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Bargain Build or Waste for $550?

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Last response: in Systems
September 21, 2008 10:50:20 PM

I am thinking of building a new system soon, and I've never done this before.  I'm also on a small budget and was looking for guidance with the components.  I do only a little gaming.  I also wanted to experiment with some modest OCing on this machine. I'm also not sure if all of the components are compatible.  I already had a few things in mind, but want to be sure there isn't something I'm overlooking.


Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower


AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+

XIGMATEK 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler

Western Digital Caviar SE16 320GB 7200

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 1000

Rosewill Stallion Series 450W

PNY GeForce 9600 GT

More about : bargain build waste 550

September 21, 2008 11:27:09 PM

Rosewill is junk!!!!!!!! Remember, you get what you pay for.
September 22, 2008 12:16:14 AM

Antec EarthWatts 430W is a lot better than Rosewill. Cheaper with mail in rebate as well. Here's a link: is a better choice than the 9600GT if you don't mind the mail in rebate (a lot cheaper).

Also, just get this for your hdd the WD 640GB, $20 dollar difference, but a lot faster and bigger.
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September 22, 2008 12:33:22 AM

What are the differences in the gpu and hdd that make them fatser/better?
September 22, 2008 12:45:23 AM

Well without going into the mechanics, the WD 640GB performs better under benchmark tests.

The 9600GSO like I said is a lot cheaper after mail in rebate (about the same performance).
September 22, 2008 12:49:35 AM

Does the rest of the system look sound for modest overclocking, a bit of gaming? I'm pretty sure it could handle the other neccesities.
September 22, 2008 12:59:30 AM

If you're going for 1000MHz memory, why not buy 1066? That way your set if you ever upgrade to a Phenom processor.
September 22, 2008 1:02:08 AM

I ran a rosewill 500watt on a Q6600, 4gb ram, 2 HDs, 8800gts for over a year and a half before I sold my system and didnt have a single problem. I am running a 750 watt corsair now, I now spend a little more on PSUs just to be safe. But I had a good experience with Rosewill.
September 22, 2008 1:02:38 AM

I'm on a small budget and 1066 is significantly more expensive.
September 22, 2008 1:21:59 AM

Get RAM that runs at its advertised timings on the JEDEC standard 1.8V, like this Mushkin for $66 after MIR:
If you want to overclock AMD, consider a 790GX chipset board. The integrated GPU may even be enough for "light gaming," but we'd need to know what titles you mean to play. This chipset has some OC features that are missing from earlier chipsets.
I agree with johnyeah on the PSU. One of the Rosewills surprised the guys at by passing all their tests with good results, but that one wasn't it, and the brand is generally considered crap.
There's a $40 off bundle on that case with the Antec True Power Trio TP3-650 650W PSU:
You have selected an IDE optical drive. A SATA one will avoid the airflow-blocking ribbon cable. Most any new mobo will have plenty of SATA ports and cables.
I'm really looking forward to the benchmarks on the new HD4670. That card looks like it might be a great choice for light gaming, and it doesn't need auxilliary power.
September 22, 2008 2:38:51 AM

How much exactly is your budget?
September 22, 2008 5:16:32 AM

Currently it is $554.68. It may change slightly.
September 22, 2008 6:26:41 AM

That's a good build, except for the PSU. It has too few amps on its 12v rails. You can shave $7 off by going with some decent DDR2 800 Memory

OCZ Vista Upgrade 4GB (2 x 2GB) $65.99

Also, that case you're buying has a combo deal with the Antec True Power Trio TP3-650 650W to shave off $40 so it's like getting that power supply for $59.99

Of course that's still $18 more than that PSU (some may say POS) that you were thinking of. Without downgrading any of your components you may have to hold off on that Rifle cooler till latter. Yeah I know it's a pain to go back and install a new heatsink and fan afterward, but if that's your budget then that's what you may have to do.
September 22, 2008 7:57:22 AM

I would get this motherboard instead, (better chipset albeit micro ATX and cheaper by $8 since it has free shipping).

