Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Building Budget Computer - Want Opinions

Last response: in Systems
Share
April 13, 2006 7:26:08 PM

Ok guys and gals, I'm thinking about building a new computer - something to tide me over until Conroe and the new AMD technologies come out this fall. My current desktop is almost 6 years old and I've been out of the PC building arena for a couple of years. I'm not looking to spend too much money and I've got a list of what I'm thinking about getting. Just looking for opinions on the different hardware - compatibility, prior experiences, etc. - basically anything useful you guys have to offer (and let's try to keep the fanboy opinions to a minimum). Ok here's the list and prices:

CPU: Athlon 64 3000+ - $114.80
Mobo: MSI K8N Neo4-F - $83.99
Case: Antec Sonata II (450W SmartPower PS) - $101.00
Video: XFX XTreme Geforce 6800 XT - $139.99
Memory: 1GB Corsair TwinX PC3200 C2 - $87.00
HDD: WD Caviar SE16 250GB SATA II - $91.50
DVD/CD: NEC 3550A Dual Layer - $36.99
Floppy: Generic - $10.00
Sound: Onboard (Don't really care that much)

This totals up to $665 with about $50-60 of mail-in rebates, which I didn't include above (so this would make it about $610 assuming I actually get the rebates). Basically what I'm trying to get out of this system is a decent gaming rig at a decent price. I can't even play modern games on my current PC (again 6 years old, no upgrades). Plus I'll get a great speed boost for office applications, CD/DVD burning, videos, music, etc. Just for reference my current system is a 900MHz T-bird (yeah that's old), started with a Geforce2 GTS replaced by a 16MB ATI Rage when it burned out (bad to worse) and 256MB of PC133 memory.

So any opinions, good experiences, bad experiences, incompatabilities, suggestions that you guys have would be appreciated. I've done some internet research but it always help to hear from actual users too. Thanks.

Quote:
Milk the cow before you eat it
April 13, 2006 7:31:27 PM

Personally, don't wait for Conroe and if you want to build a system now just build it. AM2 isn't going to be worth the upgrade really. And Conroe isn't looking like its going to be as bad as it was before with the real world apps info coming out about it.

Otherwise it looks good if thats what you want to do. But AM2 will be out sooner than fall if you were wanting to wait for it. Shouldn't be more than another month or two.
April 13, 2006 7:40:35 PM

Good setup. Will handle all your tasks with ease, except that video card is going to be a bottleneck sooner than later. Try to get at least a 7600 if not a 7900GT. Yeah its more money now, but it will last you much longer.
Related resources
April 13, 2006 7:42:35 PM

Well, really I was waiting for Conroe to knock AMD prices down a little bit (and if it's as good as the hype, which I doubt, maybe get one). Pricing on AMD's just doesn't seem as good as it did a couple of years ago and everything seems on the verge of being obsolete with all the "next generation" technology around the corner. So I figured why not just go cheap for the time being. Plus as I'm sure you know, seeing my current system specs, about anything would seem lightning fast to me at this point, lol.

But as long as I don't find any major flaws in the compatiblity or functionality of the hardware I'm deciding on, I'll be ok. Not too worried about being cutting edge right now.

Quote:
Milk the cow before you eat it
April 13, 2006 7:59:43 PM

Quote:
Good setup. Will handle all your tasks with ease, except that video card is going to be a bottleneck sooner than later. Try to get at least a 7600 if not a 7900GT. Yeah its more money now, but it will last you much longer.


I was thinking about 7600gt - cheapest one I could find was about $50 more than the 6800xt - do you think it's worth that much more in terms of performance and longevity?

I would love to get a 7900gt but it's way over what I want to spend right now - about $320 I think (yeah I know, I'm a cheapa$$).
April 13, 2006 8:06:50 PM

Quote:
Well, really I was waiting for Conroe to knock AMD prices down a little bit (and if it's as good as the hype, which I doubt, maybe get one). Pricing on AMD's just doesn't seem as good as it did a couple of years ago and everything seems on the verge of being obsolete with all the "next generation" technology around the corner. So I figured why not just go cheap for the time being. Plus as I'm sure you know, seeing my current system specs, about anything would seem lightning fast to me at this point, lol.

But as long as I don't find any major flaws in the compatiblity or functionality of the hardware I'm deciding on, I'll be ok. Not too worried about being cutting edge right now.

