New build gaming £1500pc to last 4 years

Hi there.

Sorry for the blocks of text. Thanks for any help.

I’m going to follow the proscribed formula in just a sec, but first I want to make a few things clear. Firstly, I’m not looking to build something this week – hypothetically this is something I’d start putting together early Jan 2011, but I can delay this if an awesome part is anticapted to be released/become cheaper shortly after. I understand that tech is very dynamic so no-one’s going to be able to giver me solid advice at the time of posting for early 2011, but I’d like a bit of direction as to what to look at. Secondly, whatever it is that I do build needs to be relatively future-proof and suitable for heavy gaming. I normally aim to build a rig for myself once every four years, with minimal upgrading in between. Lastly please do read the bit at the bottom. I know I can go on a bit but it gives a lot of info about what I’m currently considering.

Approximate Purchase Date: late Dec 2010 / early Jan 2011

Budget Range: £1100-£1500 (note £, not $)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, internet, running lots of simple programmes at once, video streaming, watching dvds

Parts Not Required: keyboard, monitor, speakers, mouse, PSU (currently using a Jeantech –Storm 700W JNP-700-A12C. I would like to reuse it unless someone thinks its unstable and about to fry everything). Also have a case I could reuse but cooling is unlikely to be sufficient.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: seems to be the cheapest for the UK despite its poor site layout) please note that UK prices aren’t just converted US prices and that some components aren’t available here

Country of Origin: UK

Parts Preferences: I’ve always preferred AMD for its upgrade friendly sockets and competitive pricing over Intel’s quickly redundant numerous sockets. Unfortunately I also prefer Nvidia’s SLI to Crossfirex. AMD and SLI do not play well together so advice on which compromise to make is welcome.

Overclocking: Yes – but only an amateur

SLI or Crossfire: Yes – SLI preferred unless the red somehow thwarts the green’s comeback this xmas

Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024 currently, but I am looking to get a new monitor (separately so not included in budget)

Additional Comments: Budget includes OS and Ms Office (so knock £250 off budget)

In more detail, I want a machine suitable for gaming that’ll last me for a good few years without too much need for upgrades. Ideally I’d go with either a AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (or perhaps even the AMD Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition) processor on a good quality AMD3 socket mobo with USB 3.0 and 6GB SATA. Or I would put a cheaper AMD3 processor on the same mobo on the basis of the speculation that AMD’s bulldozer will be released mid 2011 and will be AMD3 socket compatible. This plan, whilst solid, runs into trouble with my preferred GPU.

I confess I’ve always preferred Nvidia to Radeon (well not always, but I had a few bad experiences which put me off), but not so much that I won’t follow the best deal. However, it looks like Nvidia probably is going to be a good deal this xmas. I’ve been hoping that a price war on the release of the Cayman will help reduce the damage a 1536MB Palit GTX 580 (not necessarily that specific model, but I am definitely looking at the GTX 580) does to my budget. Then in a couple of years (when games weren’t running so easy and prices had gone down) I’d get a second and put it in SLI.

AMD and Nvidia SLI don’t play nice together so obviously this can’t happen (if someone wants to show me how to make it happen without using a bad AMD socket Nvidia chipset mobo I’d be ecstatic). O I’ve got to make a choice between Intel+ sli or AMD+crossfirex. Any advice on pros and cons of each is very welcome, as well as suggested rigs for each. Please keep in mind that I’m not just thinking about how good whatever it is I’m going to build is now, but how it’s going to last/upgrade over the next 4 years.

Of course, if AMD Radeon manages to stay on top of Nvidia over the next few months the choice becomes easy despite my dislike of Radeon. But most people seem to think Radeon is not going to thwart Nvidia’s attempt at a comeback.

I’m leaning towards AMD atm but a lot can change in a few months. If I end up going for the Intel/SLI combo should I wait until the Sandy Bridge release or go for it as soon as I have the money?

I’m aware this is not the most usual Build Help request and that asking a month or more in advance (and near so many release dates) makes things very uncertain. However, I can’t buy now as although I’ve been saving all year I don’t have the money. It’ll take my birthday and xmas money (both late December) to give me the budget I want. However, when I do buy I want to make sure I choose the right components for the right price as I won’t be able to afford another rig for myself for 4 years. Any upgrades in the first two years (eg a bulldozer CPU if I go with AMD) need to come of the current budget and I can’t rely on expensive upgrades in the final 2 years to compensate either. Therefore I want to be as well informed as possible.

