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Has my research paid off? Budget Build

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February 25, 2008 3:59:19 PM

So I've been lurking at these forums ever since Christmas and now I'm convinced more than ever that I'm in need of a new computer. My budget is fairly limited since I am a college student and most of my money goes toward my education. I'm looking to spend about $900 usd on a computer with which I can do a fair amount of gaming, school work, and music listening. I'll be listing my chosen components and my reasons for selecting them. I'd appreciate any help I can get. I have a little bit of leeway in terms of money, but not much so I'd appreciate some realism when considering my components.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write Black SATA Model LH-20A1S - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail

I know that it's generally unwise to buy a case and psu combo, but I've heard good things about the Earthwatts power supply plus the Sonata is said to have good sound dampening qualities. I know that the psu is the last thing you want to skimp on in a build, but I'm hoping that this will be sufficient in powering my rig since the deal is really quite good. Still, I won't be devastated in learning that I'd need a little extra juice.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA-300 Hard Drive - OEM

I've heard that Seagate is loosing popularity so I'd be more than willing to switch to it's WD equivalent if need be.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GIGABYTE GA-M57SLI-S4 AM2 NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

SLI ready so I can upgrade in the future, but the chances of that are really slim. I basically just want to keep my options open.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
EVGA 512-P3-N862-AR GeForce 9600GT Superclocked 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

The new midrange card that everyone is talking about. It should have enough power for my needs and I have the 90 day step up plan to look to if I do in fact need more in the near future.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Retail

4GB of DDR2 800 memory to take advantage of my 64 bit operating system.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Black Edition Processor Model ADO5000DSWOF - Retail

Seeing as how I'm on a budget and seeing as how I love to get lots of bang for my buck, this AMD black edition processor seemed to be just the solution for me.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Microsoft Windows Vista 64-Bit Home Premium for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM

Grand total comes to about $895 dollars, which is a pretty good deal and just where I want to be in terms of budget. The more I can save the better since I'll eventually want I nice new monitor for my nice new computer and some good speakers to boot. Thanks in advance for any help you're willing to provide. Hopefully my research has paid off!
February 25, 2008 4:26:17 PM

I think your better going the Intel route for better OC, take a look at these components compare the prices and see where your at and let us know, also the other items are better than what you had selected...

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard

Intel Pentium E2160 Allendale 1.8GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2160 - Retail

Intel Pentium E2180 Allendale 2.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2180 - Retail

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler

Seagate Barracuda ST3250310NS ES.2 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
February 25, 2008 9:16:28 PM

I 2nd the Intel route, even though I have AMD (older 939) but the E2160 or E2180 are my choices for CPU upgrade, much more ocable. The DS3L is also my choice for mobo when I upgrade when I get my taxes. I myself wouldn't go with Vista but that is a personal choice, I've seen it and messed with it on my mother-in-laws computer and it seemed to be a huge resource hog.
Related resources
February 25, 2008 9:28:11 PM

I wouldn't go with the 570 SLI chipset. For your budget, I'd go single card with that 9600GT, and go with a good Intel overclocking board and dual-core processor if you're overclocking, because if not you've got no reason for a black edition AMD.

You have absolutely no reason to go 64-bit Vista. Go 32-bit XP or Vista. 64-bit versions are notoriously driver-unfriendly and problematic, and Vista's 64-bit version is no exception. It won't give you any real world performance gains with your current system.
February 25, 2008 10:16:27 PM

If you decide to stick with AMD, I'd suggest this mobo. AM2+ and so can upgrade to Phenom. At $900 you could go either way but keep in mind the video card is more important than the CPU for gaming so might be worth putting more into the GPU and stick with the AMD.
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...
February 25, 2008 10:22:17 PM

