It has been 4 years since my last build, and it seems the hardware scene has changed significantly. The price/performance for some of this stuff is amazing.
Anyway, my brother recently mentioned he was looking for a new computer for grad school and light gaming (oblivion and CoH but he is not a resolution fiend) so I told him I would look around. He is not technically inclined whatsoever, and does not need a sick overclocked machine. His budget is around $750, not including display and audio. I assembled the following rig with some light browsing, and would love to knock another $50 off the price if possible. Any thoughts or recommendations are appreciated.
FYI: I seriously debated the X2/C2D options but decided I liked the upgrade path on the Intel side slightly better, but feel free to prove me wrong.
Because of the OS cost, that is pretty much the best you are going to do without compromising the PSU.
The only suggestion I have is to wait until next week when the HD2900XT is suppose to come out on the 14th. This might cause the X1950XT to come down a little bit more. For $130, the X1950Pro is hard to beat for price/performance but the extra money spent on the X1950XT is worth it. If the X1950XT happens to come down to $170 or less, I'd pick it up instead.
Other than that, everything else looks good.
If you want to cut costs, the only thing I could suggest is to go the AMD route. The K10 dual-core (Kuma) or quad-core (Agena) is suppose to work with AM2 motherboards but will just not get the improvement in K10's Hypertransport 3.0.
.. for $50 + $15 shipping, I was very impressed. The case itself is very nice, although simple, and as far as the PSU, it seems to be working fine for me. My system is fairly basic (E4300, 7600GT, 2x1GB Ram) and the PSU is handling it just fine.
I did have a look at the RAIDMAX case/PSU combo, and actualy think the conservative styling is probably more what my brother would want. How is the noise level on the PSU though? It looked like there were two 80mm fans on it. (the Antec on my desktop has one, and the whine is quite noticeable.)
I agonized over the DS3/S3 choice for some time... I may deliver this box with a mild OC on stock cooling for long term use, and from what I read the S3 should get me there fine. I understand the later revision DS3 boards support higher FSB speeds...Does this mean they are likely to support Penryn at a later date? What are the other major differences?
The Centurion 534 is also nice, but I dont know that it is worth the extra $10.
I also switched to a saphire x1950pro as that powercolor was miss-labled on newegg, and appeared instead to be an ATI reference design, which some people have described as rather loud.
The drivebay makes you install drives from behind inside the case. It's bad when you have a fully built pc & you just want to move the hdd around or upgrade it. You'd be forced to remove the video, device cables, etc. just so you could remove the drive. Def. worth the $10 diff.
Centurion 534 is what I'd get. Sideway drivebay.
Yep, the DS3 any day. $10 extra is no brainer. It'll last longer than the S3 & support quad & fsb 1333.
CPU-$116 Core 2 duo 1.8GHRZ E4300
RAM-$114 2 gigs of 1GHRZ DDR2
Hard drive- $55, 200 gig SATA 8meg cashe (samsung)
Motherboard- $100 SLI 650i (MSI)
Vista Premium- $111
Power supply- what you want
Everything else one can scavange or buy for less than $100
~630+ stuff i left out...
I made this list for someone a week ago. I dont know if the deals I found are still there.
I just wanted to update those of you kind enough to reply to the original post. The machine is up, running, and delivered in a configuration simiar to the original post, save with the C534 case. I have never had such an easy build, every thing clicked on first install. Not a single crash during the entire configuration. Vista took some getting used to, and significant time to tweak, but appears to be quite stable.
That CPU/Mobo combo is amazing, the thing runs stable @2.7 GHz with Vcore at 1.300V. Tjunct is </= 68 in TAT after 30 min, even with a toasty ambient and stock HSF.
I do have one final question, however. I left the RAM at 1:1 ratio (600 Mhz) and 4-4-4-12 since I did not have time to run a long-term stability test with a higher mem ratio. Is it worth it next time I see my brother to try and bump the RAM to 800 even if it means 5-5-5-15 timings?
This might be one of those timing vs. speed questions that can only be answered with some benchmarking but any intuitive answers would be welcomed.