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Building a computer for $2,000


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#1 of 22 Ken Burkstrum

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Posted December 09 2007 - 04:48 PM

Can anyone help me put together a performance machine for that price?

My friend told me you can get the best on the market for $2,000 but I'm skeptical. He threw out a prices but didn't name models for everything. Things he did mention were the Quad Core q6600 for a processor at $300 and GeForce 8800 GTX for a video card at $450 all from newegg.com. Said motherboard should be $100-200 and power supply $100-150, the case $100 and a 500GB hard drive for $100. Didn't mention any CD/DVD drives or Sound Cards. I have four monitors, I can only use two of them on this machine. It would be cool if I could use at least 3 of them so I was thinking about getting a dual video card setup.

The most important thing is I want it to be upgradeable. If I can't afford to put two video cards in it right away I atleast want the motherboard to be compatible to do so in the future. I always want the computer to be ready to take advantage of 64-bit. Also I was wondering if there were any 10,000 RPM internal HDDs faster then that 74GB Raptor that I could fit into my budget? Are PCs able to boot up using OS X? I know Macs can dual boot windows now, I was wondering if it was the same for PCs?

Anybody know how much faster a Quad Core q6600 rated at 2.4Ghz would be compared to my Dual Core 3.2Ghz Extreme Edition processor (percentage wise)?

My current specs are:

Windows XP
500GB 7200rpm Hard Drive
Dual Core 3.2Ghz Extreme Edition Processor (would overclock if I knew how)
ATI X850 XT Platinum Edition (overclocked)
2GB of RAM (not sure what kind)

It handles even the newest games pretty good even at a 1920x1200 resolution, but it's a 32-bit system. I really want to be ready to take advantage of 64-bit for gaming and design. Everything I use is multi-core and 64-bit compatible. The release of Crysis has been the first time my computer revealed it's limitations. I wouldn't mind being able to run it better. Posted Image

EDIT: I need a sound card that has Coax and Optical outputs on it so I can hook it up to my receiver.

#2 of 22 SethH

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Posted December 09 2007 - 10:00 PM

Antec Sonata III Case = $130 (w/ 500w power supply)
Core 2 Quad Q6600 - OEM = $260
MSI GeForce 8800GTX = $445 (after $50 rebate)
ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail = $150 (after rebate)
Corsair XMS2 DDR800 RAM (4 x 1GB) = $94 (after rebates)
Western Digital 150GB 10,000rpm Raptor (x2) = $340
HT OMEGA CLARO Plus+ 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail = $175
ZALMAN CNPS9500 = $49

Total = $1643. Not too shabby for 4 processors, 4GB RAM, a couple 10k HDs (think RAID-0), etc. You'll also have to through in an operating system if you're not just going to move your current version of XP -- oh, and no, you cannot boot to MacOS X on a PC in a stable environment. While you may get it to work it will probably break during a patch at some point.


Even with all this though, I don't know how much you're really going to gain over your current system.

#3 of 22 Dennis*G

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Posted December 10 2007 - 12:55 AM

Maybe just upgrade your vid card to the 8800GTX and go to 3 or 4 gb memory and I bet Crysis will run just fine.

But if you really want to spend the cash, Seth has a good list. I would look at the EVGA 122-CK-NF63-TR nForce 680i SLI for a MB though

#4 of 22 Chris

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Posted December 10 2007 - 05:18 AM

Unless you are prepared to go SLI -now- the 680 is not necessarily what you want. While it will support most current Intel chips, it rules you out of the Penryn (QX9xxx) series, as well as speculation on other chips.. as an example, the QX9650 won't even post successfully in a 680i chipset MB.

So, keep that in mind.

It's easily possible to outfit a good high end PC (extreme chip, 8800GTX, etc.) and stay under $2k. Just need the right sources Posted Image
My Current DVD-Profiler


"I've been Ostrafied!" - Christopher, Sopranos 5/6/07

#5 of 22 Ken Chan

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Posted December 10 2007 - 10:34 AM

Quote:
My friend told me you can get the best on the market for $2,000
The best price/performance, or the best performance, period? Because for the latter: no. If you want bleeding edge, you can easily spend, five, maybe even ten grand with a little effort Posted Image

Quote:
it's a 32-bit system
The Pentium Extreme Edition is a 64-bit processor. You might be able to run 64-bit on your existing system just by using a 64-bit OS, although you might not see any benefit.

#6 of 22 Ken Burkstrum

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Posted December 10 2007 - 12:39 PM

Nice go of it, Seth! You think I should wait a while longer to get a new PC? You said you were skeptical on how much of a boost I'll get compared to the one I have.