I will be needing new optical drives, RAM, probably a case as current has insufficient cooling, and a new HD. However, unless someone has spotted a really good deal and wants to give me a heads up, I don’t really need advice on these.

Sorry for the wall of text. And if you don’t want to speculate or dedicate a ton of time thinking over my options, please don’t flame but feel free to post a response nearer my build date instead.

However, I really would appreciate advice on the direction to take on the various choices in front of me.


Thanks for reading
6 answers Last reply
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  1. Sorry for not reading the whole wall of text in advance...

    1500 quid seems like a fair decent bit of cash to be honest. Since you say youre building early january SB will likely have launched.

    Something along the lines of...

    i5 2400(K?) (There is rumours of a OCing capable chipset for normal cpus)
    Gigabyte/Asus CF motherboard
    Radeon 6950(?)

    SB will bring some nice improvements, CF board for future proofing, another card down the track, and the 6950 brings nice perf/watt ratios, or will once its released in dec. CF scaling is much better in 68xx series, should continue over to 69xx.

    If i missed anything really, just say so and ill try answer that.
  2. AMD is also launching a new chip in Q1/Q2 of 2011, so if you can wait, you might also want to see what AMD's Bulldozer brings to the table. Bulldozer will be on a new motherboard, so if you're thinking of going that way, wait for it, don't buy a current AMD mobo and expect it to work.

    Also, remember that for a gaming build, GPU is much more important than CPU at higher resolutions. Unless you never get a new monitor, any card that is appropriately sized for your current monitor will be under-powered. Normally I avoid dual-card recommendations, but if you don't plan to upgrade your monitor for a year or more, it might actually be the right choice.

    All of that aside, being in the position of not having to buy right now and being able to wait for a month or more is an excellent spot to be in, I think.

    So the budget is really £1250, after accounting for Win 7 & MS Office. That's still quite reasonable, and you should be able to afford a system that will last you for a while.

    You may want to consider a 60-120 GB SSD if you anticipate having the system for 4 years with minimal upgrades. It looks like they sell for about £90ish right now.

    I would try to break down the budget into something like:
    £150 - CPU
    £100-150 - mobo
    £50-75 - RAM
    £400 - GPU
    £50-150 - HDD, or HDD + 60 GB SSD
    £75-100 - PSU
    ? - case

    The high-end total comes out to £1025 + case, which leaves a little room for parts being more important than expected, or other items to be fit into the budget. As you mentioned, it's hard to give detailed advice this far in advance. If I were you, I would try to wait for Bulldozer, at least to see what it does to the market, and then buy whatever the best value is at that point: AMD or Intel, nVidia or ATI/AMD.
  3. What coldsleep said looks pretty good.

    The thought of having a $400 graphics card with a 1280x1024 monitor would be ridiculous. Get a new monitor with this computer for sure.
  4. Yeah, you probably don't want to buy a GTX 580 for 1280x1024 unless you know you're going to upgrade the monitor within 6 months. You could dedicate some of that budget to a new monitor and still have a very good graphics card.

    I based the budget off rough prices for:
    Asus P7P55D-E Pro
    4 GB RAM
    GTX 580
    1 TB Spinpoint F3 & OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB
    Corsair 850HX (or TX, can't remember)

    I didn't do a lot of searching, just looked for some standard "good" quality components and rounded up a little. Better deals can probably be found when you're actually looking for a build.
  5. Well, I think i'm definitely waiting for the Sandy Bridge release before buying anything. I'd wait anyway but I won't have the time or money to build until then.

    But then I may well be tempted to wait for Bulldozer and AM3+. But from what I've heard, i'd not just have to wait for them to release (april-ish) but then wait for them to release a resonably priced high-end card as apparently the initial focus is going to be on budget and medium spec releases. By that point Nvidia will likely have released the GTX590.

    But it's a long time and I can't wait for ever. There's always going to be a major release coming around the corner. On the other hand, my current rig (2.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM and 8800GTS) should be enough for a few months even though it can't handle all the new releases.
  6. I would set a date by which you want to buy, and then stick with it. Of course, give yourself some room in case the date you pick is 2 days before Bulldozer releases or whatever, but you're right, you can't keep waiting for the next big thing.

    Set a date, set your budget, come back for more advice, buy & build your new rig and don't look back. :)
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