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Q1 2009 Gaming Rig Buying Guide

Budget System

This next system bumps things up one notch. Two notches in fact, if you look at the processor. With just SGD500/USD200 more we’ve managed to skip right past the E7xxx processor series to the E8400.

If you’re wondering, AMD just doesn’t have any comparable models at this level of performance. At least not until the 45nm AMD dual core processors appear, anyway.

    Price in USD Price in SGD
Motherboard Biostar TP43D2-A7 (Intel P43, ICH10) 90 130
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo
E8400 (3.0Ghz, 1333Mhz FSB, 6MB L2)
165 280
Memory 2x2GB DDR2-800
Kingston ValueRAM (5-5-5-15)
25 60
Graphics Card ATI Radeon HD4850
140 220
Optical Drive Samsung SH-S203B
30 30
Hard Drive
DeskStar 7K1000.B 500GB
60 85
Casing Cooler Master
Centurion 5
70 70
Power Supply Corsair VX550 550W 85 150
  TOTAL 665 1025

Motherboard: In order to squeeze in a better graphics card, we decided to cut down on the cost of the motherboard by going for one based on the cheaper P43 chipset.

Not to worry, there’s no performance loss from that – the key thing that’s missing from the P43 chipset is CrossFire support, which we aren’t planning to utilise on a fairly cheap setup like this one.

Still, if you see yourself doing a Crossfire setup down the road, then a P45 motherboard with two PCIe x16 slots will cost at least SGD100/USD50 more than the Biostar TP43D2-A7, which is the cheapest P43 motherboard we could find.

Processor: The Core 2 Duo E8400 was skipped over in Intel’s most recent round of price cuts, but it’s still the best friend of the gamer on a budget.

At this price point we could also have chosen the cheapest quad-core processor in Intel’s lineup, the Q8200, but even now there are still hardly any games that make good use of more than two cores, hence sticking with a dual core processor that has a higher clockspeed is still the way to go.

Memory: We wouldn’t recommend splurging on premium DDR2-1066 memory in a budget setup, and anyway the real-world gains from faster memory speeds are so limited as to not be worth the added cost.

We did state earlier that 2GB is sufficient if you’re not a heavy multitasker, but 4GB will allow you to leave all the applications you want open, especially if you’re using Vista.

Graphics: AMD/ATI’s Radeon HD4850 512MB is the better choice here – Nvidia’s GeForce 9800GTX costs about USD30 more for the same performance, giving ATI an easy win hands down.

The HD4850 is a fairly recent model that is sufficiently powerful to handle the latest games at medium to high settings, even at fairly large resolutions such as 1600×1200. Once again, Palit has the most competitive prices in Singapore, while we spotted a HIS card going for just USD140 on Newegg.

Optical Drive: We’re sticking with the same DVD writer from Samsung.

Hard Drive: And we’re also sticking with Hitachi’s 7K1000.B, though we’ll be going for a larger capacity 500GB model.

Casing: If you think that the Centurion 5 looks too simple, feel free to fork out more for a fancier casing. But at this point we think that directing your hard-earned money towards parts that contribute to performance and reliability is a better idea.

Power Supply: The brand Corsair may bring to mind expensive premium memory modules, but the VX550 is actually quite a reasonably priced power supply. And that’s not because Corsair is trying to pass off junk as branded goods – the VX550 provides rock solid rails, backed up by a length 5-year warranty.

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