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Help building a simple work computer please.

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Last response: in CPUs
February 26, 2009 11:54:40 PM

I need to put together a very simple computer that will only run Quickbooks, word, excel, and the internet. I was thinking about a mobo with video built in to save the cost of a separate vid card. What OS XP? Vista? Would like to only install 2gb ram. I have no experience with Linux.

Please let me know your suggestions on the following:

Speed is not a factor here but STABILITY is. This will be used for payroll and taxes.

Motherboard (w/video,sound):
Ram (quantity and type):

I'll be using existing case, power supply, cd-rom, and wireless card.

Thanks in advance for all your help. You folks are smart!!

More about : building simple work computer

February 27, 2009 12:37:42 AM

Most everyone on here will tell you you need a quad core because they are obsessed with having a quad core, like it does something special.

Not me. My suggestions are this.
AMD 64x2 4850e - $59.99

ASRock 780FullHD - $56.99

2gb G.Skill 5-5-5-15 DDR2 800 - $23.99\

WD 250GB Sata HD - $47.99

Total Price : $188.96 + s+h

If this is just a work computer, XP 32 bit is the way to go. Vista is overrated and xp is a lot more stable. If you do go with 32 bit and decide you need more memory, remember a 32 bit os won't recognize over 3gb of memory. That cpu is also an "energy efficient" cpu by AMD's standards so that will help on power consumption too.
a b à CPUs
February 27, 2009 12:58:40 AM

Pretty good recommendation and only $188.96!!!

My own motherboard has the same onboard video chipset. I used it until my new video card arrived. It's actually pretty good for ordinary everyday use.

In your post you mentioned you had other components. Do you have any kind of operating system? Do you need to buy an operating system?
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February 27, 2009 8:02:56 AM

Hi, and thanks for your help. I should of mentioned the case I have is for atx size board. Unfortunately she does not have the product key for her XP OS so I guess she has to buy a new one. Doesn't seem fair... I contacted Gateway and they only support computers from 2004 on and hers is 2002.

a b à CPUs
February 27, 2009 9:10:38 AM

jlvitt has a pretty nippy pc there at a great price. However XP is no more stable than Vista.
a c 256 à CPUs
February 27, 2009 12:09:07 PM

The funny thing is, just for grins I was thinking of super-cheap builds this morning.
My AMD list was similar to jlvitt's (so +1 there), but I found an Intel CPU/Mobo combination that was cheaper and should perform better.

Here were those parts from mine:
ZOTAC NF610I-E-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 7050 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Model #:NF610I-E-E
Item #:N82E16813500018
$44.99 $44.99

Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E5200 - Retail
Model #:BX80571E5200
Item #:N82E16819116072
$72.99 $72.99

Transcend 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model JM800QLU-2G - Retail
Model #:JM800QLU-2G
Item #:N82E16820208344
$19.99 $19.99

Subtotal is $137.97 (entire build, with no kb, mouse, or OS was $266.93).

I used a single stick of RAM; a second could be added for dual-channel, or just get a pair to start. A 32-bit OS will see around 3.5GB of it.

February 27, 2009 12:56:41 PM

zip zoom is right, i was making sure of that last nigt when i wikipedia'd micro atx boards, if you do that it will tell you micro's fit in an atx form factor case.

and although this may not be 'ideal' - but you may want to try or another torrent site to see if you come up with any great operating systems you might be able to use.

just look up iso files - it will tell you the rest :) 
February 27, 2009 12:59:26 PM

oh and i haven't seen a zotac mobo with a good review
February 27, 2009 2:12:49 PM

I find motherboard reviews have more to do with the experience of the user than the quality of the board itself. Case in point, I am the proud owner of a Jetway M26GT3-SVP motherboard with Nvidia 6100-405 chipset. It got some pretty bad reviews with an almost 50% DOA. I bought this board OPEN BOX on the egg for $30 w/free shipping and paired it with a Sempron LE-1100 for another $23. Finished it off with 2 512MB sticks of good old Micron ram off Ebay for $10. It works great. All features are just fine. Honestly for bad motherboard reviews most of the time it's PEBKAC.

My own two cents: Although the dual core AMD cpu's are cheap, for a build like this a single core CPU also works great. Since it doesn't sound like it is your own computer, I guess it all depends on the owner's psyche, if dual core is needed in order for her to justify paying money for an "upgrade", or if she would rather pay $20 less and get a single core Sempron.

