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Looking to Build a MicroATX "Cube" PC

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October 11, 2006 6:55:39 PM

As the title suggests, I'm hoping to build one of those small cube PCs. I've been doing some reading around today to get an idea of what's involved.

I've built a PC before, though it was 6 years ago, and so I have no idea what the current hardware is.

I'm looking to use a pretty up-to-date processor, and one that won't be discontinued soon so my upgrade options are limited in a few years time when I may want to upgrade it.

I'm not at all bothered about graphics. I'm not a gamer and I don't do any graphics work, although I need something that's going to work well with Vista.

Otherwise, I don't really have any preferences set, and I could really do with some help to get me going and get a spec together.

Many thanks in advance.

Sebby

More about : build microatx cube

October 11, 2006 7:42:32 PM

What's your budget?

What will you be using it for?

Will you reuse any parts?
October 11, 2006 7:53:37 PM

Sorry, I should've mentioned those things.

Firstly, I won't be reusing any parts as I no longer have the PC I built some 6 years ago.

My budget is probably around 350-400GBP (~650-750USD). I'd obviously spend less if I could still get a decent system, and a little more if absolutely necessary.

It'll really just be used for surfing the web, some P2P, listening to music; nothing too intensive, but I like a fast PC nonetheless.

Sebby
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 11, 2006 8:34:40 PM
October 11, 2006 8:41:21 PM

One thing I don't need is Windows XP as I own that already. I will put something together from the UK based on what you've given me and post back. Also, I should've mentioned that I didn't mean to include a monitor or mouse/keyboard in the budget! I expected to have to pay for these separately. Sorry. :oops: 
October 11, 2006 8:53:05 PM

i agree with his choices, but since you have a bit more to spend(no XP) then i would go for a x2 3800.

it's dual core, and fast. but it is about twice the price of the current suggested cpu. i use Aria since i'm in the UK as well. It's pretty good and the prices are fair, usually do a couple of Froogle searchs as well.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 11, 2006 9:02:02 PM

Quote:
i agree with his choices, but since you have a bit more to spend(no XP) then i would go for a x2 3800.


I was just about to suggest that but you beat me to it :D  Yeah, spend the money you save from the OS on a dual core 3800+ AM2.

Also, with the DVD-ROM, double check the dimensions because with a small form factor cube case, it gets tight with the PSU.

Edit: Oh, and with the RAM, you'll want to run it at DDR2-800 speed to get the most out of it. I chose that particular RAM because I have the 2GB kit and can vouch that it runs at DDR2-800 speed @ 4-4-4-12 timings... even at stock voltage.
October 11, 2006 9:04:02 PM

Thanks guys, I'm just pricing it up now, and I shall post back soon. :) 
October 11, 2006 9:19:38 PM

Aspire X-Qpack Black uATX Aluminum Case with 420W v2.0PSU with Window £68.35
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 Retail AM2 £116.33
Crucial DDR2 PC2-5300 • CL=5 • UNBUFFERED • ECC • DDR2-667 • 1.8V • 64Meg x 72 £118.66
250GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA £53.99
ASUS M2NPV-VM nF430 Socket AM2 £53.98
NEC ND-5170A-0B 18x DVDRW DL Black £22.27
TOTAL £433.58

So as you can see, the total is good at UK prices. What do you guys think? Any changes?
a b B Homebuilt system
October 11, 2006 9:48:25 PM

What about monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers?

Everything else looks good, unless you want to step up the RAM to CL4. Is that a 1GB kit?

This should do everything that you want from it and look very good as well.
October 11, 2006 9:51:25 PM

I'll have to have a think about those things, but I wanted to get the spec of the computer sorted first. :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
October 11, 2006 9:59:25 PM

If you're able, get the 65W (or 35W if you can afford it) version of the 3800+ X2. Less wattage = less heat, that's a good thing with a cube case.
October 16, 2006 10:26:22 PM

I've made a couple of changes. First, I managed to find the 65W version of the X2 3800+, and it's not too much more expensive than the higher voltage model. Also, I've changed the RAM to Corsair 1GB XMS2-5400 DDR2 SDRAM, which is actually cheaper than the Crucial RAM I had before. Does anyone know what this is like?

Also, I've been wondering about cooling. Will the retail heatsink/fan be good enough, or should I go with something else?
a b B Homebuilt system
October 16, 2006 11:33:18 PM

Corsair is good memory (some say the best). Is that a 1GB kit of two 512 sticks or one stick @ 1GB? You can most likely run it at DDR2-800 speed without any problems.

