Power User/Productivity System for under $1000


May 7, 2009
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: I'd like to order online in the next day or two

BUDGET RANGE: $700-$900

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Heavy software/database development, internet surfing/apps, VMWare/Virtual PC, productivity (office, etc), gaming (must play upcoming starcraft 2 & company of heroes!), some video editing, photoshop, chatting, porn...

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: hard drives, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, floppy drive


PARTS PREFERENCES: Open, but I'm leaning toward Intel CPU based system. I currently have an AMD64 Athlon processor system I build 3 or 4 years ago. This time around, I might consider overclocking.

OVERCLOCKING: I have no experience with this, but am eager/willing to learn, but don't want to mess anything up! I would like to have the option of utilizing another video card (SLI/Crossfire -- don't know the difference) but am not planning it any time in the near future.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: These are the resolutions that look right on my current wide monitor:
1600 x 900
1360 x 768 <-- this looks the best to me
1280 x 768
1280 x 720

-I need a very responsive PC. I can't stand waiting for a window to load on the screen.
-I'd really like to have a Vista/Win7 performance rating (windows experience index) of 5 or higher.
-I run 10 to 30 tasks/programs in my task bar at the same time. Half of them browser windows, the other half, productivity apps, etc.
-I love real time strategy games, but if I buy a cool game to try out, I don't want to be too disappointed.
-I don't want to have to build/buy a new system for 3 years, if not 5.
-I have one good big flat panel monitor (I think it is 21"), but eventually I'd like to have a 2nd one.
-I have tons of USB devices (hard drives, digital cameras, smart phone, dvd burner, more external hard drives, etc. )


Here are the parts I'm considering based on a recommendation from a friend:

-CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 (here) $184.99

...but, isn't this one better for a little more? Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor (here) The first one is a newer one, but doesn't have as much memory on it (4MB vs 8MB). But the first one has a faster clock speed!

I'd like to stay under $200. Are there any others that I really should be considering?

-Motherboard: ASUS P5N-D LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 750i SLI ATX
(here) $129.99

...but, isn't this one better for just a little more? GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel (here ) $134.99 -- It is the "3x Winner of Customer Choice Award - Intel Motherboards" -- A sticky thread here recommends a P45 and to stay away from NVIDIA boards! :-o

-Video Card: EVGA 896-P3-1262-AR GeForce GTX 260 Superclocked Edition 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
(here) $174.99

I'd like to stay under $200. I would like to get "Call of Duty: World at War" free along with it. Maybe this is a good choice.

-Memory: I told my friend I thought 4 gigs would be enough. I currently have 2 gigs and rarely spill over to using hard drive memory. Maybe the OS will make more use of it if I had more, however.

He recommended this: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ (here) $46.99

He told me to overclock the memory to the same speed as the processor. He said there would be no down sides to this. I hope this is true! I'm wondering if I go with the older/slower (1066 MHz as opposed to 1333 MHz) processor I listed above, if this would be safer.

Should I be considering using DDR3?!

-Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS750QBL 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI NVIDIA SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply (here) $119.99

He told me not to skimp on the power supply. I hope 750 watts will handle a 2nd video card if/when I do it in the future.

After looking around, I found this one that is cheaper: Antec EA750 750W ATX12V version 2.3 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC "compatible with Core i7" Power Supply (here) $109.99 -- Is this one just as good?

-Case He said this was mostly personal preference. I'm looking for something I can reuse in the future, something strong, something big so I can put anything I want in it. Something cool and quiet. Something that doesn't look cheesy or screams "look at me, I'm so cool looking!"

I found this one: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (here) $99.99

-CD/DVD Burner: He didn't recommend anything. I'm looking for something that will read/write anything, and fast, and hoping for something cheap, under $40.

I found this: SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner (here) $25.99

-Hard Drives I have lots of hard drives: IDE's, external USB's, but the best I have are 4x200GB SATA drives. I'd like to have 2 pairs mirrored, one for the OS/Apps and one for data. Doesn't leave me much space, but at least I get decent speed. I get a windows vista rating of 5.5 on one of them I'm running on now (no mirror/raid). I would have liked to get a solid state drive to boot from, but that would blow my budget, I'm afraid.

