Back in September 2008 (before the severe economic downturn)  it become clear that my 2 year old laptop was no longer powerful enough to handle the average work load, let along gaming. After months of searching and price hunting I put together the rig outlined in this post. Without cutting corners I was able to build a quite powerful machine without breaking the bank (well not too much anyway).


CPU: Intel Quad Core Q6700 2.66 GHz -$215.70

CPU Fan: Thermaltake Silent 775D -$18.96 (after $10 mail in rebate)

Motherboard: XFX nForce 680i LT -$83.01 (after $20 mail in rebate)

RAM: 8GB OCZ SLI PC6400 DDR2 800MHz (4x2048MB) -$80 (after $40 rebate on each 4 GB kit)

GPU: XFX GeForce 8800 GT -$105 (after $20 rebate)

PSU: Antec BP550 Plus 550W ATX12V -$59.99

Hard Drive: 1 TB SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ -$96.99

Optical Drive:SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner -$25.99

Case: Briza 8-Bay ATX -44.99

Total: $ 730.63

All of the links above are to the actual places that I bought the parts from. There was a lot of rebates to deal with but I had shopped around for months and was convinced that the sales were good enough to warrant building my new PC. Notice that all the parts did not come from one site. I meticulously shopped each part so I could get the most out of my money.

Building the PC

I stated with the motherboard, 4 GB of RAM, the CPU, and the GPU. The case arrived a few days later. I had an old 500 GB SATAII hard drive lying around that I initially salvaged for the build.

It became clear very quickly that the 400 watt power supply that came with the case would be less then ideal. I also realized that if I wanted to get an OS onto the new PC an optical drive would be a nice thing to have. A quick order at NewEgg had the missing parts within 3 business days ( free 3 day shipping rock!).

Blood Sweat and Tears

After I had assembled the system I noticed something very odd. The system would not POST with both 2 GB RAM modules installed. Hours on the phone with OCZ (their support staff is amazing) lead to the recommendation that I send one of the RAM modules back. After receiving the new RAM I still had the same issue and the system was very unstable with just the one module.

Another hour on the phone, this time with XFX, yielded the suggestion that I return the motherboard to TigerDirect for a replacement. A quick call to tiger and they emailed me a label to ship out the motherboard for free. It turns out tiger has an awesome RMA system.

A few days later I got the replacement motherboard. I slipped in both 2 GB RAM modules and the system booted up. The increase of speed from 2 to 4 GB of memory convinced me that adding another 4 more GB for $40 (after rebates of course) was well worth the money.

A few months later I decided it was time for another upgrade. The hard drive that I salvaged for the original build was very loud. I had been shopping for a 1TB for a long time and finally gave into buying one. I found a Samsung SpinPoint for $100 with free shipping from ZipZoomFly and went for it.

Choosing an OS

Due to the fact that I have a processor that supports 64-bit Operating Systems it seemed like the best idea to go 64-bit. I installed an OEM version Windows Vista Ultimate. The decision to go with Vista was based on the desire to take advantage of the eye-candy offered by the Aero theme and Direct X 10.

Results of the Build

The PC is stable and super fast. No overclocking was done because it was not justified. A screen shot of the Windows Experience Index is included below. The only thing that the system falls a bit short on is RAM. I could have easily spent a lot more money on super high quality ram, but the OCZ SLI Ready modules that I got deliver more then sufficient performance.