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Budget Build - Advice Greatly Appreciated

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February 15, 2007 1:26:05 AM

I realize there's a million of these topics but you guys are much more knowledgable about this stuff than I could ever hope to be. If anyone could give some feedback on my choices or suggest alternatives I would greatly appreciate it.

Here's some background: My current computer works fine for my needs, but my little brother desperately needs a newer computer and wants mine. My current setup is with an AMD 3200+, radeon 9800 pro, 1 gig of ram, and 160gig hd. I built it about 3.5 years ago when I used to do a lot of gaming.

I'm in college so I'm looking to hit the best price/performance spots and trying to keep it as cheap as possible. I do a lot of web browsing, office work, and occaisonal intensive engineering programs like CAD, Matlab, etc. I don't plan on overclocking as I know nothing about it. The one indulgence I'd like is a widescreen flatpanel as I've found it helps wonderfully with multi-tasking engineering work.

I realize that the requirements are completely different, but if there's any possibility of converting this to a HTPC cheaply with vista down the line that'd be a major plus.

The preliminary parts list i came up with comes out to about $835 ($795 with rebates) shipped:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Windsor 2.0GHz Socket AM2 Processor
$109

BIOSTAR NF4UAM2G Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Mobo
$65

EVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16
$110 ($90 after $20 rebate)

A-DATA 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
$108

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600JB 160GB 7200 RPM IDE Ultra
$55

ASUS 16X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM Write and LightScribe Black E-IDE/ATAPI
$33

SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive
$19

Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC ATX 430W Power Supply
$40

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UB Black /Blue Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
$50

SAMSUNG 941BW Black 19" 4 ms (GTG) DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor
$210 ($190 after $20 rebate)


Thanks in advance
February 15, 2007 2:31:06 AM

You doing fine so far, some nice choices and are all very upgradable. To move to an HTPC, You change the MB and case and lose one DVD drive. Most are limited to one of each. You then need a TV-Tuner. and a few small changes in software and you are good to go.
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February 15, 2007 12:16:16 PM

Consider the Brisbane 3600+ vesion of the CPU

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

I am beginning to see lots of reviews that the Brisbane is really starting to overclock very well. Initial reviews seemed to indicate this was not the case, but it appears as if AMD may have tweaked something in their process to really help the OC.

Just a thought, I will admit I have not been reading as many AMD articles as in the past. Overall, though, a fantastic PC for the price as is.
February 15, 2007 1:05:30 PM

ok, my thoughts and everyone might but disagree, but here goes
1. Why a DVD R/W AND a DVD->better off getting a DVD R/W and a larger harddrive and for games, copy the DVD image to the harddrive and mount using DaemonTools ->much faster and no swapping crappy DVD's
2. The hard drive you have chosen is a great performer( one of the best 7200 drives, but is small ), but if you go with 1 above then a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 is a brilliant cheap harddrive. Unless youre crazy about performance( and for me battlefield 2 is the only game that needs a great performing HD ) larger size is better than quicker because the performance differences between harddrives 7200 are minimal
3. If you can you are much much better off with an Intel Core Duo, of course this will mean a different mobo, but personally i would take that option

Just as an aside, i have a 4200+ dualcore and im very happy with it, but im changing to a core 2 6400 just to get better performance
February 15, 2007 1:21:28 PM

I don't disagree about the Core2Duo, but that greatly increases the cost.
His CPU+MB is the same price as the E4300 alone.

Reducing from 2 to 1 optical drives would give him the money for a 7200.10 which would be a bit faster, more space, etc...

(Note: Larger HDDs are generally faster than are even shown in many test reviews. This is because data accessed on the inner part of the platters much much slower than on the outer platters. If you get a HDD that is twice as large, then more of your data will be on the outer parts of the platters which is much faster. This is an example of Real World vs Bench Mark results.)
February 15, 2007 2:26:56 PM

Thanks for the replies so far guys

It's always been a habit of mine to get 2 optical drives from back when I used to copy cd's on the fly...I'll go with just the burner for now even though the regular dvd-roms are really cheap, I think I may have an extra lying around somewhere. And unfortunately the drive you recomended Crapola is out of stock at newegg until mid march.

I switched the PSU to:
FSP Group (Fortron Source) AX400-PN, RoHS, 12cm FAN, version 2.2, 2 SATA, 20+ 4 pin, PCI Express, 400W
$42

I found some slightly cheaper memory... one review said it doesn't OC well but I don't really plan on OC'ing anyway:
WINTEC AMPO 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit
$100

I didn't even realize the hd i had was IDE... based on the suggestions I'm thinking of switching to this:
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
$95

I think the core2 stuff is a little out of my price range and more than I need at the moment
February 15, 2007 6:39:00 PM

Newegg has the Brisbane 3600 AM2 combo with BIOSTAR TFORCE 550 Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 550 MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail for 159.99. and this memory OCZ 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail for 94.99 with rebate and its ddr2 6400 cas 4 ram the ram you selected is cas 5 and more expensive. The brisbane with a mild overclock should net you 2.3 to 2.4 ghz on stock cooling. Other than that you look good also ddr2 667 only supports 333 FSB to spec AM2 uses a 400 FSB so disregard the 667 suggestion since your already out of spec at stock speed. The 667 ram would be fine for a core 2 system.
February 15, 2007 10:17:05 PM

Quote:
Ok so going with the following would be my best bet with some OC'ing?

