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Computer build around $300 to $400

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September 18, 2008 2:36:02 PM

I am trying to help out a neighbor. His computer crashed and to replace it i found a good deal at a local computer store on a refurbished dell GX280. Unfortunately i have had nothing but problems with the refurbished system so i am planning to return it and build one for him. He already has a keyboard and mouse and monitor.

what i would like is a "reliable" system for him. This person does not play games, mostly surfs, checks email and plays music.

The budget is $300 to $400 .........any ideas?

I researched myself a little and the low end boards i found did not have great reviews. Can someone help.

Welchs101

More about : computer build 300 400

September 18, 2008 2:48:48 PM

Are you planning on building ATX or MicroATX?

I think it is doable. I know you can get an E2180/E2200 ($60 or so) or the new E5200 ($80 or so).

I think you can get a mobo for less than $80 that will be plenty good.

You ought to be able to get 2GB or 4GB RAM for less than $50.

A good decent sized hard drive - $50-80.

If he's using a mobo with integrated GPU, then save $$$ there too.

Case - probably only $30-60.

PSU - $50-80 (if you get an Antec case w/ PSU, often it's one of their PSUs and they are decent).

I think you can do it. I will try to come up with more specs later (I'm at work and don't have a ton of time to research)
September 18, 2008 2:55:40 PM

Good questions........

I was hoping to use an Old Dell case from a GX280. I think its an ATX type case but not 100% sure.

Related resources
September 18, 2008 3:03:23 PM

If you can make the purchase by tomorrow (that's when the combo deal expires), you simply can not beat this deal.

Antec Sonata III w/ Antec EA-500W PSU
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ Brisbane 2.8GHz
Case/PSU/CPU Combo Deal = $130

ASUS M3A78-EM 780G Micro ATX
MoBo = $80 (Newegg only lists the Sonata III as ATX compatible, but Antec's website confirms Micro ATX compatibility)

mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 5-5-5-12@1.8V
RAM = $76

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB
HDD = $80

LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe - Retail
Disc Drive = $30

That comes out just shy of $400 plus another $30 in shipping. But that's before the $70 worth of MIRs ($20 off the RAM and $50 off the Case). So the grand total comes to $360.
September 18, 2008 3:06:41 PM

Almost forgot...........since i dont think i can use the OS from my neighbor's dead dell i will need a new OS. I would prefer XP.
September 18, 2008 3:06:54 PM

wanker beat me to it :) 
September 18, 2008 3:10:32 PM

i second wanker's list...
if the only thing he uses it is for web surfing and light stuff then go with an amd platform with integrated graphics like the 780g or the newer 790gx (3200 or 3300 graphics)...even a dual core 3600x2 would suffice for that kind of work..make sure that dell case u were talking about is atx and not the btx case which dell uses for some of its products...u cannot put an atx motherboard in a btx case...do some research on the net more about that case before planning to use it...
September 18, 2008 3:15:13 PM

shoot that deal is sooo sweet ...80 dollars for 5400black, case and a good psu..its so tempting even for me
September 18, 2008 3:18:18 PM

the deal wanker posted is an amazing deal...if i were building a new budget rig, I would definitely jump on that combo deal...
September 18, 2008 3:26:02 PM

I almost forgot that it was a 5400+ BE, so you'll need a HSF too. I don't really know anything about this one, but since you won't be OCing or anything check out the ARCTIC COOLING ALPINE64 92mm CPU Cooler. It's only $13 and only brings the shipping cost up to just over $30. And Arctic Cooling's website says that it's compatible up to Athlon 64 X2 5600+ and comes with pre-applied MX-2 thermal compound. You'll still be under your $400 budget.
September 18, 2008 3:54:36 PM

welchs101 said:
Almost forgot...........since i dont think i can use the OS from my neighbor's dead dell i will need a new OS. I would prefer XP.


If you want to stay under $400 including an OS, that's more difficult. XP will run about $85, so to make up that cost make whichever combination of the following changes to my previous build you'd like.

Drop the HDD down to a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250310AS 250GB (-$25).

Drop the RAM down to OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 5-4-4-15@2.1V (-$13) or CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 5-5-5-18@1.9V (-$35).

