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Bird beak blessed budget built PC!

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February 7, 2009 8:00:16 PM

Updated 11th Feb.

Hullo everyone. I'm looking to build the best budget ($700 AUD) gaming/work PC I can, with a few slightly stranger than normal requirements. For the forseeable future, my work room is the world of three free flying pet birds. I'm focusing on parts that will not slice up an unsuspecting beak that goes "Ooo, purtsy lites! Can I lick? AUGH! MY TONGUE! Maybe I can lick if I stick my beak in there to protect my tongue? AUGH! MY FACE!"

I'm not too fond of screaming "AUGH! MY BIRDIES!" so any advice on how to keep them safe would be muchly appreciated. I've already made good use of google and the guides on this website - thanks. :) 

(I should point out the above scenario has never happened in the past)

I'm in Melbourne (VIC, Australia) and will buy locally - most likely from PCDIY, who have a short listing of cheap quality parts. StaticIce usually shows about the lowest prices for items in the region.

Also very welcome would be any advice on what you'd suggest as better replacements within a similar price range.

Gaming/Work: For the missus to play WoW, and for myself to use for graphics work and software programming. Not cutting edge stuff. Ideally, we'd not have to replace the entire thing in a few years (such as if a Starcraft MMO came out :whistle:  ). So advice on making it modularly upgrade-friendly is appreciated too.

Ingredient List: - Updated 11th Feb
I am told that taking AMD will provide better cost efficiency when it comes to upgrading in several years. I have two lists to choose between now:

Intel build:
- $115 Intel x2 E5200 or $185 Intel E7300
- $216 Gigabyte EP45 UD3P
- $95 ATI 4650
= $426 or 496

AMD build (preferred):
- $83 AM2 x2 5200+
- $139 Gigabyte MA78GM-US2H or $209 Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H
- $172 ECS 9800GT 512
= $394 or 464

Other bits:
- $36 2x1GB RAM Kingston DDR2 800
- $89 500GB Seagate HD SATA, 7200RPM
- $187 ANTEC Sonata 3 + Earthwatts 500 PSU
= $312

AMD is $706 vs Intel at $738. The balance of power has shifted heavily from ghz & Crossfire (Intel) to GPU & longterm upgrade cost effectiveness (AMD).

Monitor:
$165 for 19" LG 1952TQ

Once again, any suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your time - and much thanks for the website, which easily saved days off of research time.

Notes & Questions (from my most recent post)
- AMD 790GX + SB750 Chipset, supports Phenom for future upgrades, better Crossfire, review 1, review 2 + info
- BIOS updates have to be released by company before future processors would be functional on motherboard? Updates which may in fact never come?
- Something about SATA & RAID not working on mobo for reviewers, and how my SATA HD would just be read as IDE?
- 780G is $70 cheaper than the 790GX mobo, supports Phenom but doesn't have crossfire. Could get a ECS 9800GT 512 with those savings... comparing it to crossfiring 2x4650 down the line and clueless. :/ 
- I'd take a performance hit compared to the Intel 5200. This means long term I'd have to upgrade sooner... but I'd only have to upgrade the processor, which saves.
- For +$19 I could get the AMD x2 5400+.
- For +$114 I could get the AMD Phenom x4 9550, but it's probably not worth it for a while yet, right?
- 780G with ECS 9800GT 512, or 790GP/P45 UD3P with ATI 4650...

The more I read, the more complicated it gets! :pt1cable: 
February 7, 2009 8:04:05 PM

For everything that is listed there you will have to throw it out when Starcraft MMo comes out. Any of that will probably not run it well especially dual core. I'm a quad fan and a 4800 series Ati fan for gaming and graphic value.
February 7, 2009 8:09:14 PM

Alright, then I'll take advice on the build that ignores the hypothetical Starcraft MMO. :) 

I thought it might lose the point a bit to build a budget PC that isn't actually inside the budget at all. Do you have any suggestions for how one could go quad & 4800 series in said budget? Thought crossfiring 4650 on the board could be pretty good.

May I ask what gives you such certainty that they won't aim for the largest demographic by building their next MMO to be as old PC friendly as WoW was when it came out? Didn't realize any system requirements had been hinted at anywhere.
Related resources
February 7, 2009 8:18:09 PM

Okay brother. Wasn't exactly attacking you. Looking at the engine they are using and the general graphics of the screens I wld speculate such. Plus what I have read on general opinion on forums. Plus above you said that any help on parts wld be a help. Only giving you my opinion and if you can't handle it then pls direct yourself to a non-PUBLIC! way of asking for advice. I have been constantly researching this stuff man and this is just speculation when it come to future product. I realize that specs have not come out. But, just to be safe wldn't it be better to get at least a better quality build for gaming? Also, why wld you put a 700 AUD machine w/ birds flying around? POOP= Bad plus not good w/ electricity.
February 7, 2009 8:19:36 PM

I wld think that they wld go for a large demographic but they also want to keep graphic quality up. Same as said before. Better safe then sorry mate.
February 7, 2009 8:25:06 PM

Um. I wasn't taking offense at all. See smiley face. I realized that I hadn't worded my main topic to indicate that I was after advice that focused inside the budget, so I went and edited that a little.

I'm not attacking you either - I was genuinely wondering what you'd heard about speculative SC MMO requirements, and whether it was possible to not go too far out budget with your suggestions. I appreciated your input.

The birds are clipped - by free flying, I mean more akin to occasional gliding. The PC would be in a corner, likely, and I'd expect the case would help keep the poop out XD

I've had my existing PC around them for three years. Most I've noticed so far is the occasional tiniest feather inside the case, so I'd make sure it stays clean. Having it elsewhere isn't an option, nor is anything that goes over $1000 AUD.

