Budget quad-core build

I'm in the process of putting together a programming & moderate multimedia/gaming system based around a retail Intel Q9450, but I'm not very confident in my part choices and could use some critiques and/or suggestions. My ideal budget is under $1,000 (U.S.). I'd prefer to buy locally due to impatience and to avoid shipping hassles, although Microcenter's the only brick-and-mortar store nearby that has semi-reasonable prices. I will buy from an online retailer like Newegg in a pinch. Also, all the hardware needs to work well under Linux. I don't intend to overclock, and I plan on reusing an Inwin Q500 case, generic PS/2 keyboard, USB mouse and 17" CRT from an old desktop system.

Here's the motherboards that have caught my eye:

The thing that worries me about these is that I've read some reports of POST problems (possibly RAM related) with the GA-EP43-DS3L and other Gigabyte boards in the DS3L family. The two boards above are available at Microcenter, but if neither will fit the bill I'll likely need to shop at Newegg or another online retailer.


Again, this can be found at Microcenter for $100 ($65 if the mail-in rebate is processed, although I'm not counting on it). If I shop online and can be patient enough to wait for shipping, I doubtlessly can find better prices or maybe even find 2x2GB DDR2-1066 sticks for around $100.

Video Cards:

I'm not sure whether to go with NVidia or ATI, particularly where Linux support is concerned (although my gaming will be done under Windows). Also, I'm wondering if I should be looking at the HD 3870 vs 9600 GT or maybe look at the next level of cards. Hardware (HD) video playback support would be an added bonus in any card I get.

Power Supply:

The only problem I can see with this supply is that it only comes with 4 molex connectors, which may be a problem depending on what I decide to do when it comes to drives. I have a few PATA hard drives I'd like to reuse since I hate seeing good hardware go to waste, but that could quickly get messy. Three of the disks (two 40GB and one 80GB) are around 7 years old, although they haven't been used at all in a couple of years and weren't used heavily for a couple of years before that. I may be playing with fire by trying to rely upon them. I also have a 60GB notebook drive I can try putting in a USB enclosure or a 3.5" mounting kit, but that plus the three other drives and a DVD/CD-ROM drive brings me to five IDE drives and only 3 ports (if I buy a 2-port IDE PCI card). A 250GB self-powered USB drive should provide enough room for larger archives while the three 3.5" internal drives could be used for more performance-dependent access. Or I can just say "Screw it" and get a moderately sized SATA drive.

As for DVD/CD-ROMs, I have an old 32x CD-ROM ATAPI drive I could use for now, or I can go ahead and get a DVD writer now. Does ATAPI or SATA make a difference for DVD writers? If I try to reuse my old IDE disks, I'll pretty much have to get a SATA DVD writer now (and a USB enclosure if I try to use the notebook disk) so that I only need to put one disk on each IDE port. One option for a DVD writer is http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151154.

Am I forgetting anything? Thanks in advance.
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More about budget quad core build
  1. First, new boards only come with a single PATA connector, so you can have a maximum of 2 PATA devices you will keep (which may accidentally solve your molex problem :P, but it has 6 connectors based on newegg specs). New SATA drives use a SATA power connector and that PSU has 3 (some drives also support molex and molex-SATA adapters exists).

    For the MB, I think the P43/P45 board would be a better choice.

    For the CPU, you might be able to save ~150$ by going for a Q6600 and OC it to FSB1333 (I know you don't want to, but believe me it is as easy as it sounds :P) and add a good after-market cooler (~50$).

    For GFX, I would suggest the ATI 4850, which might be a tad above the other 2 prices, but you get much more for your $$$ (its about 33% more performant than the other 2, even more if you enable AA and AF). As for linux support, this article might reassure you.
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