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Building Low Budget Core2Duo PC

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January 15, 2007 4:56:34 AM

Hey everyone,

My Athlon is dying on me and I'm resigning to the fact that a new PC build is necessary - even though funds are low.

This will be the first time building a PC myself (kind of excited to do it) and would love your suggestions & feedback.

Here's what I'm thinking (prices in Canadian $):

Case: Antec SLK3000B $56.00 or Antec Solo $95.00

Motherboard: Asus P5B-E $180.00 or Gigabyte 965P-DS3 $171.00

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13 ghz $259.95

PSU: OCZ GameXstream 600W $109.99

RAM: have no idea yet - looking for cheap/reliable 1 GB

Video Card: Will use my crappy Nvidia 5600 or whatever it is! I don't game so it's all good. Just need to use Photoshop (will upgrade to an ATI x1950 in a few months)

Sound Card: will use the on-board sound

Any ideas or suggestions would be great!
January 15, 2007 5:51:08 AM

Seems decent. Prices are alright (considering they're in canadian $).
A few things I would point out :

1. Personally I'd pick the DS3, for the very simple reason that it's 10$ cheaper. Both boards are capable overclockers, you'll likely not push either of them to their limits (upwards of 400fsb).

2. The Solo is a much better case than the slk300b/bqe. Also consider the p150/180 (more expensive), or the Sonata 2. All are good, well designed cases that provide higher sound/vibration damping that your typical case. The sonata 2 can be found as low as 50$ US nowadays, but you need to snipe a good deal.

3. For your ram, I recommend Corsair. If your budget is tight, get a dual channel 2*512Mb ddr667 kit. Tigerdirect has it for 119$ canadian, not a bad price. Remember that 533Mhz memory is sufficient to run your core2 at stock speeds/fsb, and overclocking to 333/350f/400sb will require the use of ddr667-800 memory. I happen to own the above-mentionned corsair (4x512mb), and it can easily run at 360fsb with stock voltage, and much higher if you give it 2.0V and loosen some timings.

There are many other good ram brands (OCZ, Patriot, etc) ... but this is the one I know first hand to be of excellent quality.

4. You omit one important detail in your build. A good aftermarket fan.
It's almost sinful to build a core2 rig with an overcloking friendly motherboard and good ram, to leave it at stock. The stock cooler will be able to keep up for a slight/moderate overclock (mostly because the core2s run cool), but expect your rig to sound like a jet testing facility.

For an excellent cooler at a low price, consider the Artic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro (for socket 775). It's designed to blow the air out directly through the exhaust fan, so your case airflow is improved (you'll need a case with a 120mm exhaust fan for this... but that's a given nowadays).

There are other options, by Tuniq, Thermaltake and Scythe a few others, but they're generally twice as expensive as the Freezer 7, but not exactly "twice as good".

The freezer 7 can be found as low as 22$ canadian (check out NCIX.com and directcanada.com).

There are other issues to address in this build, but I just realized it's 3am here and I need to crash. I'm sure others will give you plenty of info.

Good luck :) 
January 15, 2007 7:18:19 AM

Do yourself a favour and get a gigabyte S3 which is cheaper than the DS3. G.skill have some cheap ram. 600W is probabaly too much. you could get a 450/500W PSU to save money. the antec sonata 2 comes with a good PSU.
Related resources
January 15, 2007 9:49:14 AM

I hate to ask this but how tight of a budget? An aftermarket cooler may be an unnecessary expense for now especially since you don't seem to be playing games and the like (though investing in a freezer 7 isn't a terrible idea either.) Down the road, you might wish to grab an aftermarket cooler and OC your c2d (even more) or by that time, switch it out for something entirely new (like the current entry quadcore.) Not to mention, you'll need better RAM if you try OCing though I would try to squeeze any ddr2 800 ram into your budget regardless. Honestly, it doesn't seem like you are penny pinching too much judging by your system components. You might want to keep in mind that the later quadcores will be at 1333mhz FSB - though, I'm not sure the 965/975 won't support those processors. Then again, nvidia 600 line might not have everything right either.