Milk the cow before you eat it

Definetly just go with a small ugrade now.When conroe comes out or AM2 then build although i think conroe is gong to be quite excelent.But anyway your components that you picked out will do all that you want untill you upgrade.Get it before someone tries to change your mind and you end up spending more than you wanted to.
April 13, 2006 8:07:15 PM

step that graphics card to a 7600gt and other than that is should hold you over. but the new technoligies are coming out in months so why not wait a little longer buy o well
April 13, 2006 8:08:10 PM

you could take that 7900gt if you got it to your new system
April 13, 2006 8:34:30 PM

You might want to look into an Intel 775 route. The DDR2 memory you buy now will be able to transfer along with the rest of your hardware over to whichever AMD/Intel route you decide to go with down the road.

If you cannot swing the 7600GT, look at the 7600GS. It's a bit more than the 6800XT but it's essentially an underclocked, passively cooled, 7600GT. Rumor has it that it has the potential to be a great overclocker.
April 13, 2006 8:40:48 PM

Also, do not doubt the strength of the X800GTO.
April 13, 2006 9:50:15 PM

Quote:
You might want to look into an Intel 775 route. The DDR2 memory you buy now will be able to transfer along with the rest of your hardware over to whichever AMD/Intel route you decide to go with down the road.

If you cannot swing the 7600GT, look at the 7600GS. It's a bit more than the 6800XT but it's essentially an underclocked, passively cooled, 7600GT. Rumor has it that it has the potential to be a great overclocker.


I looked into Intel too; but it looked like the cheapest P4 worth a crap was a lot more expensive than the 3000+. As far as the DDR2 future compatability, I agree, but I'll probably just build a whole new $2,000 beast rig early next year, finally retire my current system, and use the one that I build now as a backup system.

7600GS might be a good idea though. I was thinking that was an AGP card because I think Nvidia uses GS on one of their newer chipsets to indicate AGP. Checked it out though and that's obviously not the case with this one. Man, the memory is way underclocked from the GT though. I may just go ahead and get the GT because I don't really feel like oc'ing this one - I just want to slap it together and go. Would probably have to get a new HSF for the card and end up costing almost as much as the GT anyway.

Quote:
Milk the cow before you eat it
April 13, 2006 9:57:09 PM

Quote:
Also, do not doubt the strength of the X800GTO.


Ok, there's like a million different X800 versions - GTO, Pro, XT, GTO2, GT, no suffix...wtf. Obviously XT is the best, what's the difference in the rest of them and how do they compare (in the real world) to a 7600GS/GT? Just perusing the specs, they look about even with a GS and a bit lower than a GT. Just wondering.

Quote:
Milk the cow before you eat it
April 13, 2006 11:04:39 PM

Yes ATI and nVidia can be a little confusing. Pay more attention to the card specs and not the name. The X800GTO has a 256 Bit memory interface. Something almost non-existent in the sub-$100 range. IMO it's a better card than the 6800XT because of the 4 extra pipelines and faster clock speeds.

I only threw in the 7600GS because I thought you wanted to keep the cost down.

The 7600GT pwnz all the above cards. Faster core speed and insanely faster memory speeds.
April 14, 2006 12:24:33 AM

Quote:
Yes ATI and nVidia can be a little confusing. Pay more attention to the card specs and not the name. The X800GTO has a 256 Bit memory interface. Something almost non-existent in the sub-$100 range. IMO it's a better card than the 6800XT because of the 4 extra pipelines and faster clock speeds.

I only threw in the 7600GS because I thought you wanted to keep the cost down.

The 7600GT pwnz all the above cards. Faster core speed and insanely faster memory speeds.


Yeah, you're right. I always do that - add little things here and there that eventually jack the price up more than I want. The GS isn't much more expensive than the 6800xt and appears to be a bit better. So is there and difference between the 7600GS and x800GTO that the specs don't reveal?
April 14, 2006 1:19:40 AM

looks good to me.

if you are waiting to build the best money can buy later than buy the expensive video card later too - video card design will enter a transition period just like the cpu.

unless you need to experience gaming with all the options on and at the highest resolution just get a card like the 6800 that will get the job done. Later when you get the next gen system, you can turn the 3000+ with the 6800 into a really nice HD compliant HTPC after adding a decent capture card. Is there a game that the 6800 cannot handle? In a year's time will there be game that it cannot handle? I doubt it.