Drop the MoBo down to a Foxconn A7VMX-K 780V Micro ATX (-$26).

And just to reiterate, the awesome Case/PSU/CPU combo expires tomorrow!!
September 18, 2008 4:32:24 PM

Case: Antec NSK4480 Black/ Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel construction ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply - Retail $79.95

Mobo: Foxconn A74MX-K AM2+/AM2 AMD 740G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $39.99 after $10 MIR

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Brisbane 2.7GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADO5200DOBOX - Retail $66.00 (combo deal comes with free 2GB mem stick)

RAM: Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory Model KVR667D2/1GR $15.49

HDD: Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $41.99

DVD Burner: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model DH-20A4P-04 - OEM $22.99

OS: Microsoft Windows XP Home With SP2B for System Builders 1 Pack - OEM $84.99

(I'm assuming he already has a keyboard + mouse)

Price: $351.90 (with MIR) (*edit* My mistake, I took the original price with the rosewill case below and not the with the antec case)
W/ Shipping: $380

Since you're already under the limit I would probably add another gig of RAM, or maybe a larger hard drive depending on his needs.

You can also lower the price with this case with 350w PSU

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147093

Rosewill makes pretty good products backed by a 3 year warranty, but I would rather go with the antec personally.

I also would have gotten him this CPU instead: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103637 but it's out of stock. Shame because for what he's doing he really doesn't need a dual core and it could have saved you like $40.
September 18, 2008 5:35:54 PM

+1 to Wanker's list, though I think you could save some on RAM by not going with DDR2 800 or by only getting 2x1GB.

You might also have to get a smaller HDD to save a little $$$ too.

I know it will go a little past $400 with the OS, but not by much.
September 18, 2008 7:28:13 PM

huron said:
+1 to Wanker's list, though I think you could save some on RAM by not going with DDR2 800 or by only getting 2x1GB.

You might also have to get a smaller HDD to save a little $$$ too.

I know it will go a little past $400 with the OS, but not by much.


Just saw Wanker's list, going to have to agree, get that instead. Much more bang for your buck but make sure you get a heatsink and fan with that processor as it doesn't come with one.
September 18, 2008 8:05:05 PM

All: Thanks for the inputs!!!!!!!!!

Just what i was looking for..........you guys are great!!!!!!

September 18, 2008 8:08:54 PM

Ryun said:
thebearnz said:
+1 to Wanker's list, though I think you could save some on RAM by not going with DDR2 800 or by only getting 2x1GB.

You might also have to get a smaller HDD to save a little $$$ too.

I know it will go a little past $400 with the OS, but not by much.

Just saw Wanker's list, going to have to agree, get that instead. Much more bang for your buck but make sure you get a heatsink and fan with that processor as it doesn't come with one.


I already mentioned dropping down to 2x1GB RAM, dropping down to a 250GB HDD, and getting an Arctic Cooling Alpine 64. :kaola: 
September 19, 2008 4:59:12 AM

he could also go for a one 2gb stick of ram in order to leave his other slots open for future upgrades...thats what I did :) 
September 19, 2008 1:11:14 PM

True, but for < $30 I'd just think of that 2x1GB kit as disposable. That way you can still take advantage of dual channel. 2x1GB will be faster than 1x2GB, and when you want more, just throw the 2x1GB in a drawer somewhere.
September 19, 2008 9:05:45 PM

I ordered This build wendsday night for my mother.. She needs a new pc, and I figured before I spend 1200 bucks on my gaming PC I'll take advantage of getting some exp building her one lol... Here is what I ordered.. Hope I got it all right...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total 563 with 70 bucks in rebates...
September 19, 2008 9:13:08 PM

Hopefully you bought the Case and CPU as the combo deal and not separately. But yeah, that looks great.
September 22, 2008 4:57:43 PM

Everything should be arriving today.. I'm wondering if I'll need thermal paste to build this pc? This will be the first time I'm actually building a pc so any helpfull hints would be much appreciated.. Thanks guys..
September 22, 2008 5:42:41 PM

Unless the processor is purchased OEM, the one you have should have it already pre-applied to the processor itself. I doubt your neighbor will doing much overclocking on a $500 AMD rig.
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