Doom 3 has been quite a learning experience for all of us at AnandTech. Some of the things that we expected to find just never panned out when we ran Doom 3, such as the concerns that Doom 3 would not run on most systems. In fact, Doom 3 will run on most of the recent systems out there. Other things were a real surprise, like the fact that the ATI 9800 PRO is a medium resolution card to Doom 3 and it is GPU bound above anything but base performance levels. Doom 3 eats video cards for lunch, and while you will get a usable screen with most video cards, you really have to feed it top-end video for best results.

You have already seen the Doom 3 Week reviews, but in case you missed anything, you can find the answers in the earlier reviews this week:

Doom 3 Sound Guide
Doom 3: CPU Battlegrounds
Doom 3 Graphics Deathmatch

The purpose of this Doom 3 Buyer's Guide is take all that we've learned in these reviews and make some basic recommendations for a killer Doom 3 system. Since desires, designs, and pocketbooks are different, you will find three recommendations here - Performance, Mainstream, and Value. Because we've covered a lot of the components here in our ongoing Buyer's Guides, we will concentrate on the unique components for Doom 3 - mainly the CPU, motherboard, graphics card, and memory. The rest of the components have been pulled from our most recent Buyer's Guides, which you can find under the "Guides" tab at the top of the page.

Performance Doom 3 System

The Performance system for Doom 3 is the best of the best - the highest performing components in Doom 3 that were found in this week's testing. The goal here is to build the best Doom 3 system, with no concern for price. After selecting the core components, the rest of the components leaned heavily on recommendations from our most recent High-End Buyer's Guide and Overclocking Buyer's Guide.

Mainstream Doom 3

Consider the Mainstream Doom 3 System to be the "bang-for-the-buck" choice - the best value that will bring you performance close to the best. Most of you will likely be most interested in the choices for the Mainstream Doom 3 box. Since Doom 3 requires some high-end components to really shine, some of the recommendations are a little different from our other Buyer's Guides. We referred to the most recent Mid-Range Buyer's Guide, the Overclocking Buyer's Guide, and recent AnandTech reviews for other component recommendations.

Value Doom 3

The Value System for Doom 3 is the cheapest system that we could put together, which will bring a usable and satisfying level of performance to Doom 3. We've leaned heavily on the positioning charts in this week's review to bring a level of playing satisfaction to a budget Doom 3 system. The rest of the components are pulled from Mid-Range, Entry-Level and Overclocking Buyers' Guides.

Memory for Doom 3
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  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    #29 and #30 -
    For $750 (after you added the value motherboard you forgot) you have:
    1) A Video Card that is half as fast as the $998 Value System when playing Doom 3
    2) A CPU that is 40% slower than the $998 Value system in Doom 3
    3) A 17" Monitor instead of a 19" Monitor
    4) NO CD or DVD at all
    So for $250 savings (25%) you end up with a system that is a cumulative 60% slower than our Doom 3 Value System when playing Doom - with a smaller monitor and NO CD/DVD. That doesn't sound like value to me.

    Did you not see the CPU charts for Doom 3 that show the Athlon XP at the bottom of perfromance charts? http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?... I also wish it were not so, but wishing will not change the performance we actually measured.
    Reply
  • pliers - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    #29 link130 you also forgot to include a dvd or cdrw combo. Reply
  • link130 - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    oops, add $55 for a shuttle nforce2 ultra mboard Reply
  • link130 - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    I agree with Avalon on the value pc. $1000 is ridiculous. For $1000 I can almost build a socket 939 3500+ system.

    This is My VALUE PC that can play doom3 at 10x7 high quality no problems

    Total cost including shipping:
    $690 - As built below

    If I choose a 6800 instead of the 9800pro then just add $90 to run the game extremely well. Which is still FAR below the cost of $1000.

    Bought mostly from newegg:

    AMD AXP-M 2400+ @ 2.4ghz 1.7v - $77
    Thermalright ALX-800 Heatsink + 80mm Fan - $21
    Samsung 512mb 400mhz @ 2-3-3-7 - $83
    WD 80gb 7200rpm 8mb IDE - $60
    Powercolor 9800 Pro - $200
    Thermaltake 420w PSU - $41
    Logitech 640z 5.1 Speakers - $55
    Aluminum ATX Case with 2 Fans - $35
    XDS 17in X-Flat Monitor -$115

    as you see, all my parts are good quality yet extremely cheap
    Reply
  • link130 - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • Avalon - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    My mistake with the raptor drive. No need to point it out three times. I know perfectly well how to read, it's just a matter of remembering an older article.
    #26 - I can play it VERY well. Don't tell me I have to go buy a new $1000 system to play the game well, when my cheaper old rig does that already.
    Reply
  • SKiller - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    #20 The guide is for people who want their system to play D3 *well*. When you fork over the money for a whole new system just so you can play 1 game (and maybe future games with eqivalent or greater requirements), you don't want it to play just OK. You want that system to play it *well*. Anything less would be a big waste of money. If you can't sepnd $1K on such a system, then you can't play it *well*, you *may* be able to play it OK, but then this guide is not for you. Reply
  • Embryo - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    LOL! Reply
  • pliers - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    #21 avalon if you had read the article correctly about raptor hds it was about using raptor hds in a raid-0 configuration on a desktop system not about using a single raptor hd on a desktop system. You must be reading this article wrong also [quote] We also used a 74GB 10,000RPM SATA hard drive for the fastest boot and Doom 3 load you can get short of high-end SCSI, plus a 250GB Hitachi with quiet fluid bearings to store the games, downloads, images, and add-ons that a hard-core gamer will accumulate. [/quote] Yes there is a mention of a raptor hd and another hd but just having two hard drives in a system doesnt qualify them as a raid-0 setup.

    ps: And if the main goal was just to be able to play doom3 im sure a review of a system with a 1.5ghz cpu, 384MB ram, a gefore 3, and a ata66 hd from 3-4 years ago could be mentioned but who wants to go out and buy that as your new "value" doom3 system?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    The 6800 was selected for the Value System because it costs $278 vs. $200 for a 9800 PRO. That $78 buys you DOUBLE the performance at 1024x768 medium res in high quality - 80.1FPS vs.42.6. The 6800 also provides PLAYABLE frame rates at High res - something the 9800 PRO can not do.

    The two lowest priced cards to generate PLAYABLE (above 30FPS) rates at the low 640x480 resolution were the 9600XT and the 5700 Ultra. These cards are about 50% to 65% the price at $140 to $180. While they are playable at low res, moving to 1024x768 they drop to a barely playable 25.5 FPS - about 1/4 the performance of the 6800. If you need to save $100 to $140 on the value system price you could choose a 9600XT or 5700 Ultra and still play Doom 3 at 640x480 or 800x600 at playable rates.

    In the end this is a Doom 3 Buyers Guide. We could try to sugar-coat the facts but would you really want us to? For a more traditional Value System you need to look at our Entry Level Buyers Guide.
    Reply

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