I'm in the same boat as you. I recently purchased the following:
Pentium D 805 - I'm not pushing Intel here, the 805 just happens to be the cheapest dual core currently. I'll problably go AMD in a year or so.
asus P5LD2-VM
300gb sata2
sapphire xt1600pro 512mb
3gig ram

it plays all my games no problem.

If I was going single core, I would probably get the exact same system as you.

there's my two cents.

cheers all

smelly
April 14, 2006 1:30:05 AM

Quote:
You might want to look into an Intel 775 route. The DDR2 memory you buy now will be able to transfer along with the rest of your hardware over to whichever AMD/Intel route you decide to go with down the road.



I thought that DDR2 will not last long. Isn't it going to meet the same fate as AMD's socket 754? AMD might switch to rambus. There was even mention of systems moving to DDR3.

...I wouldnt bother with getting parts with the intention of moving them over to a newer system in a year's time.
April 14, 2006 1:33:32 AM

Quote:
You might want to look into an Intel 775 route. The DDR2 memory you buy now will be able to transfer along with the rest of your hardware over to whichever AMD/Intel route you decide to go with down the road.



I thought that DDR2 will not last long. Isn't it going to meet the same fate as AMD's socket 754? AMD might switch to rambus. There was even mention of systems moving to DDR3.

...I wouldnt bother with getting parts with the intention of moving them over to a newer system in a year's time.

The only way AMD moves to Rambus is if Hell were to freeze or the CEO was highly drunk at the board meeting. AMD has more sense looking at Intel and its diaster with Rambus then to ever consider such a move.
April 14, 2006 2:40:03 AM

Quote:
AMD might switch to rambus.


WTF? RDRAM is obselete and expensive. That's why it's better to throw out a systen with RDRAM rather than upgrade the RAM. AMD would never switch to that old crap.
April 14, 2006 3:16:29 AM

Honestly, check out Cleeve's Short List. It is a very informative guide for video cards.

It comes down to what games you play. You don't need a X1900XTX or 7900GTX to run Microsoft Office (yet). I've heard ATI cards usually have better picture quality and I know nVidia cards always favor OpenGL based (Quake) games.

If it were my money, I'd put it on the X800GTO. Even though it's memory is 100Mhz slower, the 256-bit interface gives it twice the bandwidth over the 7600GS's 128 bit. The 7600GS does support SM 3.0, but usually cards in the budget range only "support" it. Using it is a different story. The X800GTO may not be based on the latest and greatest tech like the 7600GS is, but I think it currently has more bang for your buck.

Since you don't plan on keeping this system for a very long time, why spend the extra money when the X800GTO will probably suit you good and will seem lightyears ahead of what you have now (no offense).
April 14, 2006 3:17:02 AM

times change :twisted:
April 14, 2006 4:23:45 AM

Quote:
You might want to look into an Intel 775 route. The DDR2 memory you buy now will be able to transfer along with the rest of your hardware over to whichever AMD/Intel route you decide to go with down the road.



I thought that DDR2 will not last long. Isn't it going to meet the same fate as AMD's socket 754? AMD might switch to rambus. There was even mention of systems moving to DDR3.

...I wouldnt bother with getting parts with the intention of moving them over to a newer system in a year's time.

The only way AMD moves to Rambus is if Hell were to freeze or the CEO was highly drunk at the board meeting. AMD has more sense looking at Intel and its diaster with Rambus then to ever consider such a move.

April 14, 2006 12:29:22 PM

Thanks Anoobis, I'm leaning torward the X800GTO. My question now is this: I'm looking on Newegg and I can get a 512MB DDR2 card for $121 (after mail-in rebate) or I can get an OEM 256MB DDR3 card for $129. I'm guessing that the effective memory bandwith for the DDR2 card is 700MHz and it states that the DDR3 card's bandwith is 980MHz. How much of a difference will that bandwith make and will the extra memory compensate any?
April 14, 2006 12:36:03 PM

One more question to all of you out there. My main concerns as far as compatability and functionality are the motherboard (obviously the backbone - don't want to have to replace it) and the case (air flow and temperature). Does anybody have any bad experiences or comments with my choices for these (Antec Sonata II and MSI K8N Neo-F). Just wondering.
April 14, 2006 1:27:31 PM