My Intel stock fan wasn't very good, it seems that it's hit and miss with them. I ended up getting an aftermarket one because I was unhappy with my temps.

Try out the stock fan and keep an eye on your temps. If they're too high, get a new one... no money wasted. Keep in mind that you'll probably need a low profile HSF to fit inside the cube case.
October 16, 2006 11:41:10 PM

It's a single stick of 1GB.

Thanks for the advice regarding the heatsink and fan. Won't the retail one be a problem as far as size goes then?

The Zalman CNPS8000 or Arctic Cooling Silencer 64 Ultra TC looks like they would be good.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 12:15:48 AM

Here's a decent review of the case you are considering:

Aspire X-QPack PC Case: At a glance

In the review, they said that the max HSF height is 80mm. The article above has a picture of the HSF installed and it looks pretty tight. The stock HSF is probably good enough. I've heard good things about AMD's stock fans, I'm just sour about my intel fan.
October 17, 2006 12:24:26 AM

Guys your missing one vital part.....

If he wants to run vista he needs a video card. I highly doubt integrated graphics will run vista. Thats if that mobo even has Integrated graphics.

I would recomend an Nvidia Geforce 7300GT.
October 17, 2006 12:30:29 AM



I would recommend NOT getting the Aspire X-QPACK case. I had one for a week, before I couldn't stand it anymore. It was brutally noisy, the PSU is a piece of junk, and it's very cheaply made (very thin aluminium). It was like running a vacuum cleaner on my desk. Besides being noisy, the PSU fan blew INTO the case, and the voltages were +/- 20%. But it does look pretty! :) 

I ended up getting an Antec Sonata II case for exactly the same price. Both of them came with a PSU, but the difference between them was night and day. The Sonata is everything the X-QPACK is not. Quiet, solid, easy to work with, easy to cool... Unfortunately, it's not a cube case. I'd look at the Antec NSK1300 (http://www.sffclub.com/index.php?option=com_content&tas...) instead. But I have no real-world experience with it.

Clint
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 12:33:44 AM

Quote:
Guys your missing one vital part.....

If he wants to run vista he needs a video card. I highly doubt integrated graphics will run vista. Thats if that mobo even has Integrated graphics.

I would recomend an Nvidia Geforce 7300GT.


Good point, however:

#1 The board does have integrated graphics (95% of mATX boards do)

#2 A video card pushes the system over budget by ~$100

#3 The board has a PCEe x16 slot so if better graphics are wanted, it can happen later

#4 Vista runs fine on integrated graphics but needs a lot of memory. Its the Aero interface that requires hefty graphics to run.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 12:42:31 AM

CNeufeld,

Its good to here from someone who actually has owned one of the cases mentioned. Thanks for the heads up on the Q-Pack. The case you sited only has a 300W PSU, is that enough? Looks nice though. If I had my choice of all the SFF cube cases, I go for the silverstone SST-SG01 myself. Expensive though and we're working on a budget here.
October 17, 2006 1:07:19 AM

Quote:
CNeufeld,

Its good to here from someone who actually has owned one of the cases mentioned. Thanks for the heads up on the Q-Pack. The case you sited only has a 300W PSU, is that enough? Looks nice though. If I had my choice of all the SFF cube cases, I go for the silverstone SST-SG01 myself. Expensive though and we're working on a budget here.


Sorry, I can't comment on whether the 300W is enough or not. Depends on what else you plug into it. :)  If you're not running a high end video card, I'd think you'd be ok.

The one I was thinking of actually "upgrading" my Sonata to was the Antec Fusion (http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=&page=fi...). It's an HTPC case, though. The NSK2400 looks interesting as well.

For me personally, I've given up on the small cases for now. The ones that seem to fit the bill are too expensive, with relatively little payback for me. I don't carry my computer around often, and I've got a pretty big office room and desk, so small size isn't a big feature for me. But everyone's needs are different.

Finally, I was fortunate enough to buy my X-QPack from a local store with a great return policy. So I was able to take it back, and swap it straight across for another one. Actually, I was going to just take it back for a refund, and just use my old CoolerMaster Wave Master case. This is another aluminium case, but you'd never know it if you compared it to the X-QPack. But the service guy talked me into the Sonata II instead. If you had access to a store with a return policy like that, I'd say go ahead, and give it a try.

Clint
October 17, 2006 2:01:24 AM

I just ordered the parts for my mATX cube PC with a similiar budget. Check this thread here: http://forumz.tomshardware.com/modules.php?name=Forums&...
My build is s939 though (so I could re-use RAM), so the CPU and mobo don't apply to you.