What else do I need? I'd hate to order all this stuff and realize I forgot something critical to get it running! Everything look compatible?!

I want to express deep thanks for you knowledgeable guys who have read through all this. I appreciate your help and knowledge!!


May 7, 2009
The Antec PS is probably even BETTER, so it's a good idea to go with that. The Antec 900 is a great case

Now for some changes:

Video Card: unless the game is very important to you, you should consider this ATi 4870 manufactured by XFX at 150 + free shipping


For the mobo, you should change it to a P45 based board since you don't need SLi/Crossfire. This is a great Gigabyte board with good OC abilities at 120


With the PS, mobo, and video card, you free up about 45. For $25 more, you can upgrade the Q8400 to the Q9550 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115041). It is faster, can overclock further, and has 12mb of cache.

As for the RAM, I'd consider getting this:


It's DDR2 at 1ghz so you will be able to push your fsb up to 500 in a 1:1 ratio to your CPU. Hopefully, you'll be able to reach 4ghz.

With the remaining 15 or so dollars, you should get a better cooler for your CPU (overclocking and temperature purposes). I've had good experiences with this one:


Everything else should be fine. Good luck with your purchase!


Jul 26, 2008
You have 4 identical SATA hard drives? That is a good thing! I highly recommend that you find a motherboard that supports Raid 5. In that setup, all 4 drives will work together to make one drive with a great balance of speed vs data integrity. Most of the time a failed drive can be replaced and rebuilt with info from the other drives. A dedicated RAID card is nice, but will likely blow your budget for a good card.

In terms of going Intel or AMD, you can go with whatever you prefer. Intel makes excellent CPUs so they cannot be ignored, but AMD really offers some good price/performance in your price range. I'm leaning towards an AMD Phenom II quad for a recommendation.

I'm surprised you haven't maxed out 2 GB of RAM while doing development work. As a fellow developer I have easily maxed out my workstation with 2GB of RAM. Running Visual Studio 2008, some Access databases and an assortment of web browsers, email, etc. DDR2 RAM is cheap now, I'd probably go with a minimum of 4GB and shoot for 8GB.

The GTX 260 is a good choice for GPU. Before purchase I would check for a sweet deal on a 4870 1GB and go with that if the price was right. Your choice really.

That Antec PSU will do you right, if you really really want the PC Power & Cooling PSU go for it. But the antec is not a bad choice, I love my 650 from them.

The rest, like as case, is either your preference or just go with whatever is the cheapest. For like the DVD burner.



May 7, 2009
Thanks guys!! I'm looking at all these options!

>>Someone is going to say Ph2 940 or 955.

What is that? video card, processor? I did a search on newegg.com and still wasn't clear.


Apr 25, 2009
Personally I agree on going with Intel. I am actually more sympathetic to AMD (underdog, ya know) but these days it's just really hard to beat Intel's performance.

Memory: I think 4 GB should be enough for now, as long as you have slots free for upgrading in the future. You can always put more in as you find the need. I just upgraded a *really* old system from 256 MB to 1.25 GB and it's still perfectly useful for email/web/etc.

OS: For your use I would recommend a dual boot: Windows for your gaming use, and Linux for the "power user" stuff. It's much more of a power-user OS, and Windows is much more of a gaming OS. Best of both worlds that way.


May 1, 2009
Get the free game! :)
The 260 is good card, and I agree that the 4870 1gb can be had at a sweet price. The 260 won't do you wrong though.


May 7, 2009
Ok guys, here's the verdict. I want to thank you guys for all your input. It helped me dig further and helped me get more bang for my buck. I welcome any feedback on my semi-final decision:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 AND aftermarket fan: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX

Video Card: XFX HD-487A-ZHFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

Memory: 2x (8GB) G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

Case and Power Supply: Antec Nine Hundred Case & Rosewill RBR750 Power Supply (Combo Deal!)

DVD Burner: Samsung SH-S223Q (Newegg.com is out of stock!)

I added on an Acer 19" flat panel for $99 and it brings everything to about $1000.


Let me know if anything seems out of line or should be reviewed. I hope I won't be disappointed with this combo!