Re WHY... budget + living space. We used to have a lot more space, but for the moment we don't. Maybe in a year we'll have more space. Mostly, I like being near my birds when working/gaming - I wind up with three warm fluffy bellies snuggled into my shoulder and ankle. It's pretty awesome. :) 
February 7, 2009 8:33:01 PM

Sorry brother. Misread the thread and took it to far. You have my apologies. For advice, I have none. You seem to have the tools. If you got a prob w/ compatibility then I wld post a new topic on that but everything looks shiny here captain. I'm not to familiar w/ the AUS market but i'm sure your okay.
February 7, 2009 8:42:46 PM

No worries! I could see how it could be read like that, so I've tried to edit it to be the best it can. I'm sorry to have put you out at all, never meant to.

Thanks for caring. :) 
February 7, 2009 8:54:49 PM

Your a good man friend. No worries back at you. I try to help when I can.
February 7, 2009 8:55:14 PM

Sorry if your a woman. Same goes though.
February 7, 2009 8:56:48 PM

ROFLMAO, no need for a sorry there. Bloke here. Gaming section of PC for the missus though.
February 7, 2009 9:13:32 PM

I see. Well I say good luck to you brother and good travels. Hope more help blows ur way.
February 8, 2009 4:33:32 AM

scribblette said:
Hullo everyone. I'm trying to find out how to build the best budget gaming PC I can, with a few slightly stranger than normal requirements.

I'm in Melbourne (VIC, Australia) and am most likely to buy locally.

I'd like to keep the budget under $700 AUD (and trying to keep the monitor not too far off the mark). I understand this is lower than what people usually work with.

I have done a fair tonne of reading up on what parts are recommended and been through all the guides I could find on this site - the help has been great. I think my questions about the case & fan, might be somewhat unusual, though.

For at least the next year my work room is the world of three free flying pet birds. I need parts - this relates to the PSU fan and case only, I guess - that will not slice up an unsuspecting beak that goes "Ooo, purty lites! Can I lick? AUGH! MY TONGUE! Maybe I can lick if I stick my beak in there to protect my tongue? AUGH! MY FACE!"

I'm not too fond of screaming "AUGH! MY BIRDIES!" so any advice on how to keep them safe would be muchly appreciated. I think we'll be happy to go over budget for the safest case.

EDIT: I should point out this has never actually happened! I'm just wary.

Also very welcome would be any advice on what you'd suggest as better replacements within a similar price range.

Usage:
The machine will be used for my girlfriend to play WoW and otherwise used by me for graphics work and software programming. Ideally we won't have to throw the PC out and replace the entire thing in a few years (such as if a Starcraft MMO came out :whistle:  ), but could instead upgrade a component here or there. So advice on making it upgrade-friendly is appreciated too.

Buying locally:
The cheapest stores down here that I know of are MSY (beware, their website will burn your eyes out) and PC DIY (just a PDF file). Their service matches their websites, supposedly, and so far nearly all the pieces I've selected are from their PDF.

The other alternative is to use StaticIce to find the best prices around, but I've found linked sites can have higher prices than listed. A chap in JB HiFi recommended MLN instead for better customer service. Note the above sites all use $AUD.

Ingredient List:
These are the best 'quality items' nearing the budget that I've found. I've bolded the items that are most likely to be purchased... I think a few were listed for comparison, rather than they being quality (such as some of the PSUs).

Video Card
$62 Geforce 9400GT 512M ECS (-2)
$78 Geforce 9500GT 512M ECS (+2)
$95 ATI 4650 (+7)
Ranked by this site, compared with my existing PC's Geforce 6800GS

Processor
$115 Intel E5200 2.5GHZ (dual core, ocs well, saw raves on here)
$185 Intel E7300 (I have read that this could be better for gaming?)
$268 Intel E8400 3ghz (saw much more raving on here)

RAM
$38 2x1GB Kingston DDR2 800
$78 4GB Kingston DDR2 800 (depends on the GF...)

Power supply & Case
PSU $99 Coolermaster 650W
PSU $152 Corsair 520W
Case $98 Antec 300
Case $148 Thermaltake Armor VH8000BWS
Both - $128 Antec NSK6580 with Earthwatts 430W 80Plus certified PSU from MSY.

Motherboard
$132 MSI P45 NEO-F
$199 Asus P5Q Pro
$216 Gigabyte EP45 UD3P (Is this the only one with Crossfire, and is it best for long term for future upgrades etc?)

Hard drive
From $53-71 for 80G - 320G. Further details not available at PCDIY.

Input
$12 Logitech USB Optical Mouse
$13/19 Logitech Newtouch/Ultraflat Keyboard
$36 Logitech Deluxe 660 Keyboard + Mouse
I've already got a spare DVD/CD drive and mouse handy.

Monitor
$165 for 19" LG 1952TQ
Possibly free from someone's garage. In a few years I'll be getting a SED monitor instead for color accurate work, anyway! The problem with a larger super high res LCD is that as the native resolution looks best when gaming, you run it high res, game slows down, you need upgrades... etc.

Optional Extras:
$20-50 CPU Cooler
$12 System Cooler 12cm fan
$17 Logitech R10 Speakers

I'm at $645, not counting the monitor, keyboard or speakers, which could hopefully all be had for cheap or free from a garage somewhere. :) 

Once again, any suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your time - and much thanks for the website, which easily saved days off of research time.


What type of birds?
February 8, 2009 4:57:27 AM

darkside_gamer7 said:
Why does the type matter?