Looks like you've gotten some pretty good suggestions so far. I'll just add my $0.02...

I ordered the xQpack case, but keep in mind that it's just a re-branded Chemnimg case, so check out the Chenming one too and just buy the one that is cheaper or is the color that you want or whatever. I know from experience that the SFF Aspire PSU is not reliable, replace it with a full-size (but not over-sized) ATX PSU. Also keep in mind that the xQpack windows scratch EXTREMELY easily (I ordered one without windows this time) and the handle is held on by two tiny scews secured in plastic in such a way that the load is placed on the theads, not the core of the screw. I would suggest not using it at all just to be safe.

The thread I linked above also includes a link to the Ultra Microfly cube case. Take a look at it before you choose. It's a little longer so there is more room betweent he PSU and optical drive.

To fit a 5.25" optical drive in with a full-sized PSU in the xQpack case the optical drive must be <170mm long and the PSU must draw air from the bottom, not the end. That leaves only about 2mm clearance between the IDE cable and PSU. If you happen to get a SATA optical drive make sure to get power and signal cables for it that are "bent" at the end, or it won't fit. If you're trying to fit 2 optical dries in there make sure to get a generic ribbon-style IDE cable, not a rounded one. Check my thread for examples.

If you're building the whole system from scratch and want dual-core you should seriously consider a C2D over an x2. For "internet browsing" the x2 should draw a lot less power though (AMD's power-saving techniques for idle processors are much better... and for internet browsing type activities your processor will be idle most of the time). The price/performance ratio on those single-core athalon XPs is very nice though. When there were no s939 x2 3800+ to be had at good prices I seriusly considered just getting a single core, but I ended up ordering an x2 4200+ instead (in hopes that my p2p programs will stop lagging my gaming if they had their own core to run off of).

I really like these style of "cube" cases, this will be my second build with the xQpack. I hope they become more popular and mobo makers start to offer more choices in mATX. Who uses 5 expansion slots anyway?
October 17, 2006 2:10:59 AM



I would recommend NOT getting the Aspire X-QPACK case. I had one for a week, before I couldn't stand it anymore. It was brutally noisy, the PSU is a piece of junk, and it's very cheaply made (very thin aluminium). It was like running a vacuum cleaner on my desk. Besides being noisy, the PSU fan blew INTO the case, and the voltages were +/- 20%. But it does look pretty! :) 

I ended up getting an Antec Sonata II case for exactly the same price. Both of them came with a PSU, but the difference between them was night and day. The Sonata is everything the X-QPACK is not. Quiet, solid, easy to work with, easy to cool... Unfortunately, it's not a cube case. I'd look at the Antec NSK1300 (http://www.sffclub.com/index.php?option=com_content&tas...) instead. But I have no real-world experience with it.

Clint

LOL xD Definately replace the PSU, yes. But I don't know why people complain about the thin aluminum. It's supposed to be portable, so lighter is better. Don't park a car on it and it will be fine.

The 120mm fan that come with my first xQpack was a little on the noisy side (it was a cheap Aspire LED one). Replace it or volt mod it if it bothers you. Cases don't make noise. Fans do, but they are easily replaced so I recommend not letting that affect your decision. Don't be confused, the xQpack is definately a cheap case made from thin, flimsy aluminum. The included PSU is crap, and the included fan is average at best. But it is a very good design and it can't be beat at that price point.

I would also say it is very easy to cool. With all the intake vents in the front, a 120mm exahust fan next to the CPU and the PSU exhaust fan right over the expansion slots (GFX card if you had one) and the case is so small there is no place for heat to build up and the air all come in the front and goes out the back with no short-circuits. Beautiful design really.

Oh, I also own a Ex5 Mini-Me ("shuttle" form-factor barebone I bought and put put a Barton 3800+ in). It's about half the size of the xQpack. I do not reccomend it or any updated versions unless they greatly improved the power supply. detailed review
October 17, 2006 2:32:55 AM

Actually, in an effort to make it into a decent case, I replaced the PSU with a Enermax Liberty PSU, and the fan with an Antec Tri-Cool fan. It STILL made a lot of noise, which I figure was the wind whistling through the holes in the case. And by the time I was done, I had almost doubled the cost of the case, with a $90 PSU and a $20 fan (all prices Canadian), compared to the $120 case. If nothing else, it would be nice if Aspire would sell the case w/o PSU for half price, since the PSU isn't worth anything (IMHO).

