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No more off the shelf pc's

Last response: in Systems
January 30, 2009 12:58:06 AM

I was going to buy this pc and upgrade the video card to a 4850 or 4870 I have a 500watt antec to use with it. The cost would be about 800$ or so for this set up.
But I keep reading that people build there pc’s for less then what you pay for an off the shelf one.
If I were to build something similar to this how much would it cost me? I was looking at mobo’s and cpu but I have no idea what is good or bad.
I do know I would like a quad-core Intel or amd. this pc will be used for some light game play I use my xbox360 for most games but I would also like to be able to play games like spore or other titles not available for consoles. If I do decide to build my pc it must be stable plug n play would be best I would hate to be stuck with a mobo trying to update bios or something.
Any suggestions would be great on what my best option might be.

More about : shelf

January 30, 2009 1:49:15 AM

Well, you'll always need to update the bios whether it's off the shelf or home-built. But I know what you mean.

First, try to remember that shelf systems are made with pretty much the cheapest parts available. ESPECIALLY from a retail store (Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc.). They are looking for the most profitable way to get your money, and they would fill a case with sawdust if they thought anyone would actually buy that.

Building yourself allows you something you'll never get from a retail chain, and that's control. The big questions are:
1. What do you want to do? You mentioned Spore, a relatively light game as far as requirements go.
2. How much money are you willing to spend? Is it $800? Or just $800 for the setup you'd mentioned? Do you want someone to spec a system for you? How much weight to you want to allocate to the costs in a new PC (i.e., do you want more money spent on the hard drive, or a better videocard? Building a system for most of us reflects that personal need to tweak what we value, what we want, and what we're willing to negotiate on. Let me know, I'll try to help.
January 30, 2009 9:06:38 AM


It really depends on the system usage.

Low end systems used for checking e-mail, browsing the web and basic office applications are usually cheaper off the shelf.
Mid range systems used the same as above as well as light to moderate gaming are about equal in price as building your own.
High end systems generally cost more than if you built one yourself.

Using the Best Buy build, I went to Newegg and parted a similar system. With a few modifications (see below), I came up with a system including OS, Keyboard, Mouse, and speakers for just about $609 shipped.

I didn't know the case or power supply Best Buy used, so I went with an Antec 300 case and 500watt Earthwatts Power supply.
I didn't see the AMD X4 9100e processor at 1.8 GHz, so I went with the cheapest I found, the AMD X4 9850 at 2.5 GHz.
Wasn't sure what motherboard they used other than it had the HD3200 on-board graphics chipset and HDMI output. Sounds like an AMD 780G motherboard so I went with the cheapest I could find.

Even with these modifications, the price was still about the same. Since you already have an Antec 500 watt PSU, you could remove that from your build and save $70 (or put that towards a better graphics card).

-Wolf sends
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January 30, 2009 10:53:41 AM

Sub $800 Phenom 2 rig sound good to you?

Edit: oops you already have a PSU hehe Maybe get a Cooler Master 690?
January 30, 2009 12:19:41 PM

Well try going for a 4870X2 (or the 4870 1GB your choice) but you will need a higher wattage PSU though.
January 30, 2009 1:05:16 PM

Another good difference between a brand computer and a custom is that with custom, you are in control of what software is on your machine. A brand name computer always has crap software that you probably will never use, except for one or two pieces of software. If you go with a custom build, you tend to get a higher quality computer too.
January 30, 2009 1:54:33 PM

Thanks for the reply’s! I would like to spend 800$ that is my budget for a new pc right now.
This pc will be used for internet/light gaming/ windows move maker.
So basically I am looking for the sweet spot on a 800$ build. Also I have keyboard and mouse and winxp/vista cd’s. this is the pc I want to replace.
AMD Athlon 64processor
1.00GHz 2GB of ram
250GB HD
Antec basic500
The upgrades I did myself so that is why I am entertaining my own pc build but I have never replaced a mobo/cpu before. so plug n play would be best for my first build.
So fill free to spec a system for me and allocate the 800$ budget as you fill would be best spent.

