Theoretical <$1,000 Budget (gaming) Build

This is my first build by myself and I've had to do a LOT of research to try and catch up (probably haven't) with all the technological updates, so my main concern is if everything is compatible or not (or if I'm missing anything). So here goes!

$80 Case: COOLER MASTER RC-690

$80 Power Supply: Antec EA650 650W

$115 GPU: PNY GeForce 8800 GT 512MB

$150 Motherboard: ASUS P5N-D LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 750i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard

$170 CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale

$59 Memory: Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300)
OR
$35 (after mir) Memory: mushkin 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

Total (- shipping) Up to $655.

Recycling optical and hard drives.

I also have several other concerns:
*EDIT* Not all have to be addressed at once.
1) Initial budget: Am I overpaying for anything? I'd like to get the most "bang for my buck", if you will. If improvements can be made for little to no cost please feel free to provide more information.

2) Will I be able to game with this setup. I don't need to run crysis on high settings, but will it at least play HL2 with full HDR and maybe full settings.

3) Should I go SLI (now)? Are we at that point where SLI will be able to take full advantage of all the new games coming out (or vise versa rather) or should I wait for prices to come down a bit more. After receiving input, I've decided it's more cost effective not to go SLI/CF. You can still try and persuade me otherwise, however.

4) Is this rig as energy efficient as possible? Most (60% or more) of the time I won't be gaming but doing homework, bsing some essay, chatting and browsing. Will I be getting a $200 electricity bill for running this machine (esp if I get SLI)? ALSO, is the ANTEC 300 better at cooling? I don't care much about looks as much as performance.

5) The power supply unit I've chosen seems to (correct me if i'm wrong) blow air through the bottom up the case. Will this blow hot air into my GPU(s)? I think the GPU fan is actually going to blow air towards the power supply, as well, will this cause disruption in airflow? It looks like there might be a little eddy forming where the 2 air currents meet (if they meet). ALSO can I go lower wattage and still go SLI later?

6) Should I stick with the stock fan for my CPU? I don't plan to overclock at all so I didn't look into 3rd party cooling devices (the case seems well vented as it is).

7) Since I don't plan on OC'ing anything, I'm leaning towards DDR2 667 since my FSB for my CPU is 1333, but I'm also not sure if I need 4Gigs. (Also, what does the PC2 5300/5400 mean? is there any huge performance difference between them? Should I invest in a PC2 5400 kit instead?)

8) My friend told me that Vista isn't a "gaming OS". I told him that SP1 fixed most major bugs and that almost all older games (pre 2000) can run Vista. Which one of us is wrong? Are we both wrong/right? (basically should I get Vista (64bit) or stick with XP pro (32bit))

9) This one's kind of an unfair/speculative question: How long do you think I can go with this rig without needing to upgrade? I'm shooting for at least a good 2 - 4 years before I need to upgrade any parts. That's probably unrealistic in terms of how performance might increase, but in terms of $, I think it's a good estimation. I'm not taking into account that I'm a total noob in technological regards so feel free to laugh at me and then correct me.

10) I'd like to extend my gratitude to any of you who actually get this far into my post (thought this would be another question, didn't you!). I'm sorry it's a bit long but I want to be very thorough about things, especially since my dad will be paying for this rig instead of me. For him, price is the biggest issue (initial and long term [energy cost]). Thank you for all your advice and help in advance!!! :wahoo:

Although the topic says <$1000 I'd like to stay well below $900, even, but I'm open to dreaming.

Excuse any spelling mistakes or stupidity on my part. Please ask if more information is required.
25 answers Last reply
More about theoretical budget gaming build
  1. 1) Initial budget: Am I overpaying for anything? I'd like to get the most "bang for my buck", if you will. If improvements can be made for little to no cost please feel free to provide more information. Looks good so far, i see no overpriced items

    2) Will I be able to game with this setup. I don't need to run crysishttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crysis on high settings, but will it at least play HL2 with full HDR and maybe full settings. My setup is almost identical and it can play crysis at 1250x1000 or so resolution on AAx4 and almost all settings on VERY HIGH without a stutter

    3) Should I go SLI (now)? Are we at that point where SLI will be able to take full advantage of all the new games coming out (or vise versa rather) or should I wait for prices to come down a bit more. I would personally wait, since you probably wont need SLI to run most games on high with more than decent fps anyway.

