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Spec'-ing out a 2nd box for my dad. Help on a $700-800 build?

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August 28, 2007 6:32:15 PM

My dad is also ready for a new box so we are talking about what he should build. His previous box uses an AMD chip but we've been talking and I think he is ready to go Intel. Approximate cost should be $700 to $800. No games...he does Sudoku and crosswords on the web. But he does do some Photoshop work (scanning and retouching some old family photos). He does occasionally do some audio conversion (old LP's to digital) but not so much recently. Please provide some suggestions?

Case: He's all for the cheap $50 cases. I did tell him about the CM Centurion 534 that gets a lot of play here but he is looking at a $50 case by I-StarUSA on NewEgg.

CPU: Think I have him talked into Intel. e6550 or e6750 or e6420? I don't think he's willing to spend more than $200 since he'll look at the AMD x2 6000 which is $170

Board: I have no idea. He wants IEEE1394 but doesn't care about RAID. I never cared so far about 1394 so I have no idea which boards support it.

RAM: I was going to have him go with the Crucial Ballistix 2gb kit I went with for $110 (also has an MIR right now)

Optical drives: 1 burner and 1 reader

Hard drives: Probably 1 smaller drive (ie. 160) and 1 larger drive (320 or 500)

PSU: I have him reading reviews at jonnyguru.com. My dad was an electrical engineer (now retired) so he'll understand more about those reviews than I do! I've rec'd the Corsair 520HX that I went with but open to others.

GPU: Needs to be less than $150. Probably looking at the 8600GT.

Case: 50
CPU: 186
RAM: 110
Board: 125?
Optical: 35+20
Hard Drives: 54+80
PSU: 105
GPU: 115

So I came up with $880. (Excluding MIR's for now.)

If we cut the 2nd optical and the 2nd hard drive it is in range...$806. If we dropped below the e6550/e6420 what is the recommended chip? What CPU and Motherboard would ya'll recommend? If he did go with AMD what would be recommended?

He has keyboard/mouse/lcd/OS.
August 28, 2007 6:51:32 PM

If he only does email and browsing the web, why not just go dell and get him a $400 pc? That'll work for general needs and photoshop. If he was doing a few things in maya or 3dsmax, that'd be a different story, but for what he needs.. a bottom of the line pc should work.. but if you just want to build a pc (for the fun lol) what you have looks good, probably save $50 on the GPU) but you can keep the board and PSU in case he wants to upgrade down the road..
August 28, 2007 7:01:47 PM

mindspin311 said:
If he only does email and browsing the web, why not just go dell and get him a $400 pc? That'll work for general needs and photoshop. If he was doing a few things in maya or 3dsmax, that'd be a different story, but for what he needs.. a bottom of the line pc should work.. but if you just want to build a pc (for the fun lol) what you have looks good, probably save $50 on the GPU) but you can keep the board and PSU in case he wants to upgrade down the road..


Photoshop. Audio work.

Because you have to add $220 to go from an e2140 to an e6420. Because you have to add $130 to go from 1gb ram to 2gb. And since he does use Photoshop somewhat regularly he needs the 2gb. Because you have to add $130 to go from an 80gb SATA to a 320gb SATA. Ignoring the CPU you need to add $260 for the RAM and HDD.

By the time you do that, might as well have built your own anyway.

Prices obtained by pricing out a Vostro 200 mini tower.

For an Inspiron 530 desktop, add $250 to go from a Celeron to an e6550; $100 to up RAM; and $80 to up the hard drive to a 320gb. So you are up to $800 with out even selecting a decent video card.
Related resources
August 28, 2007 7:20:03 PM

I consider that your dad don't do hardcore gaming (and OC) and only need the system for something light but a little more multitasking.

Case : Sharkoon Revenge Economy-Edition Revenge Economy-Edition $30
CPU : AMD X2 4600+ + stock fan $99 or Intel E4300 + stock fan $ 100
RAM : A-Data 2GB PC667 $79
Board : Gigabyte M57SLI-S4 $90 or MSI P35 Neo2-FR $99
Optical: Samsung 203B $36
Hard Drives: Seagate/Western Digital 250GB 16MB SATA $65
PSU : Sharkoon SHA450-8P (450W) $49
GPU : Sparkle 256MB 8600GT $94

(The prices are not exact.)
August 28, 2007 7:36:42 PM

The Gigabyte GG-G33M-DS2R (the one I'm using) has one firewire port in back and headers for more. The onboard video might be good enough for your non-gamer father, but if not you can always add something later:
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...
I found no reference to Sharkoon PSUs, but $49 does not inspire confidence. This $58 450W FSP will be sufficient, even if you add a video card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The e6750 is $205, and the e6550 is $179:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Stock cooling should be sufficient. On my stock e6750, the supplied cooler runs quietly around 900rpm or lower.


August 28, 2007 7:46:10 PM

Don't over spend just to over spend.

The E6420 is a good chip and all he needs.
You can OC it to about 2.8-3.0 Ghz w/o a problem.

I would look for perhaps a slightly lower end GPU that was fanless.
This is still more than he needs.

The Corsair 450w will also serve him fine and save him money.

He should have spare money. Consider a 3rd HDD.
Do not use the 3rd HDD for normal operations.

1) 160GB HDD for Windows and Software installs.
2) 320GB HDD for Data.
3) Another 320HDD for Backups. Ghost the 160GB Drive to the 3rd Drive. Also backup the date from Drive 2 to Drive 3. Compression should easily allow the storage of the ghost image and regular data from the 1st two drives to the 3rd.

