I need to buy a new high-end PC, and would be grateful for suggestions on the best combination of power and economy. (I don’t want to spend the $5,000-ish prices I see for some systems, but, at the same time, powers more important than price.)
What are you going to be doing with the system? Is it just the box or do you need all the other stuff to go with it? You say you dont wanna spend 5k but what is your limit?
I’m just upgrading my own PC at the moment and this should be the end result…
275 - Athlon 64 3500+ (Venice core. 3200-3400+ is fine too.)
130 - DFI Lanparty NF4 PCI-E SLI motherboard (the SLI is for later)
540 - 2048 MB Corsair PC-3200 DDR (I like to future proof, and this is like the Creme de la Creme of RAM. 1 GB should be fine, but NO LESS)
70 - Pioneer 16x DVD-WR DVR-109 (I got this for Silent Hunter III and it’s worked very well with every game I’ve tried, wacky copy protection or no)
bunch-o-hardrives including 2 WD 120 GB Special Editions with the 8MB cache, but the crowning jewel is a…
180 - WD Raptor 10,000 RPM 74GB SATA (I consider this important to keep load times down, and the SATA cable is way easier to deal with than IDE cables)
360 - Nvidia GeForce 6800GT PCI-E 16x (ATI X800 is probably a better buy, but I like GeForces)
Replacing some of that with an X800, 1 gig of cheaper ram and a 3200+ or 3400+ could bring the price of components listed to around $1000. Anyways, that’s my take on what components are most important and in what quantities. Basically, don’t skimp on the hard drive or ram and you should be fine.
If you want small and quiet, there’s lots of great small form factor rigs on the market these days. Right now, I’m running and Athlon 64 3500+ in a Shuttle SN95G5 with a Radeon X800. Fantastic quiet rig and rock-solid.
Thanks for the replies!
I’ll be writing a book, and need to play the game on the new system while I write on this one. Hence, an upgrade isn’t an option, but I wonder if Mehrunes could point me to a system that incorporates his upgrades.
I can’t see spending more than $4,000 … and I’d prefer to spend no more than $3,500.
Well, there’s the rub. I got tired of looking for companies that have everything I want available so I’ve been building my own machines for the past few years (mostly with parts ordered from newegg.com ). One site I came across that seems pretty good is http://www.cyberpowersystem.com/ , but there’s probably dozens more that would fit the bill.
You might want to skip getting a monitor with your purchase and pickup a Dell LCD separately. Try looking up the 2001FP and the 2005FPW.
They go one sale twice a month, a decent sale price is 500 although the 2100 has gone as low as 430.
Unless you go nuts, it’s pretty hard to spend $3500.
Unless you want to roll your own, just go buy a Dell XPS or Voodoo PC or Alienware. All you really need to have a super-duper high-end PC is a $500 videocard; the other parts won’t have nearly the impact.
Go AMD, there’s no reason to use Intel for a gaming desktop.
I prefer socket 939 for it’s longer upgrade path.
Are you going to overclock? It’s easy, safe if done correctly, and gives you much more bang for your buck. Run that Athlon64 Venice 3000+ at 2.4 gHz instead of the stock 1.8 gHz. For free, with stock cooling! There are tons of places that have step by step walkthroughs. It can void your warranty, and will destroy your hardware if done incorrectly. It also takes a while to get going, but it’s well worth it in my opinion. Unless you just don’t like tweaking hardware for a good 20 hours to get a 30% boost in performance. Which is totally understandable for some people, don’t get me wrong.
If you’re going to overclock, get a DFI NForce4 motherboard and Athlon 64 Venice 3000+. It’ll push the same speeds Venice 3800+'s can, for much less money.
If you aren’t going to overlcok, I recommend the Asus A8N series and Athlon 64 Clawhammer 3700+.
SLI is a good idea, even if you won’t be getting two video cards right now.
Best video card price/performance for a power PC is a 6800GT. Ultras are a bit faster, but much more expensive. 5 to 10% faster for 20% more money. If you plan on SLI you might want to spend the extra money for an Ultra now, so you can pair it with a cheaper Ultra later.
