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Best of 3 Systems for value/performance

olliiee

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Looking for a gaming pc that will last me 1+ years running games on max/almost max settings. ie I don't want to spend $540 now and have it perform poorly managing to only play it on low settings in 6 months when BF3/COD/Whatever else is coming out is released.

I have done a bit of research and designed three systems. The lowest possible amount spent is ideal. My current favourite is option 2 because the board is eligible for the AM3+ update (http://event.asus.com/2011/mb/AM3_PLUS_Ready/) and supports crossfire. So in 12+ months time I'll just upgrade the CPU to Bulldozer and add an additional 6870.

The PSU I've also done extensive research and is apparantly very capable (can handle any crossfire thrown at it) and has a 5 year warranty! +it was reconmended for use on the Coolermaster PSU calculator so it must be good enough.

I want to be able to play games like Crysis on max settings and for it to keep up for a year or more until I upgrade the RAM, Crossfire and if I go for option 2 upgrade CPU to Bulldozer.

Option 1:
CASE: Antec Three Hundred – $55
PSU: Thermaltake LitePower 500Watt – $ 57
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition – $148
MOBO: Asus M4A87TD-USB3 Motherboard – $99
RAM: Kingston KVR 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333 – $44
HDD: Hitachi 3.5" Deskstar 1TB SATA HDD $59
GPU: Radeon HD6870 1GB – $220

Total = $686

Option 2:
CASE: Antec Three Hundred – $55
PSU: CoolerMaster GX 550W 80+ – $ 90
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition – $148
MOBO: Asus M4A89GTD-USB3 Motherboard – $166
RAM: Kingston KVR 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333 – $44
HDD: Hitachi 3.5" Deskstar 1TB SATA HDD $59
GPU: Radeon HD6870 1GB – $220

Total = $786

Option 3:
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 $219
Mobo: Asrock P67 Pro3 B3 $169
RAM: Kingston 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1333 $44
HDD: Hitachi 3.5" Deskstar 1TB SATA HDD $59
GPU: 1GB AMD Radeon HD6870 $220
Case: Antec Three Hundred – $55
PSU: CoolerMaster GX 550W 80+ – $ 90

Total: $856

(I don't want to spend over 700... but I suppose if the i5 is THAT much better I can deal with the money) also is the 6870 in crossfire comparable to like a 6950?

And finally should I be holding off a few months for something new thats coming out that I'm not aware of or just bite the bullet now..

Thankyou in advance :)

Want to run it on 2 screens when I get the $$ for a second 22"+ plus monitor (1920x1200)
 

olliiee

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I may Crossfire the 6870 down the road.. Would that show significant improvement? I'm talking like once it stops running games on max settings (excl AA, shadows and all that not so important stuff).

I am leaning towards the i5 seeing as its only 70 bucks more, if you could reconmend a Mobo that will provide Crossfire support for 2 6870's for less then that would be great!
 
To be honest, Crossfire sounds like a good and cheap upgrade path but it really is easier and probably even cheaper to just upgrade a single card. Crossfire means that youre going to consume a lot of power so you need a more powerful (and expensive) PSU. (700w+) Also you would be spending about $80 extra on a motherboard that supports x8/x8 Crossfire. Basically by just going down the single card route, youre going to be saving yourself $100+ and some of the trouble people have with it.
 

olliiee

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Hmm well I did a few of the online calculators for PSU's and they seem to all say the most I would need under peak load at 20% capacitor aging that all I'd need is 600W (this is under 6870 crossfire) and the power supply I specified can supply a peak load of 670Watts. I don't really know much but to me it seemed fantastic quality and value for money :/ http://www.thermaltake.outervision.com/Power

So if I'm just going to stick with the single 6870 what motherboard would you reconmend? Should I overclock my CPU and GPU down the track then or also not really worth the bother? I just want this system to be able to run most games at max settings for atleast a year at like 30+fps, is that likely with this system, if I upgrade to 8gb ram when I need it?
 

Onus

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First of all, option #2 is a crapshoot, with performance too dependent on what Bulldozer may or may not bring. And, the 890-series chipset won't allow all features of Bulldozer to function; someone please provide accurate (?) specs, but I think that includes power saving and turbo modes.
How about option #3, but with an i5-2400 or even -2300?
Finally, you've selected sub-standard PSUs in all of them. For possible Crossfire or SLI, you'll want 650W or more. It isn't just the size though, it's the quality. Those just don't cut it, wandering out of spec when loaded, and/or being overrated (not good for what's on their label). Quality brands include Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, XFX, and Enermax. If you plan on a single GPU, 500W-550W would be plenty.

