Budget build (around $500) Plan to overclock

I have a really low budget and I've been researching (looking at all similar parts, reading lots and lots of articles, and looking at a lot of benchmarks) over the past week. Considering all the recent price drops, I think I can build a decent gaming computer. The games I will be playing are CS:S, WoW, SD 1.6, Starcraft. Keep in mind I do play CS:S and 1.6 rather competativly, so high visual quality and high fps are extremely important to me. Besides gaming, my computer will be used for menial tasks like internet browsing, word, but it will also be used for some Photochop and Illustrator (I know single core isn't the best but it will be fast enough for me).

My total should be very close or under $500.

Note that I modified a build from this guide.

AMD Sempron 64 2800+ Manila 1600MHz HT Socket AM2 Processor Model SDA2800CNBOX - Retail

BIOSTAR TFORCE 550 Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 550 MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

OR Mobo:
MSI K9N Neo-F Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 550 MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

pqi TURBO 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model PQI24200-1GDB - Retail

OR Memory:
pqi TURBO 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Unbuffered System Memory Model PQI24200-512SB - Retail

Video Card:
SAPPHIRE 100106L Radeon X850XT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail

Hard Drive:
SAMSUNG SpinPoint P Series HD160JJ 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

Optical Drive:
BenQ 16X DVD±R DVD Burner With exclusive SolidBurn Technology Black ATA/ATAPI Model DW1650 BK - OEM

Case (and/or psu):
Budget either 50-100 depending on whether I get a gig or half a gig of ram.

Running total w/o case+psu ~ 400-450 (depending on the ram and if I should or shouldn't use OEM/Open Box parts)

A few things I'm concerned about:

-Which of the two are the best budget overclocking mobos, and is there a different mobo you can point me in the direction of that is similar in price?

-Also for the games I will be playing will 512 MB of RAM be sufficient, and if it isn't what will it affect i.e. fps, img quality, game load time, and if so by how much. Keep in mind that if I do get 512 I can always upgrade it.

-Can you recommend some sturdy, affordable, decent quality (at least decent airflow) case w/ psu. Also if you can recommend a good case w/o psu and a psu that would be rather affordable, perhaps 50 or 100 depending on how much ram will be suffiecient.

-How much power will I need for my set-up, keep in mind that I will be overclocking my sempron to 2.4 ghz bus speed, and possibly overclocking the video card as high as possible with stock cooling, as well as overclocking the RAM to 2.0 volts since that is needed to achieve 3-3-3-8 timing.

-What's bad about getting a part that is OEM?

- Should I be weary of parts on NewEgg that are Open Box? Do I still have the warranty? Are they just returned items that work fine?

That's about it for now.
21 answers Last reply
More about budget build around plan overclock
  1. Pay the extra $36 and get this CPU instead...


    for $3 more than the 3200 you can get the 3500.

    Athlon 64 3200. The Semprons are not that good for gaming. Do you already have a dvd/cdrom drive? If so, dont buy that one and use it on the cpu.
  2. I agree with adamb10, ditch that sempron processor and go with the AMD 3200 or 3500, hell maybe the 3800 if you can stretch a little more.

    If you intend to not do any multitasking then you can probably get away with 512MB of memory. If you have any issues with that you can upgrade in a month or 2 after you save a little more money.

    Where you need to spend the most money is on your GPU. I would go with the nvidia 7600GT if you dont want to OC it, or the ATI X1800GTO if you plan to OC the GPU as well. Your GPU is going to make or break your experience with gaming. The ATI card is a bit more expensive.

    As far as Mobos are concerned I am an Asus or Gigabyte fanboy so my input may not interest you but, (my pick would be the Asus A8N5X) just about all Asus mobos OC well and are stable.

    Based on your configurations matched with the ones I just gave you, you could end up spending around $550.

    Sorry I didnt answer all of your questions. its getting late and I gotta run.

  3. FYI, this sempron64 @2.4 GHz should should play games as fast as that Athlon64 3200

    Take a look at xbit's Sempron 2600 (754) test as a reference:


    Of the two mobos, Biostar has an excellent track record with the TForce series of boards. I had their legendary socket 754 T-Force 6100, and was able to overclock a Sempron64 2800 from 1.6GHz to 2.5GHz on it, using the stock hsf.
  4. According the the guide, building a better budget pc, the sempron performs just as well as the oc'ed amd x2 3800+ @ 2.6 ghz in most games (except a few like bf2). Also keep in mind that a stock amd x2 3800+ performs the same as the stock amd 64 3200+ (once again, except for the x2 3800+). I have done my homework on the processor choice :D but I'm still unsure about the other things I wrote about in my first post.

