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DIY 4 GHz Dual Core Gaming Rig For $720 201

Tom's Hardware has posted the detailed results of their recent quest to build a beefy gaming rig without a visit to the poorhouse. The trick it seems is to find a processor with 'cores designed for a much faster clock than their nominal rating at a speed of up to 4 GHz without problems.' They provide shopping lists for both a 'budget version' and a 'top flight version'.
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DIY 4 GHz Dual Core Gaming Rig For $720

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  • by RemovableBait ( 885871 ) * <slashdot @ b l> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:50PM (#15527964) Homepage
    By the time I got to page three, Toms Hardware was reeeaaallly slow.

    Maybe try using a Coral Cache version [] so other folks get a chance to see the article.

    • Other alternative, with any Tom's article in fact, is to append print.html to the url. Then it loads the whole thing pageless.
  • Perfect! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dubmun ( 891874 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:51PM (#15527970) Homepage Journal
    Now minesweeper will REALLY rock!
  • Already outdated (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hrodvitnir ( 101283 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:55PM (#15527996)
    Before you even get past the first component they mention that you can't get it at the price they got it anymore.

    "we purchased a stock processor at the prevailing retail price. Since then, demand for this CPU has spiked, and prices have also gone up."

    I always see these "Build a super system for no money!" articles, but when *I* try to price the components, it never seems to add up.
  • by grumpygrodyguy ( 603716 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:55PM (#15527997)
    I love the idea of a dual-core 4ghz processor, but the memory and video card selections on that rig are pretty shabby.

    Most game programmers optimize their engines around video cards these days, not the CPU.
    • True - but you need a decent processor to take advantage of the video card performance. Using a 7900GTX with a 2Ghz P4 would be silly.
      • Not really.

        I'm running a P4 2.8Ghz (northwood) with 2GB mem. I would love to update my video card, but none of the last few generation of video cards support AGP anymore. Unless you play games that have major AI coded into them (as they tax the CPU), a video card upgrade will go a long way with most MMORPG games.

        Fact is, your going to get a better FPS rating if you invest in a faster video card over a faster CPU. Dollar for dollar that is.
    • Does the Intel D805 need to be overclocked to 4GHz in order to keep a good card like a GeForce 7900 from starving?

      I like the idea of using one of these low-cost chips, but am not one to engage in the overclocked e-peen constests. I just want a cost-effective system.

      How much could I overclock this chip and use just forced-air cooling and a large surface-area heatsink?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:59PM (#15528017)

    what's interesting about this is the unique ......[click NEXT to continue []]

  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:00PM (#15528023)
    Just a
    visit to
    the mother-
    fucking adhouse.
  • print url (Score:5, Informative)

    by porsche922 ( 868700 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:04PM (#15528058)
    for those who dont want to browse through n pages ming_rig_for_720/print.html []
  • by Coopjust ( 872796 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:05PM (#15528060)
    And for those of you who will complain about the article being split into so many pages, here is the print version. Coral Cache [] Directly [] No ads and one page. Enjoy.
  • by wpmegee ( 325603 ) <> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:10PM (#15528092)
    Okay, notice on the first page, there are 2 systems, a cheap one and a $1200 one. The $1200 one was what they actually built and OC'd. Several things here will limit their OC. First, cheap "550W" power supply that puts out ~350w at the most and likely has unstable rails. All power supplies that come with cases are shit unless they're Antec Enlight Enermax or Fortron. Second, noname motherboard. Bad, bad, bad idea if you want a anywhere near stable system. For the more expensive system,who in their right mind would pick Gigabyte for an overclocking mobo? DFI, Asus, or MSI would all be far better choices.

    Next, that X1300 is godawful. Lastly, I disagree with water cooling. A thermalright XP-120 with a ~80 CFM fan and decent thermal grease would provide very similar thermal performance, albeit louder.
    • Never mind, I am behind the times, the XP-120 is no longer made. I meant the Ultra-120 heatsink: l []
    • Both were overclocked; the more expensive one used some other components that were more expensive.
      • From the second page of the article:
        The second configuration comprises the test system we built for this project. The Koolance cooling rig offers outstanding cooling, which indicates that clock rates above 4 GHz should be possible for such a system (in earlier testing, we achieved stable operation at 4.1 GHz using a different water-cooled system).

        By 2nd system, they mean the $1200 one. "A different system" could mean anything using that same processor.
    • Next, that X1300 is godawful.

      Yep, its hardly a "gameing rig" with that thing in there, and lets face it, with modern PCs graphics card is a substatial part of the cost.

