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Advice on spec for ~£1000 gaming PC?

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January 6, 2010 9:33:07 PM

Hello,

I'll be buying a new computer in the near future, as my old one died. It's not a home build, but as the company I am probably going to order from allows some customisation of the specs, I hope it's ok to post it here (though if this is still the wrong forum, please point me to the correct one and I'll move this post to it).

I guess the easiest way to start the thread is just to copy and paste from the sticky about making a thread for a new build.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: very soon. Probably within the next week or two.

BUDGET RANGE: approximately £1000 or so, but it's fairly flexible. (I'm in the UK)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, internet, word processing and the like.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: i doubt anything really is not required, aside from speakers (I already have cheapo speakers which should do the job).

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: http://www.meshcomputers.com/ as I've dealt with them before.

PARTS PREFERENCES: no real preference, as it's pre-built I don't have all that much choice.

OVERCLOCKING: Not sure- I guess that's a maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not sure- I guess that's a maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: no real preference, the system I'm looking at already comes with a monitor.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: none that I can think of.

Here is the computer I'm looking at:

http://www.meshcomputers.com/Default.aspx?PAGE=PRODUCTV...

and here's a rough spec:

Full Specification

* Intel® Core™ i7 920 Quad Core Processor (2.66GHz,8MB Cache) - LGA1336
* Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium Edition - 64bit English
* New Stylish Midi-Tower ATX Chassis with 700W PSU - Piano Black
* ASUS P6T SE Mainboard - Intel Core™ i7 & i7 Extreme Edition - ATX
* 6GB 1333MHz Triple Channel DDR3 SDRAM - ( 3x2GB )
* 2x 500GB Serial ATA Hard Drive with 16MB Buffer (1TB Total)
* Raid 0 Configuration (Stripe)
* 22x Dual Layer DVD Writer Super Format +R/-R/RW/RAM
* 1GB ATI Radeon 5850 Graphics Accelerator GDDR5- ***DirectX 11***
* 22" Iiyama (1920x1080) Full HD Monitor - ProLite E2208HDS-1
* 7.1 High Definition onboard sound card - for 8 Channel Cinema sound
* Logitech Cordless Keyboard & Cordless Optical Mouse - Black
* 1 Year Free Return to Base Hardware Warranty - inc 3 Months Free Collect & Return

First of all, will this machine do what I want? I assume it will, but confirmation would be nice.

Secondly, as I already mentioned, Mesh offers some upgrades- I was hoping you could give me some advice as to which upgrades would be worth it, and which would be a waste of money.

Mainly, I was considering upgrading the RAM, the hard drive, the processor, the graphics card and I was possibly considering going for the "performance pack".

I think there's not much point in upgrading the RAM, as going from 6GB to 8GB won't allow me to use it in a triple channel setup, and the upgrade to 12GB is a lot more money- plus the online articles I've read suggest that 6GB is plenty of RAM for almost any application (the ones I'd be likely to be doing, anyway). Is my assessment correct?

My thinking on the hard drive is that I might as well, as for £60 I'll get double the storage space. Sensible assessment?

Is it worth paying £49 for the "performance pack"? The website describes is as "Akasa Freedom Tower quiet Heat pipe quiet cooling, Performance updates, specialist cabling".

I'm assuming it's not really worth paying £265 to get two of the same graphics card in a CrossfireX configuration?

Finally, the processor- it comes stock with the i7 quad core 920, which I assume should be "good enough", and the upgrade to the 950 is quite a hefty upcharge (£240). Am I right in thinking, again, that it's probably not worth it?

Thank you very much in advance for any help you can give me, and apologies for the length. Also, if you think I'm way off with the spec I think I need, please feel free to say so.

Cheers,

Dave.
January 6, 2010 9:55:51 PM

6GB RAM is enough for almost everyone.

That already comes with a 1TB boot disk (two 500GBs in RAID0) I doubt you will benefit by upgrading them. You can add a 1TB data drive to store permanent files for cheaper than L60.