Edit: Personally, if you wait until the 900-series chipset boards are available, Option #2 may become more viable, especially if verifiable BD benchmarks have begun to show up. Otherwise, i5 is the way to go.
 

ethel

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My advice is:

1) If you want the best graphics possible for your budget, forget the i5 and concentrate your budget on your graphics card. The X4 955 BE will be easily good enough for gaming for some time

2) Consider buying a dual-bios 6950 (make sure it's dual bios) and flashing it to a 6970. It's pretty easy to do (http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/vidcard/159) and will give you much better performance than the 6870 for little more money. Here's a good looking one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102914&cm_re=radeon_6950-_-14-102-914-_-Product

2) Consider 8GB RAM for future-proofing and system performance - better to buy it now as 2x4GB sticks than add 2x2GB sticks later

3) Don't skimp on your PSU as if it goes it can take out other components, but don't go crossfire unless it makes a lot of sense cos you'll need a bigger, more expensive PSU


 

banthracis

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Ok couple of things to clarify.
1. Bulldozer will not work with socket AM3. BD will require the new socket AM3+. However, current CPU's will work in AM3+ (ie it's backwards compatible).

2. Don't buy a 6950 expecting to be able to unlock it. The reason it's even possible is that the 6950 line is built using flawed chips which instead of throwing out, AMD, disables the flawed parts of the chip and sells it as the cheaper 6950.

Now, sometimes the cheaper line is so popular, that the demand exceeds the supply of flawed chips. In this case, AMD takes perfectly functional chips and disable perfectly good parts of the chip to fill in inventory for the 6950. Due to the extremely mature 40nm process at this point, there aren't all that many flawed chips, so more so than normal, you get good chips being used for 6950's.

However, it is still a luck of the draw and I'd be shocked if the success rate was more than 50%.

Basically, don't buy a 6950 expecting get a 6970.
 

olliiee

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Approximate Purchase Date: Some time in the iminent future 1 months time however I could wait if new hardware is due for release or price drops are known to be coming.


Budget Range: 600-800 less is better but if it goes higher it just means I'll have to save longer before I can buy. After Rebates


System Usage from Most to Least Important:Gaming, surfing the web, doing school/uni work, watching movies, listening to music


Parts Not Required: keyboard (will upgrade down the track), mouse, monitor, speakers


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: any website that will ship to AUS but MSY, UMART, PCCG


Country of Origin: Brisbane, AUS


Parts Preferences: I have no preference between AMD or Intel. Want to run it on 2 monitors down the track (1 for the game 1 for chat cleint/itunes) but one will be fine to start offf with.


Overclocking: Maybe (I have no idea how to do it and it sounds daunting to me but if it increases performance that significantly I guess I'd learn)


SLI or Crossfire: Maybe (if it's worthwhile?)


Monitor Resolution: My current monitor (http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&sku=320-4688#Overview) max it supports is 1680 x 1050 / 60 Hz, so would that be my resolution? Keep in mind I want to upgrade to a Benq 24inch monitor for my primary and the 20inch as the secondary in a few months when i get the money together for that.


Additional Comments: Want to be able to play any game I throw at it with medium-v. high settings for 12 months, maybe even longer. I don't want to upgrade in 12months time unless its a small upgrade (not a total system rebuild). I want to be able to play BF3 on high settings when it comes out..

On the systems I specified I worked out I could lose that power supply and drop down to like a Thermaltake Litepower 500W - $57 and that would save me $43 which I could use to upgrade from the 6870 to the 6950. Will this make me a bit more future proof? Also will the i5 be substantially better for longer? or will the 955 perform equally in gaming?
 
I'm not sure which site to use but i think with that budget you should aim for something along the lines of:

Intel Core i5-2400
2x2GB 1333Mhz DDR3 (OCZ/G.Skill/Corsair etc.)
H61/H67 Motherboard
HD 6850 or GTX 460 1GB
500GB/1TB HDD (Samsung/Seagate/Western Digital etc.)
550W PSU (Antec/Cooler Master/OCZ/XFX/Corsair etc.)
Decent budget(ish) case such as Antec 300

I think this build would give you decent bang for your buck in gaming without the hassle of learning OC'ing and using SLI/Crossfire. Just for reference as to price, (as i don't know which site to use) on www.aria.co.uk (the site i use over here in the UK), i can get this build for a touch over £500 which is below your upper budget limit at about 780 AUD

