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Old 12-25-2008, 05:48 AM
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Arrow Challenge: Build a computer for under $1000
I thought it'd be fun to create a little challenge to our Hardware Guru community...I hope you indulge me!

The Challenge:
-List all the required parts to build a full functioning gaming computer for a budget of $1,000 (bonus points if that includes tax!) This parts list does not include a Monitor, mouse or keyboard..just the computer itself.

Other rules:
-At the very least list the price for each part. Linking to the part on NewEgg.com is also encouraged!
-Please also say why you recommend that part
-Must include all parts, this means computer case, power, RAM, hard drive (must include at least 300GB of space), CPU, etc

Why should you do this?
-Just for fun...but to also help your fellow gamer in their quest to build a computer that can play all the games out today while not breaking the bank.

I'm personally interested because I've got a rapidly aging gaming PC (It's a P4 3.0ghz and an ATI 1950XT Graphics Card) and I would love to get a new one this spring/late winter after Tax Refund time :P

If we get enough interest in this thread I'd also like to create a similar thread for a budget of about 500-600$.

Have fun! I look forward to seeing what you guys suggest!
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Old 12-26-2008, 01:52 AM
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Forsooth QforQ, I shall take your computer challenge! I picked out a few pieces and came under $1,000 but you can always upgrade a few things even if it's just for visual appearance (such as the case). Here a few quick notes besides the product notes. The theme here is the best bang for your buck, but I picked quality brands I've had great experience with. You can always go cheaper if needed.

- I picked a case I've built for 3 of my real life pals that all love it. You can always get a big full tower case with a bunch of fans, slick black metal and blue lasers shooting from every hole (like my case, rawr, go go nightlight), but in the end it doesn't make a huge difference assuming you're not living in a desert without air conditioning.

- There is also a DVD burner, but you could spent about $70 more and get a Blu-Ray player which may be desirable if you don't have a PS3 or independent player.

- If you want a bigger video card (GPU), just go from the single core to dual core. Video cards are at the point where CPUs were a few years ago, where it's a bit more optimal for high-end performance to get dual cores rather than one super core.

- No additonal fans in this build. The two fans with the case are well placed and the stock CPU and GPU fans are also quiet and effecient.

So, here we go! Some feedback on the pieces, some more than others. Prices and links are from NewEgg.

UNDER $1,000 - BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK with QUALITY BRANDS:

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
$49.99 - A case I've used several times. Decent cooling, very well built, easy on new or experienced computer builders. Oh, and let's not forget it has a decent look for the price tag.

ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$129.99 - I've used this one a lot, and I trust the ASUS brand a lot. There was a GIGABYTE one of similar price with slightly higher reviews, but having used this mobo twice I just selected it again.

SAPPHIRE 100259L Radeon HD 4870 512MB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
$199.99 - This is THE piece that is going to carry your machine, gaming-wise. The 4xxx series is amazing, and carries the theme of "best bang for your buck". If you want to put down some extra dough and really go crazy (high quality, amazing FPS on a high resolution for example) get the 4870x2, which is dual graphics cores. Think of it like a dual core CPU processor, but it's GPU instead of CPU.

RAIDMAX HYBRID 2 RX-530SS 530W ATX12V V2.2/ EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Modular LED Power Supply - Retail
$49.99 - 4870 needs at least 500w, so here is 500w. It's reliable, cheap and also modular. Modular makes life easy when building a computer, no extra wires if they're not needed!

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E7200 - Retail
$119.00 - 2.53GHz duo core, very reliable and affordable. No need to increase the speed to 3ghz unless you plan on running a bunch of applications of CPU intensive programs. If you are, up the speed!

CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - Retail
$64.99 (-$10.00 rebate) - It's Coarsair, a well known brand. That's about it! You can only use 4gb and beyond if you have a 64 bit OS.

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
$74.99 - Quality hard drive brand, lots of room.

SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S223Q - OEM
$28.99 - DVD+R burner with LightScribe, fancy stuff.