It would be much cheaper to buy a L20-L40 cpu cooler and overclock the 920 than to get a 950.

Does the second graphics card upgrade include a different motherboad and power supply? If not then you can add a second 5850 later if you decide you need it.
January 6, 2010 10:13:31 PM

Dave,

First things first...Performance packs are, on the whole, completely useless and not worth any upcharge.

Second, the i7 920 is a lot more processor than you need for the applications you list. Very few games out there perform noticeably better on an i7 than an i5, much less needing to upgrade the i7.

Crossfire setup is typically not worth the cost, as it offers little in terms of performance boost, while costing a significant amount of money.

If you do a lot of digital photography, movies, etc, the extra space is worthwhile. If you don't, 1TB will take you forever to fill. I'm currently using less than a tenth of 1TB and I have a few hundred pictures stored on my computer.

4 GB of RAM is usually more than is necessary for most applications, so there is little use in going from 6 GB to 8 GB.

If you like Intel, here is another computer that will perform almost as well, and you probably won't notice the difference in the next 3 years. Also, comes with a bigger monitor and is about 3/4 the price.

i5 w/Radeon 5770

Reviewing the site options for AMD at your price point, I didn't like any of them. I'm not a fan of the Radeon 5750's - they are just the first generation of budget dX11 cards, and the Phenom IIx4 955 performs almost as well as the 965 for a reasonable savings. If you don't mind not having dX11 support, which likely won't be necessary in the coming year or more, I would almost go with

Without 965 and HDD upgrades

for almost a 50% saving before the monitor.


It doesn't sound like you plan on taxing your system too terribly much, and as such, you can save a LOT of money by purchasing 6 month - 1 year old parts in prebuilt systems.
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January 6, 2010 11:28:42 PM

Thanks very much for the replies, I appreciate it. :)  Going through them:

dndhatcher said:
(a) 6GB RAM is enough for almost everyone.

(b) That already comes with a 1TB boot disk (two 500GBs in RAID0) I doubt you will benefit by upgrading them. You can add a 1TB data drive to store permanent files for cheaper than L60.

(c) It would be much cheaper to buy a L20-L40 cpu cooler and overclock the 920 than to get a 950.

(d) Does the second graphics card upgrade include a different motherboad and power supply? If not then you can add a second 5850 later if you decide you need it.


(a) That's what I thought, thanks.

(b) Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

(c) That's interesting, thanks, obviously that's a lot cheaper than over £200!

(d) I don't think so, just the graphics card (though I could be wrong). That being the case, that's a very good point. :) 

eloeder said:
Dave,

(a) First things first...Performance packs are, on the whole, completely useless and not worth any upcharge.

(b) Second, the i7 920 is a lot more processor than you need for the applications you list. Very few games out there perform noticeably better on an i7 than an i5, much less needing to upgrade the i7.

(c) Crossfire setup is typically not worth the cost, as it offers little in terms of performance boost, while costing a significant amount of money.

(d) If you do a lot of digital photography, movies, etc, the extra space is worthwhile. If you don't, 1TB will take you forever to fill. I'm currently using less than a tenth of 1TB and I have a few hundred pictures stored on my computer.

(e) 4 GB of RAM is usually more than is necessary for most applications, so there is little use in going from 6 GB to 8 GB.

(f) If you like Intel, here is another computer that will perform almost as well, and you probably won't notice the difference in the next 3 years. Also, comes with a bigger monitor and is about 3/4 the price.

i5 w/Radeon 5770

(g) Reviewing the site options for AMD at your price point, I didn't like any of them. I'm not a fan of the Radeon 5750's - they are just the first generation of budget dX11 cards, and the Phenom IIx4 955 performs almost as well as the 965 for a reasonable savings. If you don't mind not having dX11 support, which likely won't be necessary in the coming year or more, I would almost go with

Without 965 and HDD upgrades

for almost a 50% saving before the monitor.


