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Thread: New self build - Ideas please

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    New self build - Ideas please

    It's high time I upgraded P4 single core 3.4GHz (with HT!!!) system, which has served me well for so long. This will be my main desktop, which will be used for the usual mundane stuff as well as 720p streaming to my PS3 and a couple of games, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3.

    I'll be looking to do this on a fairly low budget, so bang for buck is more important than bells and whistles and would like some advice from you knowledgable people. I'll be keeping my 22" Samsung 2253BW 1650 x 1050 monitor, Logitech G5 mouse & Z-board keyboard unless there is a good reason to upgrade.

    I'm looking at the Core i5 2500k CPU as a starting point, good choice? Not sure about the GFX card, would I be better going for a couple of mid-range cards in SLI rather than a single high end card? How important are the case and PSU? should I look for these being bundled or seperate?

    With regards to the O/S, can I save myself a stack of cash and run with a Linux distro like Mint 9 and still play games without great complications?

    TIA
    Last edited by brduk; 27-02-2011 at 04:46 PM.

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Not sure on the OS - only just beginning to dabble with Ubuntu so someone else will have to comment on that.

    I went for a mid-range GPU felt it gave a better balance of noise and power - Hexus.net and Anandtech.com both give good comparisons of relative performances for dif games, power draws, heat, and noise (Anandtech is more useful for the latter, giving dB values). Remember to get a motherboard that supports SLI/Crossfire if that's the route you decide to take... not that I forgot to check or anything like that

    and the CPU is certainly a good one, but weigh up if you need to spend that much on it for what you want to do. Again, articles on Hexus and Anandtech will give you a good steer on comparing CPUs. Depending on whether you're willing to wait , both Intel and AMD are launching new chips this summer/autumn which are supposed to be a whole new leap in performance. That said, I upgraded my P4 2.8GHz to just an i3-540 3.07GHz (only dual core, but some reviews suggested it was better for gaming than equivalently priced AMD quadcore chips). Got it as a stop-gap while I wait til the new chips later this year, and the difference is noticeable even with this lower end chip.

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    Not sure on the OS - only just beginning to dabble with Ubuntu so someone else will have to comment on that.

    I went for a mid-range GPU felt it gave a better balance of noise and power - Hexus.net and Anandtech.com both give good comparisons of relative performances for dif games, power draws, heat, and noise (Anandtech is more useful for the latter, giving dB values). Remember to get a motherboard that supports SLI/Crossfire if that's the route you decide to take... not that I forgot to check or anything like that

    and the CPU is certainly a good one, but weigh up if you need to spend that much on it for what you want to do. Again, articles on Hexus and Anandtech will give you a good steer on comparing CPUs. Depending on whether you're willing to wait , both Intel and AMD are launching new chips this summer/autumn which are supposed to be a whole new leap in performance. That said, I upgraded my P4 2.8GHz to just an i3-540 3.07GHz (only dual core, but some reviews suggested it was better for gaming than equivalently priced AMD quadcore chips). Got it as a stop-gap while I wait til the new chips later this year, and the difference is noticeable even with this lower end chip.
    I've put mint 9 onto a couple of budget PC's for family and friends as I knew that it would definitely fulfil their basic requirements, haven't experimented much with it other than to ensure it provides the basics, however if I can run a Linux distro for games I can put a few extra quid into the pot for hardware.

    It's been so long since i've looked into GFX cards (SLI had just came out then) that I am woefully behind on knowledge here. However, as before, i'm looking for 'bang for buck' and wont be disappointed if I cant play with settings on max.

    New chip launches always seem to be just around the corner, and it seems that there's always a reason to hold off. I guess it's a balance of whats going to suit your needs and timing your purchase when either one of intel or AMD drops their price in response to the others releases. That said, my current machine cant touch either of the games above that my gaming community play, and am stuck on an (albeit great) HL1 mod (Day of Defeat) there.

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Update, Linux/WINE + BFBC2 = not compatible according to WINE HQ

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Ok to start with at 1680x1050 you don't really need to bother with sli
    a gtx460 1gb or ati 6850 will pretty much max out the majority of games

    Linix drivers and WINE I'm not up on at all so cannot help there as to which is best nvidia or ati

    There's a current issue with p67 chipsets which could cause you issues down the line.
    There are temporary solutions and you will be able to RMA your motherboard when the fixed chipset comes out
    http://www.scan.co.uk/shops/intel/news

    Apart from the games an i5 2500k would be massive overkill.