Are you familiar with AUS birds? Nothing will protect a PC from a cockatoo, grey miners are primarily flower dew eaters so should not be an issue at all and lorikeets are very inquisitive but wire (not plastic) window screen should keep their beaks from checking out fan blades. And in all of the above (or any other bird type) I'd suggest not having a case with a top-mounted fan option, for obvious reasons.
February 8, 2009 5:04:44 AM

Quote:
$95 ATI 4650 (+7)

OK, but I'd spend a bit more and grab an ATI 4830 or NVIDIA 9800 gt.

Quote:
$115 Intel E5200 2.5GHZ

Good choice considering your budget, though I've heard good things from both the E5200 and E7300

Quote:
$38 2x1GB Kingston DDR2 800

I saw some G.Skill memory up for grabs on the MSY website, which in my opinion would be preferable. Both however are OK choices.

Quote:
Both - $128 Antec NSK6580 with Earthwatts 430W 80Plus certified PSU from MSY.

Ive never owned an Earthwatts power supply, so I can't give any feedback on this, however it may be a good idea to invest on a better powersupply and maybe salvaging your old PC's case (if possible)

Quote:
$216 Gigabyte EP45 UD3P (Is this the only one with Crossfire, and is it best for long term for future upgrades etc?)

Again, never owned this motherboard, but I looked up some reviews and it looks like a very solid choice.

In terms of its upgradability, it's upgrade path is rather modest considering the LGA 775 line is discontinued, but the other option is blowing your money on a core Intel core i7 computer, which would be severely over your budget.

Quote:
From $53-71 for 80G - 320G.

Can't give any input for hard drives (what I usually do when I've built a PC is bung in some old IDE drives I find around :) )

Quote:
$17 Logitech R10 Speakers

Erk. I'd buy a decent cooler for the CPU to give room for overclocking.

Besides the video card and PSU, your builds pretty solid, though it would be worthwhile to get more feedback to "polish" the build.
Also, make sure you check for compatibility issues between the components! I doubt there would be any such issue but you never know....

Good luck!
February 8, 2009 5:04:53 AM

k sorry boys theres alot of fluff in this topic lets try to stay on task and help this guy out.. Personally a quad core system aint a bad idea. U can usually find a q6600 for about 200$ on some occasions. As for the 4800 series reference i dont see the problem with two 4670's or somthing. Personally the way i look at it is its better to try to get the best "single card" system and then double up in the future.. Ex) 1 4870 will last u graphically for a good 2 years or so and youll still be able to play games beyond then forsure.. (1 gig version) Then when the time arises a good 2-3 years later where u feel like ur lacking that preforamce.. double up and get a second one. That way u dont break ur wallet and u dont lose that preformance where u really need it. SO to plan ahead id recommend a better power supply to keep ur GPUS happy... as well as everything else in this case. In my opinion anything 800 watts and higher is key for sli/crossfire. I personally went way overboard and got a 1000 watt cooler master psu for around 230 CAN prices tho.. So itd prolly be cheaper for u. But im sure you can find an 800 or 850 for around 150-200 bucks, that is if u want to spend that much. and im a bit power crazy i believe even the 650-750 watt powersupplies will work fine to but better to be safe then sorry. hopefeully this helped a bit
February 8, 2009 5:19:04 AM

Whoa $700AUD makes it $470USD and if with LCD included we gonna cut any hint of bell and whistles and get the best GPU for the best frames gaming on 1280 x 1024 hehe :p  So my suggestion:

February 8, 2009 5:44:33 AM

batuchka said:
Whoa $700AUD makes it $470USD and if with LCD included we gonna cut any hint of bell and whistles and get the best GPU for the best frames gaming on 1280 x 1024 hehe :p  So my suggestion:
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q205/batuchka/48X.jpg
Uh... You forgot GST, and availability in AUS. Many of the parts you suggested either are not available, or not for near those prices.
February 8, 2009 5:49:50 AM

This is one of the most interesting post I have seen so far. I know how you feel scribblette, I have a green cheek conure and am constantly aware of surrounding dangers he can get "involved" with, and removing those dangers. If your parrots are like mine, don't get a shiny case or one with lights. Those things are parrot magnets. Being that cases aren't designed with birds in mind, it is hard to give advice. Try to get a case and PSU were the PSU fan blows downward on the bottom of the case. This would prevent access to any "inquisitive" beaks. Personally, I don't think you can ever bird-proof a computer. Their is always a risk attached when combining parrots with electrical appliances. Oh, and I wrote this with my parrot on my head :na: 
February 8, 2009 7:28:44 AM

Ok I know pretty much nil about aus pricing other than what you said. The processor is fine. The difference in price doesn't make up for the difference in value and I doubt you'll fine a quad in your price range anyway. I own to EA 380s and one EA 500 watt units and love them. I have a EP45-UD3P and I am fairly happy with it. Got an E5200 running at 4ghz in it. I would look at a 4670 if you can afford /fine for 20-30 bucks more I would go for it. Sorry Can't help on the birds. Try your best to find out what you can on the HD. In my opinion thats a very important component cause its the slowest. I would look at the latest or next to latest segate and Western Digital gererations. Good luck
February 8, 2009 7:48:12 AM

scribblette said:
Hullo everyone. I'm trying to find out how to build the best budget gaming PC I can, with a few slightly stranger than normal requirements.

I'm in Melbourne (VIC, Australia) and am most likely to buy locally.


Usage:
The machine will be used for my girlfriend to play WoW and otherwise used by me for graphics work and software programming. Ideally we won't have to throw the PC out and replace the entire thing in a few years (such as if a Starcraft MMO came out :whistle:  ), but could instead upgrade a component here or there. So advice on making it upgrade-friendly is appreciated too.


Ingredient List:
These are the best 'quality items' nearing the budget that I've found. I've bolded the items that are most likely to be purchased... I think a few were listed for comparison, rather than they being quality (such as some of the PSUs).

