Budget Badass Buyer’s Guide -- Updated Prices and Parts For July 2008

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Scapegoat

Hey Norm, I love seeing all of these recommended parts and stuff for differently priced machines, but I'd love to see picks for monitors for these levels of systems. I myself want to upgrade from a 17" CRT to a pleasantly widescreen eye-candy LCD monitor that will do well with movies and games, but don't know if I can fork out the cash for one of those sweetly reviewed Samsung 245T monitors. Thanks for your considerations, and I appreciate your work.

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maytag

This is in response to da_samman (SGT Samuel E. McClard II). I hope this helps, and I also want to thank you for the work you are doing. I have friends and family on multiple tours, and my thoughts are always with them (regardless of my stance on our presence there in the first place). Keep up the good work, stay safe, and much love.

With that, a comment about this statement (from: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/budget_badass_buyer%E2%80%99s_guide_updated_prices_and_parts_for_july_2008#comment-7500): "I am taking my next build very seriously, because I intend it to be as
futureproof as possible for as long as possible with my gaming tastes
(RPG, WoW, developing taste in FPS through Half-Life 2) and still have
a nice upgrade path."

You present a difficult situation, because your current use is very different than what your "futureproof" will be. The games you list are, generally, "older" games--at least, games designed without any kind of multithreading.

However, the now clear future of all computer applications is in threaded development (programs designed to take advantage of more than one processor/core). I have been running dual processor systems since a dual overclocked Celeron 266->550MHz system (many years now). Multi processor/core systems have always suited my computing habits because of my use of multiple, processor intensive applications at once.

Unfortunately, games have never benefitted from my multi-processor/core setups. This is largely a result of two contributing factors:

1.  Until relatively recently, processors were developing in a manner that increased the rate at which they are able to process one instruction (e.g. increasing clock speed). This created a situation in which there was little need to program for multiple processor/cores, as they were uncommon; rather, programmers wrote to take advantage of increasing clock speed. However, increasing clock speed is no longer the direction any
processor development is focusing on (be it CPU, GPU, or otherwise).
Instead, increases in performance is coming from multiple cores and
limited jumps in clock speed.

2. Writing programs that take proper advantage of multiple processor/cores is difficult, especially for programmers not well trained/verse in multithreaded (multi processor/core capable) programming. Unfortunately for those programmers, there is little headroom in clock speed in the foreseeable future; as a result, programmers will be forced to learn to properly thread their programs--including games.

What does this mean for us? As best as I can tell, it means simply that while a dual-core setup may seem like the best solution the price/performance of today, a quad-core setup will significantly outlast the dual core setup in the futureproof sense. Newer games will be forced to properly take advantage of multiple cores; this will result in significant jumps in performance in games/apps designed for this, greatly extending the life of your system.

I'm being told I need to leave, but I hope this helps! Simply put, if you're most interested in futureproofing your system, quad core is a very worthy investment, in my humble opinion.

Regards!

 

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da_samman

Thank you for your advice and your appreciation.  My main quandry is I want to make my rig as futureproof as possible, but stay within a budget similar to the budget rig mentioned above for my core system, but I am also purchasing an LCD monitor, a keyboard, gaming mouse, speakers, mouse pad, and UPS.  I am trying to avoud going over $1800 for the parts before S&H.   Any othe radvice?

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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Phantasy

But I think you could do a lot better with that machine (my prices are in CDN$, so it'll look more expensive).

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - $215

Mobo: Gigabyte EP45-DS3L - $130

RAM: Mushkin XP2-8500, 2x2GB kit - $130

Video: Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 - $330

Case: Antec Three Hundred - $60

PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 - $110

HDD: Western Digital 640GB - $85

ODD: Pioneer DVR-216D - $30

Sound: ASUS Xonar DX - $90

OS: Windows XP Pro OEM - $150 OR Windows Vista Home Premium 64b OEM - $120

 

Price as configured: $1330 with XP Pro or $1300 with Vista. With available rebates (mail-in and instant) the price comes down below $1250.

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Mathewpb

One of thre reasons that people complain when you guys choose nvidia or amd, or intel or amd, and when one company has a product that is supposed to outdo a rivals product (i.e. in this case intel, nvidia, and ati) is because people are used to a certain line of products and how they work, switching to another company means we will have to change thier whole setup to accomodate that change.

