Build Me a Gaming Computer under $1600

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by Beason, May 16, 2006.

  1. Beason

    Beason They call me "The Stig"

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    Requirements....
    2GB Ram
    Duo Core
    Video Card must be able to support a 2405 during gaming
    DVD
    Boot drive 120gb-180gb
    Media Drive - 400gb-500gb
    Sound Card
    Fire Wire Card
    Medium Black Case, nothing fancy
     
  2. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I don't have any components to suggest, just food for thought.

    - - -

    As much as I like dual-core for general computer use, it's not a necessity for gaming. Unless the games you play are multi-threaded (capable of generating more than one sequence of CPU commands at the same time), you won't see any meaningful improvement from the second core -- all you'll see is a very slight boost as a result of having your computer's drivers and services running on the second core while your game runs on the first core. For the same money, you could get a faster single-core CPU.

    That said, if you're going to be bogging your computer down with browser windows, Office documents and spreadsheets, mp3 players, etc., at least as often as you'll be playing games, then you'll definitely appreciate the high-torque-diesel performance of the dual-core CPU.

    - - -

    If you're going to have 600GB of storage on your computer, you should really spring for a RAID setup: 3x 300GB hard drives, two that store your stuff and the third that stores the backup data in case one of the drives goes to shit. Its also faster than having single hard drives. You can tell the RAID array to pretend like it's two separate hard drives, just like the setup you want, though I recommend having one big array instead, because I for one can never remember to keep my files separated when I have multiple drives.

    RAID costs as much as an extra hard drive, plus the cost of a RAID controller if your motherboard doesn't have one built-in -- actually, you may want to buy a RAID controller anyway, because a lot of buit-in RAIDs will waste the CPU power to keep the backup data up-to-date. But trust me, all you have to do is have a single hard drive fail on you and you will will either be glad you spent the money, or you will wish you had. Especially with 600GB of data; there's no convenient way to make backups of that, so it's better to just protect against losing it in the first place.

    If you take my advice, DO NOT USE RAID 0 -- it's a fake RAID that doesn't really store any backup data, and if one drive dies then they all die. RAID 3 or RAID 5 are the gold standard.

    - - -

    Most motherboards have a couple of built-in FireWire ports nowadays. If you pick one that doesn't have any FireWire ports, then get a Sound Blaster Audigy for your sound card -- it has a FireWire port on the back, plus header pins to connect a second port on the front of your case. That's how I finally got FireWire in my Micro-ATX computer, and I'm quite pleased with it.

    - - -

    Okay, I do have one component to suggest. Three choices for your case, two that hold regular ATX motherboards and one that holds a Micro ATX motherboard. I have the second one.

    http://www.hecgroupusa.com/category/29 (either the 6C28 or the 6C29)
    http://www.hecgroupusa.com/product/28 (this is the one I have)

    Stick with steel; don't buy a case that uses aluminum or plastic for anything other than decoration. It's just not strong enough, unless you buy a case that costs hundreds of dollars by itself.

    - - -

    Make that two component suggestions. You'll want a good power supply, and preferably a quiet one too. I bought this one:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817153022

    The style of having one huge fan in the bottom of the power supply (instead of smaller ones in the sides) has gotten really popular lately. That's probably because it works well and it's damn near silent.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2006
  3. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    yet again I disagree with the trash that deusexaethera spews.

    First of all, don't get any of those cases.... If you want a decent case, look at a Lian Li, or Silverstone. I like the TJ-04, excellent case. The 6070b is also nice. TJ-06 is good, but expensive.

    Now for powersupply, ThermalTake is probably the LAST brand you want to look at. In fact, it makes my "top-10" list of WORST computer-component-companies.