So without changing your budget much, here's what I would get if I was to go AMD:

ASUS M3A78-EM AM2+ 780G Micro ATX

Antec Three Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower

LG Black 20x DVD-Burner SATA

AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+

XIGMATEK 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler

Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB

Mushkin 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2-800

Antec EarthWatts 430W

EVGA Geforce 9600GSO

Here getting the Althon X2 6000+ is actually cheaper, because there's a current Combo Deal with the HDD that counts for $15 off (you could also get the 500GB version if you're on a strict budget limit, but the 640GB is noticeably faster for the extra dollars).
September 22, 2008 12:38:13 PM

Here is my bottom-dollar AMD build:

Rosewill R220-P-BK Black 0.5mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Model #:R220-P-BK
Item #:N82E16811147074

$29.99 -$5.00 Instant $24.99

BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX A2+ AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #:TFORCE TA790GX A2+
Item #:N82E16813138128

$99.99 $99.99

Antec Basiq BP500UB 500W ATX12V Version 2.01 Active PFC Power Supply - OEM
Model #:BP500UB
Item #:N82E16817371019

$39.99 $39.99

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADO5000DOBOX - Retail
Model #:ADO5000DOBOX

$66.50 -$7.00 Instant $59.50

A-DATA 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVE1A16K - Retail
Model #:ADQVE1A16K
Item #:N82E16820211066

$35.99 $35.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #:ST3250410AS
Item #:N82E16822148262

$59.99 $59.99

LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model iHAS120-08 - Retail
Model #:iHAS120-08
Item #:N82E16827106264

$28.99 $28.99

Subtotal: $349.44

This leaves you with about $205 for a graphics card, or to improve other parts (like a larger HDD), add a different HSF, add the front 120mm fan, or for keyboard, rodent, and anything else you don't have. GPU recommendations will have to wait until you let us know what you mean by "a little gaming." If it's hidden-object games or something like Diablo II, the integrated will be fine. WoW or even Guild Wars would be fine on a 3650, and many even more demanding games would run just fine on a 3850.
September 23, 2008 4:55:51 AM

^great builds from jtt283 and johnyeah...if going with jtt283's build, you can actually afford to get a 4850 (a beast of a card)
September 24, 2008 12:35:21 AM

I plan on playing HL: 2 and Diablo III.
September 24, 2008 12:42:39 AM

Well it's Rumored D3 will only run on Direct 9x, which makes sense as they have always chosen on expandability over intense graphics.
September 24, 2008 7:26:34 AM

Ahh, good choice. I am getting close to a more final plan. What would you think of getting a cheap Rosewill PSU that is a combo with that is a combo with that case until I can afford a better one, would that be risky?
September 24, 2008 7:36:03 AM

Well. There're a number of complaints I've read about Rosewill PSU's, but I've never used them and never tested it so I can't give you any conclusions. Most, if not all, on Tom's recommend against it, and with good reason. I personally don't like taking chances (since I'm usually on the short end of the stick), but there are better ways to save $$ then going cheap on things that're important.
September 24, 2008 7:38:20 AM

the q6600 is the best in price/performance atm.

right now the nvidia cards are thoroughly trashed by the Radeon HD cards in price/performance, maybe by 2 to 1 (every dollar you spend on a Radeon will give you twice as much performance as the same dollar on an Nvidia, and a radeon HD card will perform as well as an nvidia that is twice the cost.)

if you really want to get an amd, get a black edition chip. doesn't matter if it's dual or quad. at a moderate overclock (200-300mhz) a phenom can beat a stock Intel quad.