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da_samman

Why the switch from the 8800GTS to the Radeon 4870?  What does the Radeon card have that the GeForce doesn't?  BTW, for my next rig, I'm going with an E8400, because no games that I play can really take advantage of 2, and of 4 probably not at all .  Plus, I have recently learned of a PCI-Express soundcard by Creative, the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional.  Has anyone out there who comes here actgually bought this card?  And if so, is it worth the higher cost?

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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Ha Rotto il Gamer

the 4870 out classes the 8800gts in every front, not a hard decision, on the sound card, there is a comparision of it and another in the oct. mag.

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da_samman

So, which sound card would you use, the SoundBlaster PCI-Express, the PCI version, or another card altogether?

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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njedwardz

idk why, but my q9450 spilts any workload between all 4 cores, even if the app is not multithreaded.

 

also, SP3 enables XP to use 4GB, idk exactly how much more than that though. 

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paidhima

SP3 does not allow XP to address more RAM than any other update.  The limitation can't be fixed by an update.  The issue is the 32-bit memory addressing in 32-bit Windows XP, and that's a limitation that is only overcome by switching to 64-bit.

Incidentally, the amount of RAM your system can address is based on a few different things, so you may be able to see more than 3GB.  I've got one system, for example, that sees 3.2GB of RAM and one that sees about 2.7GB.  The difference is that one is running a 512MB video card while the other is running 2x 512 in SLI.  The memory addresses reserved for the graphics adapters eats into the total available addressing.  So this is a situation where your mileage may vary

As far as your Q9450 goes, there's no logic within the processor (or mainboard) that would account for this.  Threading happens at the OS and application layers.  If you're seeing work spread across multiple cores than either the app is multithreaded after all, or you're seeing other processes being pushed off to the other cores.

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da_samman

What the devil does idk mean?   I've always known that XP Pro 32 bit only addresses about 2.5-3 GB max.  Are you SURE that XP Pro w/ SP3 is addressing ALL 4 GB?

Also, how do you know that the workload is split among all 4 cores?  IF so, then I may have to re-evaluate my parts list.

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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paidhima

idk = I don't know

32-bit XP Pro definitely does *not* address 4GB of RAM.  This is not a limitation of a patch, but of 32-bit addressing itself.

You asked the question below about quad core vs dual core.  The question is one of use.  For games, it really doesn't matter.  A quad core running @ 3 GHZ will run the same as a dual core @ 3 GHZ if the game is not threaded (or only threaded for two cores).  The difference comes in general system performance.  While a dual core system is still incredibly quick, quad core offers the OS more elbow room.  I can see a difference between my Q6600 clocked to a bit over 3 GHZ and my E8500 at 3.16 GHZ stock.  While the Wofldale proc is superior in terms of architecture (to a degree) the extra two cores on my Q6600 provide a boost - but only under certain circumstances.  As more games become multi-core aware you will see natural improvements in a quad core proc.

All that being said, you could essentially close your eyes and point and not be disappointed.  I've got systems with both a Q6600 (Kentsfield) and E8500, and they absolutely scream.

Go with 4GB of RAM, btw.  The price on DDR2 is ridiculously low, and while a 32-bit OS won't address the entire quantity, you'll get more headroom.  With your proposed configuration, Windows should address about 3.2GB of RAM.

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da_samman

Thanks for the info.  Now I am more than certain that I will go with a higher-speed Core 2 Duo, the E8400, and 4 GB of RAM.  If the price of the E8500 goes down enough, I might opt for that one instead.  However, given my choice of mobo is SLI, I have to go for the 8800GTS, because I kinda doubt that the GTX is worth the price bump.

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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da_samman

1.  Why is a quad core so much better for gaming since so very few games can take advantage of a dual core?

2.  Why install 4 GB when XP Pro 32-bit can only address less than 3 GB?

Seriously, I am taking my next build very seriously, because I intend it to be as futureproof as possible for as long as possible with my gaming tastes (RPG, WoW, developing taste in FPS through Half-Life 2) and still have a nice upgrade path.

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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Mathewpb

I don't have anything against the q6600 since i used to have one, but why would you settle for a q6600 when a q9300 is not that much more plus it is a 45nm...I know people are on a budget build but hey...