Video Card
$62 Geforce 9400GT 512M ECS (-2)
$78 Geforce 9500GT 512M ECS (+2)
$95 ATI 4650 (+7)
Ranked by this site, compared with my existing PC's Geforce 6800GS

You anticipate upgrading down the road, this will (should) play wow just fine.

Processor
$115 Intel E5200 2.5GHZ (dual core, ocs well, saw raves on here)
$185 Intel E7300 (I have read that this could be better for gaming?)
$268 Intel E8400 3ghz (saw much more raving on here)

At your budget level, the E5200 will be 'all right'.

RAM
$38 2x1GB Kingston DDR2 800
$78 4GB Kingston DDR2 800 (depends on the GF...)

If using a 64 bit OS, get the 4GB option. DDR2 is cheap ATM, may get cheaper, but...

Power supply & Case
PSU $99 Coolermaster 650W
PSU $152 Corsair 520W
Case $98 Antec 300
Case $148 Thermaltake Armor VH8000BWS
Both - $128 Antec NSK6580 with Earthwatts 430W 80Plus certified PSU from MSY.

The antec combo would suffice for now, but you may need to add front fans to cool it. OK, you'll need at least one front fan, anyway. Might as well get two and add them during build. May need to build your own filter solution for front intakes. The earthwatts PSU is fine for what you have listed, but will need replacing if / when you upgrade your GPU.

Motherboard
$132 MSI P45 NEO-F
$199 Asus P5Q Pro
$216 Gigabyte EP45 UD3P (Is this the only one with Crossfire, and is it best for long term for future upgrades etc?)

DON'T get the MSI!

Hard drive
From $53-71 for 80G - 320G. Further details not available at PCDIY.

320G is most likely Seagate. I've got one I'd give away, but the shipping will cost (sydney). Check with mates, maybe one of them are in the same boat as me.

Input
$12 Logitech USB Optical Mouse
$13/19 Logitech Newtouch/Ultraflat Keyboard
$36 Logitech Deluxe 660 Keyboard + Mouse
I've already got a spare DVD/CD drive and mouse handy.

Mousies and keyboards are personal choices... Go to your local Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, etc., and you and your GF test them.

Monitor
$165 for 19" LG 1952TQ
Possibly free from someone's garage. In a few years I'll be getting a SED monitor instead for color accurate work, anyway! The problem with a larger super high res LCD is that as the native resolution looks best when gaming, you run it high res, game slows down, you need upgrades... etc.

Optional Extras:
$20-50 CPU Cooler
$12 System Cooler 12cm fan
$17 Logitech R10 Speakers

I'm at $645, not counting the monitor, keyboard or speakers, which could hopefully all be had for cheap or free from a garage somewhere. :) 

Once again, any suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your time - and much thanks for the website, which easily saved days off of research time.


Off topic, how are you faring with the fires?
February 8, 2009 12:43:30 PM

Wow, I didn't realize everyone had responded - hadn't got the email yet. Here comes the help, aye Dark? :) 

@ Croc

LOL! Massive quote... one tiny question. What kinda birds. :) 

You're right, though. It actually does matter. They're not hooked beak birds, but are soft-billed honey eaters. Like wattle birds, size, etc. They're not wire chewers, but I have however seen one of them sit happily at the PSU fan of my existing PC, on the power cable, staring into the blue LEDs behind the fan, behind its grill.

It scares the crap out of me, so I fashioned a piece of cardboard with numerous slits to provide an extra gap between where his beak could go and where the fan is.

(response to Croc continued below, too!)

@ G3force
Thanks for the tips on video card & RAM! We're intending to keep the existing PC (so that we can BOTH play games together :) ) so we need a second case regardless. We'll probably get a second fan, if not a new one for the processor to be safe. Should be fun to clean feathers out of, though! What made you suggest the G-Skill memory, and any tips on how to check for compatibility issues in advance? I picked the Crossfire enabled board & ATI videocard hoping they'd play happy together - I'm guessing Nvidia cards wouldn't happily crossfire and require SLI or some such boards instead?

@ Matm1234
I was wondering if my power supply was too piddly there. I'll check out what case + PSU deals they have and try to get something more powerful to push it, then. Cheers.

@ Batuchka
Yeah, we have some bizarre price increases on items that come to Australia. Some 30-50% tariff on top of the conversion rates can really kill it. Then again, when you're lucky enough to get the occasional piece shipped over in nondescript packing or a friend happy to bring it over, there's a BUNDLE to be saved! Some of those pieces are incredibly cheap compared to here - especially videocards. Yow. I really appreciate you putting it together, and will keep an ear out for rellies coming and going overseas.

@ Grey_77
Nobody realizes that you just haven't LIVED til ye've got a birdie sitting on your head :na:  Awesomest comment ever. :) 

I'm lucky in that my birds aren't wire chewing parrots, but their longer beaks poke further, and that can be dangerous - especially to one's ear drum, when they decide to scream after they stick it all the way in!

I have noticed that the LEDs on the back definitely perked Mowgli's interest. They had no interest in the old power supply. As I've said above, I've had a few scares to find him sitting back there in the past months, and now am sure not to leave the PC running when I leave the room.

I didn't realize there were cases out there where the fan blows down. So, what, does the power supply sort of protrude from the case, and the fan sits blowing down from the height - or does the fan sit lower, or something? Or does the fan actually sit at the base, blowing into the ground, in which case one needs to sit it on a small pedestal of sorts? I guess that would make a lot of sense - blow through vents with a small opening so that no critters can stick anything in there.

@ Radguy
Thanks for the vote of confidence, especially on the PSU brand. That's reassuring. We'll try stepping it up on the video card if we find one around that price range, since several people suggest it.

@ Croc again
I'm not sure I know what a 'filter solution' is. Just the matter of how I set up the air flow inside the box?

