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Build a DX10 rig for under £176
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You are currently in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
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Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:47 am Reply and quote this post
We like big explosions, the bigger the better, in fact.
Wealso like smoke effects, water ripples, dappled lighting filteringthrough jungle canopies and creeping up silently behind people, beforemurdering them with our bare hands. But enough about our weekendpastimes…
What we really like are the fantastic visuals that DX10 gaming offers.
If you listen to most people, they will tell you that you need a quad-core, DDR3, triple-SLI setup to play Crysis. The sort of setup that requires you to remortgage your house to own. These people are wrong, and we're going to show you why.
We'vepreviously demonstrated how to build a DX10 setup for just under £300,a not unreasonable amount that should be within the reach of mostpeople. But what if you just blew all your money on a sordid weekend inAmsterdam, and you've resorted to scrambling under the sofa for loosechange? Would you believe us if we told you that it's possible to builda DX10-capable rig for well under £200? Well, it's true.
Ofcourse you can't connect it to a 22-inch wide screen monitor withoutthe frame rates plummetting, but if you're on that tight a budget, abig monitor is probably the least of your concerns.
Wheneveryou work to such a tight budget, something has to give and this projectwill be no exception. We need to prioritise in certain areas, whileothers can be largely ignored.
Yes, a case is important to stopyour gear being an untidy heap of electronics on the floor, but reallyyou just need a metal box to screw things onto. Optical drives are dirtcheap, and with memory stick capacities being what they are, hardlyanyone burns DVDs, so we only need a DVD ROM.
It also means noquad-core and no SLI. But dual-core chips are surprisingly cheap, andwe'll see just how well a budget DX10 card performs. Don't forget thatif you have any parts available from an existing PC, such as cases anddrives, you can reuse them and put the money towards a higher-end CPUor graphics card.


       
Case and PSU
Ifyou want a well-designed case, with plenty of fans, numerous ports andplenty of upgradability, then it's easily possible to spend more thanour entire budget on such a beast.
Likewise, if you want a 1KwPSU that supports the likes of SLI, then it's going to cost a fairamount of cash. At the other end of the spectrum is the all-in-one caseand PSU deal. We found one for just £26, which includes a 400W PSU.
Thismay not sound like a lot of power, but it's more than enough to run oursetup. When spending such a small amount of money on a case, you'dexpect it to be quite horrific, but it's surprisingly well featured. Ithas a matt-black finish, which helps on the looks front, and the frontpanel has USB and audio ports.
Most of the internals can befitted without the need for a screwdriver, and it even has a lockingside panel. Sure, it isn't the best-looking or quietest case we've everseen, but for this sort of money, we're not complaining.
The result?
As the most basic DX10 card available from NVIDIA, it comes as no surprise that the performance of the 8400 is not the best.
However,at £20 it still does pretty well, as long as you keep the resolutionrealistic. Okay, not everyone wants to play at 800x600, or even1024x768, but then you shouldn't be so cheap, should you?
Surprisingly, Crysis gave some of the best results, although BioShock achieves the best framerates of all. Using the Optimal settings button, Crysisdid set all the detail level to low, but the results still lookedpretty good. However, if you're going to be realistic about playingDirectX10 games, then you are going to have to find a little more moneyin your budget.
Hooking the 9600GT up to our budget CPU workedabsolute miracles, and at around £70 extra is an absolute steal. Notonly could we turn the detail right up, but we could run a higherresolution and still get twice the frame rates of the 8400GS.
Surprisingly,adding a high-end quadcore CPU doesn't give much of an increase, witheither the 8400 or 9600GT. In conjunction with the 8400Gs, the Phemom9550 does give you some extra fps over the Athlon X2 4400+, but withwhen it comes to the 9600GT, the difference over the 4400+ setup ismarginal.
So, if you want the best performance, and can spend alittle extra, buying the 9600GT is the logical choice. You know itmakes sense.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:49 pm Reply and quote this post
To add onto this:

I would not recommend anyone to get a quad core for gaming.  I have a socket 939 Operteron 180, a 2.4GHz dual core with 2mb of L2 cache.  I got it for $170, which is not bad for a dual core Opteron.  You may say "That thing sucks you couldn't do any good gaming on it".  Well apparently, with my 7900GT, I played the Crysis demo with medium-high settings (physics were maxed as far as I remember)  and with a 25-45 framerate, my cpu usage stayed below 90%.  Now, if my video card were not the downfall, it is possible my cpu would reach 100% but if I had a better video card, I probably would be using a better cpu as well.  My point is, even a 2.4ghz dual core is good enough to play crysis, so those "know-it-alls" who get their precious 2.8ghz quad core intels have not only wasted a ton of money but have more performance than they'll really need.

Contributed by schmidtbag, iVirtua Leading Contributor
4511 iVirtua Loyalty Points • View ProfileSend Private MessageBack to Top

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