Ignore the Intel fanboys, anyone who knows anything about AMD vs Intel is that if you are fine with overclocking the 5000+ Black Edition is the best sub $100 CPU on the market, though that is the only thing going for AMD. I do agree however the 570 is useless, it does not support SLI x16/x16 only x8/x8, which means both cards would be running at half the slot speed. Either way it will totally destroy what little benefit you could get from a second card. Instead get this motherboard, it might not support SLI but that is for the best. What it does support is great overclocking, higher speed RAM, and Phenoms.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This gives you a unique choice now, if you go with the motherboard I recommended, whether you should get 4 GB of decent DDR2, or 2GB of faster DDR2 memory that you can add to later. This is completely your choice, either way will work, it just depends whether you feel that you would add another 2 GB later, or if you would just prefer not worrying about it.

High-end
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cheap:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Lastly the 9600 GT will perform decently, though if you can get 60 extra dollars I would highly recommend this 8800 GT 512MB from MSI, its factory overclocked, and unlike the other 8800 GTs, it has a much better cooling system for cheap.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The rest seems fine, though the case looks ugly in the pictures, then again most cases do.
February 25, 2008 10:31:39 PM

Really whether to get the 790 or 770 really comes down to if you plan on running SLI. If you do, then the 790, if not, then 770.
February 25, 2008 11:51:53 PM

The_Blood_Raven said:
Ignore the Intel fanboys, anyone who knows anything about AMD vs Intel is that if you are fine with overclocking the 5000+ Black Edition is the best sub $100 CPU on the market, though that is the only thing going for AMD.


Uhh, I'm not an Intel fanboy, so please don't make that assumption. Most of the systems I've built are in fact running AMD processors.

What I was saying is that a black edition AMD is not necessary if one is not intending on overclocking, and I was happening to list my current preference of overclocking mid-range Intel CPUs. I don't view my current focus on one company over another as grounds for being called a "fanboy", something I haven't been called since posting on video game forums at age 12.
February 26, 2008 12:52:43 AM

I only went the AMD route because where ever I look I see praise for AMD as the "budget solution." The case does look less attractive than other cases though...

If I did go the Intel route how are these parts for my Intel powered rig?

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 Allendale 2.4GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E4600 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

And these for my other components:

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW Black/Silver Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

MSI NX8800GT 512M OC GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

XCLIO STABLEPOWER 500W ATX 500W Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model BL2KIT12864AA1065 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
February 26, 2008 10:16:11 AM

drop to the E2xxx series... better OCs...

don't know about the PSU, but everything looks pretty good ^^

(don't drop back down to the 9600GT, please)
February 26, 2008 12:30:12 PM

AMD is a good budget system assuming you never plan to overclock. If you think your going to give overclocking a try, then definitely go with the Intel. Both AMD and Intel cpus will OC to about 3Ghz on the low end. And at the same clock speeds, the Intels generally beat AMDs cpus. Chances are, depending on which Intel cpu you get, you can get it clocked in the neighborhood of 4ghz, in which case nothing AMD has can touch it.
February 27, 2008 2:03:31 AM

In my never ending quest to push my cost down I've come up with a few tweaks. I would like to know if my build is still alright.

COOLER MASTER Elite 330 RC-330-KKN1-GP Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

MSI NX8800GT 512M OC GeForce 8800GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...
(Although there is currently a great deal on a Sapphire HD 3870 on Newegg)

XCLIO STABLEPOWER 500W ATX 500W Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Intel Pentium E2160 Allendale 1.8GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2160 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

OCZ Platinum 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2P8002GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA-300 Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...

PHILIPS 20X DVD±R DVD Burner 2-Tone SATA Model SPD2513BD - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...

Microsoft Windows Vista 32-Bit Home Premium for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1683...

COOLER MASTER RR-CCH-L9U1-GP 92mm Hyper TX2 CPU Cooler - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1683...
(Cheap and after the great reviews this place gave the cooler I couldn't resist)

That's not to say that the other options are out of the question. Just wanting to see if I can minimize cost while only sacrificing a bit in the power department. Thanks again guys, you've helped me a lot already. It's just that this is my first build and I'm a tad nervous.

