How much computer can I get for around 1000 bucks?
June 10, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

So I am starting to notice that the computer I built on the cheap back in 2003 is no longer cutting the mustard in the fun department and I want to build a new one. Problem is that from looking at Tom's hardware and my own past experiences I am completely over my head when it comes to whats good and what will work well together. (Bonus question of no consequence included)

Ideally I would like to spend less then a thousand bucks overall for all components, although I am willing to forgo the monitor as I have a reasonably non crappy CRT that I guess I could survive with for a bit longer.

Obviously this is for gaming, but I am well aware of the futility of trying to maintain a bleeding edge machine for that purpose so I am aiming more for something that can run new games well, but not necessarily at the highest resolution and 120 fps. A factor that could make this easier is that I tend to prefer strategy games, so Galactic Civilizations II is not going to be a huge challenge for any modern machine, but I expect Dawn of War II will be. Other games I would be interested in are Team Fortress II, and I want to be able to run Far Cry II and the new Red Alert when they come out, but I dont need to optimal for them.

An important factor here is that I want this machine to be easily upgradeable, so I am willing to spend more on a motherboard if it means that I will not need to replace it in the near future should i want to go with a newer graphics card or feel that I am running out of ram.

For what its worth, I feel pretty confident that I can assemble this on my own, although I think that over clocking is beyond me. Also bonus points to anyone who can find a sweet monitor with a nice aspect ratio without spending 400 bucks.

One component I already feel would be a good fit is a GeForce 8800 GT 512MB, so ideally that should give you an idea of what I want to spend components wise.

Thank you for lending your expertise in this matter.

Also I am in America so I will likely be buying everything from Newegg, also I will probably be getting a new case and power supply form them if you can suggest one.

Just to be clear I should specify that I am asking for complete hypothetical builds here.

optional bonus question: does anyone know what would happen to water in a vacuum if it is between 1 and 100 degrees centigrade? Would it evaporate for freeze? I am dying to know.
posted by BobbyDigital to Technology (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
As for your optional bonus question the water would turn into a gas. It might still be liquid depending upon how loosely you define a vacuum.
posted by metex at 9:37 AM on June 10, 2008

Ars Technica.
posted by notyou at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2008

There are many system builders here, myself included, who can give specific advice if you questions about individual components. However, I still think the easiest starting point is Tom's hardware guide or the Ars Technica system guide.
posted by jmd82 at 10:04 AM on June 10, 2008

As for your optional bonus question the water would turn into a gas. It might still be liquid depending upon how loosely you define a vacuum.
posted by metex at 12:37 PM on June 10 [+] [!]

Um... it cannot simultaneously be a gas and a liquid (although both states can coexist side-by-side along the boundary lines in PVT space - Pressure/Volumes/Temperature).

It would be a gas at some volumes, and a liquid at others. In most instances, it would be a gas - as it is above the maximum rise point in a sealed column.

Image of PVT diagram
posted by IAmBroom at 10:06 AM on June 10, 2008

I just finished a $1000 build from scratch around Dec/Jan. I based it around the Asus P5B since that chipset supported a good variety of processors (Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo / Pentium EE / Pentium) and should offer decent upgrade opportunities, as well as overclocking. The goal was a consistently fast, reliable, and upgradeable computer (5 years, minimum).

* 4 gig of Mushkin ram - turns out I could only use 3... oops! Be careful with the specs here. The board is picky I guess. I knew these would work, just forgot the 32 bit v 64 bit thing re: max GB.
* Antec case with eco friendly power supply
* Pentium D 915 Presler 2.8GHz 2 x 2MB L2 Cache - no need to get crazy at the start.
* 3 Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600JS 160GB 7200 RPM, using one of the onboard RAID 5s for speed (the Intel one), though later I would have gone with the 10k RPM drives (for more speed).
* EVGA GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB PCIe - again, no need to get crazy now. I had two LCDs with DVI cables from work though, so I have a nice dual screen setup.
* SAMSUNG 18X DVD±R DVD - SATA so it uses a separate channel for DVDs that basically bypasses the processor and heads for the video card.
* Floppy drive from work (cause I'm old school like that!)

It isn't exactly a supercomputer but it's fast enough. Other than the max ram the only other weird bit was I had to use the JMicron RAID controller for the DVD player with the RAID bit disabled. It works fine though. Oh, and I used NewEgg to order the parts, if that wasn't apparent.
posted by jwells at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2008

2nding the Ars Technica system guide. Tech Report's system guide is also worth a look. Their "Grand Experiment" build comes in at $1002 from Newegg and has an 8800 GT.
posted by doowod at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2008

Forgot - I had a SoundBlaster in my old computer too, so I wasn't worried about the board audio. That's a problem with it apparently.
posted by jwells at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2008

The "Grand Experiment" seems to hit the sweet spot for me price/capability/futureproofwise.

Now would anyone have any experience with on board wifi for desktops and gaming, or is it pointless? Also anyone have any good recommendations for a monitor, or should I just go with a Dell?
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:14 AM on June 10, 2008

This Anandtech guide is a little old, but you can up the RAM and CPU choices to fit the pricing changes since it was written.
posted by cnc at 11:43 AM on June 10, 2008

You may want to give some thought as to whether you intend to upgrade it over time, or leaving it alone and getting rid of it 6 years from now. If you go the upgrade route, it may be worth investing in a roomier case and a more powerful power supply, so you can grow the system in the future.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:05 PM on June 10, 2008

Prices have dropped considerably. You can built a decent gaming machine for around $500-$600 (sans monitor) if you don't mind searching for deals.

Dell often has Quad core intels for around $430. With 24" monitor for $650. Add ~$150 for the 8800GT.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2008

The 24" monitor from dell looks very tempting, but I am going to go with a this which is not quite as good, but well reviewed and cheaper.

I think I will mainly leave it alone once it has been build, but I would imagine, I am not going to be running side by side graphics cards so I am probably set with what I am capable of power wise which is this.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:42 PM on June 10, 2008

I'm not a hardcore gamer, but G or N is certainly faster (both ping & bandwidth) than anything past your router, if you use cable or DSL, assuming no interference issues and good signal strength. Your motherboard will have an onboard gigabit port, and if you're moving anything around on your internal network (ISOs, video, etc.) you'll certainly be happier with gigabit Ethernet than G. You can pick up a cheap gigabit switch for less than $50 from NewEgg. You'll need to have both machines that are copying on the gigabit switch (with gigabit networking) to the see the full performance increase, of course. I would use Ethernet unless cabling issues make it difficult. I've used B and G PCI wireless cards; they've been a generic commodity in my experience.

I have a pair of the cheap wide-screen Dell 20" LCDs that I've been very happy with, with the caveat that you may want to pick up a VESA mount arm. The stand that comes with them are only up/down tilt-adjustable, and have no height adjustment or landscape/portrait rotation ability. When selecting a panel for video games, pay attention to response time; lower is better; but shouldn't be your only concern.
posted by theclaw at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2008

The 24" monitor from dell looks very tempting, but I am going to go with a this which is not quite as good, but well reviewed and cheaper.

I think you midread, Dell sells the Quad core system and 24" LCD for $650, effectively making the 24" $220.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:43 PM on June 10, 2008

Don't search for deals, let the hive mind do it for you.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 4:43 PM on June 11, 2008

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