    4) Is this rig as energy efficienthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_conversion_efficiency as possible? Most (60% or more) of the time I won't be gaming but doing homework, bsing some essay, chatting and browsing. Will I be getting a $200 electricity bill for running this machine (esp if I get SLI)? Ask someone else lol, but i have a 600w PSU and i don't think my energy bill has gone up too much..

    5) The powerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power supply unit I've chosen seems to (correct me if i'm wrong) blow air through the bottom uphttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top-down_and_bottom-up_design the case. Will this blow hot air into my GPU(s)? I think the GPU fan is actually going to blow air towards the power supply, as well, will this cause disruption in airflow? It looks like there might be a little eddy forming where the 2 air currents meet (if they meet). again ask someone else

    6) Should I stick with the stock fan for my CPU? I don't plan to overclock at all so I didn't look into 3rd party cooling devices (the case seems well vented as it is). You should be able too, its really personal choice, i wouldn't change it.

    7) Since I don't plan on OC'ing anything, I'm leaning towards DDR2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDR2_SDRAM 667 since my FSB for my CPU is 1333, but I'm also not sure if I need 4Gigs. (Also, what does the PC2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PC%C2%B2 5300/5400 mean? is there any huge performance difference between them? Should I invest in a PC2 5400 kit instead?) Well, i have 3 gig of DDR2 of 667 and it runs very smooth, so i can't really help you more than that.

    8) My friend told me that Vista isn't a "gaming OS". I told him that SP1 fixed most major bugs and that almost all older games (pre 2000) can run Vista. Which one of us is wrong? Are we both wrong/right? (basically should I get Vista (64bit) or stick with XP pro (32bit)) Vista, your friend listens to too many macophilla's, Its awesome for gaming..

    9) This one's kind of an unfair/speculative question: How long do you think I can go with this rig without needing to upgrade? I'm shooting for at least a good 2 - 4 years before I need to upgrade any parts. That's probably unrealistic in terms of how performance might increase, but in terms of $, I think it's a good estimation. I'm not taking into account that I'm a total noob in technological regards so feel free to laugh at me and then correct me. I went 8 years without having to upgrade from my radeon 9000 and old athlon, now i plan to do the same with a Q6600 and a 8800gt, besides if your computer can play crysis on high settings (your setup can, except resolution) then it should last awhile.

    FYI: my setup i got from dell in the case of an inspirion 530 (except the graphics card and 8800gt that i self overclocked) and it cost about 700=800 dollars, not inclucing my 21.6 in. samsung LCD monitor. So you should be able to keep the price fairly low.
  2. Thanks so much for your feedback. The bit about SLI and Vista was especially helpful!
  3. JQP122 said:
    Thanks so much for your feedback. The bit about SLI and Vista was especially helpful!


    No prob! :D

    Also i just editted those parts a bit and gave you a price comparison from my system.

    oh do you like my word for mac users/fanboyz? "macophillias" :D lol
  4. the_one111 said:
    No prob! :D

    Also i just editted those parts a bit and gave you a price comparison from my system.

    oh do you like my word for mac users/fanboyz? "macophillias" :D lol

    LOL i had no idea what that meant until you just explained it. He actually doesn't use macs at all. We both just heard horror stories about how Vista was laden with bugs and couldn't run even counter-strike in some cases. I guess the issues are resolved/were myths.

    *EDIT*

    On a side note what exactly is the difference between a 9800 GT and an 8800 GT. Why are most people still choosing the 8800 GT? I read somewhere they're exactly the same except for the 9.
  5. Vista is fine. All of the nay sayers dont know what they are missing out on.
  6. well i think you could probably save $30 on the motherboard by getting a p45 motherboard like this one p5q pro
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131299
    and spend a little extra to get a 4850
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102770
  7. JQP122 said:
    LOL i had no idea what that meant until you just explained it. He actually doesn't use macs at all. We both just heard horror stories about how Vista was laden with bugs and couldn't run even counter-strike in some cases. I guess the issues are resolved/were myths.