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders - OEM
$99.99 - Yes, Vista! It's the newest Windows OS and XP is no longer made. Plus it's 64bit, which allows you to take advantage of the 4gb of RAM (32bit can only use 3gb).

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
$5.99 - Better than the crud Intel or AMD provides you. Use this as the thermal paste/grease/compound between your CPU and heatsink. It's one of the cheapest and most important investments that gets overlooked by first time (or even sadly experienced) builders.

TOTAL: $814.90
UPS 3 day service shipping (to Omaha, NE - for a price idea): $36.96
~TOTAL with shipping: $851.86
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Old 12-26-2008, 03:55 AM
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Nice work Faelor! You're even under budget!

I'll check out all these...I really really need a new PC and this one looks pretty attractive.

----

I haven't had much luck at all with my ATI x1950Pro(tons of driver issues, games crashing when I got it, stuff like that), so I'm sort of not excited about getting an ATI card. What would you suggest in the Nvidia arena....or are ATI cards pretty good these days?
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Old 12-26-2008, 01:51 PM
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ATI give you the best bang for the buck. The newest cards are really good. Especially 4870x2, but thats way over 1k $ computer. I believe 4850 is decent enough, but its no top rig.

Driver issues and game problems could have been caused by lots of things, but now, its mostly incompatible drivers and hardware. Shouldn't be a problem here.
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:01 PM
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There is always my systems page for peeps looking for full builds. (Though note that I'm still homelss and haven't yet done my year-end change. There are a few tweaks I'd do, so nothing really major would be different.)

$1k for just what's in the box is actually a fairly large budget. IMO that puts you solidly into a current (higher) mainstream build.

Almost straight off my site...

E8400 $160
Evga GTX 260 Core 216, 55nm version $265 (just launched within the past few days) (Nothing wrong with an ATi 4 series, however, Nvidia gives you PhysX)
OCZ 4 gig DDR2-800 SLI ready edition $18 post rebates ($48 pre-rebates) (You can't use the SLI ram feature, but at this cost, this is one of the best kits with excelent timing at an awesome price.)
Evga 750i chipset MB $140 post rebate ($170 pre-rebate)
Western Digital Caviar SE16 320 gig drive $55
Asus DVD/CD Burner/reader $28
Corsair CMPSU 520HX modular PSU w/8-pin PCIe lines, $95 post rebate ($110 pre-rebate)
Antec 300 case $60
Windows Vista 64-bit OEM $100

Total = $ 921
(Pre-rebate $966)
Last edited by rabb1t : 12-27-2008 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 12-27-2008, 01:52 AM
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Thanks for chiming in Rabb1t I actually created this thread with you in mind, I'd like to see you around here more I was reading quite a bit of your site last night, checking out your systems page.

Sounds lame...but I actually find it relaxing to read system builds like this and your site :P

---------------------------

What do you think is a reasonable budget for a gaming PC that will last 2-3 yrs? If I don't have to spend a grand I'd love to not spend that. I'm just tired of my 4 yr old PC and not being able to enjoy a lot of the PC games that come out today, due to my poor poor performance.
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:55 AM
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A ~$1,000 system can last quite a few years, easily. Anything listed above and Rabb1ts sit should do that, easy I wouldn't worry about how long your system is going to last unless you are planning to get a system that is like $500. If you're at a super low subject you may be getting older technology which may be going out soon and or not supported. With a budget floating around $1,000 you're fine.

The last few PCs I've build have ended up around $800-$950 actually, and I don't see them being incompatable anytime soon. I think I spent about $1,200 total on mine but I kinda went crazy with the case and 8 silent fans that were $26 each I don't really gain much of a performance gain, it was just something fun to throw money at, which a majority of building is in my opinion. Once you break that 1k mark you're not going to be gaining major performance unless it's something dramatic such as a second video card or core, and that's about it. At least gaming PC wise.