Here is the parts list of a new gaming pc I recently built. Some prices are a bit out of date:
bought part description price links
X cpu amd 64 3000 venice $150.00 http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=M&Product_Code=120205&AFFIL=TH&NR=1
X memory corsair 3200 valueram 1 gig $110.00 frys
X mb DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D $138.00 http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?description=13-136-152&DEPA=0
X video card ati x800xl $300.00 http://www.compusabusiness.com/products/product_info.asp?product_code=50881768
X heatsink THERMALRIGHT XP-90, 92mm panaflo H, zalman fanmate 2 $48.00 http://www.svc.com/xp-90-21.html
X case thermaltake tsunami $110.00 http://www2.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811133132
X ps antec neo 480 $50.00 (got mine at compusa on a sale) http://store.yahoo.com/directron/neopower480.html
X floppy sony black $11.50 http://www2.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=0-N82E16821103116
X HD X 2 RAID SATA II Hitachi 250gb (NCQ) $254.00 http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=100594-2&affiliate=yahoo
X optical Benq dw1620 $51.00 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16827101632
X lights/fans 2 X antec light tubes, 2 X 3 way laser led $36.00 http://store.yahoo.com/svcompucycle/anblinledlit.html
X sound card audigy 2zs gamer $60.00 best buy
X speakers logitech z5300e $120.00 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002SQ0AE/103-3951468-7260610?v=glance
X mouse logitech mx518 $50.00 best buy
I just love the DFI motherboard. It’s a tweaker’s dream. Go here for a wealth of info:
The venice core just screams to be overclocked:
DFI Lanparty nf4 ultra d, 5/10/2005-2 bios
ati x800xl (oc: 425/525)
oc: 2.5ghz, 277 X 9, HTT X3, Memory 3:4 (207mhz)
1T, 2.5-3-3-8, interleave enabled, dual channel slot 2 & 4
vcore 1.425*110%, vdimm 2.7v
temps: 35 idle, 44 under prime95 load
It might not be the cheapest system but I was looking for pretty big performance but still a good value.
temps are hitting 44c under full load so this is probably as far as I want to go with the current cooling solution.
cs source: 108.46
Dhrystone ALU : 11478 MIPS
Whetstone FPU : 3919 MFLOPS
Whetstone iSSE2 : 5072 MFLOPS
Integer x4 aEMMX/aSSE : 23671 it/s
Float x4 iSSE2 : 25455 it/s
RAM Bandwidth Int Buff’d iSSE2 : 6042 MB/s
RAM Bandwidth Float Buff’d iSSE2 : 5996 MB/s
Combined Index : 6644 MB/s
Speed Factor : 6.6
2kB Blocks : 18035 MB/s
4kB Blocks : 18841 MB/s
8kB Blocks : 19259 MB/s
16kB Blocks : 19208 MB/s
32kB Blocks : 16783 MB/s
64kB Blocks : 15684 MB/s
128kB Blocks : 11975 MB/s
256kB Blocks : 10415 MB/s
512kB Blocks : 10319 MB/s
1MB Blocks : 2963 MB/s
4MB Blocks : 2899 MB/s
16MB Blocks : 2908 MB/s
64MB Blocks : 2911 MB/s
256MB Blocks : 2909 MB/s
I found out recently that the hitachi drives come shipped limited to 1.5gb/sec (better compatibility with older motherboards). To enable 3.0gb/sec and Spread Spectrum Clocking you have to download Feature Tool (v1.97) from
I enabled 3.0gb/sec and spread spectrum clocking taking full advantage of all the SATA II features.
Here are the results:
random access: 12.4ms
cpu utilization: 10%
average read: 109.1 MB/s
burst Speed: 320.0 MB/s
There is an upgrade plan here (I suggest you read the article), just add case and drives. I would get a KVM switch to use the same monitor and keyboard/mouse. It seems pretty good to me, they strive for upgrade lifetime.
Regrettably, I have little experience in building or even upgrading machines, apart from the odd video card, and I suspect now is not the time to learn; I need the system now. (You’d think I’d have more experience after all these years in this field, but there it is.)
I wound up picking up Alienware’s Aurora 7500–an AMD64 system with SLI that, in the end, cost about a $1,000 more than I’d hoped to spend. It’s my first new computer in five and a half years, so I figured what the hell.
You got the one with the Star Wars side panel art, didn’t you…?
Those are actually pretty slick looking.
Nope. Just the Mars-red one. (I’ve been pretty anti-Star Wars–well, the movies, anyway–since I reviewed Episode VI. :)