Doom 3 Buyer's Guide

by Wesley Fink on 8/7/2004 3:51 PM EST


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  • wjh - Monday, September 13, 2004 - link

    Hello, and thanks alot for such a great article! I am currently doing the research to build an FX-53 system with 2 Gb of memory.
    I'm having trouble locating the OCZ memory that you describe-- it could not be found on pricewatch, so I went to the vendor's site and found this:

    2GB Dual Channel Kit PN- OCZ4002048EBDCPE-K

    but it has these timings:

    CL 2.5-3-2-8
    (CAS-TRCD-TRP-TRAS) Available in 512MB (2x256MB), 1GB (2x512MB) and 2GB (2x1GB) Dual Channel Optimized Kits

    and you specified default timings of 2.5-2-3.

    Did you really mean 2.5-3-2, or do I have the wrong part?

    I would appreciate your help in finding the right 2 Gb kit, hopefully at a decent price.

    Thanks alot!
  • MAME - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    You guys are being too critical of the article. $1,000 is a lot for a value system for general use, but this article is about getting a system that can play the highest demanding game DECENTLY.

    With that in mind, $1,000 is actually a good price for most of the hardware (minus the actual game).

    $280 for the 6800 is a lot but that's the price you gotta pay for top of the line performance these days. It's only $80 more than the 9800 pro, and has almost twice the performance.

    Wesley, you did a good job with the choices for the most part. Don't worry about these guys.
  • archcommus87 - Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - link

    I agree for the most part with what Anandtech has posted here. True, it seems ridiculous that the value system has a nearly $300 video card, however it doesn't say budget, it says value, and they really are just trying to list the best bang for the buck.

    For the record though, I'm running an Athlon XP 2100+ overclocked to 2800+ speeds, 1 GB of cheapo memory and a 9800 Pro at stock speeds, and I'm running the game at usually 20-25 FPS or higher at 10x7 res, high settings, 6x AA and 16x AF.
  • link130 - Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - link

    Wesley Fink, think carefully before your response

    Actually even if we use YOUR definition of the term "value" of performance/price. a modest overclock of an 2400+ xp-M is about 2.4ghz while a modest overclock of a 2800+ A64 is 2.0ghz.
    the A64 costs 2x the AXP while by extrapolating the AXP cpu graphs from this site, you can expect them to perfrom within 5fps in doom 3. still a good value for this game?

    I actually get an average of around 40 fps at 800x600 medium quality with all the effects on except aa and vsync. in real gameplay on my 2.4ghz AXP-Bobile with a $50 ti4200 64mb @ 300/600 and cheap 512 ddr400 ram. after tweaking the cache settings in the cfg file, the game runs very smooth (almost no jerking effect even opening doors). now THAT is real value.
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - link

    I'm actually playing D3 reasonably well on an Athlon XP 2.3 GHz (2500+ XP-M OC) with 1 GB RAM and a 9800 Pro. Still, 1024x768 HQ can be a bit choppy.

    Honestly, though, timedemo is NOT the way to determine gaming performance. Especially since the timedemo in Doom 3 disables audio. Yes, it's repeatable, but that doesn't make it accurate. And if the AI is actually running during a timedemo, I would be surprised. If you want to give a real recommendation for system performance, you probably need to use a utility like FRAPS and play through an entire level of the game, then report low, average, and high FPS. But then that would take a lot longer.

    I also have to wonder how the lack of sound comes into play with the RAM use, as sound effects can chew up a decent amount of RAM. The benchmarking method (run timedemo 3 times and report the highest or average of the last two, I think?) would also negate the advantage of having more RAM. I know the first time I run the timedemo, even with 1 GB RAM, there is a lot of hard drive use and the average FPS is usually 25% or so less than on subsequent runs. In real gameplay, you don't continually rerun the exact same sequence, so you don't always get the benefit of cached data.

    But all that's a bit off topic. The main thing is, the recommendations are pretty good, if expensive. I would think that a current Athlon XP system with a high end video card would go a long way to reaching good performance, if that's what you want. If you're building a new machine, the 9800 Pro isn't the best choice, but if you already have one (I do), I'm not sure it's worth $300 or $400 to upgrade to the 6800/GT.

