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[first time] $600 for an entertainment computer (finished)

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June 2, 2009 7:37:24 AM

I would like to go with AMD Phenom II x3 720 with a AM3/DDR3 motherboard because I think they will be good for a couple years and for update in the future since AM3 and DDR3 are newer (I know I sounds very amateurish here, and I am.).
I want the best value of my money.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: In 2 weeks.
BUDGET RANGE: $600
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
I play games something, but not very demanding games. I also use my computer for programming software, AutoCAD, Spice, Internet (browsing and downloading), Video…I tend to run multiple programs at the same time.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, Keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Use the GPU on 790GX for now, maybe crossfire in the future.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES:
CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 $140
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: I would like an AM3/790GX/2xPCIe2.0 board, so that I can skip the graphic card and save some money for now and update it to crossfire in the future. I heard the GPU on 790GX was decent.
ECS BLACK SERIES A790GXM-AD3 AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It looks the cheapest AM3 board with 2 PCIe 2.0 slots.

ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard $140 w/rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS board is recommended by many people here. It is $30 more, and I don’t know if I should spend extra $30 for a batter brand.
I also have a question. In the specification of motherboard, what is the difference between DDR3 1600 and DDR3 1600(O.C)/1333? Does the latter one mean I have to overclock to use DDR3 1600, otherwise my DDR3 1600 will only run at 1333?

Hard drive:
Not sure how much differences in speed and power are between WD Caviar Green and Black. Is the Caviar Black worth extra $10?
WD Caviar Green $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
WD Caviar Black $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory:
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have a question here: If my MD can support DDR3 1600, should I get DDR3 1600 instead of DDR3 1333, so as not to waste MD’s ability?

Case:
Antex 300 $59
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It looks a cheap but nice case.

Heatsink:
Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2 $30 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I was told that all AM2 heatsink also work with AM3. Can someone confirm that?

PSU:
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply $100 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
750W will be enough if I wanna update to crossfire in the future.

CD/DVD DRIVE: SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe - OEM, $26.99.

OVERCLOCKING: I never did that, but I will learn and do it. That is one of reasons I chose P720.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This is my first time to build a desktop. I want the best value of my money. Please give me any advice and point out if there is something in my list that does not make sense or could be replaced by a better choice. I will also keep an eye on newegg’s combo deals.

Thank you very much for your time and your help!
Andy
June 2, 2009 9:53:06 AM

1. That ECS board is pretty good for that price...
Here is a review of it...
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/938/7/

But if you get a combo deal of that ASUS board with the X3 720 (available now), then get that...

2. As for the RAM specs, There wont be much significant difference for the speeds above 1333MHz...But if you want a DDR3 1600MHz, then here is a good one...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3. Yes that CPU cooler would fit on the AM3...
But instead of that cooler, get this one...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4. The WD Black is worth the extra $10...get that...It is noticeably faster...

5. Why do you want a 750W PSU ?
Currently you will be sticking with the onboard graphics and when you buy graphic cards, a single powerful card or 2 low powered graphics card would do the job and you wont be needing more than 600/ 650W...
Go with the 750TX only if you are planning for 4870/ 4890 crossfire any time soon because after few months, you can expect new cards from ATI, which would perform better than these cards and would cost the same then...
And for you current setup, the 750W is totally unnecessary...You can run that setup with an Antec EA380 380W PSU...
And as you have said you wont be playing very high demanding games, you wont require 750W...
Currenly 2 4850s can run on a High quality 600W PSU and they offer incredible graphics performance...
So get a 600/ 650W PSU, which would allow you to run crossfire with such cards and you can get high performance...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
June 2, 2009 4:47:49 PM

Yeah, 750W Corsair PSU is definitely, far-and-away an overkill. Unless you're planning on twin 4850s in the future don't get such a big PSU. A 450VX (33A 12V rail) should be good for up to twin 4670s or a single 4870.

