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  1. #1
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    ANOTHER.. cliched 'help' thread

    Hello.

    I've had a dead gfx card for about 4 months now, and didn't bother doing anything with it until now as I knew I was due a bit of a raise etc. Accordingly, while I used to put my systems together, I'm asking for a bit of current advice because I have lost track about things like motherboard compatability. I believe this isn't the issue it once was (not many jumpers any more..!) but am still being lazy and just asking for example build suggestions. I'd appreciate it - my system at present (the half dead one) is Intel Core2Duo, E4500. 3.25GB RAM (as seen, I actually put 8 in because did some 3ds max work and was told it might be able to access it somehow even though I'm on XP) with a 8800GT. So it's long overdue - been 5 years or so, though it's done me very very well for that time and was running most things to some level up to its untimely demise.

    Anyway. I feel happy to spend up to 600, say, on the system. No peripherals, just case, PSU, motheboard, RAM, at least one big HDD (would consider SSD but unlikely I feel) and a decent GPU (was thikning 670 or similar..?). Think that's it. Already got OS etc sorted.

    Any suggestions of packages would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    I'll give you some suggestions in a bit re: what you'll want, but I'll say now that the reason you're not getting the RAM you put in is because you're using a 32 bit Windows OS - you need the 64 bit version to get more than 3.5GB of RAM :)

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Core i5-3350P, Asrock Z75 Pro3, 2x4 GB DDR3-1600, Radeon HD 7850, XFX Core Edition Pro 550W, 1-2 TB Seagate Barracuda (get one with 7200 RPM and 64 MB cache if possible), whatever optical drive's cheap and whatever case suits your fancy. That might just squeeze inside your budget.

    GTX 670 is a great but expensive card. You'd probably have to make some serious sacrifices to get that with your budget.

  4. #4
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    Thanks so far - Alex Bakke, I was remotely aware of this.. I had vague intentions to upgrade OS around the time too, but there were some other considerations.

    Sakkura, thanks also. Is it worth hanging on another payday and going for the 670 or equivalent? Half interested in the physx stuff that, for example, Borderlands 2 does. Hoping it'll be enough to last a good few years again. I guess either way, this would run most things very well, and of course eat my old thing for breakfast..

  5. #5
    Network Hub The Tupper's Avatar
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    My tiny tuppenceworth: Remember that a graphics card performance relies a great deal on the size of display you intend to run.

  6. #6
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    True Tupper. I'm not massively bothered about huge; my monitor is 22" and I'm keeping it. As such 1600x1200 or whatever should be max and fine with it for now. As I say, the more it will last the better, but for now that's cool.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRed View Post
    Thanks so far - Alex Bakke, I was remotely aware of this.. I had vague intentions to upgrade OS around the time too, but there were some other considerations.

    Sakkura, thanks also. Is it worth hanging on another payday and going for the 670 or equivalent? Half interested in the physx stuff that, for example, Borderlands 2 does. Hoping it'll be enough to last a good few years again. I guess either way, this would run most things very well, and of course eat my old thing for breakfast..
    Worth it... Sure, if you want more than eg. an HD 7850 offers. The GTX 670 is an excellent card. PhysX is a bit on the gimmicky side if you ask me, but some people like it.

    In terms of pure performance, it could be argued that a GTX 670 is almost a bit too powerful for 1600x1200 (which is fairly similar to 1080p in terms of performance). There are options in between as well, like the GTX 660 and HD 7870/7950. GTX 660 Ti as well, though its performance is a bit unpredictable because of memory bandwidth limitations (which means it performs much like a GTX 670 in some cases and much like a GTX 660 in other cases).

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    In any case, I had a closer look and here's a shot of what a little less than 600 gets you:

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i5-3350P 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor (132.85 @ Scan.co.uk)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77-DS3H ATX LGA1155 Motherboard (70.52 @ Scan.co.uk)
    Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (29.76 @ Scan.co.uk)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (49.98 @ Ebuyer)
    Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card (183.34 @ Scan.co.uk)
    Case: Antec Three Hundred Two ATX Mid Tower Case (49.98 @ Amazon UK)
    Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply (49.98 @ Novatech)
    Optical Drive: Samsung SH-222BB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer (11.96 @ Scan.co.uk)
    Total: 578.37
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

    Note the HD 7870 instead of 7850, and the motherboard which is actually capable of overclocking - just no room for an overclockable CPU with a 600 limit.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Sakkura. I'm a bit surprised. Either my memory is poor or has the real cost of a decent self-made system gone up in recent years? There was a time, I'm sure, when you could get major bang for buck for 450 or so. I hear the comments on resolution, and vaguely agree about PhysX. How do you think that build tallies up compared to 'super' builds, and for longevity?