    If you're a student/teacher and have a valid .ac.uk or .sch.uk email address then you can get a cheap downloadable copy of windows 7 upgrade (if you've got a valid copy of xp or vista)

    You could look at an AMD system esp if your on a budget.

    Say the following
    PhenomII x4 955 £101 http://www.scan.co.uk/products/amd-p...hz-125w-retail
    870chipset motherboard £81 http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-...-sata-raid-atx or £80 http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigab...-sata-raid-atx
    2x2gb ddr3 1600mhz £40 http://www.scan.co.uk/products/4gb-%...s-9-9-9-24-15v

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by brduk View Post
    It's high time I upgraded P4 single core 3.4GHz ... which will be used for the usual mundane stuff as well as 720p streaming to my PS3 and a couple of games, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3.
    Pretty much any modern CPU will do what you want, as ik9000 says even a basic Core i3 is actually a highly efficient 3.1 GHz dual core screamer that will nibble at your electric. The Core i5's only get better, but dont assume that you need anything as powerful as those automatically.
    Quote Originally Posted by brduk View Post
    I'll be looking to do this on a fairly low budget, so bang for buck is more important than bells and whistles
    No problem, but 'low budget' can mean 25 different things. I'll give you a spec on what I consider good value.
    Quote Originally Posted by brduk View Post
    I'll be keeping my 22" Samsung 2253BW 1650 x 1050 monitor, Logitech G5 mouse & Z-board keyboard unless there is a good reason to upgrade.
    You could get incremental improvements from changing the monitor, but honestly I wouldnt bother for now.
    Quote Originally Posted by brduk View Post
    Not sure about the GFX card, would I be better going for a couple of mid-range cards in SLI rather than a single high end card?
    Forget dual-card set-ups, honestly. A single modern good card is actually more than most people need.
    Quote Originally Posted by brduk View Post
    With regards to the O/S, can I save myself a stack of cash and run with a Linux distro like Mint 9 and still play games without great complications?
    I'm an Ubuntu user myself, am very impressed with it, however trying to run games on WINE is just asking for trouble (unless you enjoy the fun of trying to problem solve, rather than just getting on playing the game). You mentioned Windows games, you need to factor a Windows licence in the cost.

    For example:
    CPU: Intel CPU i3 2100 £94.
    Motherboard: Asus P8H67-M LX Rev3 £71.
    RAM: 2 x 2 GB Corsair DDR3 1333Mhz. £37.
    SSD: Kingston 64GB SSDNOW V100 £77.
    HDD: Samsung 1Tb Spinpoint F3 £40.
    Graphics card: Radeon 6850 (Asus) £140.
    OS: Windows 7 64bit OEM £72.
    Case & PSU: Antec NSK-3480, inc 380W PSU. £76.
    Total = £607.

    Edit: Oops. just re-read your post and added the case and PSU into the deal.
    Last edited by MSIC; 27-02-2011 at 08:49 PM.
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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    AMD Bulldozer is being released in Q2 2011 and is the first fully new high end AMD architecture since the Athlon 64. However, Bulldozer will only work in AM3+ motherboards or versions of the current AM3 motherboard which have a compatible socket. None of these have been currently released. However,current AM3 CPUs will fit in the AM3+ motherboards.

    OTH,any modern CPU will be a huge upgrade over a single core Pentium 4! Even a £58 Athlon II X3 450 would be a huge upgrade!

    I know people who have Athlon X2 and Core2 dual cores who can still run most modern games at decent settings and I have a mildly overclocked Q6600 running at 2.67GHZ which still does the job. These processors are not the latest and greatest either!

    In most cases it is still the graphics card which is the major limitation and if the CPU is a limitation it is usually down to either having a very low clockspeed or not enough cores.

    BTW,Battlefield Bad Company 2 runs better on quad core processors.

    I would look at this article:

    http://translate.google.cz/translate...D5&sl=cs&tl=en

    An E6600 at 3.6GHZ matches a Q6600 at 2.4GHZ!

    The OP can get free postage from Scan if they get 20 posts:

    http://forums.hexus.net/scan-care-he...-delivery.html

    Regarding the actual components, the lists Pob255 and MSIC have suggested will be a huge upgrade for gaming over a Pentium 4.