    Another question, according the guide.

    "The Sempron systems were far less likely to POST at higher overclocks, at least with the budget motherboards. The Biostar TForce AM2 motherboard in particular hit a brick wall with a HyperTransport bus speed of 280 MHz; below that it would POST, but above that it required the use of the CMOS clear jumper to get the motherboard back online. Given our experience with other AM2 motherboards, we would venture to guess that a BIOS update could improve the Biostar motherboard. However, we are currently using the latest Biostar TForce 550 BIOS, and the motherboard has been available for about six weeks now. Hopefully, Biostar will release an improved BIOS for the motherboard that addresses performance and overclocking, but we don't make purchase recommendations based on hope."

    Does anyone know if Biostar has fixed this problem with the BIOS?
  5. @ adamb10 - Keep in mind that I'll be oc'ing the sempron to 2.7 ghz or 2.5 ghz depending on whether the Biostar has fixed their BIOS. At that oc it will be at the same "speed" as the 3200+ oc'ed @ 2.7 ghz, just a different L2 cache (L2 cache hasn't shown to be a major factor in gaming) so, even though the 2800+ manila has 128 mb of L2 cache it performs almost as well as a 3200+ oc'ed @ 2.7 ghz or even a 3700+ oc'ed @ 2.7 ghz. I'm pretty decided on the processor, I plan on upgrading to dual core in the future anyways.

    @ Mizerie - I'm afraid that at my budget I can't go with the $200 dollar x1800 gto or the $160 7600 gt. Even though the x850 xt stock is slower in some games (while quicker in some) than the 7600 gt, most people say it produces a better looking picture, more fluid like, if that makes any sense. Also, I plan to oc and the x850 xt, and it just has a lot more headroom thanthe 7600 gt so in the end it is faster, while being cheaper. Unless you have some really compelling benchmarks I'll probobly be sticking with the x850 xt. Thanks for taking the time to comment though. If you have some more suggestions please throw em' out there. :)

    @ Joefriday - Have you been able to push it past 2.5 ghz with the latest BIOS?
  6. Quote:

    Was it OC'd? no.
  7. As far as cases go, http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=186331&CatId=0 that's the best you can get around your price range. After a $20 rebate, it's only $30! It also comes in blue. For only 11 bucks more, you can get the same case, (with window) and a nice 350w PSU. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2434072&CatId=0 There's only a $10 rebate on that one. You can at least try out the PSU and see if it is good enough for you. 350w is pushing it, but I think it will be enough power for your system. And if you opt for only the case, and no PSU, then I recommend this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817153023 for $40 without rebate! or this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817104954

    And about the Sempron, you are correct in assuming it will perform good enough in your games. I built my friend a budget PC with the same CPU (stock speeds), but socket 754, and he can play Far Cry and BF2 fine at at least medium graphics with a 256mb 6600.

    You can, and definetely should, go with 1 gb of RAM after these savings. The extra 512mb will speed up load times and insure you won't be playing a choppy game.
  8. Quote:
    ... For only 11 bucks more, you can get the same case, (with window) and a nice 350w PSU. ...

    The case looks OK, but the power supply is not very good (it's Ultra's V-for-"value" Series). As is often the case, when you see the word "Value" here, it means there isn't so much. The other two recommended PSs are good suggestions.
  9. Since my T-Force was the old socket 754 board, I cannot comment on whether the bios of the new AM2 T-force has been fixed yet (also, my 2.5 GHz limit was purely a CPU limit, the chip would go as high as 2.6 GHz, but it took 1.7 volts to do it, so I backed in on down to 2.5 GHz and 1.5 volts). What I can tell you is, Biostar T-Force gives you top of the line overclocking options on a shoestring budget. From what I remember of the T-force bios, there were way too many ram settings, more than I've ever seen, and you were able to drastically over volt or undervolt the cpu (the range was from like .8 volts to 1.8 volts) and memory (from 2.4 to 3.2 volts). The socket 939 version of the T-Force board had similar teething problems as described on the AM2 version. Eventually later bios updates fixed the problems. That's one thing about Biostar's T-Force line: They can start out a bit buggy, but Biostar is pretty damn good about getting frequent bios updates online for you to download. If you're worried about this "fsb wall", you could look up Biostar's t-force website to see if there is a new bios out for the AM2 board.
  10. Wow, just downloaded the tforce 550 manual and was looking at it's BIOS options...