      How about we slot a 7900gt in there, and maybe ANY amd64 939 chip, as it will beat the intel for gameing (per $) every time :P
  • by GmAz ( 916505 )
    I would love that. I already have a water cooled system so I would only need the chip, motherboard and ram. Then again, Intel hasn't been floating my boat for a while so I will stick to AMD for now. Lets see how that Conroe chips hangs.
  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:24PM (#15528187)
    but if you read their article on overclocking the Intel chip in question, you'll see that the thing draws over half a kilowatt at full load, and around 300W idle. Yikes! You will get a bargain on the machine and pay through the nose on your electricity bills over the subsequent months.
    • The idle power problem can be fixed by having the processor downclock itself when not under load. Then again it's supposed to be a gaming rig, so it probably can't do that since it won't have Linux installed.
    • It's still a bargain, since a top of the line dual core (the 900 something) draws only ~50W less. Admittedly it can throttle back when not under load, but would that make up for the $1,000 price difference during its expected lifetime? Obviously, given enough time it would, but I doubt 50W over, say, 3 years would even come close. Let be generous and say that by buying the $1,100 chip, you save 200W on average, running 24/7, so

      200W = 4.8KWh/day = 144KHh/month
      144KWh at a pricey $.20/KWh = $28.80/mo
  • by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:24PM (#15528189) Homepage
    The table of contents has an entry Stable Power Supply: 400 Watts Is Plenty [], but the page says "...which is why we chose a 550-Watt unit." Huh?
  • Quality Quantity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foamrotreturns ( 977576 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:29PM (#15528221)
    4GHz means virtually nothing to me these days. All it says is that the CPU is cycling at 4 billion times per second, but it doesn't say how much work is being done per cycle. Comparing GHz is apples and oranges. Real life testing is where it's at. Give me hard data.
    • Re:Quality Quantity (Score:2, Informative)

      by rjmars97 ( 946970 )
      Heres some hard data [].
      • That's a completely different machine in a completely different article. Specs:

        * Intel Pentium D 805
        * Tagan i-Xeye 480 W PSU
        * Asus P5WD2-E Premium
        * OCZ DDR2-800 (2x 512 MB)
        * 2x Western Digital WD160
        * GeForce 7800 GTX
        * Gigabyte DVD-Rom 16x

        Honestly, do you think that 7800GTX might have helped with those game benchmarks? Maybe...

        Now duplicate those results with the machine in the article.

        • by rjmars97 ( 946970 )
          Well obviously the system was different and will provide different performance, however the results of the tests are what is more important. The overclocked CPU was able to ouperform processors 4 times more expensive with everything else being the same (the key part is everything else being the same). He wanted data on the CPU, which this gives, as the other hardware remains the same. Thats the whole point of the benchmarks, to see how performance will vary as the CPU changes.

          One of the conclusions that
          • I used to overclock my processor, and while I was doing that I was also reading the various hardware boards. One thing I learned is that overclocking is a false economy. Very few people get the results of THW, because when Joe Random buys a processor they don't get a hand-selected golden sample. The same goes for motherboards and memory. Modest overclocking gains are often wiped out by system freezes and reboots. And even the best overclockers end up spending a small fortune buying cooling systems and repla
    • 4GHz means virtually nothing to me these days. All it says is that the CPU is cycling at 4 billion times per second, but it doesn't say how much work is being done per cycle. Comparing GHz is apples and oranges. Real life testing is where it's at. Give me hard data.

      Dude, Give it a rest. Apple finally switched to Intel. You can quit reciting the ole GHZ doesn't mater mantra.
      • No, GHz really is of very little importance. Take a look at the benchmark differences between AMD and Intel chips. AMD's Athlon XP chips did more work per clock cycle than any Pentium 4 processor of the same vintage. Next, look at Intel's offerings compared amongst themselves. A 3GHz Pentium 4 and a 3GHz Celeron are also drastically different. A 1.8GHz Opteron will spank a 2GHz Athlon XP any day.
        Differences in work done per clock cycle don't just apply to the PowerPC architecture. I know you were probably
  • I think that $299 on an XBox360 is a better investment for gaming.

    As with most rigs, if you can, reuse components from the previous rig like optical drives, hard drives, case + power supply even. You really want to get the upgrade down to CPU, Motherboard, Memory, Graphics Card.