    It was bad before service pack 1 but i have vista (32bit home premium) and it runs all my games like a charm and so far none have ANY issues.

    Also vista (if you start games in the "games" folder cleans the system to make room for the game, making games run faster due to more power available.


    And alot of the "bugs" where just plain lies from Apple who was trying to get people to switch over.

    Lol i find it especially fun to watch the "mojave" experiment... ehehh :D
    http://www.mojaveexperiment.com/?fbid=zHUup8InzZ-
  8. gators1223 said:
    well i think you could probably save $30 on the motherboard by getting a p45 motherboard like this one p5q pro
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131299
    and spend a little extra to get a 4850
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102770


    True, but i was trying to keep it as low as possible. While the 4850 is better than an 8800GT it just wasn't the best card for price/performance.
  9. 1,2,&3) Since you will not be using SLI, don't pay extra for a SLI capable motherboard.
    A good P45 based motherboard like the Gigabyte DS3L is $89.99 AR
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128345
    SLI is a poor upgrade option. To get SLI. you have to spend more up front for a SLI capable mobo,a more powerful SLI capable PSU, and better case cooling. Upgrading a single card later with a second equal card does not get you 2x increase, it is more like 1.1x to 1.5x depending on the game.
    At that time, you will still be paying top dollar for a card that is closer to
    being obsolete.
    It would be better to sell the old card and use the proceeds
    towards a better new generation single card.
    4) You are good from an energy standpoint. A psu and the vga card will not draw top power until it needs it.
    5) All PSU's draw air in with the fan and expel it out the back of the case.
    6) The stock cooler will do the job, but can be noisy when the small fan ramps up under load. You can get an oem cooler that will be much quieter because it is more efficient.
    The Xigmatek s1283 is very good.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233003
    I recommend that you also get the optional backplate mount to avoid those tricky pushpins.
    7) DDR2-667 would be OK, since the core 2 cpu's are not sensitive to ram speeds. DDR2-800 is often sold at a lower price, though. Pick a 4gb kit in a 2x2gb configuration from a quality vendor. Don't pay extra for low timings or higher speeds.
    8) Vista-64 bit runs games just fine. Performance comes mostly from your vga card. There is a lot of "FUD" about vista. For a humorous insight to that, google "mojave experiment". If you are a student, you are probably eligible for a heavily discounted price on Vista. Look around.
    9) This will be good for some time. If you get into heavy gaming, the vga card might be the first upgrade.

    To save a few bucks:
    Antec 300 case $54.95 with free shipping.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042
    Watch out for shipping on cases. They are heavy and it costs $15-20 to ship them.

    For the vga card, look at the EVGA 9800GT.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130397
    I like it for several reasons at the same price:
    --It is a slightly stronger card.
    --It has a dual slot cooler which keeps both your vga card AND cpu cooler.
    --EVGA has great support, and gives you a "step-up" option which lets you trade the card in for full price within 90 days if you want to upgrade.

    ---good luck---
  10. geofelt said:
    8) Vista-64 bit runs games just fine. Performance comes mostly from your vga card. There is a lot of "FUD" about vista. For a humorous insighe to that, google "mojave experiment". If you are a student, you are probably eligible for a heavily discounted price on Vista. Look around.


    For the vga card, look at the EVGA 9800GT.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130397
    I like it for several reasons at the same price:
    --It is a slightly stronger card.
    --It has a dual slot cooler which keeps both your vga card AND cpu cooler.
    --EVGA has great support, and gives you a "step-up" option which lets you trade the card in for full price within 90 days if you want to upgrade.


    Lol gave the link already, but EXCELLENT choice of a 8800GT/9800GT, mine is actually a 8800GT/9800GT AKIMBO.
  11. I was getting the motherboard because I thought I would be going SLI in the near future. After all of your feedback it makes more sense not to go SLI, at least now. Thank you for all the suggestions/feedback!
    btw what exactly is the difference between a 9800 GT and an 8800 GT. Why are most people still choosing the 8800 GT? I read somewhere they're exactly the same except for the 9.
  12. 1. if it is from the egg i doubt you will find a much better deal.