Edit: I prefer modular power supplies, in fact all three desktops in my house have modular cables. Check into PSUs like the Corsair HX520, Antec NeoHE, XClio GreatPower, Enermax Liberty and the like. After the first time I did a build with a modular, I swore I'd never go back to fixed-cable PSUs.
Related resources
June 2, 2009 6:23:37 PM

gkay09, thank you very much for your help!
According the review, the ECS MB is a good one but not OCable, so I will go with the ASUS. The combo deal is great, but does anyone know how often does newegg change its combo deals? Everyday or everyweek?
I also followed your advices on the hard drive and PSU. However, the cooler you recommended is quite big (Heatsink Dimensions: 120(W) x 50(H) x 159(D)mm). How can I find out if it can fit in Antex 300?

KyleSTL, thank you for recommending modular PSU. The modular cables are easier to assemble and change. However, I want to save money and don't change the components often, so I will stick to a 650W fixed-cable PSU. Thank you very much for bringing up the modular type though, I didn't know that kind of PSU untill now.
June 2, 2009 7:57:14 PM
June 2, 2009 8:15:54 PM

Thank you for the update KyleSTL. Glad to confirm that Xigmatek fits Antex300.
Good to know that there are affordable modular PSUs. Unfortunately the ones you listed don't have free shipping right now. I will wait a couple days and see if I can find some with free shipping.

Does anyone know how often does newegg change its combo deals?
June 2, 2009 9:01:35 PM

Quote:
Does anyone know how often does newegg change its combo deals?

More often than you change your underwear. Seriously, though, their computer algorithms are running continuously to figure out how to maximize profits while keeping most prices below MSRP. Just watch the item that comes up on Friday for the 'Deal of the Week' over at TechReport, it doesn't stay a 'deal' for long when the consumption peaks like that.
June 3, 2009 2:38:45 AM

Thank you KyleSTL. Now I am keeping my eye really tightly on newegg's deals.

I'm having a second thought.
Since the new Phenom II x2 550 ($110 on newegg) has come, and it uses the same AM3 package, I am thinking of several changes in my build.
1. Switch from P720BE to P550BE, and save about $30, maybe more if the price of P550 goes down a little.
2. switch to a AM3/AM2+ 790X MB at around $110, and buy a 4770 graphics card. (about $90 more than just a AM3 790GX MB)
3. go with DDR2 1066 since using AM3/AM2+ MB now, saves about $10 than DDR3.

With these changes, I will spend about $50 more, "downgrade" from P720 to P550 and DDR3 to DDR2, but get a 4770 graphics card.

How do you guys think?
June 3, 2009 4:46:35 AM

^ Not a bad idea...

But how about this...
AM3 mobo for $90, which has onboard graphics with 128MB vRAM, has crossfire option too...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It is the AM3 flavour of this Mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Though there are not much reviews of the AM3 board but that AM2+/AM3 board has some reviews...
http://www.motherboards.org/reviews/motherboards/1870_5...
http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=592
As you can see from the review, it is a good board with overclocking features...So it would be the same with the AM3 board too...

And stick with DDR3 RAM...

As 4770 is in high demand, you might not be able to get hands on those...
So get the 4850 that I had linked...It is about $105 and is a tad better than the 4770...

Here is a good Modular PSU - With free shipping and it can handle 4770/ 4850 crossfire too...
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
June 3, 2009 5:52:03 AM

Thank you again gkay09.
It is awesome that this OCZ Modular PSU is only $70 after rebate -- a $20 save. I am going to order it now.

As a first time "builder", I totally ignored 780 MB before because people are talking about 790X/GX/FX all around and I thought 780 MB don't OC well (obviously I was wrong according to the review).