February 27, 2008 3:02:52 AM

First of all if you are in school you want an AM2+ system. You want to drop SLI as its on edge for the next 2 years and performs like **** on pcie-2.0 as well as no dx10.1 support. 10.1 is going to put some nice kick into the hardware that supports it(ATI). Stick with a budget xfire/AM2+ pcie-2.0 MB and your origanal config and avoid Nvidia all together. You should be able to put any cpu over the next 4 years from amd in it and its a perfect gaming/working rig out of the box. At that price the Intel system will need an OC to keep up.

Unless you plan to OC your rig the second you build it at this price range its AMD/ATI or just spend the extra 300-400 on an Intel system.
February 27, 2008 10:47:39 AM

change the PSU and grab an Antec Earthwatts 500W
February 27, 2008 11:35:18 AM

Here's my short and skinny on your last build: OC'ing? Intel, not OC'ing AMD. Don't buy that PSU, it's not a very powerful PSU. I think if I read it right It'll only have about 22-24A on the 12V rails. I'd honestly stick with the Antec Sonata III case/PSU combo, since you'll get 34A on the 12V rails from that PSU and have a nice and solid case too. The Cooler Master cases are well built too, so if you want to go that way, I'd probably get this PSU to go with it, since it'll be about the same $:
Antec NeoPower 550 ATX12V 550W Power Supply 100 - 240 V UL, CUL, TUV, CE, FCC, CCC, CB, C-tick - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's well worth the $75 they have on sale right now. It has >80% efficiency and has a 5 yr. warranty to boot!!!

AMD path, I'd stick with a single card solution mobo, like mentioned above. I'd start with the 5000+ BE, because it's good and solid and can easily be OC'd (if you can use the BIOS). Only drawback is that you have to buy a cooler for it. The CM Freezer 64 is a perfect cooling solution for the 5000+ BE CPU, so stick with that. Oh make sure you have at least 800mhz DDR2 CAS 4 with any AMD selection. This is more critical on AMD than on the e21xx's. I like Crucial Ballistix, Corsair, G.Skill, Patriot, or ADATA manufacturers.

Intel path, I'd stick with the e2160 or e2180 and just use the stock cooling for now. You should be able to get up to 2.8-3 ghz quite easily (if you get CAS 4 DDR2). I'd go with the Abit IP35-e or the Gigabyte DS3L, which ever is cheapest. They are both solid boards and basically have the same options, so whichever is cheapest.

Finally make sure you stick to at least the 8800gt that you selected, since gaming is one of your priorities.
February 27, 2008 12:01:16 PM

Is it worth for him to drop the 300gb 7200.10 and go with a Seagate Barracuda ST3250310NS ES.2 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive that has 32mb of cach... It's only like $11.00 dollars more...
February 27, 2008 12:26:17 PM

My understanding is that the extra cache doesn't really make that much of a difference. I could be wrong here, but I remember reading somewhere that said that the 16mb version would be just fine. For $11 more it wouldn't hurt, but on a tight budget it can make a difference.
February 27, 2008 12:35:48 PM

Since you're still in school, if 2 years or more, agree with the AMD system. With this mobo, would be very upgradeable for the next several years at a reasonable cost and would not have to do as much overclocking. As a student stability should be a priority. Once you're out of school and rolling in money :)  you'll be in a position to build a higher end machine on the Intel Nehalen or new AMD chipset if they come out with something competitive at or near the high end.
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
February 27, 2008 12:43:42 PM

His hard drive is fine. Single platter, slim and cool.
February 27, 2008 4:27:34 PM

Alright. I've decided to stick with the AMD build using the Gigabyte mobo Crucial Ballistix memory and the MSI 8800GT. Thanks to everyone for their help. I'll gladly except any more opinions since I won't be buying until I get my next paycheck but for now I'm very content with my wish list.
!