September 24, 2008 8:45:41 AM

Yeah, I would say the nvidia is kind of a fanboy thing, but in my experience they work out well.
September 24, 2008 10:28:45 AM

+1 on the Mushkin RAM and a PSU other than Rosewill, unless you're getting the one Jonnyguru reviewed (500-RP I think). Antec has some good inexpensive models now. Although I haven't yet seen reviews, I don't see Antec screwing up its reputation by offering crap.
Superhal exaggerates a good bit (and dagger has some benchmark links to demonstrate), but ATI does seem to hit some price/performance sweet spots.
September 24, 2008 11:59:50 AM

Superhal said:
the q6600 is the best in price/performance atm.

right now the nvidia cards are thoroughly trashed by the Radeon HD cards in price/performance, maybe by 2 to 1 (every dollar you spend on a Radeon will give you twice as much performance as the same dollar on an Nvidia, and a radeon HD card will perform as well as an nvidia that is twice the cost.)

if you really want to get an amd, get a black edition chip. doesn't matter if it's dual or quad. at a moderate overclock (200-300mhz) a phenom can beat a stock Intel quad.

Wow thats a lot of misinformation.

1.) q6600 are not the "best price/performance" considering the games he is looking to play. A Core 2 Duo will smoke the the quads based on value. Maybe if he was looking to do video transcoding or play Supreme Commander then a q6600 would be where he would want to be ...but that wasnt mentioned.

2.) 2:1 ratio of return on ATI dollars over Nvidia? Whos the Fanboy now? ATI didnt become a recommended buy until the 4xxx series cards came out and then TOMs only recommended the 4850 in crossfire as a maximum build. Frankly, the 2:1 price/performance ratio is bogus propganda ......maybe if he was shopping at Radio Shack that would be true....but this is Newegg and their prices reflect the market. We really need to know your monitor size to match a video card for your system.

3.) The Quad AMD chips are significantly faster at most tasks then the dual AMD chips, so it does matter. The black edition only matters if you plan on overclocking the CPU, but considering this is a "budget build" theres no room for the aftermarket cooler that you would need to safely overclock an AMD cpu.

If you reason that he should buy a cooler the cheapest ones with decent preformance are about $40 ...... that would be better spent buying a more expensive CPU like an Intel e7200.
September 24, 2008 6:21:02 PM

1. yes i did consider rendering and video.

2. radeon HD, sorry. the pre-AMD-merger radeons aren't even in the discussion anymore.
half price, similar performance: 4870 vs gtx 280
similar price, double performance: 3650 vs 8600

3. i clearly said the q6600 was better in the first sentence of the post, but _if_ the OP wanted an amd, the BE is the best choice. in review after review, a phenom always beats intel on rendering and video, and will take a few more benches after an overclock. of course, an intel OC will still win. a 200mhz OC is possible with a stock cooler.
September 25, 2008 12:35:11 AM

Would it be recommended to go with an intel CPU? Would the cost be significantly higher in the end? My monitor is a 17" widescreen, and are ATI or Nvidia's recommended?
September 25, 2008 1:39:23 AM

Alright, I have an idea for Bargain or Bust 2.0.

Western Digital Caviar 640GB 7200 RPM $84.99

Antec Basiq 500W ATX12V $39.99+$10+87 S&H

mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 $69.99 $20 MIR

XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler $24.99+$8.25 S&H

Rosewill Wind Ryder Dual 120mm Cooling Fans $55.98 for the combo
in combo with
LG Black 22X (CAV) DVD+R

BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX A2+ AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX $156.99 for combo
in combo with
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5400+ Brisbane 2.8GHz

Arctic Silver 5 $5.99+6.99 S&H

A total of $455.50, leaving $100 for the GPU, tips? How about this build?
September 25, 2008 1:54:40 AM

I'd still get the Earthwatts 430W over the Basiq, Antec best PSUs are TruePower Quattro, NeoPower, and Earthwatts series in that order, the rest are okay, but I wouldn't put them in my system, I prefer higher quality over saving a measly $10-15.

