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$350 budget PC for graphic designer. Good? Can I shave price?

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March 3, 2009 4:34:56 AM

Hello!

I am attempting to build a budget PC for myself. Here are the specs. Following the specs, I've listed some notes... I would really love some feedback! Thanks for reading.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA74GM-S2 AM2+/AM2 AMD 740G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 LE-1640 Orleans 2.6GHz Socket AM2 45W Single-Core Processor Model ADH1640DHBOX - Retail $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Memory: G.SKILL 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5S-2GBPQ - Retail $23.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST380815AS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $34.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
DVD Burner: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $24.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
DVD-ROM: LITE-ON Black SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model iHDS118-04 - OEM $17.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case: Rosewill R115-P BK Black SECC Steel MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $24.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case Fan: APEVIA CF12S 120mm Case Fan - Retail $5.49
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Power supply: APEVIA ATX-CW500WP4 500W ATX Power Supply - Retail $34.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OS: Windows XP $89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Notes:

- I do photography and graphic design. RAW images, big files, lots of Flash and Photoshop. No gaming though--Haven't played any PC games since Starcraft!
- Will motherboard sound and GFX be fine for my purposes?
- Is everything compatible-looking? Do I need any extra cables?
- Comes to $352.40, but I would definitely love to knock it below $300 somehow... (I do need the two DVD drives though)

Basically, since I ultimately upgrading everything from my old 2004 budget comp (when I built it in 2004 I also made it a budget comp lol), I would like for things to be a lot smoother on this new one. I would LOVE some feedback, possible suggestions, compatibility, substitutions, etc.
March 3, 2009 5:27:45 AM

For that price and those low quality parts you would do better to go with this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Faster processor
Bigger hard drive
More memory
Better GPU

1 year parts and labor warranty.


Or, pay a bit more and get some higher quality parts:

Antec New Solution NSK3480 Black/ Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel construction MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply - Retail
Gigabyte G41 MB
E5200
4Gb Kingston memory
WD 320GB

That build would suit your usage more. Throw in your two optical drives and and OS and you are looking at around $500. You should probably have Vista 64-bit instead of XP 32 though.

March 3, 2009 5:39:51 AM

I think this is the cheapest build I have seen on this forum.

Well the applications you have described are actually fairly CPU intensive tasks, and that CPU you picked out will really struggle with it. I would suggest spending more in several areas, not less...

Go for this case with PSU included...if you are going to get a cheapo PSU, don't pay for it, just get it for free with a case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get this CPU and mobo, its more expensive but it will definitely be worth it, you get twice as much for your money here. The integrated chipset on this mobo is actually decent, not so much on that other one you picked. And this CPU will be like 4 times faster than that single core CPU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

If you are buying case fans get them in bulk:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get this ram, its $2 more after the rebate and you get twice as much which will help your apps a great deal:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Related resources
March 3, 2009 5:40:38 AM

Proximon said:
For that price and those low quality parts you would do better to go with this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Faster processor
Bigger hard drive
More memory
Better GPU

1 year parts and labor warranty.


Or, pay a bit more and get some higher quality parts:

Antec New Solution NSK3480 Black/ Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel construction MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply - Retail
Gigabyte G41 MB
E5200
4Gb Kingston memory
WD 320GB

That build would suit your usage more. Throw in your two optical drives and and OS and you are looking at around $500. You should probably have Vista 64-bit instead of XP 32 though.


Thanks for the link to the Compaq one; I didn't know about it.

Maybe in the future I can invest in a more expensive comp, but currently I honestly do not have the extra $150 to spend. The Compaq one looks like a great deal.
March 3, 2009 5:48:04 AM

xthekidx said:
I think this is the cheapest build I have seen on this forum.

Well the applications you have described are actually fairly CPU intensive tasks, and that CPU you picked out will really struggle with it. I would suggest spending more in several areas, not less...

Go for this case with PSU included...if you are going to get a cheapo PSU, don't pay for it, just get it for free with a case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get this CPU and mobo, its more expensive but it will definitely be worth it, you get twice as much for your money here. The integrated chipset on this mobo is actually decent, not so much on that other one you picked. And this CPU will be like 4 times faster than that single core CPU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

If you are buying case fans get them in bulk:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get this ram, its $2 more after the rebate and you get twice as much which will help your apps a great deal:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Hey xthekidx,

lol, Yeah I guess it's pretty cheap. But the parts are substantially better than the budget comp I built in '04, so it all looks like a luxury to me!

Thanks a lot for the feedback.

- The link for the CPU and mobo doesn't seem to be working? (edit - Nevermind, works now)
- About the PSU, I was going to go for the combo, but I guess I was worried the PSU wouldn't be strong enough? That's what I gather from reviews; perhaps that applies to gamers though.
- That RAM deal looks awesome. Also, newb Q, but why buy fans in bulk?
March 3, 2009 5:57:50 AM

I forgot to add the link, look now.

That PSU isn't one I would normally recommend, but it will be fine most likely for you because you won't have a dedicated GPU. Your system won't need more than 150w I would guess from the PSU, so it should be adequate. On your budget its what you should go for.

I said get fans in bulk because you will want several fans to cool that case, its not ventilated very well. Its $4 for 4 fans, can't ask for a better deal. If you can find a place to mount all those fans you may be able to get a modest overclock on that CPU which would give you more for your money spent. Overclocking is a free upgrade.

So what is your budget really? Can you spend up to $400 or so? If you go really cheap, you don't get that much for your money. You will get much more performance for your money if you spend more here. That AMD CPU you were looking at isn't worth $40. The one I linked will be like 4x faster for 50% more.