    CPU Voltage .800V - 2.310V
    CPU Frequency 200MHz - 450 Mhz interval @ 1 MHz

    Lots of more oc options, this is a great oc'ing mobo

    -I still have one question, how concerned should I be about ordering OEM parts or even "Open Box:" items?
  11. OEM - normally no diff in quality. Won't come w/retail "extras"; for CPU, no hsf; for drive, no cables; for video, often missing free bonus programs, perhaps no DVD player software, etc. Warranty may be shorter.

    Open box - almost always a non-defective return. From some vendors, the item may be missing some accessories -- look into the vendor's policies.

    There's no problem buying OEM, but if you need the "extras," it may not end up being cheaper after you buy those. For open box, you'll have to decide on your own, and find out from the vendor exactly what you're getting. Personally, I'd want to get at least a 25% discount for open-box.
  12. Cool thnx mondo :)

    -I used the PSU buying guide link in these forums but it didn't have an option for oc'ing the Video Card. Will someone recommend how much power I'll need for this build? Do you think 400 watts will be ok? (I'll oc the processor, ram, video card)

    - Can someone recommend a budget case? (I think I can find a good PSU, but case I'm not sure about since there are so many budget cases!)
  13. wattage is deceiving, you are going to be better served with a PSU that has good amps on the +12 volt rail (at least 30, 38+ would be better) and about 30 amps on the +5 volt rail.

    Shoddy PSU's are notorious for inflating the +3 volt or +5 volt rails to pad their wattage rating while yielding crap performance and reliability.

    Names to look for:
    Antec truepower series
    OCZ gameXtreme line
    FSP (fortron source)
    enermax liberty

    these are all good brands, will serve you well, and should provide stable, low ripple power under load (eg. overclocking and gaming) Just try to get something about 400+ watts.

    I don't feel like listing all the brands to stay away from; for one thing there are too many to count, secondly people around here seem to get touchy when you trash their favorite brand *cough* ultra *cough*, *hachoo* thermaltake *sniffle* *sneeze* Raidmax (okay I'll admit, everyone agrees Raidmax sucks).

    My best advice is to scrounge up an extra fifty to one hundred dollars for your project and get a PSU worthy of the components it is powering, complemented by a good case. Here newegg has the coolermaster centurion selling for ~$80 with a twenty dollar rebate
  14. The only problem I see with the 805D is that he's going to have to find a good overclocking board to compliment it which is going to inflate his budget a little. And in terms of raw gaming performance a single core Athlon 64 3200+ or better is going to beat that chip . . . unless he really OC's the hell out of it.
  15. I'm sure the 805D overclocked destroys a stock 3200+ I read the article awhile back.

    I also assumed he would be overclocking an AMD chip too, which doesn't show up in that article you linked too. . . I'm mainly trying to look at this through his tight budget restrictions, a $100 CPU means compromises elsewhere.

    That 805D was OC'ed on a top of the line 975x Asus mobo too, which also alters the game a bit.

    but this wasn't a knock against your suggestion, I was just trying to discuss the drawbacks along with its merits.
  16. @beerandcandy - I read all 45 pages of it during my period of furious research, it's quite impressive, but not considering a few things. One big one is that you have have to place a 3200+ right in between the fx-55 and fx-57 (i guess that makes it a fx-56, eh?). Anyways, on avg frame rate the 4.1 Ghz beats it by about 2 frames, and its max frames is like 2% better... also consider this, in order to keep it at 4.1 Ghz you need water cooling, Idk the exact price but I know it's probobly around $80, also note that you need a much better mobo about $70 more than a 3200+ oc mobo, also note that you need a much better PSU probobly $40 more than you'd need for an AMD, you'd probobly want to get a better case for cooling as well probobly another $30 than a case I'd have to pay for an AMD processor. So, in total an extra $221... not that much of a bargin imo...

    The only practical Ghz to run the D805 is at 3.6 Ghz or less and you can oc an AMD to better than that.

    Plus, I've also learned that the D915 is a much better oc'er than the D805.

    Thanks for the suggestion though, mainly I'm concerned about the a good (cheap) case and a quality PSU.
  17. @ nikolokolus - Can you point me in the direction of an article that explains different aspects of the PSU?
  18. Motherboard
    Video card
    99.99 (after MIR)
    DVD burner

    This leaves an uninspiring 45$ left over for case and power supply... my recommendation?