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da_samman

I am planning to build a new desktop PC with my re-enlistment bonus.  My wife agreed that I could spend up to $2000, but that does NOT mean I will try to spend that much.  Here is what I have so far for my parts list :

Core System

Case:Antec Nine Hundred

PSU:PC Power & Cooling 610 Watt Silencer

Motherboard:EVGA 132-CK-NF78-A1

CPU:Intel Core 2 Duo Wolfdale E8400 3.0 GHz

RAM:Kingston HyperX 2 GB (2 * 1 GB) DDR2 800 (PC6400) Dual Channel

HDD:Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB

Video Card:EVGA GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512 MB

Sound Card:Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer 7.1

Optical:Samsung SH-S203N

The rest

OS:Windows XP Pro 32-Bit w/SP2

Monitor:HannsG JC-199DBP

Keyboard:Microsoft Natural 4000

Mouse:Logitech G5

Speakers:Logitech Z-2300 

Miscellaneous

APC BE550R 8 Outlet UPS

Samsung 1.44MB 3.5” floppy drive (for SATA HDD driver installation with XP Pro)

Again, I must stress that although my wife and I agreed on a $2000 budget, that does NOT mean I am trying to spend that much.  If anyone out there has any suggestions, please let me know.

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT  Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

P.S.  Thanks molitron for the well-wishing.

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da_samman

I am going to build a new rig with my re-enlistment bonus when I get home from Iraq.  I play mainly RPGs (Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, Baldur's Gate 2), WoW, and am beginning to take an interest in Half-Life 2 for the story as well as the gameplay.  Should I go with the Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale or the Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield?  Also, I have seen the tech specs at Newegg.com for a Core 2 Quad and its Core 2 Extreme counterpart.  They seem the same so I have to know, what makes a Core 2 Extreme so extreme to justify its $1000+ price?  Seriously, I am not kidding when I as this, if it IS all that and a bag of chips, then when I can afford to I will definitely upgrade to one.

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq, SGT Samuel E. McClard II Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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molitron

The difference is largely based on L2 cache, which dictates how large a data chunk from the memory the processor can hold on to at a time. Actual performace boosts may be significant, but not necessarily substantial.

Best of luck in Iraq dude.

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da_samman

Really?  I took a look at the cache for both on Newegg.com, and they seemed to be the same.  Maybe I missed something.  I'll look again.   BTYW, I've decided on a Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0 GHz for my CPU instead of the Core 2 Quad Q6600 because of my current gaming trastes (Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, WoW, Titan Quest, Diablo II) and developing tastes (AoE II and III, Civ IV, Half Life 2).  I can't really see any need right now for a Quad Core CPU because I doubt that the games I play and will play in the near future can take full advantage of 2 cores right now, let alone 4.

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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darryl99

The hardware Zone states "While the margin of improvement over a single
GeForce 8800 GT varied from game to game, expect at least 50% gains
from most of them."

Check here for benchmark results. http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles/view.php?cid=3&id=2408&pg=2 

This is what my bench testing confirms. Also when it comes to gaming one processor is almost always better then two. Unless the API bypass problem is fixed/patched on newer CPUs then CPU syncronization when gaming will slow you down. Keep in mind I am using an older Dual Core Duo and maybe this has been fixed in the Quad Cores.

 

Respectfully,

Darryl

 

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kookykrazee

Where did you find an XtremeGamer for $80? the cheapest I found it for is $90.99 and that doesn't include another $7+ for shipping.

 Also, which of the 2 Patriot 2 gig packs is better?

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da_samman

 Sorry csdavid505, forgot to thank you also for the info where you said I don't need SATA HDD drivers.  I've had lousy luck in the past witht them, but then again they were on laptops, not a desktop, which is what I will build when I get home.

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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da_samman

Hey csdavid505, does the company you sent me the hyperlink to ship to APO AE addresses?  Because as you can see from my signature, I am currently NOT in the great 48.

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II
Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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da_samman

The comment where I said thanks for your appreciation, I meant to add it was for csdavid505. 

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II
Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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da_samman

Tahnk you for the info and for your appreciation. 

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II
Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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JohnMD1022

I continue to rail against these junk drives and their lousy tech support.

What good is a 5 year warranty when you get the same junk that just failed?

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rcalzadilla

I just discovered MaximumPC.com about five days ago, while surfing and looking for my up to date PC. A milion questions in my mind and confused.

I'm so happy find this site that I decided to leave a note.

 What done it? The Buyer's Buide and the Forum, of course!

This site has made decide to go ahead and build my new PC real soon. Also to dish out around $1500, or more for it.

