Novice seeks advice on gaming build

By Jcole · 52 replies
Nov 6, 2006
  1. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yes, my goal is to build a PC that will be able to play all of the new games scheduled for release in the near future. I'll probably be playing current games like Call of Duty 2, City of Heroes, and future games like Age of Conan. That sort of gives you an idea of how this PC will be used.

    This will be the first PC I've built. Since I have no experience with overclocking I will not be doing that. At least I don't expect to perform any overclocking at this point.

    It seems like the dual-core processors from Intel come highly recommended. As well as Asus motherboards. Once I get some free time this weekend I'll read through these posts and should finally be able to compile a list of parts for you to review.

    I've read in another forum that Abit motherboards tend to last longer compared to those of Asus. Is that true?

    Again, thanks for the advice.
  2. Condor

    Condor TS Maniac Posts: 388

    i dissagree on some part. F1N3ST got things right like onboard sound card. I had the same model and i never had any problem with Oblivion, Cod2, BF2, GRAW, Prey or HL2. and BF2142 sound so real for each sniper shot or bomb going off caused me to jump, and this is all coming from an onboard sound card. Perhaps i didn't find any problem with my system yet because I got the best recommendation from Techspot members before i purchase my parts to build my New PC : D
    running on x1900 512mb, Xp pro w/ sp2 , 1 gig of coshar ram (should get 2 gigz)
    3.5+ ghz AMD, 350giz hd.

    this is the mobo that run my $500 video card : D
    only $70
  3. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019


    As you can see from this thread, there will always be a number of judgement calls to be made when buying hardware. I don't think any particular comparison here is, per say, "wrong".. but instead various people with their own suggestions.

    To give a "cliff's notes" version of what the past few pages encompasses:
    A) Sound Card. Your motherboard does have integrated sound. For most purposes this is "good enough", but the possible shortcomings involve:
    i) Fact- integrated/on-board sound does use more CPU resources. With a Core 2 Duo though, this is almost irrelevant as you'll have cpu-resource overage in a BIG way. Also, resource usage will vary by game, game settings, speaker settings and the like.

    There is a soundcard benchmark, RightMark that I use to test soundcards. The on-board audio can take 11-14% cpu resources for 32/64 channel sound vs. the XiFi's 3-4%.

    My suggestion for the XiFi is mainly from personal experience using headphones and 2-speaker configurations. Headphones + CMS3D is a really amazing experience on the XiFi and 2-speaker use is also incredible fidelity and simulated expansion. Moreso than the Audigy/Audigy2/Audigy4 or Live! series... and much more than any integrated solution.

    If you're going with a 4.1/5.1 or 7.1 speaker setup, you'll find integrated or other cheaper solutions just as good. It's mainly the CMS3D and EAX support on headphones or 2/2.1 setups that shifts my opinion as well as Creative driver support and their hassle-free auto-update website for drivers.

    The Diamond card listed by Rage is also a stellar soundcard. It's a great value at that price-point and a solid performing soundcard. It also uses reduced system resources.
    B) Videocard-
    There are all levels of videocards available, with Vista and DirectX 10 right around the corner. The first DirectX 10 card has been released (The Geforce G80 GPU) but they are very expensive. The capabilities for DirectX 10 are greatly raised from DirectX 9.0, but anyone's guess when games that will fully use these new raised limits start hitting the shelf. My prediction is it's pretty safe to assume we'll have some DX10 games shortly after Vista is released, but actual GAMES (not tech demos or benchmarks) that have a *major* visual impact from the improvements are likely further away.

    For this reason, I'd say get a really good/cheap card with good power today, but not go "all the way" to fire-breathing dragon 3d cards. The motherboard quoted will support both SLI and Crossfire (methods from ATI/AMD and NVIDIA for coupling multiple cards, so you have no current compatibility blockages).

    I believe the first generation of DX10 cards will be pricey, but will have more choices and lower prices after Vista is released. Bleeding-edge/early adopters always pay more initially and it's up to you if you want to cut corners elsewhere to boost 3d card power. Overall, your real choice will be limited to what display you get, resolutions wanted and eye-candy/effects you wish to use. NV and ATI/AMD both make superb cards in the $170-$250 range. I'd truly recommend staying in that price bracket so as upgrading next year to a DX10 card wont carry the same "hurt" from expenditures now.
  4. Condor

    Condor TS Maniac Posts: 388

    forgot to add, i used headphone for my on board sound card xD its truly amazing especially if you're into FPS with bullet, bombs and gun shot everywhere. It feel like you're in the game.

    side note: haven't try stand alone sound card yet.
  5. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    Any more flaming in this or any other threads and posts will be deleted.

    This is taken from the TechSpot Forums - Community & Posting Guidelines

    This is the second time today I`ve had to issue this warning. Please don`t let there be a third!

    There is nothing wrong with not agreeing with someone, but when it gets personal, that`s a different matter.

    Regards Howard :cool:
  6. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

    I have never had a problem with my P5W DH onboard sound. The Realtek drivers have been flawless, even with Oblivion. The sound quality if far superior to any mobo I have ever owned.

