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First Ever Build, Sub-$600: AMD or Intel for floating point; CFD/games

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June 13, 2014 8:57:41 PM

I'm looking to build a mid-level desktop this summer for ~$550. Being a home computer, my main usage will be basic productivity and internet use, but I am looking to upgrade my hardware for two reasons:
1. CFD simulations
2. Low level nostalgia/legacy gaming (current most demanding games are Civ 5 and Dragon Age: Origins, but I might pick up Skyrim and FIFA xx)

So my priorities for the system are
1. Good processor
2. Cheap
3. Adequate graphics capability

I have access to beefy workstations for CFD at my university; I'm not looking to duplicate that capability at home, but rather to give myself the flexibility to prep and do preliminary runs from home. My research tells me that CFD runs are heavy on floating point calculations and are severely bottlenecked by memory bandwidth. I initially looked into quad channel memory CPU options, but couldn't find solutions to fit even an expanded $700 budget (Core i7 extreme or dual-CPU server builds were $$$$$). I decided to look for 4+ core units I could afford.

The three processors I've found are: A10-xxxx APU, FX-6300, and Core i5-4590. I have looked at a bunch of CPU comparisons on Tom's, so I know the Intel is head and shoulders above the AMDs in a general sense, but any pointers about floating point performance? Which benchmarks test floating point? Also, from a cost efficiency perspective, even after looking at APU reviews, I couldn't figure out why the Kaveri A10-7850k should be 50% more than the Richland A10-6800k.

____________________________

Below are the builds I have come up with. I welcome input on any component, but especially the case, PSU, and mobo, about which I know almost nothing.

The FX:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G43 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Total (including the rest of the rig, see below): $537.84
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-13 21:29 EDT-0400

The APU
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD A10-6800K 4.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.97 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M Pro4+ Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard ($59.49 @ Newegg)

Total (including the rest of the rig, see below): $447.33
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-13 22:45 EDT-0400


And the Intel:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($188.00 @ Fry's)
Motherboard: MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($66.50 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R7 250 2GB Video Card ($71.98 @ Newegg)

Total (including the rest of the rig, see below): $594.35
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-13 21:31 EDT-0400

Rest of the Rig:

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2400 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.92 @ Amazon)
Case: Rosewill Galaxy-01 ATX Mid Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)


And some final motherboard questions:
Motherboard futureproofing - any features I should look for?
For the AMD builds, I might play with overclocking - are those mobos ok?
According to (this article on Tom's, memory performance peaks at 2133 Mhz - should/can I underclock the 2400 memory on these systems? Sticks of 2133 were the same price as 2400.

Thanks so much to anyone who made it through this marathon post!

a b À AMD
a c 119 à CPUs
a b } Memory
June 13, 2014 9:06:38 PM

These are the generic build templates I keep on hand:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 760K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($84.74 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M Pro4+ Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard ($59.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2400 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: PNY XLR8 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($59.00 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.92 @ Amazon)
Video Card: XFX Radeon R7 260X 1GB Core Edition Video Card ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cougar Archon ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ Mwave)
Power Supply: Rosewill Capstone 450W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $521.11
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-14 00:05 EDT-0400

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i3-4150 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($118.48 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: MSI H81M-P33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($43.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill AEGIS 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: PNY XLR8 120GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($59.00 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($52.92 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card ($139.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Xion XON-560 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 300W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($42.99 @ Mwave)
Total: $564.35
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-14 00:05 EDT-0400

The intel build is pretty much better in every way especially power draw.
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June 13, 2014 9:10:03 PM

I just did something recently for my buddy.

About your memory - the speed will only really take effect, if you are using the APU setup and uses the GPU in that setup. Else I would drop that.
You might have better options with Storage and PSU as well.

Also I would say get at least a R7 260X if you wanna go Skyrim and maybe newer games later on.
This is what I actually end up getting after I replaced the two R7 260X for R9 270 instead:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/h9g3mG
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/h9g3mG/by_merchant/

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 750K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($79.49 @ OutletPC)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H55 57.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M Pro4+ Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard ($59.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Team Xtreem Dark Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($72.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: PNY Optima 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon R9 270X 2GB TurboDuo Video Card (2-Way CrossFire) ($154.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon R9 270X 2GB TurboDuo Video Card (2-Way CrossFire) ($154.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Corsair 350D MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($69.99 @ TigerDirect)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $776.91
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-14 00:08 EDT-0400

I wouldnt go more than 1600 Mhz or 1866 Mhz on the Memory.
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Related resources
June 13, 2014 9:17:26 PM

Here is a refined cheaper alternative to the one I did for my friend:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/XgQcRB
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/XgQcRB/by_merchant/

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 750K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($79.49 @ OutletPC)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($19.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M Pro4+ Micro ATX FM2+ Motherboard ($59.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Team Vulcan 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: PNY Optima 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: XFX Radeon R7 260X 1GB Core Edition Video Card ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cougar MG100 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($29.99 @ Mwave)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $458.92
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-14 00:15 EDT-0400

I have it priced, so you can add a hard drive, but still my choice of SSD gives you 240 GB instead of 120 GB, so do you need it at first?
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a b À AMD
a c 119 à CPUs
a b } Memory
June 13, 2014 9:21:48 PM

Fast RAM helps Athlon a lot since no L3 cache, and it's only a few dollars more. Definitely worth it.
AMD Piledriver RAM and Northbridge Speed: DDR3-1600 versus DDR3 2400 with Athlon 760K
I will demonstrate the difference between standard JEDEC RAM at DDR3-1600CL11 versus Overclocked RAM at DDR3-2400CL10. I will also be demonstrating the difference between a stock northbridge clock (CPU-NB/IMC) and an overclocked northbridge clock. ... See full content
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June 13, 2014 9:23:30 PM

Ohh gotcha - had no idea... Thanks for the info :) 
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