(h) It doesn't sound like you plan on taxing your system too terribly much, and as such, you can save a LOT of money by purchasing 6 month - 1 year old parts in prebuilt systems.


(a) excellent, thanks :D 

(b) thanks. what about for the future?

(c) thanks, again that's what I'd heard, but having not tried it myself...

(d) thanks, to be honest the main reason for getting it would be in case i needed it in the future...

(e) again, like the crossfire, that's what I've been hearing. Nice to get confirmation.

(f) thanks, I'll take a look. To be honest, though, for only a ~£150 saving i'd likely go with the i7- you can also upgrade the monitor on the one I linked to for £25 or so, so the monitor isn't going to be a dealbreaker.

(g) yeah, i've heard (mainly from reading online, benchmarks and the like) that the amd processors aren't as good as the intels at the moment. is that true?

(h) could you expand on this a little? I'm not really sure what you mean, or where you would suggest I'd buy from- generally I tend to prefer going new, but obviously it depends on the savings, too :D 

I guess the main reason for going with the one I linked to is that it already has a fairly good graphics card (and the rest of the spec is pretty good, too), and as I'd be using it for games quite a bit, isn't the graphics cards one of the main things to be concerned with? For example, to upgrade the i5 system you suggested to the same graphics card as the i7 i linked to in my original post would bring the price up to almost the same as the i7, and the i7 has the processor, RAM, and other upgrades too. Does that make sense or have I got the wrong end of the stick? :D 

Thanks again for all the help, it's much appreciated.
January 7, 2010 12:02:20 AM

(b) Until they begin developing games for the added features of the i7 (at least a year for most companies), the i5 will be the workhorse of the two. Will i7 be faster? In most cases. Noticeably? I don't personally believe so. Also, in some cases, the i7's hyperthreading (the only major difference I'm aware of between the two) can actually hurt performance slightly if the application doesn't take advantage of it. When the game uses hyperthreading, though, there is a 15-30% difference in the two. It's all a matter of is the increase in performance worth the price tag. That's a personal decision. :) 

(d) Totally understandable. Disk space is so plentiful these days, it's almost silly not to get at least 500G-1T. Anything over that and you'd know for a fact that you needed it.

(g) AMD's aren't as good as Intel's. But Intel doesn't have nearly the lead most reviewers try to give them in terms of sheer performance. i7 is definitely ahead in terms of overclocking, however. Personally, I like the savings AMD brings to the table - at least until I can build my "perfect" rig.

(h) I was only suggesting that by not getting the i7 or 5850 you could save quite a bit of money. I don't have any experience buying computer parts in your neck of the world. :D 

(the rest) Glad I could be of help! :D  Have fun with whatever setup you choose!
January 7, 2010 1:14:06 AM

Thanks again, I'll keep all of that in mind. :)  Just out of interest, how much "better" is the 5850 than the 5770? Just if i were to get the i5 you suggested, adding the 5850 to it brings it up to almost the same price as the i7 (which has all the other upgrades as well).
January 7, 2010 4:53:01 PM

Its hard to be precise with such variance in different games, but a 5850 is something like %45-%65 faster than a 5770. A pair of 5770s in crossfire is about 20% faster than a 5850 (roughly equal to a 5870).
January 7, 2010 5:07:39 PM

excellent, i didn't realise that, thanks for the info. especially the 5770s in crossfire being faster, i didn't realise that at all- though i guess the advantage of going with the 5850 now is that i could add a second 5850 in crossfire later (when they're cheaper), and presumably that'd be a lot faster than the two 5770s?
January 7, 2010 5:15:51 PM

Correct - though it may be some time before they become cheaper. Also you may find you dont need a second 5850.
January 7, 2010 6:47:34 PM

yeah, that would be my thinking. the 5850 may be "good enough", and if it's not i can upgrade to get two of them. If i decided the two 5770s weren't fast enough, I'd have to start upgrading from scratch, which would presumably be a lot more expensive.

Thanks very much for the help, dndhatcher and eloeder, I think I'm actually getting somewhere. :D 
!