Backups Rule when you have real data to worry about.
August 28, 2007 8:00:20 PM

CPU/Motherboard/GPU:
Core 2 Duo E4400 Allendale 2.0GHz $126
GIGABYTE GA-G33M-S2 G33 w/GMA3100 graphics chipset $109

Antec Sonata III Black ATX Mid Tower w/ 500W PSU $120
WD Caviar 400GB SATA150 Hard Drive $70

2GB or 667 or 800 PC2 RAM.
1 Cd/DVD burner - you can always use the hard drive as a 2nd virtual CD/DVD drive.
A seperate video card isnt required (but could be added in the future as an upgrade)
Your OS liscense will probably not be "legal" if it wasnt a full retail OS package.

August 28, 2007 8:11:33 PM

zenmaster said:
Don't over spend just to over spend.

He should have spare money. Consider a 3rd HDD.
Do not use the 3rd HDD for normal operations.

1) 160GB HDD for Windows and Software installs.
2) 320GB HDD for Data.
3) Another 320HDD for Backups. Ghost the 160GB Drive to the 3rd Drive. Also backup the date from Drive 2 to Drive 3. Compression should easily allow the storage of the ghost image and regular data from the 1st two drives to the 3rd.

Backups Rule when you have real data to worry about.


Thanks...I freely admit that I probably overspent on my system for what I do but I'm trying to be more aware of that for my dad. I think I actually overestimate the hardware needed for what he needs. Which is funny considering I'm still running (until this weekend) a Barton 2500.

He already has an external drive that he backs up important files to also. He uses it to backup data from his system and my mom's laptop. But the 3rd hdd is a good suggestion and something I may implement for myself in the future too.

Thanks.
August 28, 2007 8:22:43 PM

I'll definitely take a look at the G33M-DS2 since it has come up twice (a good sign!) and he could at least try the integrated video at first.


Your OS liscense will probably not be "legal" if it wasnt a full retail OS package. said:

Your OS liscense will probably not be "legal" if it wasnt a full retail OS package.


I'm not sure about his XP license...but he says he is legal...I think he purchased via a discount program thru my mom's work. But he may load Vista....I know a guy who knows a guy that works at MS and is getting it (Vista Ultimate) for us at the employee store price + tax and shipping. It is quite a discount.
August 28, 2007 8:29:53 PM

The G33M-DS2 is VGA only and you at least want a DVI or hdmi port for on board video a nforce 7025 or 7050 board for am2 is about $70.

Also you will want a low end video card.

Also a low end am2 cpu is better then a low end intel one.
August 28, 2007 9:25:26 PM

If hes getting Vista then hes gonna need a video card
August 28, 2007 10:35:57 PM

which is why the 8600GT should suffice.
August 28, 2007 11:45:35 PM

Joe_The_Dragon said:
The G33M-DS2 is VGA only and you at least want a DVI or hdmi port
If your Dads monitor is analog with a VGA D-sub connector you're good to go with the G33M-DS2. If his monitor has the digital DVI connector you'd need a $3 VGA-DVI adapter (check to see if one came with his monitor).
Having HDMI option on motherboard is good if you already have a HDMI spec monitor and if you're thinking home theater PC type options.

Vista does not require a "discreet video card". Any of the DX9 compliant video chipsets will run Vista (including AeroGlass interface) just fine. My laptop has the older GMA 950 and runs Vista/AeroGlass fine.

If you are, by chance, looking for HTPC options for your Dad's new build that might change the case/PSU recommendations. Also the G35 chipset motherboards are due out very shortly and would be an option I'd suggest if they're available when you order.

August 29, 2007 12:32:35 AM

WR2 said:
If your Dads monitor is analog with a VGA D-sub connector you're good to go with the G33M-DS2. If his monitor has the digital DVI connector you'd need a $3 VGA-DVI adapter (check to see if one came with his monitor).
Having HDMI option on motherboard is good if you already have a HDMI spec monitor and if you're thinking home theater PC type options.

Vista does not require a "discreet video card". Any of the DX9 compliant video chipsets will run Vista (including AeroGlass interface) just fine. My laptop has the older GMA 950 and runs Vista/AeroGlass fine.

If you are, by chance, looking for HTPC options for your Dad's new build that might change the case/PSU recommendations. Also the G35 chipset motherboards are due out very shortly and would be an option I'd suggest if they're available when you order.


vista is a ram hog and on board video does not help and running vista will with on board video will just put more load on your chipset, cpu and ram.

and a $50 video card is better then on board video.

vga looks bad on big and new screens and you do not need a VGA-DVI adapter when you can get a board with a real DVI and vga port HDMI to DVI works as well.

also the boards with dvi and vga are less then the vga only one listed.
August 29, 2007 1:45:18 AM

Joe_The_Dragon said:
also the boards with dvi and vga are less then the vga only one listed.
Actually they are more expensive.
vga only GIGABYTE GA-G33M-S2 $109
GIGABYTE GA-G33M-S2H $120
Intel BLKDG33TLM G33 $120
Intel BOXDG33TLM G33 $125

Vista maybe a RAM hog but having onboard graphics does not hurt performance. My laptop has 1GB RAM with GMA 950 graphics and Vista & AeroGlass runs fine (using only 32MB of VRAM) even when multitasking MS Office 2007 apps. Vista manages RAM usage quite nicely even with SuperFetch turned on & using my 2GB ReadyBoost USB Flash Drive.

Without knowing the specs of OP's legacy LCD monitor its hard to say if can even use HDMI/DVI. It wasnt that long ago that analog LCDs were the standard. If the LCD is 2-2+ years old its better than 50/50 chance its analog.
Even today there are still budget analog LCDs being sold. Chances are a budget OEM build's "free" LCD monitor might be analog. Acer AL1516AB Analog LCD Monitor





August 29, 2007 4:03:02 PM

And a AM2 board with dvi is $30 less and it has a better video chip.

and Aero needs 128mb or more for a bigger screen.
!