    Now to address RAID. Do NOT do it. Deusexaethera likes to recommend it, but first of all he doesn't run it himself (yet) and secondly, it's simply a bad idea. There is NO consumer-grade motherboard with a decent RAID3/5 implementation. There is NO consumer-grade motherboard with a hardware RAID3/5 implementation -- period. So why does he recommend a RAID card which is $100 for a crappy one, and even more for a decent one? Then not even taking into account the performance bottleneck of the PCI bus -- and let's not get into the cost of a PCI-E RAID controller... Overall, RAID is an excellent technology *when used appropraitely*. It is not intended for the gamer. Personally, I'd recommend some 250+GB drives, get two of them. If you really want the best-available on YOUR budget, then maybe get a 250+GB drive and then a Raptor for your OS/Apps drive. But please remember YOUR BUDGET. You have enough money there to get a good computer... But it is by no means the "best" and you will have to spend *reasonably*.

    Heck, if money was no object, I'd expect SCSI... But that just isn't the case.

    Again, I disagree with deusexaethera... Do NOT get a SB Audigy. For the money, there are much better cards on the market. Personally, I own a SB Audigy 2 Platinum ZS... So take this from the guy that knows. Would I buy it again? No. Why do I still use it? I'm too cheap to buy anything else and it gets the job done. However, if I were to do it again, I wouldn't have bought it. There are three cards that I would recommend. If you want to save money, at least initially, try onboard audio. It's gotten MUCH better of the past few years. And this is one area where you could spend no money now, upgrade later, and not have any downside! If you want a seperate card now, however, then one is the AV-710. This is a good descrete solution. The better card, however, would be something from M-Audio. These are studio-grade cards, and you simply can't beat them for the money. They cost less than my Audigy, as well.


    Now lets get to the MEAT of it:

    You didn't specify Intel or AMD? Most people on this board are going to sackride AMD. Not really because they like AMD more.. but just because they live in the "anti-MS/Intel" generation. They have no factual basis for this. Personally, I think that current AMD desktop CPUs are more technologically advanced. I think that Intel has kicked AMDs ass forever in the mobile market, but AMD does have the upperhand in desktop CPUs. However, my primary workstation is not AMD. Why? you ask. Simple: There is not one good chipset for AMD desktops, at this time. People love looking component-by-component, and only using the CPU to compare platforms... But that just doesn't work in the real-world. It's always interesting when the chair-jockeys argue with me and think that their benchmark result will prove their system superior -- sorry, not the case. Intel chipsets are hands-down the most reliable platform on the planet for the average-consumer. That said, the AMD solutions arn't down-right horrible... I just prefer the Intel solution.

    So with that said, we need more info to recommend a CPU/Mobo and even memory, to some extent. Do you have a preference, either way?

    You want a 945/955 chipset if you go Intel. And if you go Intel, then genuine-Intel-Brand Motherboards are the *only* brand you should consider. If you go AMD, you want the nVidia nForce4-SLI chipset. Asus and MSI are my personal recommendations for boards. DFI makes an okay board. Abit makes an okay board. There are a bunch of "okay" boards. But Asus and MSI are going to be your staples in the AMD arena.

    For memory, brand is an EASY choice. CORSAIR! Their ValueSelect is an amazing bargain. Superior performance with a very affordable price tag. Lifetime warranty, and a truely hassle-free exchange program. On top of that, Corsair has the *lowest* failure rate in the industry. They are also one of the few (I think there are only 3 or 4) companies that make their own memory. And just so you know, Kingston does NOT make their own). If you want the "ultimate" then you would want the XMS line from Corsair. It costs more, but you do usually find better latency. I would honestly recommend you get a 1GB kit, regardless, which is 2x512MB sticks. I don't think you need 2GB total. And memory is something that's easy to add if you plan properly. Start with 1GB, and any of the motherboards I've recommended will leave you two open slots for future use. If you want, you could even buy 2x1GB kit and then have a total of 3GB system memory. Another point to remember is that 512MB sticks typically have the better "value" pricepoint, and usually have better latency.