If you get a Nvidia card I highly recommend EVGA as Rabb1t linked, great brand that has great clock speeds, support and warranties. I really wish they made ATI cards! If I get ATI, I suggest Sapphire first and then VisionTek.
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faelor View Post
Forsooth QforQ, I shall take your computer challenge! I picked out a few pieces and came under $1,000 but you can always upgrade a few things even if it's just for visual appearance (such as the case). Here a few quick notes besides the product notes. The theme here is the best bang for your buck, but I picked quality brands I've had great experience with. You can always go cheaper if needed.

- I picked a case I've built for 3 of my real life pals that all love it. You can always get a big full tower case with a bunch of fans, slick black metal and blue lasers shooting from every hole (like my case, rawr, go go nightlight), but in the end it doesn't make a huge difference assuming you're not living in a desert without air conditioning.

- There is also a DVD burner, but you could spent about $70 more and get a Blu-Ray player which may be desirable if you don't have a PS3 or independent player.

- If you want a bigger video card (GPU), just go from the single core to dual core. Video cards are at the point where CPUs were a few years ago, where it's a bit more optimal for high-end performance to get dual cores rather than one super core.

- No additonal fans in this build. The two fans with the case are well placed and the stock CPU and GPU fans are also quiet and effecient.

So, here we go! Some feedback on the pieces, some more than others. Prices and links are from NewEgg.

UNDER $1,000 - BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK with QUALITY BRANDS:

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
$49.99 - A case I've used several times. Decent cooling, very well built, easy on new or experienced computer builders. Oh, and let's not forget it has a decent look for the price tag.

ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$129.99 - I've used this one a lot, and I trust the ASUS brand a lot. There was a GIGABYTE one of similar price with slightly higher reviews, but having used this mobo twice I just selected it again.

SAPPHIRE 100259L Radeon HD 4870 512MB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
$199.99 - This is THE piece that is going to carry your machine, gaming-wise. The 4xxx series is amazing, and carries the theme of "best bang for your buck". If you want to put down some extra dough and really go crazy (high quality, amazing FPS on a high resolution for example) get the 4870x2, which is dual graphics cores. Think of it like a dual core CPU processor, but it's GPU instead of CPU.

RAIDMAX HYBRID 2 RX-530SS 530W ATX12V V2.2/ EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Modular LED Power Supply - Retail
$49.99 - 4870 needs at least 500w, so here is 500w. It's reliable, cheap and also modular. Modular makes life easy when building a computer, no extra wires if they're not needed!

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E7200 - Retail
$119.00 - 2.53GHz duo core, very reliable and affordable. No need to increase the speed to 3ghz unless you plan on running a bunch of applications of CPU intensive programs. If you are, up the speed!

CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - Retail
$64.99 (-$10.00 rebate) - It's Coarsair, a well known brand. That's about it! You can only use 4gb and beyond if you have a 64 bit OS.

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
$74.99 - Quality hard drive brand, lots of room.

SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S223Q - OEM
$28.99 - DVD+R burner with LightScribe, fancy stuff.

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders - OEM
$99.99 - Yes, Vista! It's the newest Windows OS and XP is no longer made. Plus it's 64bit, which allows you to take advantage of the 4gb of RAM (32bit can only use 3gb).

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
$5.99 - Better than the crud Intel or AMD provides you. Use this as the thermal paste/grease/compound between your CPU and heatsink. It's one of the cheapest and most important investments that gets overlooked by first time (or even sadly experienced) builders.

TOTAL: $814.90
UPS 3 day service shipping (to Omaha, NE - for a price idea): $36.96
~TOTAL with shipping: $851.86
Looks solid,... However, I did a stop by Circuit City the other day and saw a 1gig Vid Card for 109.99. Might be something to look into to reduce the price. The one I am working on right now cost me $350.00 and the only reason I can't game on it is the screen size (1240x600) blech...
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by QforQ View Post
Thanks for chiming in Rabb1t I actually created this thread with you in mind
hehe

Quote:
I'd like to see you around here more
I check in every couple of days. Not much movement, so sometimes I forget to check for a few days.

Quote:
I was reading quite a bit of your site last night, checking out your systems page. Sounds lame...but I actually find it relaxing to read system builds like this and your site :P
hehe me too. Though with my recent troubles and having limited time and limited ability to update I can't do it so much and it can be kind of frustrating.