Like I said, the Antec Sonata II unit was exactly the same price, came with a 450W PSU (decent quality, not top-of-the-line Antec, though), was quiet, and well built. It wasn't a cube case, but shouldn't the cube ones be even cheaper, as there's less material? In any case (tee-hee), the drawbacks of the cube case (the X-QPack in particular) just couldn't catch up to the prettiness of it and it's size. It just wasn't worth it to me (personally).

Clint
October 17, 2006 2:38:12 AM

Quote:
In any case (tee-hee)...


you must now be pun-ished (heh heh)
October 17, 2006 7:12:17 AM

Some great comments; thanks guys.

Does anyone have experience of the Antec Aria? Toms Hardware have got quite a good review/overview of it. Read from this page I've linked onwards.

As for the video card; yes, I will probably upgrade at a later stage.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 2:33:00 PM

I can't tell from the pictures whether or not the Antc Aria PSU is proprietary. The PSU in these SFF cubes can be tough to replace because some are a custom size. There are two cases that I know of in which full size PSU's can be used: Flasher702 was looking at the Ultra MicroFly which is longer than its Chenming equivalent and here is the Silverstone case that I like.
October 17, 2006 5:06:23 PM

Quote:
I can't tell from the pictures whether or not the Antc Aria PSU is proprietary. The PSU in these SFF cubes can be tough to replace because some are a custom size. There are two cases that I know of in which full size PSU's can be used: Flasher702 was looking at the Ultra MicroFly which is longer than its Chenming equivalent and here is the Silverstone case that I like.


Actually, the xQpack and the Microfly are both Chenming designs, although I haven't seen any non-Ultra-branded "Microfly" cases for sale anywhere. Just a heads up so if you see one that looks identical, it probably is, so don't be afraid to grab it if it's a good deal.

Standard size PSUs will fit in the xQpack. It's a tight fit, but I have done it personally; just follow the recomendations I made previosly.

Anyone have personal experience with the Antec Aria?
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 5:27:56 PM

Wow, here's a cube case I've never seen before:

PC Design Lab Qmicra

Too bad it's $350. In the review above they were able to put a gigantic Zalman cooler on the CPU, full size Enermax Liberty PSU, and they say there's room for SLI and four hard drives. It must be like playing Tetris to get all that in such a small case. Kudos to the engineers on this one.
October 17, 2006 5:43:49 PM

Never used the Aria, but I have the XQPack and it is noisy, but its just the fan. The case is laid out quite well, nice little motherboard tray, two temp monitors on the front (you place the probes where you want them), airflow is great. Not very good for a HTPC (which I use it for, unfortunately), but a good little case. The power supply with it started shorting out after about 6 months, so I had to RMA it. I don't know that I'd recommend it based on layout alone though, since the PS seems to be less reliable.

For the x2 3800 (which I have), the stock HSF works fine if your case has good airflow. Mine wasn't great and the thing was noisy as hell. Once I did a little Dremeling, I can't really hear the HSF over the airflow in my case, even at full load. If you're going uber-quiet, then I'd go with something different, but if you're not so worried about that, it works fine.
October 17, 2006 6:02:40 PM

Quote:
Wow, here's a cube case I've never seen before:

PC Design Lab Qmicra

Too bad it's $350. In the review above they were able to put a gigantic Zalman cooler on the CPU, full size Enermax Liberty PSU, and they say there's room for SLI and four hard drives. It must be like playing Tetris to get all that in such a small case. Kudos to the engineers on this one.

Nice case. $300 price tag seems painful though xD http://www.pcdesignlab.com/Configure.htm
October 17, 2006 6:15:19 PM

Quote:
Some great comments; thanks guys.

Does anyone have experience of the Antec Aria? Toms Hardware have got quite a good review/overview of it. Read from this page I've linked onwards.

As for the video card; yes, I will probably upgrade at a later stage.


I have the Antec Aria, I would have recommended a year or two ago but not now. The Aria only has a 20pin power plug for the motherboard. Most mobos now require a 24-pin plug. You can use a 20 to 24 pin adaptor, but some people (in general) have problems with that especially if they are trying to use integrated graphics.

Another issue is that the power supply is proprietary, meaning if it dies you will need to buy another one from Antec that specifically fits the Aria. I think the fan 120mm is getting a little loud so I might replace it or live with it until I build a new HTPC.