My current PC isn't that upgradable. It's a Dell XPS Gen 5. They were discontinuing the model and Vista was about to come out and 64-bit technology was about to come out and all of that lead me to getting the CPU for half off. When we were done specing it out on the site it was close to $6,000, so we got it for half that (and thats why I bought it). This was in August 2005. It's all 32-bit junk running on a motherboard that has no PCI-E slots and one AGP. I've also been hitting RAM limits too often. I use up 2GB so quick with my film/music production that I have to take things in steps.

A question I have is why aren't I seeing a lot of these new high end quad core processors with hyper-threading?

Straighten this out for me. DirectX10 doesn't work on 32-bit systems, right?

Also, why the heck are MACs so popular in the entertainment industry workspace when they cost more, aren't compatible with as many programs, and can't really be built or upgraded?

#7 of 22 Francois Caron

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Posted December 11 2007 - 03:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Burkstrum
Straighten this out for me. DirectX10 doesn't work on 32-bit systems, right?
No, DirectX10 DOES work on 32 bit systems. However, it IS exclusive to Windows Vista. You won't see it supported under XP.

Even worse, you may never see a significant difference between 32 bit and 64 bit systems unless programmers around the world finally grow a brain. I'm surprised at how many programmers today still don't know the difference between a short, a long and an int!

#8 of 22 Ken Chan

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Posted December 11 2007 - 08:59 AM

Quote:
It's all 32-bit
No, it isn't.

Quote:
why aren't I seeing a lot of these new high end quad core processors with hyper-threading?
Hyperthreading would maybe get you a 15% boost for the fake "extra" processor with some programs. People want real multi-core.

#9 of 22 Mike Fassler

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Posted December 11 2007 - 11:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SethH
Antec Sonata III Case = $130 (w/ 500w power supply)
Core 2 Quad Q6600 - OEM = $260
MSI GeForce 8800GTX = $445 (after $50 rebate)
ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail = $150 (after rebate)
Corsair XMS2 DDR800 RAM (4 x 1GB) = $94 (after rebates)
Western Digital 150GB 10,000rpm Raptor (x2) = $340
HT OMEGA CLARO Plus+ 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail = $175
ZALMAN CNPS9500 = $49

Total = $1643. Not too shabby for 4 processors, 4GB RAM, a couple 10k HDs (think RAID-0), etc. You'll also have to through in an operating system if you're not just going to move your current version of XP -- oh, and no, you cannot boot to MacOS X on a PC in a stable environment. While you may get it to work it will probably break during a patch at some point.


Even with all this though, I don't know how much you're really going to gain over your current system.

dont forget you need an OS for the new pc,and to really handle 4 gigs of ram you need a 64bit OS.

#10 of 22 DaveF

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Posted December 11 2007 - 01:49 PM

Are you buying retail or building it yourself?

I'm not sure what you mean by "32 bit junk"? Does XP or Vista 64 bit perform that much faster than the normal versions?

And if you're low on memory, add another 2GB of RAM.

#11 of 22 Ken Burkstrum

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Posted December 15 2007 - 03:43 PM

"No, DirectX10 DOES work on 32 bit systems. However, it IS exclusive to Windows Vista. You won't see it supported under XP."

So what happened when I downloaded it and installed it? Crysis wouldn't start up until I downloaded DirectX10.

I think I'll wait a couple more months before getting a new PC, if the performance boost isn't that big. I do alot of heavy rendering so of course im always looking to shave off time with faster processing power. However, Crysis runs so crappy on my comp. The optimal settings feature puts everything down to Low, though, if I bring the screen resolution down to 1280x768, I can run medium pretty good with a bit of hiccuping here and there. The game doesn't look very good at that setting. I want to replace my video card for the time being.

If 2GB RAM chips exist, why don't I hear anybody using 8GB of RAM on four slot machines?

#12 of 22 SethH

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Posted December 15 2007 - 11:17 PM

If 2GB RAM chips exist, why don't I hear anybody using 8GB of RAM on four slot machines?


I'm sure there are people out there doing that, but it's really just diminishing returns. 99.999% of users would not see any performance increase between 4GB and 8GB -- especially when using 32-bit processing and software.

The diminishing returns part becomes even more important when looking at the prices -- 2 x 2GB of RAM ranges from $500-$869. I really doubt many people (or anyone) will get another $500+ of value out of that additional RAM.

#13 of 22 Francois Caron

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Posted December 16 2007 - 07:31 AM

Quote:
So what happened when I downloaded it and installed it? Crysis wouldn't start up until I downloaded DirectX10.
From which site did you download it?