    "What an idiot, he's over 500$, and without shipping costs." Yes, but this machine would perform a stagering amount better. 1gb of DDR2 800 of high end ocz ram, Asus M2N-E, and a 3500+ makes good overclocking potential. Mind you, you wont get the highest overlclocks ever, but you will reach a modest clock. Also what does moving to low end budget parts save you? Not a whole lot, and you lost a boat load of performance. Yes you could get the 805, but thats 10$ more on the cpu, and the motherboard would be about the same cost. But that said how far you plan on pushing an 805 with stock cooling on a budget board? No, your best option for gaming on a tight budget is AMD and single core. If you can't afford what I priced out I recommend you start singing downtown with a hat on the ground for donations to you pc fund. Make the extra money, get this system. Upgradability, but at the same time you have premium pieces to start with, and still under 600$. Spend the extra money and get the better parts. If you absolutely cannot get the money, then you are buying a bunch of budget garbage. But it would work none-the-less. Also you could do is only get 512mb of remember (highly unrecommended) and that would save you 50$ Wich just puts you under 500$ before shipping. If you need to push under 500$ and you still want these premium, overclocking parts then thats what you do, and add another 512mb stick later. Trust me, you will want more ram.

    Now for detail of the pieces...

    Asus M2N-E
    Motherboard? No brainer. 570ultra is the highest end chipset without SLI, and it's Asus, good quality, great overclocking potential for a budget board, and it looks pretty. :D This motherboard is quickly becoming the only choice for budget AMD systems.

    AMD Athlon 64 3500+
    Sure you could go with the 3800+, but were on a tight budget remember? But at the same time dropping to the 3200+ just isn't worth it, you save a few bucks. Dual core would be recommended but again at a tight budget that just isn't an option. As I explained before the 805 is a good overclocker if given the right home. The right home isn't a sub 100$ board and stock cooling.

    OCZ DDR2 800 512mb X2
    I know, I know, some AMD systems are having troubles with OCZ ram currently. I know, BUT I think it's worth the risk. This is fast ram for cheap. If you doesn't work you can always rma, it's not like you lose the money (Stress your system really hard first before overlocking). Again drop 512mb to save the money and stay under 500$. You will want 1gb though. Especially for games like BF2, COD2, FEAR, Oblivion, or anything new. :roll:

    eVGA 7600gs
    Hehe, alot of people don't like this card, wich I don't understand... this card is the 7600gt minus 200mhz off the core. This one does come with a fan identical to the 7600gt. You can reach 7600gt clocks fairly easily I would imagin. I also looked into the x850gto2 wich can be softmoded to the x850xt with an easy flash of the bios but those cards are even more. And the x850xt does not perform better than a 7600gt. You will be happy with this card, period.

    WD 80gb SATA2
    I know, small, 8mb cache... but hey, were saving bucks. And I think an extra second or two is worth putting the extra money into the videocard or memory. It is small so you might wana splurge and get the 120 or 160gb versions, but more money... It's your call on this one really, but to save a few bucks, go small for now.

    Sony DVD burner
    Cheapest one newegg had. Simple as that.

    Antec Sonata II w/ 450watt
    Without stable power you will not get very far while overclocking. So how can we get a premium power supply into this budget? Antec to the rescue. I dare someone to find a better psu+case for udner 100$. Impossible. This is a beautiful case too. Very quiet, good airflow. Quality psu for your overclocking pleasure. Kick ass. If you go get the 30$ special with that "brand name" 450watt psu, you will be sorry later. This is no cheap case, this is no cheap psu. It's all about quality when it comes to Antec.

    Now I have been raving in this post for a long time because it's important to me that people buy quality, fast, stable hardware then some cheap crap just to save 10$. I hope I influenced you to spend your money a little wiser. The only problem again I see with this build is the memory. Although at the same time it might be just fine. Good luck man.
  19. Hmmm, I don't recall calling anyone an idiot...
    "What an idiot, he's over 500$, and without shipping costs."
    Sorry for any misunderstand but what I wrote I thought seemed clear. The quotes were there to represent a thought towards my opinion. I didn't direct it to any specific person but myself. Reason being is alot of people like to start getting all upset when people ask for build advice and someone tells them they should spend more to get better. At this point the majority of people who initially gave support to the original poster are offended thinking "I could build a better machine too if I went over his budget too". So people's egos get hurt and people get angry. This is why that statement is there, to, once again, direct the 'insult' towards me due to me breaking his budget amount. Maybe I'm making absolute no sence (probably), but maybe I make some sence out of it. Naw, I doubt that.
  20. Quote:
    @ nikolokolus - Can you point me in the direction of an article that explains different aspects of the PSU?

    This article from extremetech is a good primer . . . it's a little light on the technical details, but it will give you a good push in the right direction.

    When you're ready to cut your teeth on some more info I highly recommend the power supply reviews from xtremesystems.org, extremeoverclocking.com, gruntville and hardocp; they usually offer technically savvy reviews of products. You'll just have to hunt around a bit.
Ask a new question

Read More

Homebuilt Systems Product