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Xmas present for bro, $650 budget.. looking surprisingly solid

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December 16, 2008 12:48:40 AM

I'm building a computer for my Christmas for my brother. My budget is about $150 for the video card and about $500 for the rest of the system, and he doesn't need a case or monitor. I'm surprised at how solid a build I was able to put together for this price. I really didn't have to skimp anywhere.

Here's what I've come up with:

$130 MOBO: ASUS P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 Motherboard
$185 CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Model BX80562Q6600

$275 MOBO/CPU: ASUS P5Q Pro + E8400 Combo @ NewEgg
$50 RAM: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) TWIN2X4096-6400C5
$90 HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s - OEM
$60 PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W Power Supply
$100 PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W Power Supply
$21 DVD: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model iHAS120-04 - OEM
$37 HS&F: XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler + ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket
$7 OCZ Freeze Extreme Thermal Paste
----
$580
-$75 MIR
----
$505

So I'm just over right at budget, but I don't see anywhere to cut that the extra $15 isn't really worth the cost (I'll just make my part of the present larger).

For the video card, I'm going with a 512mb 4850, but I haven't decided which one yet. Any thoughts on that? Currently thinking ASUS 4850 TOP.

EDIT: Upped the PSU to 650w, dropped the aftermarket HS&F. He can buy that later if he needs it.
EDIT2: Changed the cpu/mobo to a P5Q/E8400 combo, saving $40. This allowed me to put the HS&F back into the build. I could stay with the Q6600 and save $20 with the combo.
December 16, 2008 1:03:00 AM

Well you can trim a few bucks from the CPU by going with an E8400 for 159.99. It overclocks well and is better for gaming. The Q6600 would only be a little faster in some multimedia tasks, particularly video encoding.

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

As for the Radeon 4850 just get the one that has the best bundle and warranty.
December 16, 2008 1:23:18 AM

Oh yes you skimped. You need a 450W+ PSU for the HD 4850, and a 550W+ for Crossfire. You did get a Crossfire MB so I assume you want that future-proofing. Get a Corsair 650TX or a PC Power & Cooling 610W. Both are sold for ridiculously low prices at newegg these days.

You can dump the Xigmatek and OCZ products and just use the stock HSF.

There's a Sapphire HD 4850 for $145.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102770

I also like Visiontek but that's more expensive.
December 16, 2008 5:28:23 AM

Thanks for the input guys.

I thought 400w was going to be enough, but I replaced it with the Corsair 650w. I dropped the aftermarket HS&F to make room for the additional cost of the new PSU. I'm a fan of Corsair, so I went with theirs. Wish I could afford the 620HX, modular ones are so much cooler.

The Asus TOP looks like a really good choice. Hopefully my dad will go for it (since he gave me a $150 budget, and that'll cost him ~$180 before the MIR.

The WD Caviar Black got good reviews, and it's worth $5 to get another 110GB of storage.

I really like the idea of a quad core, and I think my brother will dig it too. We'll OC it to 3Ghz and he's mostly going to be playing WoW on this thing anyway so its gonna blaze with either CPU inside.
December 16, 2008 5:28:24 AM

Looks great but the after market cooler is a must. core 2 stock coolers suck major. You'r well under budget and the cooler isn't that much IMO.
December 16, 2008 5:32:02 AM

Stock cooler is fine if you aren't going to overclock or are only going to do a minor overclock. I'd still opt for the 8400 but that's just me. Looking good though.
December 16, 2008 6:13:56 AM

Everybody at Tom's will most definitely agree: the WD6400AAKS is a great bang-for-the-buck hard drive.

Everybody's advice is solid, however, I agree with Aevm's advice to pick the PC Power & Cooling PSU.

Lite-On is a good brand, I have one of their drives. Recommend it myself. For the price, I think the E8400 is the better choice, especially if you get an E0 stepping.
December 16, 2008 6:21:26 AM

For a cheap after-market cooler, look no further than the AC Freezer 7 Pro which is a great cooler known for the its quietness and prowess with mild to moderate over-clocking. Probably better to stick with a dual core CPU if you get this cooler for higher over-clocks.
December 16, 2008 5:06:33 PM

It was pointed out to me that there exists a COMBO DEAL for the Asus P5Q Pro and the Q6600 and the E8400. So, if I go with the E8400 combo, I save $40, allowing me to put the HS&F back in the deal.

The WD7501AALS HDD I picked is only $0.01/gb more expensive and the "Black" drives are designed for performance, where the "Blue" are for everyday reliability (aka lame! :) )
December 16, 2008 7:02:07 PM

Based on the HD 4850, I'm guessing this is a gaming PC. The E8400 is just as good as the Q6600, maybe even better, in most games. The notable exception is Flight Simulator X, where the Q6600 would beat the E8400. If your brother doesn't play FSX and doesn't rip DVDs too often then I think the E8400 is a better choice for him.
This article might help:
http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=775&p=1
December 16, 2008 7:47:28 PM

Take a look at this RAM:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:
G.Skill PI 4G DDR2-800 Kit (F26400CL4D4GBPIB) - We are starting to sound like a broken record here by having G.Skill in each of our categories so far, but they do offer compelling price to performance ratios on their products with an added bonus of good customer service and top notch warranties. We had planned to originally recommend the Silver PI series, but just picked up the new Black series a few weeks ago and have been impressed with it. Rated at 4-4-4-12 timings on 1.8V at DDR2-800, this kit features not only excellent timings but a price now at $50. The memory will POST at 5-5-5-15 timings in most boards but spending 30 seconds in the BIOS will get you the rated timings. We ended up with a final speed setting at DDR2-1020 with 5-5-4-15 timings on 2.05V. The sweet spot with our board/CPU combination was at DDR2-900 on 1.95V with 4-4-4-15 timings.

http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=3476&p=3

Quote:

$275 MOBO/CPU: ASUS P5Q Pro + E8400 Combo @ NewEgg
$50 RAM: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) TWIN2X4096-6400C5
$100 PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W Power Supply
$21 DVD: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model iHAS120-04 - OEM
$37 HS&F: XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler + ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket
$7 OCZ Freeze Extreme Thermal Paste

Looks good.
!