    That said, It costs too much to be used for anything other than overclocking a E6600 or higher (because it can't reach FSB of many i965 mobos.) Sound, two IDE connections, and polished overclocking features some of are it's strength's.

    I recommend a Intel i965P mobo. Still very stable, but much cheaper.
    And spend the extra on a E6600.

    Don't Get DDR2-800 if your not overclocking. - good DDR2-533

    If you are looking to upgrade to Vista, Windows Media Center comes with the upgrade coupon to home premium, Xp pro comes with a coupon for the Business edition and Xp Home comes with a upgrade to Vista Basic.puke:
    I'd go for Windows Media Center just for the right upgrade.

    The x1950 pro is faster than the x1900GT. For $53 more you can have all the pipelines, shaders and speed of the XT! - it's just 256mb though.

    The PSU with the case sharkfood recomends is close to it's limits with this powerfull system and I don't like that stupid plasic door. Solid 460 watts continuously - a simple black case - looks like it needs another fan

    This should add up about the same price as sharkfoods make-up, but out perform it substantially!
  7. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well I took a few months off from my project of building a new gaming computer, and I am now ready to get back to wasting time online with games. So I need to get my new PC purchased. I read through this thread and there is a lot of great information. Thanks for laying the groundwork, Sharkfood. I used your template and modified it according to some of the other posts that were made.

    A few questions:
    1. Power Supply. I'd like to get something with more power output (in preparation for video card upgrades down the road). Any recommendations in this regard?

    2. RAM. Mirob mentioned not buying DDR2-800 for a non-overclocked PC. I do not plan on overclocking, so is DDR2-800 overkill? Should I get DDR2-553 or some other type?

    3. Case. What factors do I need to look for when I am selecting a case for the components listed below? There is such a wide selection of styles and colors.

    Here is my build so far:

    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz

    Video Card (the extra speed from this card I thought would be better than settling for the z1900GT):
    SAPPHIRE 100171L Radeon X1950PRO 512MB 256bit

    OCZ 2 x 1GB DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800

    Hard drive:
    Seagate Barracuda 120GB SATA

    DVD/CD Drive:
    Pioneer 16x DVD/CD

    Windows XP Pro SP2 Upgrade Coupon for Vista

    I think for my basic gaming purposes I will stick with the onboard sound. Like Sharkfood mentioned, with a dual-core processor the onboard sound shouldn't make too much of an impact on the computer's overall performance.
  8. kitty500cat

    kitty500cat TS Evangelist Posts: 2,154   +6

    Very cool setup :cool:

    Are you planning to use the upgrade coupon for Vista or just use XP? If you're planning to upgrade to Vista, it would be much less hassle just to buy Vista; it was released January 30. I'd recommend Vista Home Premium:

    Regards :)
  9. nickslick74

    nickslick74 TS Booster Posts: 575

    1. PSU's

    2. Ram
    DDR2 800 may be a bit of overkill, but I would not go with 533. You can compromise with 667 but the price is nearly the same.

    3. Case
    Cooling, cooling, cooling. You will want at least a mid-tower case with 2-3 120mm (12cm) to help keep all of your stuff cool. I won't recommend any at this moment because cases are what you see and can be quite a personal choice. A decent one will probably cost $60-$120.
  10. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

  11. beef_jerky4104

    beef_jerky4104 Banned Posts: 822

    Don't that OCZ memory get this memory. Its Corsair XMS2, the best meory around.

    Oh yeah and it only costs $167 after rebates.

    here are the specs on it:

    Model TWIN2X2048-6400
    Type 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM
    Capacity 2GB (2 x 1GB)
    Speed DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
    Cas Latency 5
  12. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It's more difficult to find a case than I imagined. Trying to find a case with a balance of quality heat control, good reviews, and some visual style. I was hoping to find a nice blue colored case, but couldn't find many options that had good reviews. Anyway I did find some that had semi-favorable reviews on NewEgg and had multiple fans. From the time I spent browsing around it seems like there are no 'perfect' cases.
    A. Cooler Master ATX Mid
    B. Antec Performance ATX mid
    C. ABS Stealth ATX Mid

    kitty500cat, I'm not certain if getting that new Vista OS would be good. I'm a bit wary of it since it's so new. I think I will wait for a while before upgrading, and stick with XP for a while.

    Based upon the brand name of the RAM, I selected the Corsair over the Super Talent RAM recommended by Mirob... but the price of the Super Talent is pretty nice--$123 for 2GB. Might have to think about that some more. But for now:
    RAM: Corsair 2x1GB DDR2 800

    For power I chose the 700w OCZ GameXstream. TigerDirect has it for about $30 less than Newegg... not bad.
    Power Supply:
    OCZ 700watt

    If you have any suggestions for a quality case, let me know. Airflow through the case, and an internal design that allows easy & secure installation of the components are more important than having blinky-blue lights :)

    I think things are coming along quite well. This is a great forum, really good info.