    And for you ATI people, I have to wonder how this will affect things:
  • MercenaryForHire - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Doom 3 is playable on ANYTHING.

    Now quit bitching and play. :P

    - M4H
  • Jbog - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    #45 Runamile, what do you mean by "very playable" and "just fine?" Maybe you could put that into terms that we can all understand, such as FPS and Image Quality? Otherwise your remarks have no objective quality. Reply
  • Runamile - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    I too also agree that $1000 for a value system is a little steep. It probally should of been around $700 IMHO.

    But thats cool. Ive already beaten D3 on an AMD 2200+, 512MB 2100, and ATI 8500 128MB. With it all @ 1024x768 w/o bump mapping, the system was very playable and looked just fine. And that rig will run about $350 these days.
  • Momental - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    I'd also like a little clarification as to why the 3400+ was recommended over the 3500+. True, the former is cheaper than the latter and actually seems to offer a wee bit better performance, in some cases. However, having a 939-based system allows one to merely upgrade a processor, should they become less expensive rather than replacing the board and the processor. Yes? No? I'm new to all this, so bear with me. ;)

    Fantastic article, by the way!!
  • Kung Lau - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    "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."

    It's almost like Wesley saw all these comments coming...

    Value= 2004 Honda Civic for $12,000k
    Budget= 1967 Volkswagon Beetle for $200.00

    They will both get you from point A to point B, but I would hardly consider them synonymous, except for both being vehicles.

    I can put together a system for under $800 using Newegg too, but I won't know what works well together for Doom 3 (specifically) until I've assembled the system after delivery. If something doesn't mesh or isn't quite up to par, I would have to send it back for another part.

    I think the recommended lists provides for a basic groundwork to build from. Many will have different variations on the builds.

    People take stuff too seriously around here.

    And btw, I, along with many others here on Anandtech, bought a Dell 4600 system with 9800pro for GAMING for under $500 without monitor (had already) from the Hot Deals forum a while back when the deals were outrageous.

  • Wesley Fink - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    #41 - This is a Buyers Guide for Doom 3. I doubt your friend would go out to buy a Ti200 system to play Doom 3. If $278 is too much video card for you then you could save $78 with a 9800 PRO and have half the framerate at 1024x768. Or you could save $140 by getting a 9600XT or 5700 Ultra and still get playable (over 30FPS) frame rates at lower quality at 640x480 and 800x600.

    Value means best performance for the buck as I see it. The two options above gave up too much perfomance for the savings in my opinion, but you are entitled to your opinion.

    Perhaps I should have added a 4th Category called CHEAP Doom 3 System - if it can boot the game it is A-OK by me :-)
  • brian_riendeau - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    $1000 value system? I thought I went to AnandTech, not

    Not everyone needs a $300 video card to be happy. You are WAY to caught up in "...another $100 you can get 40% more performance". Do you actually need that 40% more to enjoy the game? No. The game runs fine on cards much slower than a 6800. I have a friend who plays the game on a GF3 Ti200. I am not sure what his settings are, but the game runs fine for him. Maybe the difference is that he actually spends his time playing the game, not staring at textures on the walls and looking for 10 more frames per second to help kill those zombies.

  • brian_riendeau - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    $1000 value system? I thought I went to AnandTech, not

    Not everyone needs a $300 video card to be happy. You are WAY to caught up in "well another $100 you can get 40% more performance". Do you actually need that 40% more to enjoy the game? No. The game runs fine on card must slower than a 6800. I have a friend who plays the game on a Ti200. I am not sure what his settings are, but the game runs fine for him. Maybe the difference is that he actually spends his time playing the games, now staring at textures on the walls and looking for 10% more frames.
  • Zebo - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    I always thought "value" was the highest point in the price to performance curve.

    If the Fx-53 were 8X faster than the A64 2800+ it would constitute a value as well. But since it's only about 30% faster for 700% more money it's a horrendous value.

    This is why a lot of builders above are correct in recommending the 9800pro instead of the generic 6800. In fact, either the more expensive 6800 GT or the 9800pro repersent the best "value" of all video cards out right now since thier price to performance curve is the highest.