You could also possibly rip out everything on your dying rig and use the case if you are -that- strapped for cash. I do however, recommend getting a new power supply regardless. The Antec sonata II with 450w PSU seems like one of the better choices for those without a lot of money to burn. However, you can probably find a combination that is nearly as good if not slightly better to fit your standards (for example, you might consider a slightly easier to work with case since it's your first time build.) I found myself in a similar situation earlier and ended up choosing a Sunbeam NUUO 550w PSU with a Rosewill R6A34-SL. It ended up slightly more expensive than the Sonata II unfortunately (ended up around 100USD/117CAD compared to 90USD/105CAD - going off of Newegg prices which doesn't really apply to Canadians unfortunately.)
January 15, 2007 11:46:49 AM

Sorry that this may seem like an obvious point but is your existing Graphics card AGP? If so the M.Boards you have spec-ed will not support it so you will need to buy a new.
January 15, 2007 12:27:04 PM

hi, I am doing the same thing like you, building o low budget pc, but I am doing it a little different

this is my build

intel xeon 3060 sochet 775 (conroe)
asus p5b-deluxe (very good for overclockimg)
seagate baracuda 320 gb, 16 mb buffer, sata II, 7200 rpm
some cheape 512 mb memory at 667 mhz
gainward bliss 7600gs with 256 ddr3 at 1200mhz ( very cheap stuff )
antec TX1088AMG 480 W true power II
scythe ninja plus

if I will not have that much money I will drop the 320 gigs of hard and take one with just 120 gigs, I also save some money by taking just 512 mb of cheape memory, and I will upgrade the memory in one year ( 2 gigs of corsair C5D ).
January 15, 2007 6:54:45 PM

Quote:
Sorry that this may seem like an obvious point but is your existing Graphics card AGP? If so the M.Boards you have spec-ed will not support it so you will need to buy a new.


That's a good point...and one that I hadn't thought of. I actually have no idea, but bought it like 3 years ago.

Stupid question but, how can I tell?

Syntonic: My case is getting old, too. The power button sticks when I turn it on (drives me nuts). You mentioned the Antec Sonata II w/ 450W PSU - will that be enough power for a core 2 duo rig? I might get into some mild overclocking down the road. Also, I'm happy with getting a 965 board/Core2Duo because I only expect this build to last a couple years. I'll upgrade again then.

thanks for all your replies...
January 16, 2007 4:10:46 AM

Well, you could tell from opening up the case and looking at the slot itself if you know what an AGP card looks like among other ways. For example, if you reset your computer and go into your bios, they'll have options you can set for your motherboard. If things about AGP shows up, then you have an AGP card. Of course, that's a rather ghettoish way of doing things. Kind of like using coolbits and seeing if the AGP multiplier settings slider bar pops up under your advanced display property settings. Or checking your device manager to see if you have an AGP controller system device.

Here's a proper comparison via google with pictures (oh so important):
http://www.viaarena.com/default.aspx?PageID=5&ArticleID...
You can find a rather cheapish PCI-e video card I'm sure but if you need help, just ask around.

Yes, the Antec Sonata II w/ the 450W PSU will do fine with the c2d as other people have tried it (with oc'ing.) I honestly wasn't crazy about the case and even less enthusiastic about the power supply but (a majority of) people do consider it as one of the better entry level cases to purchase. I also think it's a fairly decent deal as well and you could do far worse. Don't expect to run two 8800gts in SLI mode with it of course but you'll need to pay far more to do that regardless.
EDIT: Just to be sure, here was a link to give you a general idea of what you might aim for in power supply requirements. It gives a rather over the top high wattage rating in my opinion though but I saw the link floating around and I thought I'd pass it along.
http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp

You should probably squeeze down to a e6300 as well to save some extra cash as mentioned earlier. With the stock hsf, people have approached and some have reached 3ghz stable (on this forum even.) Granted, I personally think that's a bit stretching it with a stock hsf and I would only go a bit over 2ghz myself just to be safe (in fact, I'm surprised people keep 3ghz on stock.) It's not as if you'll find the e6300 to be just too slow in the first place. The OC part is just icing on the cake. Well, ok, maybe more than that...
January 16, 2007 8:35:53 AM

AGP ports are brown.... PCIE are not.... If your Graphics card is in a brown slot chances are it is AGP and you will need a new one.