January 30, 2009 2:57:36 PM

If you can read a manual you can put together a system even if you have never done it before. I would recomend reading the entire steps for installing the motherboard into the case first (find the screw holes by placing the board over and then going back and putting the screws in). Then read up on the entirty of how to put pieces into the motherboard, then go back and start putting pieces in. For cheaper components deffintly keep looking at AMD.
With a 4870 your looking at $250 in graphics card alone. I would recomend upping ram to at least 4 gb if not 8gb on a new system (PC 6400 ~$100 for 8, ~$50 for 4 gig).

4gigs Ram ~ $50
Case ~$50
Decent power supply ~$50
640 gig western digital hard drive, ~$70
Motherboard ~$75
CPU (Can get a phenom II this way) ~$200
Radeon 4870 ~$250
DVD burner ~$25
Mouse + keyboard combo ~$40
22" LCD Monitor ~$150
Power Strip ~$15

Puts you at ~$975. I don't have time to lookup which parts you would want to use but here is an idea of what you will be spending. Mabey drop the video card into the $150 range? Get rid of the monitor and your at your $825. I really would recomend getting a Phenom II or a Q6600 cpu.
January 30, 2009 4:00:19 PM

Build suggestion - I do not know what AMD recommends, but Intel say install the motherboard, then install the CPU. I recommend installing the CPU, heatsink, and RAM before installing the motherboard in the case.
January 30, 2009 4:11:34 PM

Ya i'm with jsc. Installing the heatsink can be a pain with or without the back plate. You'll be futher ahead installing the cpu and heat sink before you install your motherboard into the case. Ram, i'm iffy on. Sometimes you have to push rather hard on them to get them to click in. Ussualy I do ram after i have the motherboard installed. But i always have the heatsink on before installing the motherboard.
January 30, 2009 4:43:08 PM

Well I only do that when I install an aftermarket CPU cooler. Mostly because I have to put the back on, but I do recomend for a first time builder with mobo to follow the instructions because less chance to mess something up.
January 30, 2009 7:11:54 PM

Well after a little looking i found some things i might use let me know what you guys think?

TOTAL $712.94

The only thing i did not like the mobo only has 2 DDR2 MEMORY SLOTS. But i can upgrade later 2x 2gb. Also i was looking at ATI GPU but i am not sure if NVIDIA mobo is compatible with ATI GPU?
Any adivice on this setup would be great.
one more thing can i use my basic antec 500 with this setup or is the corsair a good choice to go with.
January 30, 2009 7:43:37 PM

m-audio said:
Well after a little looking i found some things i might use let me know what you guys think?

TOTAL $712.94

The only thing i did not like the mobo only has 2 DDR2 MEMORY SLOTS. But i can upgrade later 2x 2gb. Also i was looking at ATI GPU but i am not sure if NVIDIA mobo is compatible with ATI GPU?
Any adivice on this setup would be great.
one more thing can i use my basic antec 500 with this setup or is the corsair a good choice to go with.

Go with a P45 motherboard or P43 motherboard. The NVIDIA chipset for motherboards is inferior at this time.
January 31, 2009 8:03:09 AM

I strongly agree with that.
January 31, 2009 1:21:44 PM
January 31, 2009 10:29:07 PM

Looks good to me, there's always different choices, it's a matter of preference.

I would add the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler with the XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket. You might have to remove the side fan or get the Antec Three Hundred. The case is not as flashy but it's my preference for a budget case with good cooling. Pick up one or two additional Antec Tricool double ball-bearing fans for the front.

When applying thermal paste with the Xigmatek cooler, apply a thin layer across the CPU IHS (top) or across the whole base of the heatsink. The paste won't spread properly through contact because of the gaps between the heatpipes and the base.