    If the OP wants to save some money there are some cheaper AMD 870 motherboards:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/255180

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/205849

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/255179
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 27-02-2011 at 11:19 PM.


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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    For value for money I'd definitely go with an AMD cpu. I've got a Phenom II 955BE that cost me £96 (Scan today only offer - they're normally £104) and it is SCHWEET. But for £70 you can get an Athlon X3 tri-core that is still incredibly awesome for the price. 70 quid, and it'll run anything you throw at it in all likelihood - I'd definitely consider going down that route. If you want the extra core, an Athlon X4 is about £80 I believe, and they are snappy processors, especially considering how cheap they are. I'd only consider going Intel if you're not bothered about keeping the cost low - in the low cost price bracket (< £500) AMD dominate for price-performance ratio.

    For motherboards, definitely consider exactly what features you need. If you're going Athlon X3, you don't need a super high tech ultra powered epic motherboard - something around the £50 marker will do nicely. I wouldn't worry about Crossfire/SLI at 1680x1050 - my machine is running an 8800GT from YONKS ago and it still runs games super smooth on near maximum settings at 1680x1050 (games being Rift, Resi 5 and BFBC2)

    Memory; you may as well go DDR3. I'd hioghly recommend 4gb - 2 slots of 2gb. That'll cost about £40.

    PSU; you want to get a Corsair, Coolermaster, Silverstone or Antec (not Antec Basiq though), around 550-600 watts imo. This is gonna set you back about £45-60. I'd highly recommend spending extra and getting a SOLID one for around 60ish. The PSU is the most commonly failing piece of PC hardware - you want something good that'll last.

    For a graphics card, consider getting an AMD Radeon in the £140ish range. They will run anything you throw at them now and in the immidiate future, especially at 1680x1050, have all the newest features (DX11, Shader 5 etc) and are generally kickass. Spending more than that is almost entirely unnecessary unless you're running multiple monitors (Eyefinity) or grossly high res (2560). If you can't reach up to £140 for a GPU, consider a Radeon 5770 for around £100 - I've heard great things about them and they make an excellent value for money purchase.

    Finally, don't forget to factor in stuff like the case, optical and hard disc drives, CPU cooler if you want one... this stuff will add up to £100+ depending on your needs.

    Good luck; I've recently built my new PC which cost me £280 + £140 for the GPU, and is gonna cost another £50 for a new hard drive. I'm incredibly happy with it, and got a massive bargain thanks to the advice of some of the awesome dudes here.

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Interested to know how MISC gets on with ATI drivers in Linux as I have heard people complainin they don't work so good.

    Apologies as its semi on topic!

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    +1 to the comments re not needing 2 graphics cards. One GTX460 is handling 1920x1080 admirably, so can't imagine you'll have any problems for 1650x1050

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by Domestic_Ginger View Post
    Interested to know how MISC gets on with ATI drivers in Linux as I have heard people complainin they don't work so good.

    Apologies as its semi on topic!
    It's very easy - I don't do 3d gaming in Linux. I wish that I could, but it's simply far too much hassle, especially considering that I have a windows licence. That said, the rumours of steam for Linux do excite me, but I'm not holding my breath.

    As for the OP build request, it's true that you'll get more for your money with an AMD processor.
    You don't need anything sky high for the PSU though, as long as it's a good brand. Check out my machine.
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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post

    BTW,Battlefield Bad Company 2 runs better on quad core processors.

    I would look at this article:

    http://translate.google.cz/translate...D5&sl=cs&tl=en

    An E6600 at 3.6GHZ matches a Q6600 at 2.4GHZ!
    but isn't that article comparing the core 2 duo to the core 2 quad?

    The more recent i3 dual cores raise the bar a bit:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/13

    Quote Originally Posted by Anandtech.com View Post

    The i5 661 does well here, but the most bang for your buck comes from the i3s which even outperform the Phenom II X4 965. If you want an affordable gaming CPU, the Core i3 is where it's at.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/16

    Quote Originally Posted by Anandtech.com View Post

    With the i3s you get a great dual-core chip that is competitive with AMD's Athlon II X4 line in many multi-threaded applications. AMD sacrificed its L3 cache in order to bring four cores down to reasonable price points. Intel's Core i3s start with two cores, a complete cache hierarchy, and give you Hyper Threading to improve performance in those multi-threaded scenarios. If you're doing a lot of video encoding or 3D rendering AMD's cheap quad-cores are going to be a better option, but for nearly everything else (gaming included) you'll be better off with the Core i3.

