Old-school guy - looking to build a mid-range pc

Wow. I haven't custom built a system since the early days of Pentium MMX processors. I'm a bit out of touch to say the least. I don't have any idea what kind of motherboards are good/bad, what the latest Intel processors are, and what a decent vid card is these days. I'm guessing motherboards don't come standard with ISA/VESA slots anymore huh? Heh.

I want to build a PC for no more than $800.00 (approx)....

1. I want a very simple case. I could care less about fancy lights and whatever, it's not needed.
2. I'd like 2-4GB of memory in the machine.
3. Intel processor (not the top of the line, but somewhere near top of the line processor if possible) -- on a side note, where can I find out about the latest Intel processors? I haven't looked at PC processors since Pentium2 Pentium3 days... Now I hear about core dore2 , quad cores, pentium 4's, pentium E models, etc. wth are all these. lol. I liked it better in the old days when I could just tell how fast something was by the MHz rating... doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
4. Average soundcard... nothing special needed here.
5. Good gaming video card, but not TOP of the line. I'd like to do SOME PC gaming... I want to try Bioshock. Maybe that new Left for Dead game from Valve... I need it to have an analog output for my 22" Insignia monitor/hdtv.
6. A smaller sized HD is fine. I don't need tons of space. Is SATA still the norm for desktop PCs?

Thanks for any tips..
23 answers Last reply
More about school build range
  1. whats the budget? that always helps alot.... cuz i can come up with anything if i just have a budget.....
  2. oops my mistake
  3. No problem. I should have put the price at the bottom instead of buried in the middle. :)

    If my price goal is way off-base or inprobable, let me know.
  4. The place to start is to read the many other system build posts here, read the THG SBM series, look at the various charts, and then look on NewEgg for the parts and read the feedback for them.
  5. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128359
    mobo:has probly everything u need and then some, has decent chipset cooling compared to some.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231209
    Ram: i actually just bought this ram about a month a go and i love it they run very cool and have great timings 4-4-4-12 at 1.8v

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115037
    CPU: still a very strong CPU and very overclockable .... if u ever decide to ..

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119190
    case simple but clean to me anyway ... and made by a name brand

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006
    PSU: great psu i have this has one PHAT 12v rail... keeps u very stable

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136153
    DVD drive

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102810
    GPU : Good card for your monitor size . and it comes with a DVI- to VGA adapter for your monitor

    Total Prices not including MIR......780.92

    Just something i threw together modifiy as u will just my suggestions... i think i forgot a OS imguessing you dont have one ....

    Id buy it but i already have a system :P
  6. Hey, thanks for the reply! That video card seems like a really good card... based on the reviews I'm reading about it. It also comes with a DVI to VGA (like you said) and a DVI to HDMI connector too (which my monitor/hdtv has as well!).

    I think you missed a hard drive for me, but no biggie, I can add one to the list. I appreciate the suggestions.

    If anyone else has ideas, feel free to toss them out.

    (no OS needed btw...)
  7. yeah that's a good system put together there. you could always get a less expensive Corsair psu to enable buying a HDD and still stay under $800. Sata is still the norm. a good "midrange" hdd are the newer 640 gb drives. if they're too much then anything will work. have fun!
  8. Question about the psu... what does a $119 psu get me that a cheaper one won't? I didn't realize that unit was so expensive. What model corsair were you referring to that might work for me? And what doesn't it have that the other one does?
    Thanks!

    Wow, it sure seemed easier when I was building my 486's... lol.
  9. The main difference you'll have to take note of between todays computers and way back is HEAT .

    Cases need good air flows and the best ones have large fans moving lots of air quietly .

    The 4870 card mentioned in that list is a high performance part that would run bioshock very easily . 4850's are cheaper and will also handle that game very easily .

    Intel core 2 duo chips come in 65 nanometer and 45 nanometer dies The smaller later model chips run faster and cooler . Intel varies bus speed and cache size to make a model range but other than that theyre essentially the same processor .
    Look at e7X00 or e8X00

    Motherboards based on intels P45 chipset are the sweet spot
    Gigabyte and ASUS are quality brands

    Read the performance charts on this site . Tab near the top of this page
  10. +1 to Dekansnowman1's build--I'd go with that configuration too at that budget.

    I'd use this Corsair 650TX power supply to save $20, which is enough for your purposes. The UD3R mobo can't crossfire anyway, so you don't need the 750W version.

    Use this Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB hard drive. A little larger than you need, but fast and good value at $70. You can use the extra space to optimize your partitions...

    At your budget, on-board sound is fine.

    This puts you $30 over budget, but well worth it IMO. Anything less and you're biting into your basic needs and making a quality sacrifice--I wouldn't go any lower. If you shop this list around and / or price match, you might squeeze out that $30.

    Hope this helps.
  11. sry forgot to add it to the list the HD is actually included in the price here it is i figuer its decent storage
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136074
  12. Impressive guys. Thanks to everyone who pitched in. I think that's exactly what I'm looking for!