As far as GPU goes, If you're absolutely adamant about not spending more than $100, then get something along the lines of this:

MSI R4670-2D512 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

However, if you can be a little more flexible and spend a little more (which I strongly suggest you do) then get this:

PALiT XAE/48500+T352 Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

September 25, 2008 1:58:28 AM

I wouldn't say i'm absolutely adamant about the $100 mark. Slightly flexible.
September 25, 2008 2:00:50 AM

Then I suggest you get the HD 4850, you'll probably end up setting an altar to thank me for this later on, it's probably the best decision you'll make on that build... I know it because I have one and I know how good it is.
September 25, 2008 2:05:36 AM

The above mentioned HD 4850?
September 25, 2008 2:09:34 AM

Well no, I have a Sapphire HD 4850 Dual Slot Edition not the Palit one, but it's basically the same thing just a different bundle. (Mine comes with a different cooler, HDMI-DVI Adapter, and Crossfire bridge)

EDIT: Or are you referring about which card to get? If that's the question, then yes I meant to get the HD 4850.
September 25, 2008 2:10:47 AM

emp said:
Then I suggest you get the HD 4850, you'll probably end up setting an altar to thank me for this later on, it's probably the best decision you'll make on that build... I know it because I have one and I know how good it is.

tru dat! :lol: 
September 25, 2008 2:17:21 AM

I hate to say it, but that would put me over budget by quite a bit.
September 25, 2008 2:21:05 AM

Oh well... I would sell a kidney or my soul if I were you just to stay on budget, because it really is worth the money.
September 25, 2008 2:46:38 AM

$553, Intel Build / e5200 / 9800GT with CoD4 free.

The build has a few rebates (which makes it less than 550 if you count them), and you should be able to overclock the hell out of this processor. Some people are getting over 3ghz on stock volts, others are reaching 4ghz with a nice heatsink. The other stuff included in the build is pretty nice, though I'm not sure if you need an OS disk or not. 2GB of Ram is fine, I can tell you in my gaming experiences, I've never seen my memory usage from a game use over a single Gig of Ram. I dunno how Vista will fair in this field though, 'cause I use XP on my system. The 9800GT (8800GT) isn't really much slower than the 4850, it'll save you some money, and you get a killer free game to boot.

I didn't really see any builds going the direction I went with my part selections. Any thoughts?
September 25, 2008 2:55:53 AM

It seems sound, although I am far from an expert. I have to say it just makes the decision harder. When I started out I felt like my options would be limited for $550, but it turns out there are many options.
September 25, 2008 3:00:03 AM

Kax, I came here with a HTPC/photo-editing PC in mind with slight gaming and general computing. Kind of a melting pot of goals and there were a lot of of options and some great advice. My initial hardware budget was $600-700 as far as hardware goes. A lot of suggestions went well over that. Which is cool, but I have other priorities for my money which I consider more important. Work always comes before play for me. So, I cut some corners, and there isn't anything wrong about that. You can ALWAYS upgrade later. Just pulling for you as I don't think you can go wrong with any of these builds. Just because you can't get 65 FPS in Crysis doesn't mean you're not spending enough. 30, is plenty.
September 25, 2008 3:50:31 AM

Your build is fine. Like fwertz said, you don't really need to spend too much money for a budget build.
September 25, 2008 9:44:30 AM

If you started with my build, you could use the 4850 that emp suggested. I'd prefer Earthwatts over Basiq myself, but the Basiq should be enough.
September 27, 2008 2:17:45 AM

Well, the top media device is would require a SATA cable. The second link proved to be a deactivated item and just brought up a list of other HDD's, the very top one, also being SATA. Just look for it in the item description, it will either read as SATA or IDE/PATA.
September 27, 2008 4:08:46 AM

Uhm, yes, you'll have power cables from your PSU that are able to power sata devices. Your HD or mobo will come with sata cables.
September 27, 2008 5:44:20 AM

There are also adapters you can buy to convert a molex power connector to a sata power connector.
September 28, 2008 11:09:20 PM

The hard drive and the cd-rom are both OEM.