WWIIOL Budget Build Summer 2010

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We're nearing the release of 1.31 and I thought this would be a great time to update our budget build. Our last build proved that at $500 you can build a good gaming computer that will play 1.31 at a reasonable resolution with acceptable frame rates. That's a pretty nice accomplishment for that kind of budget especially considering that included the Operating System!


Today's build follows a similar theme though I have upped the budget a little bit. Hey, the economy is bouncing back, right?! Truth is that at $500 we're cutting a couple corners that I just don't like to cut. I really prefer the $600 mark for the added performance and quality. This really amounts to things like more ram ™, an actual DVD burner, a reasonable hard drive capacity, and a better case.


With that in mind let's take a look at our shopping cart.

CPU:

Athalon II X3 440 3.0GHz : $74.99

This triple core processor is a super bargain. It has the speed we need and a modern socket AM3 compatibility. Recent testing has shown that 3 cores is the sweet spot for gaming but for WWIIOL we generally need at least 2. Testing also shows that when you get to about this price point (or really just one step above) your CPU is no longer the bottleneck for gaming and the difference between a $75 processor and a $200 processor is a lot less than you would probably think.

I really almost went with the new Intel Core i3 for this build. We put one together for the office and it is a stellar machine. Still, AMD rules the roost for budget builds.

Motherboard:

ASRock M3A770DE AM3: $59.99

We need socket AM3 for our processor and ASRock has a solid performer at this price point. ASRock is a budget brand but they are highly respected and often wins editor's choice awards. The 770 chipset is a few years old certainly but it does everything we need without any of the extra cruft. The chipset 770 in this case is all that matters. All boards with the 770 chipset will run the same game performance no matter the other features or the price tag. AMD has some newer chipsets but they don't add anything that we want to the equation and they cost more. All we want is AM3 compatibility and a single x17 PCIe graphics slot and onboard sound that doesn't suck for gaming.

Ram:

G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600: $109.99

Here's where we spent a little more money and it is truly well spent. Four gigs is what you want to run the game. This will reduce the amount of hard drive swapping that goes on so it'll help performance. In addition, everything just runs better with more ram.

GPU:

XFX Radeon 4850 1GB: $109.99

We went for the 1GB version this time. This is really a necessity that we've discovered after playing 1.31 for some time now. You want a gig of video ram for smoothest play. The 4850 is still available in quantity so pick one up even if it is another manufacturer. You can't beat this performance at this price.

Hard Drive:

Samsung 500BG SATA 3.0: $54.99

We had to cut the HDD last time to fit budget and truth is you may or may not ever need 500GB. But this is where the sweet spot has been for hard drives for years; right about $55. This drive has great reviews and great reliability.

DVD:

LITE-ON DVD Writer SATA: $21.99

We had to go with a DVD reader last time to shave a few bucks and that kinda grated on me. This time we get a great deal on a DVD writer and it comes with light scribe to boot! A year ago this would have been $35 dollar. Woot!

Case:

Antec 300 ATX Mid Tower w/430 Watt PSU: $99.95

I really like a good case. A good case is the foundation for future upgrades and of all the cases out there I like Antec the best. Every office at CRS has one of these in it unless I was building cheaper for a reason. This case is a gaming oriented case so it is both quiet but with good cooling.

Some people like giant power supplies and I guess if you're running multiple video cards and a whole mess of hard drives maybe you need one. But you probably don't. Modern components use a lot less power than the last generations. Antec provides a nice calculator for assessing power needs and this 430 has way more than we need. This Antec PSU will provide us with stable performance for a long time.

OS:

Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM: $99.99

This version of windows is cheaper than most because it is for system builders, which you are if you're reading this article. Also remember that you need a 64-bit OS to take advantage of all that RAM you have.

Total: $631.88

Prices have fluctuated in the week since I ordered this but still, not bad for this rig. All in all this is a great machine for the price and something that can upgrade easily (CPU and GPU) and make this a machine that can last for several years. Is it worth $131.88 more than my last budget rig which came in with very similar specs for $500? I'd say definitely yes and here's why:

    * A faster CPU with more cores
    * Double the ram
    * Double the video ram
    * A much better case and PSU
    * Triple the HDD space
    * A DVD burner

If I were going to upgrade this box there a re really only two place I would look. CPU and GPU. Tom's Hardware offers a couple of great articles titled "Best Gaming CPU for the money" and "Best Graphics card for the money" respectively. These are a great place to look for upgrades.

If you'd like to order this I have a Newegg shopping list all set up here.

Disclaimer: Newegg.com provided no incentives or assistant in this build though, seriously, as much as I talk them up they should.

As always, our Community Support Forums offer great advice and assistance in optimizing your rig and your game.

Comments   
0 #9 Keith 2010-06-03 08:57
With the economy as it is I have had to cut cut my budget to the bone. I cant afford $600 to play a game. When the new version comes you will lose me paying $179.88 a year to you.
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0 #8 Tayvl 2010-06-01 09:38
Ordered the MB, CPU, RAM, and Windows 7 from Newegg. My vid card is already as good as the one here, so saved on that. So go ahead and launch 1.31. I'm reddeh...

Thanks for the recommendation list.
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0 #7 -chry- 2010-06-01 00:59
Did I read that correctly, we can use a 64-bit OS now to run WWIIOL? yee haw!
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0 #6 fearsome 2010-06-01 00:52
Yes, please release the FPS. I want to know how badly my I7 930, $1300 monster smokes this great budget rig. Actually I find it of great use to compare performances so I can see how much I over spent for gaming. It's all in what its's intended for.
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0 #5 keitel66 2010-05-29 11:07
Actually, Chris75 brought up a very valid point. What kind of FPS would/should you expect to get with a system like this?

Thanks for the build, GOPHUR! :)
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0 #4 RAFTER 2010-05-28 11:45
Three, yes you should have everything necessary for the build. These days it's almost foolproof to put the components together.
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0 #3 Three 2010-05-26 16:49
I've never built my own system. Would the necessary cables, screws, etc. be included? I will need to get a new system for sure so I figured this might be the way to go.
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0 #2 chris75 2010-05-26 15:55
So what kind of fps do you get with this thing while flying/in heavy battle/in a city?
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0 #1 marius 2010-05-25 21:18
My advice to those thinking about purchasing this build is spend the time thinking about where you are going to get some extra cash to buy a better build.
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