    In a month's time, and AMD X2 3800+ will cost around $170 due to upcoming price cuts. That's far better than any house-cooking Pentium D 805, and will probably overclock nicely as well. Stick that onto a $100 motherboard, with $100 R
    • Exactly. Skip the f'in watercooling and get a half- (or even quarter-) decent video card already.
      • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:58PM (#15528420) Journal
        The article seemed to be written from the point of view of

        "how cheap can we make a rig that is based around the Pentium D 805"

        rather than

        "what is the best rig we can specify for ~$700"

        When a huge amount is spent on exotic cooling (plus a 12" fan on the case, lol) because the processor gets so hot when overclocked and you want to still hear the gameplay, and sucks down nearly half a kiloWatt of juice, you know something isn't right. The video card is the obvious casualty in this situation, nullifying the entire worth and purpose of the article.

        It's a typical THG article, written with a certain bent that almost seems as if it is sponsored, rather than having any real use to the reader.
  • Horrible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @07:19PM (#15528518)
    What a horrible article (on itself, and it being here on slashdot).
    • Slashdotted
    • Ludicrous number of pages
    • Same for ads
    • $120 wasted on watercooling
    • 2x160GB drives in RAID0?
    • A gaming rig with an X1300?!?

    My $800 system from 3.5 years ago would beat this in most games with justa a $100 video card upgrade.
    • Completely agree on all except the HDDs, what have you got against the 2x160GB in RAID0? A striped array gives the best performance in this case... It halves your MTBF though, and if one disk crashes, all is lost.
  • by PorkChopExxpress ( 701773 ) <porkchopexxpress@yah o o . c om> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @09:10PM (#15529026)
    ...block of wood and the twist ties? I scoured newegg and pricewatch and came up with nothing.
  • by mowph ( 642278 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:37PM (#15529375)

    First of all, a few comments about the article itself... The article mentions that the $720 rig is "sufficient for non-gamers". I think they're considering it more for high-end video editing... this also explains the choice of RAID 0. I'm somewhat puzzled with their choice of using 3G/s discs on a 1.5 G/s SATA board, however. I suppose this could be for economic reasons -- those Samsungs could be about the cheapest disc on the market at the moment.

    Moreover, since when is Dual Core really a gaming solution to begin with? Sure, if you want to make big downloads or burn CDs in the background while gaming, there might be some benefit. Other than that, we have a handful of games that actually support dual core. I guess it makes sense to include dual core for the sake of future releases, but what's the point of installing something that's basically bleeding edge (as far as gaming is concerned) on a budget system? It seems to me that your other components are going to be horribly dated well before most game releases are really supporting dual cores.

    Am I wrong here? Have games started secretly taking advantage of two physical cores while I wasn't looking? Are we in the future yet?

    • Depends on what you mean for a budget system. Dual-core does give you a slight performance improvement over single-core, even for single-threaded games because the miscellaneous tasks can be shunted to the 2nd core allowing your game to use 100% of a core rather then just 95%.

      That being said, if I was building a budget level game box (using the motherboard bundles at MWave): []

      Athlon64 3000+ 939pin, 1GB Kingston RAM, $75 MB, Assembled = $264

      Which would have reasonable performance, good expandability. T
  • by compactable ( 714182 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @11:14PM (#15529493) Homepage
    Why is something that gobbles up power & sounds like a lawn mower considered attractive to people ? I'd rather have something quiet & efficient. Are games really needing this type of power ?

    I can imagine plenty of business uses for a box like this, however is the home draw for this very big ? If so, is it purely the "pimp my PC" crowd that goes for this ?

    Just curious.
  • Now what we need is a plugin that adds css per site.
    That way I can add the following to anything from Tom's Hardware:

    #footerx, .rightCol, .pad
    position: absolute;
    top: -10000;

    Because if add do that, the site becomes readable, without it being too infringing on the layout. I use Web Developer []'s `outline Blocklevel elelemnts` and can then easily determine wich one should be places fixed -10000 px, so out of sight.

    This would also work for many other add infested sites that use C

    • OK, I looked an there is something like it: []

      I have entered into Stylish the following that seems to be working:

      @namespace url(;
      @-moz-document domain( {
      #footerx, .rightCol, .pad, .info
      position: absolute;
      top: -10000px;

      Most likely others will be able to do it much nicer and better. For now this works for me. It can also be used to edit /.

  • I was shopping around for a new machine today, and what I discovered is that the "state of the art" in America doesn't QUITE match the specs of the machine I bought in akihabara a year and a half ago... which was half the price! I was really shocked and depressed. The best of the best you can get in America these days is shameful... In fact, for the price of some of these systems, especially the prepackaged ones (over $2000 at DELL and all you can give me is 800 Mhz FSB!?!?), it would be cheaper to fly
  • Any idea how those setups compare to overclocking an Opteron 165?

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."