I should've mentioned what my current PC is - 1.8ghz AthlonXP 3000+, Geforce 6800, 2GB RAM and an ancient hard drive. It's a Gigabyte board I think, and I haven't had any troubles with it. I'm guessing it'll received parts as the new PC gets upgraded, down the line. It could certainly use a quieter, better PSU, so moving on the other PSU later on is no issue.

I had an MSI KT4V 1.5ghz or something before this, and it was a regular little meltpot. I could've served cheese fondue on it. Had to love those IRQL_Less_Than_Or_Equal_To BSODs. I spent weeks, easily, trying to fix them. NOT fun. Thanks for the reminder to stay away from them!

Incidentally, if you decide you've got nothing better to do with that 320GB HD, I don't have any issue with paying for shipping. I mean, we all reach that stage eventually where we run out of storage space for all our birdie pictures, right? :lol: 

I'm doing fine regarding the fires, myself, safely in suburbia and not too far from the water. I did notice the sky here went a strange colour for the last two days, and thought it was especially odd when my girlfriend attributed it to smog. I'm pretty sure it's not smog. I only found out just how horrendous the fires were when I called home - to Adelaide - and had my mother tell me what it was worse than Ash Wednesday. @_@

Hope noone here has been impacted by the bushfires in anyway.

---

I've got no idea how to google for PSUs that angle 'downwards' or inwards or whatever it is. Anyone know what they're called? Just had another friend recommend them as safer as well.

Whoops, it's almost 2am. Better sneak back into bed before the lady wakes up and notices! I think we've got maybe a fortnight before we lock it in and make the purchase - went office desk shopping today. ^_^

Thanks again, everyone.
February 8, 2009 3:04:42 PM

Hehe...Sorry I gave no real help. Good to kinda meet you though. I loved the interesting problem you have though. Made me laugh til I cried in a good way though. I love birds so I hope you take good care of them and get a decent build so they don't get hurt. Good luck on the desk.
February 8, 2009 3:18:58 PM

scribblette said:
Wow, I didn't realize everyone had responded - hadn't got the email yet. Here comes the help, aye Dark? :) 

@ Croc

LOL! Massive quote... one tiny question. What kinda birds. :) 

You're right, though. It actually does matter. They're not hooked beak birds, but are soft-billed honey eaters. Like wattle birds, size, etc. They're not wire chewers, but I have however seen one of them sit happily at the PSU fan of my existing PC, on the power cable, staring into the blue LEDs behind the fan, behind its grill.

It scares the crap out of me, so I fashioned a piece of cardboard with numerous slits to provide an extra gap between where his beak could go and where the fan is.

(response to Croc continued below, too!)

@ G3force
Thanks for the tips on video card & RAM! We're intending to keep the existing PC (so that we can BOTH play games together :) ) so we need a second case regardless. We'll probably get a second fan, if not a new one for the processor to be safe. Should be fun to clean feathers out of, though! What made you suggest the G-Skill memory, and any tips on how to check for compatibility issues in advance? I picked the Crossfire enabled board & ATI videocard hoping they'd play happy together - I'm guessing Nvidia cards wouldn't happily crossfire and require SLI or some such boards instead?

@ Matm1234
I was wondering if my power supply was too piddly there. I'll check out what case + PSU deals they have and try to get something more powerful to push it, then. Cheers.

@ Batuchka
Yeah, we have some bizarre price increases on items that come to Australia. Some 30-50% tariff on top of the conversion rates can really kill it. Then again, when you're lucky enough to get the occasional piece shipped over in nondescript packing or a friend happy to bring it over, there's a BUNDLE to be saved! Some of those pieces are incredibly cheap compared to here - especially videocards. Yow. I really appreciate you putting it together, and will keep an ear out for rellies coming and going overseas.

@ Grey_77
Nobody realizes that you just haven't LIVED til ye've got a birdie sitting on your head :na:  Awesomest comment ever. :) 

I'm lucky in that my birds aren't wire chewing parrots, but their longer beaks poke further, and that can be dangerous - especially to one's ear drum, when they decide to scream after they stick it all the way in!

I have noticed that the LEDs on the back definitely perked Mowgli's interest. They had no interest in the old power supply. As I've said above, I've had a few scares to find him sitting back there in the past months, and now am sure not to leave the PC running when I leave the room.

I didn't realize there were cases out there where the fan blows down. So, what, does the power supply sort of protrude from the case, and the fan sits blowing down from the height - or does the fan sit lower, or something? Or does the fan actually sit at the base, blowing into the ground, in which case one needs to sit it on a small pedestal of sorts? I guess that would make a lot of sense - blow through vents with a small opening so that no critters can stick anything in there.

@ Radguy
Thanks for the vote of confidence, especially on the PSU brand. That's reassuring. We'll try stepping it up on the video card if we find one around that price range, since several people suggest it.

@ Croc again
I'm not sure I know what a 'filter solution' is. Just the matter of how I set up the air flow inside the box?

I should've mentioned what my current PC is - 1.8ghz AthlonXP 3000+, Geforce 6800, 2GB RAM and an ancient hard drive. It's a Gigabyte board I think, and I haven't had any troubles with it. I'm guessing it'll received parts as the new PC gets upgraded, down the line. It could certainly use a quieter, better PSU, so moving on the other PSU later on is no issue.

I had an MSI KT4V 1.5ghz or something before this, and it was a regular little meltpot. I could've served cheese fondue on it. Had to love those IRQL_Less_Than_Or_Equal_To BSODs. I spent weeks, easily, trying to fix them. NOT fun. Thanks for the reminder to stay away from them!