I am 64 yrs old, retired, fixed income and all. Not easily spending this kind of money for gaming and internet. Driving a well kept, pick up that was paid for a while back but, I want my technology fast and fresh.

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Techrocket9

I got the one issue of PC gamer that had their more up-to date $1,500.00 PC. I tweaked it a little, and my final price was about $1,450.00. The system had an 9800GTX, Q9300, Cosmos 1000 Case, 810W PSU, EVGA SLI-Ready MoBo, terabyte HD, X-Fi, and Wi-Fi card. I think that MPC and PCG should pool their resources to keep an ongoing $1,500.00 PC posted and up-to-date.

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ironsulphate

OMG, why a q66 when you can get an e8400? 65nm vs 45nm? so much better. why not a p5n-d board too. I'd rather also go for the coolermaster rc690. or the thermaltake amor+mx

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johnny3144

ummm... quad-core?

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da_samman

Seriously, since most software period, let alone games, can't take full advantage of 2 cores, what is the advantage  that a Core 2 Quad has over a Core 2 Duo?

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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PhynaeusClaw

Why stick with the Q6600 when you can get a Q9300 for about $270 (check out NewEgg.com). When I built a new gaming PC for my friend last month I used this MSI board and the Q9300. I was able to overclock the Q9300 to 3.0GHz using just the standard cooling fan. In the end I put his rig together for around $1300, and it is beyond anything either of us have ever had our grubby mitts on...ever.

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small27

What type of Patriot 4GB DDR2/800 memory was used? I assume that this was the Patriot Extreme but was it the low latency or the enhanced latency one?

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da_samman

Just WHERE is everyone getting XP Pro for $99?  I know it isn't Newegg (unfortunately), so where are you getting it? 

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II
Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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csdavid505

http://www.bmem.net/opsy.html?gclid=CILVvfXetZQCFRcaagodVmMBTw is one place

Google "Windows XP Pro SP2 OEM"

 

Thanks for your service to our country.

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papalarge

I looked up the MSI P35 Neo2-FR on Newegg because I'm at the start of building my first rig. Anyway in the specs for CPU Type
it has Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo / Pentium EE / Pentium. But I see you guys recommended a Intel Core 2 Quad. Are the two compatible? If they are please tell me why so I can learn.

Thanks Guys

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csdavid505

http://global.msi.com.tw/index.php?func=proddesc&prod_no=1261

 

"Supports Intel® Core 2 Quad/Core 2 Duo based processors in LGA775 package."

 

You can always check the manufacturers website. Sometimes wholesalers like NewEgg and TigerDirect don't update their webpages.

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csdavid505

 
QTY    DESC    Cost    Price       
2    EVGA GeForce 8800 GT Video Card - Superclocked Edition, 512MB GDDR3, PCI Express 2.0, SLI Ready, (Dual Link) Dual DVI, HDTV, Video Card    149.99    299.98       
1     Asus M2N-SLI Motherboard - NVIDIA nForce 560 SLI, Socket AM2/AM2+, ATX, Audio, PCI Express, Gigabit LAN, S/PDIF, USB 2.0, Firewire, Serial ATA, RAID    99.99    99.99       
1    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Quad Core Processor HD985ZXAGHBOX - Black Edition, Unlocked 2.50GHz, 4MB Cache, 2000MHz (4000 MT/s) FSB, Agena, Quad-Core, Retail, Socket AM2+, Processor with Fan    205.99    205.99       
1    Cooler Master Stacker 810 Full-Tower ATX Case with 850-Watt Power Supply    229.99    229.99       
2    Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB Hard Drive - 7200, 8MB, Serial ATA-300, OEM    54.99    109.98       
1    HP DVD1040i Lightscribe Super-Multi Retail DVD Burner - 20x DVD±R Burn, 16x DVD±R Read, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD±R DL, 12x DVD-RAM, 48x32x CD-R/RW, Internal    34.99    34.99       
2    Corsair Dual Channel TWINX 4096MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory (2 x 2048MB)    86.99    173.98       
1    Logitech Optical Trackman Trackball    24.99    24.99       
1    Keys U See Large Print Keyboard with Yellow Keys (Black)    29.99    29.99       
1    Logitech - Force 3D Pro Joystick    54.99    54.99       
1    Sylvania SK2201WB 22" Widescreen LCD Monitor - 5ms, 800:1, 1680x1050 (WSXGA+), VGA, DVI, Internal Speakers, Black    229.99    229.99       
1    openSuSE Linux 11.0 x86_64    0    0       
            1494.86    

 

This box has almost twice the graphics performance, twice the memory, and twice the disk performance, plus you can actually USE it (monitor, mouse,keyboard,joystick). I use OpenSuSE instead of Ubuntu, KDE 3.5, and Cedega subscription so I can play all my favorite Windows games and shred people who built the other box.

