Hardware Revolution: Questions and Answers #2

| June 6, 2009 | (8)

Every other Saturday, Mathieu from Hardware Revolution goes through his e-mail inbox and previous comments and answers five to ten of the best questions left by you, the readers, on computer hardware topics and many other things.

Got a question? Post it in the comments and make sure to subscribe to the comments to read other people questions and my answers!

Let’s get started!

Hi, I want a gaming pc but i have just USD $1000 what is the best I can get with that much money?

$1000 is plenty enough to have a good gaming PC these days. If $1000 is for the system only, then the $1000 gaming PC is the best you can have right now: http://www.hardware-revolution.com/computer-systems/gaming-pc/1000/

If the $1000 includes shipping, taxes, monitor and OS, you are then better off with the $700 Gaming PC, Windows Home Premium and a good 19-22″ monitor. The $700 Gaming PC was updated today by me, featuring a CPU from AMD that was just released this week! http://www.hardware-revolution.com/computer-systems/gaming-pc/700/

You can also see all the gaming PC designs that I offer simply by visiting the Gaming PC page: http://www.hardware-revolution.com/computer-systems/gaming-pc/

How about a no-holds-barred Core i7 and a close equivalent in AMD.  Not many of us are going to be able to build that kind of machine, but like the latest hot car, we can all google it.

I don’t see the point of doing that. Let me explain myself here: The price difference between the two platform is too high.

The most basic Core i7 platform, with a Crossfire or SLI motherboard, 6GB of DDR3 1600 MHz and the Core i7 starts at $600, just for these three parts.

A comparable platform on AMD side runs in the $400 price range, a 33% or $200 difference.

The Intel platform is likely to outperform the AMD platform in the vast majority of tests due to more powerful Core i7 and the faster RAM. My point is, everyone knows that already.

A good point that I have already proven with the $1000 gaming PC though, is that by using the slightly slower AMD platform and saving a lot of money, you can then afford much better video cards and end up with a more powerful gaming PC for $1000 in the end.

Hello! I have finally made the decision to get a gaming computer, and have decided to build my own, prebuilt being too expensive. Budget being no more than 800. I don’t know too much about computers, so it’s hard for me to judge what will be good for my needs. This will be purely a gaming computer, I won’t be using it for anything else. One game I am looking forward to is Arma 2, I’m not sure if you are familiar with it so here are the recommended specs:

CPU: Intel Core 2.8 GHz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ or faster
RAM: 2 GB
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT / ATI Radeon 4850 with Shader Model 3 and 512
MB VRAM or faster
OS: Windows XP or Vista

The problem is that with games the official recommended specs are never enough. I feel like if I can handle this game, I will be able to handle most of the other games I want to play. Well that’s pretty much all the guidance I can give you for what I am looking for haha. Also, I have a few cases around the house so you don’t need to include one. Thank you so much for the help, hopefully my request isn’t too much and is actually doable. Again, thank you.

Congratulations on choosing to build your own computer, a very wise choice! Usually, my guideline with computers is to get the most performance possible at a given price, without cutting corners on quality obviously.

For gaming computers best parts, I recommend that you take a look at the Gaming PC ( http://www.hardware-revolution.com/computer-systems/gaming-pc/ ) page on my blog, where I state every part of every Gaming PC designs that I offer. You can click on a particular gaming PC that interest you too get more details.

Considering that you already have a case and the minimum requirements of the game that are pretty high as a matter of a fact,
the $700 Gaming PC ( http://www.hardware-revolution.com/computer-systems/gaming-pc/700/ ) should be perfect for your needs.

Without the case (-$60), and the OS(+$100 with Vista Home Premium), the price should come to $740, if you add shipping, that should come under $800.

I’m looking to upgrade my current computer to enable me to do some light-medium gaming and hopefully for better performance when watching streaming online video. I have 17″ monitor which I run at 1440×900 resolution.  I have 4GB DDR2 RAM – 2 cards at 667MHz and 2 at 800MHz.  My processor is a Intel Core2 Duo E4500 @ 2.20GHz and my OS is 32-bit Vista.

I’m trying to figure out what would be the best video card for my needs.  I’m looking to spend between $100 – $140.  I would be interested in knowing the best to get at 512mb and what would be the most inexpensive 1GB that would suite my needs.  I realize that there are probably some 512 cards out there that are actually better than some low end 1GB cards.

I suppose I would rather spend a little more and not have to just upgrade again in a year.  I’d like the ability to play new games – example: a game that I might like to play would be Bioshock 2 – if that helps any.  Any info or suggestion you could give would be appreciated.

If you have no intention of overclocking, the Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 512MB at $110 (http://bit.ly/Rgf4p) would be your best choice in your price range and in the 512MB cards. That card would allow you to play pretty much all games you want right now at full details.

If you do intend on overclocking, then the Radeon 4770 512MB at $100 (http://bit.ly/13V981) is my recommendation, as it’s based on the new 40nm process and has a lot of overclocking headroom, allowing it to outperform the Radeon 4850 and Geforce GTS 250 at overclocked speeds.

However, you are correct when you say that you are better off spending a bit more to get a far more powerful card so you don’t have to upgrade soon.