It could also be that you have a very old PCI Graphics card but if you say your system is about 3 years old I would guess it is most likely AGP

Hope this helps
January 16, 2007 9:50:46 AM

If its PCI, you could probably use your graphics card, if its PCI-E, I suggest you get the Asrock 775Duel VSTA, It should have support for your C2D and it has AGP and PCI-E
January 16, 2007 5:46:21 PM

I'm pretty sure it's a PCI card. Here's a link to my motherboard specs, they don't even list AGP - just 5 PCI slots.

ASUS K8V SE Deluxe

I'd love to keep my current Video Card and upgrade a little later down the road.

I've never overclocked before. Is it an easy thing to learn? If so, I'll probably go with the E6300 chip. Also, will it make a huge difference to upgrade to a chip that has 4MB Cache instead of 2MB?

Thanks for all your help so far!
January 16, 2007 6:11:25 PM

I disagree with Syntonic, I say your good going with the E6400, as Photoshop tends to count on CPU and RAM to run it (this is if your not OC'in, if you are then get the E6300 for like $60 cheaper) And at that price for the E6400 looks pretty good (make sure you confirm on the price, pc village sometimes screws around with there prices.)
January 16, 2007 6:28:55 PM

Yeah...The PC Village by me (Yonge&Eglinton) is an odd store. They give you the, "buy something and piss off" attitude most of the time. Or the, "why do you need that? Just buy this" line if they don't stock something you're looking for.

But, in the end, it's a 2 minute walk from me and I don't drive...so Canada Computers is too much of a pain to get to.

I've never overclocked, but is it an easy thing to learn? If so, I'd rather save the money and get the E6300. I will be using photoshop a lot, so it may be worth the extra $60 to get the 6400.
January 16, 2007 6:38:46 PM

Also considering this Mobo:

ASUS P5N-E SLI

It's cheaper than the other two I've listed above and looks promising...has anyone ever used this board?
January 16, 2007 6:45:24 PM

That board does support AGP and I'd be willing to guess that your current video card is an AGP card.

If you really aren't serious about overclocking, then take a look at one of the C2D boards with the 965G chipset. They use the new Intel GMA X3000 which is fairly decent for onboard graphics (including programmable shader technology) and will work perfectly for you if you don't do any serious gaming. I suspect that it is even on par, if not better than your current FX5600.

My guess is that you could find a suitable board for the same cost as the 965P boards mentioned already and you wouldn't need to buy a new graphics card. You would also still have the option of adding a faster discrete card at a later time because you'll still have an available PCI-E X16 slot.
January 16, 2007 6:58:32 PM

Quote:
I'm pretty sure it's a PCI card. Here's a link to my motherboard specs, they don't even list AGP - just 5 PCI slots.
ASUS K8V SE Deluxe

Uh, that's not what I saw when I visited your link. It says your mobo has a 1 x AGP 8X so it seems likely you have an AGP video card.

If this proves to be the case, then another option instead of buying a PCIe card now is to go with the Intel integrated video version of the Gigabyte motherboard you listed, the GIGABYTE GA-965G-DS3. In the US it's the same price as the GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3, but don't know what it's price in Canada would be ...