Intel Core i5-2400
2x2GB Corsair XMS3 1333Mhz
MSI H61M-E33
MSI Cyclone GTX 460 1GB
500GB Seagate Barracuda
Antec 300
600W Corsair Builder Series
Sony DVD Burner
 

Onus

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Well, if that PSU is 80+ like its FSP-built smaller brother (450W), it should be a very good entry level PSU. HardwareSecrets awarded the 450W model a Golden Award.
There are some 890-based mobos out there beginning to claim AM3+ compatibility, but I'd skip them for the 900-series chipset, due out hopefully within a couple of months.
If you're going to buy before then, go Intel.
 

ethel

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Agreed, but a lot of people are getting success with reference 6950s in general and for this particular card - see the comments for it on newegg. Sure there's no guarantee, but it's a decent enough card as a 6950 anyway so you haven't lost anything if it doesn't work.

If you're more risk averse the best card at this price range is probably the gtx 560.
 
However, it is still a luck of the draw and I'd be shocked if the success rate was more than 50%
Actually it's 100% for reference boards. They don't use bad chips, they just disable the shaders and use cheaper memory. It's better to just unlock the shaders and overclock the core a bit than to flash to 6970.
 


Not with a 550 watt PSU .... and you'll want the extra fans in the Illusion over the regular 300 to remove the heat produced by twin GFX cards.

Compare the 6950 w/ the 560 Ti 900MHz

Guru3D uses the following games in their test suite, COD-MW, Bad Company 2, Dirt 2, Far Cry 2, Metro 2033, Dawn of Discovery, Crysis Warhead. Total fps (summing fps in each game) for the various options in parenthesis (single card / SL or CF) are tabulated below along with their cost in dollars per frame single card - CF or SLI:

The 6870 gets 434 fps (51 cents per frame) total w/ single card / 701 (63 cents per frame) in CF
The 560 Ti (900MHz) gets 495 fps (44 cents per frame) total w/ single card / 862 (51 cents per frame) in SLI

The 560 is 14% faster as a single card and 23% faster w/ dual cards

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125363&cm_re=560_900MHz-_-14-125-363-_-Product

These are the components I normally recommend for a < $1,000 budget ($924 US). You may find some coponnets worthy of consideration.

Case - $70 - Antec 300 Illusion http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066
PSU - $95 - XFX 750 W Core Edition PSU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817207009
MoBo - $395 - ASUS P8P67 Pro http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.622007
CPU - incl above - Intel Core i5-2500K
RAM - $84 - (2 x 4GB) Corsair CAS 9 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145324
GFX - $215 - Gigabyte GTX 560 Ti 900 Mhz http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125363
GFX - Later - Same
HD - $65 - Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 rpm http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

Ya could save $40 getting 2 x 2GB instead of 2 x 4GB but that will cost ya later on.






 

browserr

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My 2cents...Most games don't utilize all 4 cores just yet, I reckon you will be happy with just an i3 2100(save money until faster chips drop down). Make sure your motherboard is future proof(sli/crossfire) if you do stick with intel and I wouldn't cheap out on the power supply like others have stated. Btw /url http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136795 seems like plenty of space and maybe the most reliable of the HDD companys? Lastly just remember you usually get what you pay for.
 

ethel

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The OP is looking for future proofing so I would definitely recommend four cores. Even if the game can't use more than two cores (and quite a lot can now) there are always other system / background processes going on in Windows so it's good to have that spare processing power.
 

olliiee

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How does this sound:

Intel core i5 2500 - $219
gigabyte GA-P8H67MA - $119
KINGSTON 4GB DDR3 1333 - $44
Hitachi dekstar 1TB SATA - $59
MSI GTX560 Twin Frost II OC - $260
Antec three hundred - $55
CoolerMaster GX550W 80+ - $90

TOTAL - $846
 

olliiee

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I know its one of those questions that are very hard to answer and I certainly don't want an AMD vs Intel battle erupting. But when I look at my possible builds and look at the cost of things, I could save $100 by going for the X4 955 BE compared to the i5 2500, both have 4 cores, both operate at around 3.2 or 3.3 Ghz both have 6MB L3 cache. I honestly don't understand why making the change to intel a) costs more b) will perform better and last me longer....
 

Onus

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...because Intel DOES considerably outperform AMD.
The difference is quite dramatic: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/288?vs=88
That's at stock. Both chips OC, but even if you OC the 955 to the level of the 970 and keep the Intel at stock, it makes little difference: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/288?vs=186
That said, if your budget constrains you, a 955BE can play any game. Maybe you'll have to lower a setting, or lower it sooner than you'd have to with Sandy Bridge, but you'll be able to play the same games.
 

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