I'm running the 7600GS and am very happy with it. The price has just dropped on newegg and the EVGA one has a $15 rebate. So you can get two 7600gs's for almost the same price as an overclocked 7600gt. The memory on the gs is GDDR2, not GDDR3, and that will be what limits the card, the core itself has overclocked similiar to the GT. XFX's card is overclocked 100 mhz and STILL does OK with the stock passive cooling. I am only running 1024X768, so you might what to keep that in mind.
April 14, 2006 1:27:55 PM

Looks like a good basic box. I've got a machine with that MSI MB in it. Failed to boot 31 DAYS after I got it,( Neweegs 30 day return :cry:  ) Contacted MSI and RMA'd it through them and they took care of me 100%!Haven't had any other issues with it. Fast, stable, got an X64 3200 CPU and 1G of Kingston Value RAM in it w/6600 GT video. My two cents, dump the floppy for a card reader. Mitsumi has the FA-404 that handels all but XD. About $20.00 US. Floppy card reader
April 14, 2006 1:48:31 PM

oops :oops:  sorry. I meant to say that AMD might use some patented technology developed by RAMBUS. Not that they will revert backwards to awful rambus memory that was used by intel.

I'm just trying to say that DDR2 should not be purchased as future-proof ram.


As for Mobo, I personally still like asus.

Anyone out there know if the A8N-VM CSM on-board gpu (nforce 6150) will play all the current games out there? It might cut your costs for this system that is meant to hold you off for a year. If you find its too slow, you can always add a pcix 16x card later.





cheers
April 14, 2006 2:05:31 PM

CPU: Athlon 64 3000+ - $114.80
Mobo: MSI K8N Neo4-F - $83.99
Case: Antec Sonata II (450W SmartPower PS) - $101.00
Video: XFX XTreme Geforce 6800 XT - $139.99
Memory: 1GB Corsair TwinX PC3200 C2 - $87.00
HDD: WD Caviar SE16 250GB SATA II - $91.50
DVD/CD: NEC 3550A Dual Layer - $36.99
Floppy: Generic - $10.00
Sound: Onboard

@@@@@

To future proof your system consider an AM2 solution and the vid card should be a 7600GT which is droppping in price every other week.

Floppy drives are becoming optional these days...

%%%%%%

I went the Pentium 805D route and trust me, I'm an AMD fan, but I am playing with VMware and wanted to try assigning seperate processors to each VM. My set up is an 805D on an Asus SLI board with (1) 7600GT, and a gig of ram, 36 GB raptor (already had it) in a pain in the a$$ acrylic case...
April 14, 2006 2:13:01 PM

Take a look at the Sapphire x850xt, new egg has them for $160. Other then that, everything looks good. Proc is easily overclockable. I am building a similar system but using the x850xt and a DFI Infinity Mobo instead. Honestly, if you get a good 939 system, PCIexpress is going to be the standard for a while, and there is plenty of room to upgrade from a 3000+, so I say this system should please you for at least a few years. 939 will be around for a while to come IMO.
April 14, 2006 2:48:54 PM

I would probably drop the case power supply combo and get them seperately. The case is fine, but get a 500+W power supply. Preferrably modular and sli certified, if you can. The PS should last through multiple upgrades anyways.
April 14, 2006 3:35:27 PM

Quote:
I would probably drop the case power supply combo and get them seperately. The case is fine, but get a 500+W power supply. Preferrably modular and sli certified, if you can. The PS should last through multiple upgrades anyways.


Normally, I would always get a separate case and PS and would get a 500W+ PS. But I saw the Sonata II at a good price with mostly good reviews so figured what the heck. Normally I'd probably be paying $200+ for the 2 separately but instead am getting them together for $101. Do you think I'll need more than 450W for what I'm going to build assuming no upgrades (no addtnl HDD's DVD/CD, sound card, etc.)?
April 14, 2006 4:16:34 PM

the 450W should be fine for what you are getting.

nothing is 100% future proof. In a year's time get everything all at once. Everything you can buy today will drop in price in a year's time (except maybe memory modules)
April 14, 2006 4:22:03 PM

Don't waste your time with 512Mb cards right now. It's hype usually used to sell cards to people at BestBuy. "This one has 512Mb of RAM so it MUST be better" blah, blah, blah.

This is the only sub-$100.00 gaming card people should be looking at. If you want to spend more money on 256Mb version, it's up to you but I thought you wanted to keep the cost down.