    I didn't really think I'd get responses like this. MUCH APPRECIATED. I can now buy with confidence I'm not getting 'crap'. lol

    JR

    QUICK QUESTION -- how quickly does Newegg ship these custom systems?
  13. That's great, looks like you're within budget!

    The Caviar Black would be a nice-to-have because it's faster than the SE 16 model, but its smallest size is 500GB.

    You've got a little extra space in your budget, so spend an extra $15 on this Scythe 120 mm fan for the front of the case to assist with hard drive cooling--will help with overall airflow and longevity.
  14. just a couple of quick points
    1. Have a good look at the hd 4850, if you are not a serious gamer it may be the better option. It also depends on what setting you want to play, high = 4870 average to low = 4850.

    2. What operating system to go for? if you like the style of vista then by all means go ahead. i had vista and reinstalled xp because i prefer it, but its up to you.

    3. Are you going to overclock? i realise that you havn't played with comps for a while but if you like me, once you start you cant stop then have a look at overclocking. If you decide to them an after market heatsink will be needed.
    this is good
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233023
    with this
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233020
    The retenton bracket is a definate, push pins are the worst invention in the world (for heatsinks)

    4. my prefrence of case
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042&Tpk=antec%20300

    that gives you a couple of more points to consider before you go ahead and buy. personaly i would go with a 4850 and the overclock the cpu.

    hope this information helps p.s buy for your needs

    coleman
  15. All good points from Coleman.

    I would have suggested 4850 as well, but I have a feeling that JR is going to get bitten by the first person shooter bug pretty soon, so that 4870 card on his 22 incher would give him higher frame rates and the room for some more AA & AF.

    Regarding OC, the Xigmatek cooler is great (and don't forget MX-2 thermal paste too). If you want to shave a few bucks to stay within budget as a result of getting the heatsink, then consider using one of the E7x00 processors and OC that. I assumed that you would just use the E8400 from Dekansnowman's build with the stock cooler and not OC. Pricewise, these two options will be pretty close. If it were me, I'd overclock the E8400... :sol:
  16. Out of curiosity... assuming spending a little extra wasn't an issue... Would anyone recommend going from the E8400 to Q9400? I do make use of virtualization now and then, and thought the extra cores might be worthwhile at the expense of a little speed on each core? Also, what about the E8400 vs the Core i7 2.66Ghz? Although I think the i7 requires a different MB..
  17. Well, you did say up front that you were trying to stay under $800...

    Have a look at the threads about Duals vs. Quads to get an idea of where you would go with that. If it were me, I'd only go quad core if you were using apps that were optimized for them.

    And don't even open that i7 Pandora's Box after we've all helped you build this rig! :whistle:
  18. Akebono 98 said:
    +1 to Dekansnowman1's build--I'd go with that configuration too at that budget.

    I'd use this Corsair 650TX power supply to save $20, which is enough for your purposes. The UD3R mobo can't crossfire anyway, so you don't need the 750W version.

    Use this Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB hard drive. A little larger than you need, but fast and good value at $70. You can use the extra space to optimize your partitions...

    At your budget, on-board sound is fine.

    This puts you $30 over budget, but well worth it IMO. Anything less and you're biting into your basic needs and making a quality sacrifice--I wouldn't go any lower. If you shop this list around and / or price match, you might squeeze out that $30.

    Hope this helps.


    I'd second that build in the original message, and what the quoted person above said.

    If you really REALLY need to stay under budget, i'd grab a 4850 instead of a 4870. I'd also really reccomend getting a 600w or 650w PSU instead of a 750. 750 is complete overkill for a single card, dual core system. Hell with that 750 you could easily run dual cards, on a quad core and overclock the piss out of it and still be sittin pretty.

    Edit: Also wanted to mention, you may wanna look at the seagate 7200.11 320gb HDD, according to toms' hdd charts, its just about the fastest non SSD drive you can get short of a velociraptor.
  19. Purchased the system as recommended from everyone... E8400, 4870, 4GB, 500GB, 650W, etc.

    Thanks much.
  20. Trying not to blow things up :)

    I just received this order.

    The M/B and PSU have a 2x4 12V connector, and a 24pin 12V connector. Am I supposed to plug in BOTH of these? Or not?
  21. The mobo requires power from TWO connectors and BOTH must be plugged in or your computer will not work: the ATX 24 pin (the big one) and the ATX 8 pin (with a non-separable connector head).

    The other "8 pin" connectors that you see are the two PCIe connectors for your video card and they should have a 6 pin connector with 2 extra pins that "detach", depending on whether your video card needs to be powered by 6 or 8 pins or a combination of the two. The 4870 needs to be powered by two 6 pin connectors, so plug both of these PCIe connectors into the video card WITHOUT using the extra 2 pin addenda.
  22. Thanks. I needed that info. :)

    Oh, I did purchase an extra fan for the front of the case. Should the front fan be pushing air out or sucking it in?
  23. The front case fan should suck cold air into the case (intake) and blow it over the hard drives to help keep them cool. Rear case fan should pull hot air out of the case (exhaust).

    For cases generally, airflow is designed so that intake fans are the ones on the front and bottom, exhaust fans are on the back and top--because hot air rises.
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