Incidentally, if you decide you've got nothing better to do with that 320GB HD, I don't have any issue with paying for shipping. I mean, we all reach that stage eventually where we run out of storage space for all our birdie pictures, right? :lol: 

I'm doing fine regarding the fires, myself, safely in suburbia and not too far from the water. I did notice the sky here went a strange colour for the last two days, and thought it was especially odd when my girlfriend attributed it to smog. I'm pretty sure it's not smog. I only found out just how horrendous the fires were when I called home - to Adelaide - and had my mother tell me what it was worse than Ash Wednesday. @_@

Hope noone here has been impacted by the bushfires in anyway.

---

I've got no idea how to google for PSUs that angle 'downwards' or inwards or whatever it is. Anyone know what they're called? Just had another friend recommend them as safer as well.

Whoops, it's almost 2am. Better sneak back into bed before the lady wakes up and notices! I think we've got maybe a fortnight before we lock it in and make the purchase - went office desk shopping today. ^_^

Thanks again, everyone.


The PSU has a fan mounted on the bottom and so blows out the bottom of the case I believe. Since my computer doesn't have this feature it hard to say. Maybe another poster can clear this up?
February 8, 2009 6:30:50 PM

The bottom-mounted fans in PSUs are intakes; they exhaust through the rear grill. There's no fan in range of a bird beak.
On the Antec Earthwatts PSUs, those are decent ones. They have a lot of their amperage on the +12V rails where it is needed by modern PCs. They are quiet and efficient. I've used the 380W, 430W, and 500W models; a 380 is in my Teamspeak server / test rig, and is quiet and stable.
With a low budget, your choice of a 4650 looks wise. The video card is one of the easiest parts to upgrade later, IF the PSU is up to it. From reviews I've read, the Coolermasters aren't good for their labeled rating, which means you'd be okay initially, but would need to replace it if you upgraded to a 4850 or better. Although below the manufacturer's recommended wattage, an Antec Earthwatts 380 can handle a 4850 (still, I'd get the 430 or 500 if at all possible).
As far as the case, why not build yourself a chicken-wire wooden frame to go around it? Ventilation would not be compromised, and you'd have no fear of birds getting to the PC.
You might consider AMD for this build, just because of the budget. Performance won't be as good as Intel, but will blow away your current rig. Compared to what you're running now, even that 4650 is a big step up.
I won't list Newegg parts and prices, but such a machine can be built for <$450 without breaking a sweat.

February 8, 2009 8:05:37 PM

I would recommend an amd build for your situation just for the fact that an am2+ motherboard would have far greater upgrade paths in the future than current budget intel systems.
All new am3 processors should work in the majority of am2+ boards the only thing that you would need to do is update your bios in order for the new chips to register. Since am3 can use both ddr2 and drr3 depending on the motherboard your upgrade options increase considerably.
As for a power supply i would recommend anything 800 and higher for crossfire and if you plan on overclocking which should be done regardless of what company you buy from i would recommend a tower cooler for overclocking like the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm which is fantastic i own 1. if you do go the intel route a retention bracket would be reccomended.

for the amd build i would splurge on a 790fx motherboard and then maybe go with the new processors that are coming out within the next month or by the kuma dual core which is a phenom x4 with 2 cores disabled i hear it runs pretty well. As for a graphics card i think 4800 series is a minimum requirement for what you plan to be doing.
February 8, 2009 9:19:59 PM

A 4800 series is NOT required to play WoW. I suspect the 4650 is comfortably over the minimum requirements, even for SC3. I'm sure a 48xx would be a lot nicer, but the 4650 should be sufficient until you can upgrade.
February 8, 2009 9:29:50 PM

Ah, I see where some confusion started up there - I wasn't referring to Starcraft 3 in my first post, but the far more speculative and unconfirmed Starcraft Massively Multiplayer Online Game. XD Which it'd be crazy to try and guess specs for, let alone budget build for.

@ jtt283

Sweet. I'm not much of a handyman, but the gf knows more about woodworking than I. Generic chicken wire tends to be too large for the birds, and they can stick about half their face in (after beak!) but I could always make it larger to compensate. Chances are we'll be making one regardless, then, for my current PC!

That's actually a very good suggestion, a bit daft we didn't think it up ourselves. Thanks! :) 

An intake PSU fan does sound perfect too. I've had the Seasonic S12 Energy + 550W ($129) recommended to me by a friend who read this post. I'll google up that PCDIY list of PSUs to see if their ANTEC ones are Earthwatts & intakes rather than beak munchers.

I'll add that I figure if the case winds up having fans with pokey holes right next to them, I'll be making a chicken coop for both PCs.

@ Lightning099
Hmm, so you'd suggest dropping Intel and going for AMD too? Better upgrade paths is something I'd prefer, but we're trying not to push the budget too high. Moreso, I thought the guides on this website actually suggested the Intel route instead of AMD, and that's why I'd not picked the

As far as 790FX and Kuma goes, I found this on StaticIce's price matching site, but it indicates DDR2, not 3.
$145AUD - ASUS M3A32-MVP-DELUXE AM2+, ATI790FX , DDR2, 4xPCIE2.0, RAID, ATX
$148AUD - AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 7750 Socket AM2+ Kuma

...and that would actually turn out a little cheaper than the E5200 (115)+ Gigabyte EP45 UD3P (216).

I guess I'd lose that gain in the more expensive PSU, though. I don't plan on overclocking immediately, at least until I know what temperature the PC runs at to begin with. No clue what a retention bracket is - time for more googling!

