan (Excellent Overclocking + Silent Proof + Smart CPU & System Thermal Monitor) [+49]
* FREEBIE_RM: None
* FLOPPY: NONE
* FREEBIE_OS: FREE! (Microsoft® Flight Simulator X Deluxe) Game
* HDD: Single Hard Drive (500GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD)
* HDD2: NONE
* IEEE_CARD: NONE
* KEYBOARD: Xtreme Gear (Black Color) Multimedia/Internet USB Keyboard
* MOUSE: XtremeGear Optical USB 3 Buttons Gaming Mouse
* MODEM: NONE
* MULTIVIEW: Non-SLI/Non-CrossFireX Mode Supports Multiple Monitors
* MONITOR: NONE
* MONITOR2: NONE
* MOTHERBOARD: MSI X58 Platinum Intel X58 Chipset SLI/CrossFireX Mainboard Triple-Channel DDR3/1600 SATA RAID w/ eSATA,Dual GbLAN,USB2.0,IEEE1394a,&7.1Audio [+39]
* MEMORY: 6GB (2GBx3) PC1333 DDR3 PC3 10666 Triple Channel Memory (Corsair or Major Brand)
* NETWORK: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
* OS: Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Premium w/ Service Pack 1 [+104] (64-bit Edition)
* OS_UPGRADE: None
* PRINTER: None
* PRINTER_CABLE: None
* POWERSUPPLY: 800 Watts Power Supplies (CyberPowerPC XF800S Performance ATX 2.0 Power - Quad SLI Ready)
* RUSH: NO; READY TO SHIP IN 5~10 BUSINESS DAYS
* SERVICE: STANDARD WARRANTY: 3-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY PLUS LIFE-TIME TECHNICAL SUPPORT
* SOUND: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
* SPEAKERS: 120 Watt Stereo Speakers [+10] (Black Color)
* TEMP: NONE
* TVRC: None
* USB: Built-in USB 2.0 Ports
* USBHD: NONE
* VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce GTX285 1GB 16X PCIe Video Card [+213] (EVGA Powered by NVIDIA [+5])
* VIDEO2: None
* VIDEO3: None
* VC_GAMES: FREE GAME - Street Fighters IV
* VIDEOCAMERA: NONE
* WNC: NONE
* _PRICE: (+1425)

BYO (using solely new egg components)

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor 279.99$ ( I went with i7 to future proof my system more as from what I can tell, its the hardest component to upgrade.)

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

OS: windows vista home premium 99.99$

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

motherboard: Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard (not sure on this board I just used the one that was from a link you gave me, heh.) 174.99

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

RAM: OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 114.99$

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

PSU: Antec EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 76.99$ ( will be overclocking once I learn how :) .

GPU: PNY VCGGTX285XPB GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card 324.99$

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

Harddrive: HITACHI Deskstar P7K500 HDP725050GLA360 (0A35415) 500GB 7200 RPM ( took this from a prior link as well.)

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

CASE: XCLIO Windtunnel Fully Black Finish 1.0 mm SECC Chassis ATX Full Tower Computer Case 79.99$

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

DVD/CD: SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X

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

Mouse: Razer Gaming mouse 49.99$

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

Keyboard: Razer gaming keyboard 68.98

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

Total: 1351.88 (BYO)
vs
Total: 1425.00 (cyberpower)

Neither one includes monitor's as I haven't looked at any yet but I suppose it would be another 300-400$. I will look around on new egg for good deals. I would like some input as to which is better for gaming and if I should choose any different parts for what I want. With both PCs I plan to overclock once I learn how. :) 

edit - found a decent monitor I like. After doing a lot of research and still looking through many articles it really has pushed me into building my own pc. My excitement rose after creating a wish list on newegg. And thinking about the knowledge and experience I will gain.

Monitor: ASUS VK266H Black 25.5" 2ms 329.99 (before rebates)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 28, 2009 2:44:07 PM

Congratulations on decision to BYO. I am sure you will find it enjoyable - and a real satisfaction when complete. Beware though - it can become addicting. You might immediately start thinking about upgrades and feel sad that it most likely will be several years before you need to do it again. I guess my substitiute is posting here.

