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$900 all-purpose build

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July 13, 2009 12:14:05 AM

WHEN: Piece-by-piece from now until end of November
BUDGET: Up to $1000 Canadian
USAGE: Surfing, school, some gaming
NOT REQUIRED: Re-using 500W OCZ power supply and 320GB SATA hard drive.
WEBSITES: NCIX (in-store pickup=no shipping fees), NewEgg.ca
PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD Phenom II X3 with AM3 mobo (790GX set looks good), Windows 7, mid/mini-tower ATX
OVERCLOCKING: Some (have not done before)
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe later
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050

My first build, trying to put together a good Win7 system that will be upgradeable for a few years. Main priority is strong multitasking, but I would also like to play the current generation of games (e.g. Fallout 3) with shiny settings.

I am saving up about $200/month for this build, and I plan to spend $900-1000 by November. I will be buying the parts in chunks when there are good deals, with CPU, Mobo, RAM and case first, then O/S, video card last.

Please keep in mind that I am Canadian, which means higher prices and different deals at Newegg. Here's what I've got:

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CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Triple Core Processor AM3 2.8GHZ 7.5MB Cache 95W 45NM Retail Box
$174.98 at NCIX

MoBo: Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H AMD790GX ATX AM2+/AM3 Sideport 2PCI-E Sound GBLAN HDMI CrossFireX Motherboard
$156.43 at NCIX

RAM*: Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X4096-6400C5 4GB DDR2 2X2GB PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL 5-5-5-18 240PIN Me *IR-$2*
$56.39 at NCIX

Case: Antec Three Hundred Mini Tower Gaming Case 300 ATX 3X5.25 6X3.5INT No PS Front USB & Audio
$58.99 at NCIX

O/S**: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM
$159.99 at Newegg.ca

Total w/ tax & shipping: $680 CAD

+Video Card: TBD, Radeon HD 4850/4870 or GeForce GTS 250/270, 512MB or 1GB
up to $200

PSU & HD: Re-using 500W OCZ power supply and 320GB SATA hard drive.

*I realize that this is DDR2 memory. I plan to replace it with DDR3 when it gets cheaper. Will this work on an AM2+/AM3 mobo?

**This seems to be the cheapest way to get Win 7 (the 'tech guarantee' is a free upgrade) and I could play with Vista until 7 comes out. The alternative is to get the Win 7 RC and pay when it comes out, which means I could maybe get my GPU sooner.
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What do you think? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

More about : 900 purpose build

July 13, 2009 12:59:19 AM

vainglorious11 said:
Please keep in mind that I am Canadian, which means higher prices and different deals at Newegg.
Sorry, don't know enough about the equipment you're listing to comment. But if you're in Greater Vancouver area I thought I'd bring Anitec Computers to your attention. They have a retail store in the 2100 block of Kingsway (at Gladstone St), and the thing I like about them is that unlike most of the storefronts they actually have a showroom in which everything they sell is on display. So if you're wondering about cases or coolers, etc. and wondering exactly what you're getting, they're a great place to have a look at.

(non) Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Anitec other than as a customer, but I want them to be successful so that I can continue to visit their showroom... ;) 
July 13, 2009 1:09:55 AM

The price difference between DDR2 and DDR3 arent a ton right now, but you will need to swap out the motherboard to use DDR3 in the future, so for best expandability you will want an AM3 board now in case future AMD CPU's dont come with DDr3 controllers built in. I would suggest switching to these two as they will give you good upgrade paths for the future.
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=30167&vpn=F3...
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=36444&vpn=M4...
The price differential is minimal. I would also suggest getting windows 7 RC now since it is pretty stable and would give you more time to save up for your OS so you can get your graphics card now.
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July 13, 2009 1:32:44 AM

Quote:
But if you're in Greater Vancouver area I thought I'd bring Anitec Computers to your attention. They have a retail store in the 2100 block of Kingsway (at Gladstone St), and the thing I like about them is that unlike most of the storefronts they actually have a showroom in which everything they sell is on display.


Good tip - I'm from Langley, so it would be worth a trip out there to see the showroom. Their website is well designed for a small shop, and their custom builds are a lot better than most I've seen. I'm always excited to learn about good local shops, so thanks for the insight!
July 13, 2009 1:36:01 AM

hunter315 said:
The price difference between DDR2 and DDR3 arent a ton right now, but you will need to swap out the motherboard to use DDR3 in the future, so for best expandability you will want an AM3 board now in case future AMD CPU's dont come with DDr3 controllers built in.


Thanks for the advice, maybe DDR3 is the way to go. I'm a little confused about the difference between AM2, AM2+ and AM3 motherboards, though. The ASUS board you recommended is AM2+, and the Gigabyte one I picked out is AM2+/AM3. Can you explain the difference? I tried to Google this but I didn't find anything.
July 13, 2009 1:41:30 AM

Sorry, i looked at one but some how managed to paste the link to a different one. I meant this one
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=36444&vpn=M4...
Which is an AM3 socket. Basically AM2+ was a half way socket. Slightly older AMD processors were AM2 which work in AM2+ socket. Newer ones are AM2+ which work on older AM2 boards and more current AM2+ boards with DDR2. The newest ones are AM3 which contain both a DDR3 and a DDR2 memory controller so they can work on AM2+ boards or Am3 boards. The performance differences are minimal but the upgrade potential is what is most significant if AMD chooses to drop DDR2 controllers in the next generation.

Boards marked as AM2+/AM3 have updated BIOS so they can support the AM3 processors without you needing to flash the bios.
July 13, 2009 1:51:51 AM

Ah, thank you for explaining the AM3 thing.

I've been looking into the Win7 RC option a bit more and it seems really good - I don't have to deal with buying the OS until 2010. Very cool.
July 13, 2009 1:53:55 PM

Anybody else have suggestions?
!