    Anyway I agree with you guys, get the 9800 then a real nice monitor, which will make a huge diff:

    9800pro OC $190
    A64 2800 OC to 2.4 $140
    ChainTech $70
    Cheapest branded 512 cas 2.5 $75
    NEC diamondtron DP930SB-BK 19" $280
    Antec case Slk3700w 350W $65
    Sony combo drive $40
    Samsung 80 giger $63
    Logitech Z640 5.1 $55


  • link130 - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    reply to #32 Wesley Fink

    you forget that we are talking about "Value PC" which is synonymous with "Buget PC" I also said you can upgrade the 9800pro to a 6800 with $80. with a 6800 the difference btw a 2800+ A64 and a 2.4ghz barton are very small if you refer to the charts on this site.
  • Murst - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    The review seems to make some good reccomendations... except I really cannot see why you would reccomend a 3400+ over a 3500+ when the difference in price is 75$ and the socket 939 has a future. I suppose if its ONLY to play Doom3....

  • mickey - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    What I would really like to see in future articles especially based on a single game (no doubt the same will be done for hl2) is benchmarks of the corresponding systems so that we can make a decision as to whether or not going for a better system is worth the extra $$$$ Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    Yes, it is a bit freaky, pliers. I would also personally choose the 2800+ at just $27 more for twice the cache and 64-bit architecture. The 2800+ is also a decent overclocker. Reply
  • pliers - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    freaky that twice now youre like a few mins a head of me. Reply
  • pliers - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    So now your price is around $782. It a nice system but I would still lean more towards the anandtech system with the 2800+ a64 cpu which totals $1025. If you look at the two systems for $240 more youre getting a geforce 6800, a 19" monitor, and a 64bit processor. Thats insane for $240 more. Reply
  • 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? I also wish it were not so, but wishing will not change the performance we actually measured.
  • 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
  • link130 - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    #21 - A recent storage article said there was no need for RAID on the desktop. It did not say there was no need for Raptors. In fact the title of the first article using the new storage benchmarks was "WD Raptors vs. the World" Reply
  • Avalon - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    On another note, you just had an article a while ago saying that there are no need for Raptor HD's on a desktop system, yet you recommend it for the performance segment. May I ask why we should waste $175 on this drive when you yourselves said we had no need for it? Especially if the main goal of this rig is just to play Doom 3. Reply
  • Avalon - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    I'm most definitely complaining about value, not crap. Mainstream Doom 3, while higher than general, is definitely not that freaking high. Who would buy a Dell for a GAMING system? This guide is for those who BUILD there own, so Dell has absolutely nothing to do with this, nor do their horrendously expensive computers. For a mainstream Doom 3 experience, a 6800GT was quoted as being required. This is a $400 card that allows you to practically play the game at 16x12 with AF and AA. Are mainstream Doom 3 users going to run at this setting? No. Even the value recommendations will run Doom 3 at 12x10, no sweat. Value should be those looking to play the game, but not having to spend much money and not caring about high res and eye candy. This is why I dissagree with the recommendations and pricing. If you think I'm wrong, that's your opinion and I could care less. My own personal rig was about $800 with the monitor included, and it runs the game at 10x7 on high detail. I'd consider that more mainstream than what the value recommendations would get you. Reply
  • Pollock - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    May I ask what the point is of having a 12x DVD burner on a mainstream system devoted to playing Doom 3? And by the way, I agree with #1...this is just too much hype. Who would spend $1900 so that they could get "mainstream performance" on another $50 purchase? Reply
  • Myrandex - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    I agree with the CRT recommendations over a LCD. LCDs are coming to amazingly low response time, but I don't think I have ever seen one as good as a CRT. Good recommendations though. Maybe a 5900XT would be an even more value alternative, as I thought if I remmeber correctly it performed alright, overclcoekd a lot on average, and is pretty inexpensive. Reply
  • Randawl - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    It is pretty amazing that you can buy such a powerful system with such a fantastic video card for around $1000. Things have come quite far in such a short time. Reply
  • Zanfib - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    Good enough article, a few typos, but helpful. Still kinda hurts to know that even the value system recommends needs a new (almost next) generation video card, but I can't argue with the value price. $1000 for a pretty good system is quite acceptable. Reply
  • BornStar18 - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    It's a minor correction but you mention that the Chaintech VNF3-250 doesn't have GbE (correctly) in the article but in the table, you mention it has onboard 10/100/1000.