You may be better served in the second-hand market to be honest...have you tried looking at craigslist? You may want to think about it...on your budget its hard to recommend building from scratch.
March 3, 2009 6:13:03 AM

xthekidx said:
I forgot to add the link, look now.

That PSU isn't one I would normally recommend, but it will be fine most likely for you because you won't have a dedicated GPU. Your system won't need more than 150w I would guess from the PSU, so it should be adequate. On your budget its what you should go for.

I said get fans in bulk because you will want several fans to cool that case, its not ventilated very well. Its $4 for 4 fans, can't ask for a better deal. If you can find a place to mount all those fans you may be able to get a modest overclock on that CPU which would give you more for your money spent. Overclocking is a free upgrade.

So what is your budget really? Can you spend up to $400 or so? If you go really cheap, you don't get that much for your money. You will get much more performance for your money if you spend more here. That AMD CPU you were looking at isn't worth $40. The one I linked will be like 4x faster for 50% more.

You may be better served in the second-hand market to be honest...have you tried looking at craigslist? You may want to think about it...on your budget its hard to recommend building from scratch.


Hey xthekidx,

I took all of your advice. The changes you suggested made sense and sounded like no-brainers to me.

Motherboard + Processor Combo: [BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma 2.7GHz Socket AM2+ 95W Dual-Core black edition Processor Model AD775ZWCGHBOX - Retail ] $153.49
Memory: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - Retail $54.99
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST380815AS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $34.99
DVD Burner: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $24.99
DVD-ROM: LITE-ON Black SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model iHDS118-04 - OEM $17.99
Case + PSU: Rosewill R804BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 350W with 20+4Pin&1 SATA Connectors Power Supply - Retail $46.99
Fans: Link Depot FAN-80-4PACK 80mm Case Fan - Retail $3.99
OS: Windows XP $89.99

Comes to $435.42, or about $405 after mail-in rebate. For the investment, I would be fine with spending the extra $50.

Is it a lot better now?

One more question--do you think it would be better in my situation to go for the Compaq pre-built listed above? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thanks a lot for your advice, as well as everyone else's.
March 3, 2009 6:15:28 AM

I think the compaq prebuilt will use even cheaper components than the ones you are looking at. Its almost always better to build it yourself.
March 3, 2009 6:15:56 AM

ross_OU said:
Scrap both those optical drives and just get this instead

DVD Burner: Pioneer Black 20X DVD+R - OEM $22.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'd only ever own Plextor or Pioneer optical drives now!


Thanks for the suggestion. Why only Plextor or Pioneer?

dirtmountain said:
Or a refurbished desktop for $280 with free shipping.
http://www.recoupit.com/Shop/Control/Product/fp/vpid/67...


Thanks for the option; it looks like a great deal! I will look into this.
March 3, 2009 6:21:37 AM

That refurb that dirtmountain found actually looks pretty good for the price, however the PC you would build that you have spec'd out right now would still be much better, especially since you will be able to overclock your CPU for a slight performance boost. PC's that are built by major companies like dell, HP, Gateway ect lock the BIOS on their machines so you can't make those adjustments.
March 3, 2009 6:22:45 AM

xthekidx said:
So here is a cheap mobo that has a lot to offer for the price you might want to consider to shave the price a bit, although it is currently out of stock:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Heres another HDD that is much better than the one you are looking at, its only $15 more and you get 4x the storage space and it is faster as well...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Damn! I was actually eyeing that mobo a few days ago; I think I went with the MicroATX to try to save.

Yeah, Proximon also suggested that great deal with the HDD; I would certainly invest $15 more for that.

From corresponding with you guys, I'm starting to understand more why it might be better to invest a little more!

xthekidx said:
I think the compaq prebuilt will use even cheaper components than the ones you are looking at. Its almost always better to build it yourself.


Yeah, I've heard time and time again that it's better to build one yourself because of the components.
March 3, 2009 6:32:42 AM

Here's the finalized version. What do you think?

I took most everyone's advice.

Motherboard + Processor Combo: [BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma 2.7GHz Socket AM2+ 95W Dual-Core black edition Processor Model AD775ZWCGHBOX - Retail ] $153.49
Memory: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - Retail $54.99
HDD: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $54.99
DVD Burner: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $22.99
DVD Burner #2: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $22.99
Case + PSU: Rosewill R804BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 350W with 20+4Pin&1 SATA Connectors Power Supply - Retail $46.99
Fans: Link Depot FAN-80-4PACK 80mm Case Fan - Retail $3.99
OS: Windows XP $89.99

Total = $460.42, or $430 after mail-in.

Yikes! $80 more than what I had originally budgeted, but with everyone's help I really think we really squeezed a lot out of it and it will be a worthy investment.
March 3, 2009 6:46:05 AM

I think you will be happy with it, you are certainly getting your money's worth.
March 3, 2009 6:54:13 AM

xthekidx said:
I think you will be happy with it, you are certainly getting your money's worth.


Xthekidx,

Thanks A LOT for your help. I am extremely grateful.

And everyone, thanks for not laughing at my budget!

Buying tonight!
March 3, 2009 10:33:15 AM

Proximon said:

As a post-mortem kind of note, Anandtech published a budget Phenom II build with this case & PSU:
Link to the Anandtech article
March 3, 2009 12:39:24 PM

If you're really trying to squeeze a very small budget system in, then a prebuilt makes sense since it includes an operating system and usually mouse/keyboard. A home built is usually a better choice if you can budget a bit more since it has better upgrade paths and can be overclocked for better performance. Your final build with the 790GX/7750 Kuma is a very nice budget build with very good upgrade paths and better performance at stock then any of the listed prebuilts. Good luck on your system.
!