Retrospective: Byakko – Gaming PC

Last night, my roommate Nick came by my room to tell me “I spent a little over a grand, but dude, I am happy with the machine! Does everything I want/need and I love it!” So it got me thinking… How much have I put into Byakko?

I would like to reflect and see how much I have put into my build with the 1 year birthday of Byakko coming soon (4/25/2009). I do want to make mention that my girlfriend has helped build Byakko in her own way as well. So essence, even she has helped build the beast as well.

Let’s rebuild the part list… The prices listed are the original MSRP (aka, what the manufacturer wants you to buy it for) from Amazon. This list does not account for some of the sale prices I nabbed (i.e. – $90 for my 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda) or from components gifted from my loving girlfriend Ebongrey.

$60 – Biostar MCP6P M2+ microATX Mainboard (nVidia nForce 430)
$65 – Student Edition of Windows 7 Professional
$100 – AMD x64 Phenom 9500+ Quad-Core 2.2Ghz processor
$30 – Ultra 450w power source (out of production)
$60 – OCZ ReaperX HPC 4GB DDR2 1066 RAM kit (2x 2GB sticks, discontinued)
$200 – 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 5,900 RPM SATA 3.0 Hard Drive
$48 – Lite-On DVD+/-RW 24x burner drive
$142 – XFX GeForce GTS 250 512mb GDDR3
$70 – Netgear WG311T Super-G (108 Mbits/sec) Atheros 802.11b/g wireless LAN card
$40 – Thermaltake Wings RS 100 Piano Black case
$200 – Logitech G19 gaming keyboard
$70 – Logitech G500 Laser gaming mouse
$80 – Logitech G13 Advance Gameboard
$65 – Microsoft xbox 360 Wireless Controller + Receiver
$40 – Razer eXactMat Xspeed + eXactRest
$162 – Samsung SyncMaster 2033SW 20″ Wide LCD 16:9 aspect ratio monitor
$60 – Logitech Notebook Premium Headset
$0 – Altec Lansing “Soundworks 4.1” series speakers (discontinued circa 1999)
Grand Total: $1,492 (Actual paid prices and estimated price of parts gifted to me totals roughly $1,200, $292 in savings)

For a slightly better, yet closely similar configuration from HP right now…
System: HP HPE-180t
Windows 7 Professional
Intel Core i7-920 (2.66GHz quad-core)
1.5TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive
1GB ATI Radeon HD 4650
LightScribe 16X max. DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
Wireless-N LAN card
HP 2159m 21.5-inch 16:9 Full HD Widescreen Monitor
Grand Total: $1,424.98

Take note… that with the HP, some of the parts… you don’t know who manufactured them. For all you know, it could be from the reject parts bin from no-name manufacturer. Also… the HP monitor has a 3,000:1 contrast ratio versus my Samsung producing a dynamic 15,000:1 ratio for crisper colors in games, which for a gamer who loves pretty colors or art/production media folks, that’s pretty damn important. Sure, it does have a leg up on some things, but what happens when you want/need to upgrade? Remember the $292 I saved from my build? I now have that to put towards upgrades down the line. What can $292 get me? Let’s observe my options:

Budget: $292 (prices based off of Newegg)
Full refresh build
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (3.4 GHz quad-core), ASUS M4A78T-E (790GX board), Corsair 750TX (750 watt power supply), Radeon HD 5870, Corsair 4GB (2x 2GB) DDR3 1333 RAM – $770
Completely new build reusing most of my parts, absolute extreme

Processor, budget graphic and power supply upgrade
AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz quad-core, Radeon HD 5770, and a Corsair 750TX – $456
$164 additional needed to budget

Mainboard, power supply, processor upgrade
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (3.4 GHz quad-core), ASUS M4A78T-E (790GX board), Corsair 750TX (750 watt power supply) – $440
$148 additional needed to budget

Power supply, Nvidia-loyal graphic card upgrade
BFG Tech GeForce GTX 260 OCX MAXCORE 55 896MB GDDR3 (graphics), Corsair 750TX (power supply) – $340
$48 additional needed to budget

Alternate graphic card and power supply upgrade
Radeon HD 5770 + Corsair 750TX – $290
$2 ahead of budget

Processor and power supply upgrade
AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz quad-core and a Corsair 750TX – $286
$6 ahead of budget

As you can see… I can still come very ahead of the HP for value. Should I want to upgrade, I can! I don’t have to worry about things like voiding warranties just because I’d like to bump up performance… Another thing I can do without that fear is replacing the cooling fan for the processor. If the processor fan (in unfortunate circumstances) die and your machine is under warranty… I would assume you’re at the mercy of the manufacturer to mail in your machine, then hope to get it back quickly. For us DIY-builders, we can click off the old fan and bolt up a new one then get right back into things.

For those fearful of putting together a machine, don’t be afraid to! When you can learn how all the parts come together as well as how much you will save and potentially be able to use in upgrades… You’ll be thanking yourself when your machine lasts a little longer with parts you know and trust than the mystery bin parts. It’s almost like being able to make lasagna at home with good cuts of ground beef from the butcher or getting mystery meat from the frozen box version. Just something for you all to think on.

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