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My son wants to build his first PC. Need suggestions.

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January 18, 2009 1:20:23 PM

My son turns 15 this month and has decided he wants to try and build his own PC with money he's saved. At the moment he has a Compaq Presario SR1610NX and it just doesn't cut it. I put a Radeon HD 2600 Pro in it last year and he has 3 sticks of 512 and a single of 256 (both of which I'm hoping he can use on his new build). I also have an older Antec case that we might be able to use and some older hard drives. His main goal is to be able to play Fallout 3. He doesn't have more than about $500-600, so we kind of have to do it as inexpensively as possible, using whatever older parts we can. I know we'll need a new mobo, CPU, power supply and possibly memory (not sure what's in the Presario).

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks.

More about : son build suggestions

January 18, 2009 1:52:03 PM

Let's start out by listing what you have now to work with:
Compaq Presario SR1610NX
Introduction date:18-Aug-2005
Sempron 3200+ 1.8 GHz:
Socket 939
Speed supported: PC3200 MB/sec
Type 184 pin, DDR SDRAM
DIMM slots: Four
PCI Express (1)
January 18, 2009 2:39:57 PM

Here are some ideas to pick and choose from:


You have an older Antec case. Is it ATX or a really old AT style?
I will assume for now that it's ATX.

PC Power & Cooling PPCS370X 370W $55-20%-$20+ship 1/18/09
Additional 20% off w/ promo code "Jansave20", ends 1/31
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz 2MB $80+0 1/18/09
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS P5Q SE PLUS LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX $97-15+ship 1/18/09
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Kingston 4GB DDR2 KVR800D2N5K2/4G $38+ship 1/18/09
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100265L Radeon HD 4830 512MB $100-10+0 1/18/09
-$5 use Promo code EMCABBEAK through 1/21
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

WD Black WD6401AALS 640GB 32MB $80+0 1/15/09
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Black 22X SATA DVD Burner OEM SH-S223F $26+0 1/18/09
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Microsoft Windows XP Home SP3 OEM $90+0 1/18/09
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This total comes to $550 -$45rebates +shipping.
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January 18, 2009 5:10:43 PM

Not bad! But, do you think he could get by with his older graphics adapter? It would be nice if he could save $100. And, is his current memory unusable on the motherboard you listed?

January 18, 2009 5:20:51 PM

Memory is not compatible. Sorry.
No harm in not buying a new videocard yet.
AMD had announced a new RV740 40nm chip to be released, but not when.
This is expected to be a great new midrange competitor. Google it.
The biggest issue in gaming performance however, will be the video card.
Also, Intel has announced quad-core price cuts starting next week. This may mean that other cpu's may also see some price reductions. Don't know for sure.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 19, 2009 12:07:13 AM

Man, if all he wants is to play some games, this is very doable.

Video ATI Radeon 4670 - 80 bucks, free shipping.

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

Motherboard FoxConn AM2+ AMD 780V 55 bucks plus shipping, if I'm not mistaken, this may allow him to upgrade into a quad later.

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

AMD Athlon x2 5400+ 63 bucks

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


2 gb of Kingston ddr2 800 ram 19.99 plus shipping

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

So far we are at 220 bucks.

LITE-ON dvd burner 20 bucks and free shipping.

WD 320 gb hard drive 50 bucks and free shipping.

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

So 290 bucks.

HEC Case for 60 bucks, comes with a 585 watt power supply. According to the pictures, the PSU appears to have 2 12v+ rails, 1st at 19 amps, 2nd at 20 amps. Though I've never used one of those however.

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



So total comes in at 350. Plus say 15-20 bucks for shipping, but decent gamer rig under 400. You could spend a little more and get the 4830, but I think the 4670 will give him room to grow as well.

Another case option is this Broadway case for 50.

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

Now bad part on this one, is that the PSU is not as powerful. I actually have this very case. Recently upgraded the PSU and fit a 9600 gt in as well. The PSU that came in it, I ran for a year. It's rated for 24 amps I think, if it's the same one they gave me with mine, so should run a 4670. But it's just sitting because I would be afraid to hook it to my 9600 gt which needs an external power connector. However with a 4670, you don't need that. Decent case and big 250 mm fan.


I started you off on 2 gb, but maybe grab 4 instead. Your choice. My rig runs fine on 2 till I get a 64 bit version of vista. Currently running the 32 bit version, so what's the point if my computer can't use it?

Also, instead of XP go with Vista.