  10. #10
    Moderator QuantaCat's Avatar
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    I tend to build good gaming/work PCs for about 400-450 pounds. Dont expect top of the line graphics card, though. (but like, top of the line before the current one, which is still awesome, unless you need specific features)
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRed View Post
    Thanks Sakkura. I'm a bit surprised. Either my memory is poor or has the real cost of a decent self-made system gone up in recent years? There was a time, I'm sure, when you could get major bang for buck for 450 or so. I hear the comments on resolution, and vaguely agree about PhysX. How do you think that build tallies up compared to 'super' builds, and for longevity?
    Maybe it's the definition of decent that's shifting. The CPU and GPU combo in the build I slapped together isn't "just enough to get by", it's "just enough to get 60+ FPS on Ultra in most things at 1080p". The motherboard is also technically slightly overkill.

    Though there is at least one thing impacting cost - HDDs are still more expensive due to the floods a year ago.

    One area that's really been hit is overclocking. That's, unfortunately, locked down very tightly unless you pay a significant premium for it (and then much of the advantage of overclocking disappears - no more buying a cheap CPU and overclocking the heck out of it to keep up with the really expensive stuff).

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    Though there is at least one thing impacting cost - HDDs are still more expensive due to the floods a year ago.
    I remember seeing a report somewhere on how production levels were actually back up to standards within a few weeks. It's just price gouging at this stage. Sad if true, but not surprising.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Bakke View Post
    I remember seeing a report somewhere on how production levels were actually back up to standards within a few weeks. It's just price gouging at this stage. Sad if true, but not surprising.
    Well, prices did fall fairly quickly afterwards. They just didn't come down all the way to the pre-flood level.

    Also, production being back up doesn't mean the excess demand that's piled up can be satisfied immediately, so it does make sense that elevated prices would persist for a while longer. But it's been a year now, so I think it's more a matter of limited competition allowing them to only lower prices very slowly.

  14. #14
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    Appreciate the input, again. I suppose the only way I'm bothered about the GFX card is to make it last for a few years at a decent knock, but then I know you pay premium for top end gfx cards. I suppose, also, that the build you threw in there would do for titles in future years just fine too, at least if I tweak the gfx settings down a bit. I've actually not played most games at 'max' for years, I guess. Barring the unforeseen, I assume that setup or similar would last for some years as I have described it. Any major benefits to whacking another 50 to 100 on top?

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    In terms of raw performance, you'd be able to play the newest and greatest for a while longer if you buy an overclockable CPU and matching motherboard. I don't know about buying a better graphics card - sure, it would also last a little longer that way. But with the way technology lifecycles look, I'd prefer just buying a cheaper card and then replacing it a little sooner. You'll get a better deal on the extra performance a few years from now than you will today.

    You could still get extra options with a better graphics card though, like gaming on a higher-resolution screen, on multiple screens, in 3D etc.

  16. #16
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    True. Maybe it's best to go for moderately great rather than maxing out. It'll be an unrecognisable improvement either way, and I'm not sold on 3d at all (still not been to the cinema to see any of those), nor serious enough to do multi-screen! Higher re in the future is probable, but probably not for a couple of years, so.. yeah. Cheaper to upgrade bit by bit as I go I suppose.

  17. #17
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    With the build Sakkura suggested, are there any alternatives to the MSI Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card for a little extra that would make it any better? It's going to eat my current one for breakfast either way, just found a little extra money for the pot!

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Cheapest serious upgrade I could find is an XFX Radeon HD 7950 for about 216. Don't know if that's a bit too much extra.

  19. #19
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    Thanks Sakkura, good spot. I've gone ahead with your build almost exactly (partially because I'm lazy, but also because I've had a read around and it seems like you did well). All that remains is the GPU (and optical drive but I can butcher one from this machine no worries). This is probably the sort of thing I'm thinking of. That is a bit of a jump performance-wise, not too much more cost either. Any idea as to the validity to some concerns about noise levels under strain? I assume those 25 watts more shouldn't take the build you did above beyond the 550 PSU?

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    A good 550W PSU is good enough for a system with pretty much any single graphics card. The 7950 doesn't even draw 200W on its own, and the graphics card is definitely the most power-hungry component in a gaming system.

    The 7950 can be pretty noisy with a reference cooler. Custom coolers are generally a lot less noisy. But looking at some reviews with the XFX 7950 it does seem to be on the noisier end. You could go for a different version at higher cost if you're concerned about it.

    Edit: You could also consider spending the extra money on a better CPU, if you like. That's going to make much less of a difference today, but may help with longevity down the line (allowing you to upgrade the graphics card in a few years and still have a system with great performance).
    Last edited by Sakkura; 21-10-2012 at 04:57 PM.

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