Gotta go for now, but I'll post more info later when I get a chance.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 6:40:22 PM

It's good to know about the 20-pin PSU. It looks like there is an updated Antec cube case with a 24-pin PSU:

Antec NSK1300

It's still a proprietary 300W PSU though.

There's also the LIAN LI PC-V300A, but it doesn't have a PSU so that would add to the cost.
October 17, 2006 6:41:52 PM

I'll take a look at that Lian Li. I used a case by them on my last PC and it was really well made.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 6:47:47 PM

There's also a black version of that same Lian Li case. It's kind of different with the optical drives being mounted on the side. You haven't listed any color prferences on the build, although that is usually the last thing to consider. :lol: 
October 17, 2006 7:19:51 PM

Yep, it's a bit strange, but clever in a way as it uses less space depth wise.
October 17, 2006 7:35:24 PM

There are alot of UK forums on Shuttle cases, I'd say your best bet is to find a local distributor, and pick a Shuttle with integrated graphics. The case is a bit pricey, but its very well engineered.
October 17, 2006 7:38:09 PM

Wish I would have seen this Lian case when I done my build. I am going to get that sucker. I like my Micro Fly case just fine to. I would recommend the Micro Fly pack from Tiger that comes with the case,psu, and nec3550a drive for $100. Its a good deal. The MicroFly is definately bigger then most cube cases, but is easy to work in (VERY easy) The case is made well and the corners are rounded (which is a plus in small cases) It is a great case and I would buy another if the time came, but I would consider the Lian case too, probably a bit better quality.

P.S.- The Ultra PSU that comes in the MicroFly cases works like a charm with my setup, VERY quiet!!! Actually, the whole case was very quiet until I added the x850 . . .
October 17, 2006 7:50:39 PM

There's a good review of the MicroFly here. The say that "fans of the Aspire X-Qpack may find the Ultra MicroFly a better choice", so it looks hopeful. :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 8:27:20 PM

The MicroFly does seem to be the best bang-for-the-buck (or pop-for-the-pound since you are in UK??? :lol:  ) The PSU appears to be of higher quality than the Aspire Qpack PSU. 400W should get you by unless you install a power hungry video card in the future. Any other comments from people who have actually owned the MicroFly??
October 17, 2006 9:35:12 PM

Yep, it would be good to here if anyone has the MicroFly as I think we have a winner. Without a doubt I'd like to go for the Silverstone, but I think it's a little expensive. We'll see. ;) 
October 17, 2006 9:52:45 PM

I am pleased with mine, as I said earlier. All three (top, 2 sides) panels come off, and it has a removable MOBO tray, so it is very easy to put your parts in. I recommend it for a desktop case for sure. It looks like a big Gamecube. I like it
October 17, 2006 10:45:27 PM

Had an Antec Aria, it was a nightmare. Don't buy one!
I've now got an Aspire QPack. It's much better but I agree with the other comments about the power supply and fan. I replaced the fan with a Scythe Ultra quiet model and bought an external "Magnum" PSU from the States (I'm in the UK too). Really happy with it now :D 
October 17, 2006 11:14:20 PM

Here's the case for you (I think)

http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=92400

I've done a bunch of builds with the aria/nsk 1300 and though they aren't the noise monster the qpack is, i'd still recommend against them for one simple reason: non-standard powersupply.

Though I'm usually okay with antec's power supplies (ie they are the only case company who's psu's don't get chucked in the lake asap after purchase), the trade off between cute little cube with limited power and a slightly larger desktop that takes any psu is a no brainer.

Granted the new silverstone evolution is very slick, but still overpriced.

The only real flaw with the antec nsk2400 is jimmy'ing stealth dvd covers. The asthetic fix is to use the included cover and glue it on the dvd tray front so it looks like the computer has no dvd drive. Else have fun finding those rare nec silver drives which still don't match, else ugly black or white on a nice silver case.... (the fix's flaw is figuring out how to get at the eject button if you can't use windows r-click eject....)

ah confessions of a cube junky...

(words to the manufacturers: go modular or die, propriatary stuff is for mac freaks)
a b B Homebuilt system
October 17, 2006 11:15:16 PM

Sebby,

Do you have a final parts list and total price for this build now? I've lost track. I hope you make your budget.
October 17, 2006 11:21:39 PM

Your idea is doable in that price range, but as mentioned in some of the replies, the Aspire Q-Pack is too short for most standard power supplies and CD drives at the same time, so I chose the Ultra Micro Fly MATX cube
like case which is very simular to the Q-Pack. With searching, patience and flexiblity I found a windowless black version with standard 400wt psu $99 before a $50 rebate at Circuit City. The Q-Pack is also good case, but a little short and limited; the color choices are great. The Ultra microfly is a little bigger so more flexible. Finding a CPU cooler that is low profile enough is a big issue for any of these cases. I settled on the Cooler Master Vortex TX, but would have liked more choice. It is quieter than the stock Intel cooler only not much better at cooling.