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

If you grab that 64 bit Vista home premium, you should be set. System under 500 that will do a little gaming if you are not going full resolution with all the eye candy. I know my 9600gt is supposed to be on about the same level as the 4670, and if the 4670 does that good, I would highly recommend it. But hey, the price vs performance is hard to beat.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 19, 2009 11:59:43 AM

There is some good advice here.
Forget about using the old memory, it is outdated and will not work on the newer platforms.
The current video card, completely bottom of the barrel gaming card. It is a really, really, far stretch to call it a gaming card at all. A 4830 would be literally 3+ times faster, if your son wants to play games.
Bite the bullet and help your son out a little if he is a few $$$'s short.
Build the new rig together, you will both learn something and have a great time!
January 20, 2009 4:27:00 PM

Just to put the suggested builds in perspective of how well the game will run... I built a new pc this summer with fairly similar stuff in it, and I run fallout 3 maxed settings at 1280X720 resolution. I imagine that with every patch the game will continue to run faster. I jumped 10-15 FPS with just the first update.

My specs...
E8400 @ 3.6 Ghz, but this is overkill for fallout 3...
Radeon HD 4850
Gigabyte p35 mobo
4gb ddr2 at 800mhz, but fallout 3 doesn't use nearly this much memory...
550 watt corsair psu, but there are cheaper brands out there that could do the same job
antec 300 case(just pick a case that has a free shipping deal at the time of purchase. that's like $20 saved)
just used an old HDD and disk drive from another computer. a decent ide drive isn't going to hurt gameplay.

All of this cost me $650 after rebates last july(not counting the operating system). I imagine prices have dropped though. If I can make a recomendation, I say keep the old hard drive and disk drive for the new machine. That way you don't need to buy new ones, and you don't need to pay for a new operating system. That money could be put to good use purchasing a beefier processor/video card. Then, when the old hard drive doesn't cut it, and he has some more cashed save, he could replace it. This is essentially what I did with my system, and I can honestly say that fallout doesn't perform any different with a faster hard drive than with the slower one. The disk drive is just a mater of opinion i guess. i only use mine once in a while to install something, so I didn't care enough to spend money on a new one.

Oh, and for a first time build, i thought that having a large case made putting it together easy.
January 20, 2009 6:18:16 PM

i sea said:
...Oh, and for a first time build, i thought that having a large case made putting it together easy.
Yeah, I really miss the old Chieftech Dragon towers. I have 2 of the Antec versions and I keep reusing them for new builds.
January 20, 2009 6:38:15 PM

I like a case with a motherboard tray myself.

I saw someone suggest the PC P&C 370, the 500 is only $15 more after shipping ($10 shipping vs. free shipping).
the Antec 430 is only $40 shipped, no rebates. thats the PSU I'd suggest for ya. its questionable weather or not it will run a 4830. it will be enough for a 4670.

DDR2 is dirst cheap right now, get 4 gigs.

AMD is probably your best bet for cheap initial cost and updatability.

get a 790gx board (fully suports the latest phenom2s and has on-board-graphics, good for if you have a problem with primary graphics) and a dual care AM2 cpu.

if money is supper tight, you could keep the old graphics, but if its for gaming, its not worth upgrading without a new graphics card.
January 20, 2009 6:47:48 PM

The PC P&C 370 has 27amps on the 12v rail. Do the math and you'll see that it will easily work just fine. List out specs for an AMD system and come back with something faster and more appropriate for just over $500. It's not so easy to do.
January 20, 2009 7:51:33 PM

I know the PC P&C 370 has the same specs as the 420, and should be about the same as the Antec (I haven't looked). for upgradability the 500 will be needed for a highend graphics card.

the 790gx is comparable to the p45 in most regards, including price, but it has suport for phenom 2 and early AM3 chips, the 775 is an orphan. it also has onboard graphics, maybe nothing, but can come in handy, especialy if the computer gets reused for something other than gaming down the line, like a HTPC or office/email/websurfing box.

the e5200 is a good OCing chip, but I don't forsee this build being OCed too much. for about the same price, you can get a 6000+ AMD. that should beet it stock for stock. I'd also recomend stepping down a bit to something even cheaper. spend that extra cash on graphics.

