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Dirt Cheap, Power Saving Rig <400

Last response: in Systems
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November 21, 2008 12:07:32 AM

My SCSI hard drive finally died on me after many years of loyal service. Initially, I was just going to replace my hard drive but I figured it's time I just get rid of my entire system since I was getting tired of the measly 256 MBs of RDRAM.

I want to keep the cost of this system to a bare minimum (something like 300-400). I salvaged my case and my DVD ROM and need the following:

CPU/Motherboard
RAM
Hard Drive
Power Supply
(Optional) Cheap Vid Card

Here's what I have in mind so far:

AMD Athlon X2 4850e ($60)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I am more accustomed to AMD so I went with them but I am very open to going to Intel if it means more bang for the buck. I especially like this chip because of its low power usage (somewhat important to me).


MSI KA 780G AM2+/AM2 Motherboard ($94.99 - 30 CPU/MoBo Deal - 10 MIR = 54.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I chose this board because the built in Graphics card is supposedly good enough to handle games like Counter Strike Source on High settings but I'm a bit skeptical of this claim as I've had bad experiences with integrated cards. CSS is the most demanding game I play so if it can handle that on 1280X800 , I'll be a happy camper because then I won't have to spend more money on an extra Vid Card that just consumes more power.

4 GB PC 6400 5-5-5-15 G.SKill DDR2 (44.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Pretty much self explanatory. I need some form of RAM and these seem like a steal for the performance/price.

Seagate Barracuda 7200 SATA 80 GB HDD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I hardly ever save stuff on my hard drive and I rarely have more than 20 gigs of stuff on my drives. I look for speed more than anything else and this was the smallest, cheapest, fastest HDD I could come up with.

Hec HP485D 485W ATX Power supply ($22.19)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seems like a Generic Brand but reviews seem decent. Claims it's up to 75% efficient which is good enough for me. I doubt I'd need more than 300 Watts with my current setup but it's always nice to have extra no? I was thinking about spending a little extra to get an Antec 380 Earthwatt PSU, someone help me out on this decision plz. The Antec's 39.99 and advertised at %80 efficient, should I just opt with the Antec?


Total with Tax/Shipping: 264.63



I'm hoping this will provide me with a system powerful enough to handle CS:C/COD4/SC2??? yet gentle enough to not obliterate my electric bill. I pretty much leave my comps on 24/7 so I want it as energy efficient as possible. I read Tom's guide on power savings and how the Intels save more in the long run vs 65W Athlons but I think with this setup, this system will save me more overall. That said, I'm very open to switching to Intel but I'd need some guidance since I'm more familiar with AMD.

For now, I need just enough graphics power to handle CS:S comfortably at 1280X800. If you think this setup isn't enough to attain that, please let me know. Also, I am always open to paying an extra 100 for a graphics card later on for games like SC2/COD4. My knowledge of computer parts is limited so I'd really truly appreciate some opinions on this build and suggestions to improve upon/create an entire new build for 300-400ish. Energy savings is important to me but enough power to handle certain games is more important :) 

Thanks for reading!
November 21, 2008 12:28:31 AM

Upgrading to the Earthwatts power supply can pay for itself within two years.
@18 cents per KWH if your rig is on 24/7 then it will easily any cost differential in Antec from the cheapie.

I have found that a 120 watt rig (at idle) will easily save 20 watts..
(.18 cents x24 hours X30 days = $13 / month in power savings for the rig)
(If you use hibernate mode, this analysis fails. I don't like to wait for my rig to wake up when I sit down to log in)

This does not consider the extra cost of A/C during the summer to cool off the room it resides in. (If you live in Alaska, this is not a problem.)

November 21, 2008 12:49:44 AM

^+1 for the PSU. the HEC PSUs are cr@p. The rig should handle CSS and SC2. Not sure about COD 4 at full detail.

Nic choice on CPU, RAM, Motherboard.
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November 21, 2008 12:57:42 AM

Thx, yeah I spent a lot of time researching the cpu/mobo combo.

Seems like I should get the Antec PSU then. Is 380 watts enough though? What if I want to go for a Core 2 Duo + mid level vid card setup?
November 21, 2008 1:07:07 AM

Looks sweet, however you listed PC 6400 when you meant PC2 6400. Just caught me off guard for a second but you have the right memory. Since you are under your budget you may want to go with the more energy efficient PS or a mobo w/o graphics and get a decent card. Really I don't think there would be much of a difference between integrated video and a card...well obviously a small one...good luck!
November 21, 2008 4:26:17 AM

Hey, thanks for the suggestions guys!

I think I'm going to swap out my memory for the Mushkin 4 GB DDR2 since it's got the lower voltage and better timing at a lower cost. Awesome!

I also like the HD4670 idea. I wasn't really thinking about a Graphics card since the Integrated seems alright but the 4670 seems like the perfect fit with it's low power consumption and respectable graphics punch. My only question is if it will hybrid crossfire with the HD 3200 integrated card.

So here's what I'm looking at so far:

AMD Athlon X2 4850e
MSI 780g Mobo
Radeon HD 4670
Mushkin 4 GB DDR2800
Antec Earthwatts 380 W PSU
Seagate 80 GB HD

Total: 379.51 - 45 MIR = 334.51

I must say, I'm starting to feel good about this. That's pretty good for a rig that's this low on power consumption but with enough zip to play games at 1280x1024. Of course, I haven't actually bought it and tried it out yet but I think things should go smoothly. Maybe if I wait till Black Friday, things will get even cheaper....
November 21, 2008 4:34:41 AM

I would still recommend the hard drive + PSU combo that I recommended. 640gb hard drive + 500 watt psu and they are about the same price as your current PSU and hard drive selection.

If you don't need that much space, here is a cheaper option:

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB
bundled with
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W
http://secure.newegg.com/Shopping/AddToCart.aspx?Submit...
$61.98 after a $20 MIR
November 21, 2008 5:13:19 AM

the 4670 wont hybrid crossfire with the onboard graphics. In order for cards to crossfire they have to be identical processors. The card can be slightly different, one having 1gb one having 512, but the mobo will bring the higher to the lower meaning they'd both be at 512, and it only utilizes the memmory from one board. Same thing with 512bit vs 256bit.
November 21, 2008 8:38:05 AM

kurtyboh said:
the 4670 wont hybrid crossfire with the onboard graphics. In order for cards to crossfire they have to be identical processors. The card can be slightly different, one having 1gb one having 512, but the mobo will bring the higher to the lower meaning they'd both be at 512, and it only utilizes the memmory from one board. Same thing with 512bit vs 256bit.


That's a shame, I was really starting to look at discrete video cards. I guess I can always choose to go with higher vid cards and completely ignore the HD 3200 if I really need it later...

Just out of curiosity, do you happen to know what the best hybrid xfire capable card is currently? The only ones that I know of are the ones mentioned in one of tom's reviews: ATI X2600XT, ATI X1300 and the HD 3450. Seems like the X2600XT is the best of the three.
!