Did you see the current THG article on best gaming CPU's. Looks like they copied your pick for the best gaming CPU for $280 plus.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu,235...
July 28, 2009 3:47:15 PM

Yours looks like a pretty good build, although some of the items were selected from another list - as you noted - but that was for a pretty basic system and I beleive you need a few better components. I am going to suggest a few improvements, but then I suggest you repost your revised configuration - with whichever of my suggestions you approve - on the Homebuilt Systems forum. It will get more attention from BYO types than the Dell forum - as you can see no one else has jumped in here - plus it would be wise to have input from those who already built systems with the i7 whereas I have not. You might also peruse that forum first for others recommendations on i7 builds.

On the OS - good choice on the 64 bit - if you have a college student in the family there is a special deal available on Vista Ultimate. You also should consider whether or not to go with Windows 7 instead since we are near its October release. I think the free pre-release versions are still available - which limits the free system to one year and then you would have to purchase it. I have not been following Windows 7 much, there is another forum on that - and I am sure many articles. I have read that Windows 7 is not a whole lot different than Vista - but does have a few significant features. And while it seems to be fairly stable, many PC users traditionally prefer to wait and not buy into a new OS until after the first major update - service pack one - is released.

You do need to upgrade the mobo. I am not sure which is best. I like the Gigabyte GA-X58-UD3R ($180AR) because of its unique features - particlularly a special copper core. But it seems to have had a fair number of setup issues for some, Alterntively the ASUS P6T ($240) is highly regarded. You might plug one in to your config and ask the forum to comment about the choice between the two.

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

For memory - after you select the mobo you want - go to their website (from the newegg page just select the "Manufacturer's Info" tab about half way down in the left column - and under that select the "Manufacturer's Product Page". That should take you to their page with a link to compatible memory. I apologize if you already know some of this stuff- just wanted to list it in case you did not).

Note that the memory selection is critical to match to the board so as to minimize future compatibility issues and maxmize OC potential. This is where often just selecting off the manu list is not enough and recommendations from the forum are most valuable.

Antec Earthwatts is an excellent PSU - I have one - but not large enough for your build. I recommend starting with the CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX ($110) and asking the forum if this is adequate - make sure you inform them that you plan to OC and later SLI as it has a substantial affect - perhaps even telling them you are looking for an intermediate OC - assuming you are not planning to go for max or extreme - which takes a lot of time, requires more power, and can shorten the life of components.

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

For the video card, I recommend the BFG card over the PNY. BFG is my preferred vendor and the card carries a lifetime warranty compared to only 3 years for PNY - click again on the Manufacturer's Info tab to see this ($329 AR)

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

For HD performance, see this article:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/500gb-hdd-disk,2150...

You can also lookup the HD charts on THG. I suggest going with the WD Caviar Blue 500GB ($54)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As I said before about the case, it is pretty much a personal choice - although you do need to allow for certain size and ventilation considerations. The case you selected is a good one - but it is also HUGE. I was considering it myself at ne time, but decided it was just too big. Before buying it I suggest looking at it in a store just to make sure it is not too big. But it certainly has plenty of room and major fan power. You might also want to google a couple of reviews on it. Purchasing a case is the one area in which it might be advantageous to visit a well stocked computer store and look at the selection. Candidates on my list for my next build include:

Antec P183 ($140)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CoolerMaster Sileo 500 ($100)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since you plan to OC, you need to add a better heat sink fan to replace the Intel standard model that comes with the CPU. I recommend

Xigmatek Dark Night ($45)
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/500gb-hdd-disk,2150...

Looks like this will add a little over $100 to you total cost. When you post on the other forum, feel free to ask if anyone has suggestions for trimming the cost a little. I will watch for you on the other thread but, as I said, you really need input from people that have already put together an i7 system, and that leaves me out.
July 29, 2009 5:28:44 AM

Thanks posted in the other thread with the suggested updated items.
!