 

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darryl99

This is in response to csdavid505 comment. Nice rig but I don't think two 8800 GT cards in SLI will not even come close two twice the graphics performance of a HD4870 on a 22 inch screen. I have the same 8800 GT cards in SLI on an Asus Striker board with a Samsung 22" monitor. Do a video bench test with your setup then remove one of your video cards and then run the same bench test, not that big of a difference between both setups. I'm told that I would see a bigger difference if I was using a 30" + monitor. Did anyone else try this and did you get similiar results?

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csdavid505

Radeon 4870 has 30 GT/sec (Billions of textures).

GeForce 8800 GT/SC has 40 GT/Sec. 2x = 80 GT/Sec.

 

Try Crysis. It can hump ANY video card setup.

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csdavid505

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2007/11/02/nvidia_geforce_8800_gt/1

http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles/view.php?cid=3&id=2408&pg=2

Note that performance > 15~20 fps will not be noticeable to the human eye. Presume you are at 1680x1050x32.

 

Same thing on the RAID issue:

 

 http://forum.oscr.arizona.edu/archive/index.php/t-2589.html

http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=890&page=4

 

Two cards are almost twice as good as one. Two disks are almost twice as good as one. Two CPUs are almost twice as good as one. Four CPUs are almost four times as good as one (if you can use them all).

 

 

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darryl99

The hardware Zone states "While the margin of improvement over a single
GeForce 8800 GT varied from game to game, expect at least 50% gains
from most of them."

Check here for benchmark results. http://www.hardwarezone.com/articles/view.php?cid=3&id=2408&pg=2 

This is what my bench testing confirms. Also when it comes to gaming
one processor is almost always better then two. Unless the API bypass
problem is fixed/patched on newer CPUs then CPU syncronization when
gaming will slow you down. Keep in mind I am benchmarking on an older Dual Core
Duo (6400) and maybe this has been fixed in the Quad Cores.

 

Respectfully,

Darryl

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da_samman

Mine will run XP Pro, so again I am needing the means to install the OS without a floppy drive, because I don't want to have to buy one JUST for installing SATA HDD  drivers.

 

Sincerely yours, from FOB Striker, Iraq,

SGT Samuel E. McClard II
Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!!

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csdavid505

I just paid the 30$ once and use it whenever stupid old OSes require it

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Toon

As an aspiring animator, will this system handle commonly used software (Maya, Photoshop) well. If not, please recommend necessary upgrades. Dual GPU's perhaps?

Toon 

 

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sixfivebeastman

Component Price
Motherboard:Nforce 780i SLI (evga)            $250.00
CPU:Core 2 Quad 6700                              $275.00
RAM:Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4               $75.00
Hard Drive:WD 500 GB SATA                        $70.00
Video Card:GeForce 9800 GTX                      $250.00
Sound Card:SoundBlaster X-Fi                      $75.00
Optical Drive:Samsung SH-S203B DVD Burner $40.00
NIC:Onboard Gigabit                                   $0.00  
CPU Cooling:Zalman CNPS 9700                   $80.00
Case:Generic                                              $50.00
Power Supply:Thermaltake Toughpower 750W $175.00
OS:Windows XP Pro OEM                               $99.00
Price (no monitor):                                      $ 1,439.00

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Budgetperson

Like the PC - But P45 is out now ;). Get the Asus P5Q Pro instead in my opinion.

And which one is better - 4870 or gtx 260 (now that they are at the same price)?

http://22tech.blogspot.com

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brokenmoth08

Add one Velocirapter hard drive and it would be kick ass!!

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weakerthans4

love the galaxy quest reference...ATI; never give up never surrender

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Shalbatana

Some of you seem to have read the post incorrectly. The 8800 was from the OLD budget machine. Also the case, OS,  graphics card optical and hard drives are all different (though in the case's case...per se... the difference is only $10).

As for the raid, the board has an onboard controller, so floppy 3rd party install is un-necessary.

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