Reasonable Budget Build

I’m beginning a new build, and since I only do this about every 4-5 years (I’m very frugal), I’d like to get some opinions on my hardware choices. Here is my list:

Asus M2N-SLI nForce 570 chipset motherboard
Athlon 64 3500+ AM2
250GB WD Caviar SE (SATA II)
2GB DDR2 800

Adding a $150 allowance for a case and PSU, this stuff all totals about $1100.


1. I like the nForce 590 SLI motherboards a lot. However, they are about $80 more than the nForce 570 SLI motherboards on average. I really would never use the wireless goodies that come with the 590, nor would I ever use the feature that automatically overclocks the motherboard when certain videocards are present. I know how to overclock a board; I don’t want to pay for a board to do it for me. In addition, while the 590 chipset allows true dual x16 SLI use, most of the evidence I’ve seen in benchmarking reviews points to a possible 5% difference. So even though the 570 chipset switches to dual x8 mode when run in SLI, I don’t feel the $80 dollar difference is worth it. For one thing, I don’t even plan on running SLI right away, if at all (see number 5 below).

2. The 3500+ seems to be right at the sweet spot right now, even in the new AM2 socket. I typically upgrade my processors every 2 years or so, and I think that by two years from now, I’ll be putting a 5000+ (or whatever this motherboard tops out at) in for less that the $180 the 3500+ is now. I know that my true gaming experience is controlled far more by my choice of video cards than by my CPU.

3. 250GB is not a huge hard drive by any means (I don’t do a lot of downloading, so I don’t have huge storage needs), but again, it seems to be at the sweet spot of GB/buck right now. It is SATA II capable, but does anyone know if the SATA II spec is even really being fully utilized yet? Like most of you, I probably pay for it simply because some hardware company big-shot decided not to include all of the other features I do use without it. I’ll buy another and mirror everything when I get more money, and they get cheaper.

4. The price of DDR2 seems to be only slightly more expensive than regular DDR. Add to that AMD finally supporting it with AM2, and to me, it seems like a no brainer as far as future scalability. If I shop around, I can get 2GB of DDR2 800 for less than $200. Oddly enough….some reports I’ve seen are quietly saying that the new AM2 architecture is utilizing DDR2 far better than Intel. I’ll be looking into this for sure.

5. Most days, I consider SLI a joke. My research tells me that 99% of the time, a single card solution gives more bang for the buck than SLI. However, I might have to amend that attitude. The price of 7900GT’s just fell sharply ($250’ish). Really….you can really only beat this card with a $400+ 7900GTX or some insane 7950 frankenstein card. I can honestly see myself paying $150 (or less) eighteen months from now to buy another and slap it in SLI, rather than spend another $250 (pretty much my comfort price). Would I get better performance from the new $250 dollar card, than my 7900GT SLI configuration? Probably slightly better, but almost certainly not 65% better (extra $100 / $150). As a side note, the price differential for getting SLI on a motherboard is $10-$20 at most. Most of my motherboard premium is coming from the new chipset, something I know has long-term value.

Well, let me know what you think. I think it should be a bargain monster.
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More about reasonable budget build
  1. Looks good, I'm wondering: Is that the Athlon 3500+ or the Sempron?

    I thought AMD discontinued the XP line...

    1. I agree, the benefits of x16 SLi is tiny, heck the benefits of running AGP x8 and PCI-e x8 are minimal. $80 is alot of money for 5% or less...

    2. See above. You are going to be overclocking, right? I'd get a good AM2 heatsink and see what that thing can do. If it is the same with the 939-versions, expect 2.7GHz if you're lucky, 2.5ish if you're not.

    3.I haven't heard any news on SATA-II. Regular SATA seems more than enough for plenty years to come, unless we start moving data by the terabyte or something.

    4. I personally think DDR400 vs. DDR800 has a large price-gap, $40 or something, isn't it? But AM2 has upgradeability, hands down, lol.

    5. One word: Agreed.

  2. Doh....scratch that whole "XP"'s a 64. I've been using an XP too long, I guess. :lol:
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