Quote:
What do you think is a reasonable budget
Well... the budget part really depends on what you plan on doing with it and at what level. I'm sure someone could spec out a $500 system that would technologically last as long as a system that cost $2500, but the experience you'd have playing each would be very different.

Quote:
for a gaming PC that will last 2-3 yrs?
The E7200 CPU someone linked before me is a fine core. (It's basically a new-school E6600.) It should last 2-3 years, but it may not have the same oomf that something like the E8400 would, and I'm pretty certain it couldn't OC as far.

A system lasting over time is often more a question of technological compatibility with newer parts than it is where it is along the scale.

If you want a minimal cost build I'm sure we could eek a bit of cost out, and if you are on current parts you can always make a smaller step in upgrades.

As example, the Evga 9800 GT Superclocked down at $125 would perform very adequately at 1680x1050 res. Will it last as long as the GTX 260 Core 216? Certainly not, it will feel the pain of more powerful games much sooner. However, say 1.5 years down the road you could upgrade to a different card for say $125, and bump your power up again. You don't have to spend the $ all right now. Note that something like that would total the same as the GTX 260 Core 216, less if you factor in resale of the first card on ebay, but if you are on a budget and need to reduce costs over time, you could make two smaller steps. In some ways two smaller steps may actually be better, as an upgrade 1.5 years from now may be a card that has DX11 and other improvements.

If we look at Far Cry 2 at 1280x1024, we can see the GTX 260 getting ~45 FPS, while the 9800 GT still performs very admirably at ~33 FPS. Is something like that change something which would bother you more than the immediate cost difference? Note though at "ultra high" at 1680x1050 the difference is a bit more noteworthy, being ~42 vs. 29. This shows that newer games that push higher settings will be more noticible as cards age. (Even though Far Cry 2 is brand new and the series 9 and series 2xx are effectively current gen. )

Quote:
If I don't have to spend a grand I'd love to not spend that. I'm just tired of my 4 yr old PC and not being able to enjoy a lot of the PC games that come out today, due to my poor poor performance.
Again we get to the question of - is this a one time only budget ("Leaping") or is your budget flexible and you can say spend more again in a few years time, adding up to the total amount ("Riding the wave")

If we make sure the system uses current technology, then upgrading over time can be done in small steps. (Though it's tough to buy something new today and not be current, compared to say a couple of years ago when AMD was transitioning to AM2 from 939 and 754, or around 3 years ago when some 939s had AGP slots while others had PCIe x16.)

Costs can also possibly be cut here and there where you may not need it. Like the 2 hard drives posted so far are only a 'small cost difference', but the difference in storage space is pretty huge. If you don't need the size you can easily shave off that little bit of cost. If you are one to store lots of stuff, you probably want to shave cost off elsewhere.

The absolutely totally completely minimal build I'd recommend for gaming would be as follows...

E7300 $120
Evga 9600 GT $85 post rebate
OCZ 4 gig DDR2-800 kit $18 post rebate
Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3L $80
Western Digital SE16 320 gig HD $55
Asus DVD/CD burner/reader $28
OCZ StealthXStream 500w PSU $25 post rebate
Antec 300 $60
Win Vista Home Premium 64-bit OEM $100

Total = 571 (post rebate)

Now, note that there are some disadvantages to the system. The CPU is a touch lower than current generation (gaming targeted) CPUs (smaller cache, slower speeds), but it should have plenty of power to game with. Also note that the motherboard has a single GPU slot, so there will be no option to run dual card. Though said single slot is PCIe x16 v2. The power supply has a single PCIe plug, so running a card which requires two plugs will be impossible, as will dual GPU, but it does have an 8 pin design. The GPU should have plenty of power to run at 1680x1050, but as shown by the linked article the heavier hitting games will probably require you to turn some settings down compared to something like the GTX 260, 9800 GTX+, or even 9800 GT.
Last edited by rabb1t : 12-27-2008 at 10:00 PM. Reason: forgot Vista
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:20 PM
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