-john
January 16, 2007 7:22:48 PM

Quote:
hi, I am doing the same thing like you, building o low budget pc, but I am doing it a little different

this is my build

intel xeon 3060 sochet 775 (conroe)
asus p5b-deluxe (very good for overclockimg)
seagate baracuda 320 gb, 16 mb buffer, sata II, 7200 rpm
some cheape 512 mb memory at 667 mhz
gainward bliss 7600gs with 256 ddr3 at 1200mhz ( very cheap stuff )
antec TX1088AMG 480 W true power II
scythe ninja plus

if I will not have that much money I will drop the 320 gigs of hard and take one with just 120 gigs, I also save some money by taking just 512 mb of cheape memory, and I will upgrade the memory in one year ( 2 gigs of corsair C5D ).


what are you going to do with 512Mb of ram? let the scythe ninja crap and add 1 gb! that build makes no sense to me :?
January 16, 2007 7:32:21 PM

:roll:
January 16, 2007 7:43:20 PM

Hey PMR:

I see you're a MAC user...I'm actually rebuilding my dying PC because I need a computer to run well while I wait for the Macbook Pro to be updated with Santa Rosa, etc in a few months.

Would you recommend getting an iMac instead of doing this build? Effectively scrapping Windows altogether? I've been a windows guy all my life but my wife wants to get a Mac and I've really liked OSX the few times I've used it.

Here would be my two options:
iMac: 2.16 C2D/667MHz FSB/1GB Ram/250 GB HDD/128MB ATI Radeon X1600 - $1699.99 Canadian

PC Build: E6400 2.13 C2D/Asus P5N-E SLI/1GB Kingston Ram/Sapphire x1600pro/Antec Solo Case/OCZ GameXstream 600W PSU/19" Monitor - $1200.00 Canadian
January 16, 2007 9:48:29 PM

Quote:
Hey PMR:

I see you're a MAC user...I'm actually rebuilding my dying PC because I need a computer to run well while I wait for the Macbook Pro to be updated with Santa Rosa, etc in a few months.

Would you recommend getting an iMac instead of doing this build? Effectively scrapping Windows altogether? I've been a windows guy all my life but my wife wants to get a Mac and I've really liked OSX the few times I've used it.

Here would be my two options:
iMac: 2.16 C2D/667MHz FSB/1GB Ram/250 GB HDD/128MB ATI Radeon X1600 - $1699.99 Canadian

PC Build: E6400 2.13 C2D/Asus P5N-E SLI/1GB Kingston Ram/Sapphire x1600pro/Antec Solo Case/OCZ GameXstream 600W PSU/19" Monitor - $1200.00 Canadian


Well, let's see. Don't want to start another mac vs pc thread.
I've always been a mac guy, and not knowing nothing about computers till i got my imac G4. I bought them because they were pretty. Then I bought a pc for games that has been upgraded ever since. Then my job asked for a big machine and I had to buy a G5. Keep in mind that I bought it because software applications. Mostly because of final cut, unavailable for windows.
Macs have this awesome interface and are simple to use and they gave me much less problems than the pcs. Another thing i love in macs is that you can install, reinstall, backup, erase what you want and never goes sluggish unlike pcs.

So, if you really like the aesthetics and want it for some software in particular, or you love the OS buy one.
But you will have some cons like:
-not upgradeable
-you can´t open it to solve hardware problems(only mac workstations g4, g5, mac pro etc)
-if some component goes boom, you have to send all the computer
-games for mac

for now, if you want to go mac, i only advise you to go macbook (cheap when compared to other laptops and will suffer from the same problems) or mac pro (cheap when compared to other workstations with the same hardware).

Hope this helps.
January 16, 2007 10:04:58 PM

Thanks for the reply PMR.

I'm definitely getting a Macbook Pro when they release the next revision with Santa Rosa. And an iMac is pretty steep...I'll probably just rebuild my PC and get a decent 22" monitor so that I can hook-up the Macbook Pro if I ever want to in the future.

Besides...there has to be a way to run OSX only with an intel Core2Duo build? Maybe I'll do that?
January 16, 2007 10:16:56 PM

Quote:

Besides...there has to be a way to run OSX only with an intel Core2Duo build? Maybe I'll do that?

that was done before but very unstable.
January 16, 2007 10:44:24 PM

Quote:

Besides...there has to be a way to run OSX only with an intel Core2Duo build? Maybe I'll do that?

that was done before but very unstable.