CPU and mobo are the only differences beween and AMD and Intel build. I think this is a build were AMD wins.
January 20, 2009 8:02:58 PM

1. A 4830 is a pretty serious video card.
2. You are right about the AMD mobo vs Intel P45.
3. The 6000 X2 is at the high end of its clock life and runs very hot.
4. The E5200 is at the low end and runs very cool.
5. The gaming performance monkey is all on the video card.
6. An AM2+ mobo is at the end of its life. More PhenomII releases will be much better utilized with DDR3 memory and a new motherboard.
7. A 775 motherboard with an E5200 has a big upgrade potential just by changing to an ever cheaper 775 quad cpu. The best bet for a 790 board will be a PhenomII 940. Even an Intel Q6600 65nm is faster than this.
8. Not so simple is it?
January 20, 2009 10:07:38 PM

Okay, my head is starting to spin. From what I gather, I should:

1. Go AMD with a 790gx board and dual core AMD 2, but I'm getting confused on which CPU. We won't be overclocking. I'd like a suggestion on the brand of board and which CPU.
Perhaps this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't know about the motherboard. Though.

2. ATI 4830 graphics. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3. P&C PS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

5. Need suggestions on compatible memory 4GB
January 20, 2009 10:14:02 PM

Is that antec 300 case you have, an atx case (mid tower)
Your ganna need one for a good mobo
January 20, 2009 10:17:07 PM

an antec 300 case will run you about 70$ more
January 20, 2009 10:17:44 PM

Oh and dont get 1066 ram its worthless an 800 will do your more than fine
a b B Homebuilt system
January 20, 2009 10:20:38 PM

AMD motherboards/chips do in fact benefit from DDR2 1066 RAM. My post wasn't in response to Levi182's build. I didn't know he was going to jump from an AMD discussion to Intel.
January 20, 2009 10:21:31 PM

A 77xx AMD processor is actually an original PhenomI quad core with 2 bad production cores. I would avoid these if possible.
I don't see a 790GX motherboard listed at the egg that I would buy for less than $130. The MSI boards are a maybe. Just my opinion though.
Whichever board you pick, to find memory that will work well go to the motherboard mfr's website and look up "compatible" "qualified" or "QVL" memory. This will always work without a hitch. The Kingston I listed above works with almost any board but has few fans on this forum. It's more Chevy than Ferrari ram.
I have yet to see a system list that's anywhere near as good as the one I initially posted for you for the $$$.
January 20, 2009 10:26:44 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
AMD motherboards/chips do in fact benefit from DDR2 1066 RAM. My post wasn't in response to Levi182's build. I didn't know he was going to jump from an AMD discussion to Intel.

Im more of an intel person so i didnt know AMD used 1066 efficiently
January 20, 2009 10:28:22 PM

Levi182 said:
Im more of an intel person so i didnt know AMD used 1066 efficiently
It does, but in the end it really does not matter.
January 21, 2009 12:19:27 AM


when looking for cheap cases on newegg, limit your search to free shipping. shipping on a case can be high relative to the price of the case otherwise.
no sense paying $20 to get your $40 case

for mobo, I hear biostar and foxconn have improved quite a bit in the past few years. I'll never trust gigabyte again after getting 3 bad 780g boards in a row. Asrock is the cheap version of Asus. I'd get one with 2 or 3 PCIe x16 slots for future upgradability.

were I buying a new mobo right now, it would be the $155 DLI LanParty Jr. but I like microATX boards. to build on the cheap, I'd probably get the second Biostar, but that was just a quick look.
January 21, 2009 5:14:33 PM

I've decided to stick with Intel, since it's what I know and have built in the past. Hey...I'm old and distrust change... :)  I think we'll trying using existing hard drives and optical drives. The total should come in about $550 before rebates.

Here's what I'm considering. How's it sound? Notice any compatibility problems?


1. GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3. Kingston RAM 4 GB. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4. MSI R4830-T2D512 OC Radeon HD. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5. P&C PS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

6. Rosewill case. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
January 21, 2009 5:45:59 PM

Man...great price for 750GB! I want to try and use his old drive out the the Compaq and see if we can avoid him having to buy XP. I don't know if it'll work, but I'll give it a try.

Yeah, I don't like paying the $14 shipping for the case, but the reviews sound like it's a lot of case for the money. Who knows, maybe it'll be free shipping by the time I order it for him.
January 21, 2009 6:47:11 PM

Hey i wouldnt go with an MSI video card Latley they have been sending out DOA products i would just go with sapphire 4830 since they are the most reliable of ATI manufactures .
You can save 15$ by going with the GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R The only difference between tha tand the UD3P is that there is only 1 PCI x16 slot on the UD3R and since your only going to get 1 Graphics card and im thinking your not going to use crossfire, i would suggest getting the UD3R.

These are just my suggestions you can stick with anything you want.
January 21, 2009 7:05:28 PM

yo daddy let your son get what he wants.
January 21, 2009 7:29:30 PM

Levi, I think you make a good point about the UD3R board.

oicwutudidthar, he does not know what he wants (having never done anything like this before) and asked me to research. He, does however read these messages and has input.
!