On the Intel side, any motherboard with an Intel chipset is hard to beat for stability. a G3x chipset motherboard for $44 and Intel Celron e1400 (dual core 2.0GHz) for $50 is a very stable platform and it carries the Intel name, if that matters at all to the buyer.
ECS G31 motherboard $45 ($35 after rebate)
Celeron E1400 $50

Personally I think XP is currently still a better operating system offering the best backward compatibility for older programs, but Vista Home Premium can add some visual enhancements that a simple computer user might like.

a second could be added for dual-channel

Sorry jtt283, but the Nvidia 7050 chipset does not support dual channel ram, so just one stick of ram makes sense.
February 27, 2009 4:34:13 PM

WOW, you guys are great! I was thinking cheap was going to be around $350-$400 but you folks find the bargain basement of deals. So, lets say the budget is $150ish for mobo, cpu, and ram. That leaves me $100 for OS, $70 for HD, and some change for replacing case fans etc... Is a few extra bucks going to buy me anything? Keep in mind stability is number ONE.

joe, I like your build. Could you recommend specific memory to go with it please?
a c 256 à CPUs
February 27, 2009 9:42:01 PM

I think a G31 would probably be ok if you got a cheap GPU (e.g. 4350) to go with it. I just don't care for the [especially older] Intel Graphics Media Deccelerator, even for business.
I'm inclined to agree about reviews; read between the lines on most of the bad ones and you can see the likely place the buyer screwed up, or read between the lines on the good ones and see where he hasn't really done anything with it, or otherwise doesn't really know what he's talking about. They can be useful, but only as one of many sources of information.
Hmmm, I'll keep that in mind about the 7050; I thought it did, but for this machine it wouldn't matter.
On the memory, get DDR2-800 that will run at its advertised timings on the JEDEC standard 1.8V. The RAM brand I almost always buy is Mushkin. It is a little more expensive, but is good RAM.
February 27, 2009 10:34:13 PM

boy you guys are pushing the 'how low can you go' limbo!
ill sell him my old celeron d 940 2.93ghz !!!! runs great - using it right now! haha
February 27, 2009 10:44:19 PM

my apologies - 840 not 940
February 28, 2009 12:10:39 AM

I'd like to get away with not buying a video card. That's the whole purpose on built in video. If the G31 isn't up for it what is? I want to press the "Purchase" button NOW!!! lol...
a c 256 à CPUs
February 28, 2009 1:08:54 AM

jlvitt's IGP is better than mine, but my processor should be faster. I'd trust ASRock over Zotac, but that's because Zotac is a relative unknown; I don't know that they make bad boards.
The ASRock is out of stock right now though.
There's a cheap Jetway AMD board with the same IGP that looks like it has solid caps on it, but that is another brand with little reputation built up:
March 1, 2009 8:46:28 PM

Ok, some of the stuff was out of stock so this is what I came up with. Let me know what you think.


GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-US2H AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $70


ECS GF8200A (V1.0) AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retai $70

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200 Brisbane 2.7GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail $57

Kingston 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail $21


Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail $23

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $42

Do you have any preference over the mobo or memory?

Thanks again... We're getting close!
a c 256 à CPUs
March 1, 2009 9:45:25 PM

I would choose Gigabyte over ECS based on reputation. I've used lots of Gigabyte boards, and only had one die on me.
jlvitt's RAM is a little better (faster timing), but it won't be a huge difference over the Crucial.
March 1, 2009 10:02:25 PM

Well, there are different graphics on the mobo's. Is one better then the other?
a c 217 à CPUs
March 1, 2009 11:02:10 PM

Geogi said:
Well, there are different graphics on the mobo's. Is one better then the other?

780g gets the nod over the NF8200. That Gigabyte board should be of much higher quality (I hope so .... I'm waiting on mine to be delivered :lol:  )

For a few dollars more the X2 5400+ is the sweet spot

Don't axe me to splain it to you - but your RAMs will be running at spec 800MHz
March 1, 2009 11:51:25 PM

for $7 more you can get the 7750 @ $63.00

extra L3 cache
March 1, 2009 11:51:52 PM

and hypertransport 3.0 and k10 architecture
March 2, 2009 12:19:50 AM

Good spot jlvitt can't believe I missed that... I'll do that cpu instead. So my last question is does it make any difference on 1 dimm or 2? 240pin. I'm also under the belief that XP is less of a memory hog then vista? Is 2 gb enough or spend the extra few bucks? I noticed they don't make DDR2 800 in a 3 gb configuration. I guess they don't have to be installed in pairs like some old boards... I'm showing my age.. Just don't want to screw this up cause it's not for me...

Thanks so much to all of you that took time out of your day to help me... It is very appreciated!
a c 256 à CPUs
March 2, 2009 8:34:55 AM

2 dimms will give slightly better performance.
2GB would be enough for XP. For Vista, I'd get 4GB.