Please Help Me Spec A PC
Mar 4, 2006 at 10:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

digitaldave

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I've finally admitted that a Mac isn't great for playing computer games, so I'm looking to get a new PC. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to go for a homebuild or buy from an established (online) retailer. What I'm looking for is something that can play World Of Warcraft with all the settings maxed out (at 1280x1024 as I have a monitor with that native resolution) without too many problems, also some RTS (Battle For Middle Earth for example), and finally MS Flight Simulator. I have been out of the PC world for so long that I really haven't got a clue what I should be looking for, but I'll throw some ideas out and you guys can tell me if I'm well off the mark
wink.gif
. So, some preliminary ideas for the spec...

3.2 GHz processor (or faster?)
nVidia 6800 class gfx card (I have no idea what the ATI equivalent is) - would 256MB be ok, or would 512MB give noticeable / sizeable benefits?
1 GB RAM (maybe more?)
160 GB hard disc (this doesn't need to be massive, as I'll only have a few games, the OS, and nothing else - all my other stuff will stay on my Mac)
16xDVD (not worried about CD/DVD writing, that will be done on the Mac)

I also don't need a great quality sound card, something pretty basic (even the on board) would be fine.

If I go for an online retailer, I've been looking at things like Alienware and the Dell XPS series. However, I've also found this system, which got a favourable review in the UK magazine Custom PC, using pre-overclocked Opteron running at something like 2.65 GHz. Is that a good spec? If not, what should I change? Can I get something that will still give great performance for less? I'm not after something that's right on the bleeding edge of PC technology, I want a reasonably well performing system that doesn't cost the earth.

Sorry for all the stupid questions, but I'd be very grateful for any feedback anyone can give.

Thanks
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.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 12:05 AM Post #2 of 17

Elec

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Looks pretty good overall. If you're only using it for gaming, you can probably save a few bucks and stick with a single-core CPU. Dual core is nice for multitasking but doesn't help a lot for games (yet). If you're concerned about the video card, IMHO you'd be better off moving up to a 7800GT class than getting a 512MB 6800GT/Ultra. Also WoW is very memory intensive, so if that'll be one of your main games, you should try to go with at least 1.5GB of RAM and idealy 2. It'll run ok with 1 but you'll still get occasional slowdowns, especially in large raids.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 1:02 AM Post #4 of 17

happyangryhappy

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You should go ask over at Overclockersforums or Xtremesystems. You should definately look into building a PC yourself along the lines of the opteron one you linked. The opteron processors (amd server chips) overclock unbelievably well and will generally far outperform anything bought from Dell ect.. well within the price range. Both of those forums are a wealth of knowledge to getting the most from your PC dollars and most of them are also avid gamers so they can tell you exactly what to look into and how to get the most out of it (ram frequency/timings, cpu clocking, gpa clocking ect..).
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 3:47 AM Post #7 of 17

jnev

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if all you want to do is game, you can build yourself a nice PC for less than $1000.

amd 3200 (venice core)
epox mobo
7800GT
80gb hd (don't need anymore if all you have on it are games and such)
1gb valueram (don't need anything really nice if you don't OC)
pick a case that comes with a good PSU

that should be around $800 if you already have a mouse/keyboard/monitor.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 3:55 AM Post #8 of 17

roastpuff

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Quote:

Originally Posted by skudmunky
Looks good, I'd recommend an AMD CPU for gaming though, socket 939 single or dual core would game very well.

[H]ard|Forum has ALL the computer information you might need.
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Bang on recs here.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 4:36 AM Post #9 of 17

megawzrd

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...for 1280x1024 and the games you mentioned I would not bother with the current generation of video cards...its over kill for that resolution. You could always upgrade your video card later if you ever start pushing 1600x1200 or higher.

I would however recommend going 2gb...ram prices are good right now. Its cheap enough now where if you get on a deal you could pick up a 2x1gb kit for ~160 after rebates, a little bit more if you want some cas 2 ram. There is a marked improvement for games like WOW, BF2 and pretty much all the next gen games on there way.

That epox board 9npa+ mentioned above is pretty good/solid from reviews I have read and a friend that has one...although I would probably get something from asus but their better boards are sli.

For bang for your buck I would go:
- amd 939 socket motherboard
- either a venice core 939 or 939 opteron (dont bother with the san diego core 939 the opteron is the better 1mb L2 brother) - I wen't from a venice core 3200, to a san diego 3700 and now I am on an opteron 146 I can push to 2.8ghz stable but run at 2.6ghz (I am limited by my board - I have had it up to 3.1ghz no probs with mem dividers dropped down)
- 2gb ram kit
- 6800 gs seems to be one of the best values out right now (as far as motherboards go I don't care to much for sli or crossfire boards there is always a new card that will beat out the previous gen sli'd - so I think its a waste)
- wd sata 74gb raptor (you can always pick up an ide storage drive later)
- invest in a good power supply antec, pc power and cooling, seasonic this is often the most overlooked part in a computer build and a cheap supply can cause alot of phantom problems, instability, crashes, and errors (I have been more than happy with my neo power 480)
- don't waste your money on xp pro unless you need high level networking function (just pick up an oem xp home)
- and pick up one of the latest oem nec drives (dvdrw) - usually around $40 and rock solid