    Good article, I just wish I had $1000 to be able to play Doom3...
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    #10 - We had technical problems with posting today and I did not get to make final changes as usual before the review posted. In fact the Performance system does now have a 2GB memory recommendation since we finally found 1GB dimms that could still give us 1T Command Rates with timings that were still pretty decent. The Guide has been updated with the 2GB recommendation, the revised price, and several other planned edits. Reply
  • kmmatney - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    So looks like I'll be playing Doom3 around April 2005...Its been 10 years since Doom 2, so whats another year. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    #11 - I've corrected the quote to the 9800 XT which is what was intended on page 10. The same information was correct in the summary on page 11. Sorry for the confusion. The 9800 PRO is around $200 these days but the 9800 XT is still priced at around $380-$390 for some strange reason. Reply
  • Mermaidman - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    [q]a plain, old 1024X768, the 6800 is 75% faster in Doom 3 than either the ATI 9800 PRO or the nVidia 5950, both of which cost about $50-$100 more than the 6800.[/q]
    I doubt that a 9800Pro costs $50-$100 more than a 6800.
  • Illissius - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    It's ok for the most part... some things are odd though. You measured that D3 uses up to 1.5GB of memory, if available. Why, then, did you put only 1GB in the Performance system? Should've been 2. Also, why, oh why did you not use an uber LCD? Dell 2001FP, or the Viewsonic VP201 if buying from Dell is a nono. Third, the mainstream system should've used value RAM - it costs almost half as much, and really isn't much slower than the fastest omg uber hyper enthusiast XMS turbo alpha street fighter platinum EXTREME stuff*, at all.
    Other than those, I agree with all of the choices, even the 6800 for the value system. I was about to suggest an even lower category, for the $500 guys, until I realized that you really can't fit anything half decent in if you have to include monitors and speakers.

    * In the interest of full disclosure, this was Inspired by the following quote from

    * ArSa is not a scsi expert :
    * slurpee was a scsi expert until they came out with 134533109 flavors of it
  • jediknight - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    All I have to say is *damn*.

    A 6800 in the value system? Yikes! My poor 9800 Pro that'll be arriving whenever ATI gets around to it seems inadequate :-<
  • Godsend1 - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    I have never seen a value video card priced at $300. Reply
  • kherman - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    PERFORMANCE Doom 3 monior.

    OK it's nto a bad monitor, but I can think of better.
  • kherman - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link


    640x480 low quality.

    The categaory you complained about was value, not crap.
  • kherman - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    Ggiabyte 6800? NO! The BFG 6800 is the best. Damn complementary copy. Even the internet is doomed these days Reply
  • Rapsven - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    Considering that many Americans usually buy systems ranging from 1400-2000 on Dell, I'd think that's pretty 'mainstream'.

    You've been reading too many "i need a systemzorz for 500 bux plz" threads.
  • Regs - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    Please note that the listed hardware was for mainstream Doom 3 and not mainstream in general. A 1000 dollars for a computer that can run a game like D3 at 1280x1240 @ high quality is awesome. Dell would charge you well over 2 Grand if not more. Not only will you be able to play D3 at high settings, but Far Cry, Hl2 (if it ever comes out), and next generation games. I'd say that's great value. Reply
  • Avalon - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    Horrible recommendations. Not only was there not an overclocker's system listed, but the 3 segments you did list were horrendously overpriced. A $400 video card is mainstream? Since when? A value Doom 3 system should not cost $1000. My brother's computer was only $400, and while it can only run Doom 3 smoothly at 640x480 low detail, it does cut it perfectly. That's value. Reply
  • chuwawa - Saturday, August 07, 2004 - link

    Am I the only one that's growing weary of DOom3 articles?

    Bring on the sempron overclocking issue!!


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