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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    but isn't that article comparing the core 2 duo to the core 2 quad?

    The more recent i3 dual cores raise the bar a bit:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/13



    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/16
    The article is showing that Battlefield Bad Company 2 runs better on a quad core processor even when the architecture and caches are exactly the same. Since Battlefield 3 is using the next generation Frostbite engine I suspect it will be able to take advantage of quad cores too.

    At worse the Athlon II X3 445 is around 10% to 20% slower than a Core i3 530 and even a bit faster in one or two games such as Call of Duty Black Ops. You can get a 3.2GHZ Athlon II X3 450 for around £58.

    Here is a comparison of a 3.3GHZ Core i5 2500K and a 3.6GHZ Phenom II X4 970BE:

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/core-i...600k-review/21

    The Phenom II X4 is 12.5% slower in BBFC2 at 1024X768 using a GTX580 graphics card. The 3.2GHZ Phenom II X4 955BE should be around 10% slower than the Phenom II X4 970BE putting it around 20% slower than a Core i5 2500K. However,at around £100 the Phenom II X4 955BE is still around £58 cheaper than the non K Core i5 2500.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 28-02-2011 at 02:18 AM.


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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The article is showing that Battlefield Bad Company 2 runs better on a quad core processor even when the architecture and caches are exactly the same. Since Battlefield 3 is using the next generation Frostbite engine I suspect it will be able to take advantage of quad cores too.

    At worse the Athlon II X3 445 is around 10% to 20% slower than a Core i3 530 and even a bit faster in one or two games such as Call of Duty Black Ops. You can get a 3.2GHZ Athlon II X3 450 for around £58.

    Here is a comparison of a 3.3GHZ Core i5 2500K and a 3.6GHZ Phenom II X4 970BE:

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/core-i...600k-review/21

    The Phenom II X4 is 12.5% slower in BBFC2 at 1024X768 using a GTX580 graphics card. The 3.2GHZ Phenom II X4 955BE should be around 10% slower than the Phenom II X4 970BE putting it around 20% slower than a Core i5 2500K. However,at around £100 the Phenom II X4 955BE is still around £58 cheaper than the non K Core i5 2500.
    And then you have to factor in motherboards; P55 mobos typically start at £80 odd. You generally end up paying approx 2 times the price than for the equivalent AM3 board... all in all, AMD CPUs are major value for money if you want a great price-performance ratio

    Also it's worth bearing in mind that past 1024x768, the GPU becomes the bottleneck immidiately... and the game still runs smooth as silk. That says to me that you don't actually _need_ that little extra power of the i5, and judging by how long Q6600s have lasted for gaming you probably won't for the next 3 years or so! You're basically throwing an extra £80 odd away for a shiny intel sticker unless you use your comp for highly processor intensive tasks such as video encoding.

  16. #15
    bored of Vienetta now
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    • ik9000's system
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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    dang nab it where were you two when I was putting my stop-gap system together? ah well, I have the thing now. Though when I was buying it Scan had lots in the Today Only offers so, the CPUs i3 vs AMD ones were roughly equivalent prices for ones which were performing similarly, and the respective motherboards with USB3 were similar price too. I went with the Intel cos of suggestions it was better for gaming. Maybe it won't be though...

    Anyone got any idea what specs Crysis 2 will require and whether the lack of quad cores will affect things with this game too?

  17. #16
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: New self build - Ideas please

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    dang nab it where were you two when I was putting my stop-gap system together? ah well, I have the thing now. Though when I was buying it Scan had lots in the Today Only offers so, the CPUs i3 vs AMD ones were roughly equivalent prices for ones which were performing similarly, and the respective motherboards with USB3 were similar price too. I went with the Intel cos of suggestions it was better for gaming. Maybe it won't be though...

    Anyone got any idea what specs Crysis 2 will require and whether the lack of quad cores will affect things with this game too?
    Your Core i3 is fine for gaming especially those games which still run fine on dual cores. The hyper-threading on the Core i3 530 means that at stock speeds it is around the same performance as a Phenom II X3 720BE.

    Here is the minimum hardware specifications for Crysis 2:

    http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=28781

    It seems this German website may release a more comprehensive overview of the Crysis 2 system requirements in the next week or so:

    http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,8...and-more/News/
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 28-02-2011 at 02:36 PM.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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