    Do you mean DUAL core, or core DUO. Because those are different. For DUAL core, you can get that from both Intel and AMD. if you mean core DUO, then only Intel offers that, and it's a laptop CPU, not a desktop one. You'd want to wait for Conroe to become available if you want that.

    For video card, I HIGHLY recommend you avoid ATi. nVidia simply has the best cards right now. That crossfire from ATi is simply crap. nVidia and SLI is where you want to be. Get a 7900-series card. Brand wise, stick with XFX, MSI, Asus, BFGTech. eVGA makes an okay card, but it's "budget". The list I provided are the staple cards. BFGTech is the best of the bunch, followed by XFX. MSI and Asus tie for third place. AVOID LEADTEK like the *plague*.

    As for DVD-RW drives, there are three on the market that I like... NEC, Sony, and Lite-On. Personally, I like the NEC 3540 the best. I currently own a few Sony 16X DL drives and they have been very reliable. The Lite-On is always a good choice, but I prefer the NEC over it, this time. Don't bother with getting a reader in addition, for the cost (about $40 each) just get two dvd burners.

    Hard drives are tricky. You can do a Raptor for your OS (boot) drive. Through your OS and Apps on it for the fastest-possible load times. Trade off is not so much storage, but if you stick to OS and Apps that won't be an issue. For the data drive, get SEAGATE. There is simply no better consumer drive on the market. 7200RPM SATA-II. Other than that, just get the capacity that you need.

    I think I've addressed the sound card. I honestly recommend you try onboard. You can always upgrade later without losing any money. And I would recommend the M-Audio card over anything else, right now. Heck, if you bought me the M-Audio card (cheaper than my Audigy 2 Platium ZS) I'd trade you my Audigy for the M-Audio. lol.

    Any decent mobo you buy will have firewire, so don't worry about that -- just ensure the mobo has it.

    As for case, I think I've addressed that. Despite what "deusexaethera" says, case DOES matter. Aluminum is a GREAT material. thermally, it's superior to steel, although it's arguable that it even matters. The Lian-Li PC-6070B is an excellent example of an affordable aluminum case that is VERY strong. The Silverstone is steel, if you prefer.

    Give us more info, and we can start building a specific component list.
     
  4. dew

    dew Banned

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    go amd opteron 165 or higher, runs cooler. Ive seen so many of theses threads..
     
  5. w00tpoint

    w00tpoint New Member

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    just an idea- go to ibuypower.com and play around. you can sometimes get a smoking deal on systems there. i am on my second machine from them and have no complaints. everything they sell is totally customizable, so you can get pretty much whatever you are looking for.
     
  6. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    Wow, pretty much everything that jollyogre said was dead on, so I'm basing what I say off of that...
    ThermalTake is definitely not the way to go. Personally, I prefer Sparkle, Enermax, PC Power and Cooling, or Seasonic.

    Enough said right there. It's not worth screwing with on a gaming system. The performance gain is not enough to justify it. Go with two hard drives, or can afford it, SCSI. I have a 15K RPM Ultra320 drive as my primary drive, and 10K RPM drives for data... cost quite a bit more, but I have no complaints.

    I was never too crazy about the Audigy cards, but I have an X-Fi Elite Pro card on my PC now, and I have no complaints with it. The breakout box is nice to have, and there are many things to tweak and configure to get the best sound for your speaker setup. As jolly said, M-Audio makes great cards as well.

    Again, dead on. I would say, go Intel, and stick with an Intel brand motherboard. They may not have all the toys some of the other ones have, but they are the most reliable boards out there, period.

    Corsair is decent stuff, and I have it a 2GB kit in my PC. No complaints at all. Otherwise, I've had good luck with Crucial RAM. One thing jollyogre implied, but did not say specifically, would be to go with no more then 3GB of RAM. From experience, running a 32-bit XP system with 3.5-4GB of RAM can sometimes cause problems in how the memory is reported and such.

    Exactly what he said...