Unless you buy the Asrock 939 Dual board, you're going to have to change the motherboard later on down the road when you do your upgrade to to the newer system. Even with this board you'll have to purchase a daughter card to support AM2 processors as well as an AM2 processor, plus DDR2 memory. However, as a S939 board goes, I've heard many good things about the Asrock board.

smelly_feet, AMD/Intel will both be using DDR2 in the near future. The OP says he plans on upgrading to either AM2 or Conroe once they're out. It makes perfect sense for him to look into an Intel DDR2 solution now if he wants to. It would be one less thing for him to buy later.
April 14, 2006 4:40:20 PM

Quote:
Normally, I would always get a separate case and PS and would get a 500W+ PS. But I saw the Sonata II at a good price with mostly good reviews so figured what the heck. Normally I'd probably be paying $200+ for the 2 separately but instead am getting them together for $101. Do you think I'll need more than 450W for what I'm going to build assuming no upgrades (no addtnl HDD's DVD/CD, sound card, etc.)?


Assuming no upgrades, you'll be fine. And that IS a good deal. I guess if you do upgrade you can always ebay the old PSU and get a new one. That way you'll probably still spend less than buying them seperate.
April 14, 2006 6:24:58 PM

FWIW

Antec SmartPower PSUs (above average OEM PSUs?) modulate fan speed according to case temperature.

Antec TruePower PSUs are usually among the top rated PSUs in Tom's power supply torture tests.
3 of the candidates simply went up in smoke October 21, 2002
15 PC Power Supply Units January 22, 2004
Strong Showing: High-Performance Power Supply Units February 28, 2005
Really Cool and Quiet Power Supplies? April 1, 2005


Comparison of a few Antec PSUs at NewEgg.
Note the differences in ventilation, fan size(s) and price.

For a few more bucks ...
Antec TX1088AMG Gray Steel Server Case w 480W TruePower PSU
April 14, 2006 11:28:42 PM

Ok, I have another question (I know, I've been out of the game awhile): Are there any known compatability issues between Nvidia chipset motherboards and ATI chipset video cards? Just wondering since they compete heavily in the graphics card arena.

Also, I'm thinking about up-ing the motherboard to a MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum - $114.50. Main reason being the other motherboard I was thinking about doesn't have SATA II or Firewire. Don't know how much of a difference SATA II makes over SATA but I do use firewire (I didn't think they made boards without it anymore). Anybody have any opinions or comments on this mobo as opposed to the one I was thinking about before (MSI K8N Neo-F).
April 15, 2006 1:00:57 AM

SATA2 on MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum supports Raid 5 and Raid 10
as well as the usual NV RAID 0/1/0+1 JBOD.

SATA1 on MSI K8N Neo-F only supports NV RAID 0/1/0+1 JBOD.
April 16, 2006 7:27:39 PM

I had originally thought about getting these 2 pieces of hardware:

Mobo: MSI K8N Neo4-F - $83.99
Video: XFX XTreme Geforce 6800 XT - $139.99

Now thinking about changing to the following:

Mobo: Abit K8N SLI - $106.08 ($10 mail-in rebate)
Video: XFX Geforce 7600GT XXX - $199.99 ($30 mail-in rebate)

This is about $82 over my original amount (not including the rebates), which puts me at a total of about $750, still in my acceptable range of a "budget" computer.

The reason for the mobo change is that the MSI board does not have firewire or SATA II, which I already mentioned in a previous post as a detracting factor. I've read good and bad things about the Abit mobo; but it seems decent for the most part. I never really hear much about Abit (Asus, DFI & MSI seem to dominate the category), so I was looking for additional opinions. Anybody have any experiences they can share on this one?

The video card sounds like a beast - stock clocks at 590MHz core and 1600 memory. Granted it's a little more expensive than what I was originally planning for; but if the rebate is good, then that's a pretty damn good card for $170. I raised the seemingly age old debate about which is better between the 7600gt and 850xt in another forum and it seemed about even for the most part so I figured I'd go with the 7600. Anybody have any thoughts on the XFX card in particular?

Thanks for the input.
April 19, 2006 9:04:38 PM

Abit makes very good boards and you shouldn't have problems with them. I've owned/own several.

The 7600GT seems to be nVidia's darling right now. I doubt you'll be unsatisfied with it or XFX. I currently have a XFX 6600GT and it has been a solid card.
!