Extreme bang for the buck! – Core 2 Duo E2160 and Radeon HD 3850 512MB


It’s alive, it’s aliiiiive! The beast is born! This is my story about my new rig. Cheap and extremely powerful. If you are thinking about upgrading your PC, take this as a recommendation! Intel’s E2160 and ATI’s HD 3850 is a match made in heaven for gamers on a budget. Low price, great performance. If you have any questons regarding these products or anything regarding building a new computer, just drop me a comment and I’ll try to answer as best I can. Read on friends…

A few days ago my trusty Raeon 9800Pro died on me, and I decided to buy a new graphics card. I realized I’d have to change my motherboard to a PCI-E one, buying an AGP board now is like getting a VHS.  I started looking for most bang for the buck (no not in that way…) and I read Tom’s Hardware’s praise of the Radeon 3800 series. I found a 512MB Asus EAH3850, with custom cooler said to run 20 degrees cooler than the reference design. The DX10.1 compliant 512MB DDR3 card put me back about 190€. I had a new graphics card. Now where to put it?

So, a CPU and motherboard then. Again Tom’s Hardware came to the rescue and praised the overclockability of the Intel Core 2 Duo E2160, so I figured why not. 1.8GHz at standard and was said to overclock to 3 GHz on pretty much standard voltage. Cool, 70€ for a 3 GHz Core 2 Duo can’t be bad. For motherboard I went with the one Tom recommended in the same article, the GA-P35-DS3R, except I went for the same one but without SLI- the DS3. It was 30€ cheaper and I figured I was not going to use SLI anyway. It’s a really high quality board with all solid capacitors, great components and solid build. Unfortunately i got a 2.0 revision instead of the 2.1. The 2.1 has some fancy power saving options, but they don’t work when overklocking so maybe I shouldn’t cry that much. 90€ – And its the size of a stamp:

I figured a new PSU would be needed, I had a 350W for my old Athlon XP system, but having used up about 3 no-name brand PSU’s I decided to go quality here, and I got a Corsair VX 450 PSU. It is rated at 80+, which means It’s efficient (less than 20% of the energy gets transformed into heat). Good for the forest,  good for my electricity bills, and it makes it run quiet. Its large 120mm fan would be my main source of ventilation in the chassis. It has all cables running in black kevlar socks. Well maybe it’s not kevlar but they look cool! The whole thing looks cool, and it came in a white Corsair cloth-bag. I’m gonna use that as my beach bag this summer 😉

Excellent!I also bought 2 sticks of 1Gb PC6400 DDRII RAM. Now, that means the ram can take 800Mhz (I wish they stopped using the PCXXXX markings, It just makes it hard to know the RAM speed.) 19€ a piece, 38€ for 2Gigs. RAM is incredibly cheap nowadays.

The building process
I put the thing together after a hard day of work, and slammed on the stock cooler that came with the cpu, and I mounted everything in my old chassis. From the outside it looks like my trusty gray box, but open it up and you see a monster 🙂

Everything worked great from the beginning, I decided to reinstall Windows XP though, since the upgrade seemed to cause the old install some headache.Even without any overclocking I soon realized this rig was a great gaming rig! It ran Crysis at High settings 1280×800 without problems. FPS was around 40 and very playable. The ASUS included Company of Heroes was smooth, with about 60fps straight trough. 3DMark gave me a score of about 9000 marks. It did run a bit warm though, as if the stock cooler was not really cutting it. I had a 120MM Zalman lying around that I couldn’t use on my old rig so I decided to slap it on instead.

I bought some isopropyl alcohol (No not for calming my nerves, but for removing the one day old heatsink gunk from the CPU), and I followed Arctic Silver’s (no, it’s not a fox fur i think) instructions on how to apply the thermal paste to a Core 2 Duo. Just basically make a string along the center of the CPU, the same way the CPU socket handle is facing. It was a really quiet solution, and about 5-10 degrees cooler. Cool! )

The Overcooking – sorry, ~clocking
The Core2 Duo clocked nicely up to 333Mhz and with it’s 9x multiple it gives me 3.0GHz to play with.

Warning Science Content: With the Zalman heatsink and fan it idles around 33 degrees Celsius (Tcase) and Prime 95 stress test makes the Tcase heat up to 63 degrees. That gives a Core Tjuncition reading of 73 degrees celsius, 28 degrees below Tjunction max at 100′C (Tjunction Delta = 28′C)

The Radeon 3850 Clocked nicely up to 720Core and 950Mem, from it’s standard 668/828. The ATI Radeon 3850 is simply amazing! I have never seen price/performance ratios like this. Compared to the competition it just blows anything away.

Conclusion: A 450€ Killer game rig!
I’ve just managed to hack Crysis to enable the Very High settings (DX10) on Windows XP. The FPS on this Very high setting is around 30 for 1280×800. Not bad considering it’s a 450€ rig! ) I’m happy, I can play all the new games on high setting. My system is extremely responsive,

I’m having a blast!

Check out my screenshots!

And read here about how to enable Very High Quality in Crysis in XP

So what do I say?

Five Gnomes out of Five!

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5 thoughts on “Extreme bang for the buck! – Core 2 Duo E2160 and Radeon HD 3850 512MB

  1. Wohoooooooooooooooooooo nu kan du spela tills skägget växer fast i tangentbordet!

    Hello fellow readers, this is Jocke’s Swedish friend. Swedish friend will now begin his daily supper eating procedure. For ’tis highly anticipated.

  2. Pingback: Crysis Demo 'Very High' Settings Hack
  3. Hey – great stuff. I needed to read this, as it’s EXACTLY what I’m planning, and couldn’t work out whether I should spend extra on an e4500 or not.
    Not quite exactly – I’m going for the P31-D3SL (cheaper still!)

  4. DavidHW

    Great 🙂 Glad I could help. The P31-DS3L has an ICH7 chipset, which is older than the ICH9 on the DS3. However you should be fine with that, ICH9 has better raid performance.

    Good luck with your build!

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