@ Dark
We've picked out a sweet office desk from Furniture Galore which has stores all over here - the $229 Scott Desk on page 4. Can't trust the images for size, though - they've photoshopped objects onto the desks but completely screwed up the sense of scale. XD

Incidentally, I'm guessing none of my options are going to be able to run GTAIV, are they... XD I've heard it's a complete beast to run - a bit akin to getting Oblivion or Morrowind to run on their 'recommended requirements' back in the day.
February 9, 2009 12:28:48 AM

cpu
i would say that budget does mean amd processor. if you know the games you play can only use 1 or 2 cores go with a 5600. if you can use quad core go with the 9600.

psu
i think the best place to get a price break would be the psu. from what i can see a decent 500 watt psu will do you fine. even if you end up with dual 4650 cards they would only draw 9 amps total on the 12v rail. i got a $30 psu that has two 16 amp 12v rails. i assume these numbers comparing the card to the 4670 on the video card power requirements article.

mb
i think a 790gx board will do you fine. good upgrade ability, they work with the new am2 cpu, and good performance for your buck. i went with a biostar 790gx board and like it.

birds
go with a large case that has 1 or 2 120mm intake fans and remove the exhaust fan. the intake fans are well cover and if you get a psu that has a 120mm fan it should move enough air. or upgrade the fan in the psu to make up for the lost exhaust fan. i say this because the guard for the exhaust fans have big holes while a 120mm psu fan is not even close to the vent.

i recently got a system that is well within your budget and similar to what you want. i got a total of 435 without video card and includes 8gb of 1066 ram. i am waiting for the 4870 1gb price to drop another $50 before i get it. it may be worth the effort to have stuff shipped to you?
amd phenom 9600 $110
roswill tower case $40
biostar 790gx mb $60
640gb hd $60
500w thermaltake psu $30
sony/nec dvd burner $25
8gb 4x 2gb ocz reaper $100
total $435

there are a few rebates and an open box mb in that price9
February 9, 2009 2:08:47 AM

Quote:
I would recommend an amd build for your situation just for the fact that an am2+ motherboard would have far greater upgrade paths in the future than current budget intel systems.

True. An AM2+ motherboard would have a far greater upgrade path versus the lga775 counterpart.

If the OP chooses the AMD option, be sure to pick a solid motherboard with good reviews. I'm only saying this because I ran into some "questionable" motherboards when looking around for choices.

Quote:
What made you suggest the G-Skill memory, and any tips on how to check for compatibility issues in advance?

Disregard what I said about Kingston, my first impression was that it was a shaky company. I did a bit of research on the matter which amended my thoughts.
As for the compatibility issues, I'm only stating this because I had some issues with a NVIDIA 680i motherboard paired with an Intel E8400. It turns out I had to update the bios with an older CPU before I could get it to work. But when looking at your build, I don't think any such issue should arise.

As a side note, I was wondering if you could attach a large tea strainer or colander (without the handles) over the fan ports to prevent the birds from getting at them? It might look ugly as sin though ;) 
February 9, 2009 2:10:36 AM

Thanks, Super. If buying the items you suggested locally, it looks like this:

- $203 AMD Phenom 9600 Quad-Core, 2300 MHz, 95w, AM2+, 4MB L2+L3 Cach - requires interstate shipping
- $178 AsRock AOD790GX/128M Motherboard AMD 790GX+ SB750 Chipset 5.2 GT/s
- $99 Western Digital W.D. WD 3.5" 640GB SATA II Serial ATA100 HDD 7200rpm
- $146 ThermalTake 500W - there are ClipperPro ATX 500W psus from $50 but I see giant red warning signs around the internet against them! Further warnings on generic PSUs available here.
- 8GB RAM is at least $300, 2x4GB for $200 etc.

Some of those items aren't available via the listings on Static Ice at all, such as Biostar mobos, the Rosewill case or RAM brand, so I've tried to substitute with the cheapest listed items. Even with running about town per item, the list has me looking at $926 AUD - and we haven't even included a video card yet.

You non-Australians with your lower prices sure do have it easy! :)  You're right about the PSU fan being set further back from what I can see - my birds have beaks which are just long enough to reach it, though. Is better to have one fan out the back than two, though.

The problem with shipping from overseas is it costs a bundle. Easily $200 AUD on top of everything else, then there's insurance - and then there's a rather nasty risk that it'll get held up in customs and I'll have to go pay them a 30-50% tariff tax of the the value of the electronics!

Worst of all, if something goes wrong, I'd have to pay for overseas shipping to get the part back!

Nevermind that NewEgg and TigerDirect don't actually ship overseas... :( 

I'm still waiting for a few more votes before the big shift to AMD and Nvidia instead. So far, for safety and peace of mind, the ideal purchase list is changing...

$216 - Gigabyte EP45 UD3P motherboard for Crossfire support, for ease with Radeon video cards being the cheaper, more effective option according to the ranking guide on this site. Quad core winds up too expensive this far.
$115-185 - Intel processor to match (5200 or 7300)
$95 - ATI 4650 video card x1
$78 - 4GB RAM Kingston DDR2 800
$89 - 500GB Seagate HD SATA, 7200RPM (unless someone's throwing one away)
$187 - ANTEC Sonata 3 +500, case & psu. The front vents keep that part bird safe. Includes an Earthwatts 500 PSU.

I haven't found any cases that come with intake PSUs - they all seem to function as exhausts by case design. It seems it would be most sensible and price friendly to block off the back with chicken wire.

Ach, that goes up to 780. Humbug. I feel a lot like I can't move from my initial choice. I'll email the store and see if they can't squeeze that a bit.

$165 - 19" LG 1952TQ monitor. Tips on the monitor welcome too. I've had good experiences with LG in the past.

Edit: Didn't see your response, g3force. A colander/strainer is even less hassle than chicken coop + wood and is a great idea! Is amusing how difficult it can be to see solutions when one is too close to the problem.

