TechSpot

$1500+/- USD Computer Build Help

By KyBrewer
Oct 27, 2009
  1. I would like some help in choosing components for a new computer build, primarily used for gaming. I'm fairly "new" to computer building, having been "involved" in my last build about 7 years ago.

    Following the guidelines of the sticky above...

    1) What are you going to use the PC for? Primarily Gaming

    2)How much is your budget? Around $1500 USD, but 200 or so more isnt a deal breaker

    3)Where are you located? (a.k.a. fill out your profile) USA

    4)Are you willing to buy online? newegg preferred

    5)Are you going to re-use any parts from an earlier build? not likely, other than peripherals

    6)Do you need other peripherals like a monitor, keyboard and mouse, among others? Monitor suggestions are welcomed, but don't factor into the budget mentioned

    7)Have you already bought any parts? No

    8)Do you have an Operating System (OS)? Will need new, windows 7 preferred

    9)Will you need any aftermarket cooling, such as a CPU\GPU cooler or a watercooling setup? One of the things I really need help with.


    I plan on building this computer ASAP, and it will be my first completely "on my own". I may have some help, but I'm not counting on it and the fellow is somewhat slow to respond to my questions.

    In addition, I have assumed the following unless someone convinces me otherwise:

    PROCESSOR: AMD Phenom II X4 955. I'm partial to AMDs, as they have served me well in the past.

    MOBO: Open to suggestions, may depend on video card. May consider adding tv tuner at some point in future, if that makes a difference.

    VIDEO CARD(S): I'm thinking that one great card would be better than two meh cards. Again, open to suggestions.

    HARD DRIVE: WD Caviar Black, 1TB.

    MEMORY: I'm thinking I'd like 8GB to start, but am open to suggestions on specifics.

    POWER SUPPLY: I'm thinking a Corsair variety, with wattage largely dependant upon choices above.

    CASE: Current case in Antec Sonata, and is quiet and not too flashy. I like Antec very well. With the case, I'm mostly interested in ease of installation/room, and keeping things cool. I could care less about lights and windows and crap (would prefer not having them, but not a deal killer)

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Probably Windows 7 Professional, unless there is a reason for ultimate based on what I've stated. I think Home has some shortcomings, starting with my reading that only Pro and Ultimate have an "XP mode".

    DISK DRIVE: Insert random LG or Samsung drive here (suggestions welcome, but I don't know that it matters too much).

    Again, monitor suggestions and cooling requirements would be helpful, I'm not too sure about the cooling. Sound isn't too important as I'm forced to play with headphones often. I'd like to be able to play anything from oldies like Tropico, to online games like WoW, to a game like Diablo or Crysis. If a game like Crysis isn't maxed out, I'll live, but generally, I'd like to go to a random local store, buy most any game off the shelf, and know that I can play it on the most advanced graphics settings. I plan on keeping my existing computer intact for the lesser games as necessary, internet, office applications, etc.

    Sorry about the length, thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  2. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,167   +37

    Love your choice of cpu and I think going with Windows 7 is the logical choice, especially if it is 64-bit; it's the future.

    For motherboards ASUS and Gigabyte is what I suggest though I would say make sure it is an AM3 board so you can use DDR3 memory. There are AM2+ boards that can utilize a Phenom II but the memory is limited to DDR2. If you go with an AM3 board pay attention to the RAM speed the board can run because AM3 versions can vary. I know of one person who bought G.Skill Ripjaws but could not utilize them because the board wasn't designed for said speed.

    +1 on Corsair power supply. Their 650w and 750w are sweet...

    Another disk drive offering you might consider is Lite-On. I have always had good luck and two of them are in my main rig for 3+ years now.

    * Not quite sure what to tell you about 8 gigs of RAM, but consider 4 Gigs and possibly using that extra $ towards the video card or monitor.

    * As for monitor, I too am in the market of upgrading and a lot of people told me to not consider anything less than 22" if you are gaming.

    Hopefully, Rage, red1776, RitWik and others will come along and give you their advice/experience. They've helped a number of people here with Rage doing so for a number of years.
     
  3. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    Thanks a bunch for the advice. I really really want to buy the parts and get it going, but I hate to spend that much money without feeling like I'm getting the most I can for it.

    Can't really collect enough opinions, please, keep them coming.
     
  4. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    Should I shoot for around DDR3 1600, or the moon? Not really sure that I want to overclock, fwiw. Any higher than that, options are pretty limited. I'm having a really hard time deciding on a motherboard, and that is a large part of the holdup.
     
  5. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,167   +37

    If you are not going to overclock then 1600 should be fine. Here is the thing: What do you want your motherboard to supply, i.e., how many SATA connections, do you want floppy, how about firewire, onboard audio, etc.?

    Go to NewEgg and do a search like ASUS AM3 motherboards, then the same only this time for Gigabyte AM3 motherboards, and then MSI. I find it is quicker and the list is made up of AM3 motherboards from the specific manufacturer. Read the specs, pay attention to the RAM speed it will run at stock and then overclocking. To hit the moon you will need to overclock.

    Also, read customer reviews but keep in mind that not everyone who bought the board writes a review and that every board ever made has some that are defective whether Intel or AMD.

    If you find some possibilities to your liking link them and we'll take a look.
     
  6. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    MSI NF980-G65 AM3 NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

    Don't have enough posts for a link yet sorry. But this MOBO looks promising at first glance (pci slots, memory speed, SLI ready if I choose to go that route). My current MOBO is an MSI, and I've had no problems. It's been several years though.

    ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard

    This was the board I was originally considering. It would appear to fit my needs.

    There are just soooo many choices for mobos, I'm having a really hard time deciding. Thanks for your help!

