Sunday, January 25, 2009

A more *realistic* serious gamers build

OK, last post was a 'money is no object' build in which the best of everything was used. Total cost was a mind boggling 9 grand. So here we are with a more realistic build. The goal here was to get the best possible performance with a total outlay of under $3000 - that's about what most serious gamers would expect to pay for a new machine.

What I came up with actually draws quite heavily from my 'money is no object' build. I start off with the 'Little Brother' of the Antec Twelve Hundred use previously - the Antec Nine Hundred. A very similar case, but not quite as large.

Antec Nine Hundred Case - $109.99

Next comes another power supply from PC Power and Cooling:

PC Power and Cooling 750W power Supply - $109.99

Again, the processor family to use is a no-brainer - the Intel Core i7. In this instance we are going with the 2.66 Ghz model - the Core i7 920:

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem processor - $294.99

And another Evga X58 3-way SLI motherboard - the same board from the last build:

Evga X58 chipset motherboard with 3-way SLI - $299.99

Next comes the RAM. Something a little milder this time, but with good overclocking potential - 6 GB of Corsair DDR3-1333 SDRAM. Because this board uses 'triple channel' memory I selected three 2 GB dual packs. That should give us plenty of RAM for maximum gaming performance.

6 GB Corsair DDR3-1333 SDRAM - $183

This motherboard has 3-way SLI, but in this case we are only going to use two video cards - mainly for budgetary reasons, because with our $3k limit, the third card really only gives us additional performance at very high resolutions used by 30" monitors, and that size is out of our budget reach here. So we're going to use two Geforce GTX 285 cards:

2 XFX Geforce GTX 285 1 GB Video cards - $758

Now for our hard drives. I wanted to choose something with the performance potential of our last build, but without the astronomical cost. I thought about the WD Velociraptor drives, but dollar for dollar, your can get better performance from the SSD's as long as we don't choose the ultra high performance models, without sacrificing too much drive space. What I came up with is a pair of 64 GB SSD's from G-Skill in RAID 0. Not quite the performer that the Intel drives are, but they will blow away the Velociraptor's for less money. Combined with a 750 GB storage drive, we should have all the drive space we need plus blazing fast performance for about $350

2 G-Skill 64 GB SDD's - $269.98

Seagate 750 GB SATA 3.0 hard drive - $79.99

And next comes a DVD burner. Nothing fancy here just a Samsung 20X burner with LightScribe:

Samsung 20x DVD Burner with Lightscribe - $21.99

And because this is a serious gaming build, we want some decent overclocking ability. For that we will need a better CPU cooler than the one provided by Intel. A Zalman 9500 with LGA 1366 adaptor should do the trick:

Zalman CNPS9500 CPU Cooler - 49.99

Zalman Socket 1366 adapter - 9.99

Well, that takes care of the main components - and we are under $2200. If you already have a large monitor (24" or over) and a good set of speakers, you could stop right here and have a super screaming system for just over 2K. But this is a 'complete' build so I gotta include the monitor, speakers and keyboard/mouse. Lets start with the monitor first:

ASUS 25.5" LCD Monitor - $419.99

And a 5.1 speaker system from Logitech:

Logitech X540 5.1 speaker system - $78.99

and last of all - keyboard and mouse:

Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 Keyboard and Mouse - $19.99

Total cost with shipping and tax = $2959

So there you have it - the recipe for a blazing fast system that will blow away 99% of the computers on the net today for under $3K. Boot times will be insanely fast - blink and you will miss most of the splash screens - program loading times will be almost instantaneous, and video performance will be nearly second to none.

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