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Where to go for a Gaming Machine...

I'm in the process of opening a LAN Gaming Center, and I have a few questions. First, where is the best place to go for a really great low price on a Gaming Rig? My budget is pretty low, around $1000 per machine. But, I want a Core 2 Duo setup. I've checked the a couple places, and I've used their configurators. On different sites, there was such a variance in price for basically the same machine, I am at a lost on where to go. My next question is this: What Video Card should I get? There are so many choices. I prefer nVidia myself, but I will put aside personal preferences for the sake of performance, if need be. The cards I've researched that seem like a great value for the price are:

nVidia 7300LE 256MB PCI-E
"              "GS 256MB PCI-E
"              "GT 512MB PCI-E
"       "7600GS 512MB PCI-E
"              "GT 512MB PCI-E

ATi Radeon X1300 256MB PCI-E
"              " X1300 512MB PCI-E
"              " X1300Pro 512MB PCI-E
"              " X1600Pro 256MB PCI-E
"              " X1600Pro 512MB PCI-E
"              " X1650Pro 512MB PCI-E

All of these cards seem like good mid-range cards, and not to painful on the wallet. I've researched them, I have seen that the X1600Pro seems like a really good card when compared to it's competitors in the same price range. So, even though a lot of the retailers didn't have the X1600Pro, I'm assuming the X1650Pro is just as good, if not better? But, I may not have checked the best, most trustworthy site, so I'd rather not assume. I'd rather ask an Expert, and get the answers I need! In any case, any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.


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MandEMfg
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MandEMfg
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2 Solutions
 
CallandorCommented:
The Core2 Duo matched to an Asrock VSTA DUAL motherboard sees to be a good budget performance combination (I have the E6600 with that board and it chews up my overclocked 2.75GHz Opteron 148 without missing a beat).  Why not go with newegg?  Their customer service when dealing with broken parts is one of the best.

This seems like a good list of budget gaming cards: http://compreviews.about.com/od/video/tp/BudgetVideo.htm.  The X1650Pro is the next generation and looks like a good buy: http://www.bonafidereviews.com/article.php?id=184
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Well, I initially had no doubt in my mind that I would be building these rigs to save money. But, after careful consideration, I wanted to go with a custom built PC Retailer, just for the warranty. I figured these machines would be under heavy use, and without a warranty to back them up, I'll be stuck with the bill. Does that make sense, or am I just being paranoid?
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CallandorCommented:
It makes some sense, but when you go with a custom build retailer, you are going to pay a little more.  The tradeoff is up to you.
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
That's true. If I can't find a retailer that has a low enough price, what would be a recommended setup for a Gaming PC? I figured an E6300 or 6400 (for $$ reasons), 1GB ddr2 800, a 400W-500W psu, and then the basics. As far as the Mobo goes, I don't need anything extra, just a 1066MHz FSB, PCI-E, ddr2 800, and GB Lan.
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Sorry to double post, but I forgot to mention that I wasn't looking to make anyone do extra work and get a whole list rundown of the parts I should get. I just meant from the parts I just listed, does that sound like a good setup? Thanks!
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CallandorCommented:
For gaming, the video card is the most important component, then the cpu.  All other things are small by comparison, and what you listed is fine.  You do need a minimum amount of RAM, which is part of your list.
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Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
You may find that any Retailer only offers a one year warranty, which is what you'd get (as a MINIMUM) when you buy the parts directly.  The only benefit is that you can return an entire system to them, and they will fix it as a unit, rather than you swapping parts out.  

Of course, if you can get longer than a year, then that is great!

regarding the choice of cards, they all seem sensible in terms of performance
http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics.html
but also remember to compare them to the types of game that you'll be predominantly running.  Most developers partner up with either ATI or nVidia during the development of the game, and the support is correspondingly better.  

Have you contacted an established Gaming Centre (a long way away, so they're not worried about you being competition), and asked their advice on hardware, support, etc
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Well, I think it's becoming clear to me that I have to build them myself. So, I guess the last thing I should ask is about parts. I usually stick with Corsair for RAM and Asus for my Mobo, but does anyone have any recommendations? Also, what about the Power Supply? How many watts would be a good choice for such a setup, about 500W? Any info and what brands and why  would be most helpful. Thanks, guys!
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CallandorCommented:
Corsair is fine for RAM, but I use Patriot, OCZ, and Kingston HyperX.  Crucial and Mushkin are also good.

500W is good for a power supply, and the best are PC Power and Cooling, but Seasonic is more affordable.  Enermax and Antec Truepower are good brands also, along with Thermaltake.
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Awesome, thanks! But, what about the Mobo? I've compared a few similar boards from different manufacturers, and other than the name and a couple of other smaller features, there is little difference. I've used DFI and Asus before, but other than Intel boards, I don't have much experience with any of the others. Should I stick with Asus, or is there a better Mobo out there just as good? The specs I need on the board are the basics: Socket T, DDR2 667/800, 1066MHz FSB, onboard audio (they'll be using headphones), Gb LAN (I'm not sure what having dual built-in Gigabit MAC does), and preferably an Intel P965/975 North Bridge and an ICH7/8 South Bridge.
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CallandorCommented:
I tend to stick with Asus right now, since Abit has failed to keep up their quality.  I have an MSI also, but they are not consistent across models.  Intel is rock steady, but I think they can be pricey.
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simpswrCommented:
FWIW . . I have had good luck with Gigabyte boards lately . .
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Has anyone heard of, or have experience with, ECS?
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CallandorCommented:
Cheap and low quality to go with it.  Many problems posted on this site begin with, "I have a machine with an ECS motherboard...".  If you need to go inexpensive, Asrock would be better (the low-end line of Asus).
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MandEMfgAuthor Commented:
Ok, great! Thanks for the help!
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