    As always the guidance is appreciated
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The Corsair RAM is top-notch and tried and tested as well, so no problems there. I have the GameXStream and it's a superb quality PSU and I assure you, you'll love it. It's pretty small for a 700W PSU too, so it doesn't block too much space in the case at all. As for the case, this NZXT Nemesis combines killer looks with killer features. It has 3 120mm cooling fans for maximum cooling and is quite a bit cheaper than the other 3 cases you mentioned.
  14. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478

  15. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    Hi again JCole,

    Things look pretty good and I'm glad your taking the time to custom select parts and hand-pick things how you see fit. :) Piecing together a system is definitely half the fun. hehe.

    Not to complicate matters more, but Asus has a new "kid on the block" that has been getting pretty good praise from system builders. Unfortunately, I have yet to get my mitts on one personally but one of my collegues and several others I know have now built systems based on it:
    Asus "Commando" motherboard:

    It looks to be the best of all worlds- P965 Express, dual PCI-E, etc.etc. Full poop sheet here:
  16. TheDrizzle50

    TheDrizzle50 TS Rookie Posts: 16

    If you simply want the BEST gaming machine that you could possibly build just take a look at what I have listed under this post!
  17. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    But the ASUS P5W DH DELUXE is still a good MB, right? Interestingly the Commando is the same cost as the P5W. I'm leaning toward the Asus P5W since it seems to have been out longer and may have fewer bugs (just an assumption). Which would provide the best long-term investment (if there is such a thing in computers)? I plan on upgrading the video card in a year or so, but I'd like to have a motherboard and processor that will last longer than that.
  18. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Very cool. I will stick with the Corsair RAM.

    Also that NZXT Nemesis does look good.
  19. Bluemouse

    Bluemouse TS Rookie Posts: 195

    If I were you, I would upgrade to a Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU. It is about $100 more, but the 4mb cache is a noticeable difference, and it doesn't hurt that its 2.4Ghz. Add $100

    You don't really need the extra sound card, so unless your integrated one craps out on you, why not save the money? Save $100

    If you have XP already there is another $150 you can save.

    I would also upgrade to a larger HDD, at least 250 gigs. Those go for about $90 instead of $50, so add $50 to the original price as well.

    $1360 + 150 - 250 = $1260 and a better system.

    Everything else is a pretty good choice, nice mobo and ram, and it is up to you which graphics card or cards you want.

    I say stick with the Asus. Be wary of their tech support though....
  20. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    This Diamond sound card from Newegg has almost the same features as the X-Fi, without the outrageous pricing (only $17). And the E6600 is quite a bit more expensive and unless you can afford it, I don't think it's worth the money.
    @Bluemouse, look at post #32 for JCole's final build.
  21. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks, Rage. I was also wondering if the E6600 processor would provide a real benefit over the E6400. I am just going to be doing online gaming with this computer. I get the feeling that the E6600 may offer a lot of horsepower, but will probably never be utilized. What do ya think? I could afford the E6600, but if it's not really going to boost the performance I'd rather opt for the E6400.

    That Diamond sound card is inexpensive. I could add it in, but will it provide better sound capabilities than the onboard audio?

    And here is another 'noob' question: :blush: Do I need to purchase a network card? Or will my ethernet cable connect to the motherboard?

    Here is the full build as it stands today: (estimated cost: $1400)
    Motherboard: ASUS P5W_DH_DELUXE -- $210

    Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz -- $220

    Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100171L Radeon X1950PRO 512MB 256bit -- $230

    Power Supply: OCZ 700watt GameXstream -- $130

    RAM: Corsair 2x1GB DDR2 800 $207

    Hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 250GB 720RPM SATA -- $75

    DVD/CD Drive: Lite On DVD/CD LH-20A1H-184 -- $36

    Windows XP Pro SP2 Upgrade Coupon for Vista -- $140

    Audio: Onboard sound?

    Case: Antec P180 Performance ATX mid -- $130
  22. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    The E6600 will for sure be faster than the E6400 but as you said, the extra power will not be utilized that much so it's a safe bet to get the E6400 and save the extra money to get a good gaming keyboard/mouse instead. The Diamond audio card will provide a boost in performance since the onboard uses up CPU cycles so the sound card will free up those CPU cycles and will also provide better sound quality. And since the motherboard comes with onboard LAN u don't need a LAN card. I have the P5WDH Deluxe and it's a really premium quality board. You'll never have problems with it.
  23. Jcole

    Jcole TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Cool. I will add the Diamond sound card and also I will stay with the less expensive E6400.

    Now, most of these components I'll be purchasing from Is there anything I should do when buying from newegg (like buying warranties on the motherboard, processor, and video card)? Is there a way I can make sure that they ship all the components in one box, or does newegg usually send multiple packages?

    Thanks again
  24. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    They will be multiple packages I think but since I've never ordered from them, I really don't know. Maybe others will know better.
  25. Mirob

    Mirob TechSpot Paladin Posts: 478


    The case and other components will be in different boxes, and your order may even come from two or more warehouses. I've had parts of the same order come from both California and New Jersey.
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