Giga 965P-S3\E6300 here. I have OSX 10.4 on a dual boot and it is stable. I use it for Photoshop, and I am quite happy with it. Best of both worlds baby :D  Although it was a real pain to install on a partition. Next time I'll get a separate drive to install it on.
January 16, 2007 10:49:50 PM

I didn´t know about that sorry. The latest attempts of installing mac OS I've seen, where about a year ago.
January 16, 2007 11:04:51 PM

Quote:

Besides...there has to be a way to run OSX only with an intel Core2Duo build? Maybe I'll do that?

that was done before but very unstable.

Giga 965P-S3\E6300 here. I have OSX 10.4 on a dual boot and it is stable. I use it for Photoshop, and I am quite happy with it. Best of both worlds baby :D  Although it was a real pain to install on a partition. Next time I'll get a separate drive to install it on.

Are there any online guides for setting up a dual boot or even a single/native boot for OSX?

If so, I may go that route...build a Core2Duo PC and boot OSX.
January 17, 2007 12:06:26 AM

Quote:
I didn´t know about that sorry. The latest attempts of installing mac OS I've seen, where about a year ago.

How things have changed in a year. It can be installed on any platform at this point. Don't even need a dual core. It'll work with all processors, AMD and Intel alike, and has a good success rate on laptops. But the tewwking can be a big pain.
January 17, 2007 12:11:56 AM

So I'll need a SATA HDD to make this work? And I'll have to buy an external DVD Burner to boot OSX?
January 17, 2007 12:31:43 AM

I'll buy that converter and just use my IDE DVD RW to install OSX.

Also, if I follow those steps will this just boot OSX natively, or can you dual boot (XP if I want)?
January 17, 2007 1:14:39 AM

Quote:
I'll buy that converter and just use my IDE DVD RW to install OSX.

Before doing that you might want to ask around a bit more and see if other people have had luck doing that.

I have what I think is the same adapter, just not under the Rosewill name. The one I got sells for $14 shipped from a place called CensusPC.
Here's a link: SATA to PATA Ultra 100-133 Mini Converter.

This adapter uses the Silicon Image Sil3811 chipset (I think) and it has worked well for me with PATA disk drives. However it did not work well when I tried to use it with my PATA optical drive. I don't know how well my experience would transfer to you. I only tried one optical drive and I was using a Promise SATA PCI adapter, not a motherboard SATA connection.

But figured I should mention what happened just to give you a heads up about possible ATAPI device problems.

-john
January 17, 2007 1:21:23 AM

Quote:
I just noticed you live in Canada. That converter is expensive here. I can only find it at Tigerdirect.ca http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

Looking at the pictures for that one, they show an adapter which looks the same but uses the Sil3611 chipset, not the Sil3811. Hopefully the photo is just out of date, but I had terrible results with a Sil3611 based adapter. Couldn't even get it to work with hard drives which worked fine using the Sil3811 adapter.

My advice would be to avoid any adapter using Sil3611!

-john
January 17, 2007 1:58:19 AM

My adapter I was using, before getting my SATA DVD burner, used the Sil3811 and worked flawlessly with my DVD rom but not with my DVD burner. The discription does specify DVD / DVD-RAM / CD-ROM / CD-RW / HDD so it should work. But a quick e-mail to tigerdirect should answer any questions.
January 17, 2007 2:31:23 AM

Quote:
My adapter I was using, before getting my SATA DVD burner, used the Sil3811 and worked flawlessly with my DVD rom but not with my DVD burner.

Never thought to try that. Thanks!

I've got a DVD-ROM and some straight CD units laying around. I'll have to give them a try and see what sort of luck I have.

-john
January 17, 2007 9:33:40 AM

Keep us posted on your results :) 
!