Starting at $170, the Geforce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB will allow you to play for at least a year, if not more, without upgrading. You may want to spend a little more and get one with one or two free games included, or factory overclocked. Here are three of the most interesting ones:
$170, Free Call of Duty: World at War game, regular speed: http://bit.ly/GwAxC
$200, Free COD5 and Farcry2 game, regular speed: http://bit.ly/WGOSA
$200, Free FarCry2 game and heavily overclocked: http://bit.ly/BfNtu

If you choose to pick a Geforce GTX 260 other than these three, make sure that it’s a Core 216 edition, which comes with 216 shader processors, instead of 192 on the older versions that are still for sale.

Finally, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check out the The Best Video Card for your money: June 2009 article that I published a few days ago: http://www.hardware-revolution.com/best-video-card-june-2009/

One card that I have been looking at which I could probably get for about $130 is the Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4850 1GB. Is that good choice?

The Radeon 4850 1GB is a poor choice, for a simple reason. That particular model won’t benefit from over 512MB of RAM, it’s simply not powerful enough to run at resolutions/settings that would require so much memory. You’re much better off with a $105 model, like I point out in The Best Video Card for your money: June 2009 article.

You’re better save ~$40 more and get a card that will be much more powerful. We are talking about a good 30% improvement on average with the Geforce GTX 260 Core 216.

Thank you everyone for your questions, I hope that my answers and this post was useful to you.
Got a question? Post it in the comments and make sure to subscribe to the comments to read other people questions and my answers!

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Category: Questions & Answers

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with 13 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • CKing1

    Why did you go with AMD and Radeon? A custom built computer I hired someone to make two years ago has Intel and Nvidia 7600 in them. And now I am going to try to figure out how to make my own. I was planning on going with a Intel I7, And Nvidia 295 or 9800 but now you make me want to get AMD.

  • CKing1

    Why did you go with AMD and Radeon? A custom built computer I hired someone to make two years ago has Intel and Nvidia 7600 in them. And now I am going to try to figure out how to make my own. I was planning on going with a Intel I7, And Nvidia 295 or 9800 but now you make me want to get AMD.

    • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

      CKing1,

      I simply go with whichever company offers the most performance at a given price. If you look at budget gaming builds, AMD tend to offer the best deal, while if you look at higher end gaming builds, Intel will offer the most performance.

      Keep in mind that things change very quickly in the computer world. Who offered the best performance two years ago is mostly irrelevant today.

      Video cards wise, the Radeon cards currently offer the best performance for the price at most price points, due to them releasing their new 5xxx series and Nvidia being very late to the game, as they haven't launched yet their cards that as supposed to be released around November 09 or so.

      For the CPU, it depends on the price point. If you're building a gaming system under $1000 or so, with a processor under $140 or so, AMD tend to have the upper hand, offering more performance for the price. Above that price, Intel leads the way with superior performance.

      • CKing1

        I don't know where I can respond to this so I just an going to reply in emails. I read the Radeon HD will only benefit big screens with HD output. I have a 27 inch screen so I have that covered. Does Radeon on work with AMD? Or is it compatible with Intel? What AMD is about the performance of the Intel I7?

        • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

          “Radeon HD will only benefit big screens with HD output.”
          Rubbish, nothing more than urban rumors. At worst, a mismatched card will simply be overkill.

          Radeon works with Intel/AMD, Nvidia works with Intel/AMD as well. The motherboard is what matters when it comes down to compatibility.

          The Phenom II X4 965 is AMD's best offer, however, you're better off with an Intel Core i5 750 at the price range. In the end, what matters is balancing your CPU and video card(s), in order not to overspend on one and limit what you get for the other.

          Take a look at the Gaming PCs Builds that I published for guidelines on what to get.

          With a 27″ monitor, you should consider either the $1000 Build or the $1250 one.

          Hope that helps.

  • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

    CKing1,

    I simply go with whichever company offers the most performance at a given price. If you look at budget gaming builds, AMD tend to offer the best deal, while if you look at higher end gaming builds, Intel will offer the most performance.

    Keep in mind that things change very quickly in the computer world. Who offered the best performance two years ago is mostly irrelevant today.

    Video cards wise, the Radeon cards currently offer the best performance for the price at most price points, due to them releasing their new 5xxx series and Nvidia being very late to the game, as they haven't launched yet their cards that as supposed to be released around November 09 or so.

    For the CPU, it depends on the price point. If you're building a gaming system under $1000 or so, with a processor under $140 or so, AMD tend to have the upper hand, offering more performance for the price. Above that price, Intel leads the way with superior performance.

  • CKing1

    I don't know where I can respond to this so I just an going to reply in emails. I read the Radeon HD will only benefit big screens with HD output. I have a 27 inch screen so I have that covered. Does Radeon on work with AMD? Or is it compatible with Intel? What AMD is about the performance of the Intel I7?

  • http://www.hardware-revolution.com/ MathieuB

    “Radeon HD will only benefit big screens with HD output.”
    Rubbish, nothing more than urban rumors. At worst, a mismatched card will simply be overkill.

    Radeon works with Intel/AMD, Nvidia works with Intel/AMD as well. The motherboard is what matters when it comes down to compatibility.

    The Phenom II X4 965 is AMD's best offer, however, you're better off with an Intel Core i5 750 at the price range. In the end, what matters is balancing your CPU and video card(s), in order not to overspend on one and limit what you get for the other.

    Take a look at the Gaming PCs Builds that I published for guidelines on what to get.

    With a 27″ monitor, you should consider either the $1000 Build or the $1250 one.

    Hope that helps.