The PCDIY.com.au website which I've been favoring so far lists only a few AMD motherboards... looking them up now. They're all cheaper than the Intel alternatives. I could get the Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H for $209 and an AM2x2 5200 for $83. Crossfire supported, so ATI card stays the same. End result, I could upgrade to a Phenom in some distant future, and meanwhile save $39 AUD?

I should ask, though: Suppose I don't upgrade for another four years. Will I be finding Phenoms about that I can cost-effectively install, or will I be throwing everything out and starting all over again?
February 9, 2009 12:40:08 PM

Ah, an educated man; no cheap PSUs for YOU!

In four years, AM3 CPUs may still be available, and LGA1366 CPUs may still be available, so upgrades may still be possible. Still, that's a long time in the PC industry.

The ASROCK AM2+ board you listed is the one I used just last week in my Teamspeak server / test rig. The onboard video is enough that I do not need to buy a video card for it, although I may put a 4650 in it at some point.
The Antec Sonata 3 + Earthwatts 500W is a good deal. I got that for my wife's rig. The 80mm PSU fan is reachable by a beak, but you should be able to protect it. The only thing I don't like about the case is it has a front door, but that is probably another good bird-resistant feature for you.
February 9, 2009 11:15:13 PM

So, here's to trying a new shopping list. If anyone thinks the previous build is better, please advise.

- $209 Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H motherboard
- $83 AM2 x2 5200+
- $95 ATI 4650 video card x1
- $78 4GB RAM Kingston DDR2 800
- $89 500GB Seagate HD SATA, 7200RPM
- $187 ANTEC Sonata 3 + Earthwatts 500 PSU
= $741

+ $165 19" LG 1952TQ monitor

Notes & Questions
- AMD 790GX + SB750 Chipset, supports Phenom for future upgrades, better Crossfire, review 1, review 2 + info
- BIOS updates have to be released by company before future processors would be functional on motherboard? Updates which may in fact never come?
- Something about SATA & RAID not working on mobo for reviewers, and how my SATA HD would just be read as IDE?
- 780G is $70 cheaper than the 790GX mobo, supports Phenom but doesn't have crossfire. Could get a ECS 9800GT 512 with those savings... comparing it to crossfiring 2x4650 down the line and clueless. :/ 
- I'd take a performance hit compared to the Intel 5200. This means long term I'd have to upgrade sooner...
- For +$19 I could get the AMD x2 5400+.
- For +$114 I could get the AMD Phenom x4 9550, but it's probably not worth it for a while yet, right? (I didn't realize the listing was a Phenom before, apologies!)

Jtt283, can I ask what processor you plugged into the board? As long as the birds can't hop up on the case and pry the door open or pull the rubber feet off, the case should be good.
February 9, 2009 11:26:52 PM

This one just has a 4850e on it. Since I leave it on all the time, I wanted a 45W CPU. It doesn't need anything faster to run Teamspeak and do a little surfing. If my niece needs a computer, I'll probably put a PII in it and rebuild the TS server.
February 10, 2009 12:20:24 AM

I'm reading that crossfire 2x4650 just isn't worth it at all vs a 9800GT. So I could just get the $70 cheaper 780G motherboard and get a 9800GT along with.

Any advice?
February 10, 2009 8:56:32 AM

I don't think you need to mess with Crossfire at all, especially of two cards like 4650s. If you think you'll want better video, get something like a 4830.
The 790G has additional overclocking features, if you care. Its IGP should also be good enough for WoW, so you could delay the video card purchase if desired.
February 10, 2009 9:21:42 PM

Thanks jtt283.

I googled the 790 integrated video card and it only runs WoW on medium (at best, supposedly). The video card upgrade would then be several months off at least - at the moment, the 4830 is $40+ over the 9800GT.

Besides overclocking, is there anything worth caring about on the 790G? I'm not really interested in serious overclocking and the cooling/noise/risk that comes with it. Would it have, I don't know, something like more assured support for faster cores years down the line, or just as iffy and up in the air as the promise for the 780G?

We're thinking of getting it all tomorrow - in about 32 hours.

This is the current build intended:

$36 - (2x1GB Kingston RAM 800)
$83 - AMD AM2 x2 5200+
$89 - 500GB Seagate HD SATA 7200RPM
$139 - Gigabyte MA78GM-US2H (or $209 Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4)
$172 - ECS Nvidia 9800GT 512
$187 - Antec Sonata 3 + Earthwatts 500

Costs:
$706 for AMD (780G+9800GT) or
$604 (790G, distant video upgrade)

Monitor:
$165 19" LG 1952 TQ 2ms
February 10, 2009 9:39:45 PM

Since you're wanting better graphics, I think you'd be better served by the 780G+9800GT.
February 12, 2009 12:40:57 PM

Bought the new system. A few items were different - 9600GT was more expensive, couldn't get the 500GB HD and the 19" monitor was outta stock... wound up with LG W2242T 22" and a rather nasty buzzing sound if the brightness is lowered below 100%. Even at 99% it buzzes... I don't know why, but I've read it can be caused by a backlight inverter being faulty.

I'm chasing it up now, but any advice in the new thread is appreciated.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/54424-3-buzzing-backlight-inverter-w2242t
February 13, 2009 3:05:29 AM

Final build $920 because of stock limitations and my own miscalculations:

2GB stick of G.Skill 800 RAM
AMD AM2 x2 5400+
320GB Seagate HD SATA 7200 RPM 3.5"
Gigabyte MA78GM-US2H
Gigabyte 9600GT 512
Antec Sonata 3 + Earthwatts 500

24" LG W2242T monitor

Re the video card, I got jipped. I asked for their clearance sale video card and was given one that cost $30 more. I could've got an ECS 9800GT for $20 more. Is it worth going back and trying to exchange for it? I don't know the difference between ECS and Gigabyte in that context - I do know the Gig 9600GT comes heavily overclocked already.
!