Link to case manufacturer:
http://www.ultraproducts.com/product_details.php?cPath=...
Important for initial build and upgrades it has a slide out mb tray, but some of the cables are too short. The case alu material is not that sturdy, but OK. I would prefer it to be an inch or so taller with more room for CPU cooler and upgrades. But that is the case with the other cube cases.
The 120 mm case fan is quiet enough and necessary to control. It also has an 80 mm case fan at the front that pushes air across the mb to the big exhaust fan at the back.
As for Vista; I am running RC1 with AERO just fine on integrated Intel 945 graphics on a Gigabyte GA-945GM-S2. Worked OK with 1GB RAM but is smoother with 2 GB. Actually I think one is better off spending the budget on more RAM and a good mb with onboard VGA for a new build than external VGA card unless you need the graphics power now. Next year new cards and better drivers at better prices are on the way and the RAM increases performance for everything. Photoshop is smooth.
If you can find a good deal, get a mb with the newest integrated video chipset for better results with Vista.

Cost for bulild: $680 if get money from rebates. Waited too long to buy RAM, which has quickly gone up in price so price would be wven more now.
Ultra Micro Fly case w 400wt PSU
Intel Pentium 945D CPU
Gigabyte GA-945GM-S2
2GB Kingston DDR2 667 RAM
WD 250 SATA-II HD
old 8 GB PATA HD for W2K
Lite-On 16X DVD-RW
Adaptec Video! DVD Media Center TV tuner/capture/DVR (Vista Media Center does not find it although Vista installs driver and the WinDVR sw does not install at all, but works fine in W2K pro)
Vista RC1
using existing monitor and peripherals
October 17, 2006 11:50:04 PM

Quote:
It looks like a big Gamecube. I like it


Heh, I built a small HTPC for use in my aunt and uncle's theater room using the Micro Fly case. When I was finished and brought it over, my 7 year old cousin goes "Whoa your GameCube is huge!"
October 18, 2006 1:55:35 AM

Have you looked at the Monarch Hornet Pro? I've been told it's one of the best out there. The case is around $120. Their website is monarchcomputer.com.

Good luck!
October 18, 2006 4:12:58 AM

Quote:
Aspire X-Qpack Black uATX Aluminum Case with 420W v2.0PSU with Window £68.35
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800 Retail AM2 £116.33
Crucial DDR2 PC2-5300 • CL=5 • UNBUFFERED • ECC • DDR2-667 • 1.8V • 64Meg x 72 £118.66
250GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA £53.99
ASUS M2NPV-VM nF430 Socket AM2 £53.98
NEC ND-5170A-0B 18x DVDRW DL Black £22.27
TOTAL £433.58

So as you can see, the total is good at UK prices. What do you guys think? Any changes?


You're slightly overbudget there, but it looks good. You could get a single core CPU, cheaper ram, smaller HD, slower DVD burner to get the price down. For what you say you're using the system for you won't take much of a performance hit.

Is that 1g or 2g of ram you have picked out there? Go with 1g and consider cheaper brands also. If you're not messing with the frequency or timings there isn't much point in going with a higher-end brand. If you get a single 1g chip you can easily add another later if you need to (and hopefully prices will have gone down by then).

With a case with a removeable motherboard tray you could swap that CPU out in a matter of minutes and the single-core Sempron 64s are sooo cheap. For an "internet browser" machine I'd say get one. We're talking a difference of tenths of a second to open each program when you first sit down... and then they run exactly the same, because your webbrowser isn't multithreaded and wouldn't be any faster if it was.

Smaller HD won't save you much money, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. Just look for one that is on sale. Same with the optical drive.

I don't really know about your motherboard choice there... maybe someone else has advice concerning that.
October 18, 2006 7:10:09 AM

Thanks for all the comments. I'm in a bit of a rush to go out, but I've had a bit of a change of heart last night regarding the case. I'll post details a bit later on tonight. The short of it is that I just don't think I'm going to be happy with the quality of the Antec or the xQpack, as far as I can tell from reading, so I may go a little over budge, but I think it's worth it. I'll post full details tonight, which will hopefully be my final spec. ;) 
!