    Also, I probably won't bother with a floppy drive, firewire would be nice, I would be fine with using onboard audio (primarily using headset so the quality isn't extremely important).

    The main driver is graphics capability. Sorry if I'm simplifying it too much. I've never gotten really excited about audio. Give me a dvd drive and usb and I'm good :D
     
  7. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    Core components:
    Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
    $200
    GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    $110
    CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
    $110
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL8D-4GBRM - Retail
    $80
    SAPPHIRE 100281SR Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail $400

    Total: $900
    Leaving you $500 for OS, hdd, case, cooler (if you want), keyboard, mouse and phericals.

    For the case, I like the Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $110

    If you want to go with an AMD (not exactly what I would recommend), the GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail at $115 is great.

    A GPU cooler is probably not needed, while a CPU cooler may be good, do you intend to overclock?
    Agreed.

    Good job on your initial post, its very organized.

    EDIT: Actually, I would prefer this CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $140, but it is marginally more expensive, though it will save you some money on power, and is generally a tiny bit better. I didn't put it initially because it is overpriced on newegg.
     
  8. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,167   +37

    If you aren't going to run SLI or Crossfire you won't need a motherboard that offers it.

    Those Corsair that HK lists are excellent PSUs.
     
  9. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    hk,

    the 750W is the power supply I was eyeing, so thanks for the heads up!

    I'm pretty set on AMD, but it doesn't hurt to look at other builds.
     
  10. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,167   +37

  11. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    So if I were to factor in suggestions that I like and update them as the thread progresses, I might do it something like this:

    PROCESSOR: AMD Phenom II X4 955

    MOBO: Open to suggestions, may depend on video card. May consider adding tv tuner at some point in future, if that makes a difference.

    VIDEO CARD(S): I'm thinking one great card

    HARD DRIVE: WD Caviar Black, 1TB.

    MEMORY: 4GB to start DDR3 1600+

    POWER SUPPLY: CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    CASE: Current case is Antec Sonata, and is quiet and not too flashy. I like Antec very well. With the case, I'm mostly interested in ease of installation/room, and keeping things cool. I could care less about lights and windows and crap (would prefer not having them, but not a deal killer)

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Professional

    DISK DRIVE: LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD±R DVD Burner

    MONITOR: No less than 22"
     
     
  12. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

  13. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61


    Yes, that's it.

    It seems to have what I need, without breaking the bank. And I can spend a little more on a monitor or video card. Or an HDTV I promised myself about 2 years ago :)

    Do you personally see anything that makes more sense? It's hard to keep all the mobos straight when you try to cram in all in at once (I'm in a hurry, want new computer :D)
     
  14. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,167   +37

    Between that board and the excellent Gigabyte HK linked you to. A lot of people really like that Gigabyte board.
     
  15. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    If you are set with an AMD build, the Asus motherboard Route44 or Gigabyte I posted are nearly the same, either way would be great.
    For the memory, The $80 2x2 DDR3 1600 Ripjaws are really good.
    The Antec case is great.
    For the video card at a $1500 budget, the 5870 is really the most definitive choice.
     
  16. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    Ahhh decisions decisions. The price is about the same ($99 Gigabyte vs. $105 for ASUS).

    I was looking at the Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case, but the Antec Nine Hundred Two that HK recommends is a good bit cheaper.

    hmmmm
     
  17. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    Virtually all Antec cases are great.
    The Antec 1200 is almost the same as the 902, but its a full sized, much roomier case.
     
  18. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    Yes, I was wondering if I might serve myself better being as it is the first build I'll have done in a long time.
     
  19. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    The 5870 is on backorder :(
     
  20. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 12,167   +37

    Those high end ATI cards are very hard to find at this time. Take a good look at their 5700 offerings or 5850 offerings.

    I really understand weighing out parts and researching, researching, researching because the last major build I did I wound up spending more time on it than I had a right to. :D

    I say jump in; take the plung. As HK rightly points out either motherboard will do you well.
     
  21. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    Still hafta decide on MOBO, but have good suggestions. Memory and Case also. So here's where I am:

    PROCESSOR: AMD Phenom II X4 955

    MOBO: Open to suggestions, may depend on video card. May consider adding tv tuner at some point in future, if that makes a difference.

    VIDEO CARD(S): SAPPHIRE 100281SR Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity

    HARD DRIVE: WD Caviar Black, 1TB.

    MEMORY: 4GB to start DDR3 1600+

    POWER SUPPLY: CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    CASE: Current case is Antec Sonata, and is quiet and not too flashy. I like Antec very well. With the case, I'm mostly interested in ease of installation/room, and keeping things cool. I could care less about lights and windows and crap (would prefer not having them, but not a deal killer)

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Professional

    DISK DRIVE: LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD±R DVD Burner

    MONITOR: No less than 22"
     
  22. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    So I'm nearly there. Video Card may be a problem. Not too many choices available currently, even going to 5700 or 5850. May have to get that when I can I guess.

    PROCESSOR: AMD Phenom II X4 955

    MOBO: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

    VIDEO CARD(S): SAPPHIRE 100281SR Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity

    HARD DRIVE: WD Caviar Black, 1TB.

    MEMORY: 4GB to start DDR3 1600+

    POWER SUPPLY: CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    CASE: Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Professional

    DISK DRIVE: LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD±R DVD Burner

    MONITOR: No less than 22"


    BTW, I'm at $814 before video card and memory (not including monitor). Pretty good so far. The wife will be pleased.
     
  23. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

  24. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

  25. KyBrewer

    KyBrewer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 61

    I hear you on the memory.

    I was thinking about the P183 for a case....more to my style. See any issues there? The pricing would be about the same via combo with the hard drive. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129061
     
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