    I like Lite-On and NEC drives. In fact, I own the 3540 and have no complaints with it. In fact, they have a silver version that goes great with my Lian-Li aluminum case. Don't throw away money going with a Plextor.

    As far as everything else goes, I agree with jolly. Go Seagate on hard drives. As far as cases go, it definitely matters for cooling, grounding, and other things. Aluminum is great.. it's light, handles heat better, and it looks good. The only thing is that they can scratch very easily because it's a softer metal. Other than that, I prefer it. I have a Lian-Li PC-70 (that I spent $200 on back in the day), and it's the best case I've owned so far, hands down.
     
  7. Beason

    Beason They call me "The Stig"

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    Last edited: May 17, 2006
  8. Beason

    Beason They call me "The Stig"

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  9. Beason

    Beason They call me "The Stig"

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  10. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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  11. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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  12. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Once again Jolly goes above and beyond the call of geekdom and not only corrects me, but insults me to boot. People like him are the reason I avoided the programmers at my college and hung out with the math kids instead.

    So, Jolly, now I get to correct you.

    That shitty case I recommended has protected my computer while I hauled it all over hell's half-acre going to college and back home and over to friends' houses and so on for five years running. There's no accounting for style preference, but the case is plenty strong enough for the job it does.

    Yes, I run RAID. Not at home, at work, where bad things happen if the computers don't run. I run 15 of them of various sizes ranging from 36GB to 2TB, to be specific, and they are powered-on all the time, and it's my ass if they fail. But they don't fail, because RAID has built-in protection against hardware failure. That's why I was suggesting it, not because it's faster, but because if he's really going to store half a terabyte of data on his computer he should do something to secure it against sudden, irretrievable loss.

    I recommended the SB Audigy not because it's the best sound card out there, but because it's a lot better than onboard audio and it provides FireWire in the same single package. It kills two birds with one stone.

    Next time, keep your bile in your mouth and read my post with a little consideration as to the issue I'm addressing, not the issue you want to address.
     
  13. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    Sure you could do a couple of those... or what some people do is have a Raptor for OS and programs, then you could use the Seagate for data and media stuff.
     
  14. Beason

    Beason They call me "The Stig"

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    As far as media drive I believe Im going to use those, but Im confused about a boot drive. I thought you wanted a fast boot drive and always thought SATA was faster then Serial ATA150? But the raptor is ATA150.
     
  15. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    ATA150 = SATA = Serial ATA 150
     
  16. PC Principle

    PC Principle New Member

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  17. Clarity

    Clarity New Member

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    Get a amd dual core for gaming. Higher video editing, etc., I'd get an Intel. Whatever.
     
  18. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    This is true.
     
  19. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    For reliability, Intel > AMD... yes AMD is faster in games, but we're also taking reliability into account.
     
  20. Skyline22GTR

    Skyline22GTR OT Supporter

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    Good input to this thread I am also thinking about getting a new computer this summer and Need most of the same requirements the thread started needs. I game and also multi task with MP3 and CADD programs.
     
  21. Beason

    Beason They call me "The Stig"

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    Last edited: May 17, 2006
  22. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    If the memory is DDR, then it won't work. The memory must be the same as the motherboard (DDR -> DDR, DDR2 -> DDR2).

    Cooler Master cases aren't bad. Not my first choice though.
     
  23. Clarity

    Clarity New Member

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    link? don't believe.
     
  24. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    It's called experience, and just a plain fact. Until AMD starts making their own motherboards, this will probably continue to be the case.
     
  25. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    AMD Athlons had big reliability problems because the chip carrier was too flexible and would sometimes break its contacts with the silicon chip, and because silicon was directly exposed to the metal heatsink (and to careless computer techs who would chip the corners of the silicon by installing the heatsink hamfistedly). AMD 64's have a stronger chip carrier and a large metal shield over the top of the silicon, just like Pentium 4's have, and they're just as reliable as a result.
     

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