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Brisbane 1.9GHz

BIOSTAR TFORCE 550 Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 550 MCP ATX AMD mobo

OCZ 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel

Unfortunately I couldn't really find an inexpensive heatsink that fit the AM2 slot.... does anyone have a suggestion?



I like your setup. I've been looking at building an AMD system with a very similar budget.

One thought I had though, maybe it would be better to go with that X2 3800 Windsor that you first posted. It's only $109 ($4 bucks more) and it comes with a HSF. Granted, stock coolers aren't the greatest thing in the world, but they at least do the job well enough, especially if you only plan to do mild OC'ing or none at all. Which from what I've gathered it's not a big interest to you. Is that correct?

If you get the 1.9GHz Brisbane, I would expect that you will end up paying an extra $40 at least for a decent cooler. (Maybe I'm wrong on that, anyone know?) Sure you could get a cheap $10 cooler, but from my experience those will either not work well enough or die too soon. At least with the stock cooler you get with the retail 3800 Windsor, it's meant for that chip and is still decent enough to run without any problems for a good while.

Also, you won't get that combo price for the CPU & MoBo if you go with the 3800 Windsor, but you can find a similar MoBo for the same, if not less. Or...you could just stick with that MoBo but not get the $24 discount for the combo purchase. Considering you'd have to spend at least $30-40 for a cooler anyway with the combo, it all evens out.

Just wanted to throw that out there.

As a side note, the build I'm seriously considering is almost identical.

CPU is the 3800 2.0GHz Windsor that you were looking at earlier...this is the 65W version, so that's a nice plus.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+(65W) Windsor 2.0GHz

MoBo...I had to go a bit higher in price since I wanted 2 IDE connections and Firewire.
ASUS M2N-E SLI Socket AM2 NVIDIA nForce 500 SLI MCP ATX

RAM...same sticks that you are currently looking at. Cheapest DDR2 800 with CAS of 4 that I could find.
OCZ 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800

And the same exact Video Card that you posted earlier. I may be biased, but I think it's a solid system.
February 15, 2007 10:29:31 PM

Quote:
I would also strongly suggest this ram, its 2 gigs of 4-4-4-12 ram for $133, great deal! That is if it comes back into stock.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


The RAM that both Trooper and I were looking at is CAS 4 with timings 4-5-4-15...would timings of 4-4-4-12 make a big difference at all? Or is it better for OC'ing?

If 4-4-4-12 is considerably better, I also found this RAM:

GeIL 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800

for the same price as the OCZ that he and I posted (except without $10 rebate)...and it's only 1gig total, not 2gig like the one you're talking about.
February 15, 2007 10:34:25 PM

I don't think there would be a big difference between the 4-5-4-15 and the 4-4-4-12, It just seems well worth 30 bucks for twice as much ram that is faster. plus if you get the case and PSU i suggested that saves you 100bucks, so you should be able to afford it.
February 15, 2007 10:52:58 PM

That's very true. 2gigs would be great...and it's not much more.

Too bad it's outta stock. :cry: 
February 15, 2007 11:58:28 PM

I didn't plan on OC'ing but if it was by far my best option I would consider really looking into it.

I don't know much about cpu specifics, but is that windsor 3800+ cpu u posted fuel the exact same as the one i originally had picked out, it just runs at a lower voltage? I don't understand why anyone would opt for the higher voltage one if theyre the same price?

Tigerdirect has some inexpensive heat sinks for AM2... not sure how well they'd work
February 16, 2007 12:26:57 AM

Quote:
I didn't plan on OC'ing but if it was by far my best option I would consider really looking into it.

I don't know much about cpu specifics, but is that windsor 3800+ cpu u posted fuel the exact same as the one i originally had picked out, it just runs at a lower voltage? I don't understand why anyone would opt for the higher voltage one if theyre the same price?

Tigerdirect has some inexpensive heat sinks for AM2... not sure how well they'd work


Unless I completely missed something, the 3800 I posted is the exact same as the one you posted first. Except of course, as you said, it's more efficient (drains less power overall). I'm pretty sure people are buying the 65W version now instead of the "vanilla" 3800, I just don't see why they wouldn't for the same price. And it stands to reason that the more efficient chips are probably gonna be better overclockers too.

Granted, the EE (Energy Efficient) Athlons at higher speeds are still a few more bucks than their regular counterparts, but at the 3800 and 4200 range, it's the same price for both respectively.
February 16, 2007 12:22:14 PM

the brisbande 3600 combo I posted earlier has higher overclocking headroom than the 3800 windsor. It is 65nm vs 90nm for one, runs cooler and I may be wrong but uses less power. But you will end up spending about $25 for a decent heatsink that would allow upwards of 2.4 to 2.6 ghz overclock based on the average overclocks in the reviews. The 3800 windsor usually maxes out at about 2.4 without a real good aftermarket heatsink. in a week I can post the brisbane overclock results with a $25 heatsink since i'm biulding this system for a friend. Also if you can get 2gigs of 6400 ddr2 (800) ram for $133 jump on it even if cas 5 the extra ram will give you some longevity with vista later.
!