    2. that rig depending on the rez should cream HL2 no problem

    3. it really is up to you the 8800gt isn't going to drop tons more but if you wait in 1 year there will be cards faster than a 8800gt SLI setup that cost less as well so

    4. that rig shouldn't run your electricity bill up

    5. i would go with the corsair 550watt PSU that could handle SLI, also i doubt that the PSU will get hot enough to make a difference

    6. no overclocking no need. that CPU is build to run cool under extreme ocing and will have no problem with stock clocks and stock cooler

    7. you will want 4gigs the price is super cheap it honestly isn't going to go down a lot more so. i would get the 2X2gb DDR2 800 kit from corsair it costs around $60 if i remember right

    8. what ever you get i would get 64bit, but as for vista/xp alot of the problems that bothered vista originally have been fixed(not all) but as a gaming OS it is certainly will do the job.

    9. that is a hard question to answer because i would need to know what the definition of "obsolete" is too you. however, saying that "obsolete" means unable to play games smoothly at low settings. i would say you have 2 maybe 3 years till then

    10. your welcome i like the detail

    overall you have a great rig a few notes

    !. look at an ATI 4850 GPU it is almost twice as powerful for about 70 bucks more just switch the motherboard to a crossfire board if you go this route

    2. hard drive? i don't see one listed (probably just missed it) i would go with a western digital 320gb-500gb drive

    3. get 4gb of ram you will want it. it isn't going to drop a ton more... i think i said this all ready didn't i(i don't reread posts)??....

    4. have fun building it and happy gaming
  13. Thanks for the input, rammar16. I heard the 4850 had driver issues on some boards. Does updating bios/drivers fix this in most cases?

    gators1223 said:
    well i think you could probably save $30 on the motherboard by getting a p45 motherboard like this one p5q pro
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131299
    and spend a little extra to get a 4850
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102770

    If I'm never going to go CF, is there a motherboard comparable to the one you linked but cheaper (because it isn't CF ready)?
  14. The P5Q is same as Pro without the extra PCIe slot, but the fun part is it costs the same and there are reports it's not as reliable.

    I'm using a P5Q Pro with a single 4850 atm and it works like a charm. Price difference between P5Q and P5Q Pro was $8 from where I bought it.
    Also, the 4850 is the card to look if you want ultimate price/performance.
  15. icyicy said:
    The P5Q is same as Pro without the extra PCIe slot, but the fun part is it costs the same and there are reports it's not as reliable.

    I'm using a P5Q Pro with a single 4850 atm and it works like a charm. Price difference between P5Q and P5Q Pro was $8 from where I bought it.
    Also, the 4850 is the card to look if you want ultimate price/performance.

    Interesting. I guess I'll stick with the Pro. I'm leaning towards getting the 4850 with a cheaper case/PSU. All I need to decide on is the memory at this point.

    Can this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371006 supply my rig with enough wattage and why is this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371005 more expensive but at a lower wattage?
  16. A 8800GT and a 9800GT are the exact same except the 9800GT uses a bit more power (not noticable)

    Basically the 8800GT owned so hard they re-released it again and renamed it, there is actually no difference AT ALL except the 9800gt has OPENGL2.1 instead of 2.0 which doesnt really make much sense and doesnt matter, since no game uses 2.1 open gl yet.

    Both 8800's and 9800's cost the same price also...

    And so this also means if a game says "geforce 9 series or higher" on its requirements that your 8800gt will still be good.

    And where did you get that the 4850 was almost double the power rammar? i have never heard that..


    Also on a PSU i would get a 450W+ just to be safe, but really its cheaper in the long run to just get a higher wattage one because newer cards are real power suckers.
  17. PSU input noted. Thanks for clarifying the 9800 and 8800 bit too.
    On the subject of memory, should I stick with 667 or go for 800. I may grow bored/enough balls to the point where I want to OC my CPU. I think it'd be nice if I didn't have to buy new memory and with kit prices so low, I think it might be worth it to get a couple 2gig DDR2 800 = 4gigs. What do you think?