#14 of 22 Ken Burkstrum

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Posted December 16 2007 - 09:35 AM

Here: http://www.gamesforw....DirectX10.aspx

#15 of 22 Dennis*G

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Posted December 16 2007 - 10:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Burkstrum
"If 2GB RAM chips exist, why don't I hear anybody using 8GB of RAM on four slot machines?

32 bit OS's can only use 3.5 to 4GB of memory, that is their limit. You would have to go to 64 OS to go above and use more then 4gb of memory, and yes, most people even in a 64bit setting would hardly use over 4GB of memory, but there are people and uses for more. Plus you there probably only a handful of motherboards that can support more then 4GB of memory and those are usually server boards for Opteron or xeon processors

#16 of 22 Ken Burkstrum

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Posted December 16 2007 - 04:20 PM

"Plus you there probably only a handful of motherboards that can support more then 4GB of memory and those are usually server boards for Opteron or xeon processors"

Opteron and Xeon? What kind of processors are these? Why are they related to servers? Is it because they can work together with other processors of like type or are they typically even faster then processors offered for PCs?

#17 of 22 SethH

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Posted December 16 2007 - 09:48 PM

Xeon (Intel) and Opteron (AMD) are chips made generally for servers. There used to be significant differences between consumer and server chips, but now there is not that much difference. Basically, the only differences between the Core2Duo and Xeon are that the Xeon is built to run with multiple processors (4+ cores) and the Xeon is more expensive.

Unless you can really benefit from the multiple processors (4+ cores) it would be a waste of money. Using Xeon also requires a server motherboard and usually ECC RAM -- both of which are more expensive with little or no gain in performance for a consumer-level user.

#18 of 22 Dennis*G

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Posted December 17 2007 - 03:43 AM

What Seth said. Opteron and Xeon are basically the same as the PC processors counterparts (Athlon 64 and C2D, but can run multiple chips (2 or more sockets, were C2D and Athlon can only do 2 sockets max) and usually require the Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory, which is usually more expensive and slower then standard PC memory.

#19 of 22 Francois Caron

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Posted December 17 2007 - 09:24 AM

Ken, I've downloaded the file from the link you've supplied and I've installed it. But when I run DXDIAG, the DirectX version being reported is still 9.0C (4.09.0000.0904). What does yours say?

Also, run the game, go to Options->System Settings->Advanced and check if the drop-downs have the "Very High" setting grayed out. If they are, then the game is running under DirectX 9 and not DirectX 10.

Apparently, you can unlock the "Very High" settings and get almost all of the DirectX 10 eye candy running under DX9/XP simply by modifying a few files in the game. The full instructions are at Crysis Performance and Benchmarks: DX9 and DX10 . But you really need a ridiculously powerful machine to handle the "Very High" settings, a machine which will cost you much more than $2000. Even my XP box equipped with a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of memory and a 512 MB ATI HD 2600 XT card is limited to the "Medium" setting at 1280x720 resolution. Anything higher and the game turns into a slide show.

Good thing I have an 80" front projection screen to compensate! Posted Image

#20 of 22 Nathan_F

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Posted December 17 2007 - 11:30 AM

Francois-- "512 MB ATI HD 2600 XT" would be your limiting factor for the Very High Settings.

It would not be impossible to build a sub-$2000 rig that could achieve decent settings in Crysis. It is, from what I've read, both CPU and GPU intensive.

A rig with a Core2Duo E6750 and twin 512MB GeForce GTS graphics cards would be a good start. A "lower" end SLI motherboard based on the nVidia 650Sli chipset.

Ken-- I would think that this would provide an enormous boost over where you're at today.

Antec Sonata III Case = $130 (w/ 500w power supply) $40 rebate
Core 2 Duo E6750 - OEM = $190
Arctic Cooling Freezer7 = $22
2 X EVGA 512MB GeForce 8800GTS = $360ea (720 total)
GIGABYTE GA-N650SLI-DS4L LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail = $105
GSkill DDR2-800 RAM (2 x 2GB) = $105
Western Digital 150GB 10,000rpm Raptor = $170
Creative 70SB046A00000 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional Series - Retail = $136
Sony NEC Optiarc 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model AD-7190S - OEM = $26

~$1245 before the rebate on the case. Doesn't include the OS.

I think this would do everything you're asking of it. Depending on your needs, you may choose to go to the Quad core as recommended above. It will be slightly slower for most applications (at 2.4GHz per core versus the 2.66 for the Duo), but for applications that can utilize all 4 cores you'd be in better shape.


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