As far as cases go...I am a quiet freak but I don't want to mess with water cooling. I would highly recommend the antec p180 (I love mine). I also have zalman 7700cu cpu heatsink and vf700cu video card heatsink and my system whispers. Which is good for studio music recording purposes. And pick up some Artic Silver 5 regardless of your heatsink choice even if you stick with the stock fan.

oh the two overclocking sites mentioned are very good...I would recommend hardforum.com (off of hardocp). That's been my favorite computer tech site since 2003 and where I stop off first. I go by the same name over there...haven't posted much lately becuase of this new addiction called head-fi.org.

good luck with your build
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 6:40 AM Post #10 of 17

xSolsticex

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What exactly is your budget for this build? What components do you already have and plan on using for this build? Are you going to overclock this rig or are you looking for a stable gaming platform?

From what you say,
-AMD Skt939 processor (Venice core is probably your best bet, go with an Opteron only if you plan on overclocking)
-Skt939 motherboard (Depending on the size you are looking for, either go for an NForce4 Ultra based board (ASUS and Epox make good budget boards) or the GeForce 6150 if you want to go Micro-ATX)
-2GB Ram, preferrably OCZ or Mushkin
-7800GT, outpowers all of the 6800 series, and is getting less expensive every day
-Strong PSU, Fortron is your best bet in terms of price/performance.
-Large SATA2 HD
-Case
-Whatever else you need to add

This system would set you up pretty well for any game that is currently out on the market. However, you need to post a budget so that we can help you put together a system which fits your needs best.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 6:47 AM Post #11 of 17

megawzrd

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I can't believe I forgot about my other favorite computer related site aside from hardforum.

www.anandtech.com

...they are the best imho for hardware reviews...I also use their real time pricing engine frequently just to see where component prices are at and watch the trends.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 6:53 AM Post #13 of 17

SennFan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Elec
Looks pretty good overall. If you're only using it for gaming, you can probably save a few bucks and stick with a single-core CPU. Dual core is nice for multitasking but doesn't help a lot for games (yet). If you're concerned about the video card, IMHO you'd be better off moving up to a 7800GT class than getting a 512MB 6800GT/Ultra. Also WoW is very memory intensive, so if that'll be one of your main games, you should try to go with at least 1.5GB of RAM and idealy 2. It'll run ok with 1 but you'll still get occasional slowdowns, especially in large raids.



Definitely get more than the standard 1 gb of ram. I would go with either 1.5 or higher like Elec mentioned. Personally, if I was using my PC for gaming, I would spare no expense in this dept. However, you can always upgrade in down the road. This may be more cost effective as memory is very, very cheap now. Also, treat yourself to a nice monitor (widescreen obviously). Get a good sound card to in order to that 5.1 or + going. Best of luck.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 7:55 AM Post #14 of 17

megawzrd

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Quote:

Originally Posted by roastpuff
If you're looking for a quick buy, I suggest:

http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merch...e=AllAdversary

Pretty good, and more memory is easy to add. X800GTO is awesome, and you can try unlocking it to get a X800XT.



The unlocked gto's are actually similar in performance to x850xt's...they are 480 cores.

Be careful on the x800gto's...I was actually looking into this (I am an ati fanboy) but I have an x800xl and it would be a small jump in performance even if I could get it unlocked. Anyways, it seems that only the sapphire x800gto2 and the connect 3d x800gto were the only gto's that would unlock successfully. But apparantly the connect 3ds aren't doing that great for the unlock recently. This would pretty much narrow it down to the sapphire x800gto2 which can be had for about the same price as the 6800gs...unlocked the x800gto2 may just have slightly higher AI. But this all depends on the overclock once unlocked...I would say the 6800gs is the safer bet.
 
Mar 5, 2006 at 10:43 PM Post #15 of 17

digitaldave

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Hey all
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.

Thanks for all the replies, it's very useful. I've done a bit of digging around on prices, and found that I can get the separate components for less than the pre-built one I linked in my first post. However, it's not significantly cheaper (about £100-150 less, depending on which components I downgrade), and the pre-built one has the advantage that it's pre-overclocked by the manufacturer, so I, as an oc-noob, wouldn't have to worry about it
wink.gif
. I'm sure I could manage to oc without too many problems, but if someone else can do it for me, so much the better.

One thing I have found out though is that World Of Warcraft is not happy with dual core cpus. This isn't a problem if I go for the Opteron 144, but there is an option to upgrade to a dc Opteron if needed. I think I'll steer clear of that this time, play it safe. After all, coming from a 1.5 GHz G4 PowerBook with FX5200Go graphics, it's going to be a huge leap forward!

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Dave.
 

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