    These are dirt cheap after MIR: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145184
    Low voltage and timings seem on the slow end, but I don't think it'll be too noticeable. Your thoughts?
  18. I'm not an expert in RAM but heres my thoughts:

    Well, if you were an addict 800..but i doubt you are :D I myself have 667 with 3 gigs and so far i havent lagged in anything.

    800 mhz ram would probably last longer tech-wise but really its your choice.
  19. i think it'd be worth the investment, esp at these prices.
  20. Yeah, most likely.

    I myself have only OC'd my GPU core from 600mhz to 720 mhz and its mem from 1500 mhz to 2000 mhz. I am not ballzy enough to mess with my CPU.. though its supposedly easier than the graphics card.

    Oh and are you getting a 9800GT (8800gt are relabelled now lol)? If so get an EVGA they are so awesome, and their dual slot cooler is just uber for oc'ing or just plain keeping it icy cool.
  21. JQP122 said:
    PSU input noted. Thanks for clarifying the 9800 and 8800 bit too.
    On the subject of memory, should I stick with 667 or go for 800. I may grow bored/enough balls to the point where I want to OC my CPU. I think it'd be nice if I didn't have to buy new memory and with kit prices so low, I think it might be worth it to get a couple 2gig DDR2 800 = 4gigs. What do you think?

    These are dirt cheap after MIR: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145184
    Low voltage and timings seem on the slow end, but I don't think it'll be too noticeable. Your thoughts?


    A good deal on ram. Corsair has good support if you ever need it.
    Low voltage is actually good. Parts with higher voltage are really DDR2 -800 ram that will overclock higher to get higher speeds.
    You can still overclock with 667 or 800 ram, your limit is just not as high.
  22. Yeah, I didn't mention low voltage as a bad thing, even though it may sound that way when u read my post. I'm probably not going to overclock this rig anytime soon. I'll post tomorrow with final list. It appears you guys have saved me close to $100! Thanks for all your help!!!

    Question: Is the performance boost in getting the 4850 worth the extra 80 bucks I'm putting in?
  23. This is what I would suggest, I just bought very similar and I love it!

    Case: That case is fine. I got $100 - Antec 900 (buy.com)

    CPU: $135 - E8400 ($35 combo deal with mobo)

    Mobo: $120 - P5Q Pro with $20 rebate

    GPU: $150 will get you a 4850 - I got $245 - VisionTek 4870 with $25 rebate

    HDD: what do you have?

    RAM: $58 - 4gb Corsaircorsair XMS2 DDR2 800 with $35 rebate (great for OC'ing)

    PSU: $84 - Corsaircorsair 750W with $20 rebate (buy.com - great deal!)

    CPU Cooler: $49 - Xigmatek S1283 & Bracket & Compound

    Buner: what do you have?

    Monitor: what do you have?

    Total is $676 + ~$14 shipping = $690
  24. I have a 19 inch hitachi crt that can go up to 1600 by 1200. I have a DVDrw+- burner and 1 player somewhere. HDD might be kinda outdated, dunno exactly what it is, I'll find out later. Do I really need 750 watts. I mean it's a great deal but I'd like something efficient too. If it's >80 certified hook me up. (PSU's don't use what they don't need, right?)

    Also, should I wait till Black Friday for some ridiculous savings? I can wait a while and a lot of these rebates seem like they're gonna run out before I get my parts anyway.

    Just looked at a few benchmarking charts and the 4850 doesn't seem all that much better than the 8800 GT at max settings 1280 x 1024. Will there be games coming out soon that utilize 10.1 DX and 2.1 Open GL? doesn't ati underperform in OpenGL anyway? or have things changed/will change.
  25. If you are happy with the CRT, save the money. I picked up the Acer 22" for $195. The HDD is only $80 for a great 640gb WD drive. As for the rebates, when are you looking to order? They always have rebates. I bought mine 3 weeks ago, and these are all different ones from what I had, think it's about $40 more in rebates actually. The longer you wait, the more you will save and the more you will want to upgrade to the next best thing bringing you right back to the same price point :) I have no idea about black friday, maybe at Best Buy, but do online stores do that?
    Check out my post here for links
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/256512-31-build-think
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