I noticed that all 3 4770s on newegg are sold out in one day. Crazy! I guess I can wait a couple weeks for a good deal on 4770/4850. Or maybe I am will be ok with my PSU for a while. lol
June 3, 2009 5:59:21 AM

There is a very good deal on the 4850s now - Totally unbeatable...
$94 with $10 Mail - In- Rebate and with Free shipping too...
10% off with promo code VGA611, ends 6/5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And that card has pretty good reviews too...
Get them before they are sold out...
June 3, 2009 6:04:33 AM

That 780G has an updated SouthBridge - SB710 compared to the earlier SB700...That is why it has better overclocking features...
June 3, 2009 7:15:22 AM

Damn!!!!
When I was about to check out, newegg changed the price on that HIS 4850!!!! Now it is $115 with $10 rebate and 10% off with the promo code. $10 raised!!!
The Antex 300 and the cooler (XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler) don't have free shipping any more.

I already added that 4850 and case into my shopping cart. Right before I was about to check out, I refreshed the shopping cart and noticed the price change. lol

Thank you gkay09, please keep me posted with these kind of great deals.

Maybe I should have bought those less significant parts (PSU, cooler, case, DVD burner) once I find them at good prices because their prices don't go down as fast as CPU, MB, and hard drive. I was hoping that I could wait for them to be included in combo deals, but now I lost the free shipping.
June 4, 2009 5:45:20 AM

Newegg just changed the price of that 4850 back to $105 with rebate, and the promo code still worked, so I placed the order immediately. Actually, I ordered the P720&4850 combo deal with extra $10 saving.
I also ordered a OCZ 550W molular PSU at $50 after rebate and a Hitachi 1TB hard drive at from Zipzoomfly.com.

The OCZ PSU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... a Hitachi 1TB hard drive for $70 from Zipzoomfly.com

I think they were pretty good deal. Now I am waiting for good deals on MB, Memory, Case, and Cooler. I am still thinking between AM2+/AM3 with DDR2 or AM3 with DDR3.
June 4, 2009 6:34:54 AM

gkay09, the ASRock 780GX you linked before looks better than this Gagabyte 770. I get an extra GPU (although not really need it) and crossfire support for only extra $5.
However, neither of them has free shipping now. I can still wait several days.
I also have some questions:
Will 790MB with SB750 South Bridge overclock much better than 780MB with SB710? or just a little better?
Besides the South Bridge and the GPU(780GX has HD3200), I can't find any big difference between the ASRock 780GX and other 790GX/790X, but the latter ones cost much more. Can you tell me why?
Thank you very much for all your help.
June 4, 2009 6:57:25 AM

Those 2 are the main reasons for the extra cost are the 2 you have pointed- 790G chipset and the SB750...
I just know that the SB710 is basically SB700 but with ACC option...
...dont know much difference between them though :p 
June 4, 2009 8:56:09 AM

No idea about Open box...Have seen both lucky and unlucky people who have tried Open box...
Check the Open box rules and conditions first before you buy...
June 4, 2009 5:40:04 PM

Thanks. Since there is no way to find out the conditions of those Open box stuff, I would stay away from them and wait for good deals on MB.
June 5, 2009 3:44:56 AM

I finally finished my build and placed the order:

AMD Phenom II X3 720
+
HIS Hightech H485FN512P Radeon HD 4850
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Combo deal: $213.5 after $10 rebate

ECS BLACK SERIES A790GXM-AD3 AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard $100 after $ 10 rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.B 0A38016 1TB SATA II 7200 RPM 16MB Buffer Hard Drive $70
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antex 300 $58.05
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill RFA-120-BL 1200mm Case Fan $5

Heatsink:
Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2
$35.49 with $ 10 rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill Thermal Grease $3

OCZ OCZ550FTY 550W Active Power Supply. $50 after $25 rebate
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

Rosewill RCR-IC001 40-in-1 Internal Card Reader $10


Shipping: $15.8
Tax: $48.87
Total: $666

Thank you so much gk09 and KyleSTL for your help.
I am very excited now. The next thing I need to learn is how to put these parts together and overclock.
I guess I will ask more questions later.
!