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Buying new computer components today, but which build?

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July 29, 2009 9:28:57 AM

Thanks to several of you - without who's guidance I would not have made it to today - I am finally ready to order the components for my new computer. However, I have a choice between three builds that I've selected, and once again I need the invaluable advice of tom's hardware forum members.

I will first post the common items.

Case:

ZXT HUSH Silver SECC Steel/ Aluminum/ Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Case fans:

Two COOLER MASTER R4-L2R-20AC-GP 120mm Blue LED Case Fan

(Note: I'm not getting these because of the LED, but because they move 90cfm air and have the lowest db rating of all of the 120mm >80 cfm fans.)

Power Supply:


hec HEC500TEWX 500W ATX12V Ver2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - OEM


(Note: I'm aware that this is a fairly cheap PSU. However, I've read reviews of hec products and they are apparently reliable. I think the main reason for the low cost is the fact that it is an OEM product. Otherwise it seems like it will meet my needs.)

Motherboard:

Open Box: ASRock K10N78M AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

(Note: Newegg open box policy does state that the item is tested for functionality. I feel comfortable buying open box items. Especially seeing as I easily found a dozen testimonials of positive experiences with such items. I am also aware that such items may be missing accessories such as cables or driver cds. I'd like to go ahead and say that I all ready have the necessary cables and I'm purchasing some cds to put the drivers on in case the driver cds are not in the package. I feel comfortable taking the risk - which is in my estimation small - to save the money because I am on a very tight budget.)

Memory:

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit

GPU:

Open Box: ASUS EAH4850 TOP/HTDI/512M Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready

(Note: See information about my stance on open box items above.)

Total USD (including UPS Guaranteed 3 day service to my address): 366.93

The main difference as you can probably guess is in the CPU (and associated fan and heatsink in one instance).

Here are two choices related by having the same cooler.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3.0GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM2 125W Dual-Core Processor (Total of 475.3 USD including fan/heatsink and common components.)

OR


AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Brisbane 3.1GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 89W Dual-Core Processor
(Total of 470.74 USD including fan/heatsink and common components.)

BOTH w/

Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2

And the other choice is the:

AMD Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition Kuma 2.8GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 95W Dual-Core Processor (Total 492.86 USD including fan/heatsink, thermal compound, and common components.)

(Note: The name says Athlon X2, but the description says Athlon 64 X2. Any information on this would be appreciated.)

w/

XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler

using

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

I least like the Windsor. It seems like a limited power hog, and it is actually more expensive than the Brisbane.

The Kuma costs more, but I suspect it would be more powerfull than the Brisbane. So what do you guys think I should get?
July 29, 2009 9:49:49 AM

I would suggest you this reworked config over those...

CPU
AMD Phenom II X2 545
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo-
Foxconn A74MX-K
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU cooler -
Sunbeam CR-CCTF92-4 92mm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics card -
HIS H485QT512P Radeon HD 4850
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE - Same

Power supply -
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total - $430 | $370 with rebates...Without shipping included...
And you get a very fast CPU compared to those you had listed, better mobo, graphics card and power supply...
July 29, 2009 9:53:16 AM

And if you are not going to overclock high, then I doubt that you would require the aftermarket CPU cooler...the stock ones are pretty good for stock speeds and a slight overclock...
Related resources
July 29, 2009 10:07:31 AM

One thing I'd like to talk about right now. I'm not sure how the graphics card you suggested is better except in its price and the fact that it is retail. The card I picked out has a 680MHz core clock and a 2100MHz memory clock whereas the card you suggested has a 650 MHz core clock and a 2000MHz memory clock. If there is one thing I want this system to be about it is the graphics, so I'm not sure why I should switch.
July 29, 2009 10:18:31 AM

The graphics card that I had suggest is better for these reason -
1. It would run cooler than the ASUS card.
2. It has a closed cooler design, which blows the hot air outside the case through the rear vent, instead of blowing back into the case, which could raise the temps inside the case...
3. Better than an open box as you might not know how their conditions will be...
4. A 30MHz overclock can be easily achieved by tools like the Rivatuner...
Check this site for more info...
http://www.guru3d.com/article/his-radeon-hd-4850-iceq4-...

But its your wish to go for it or not as its your PC :) 
July 29, 2009 10:25:51 AM

I think the card can compete with the Asus card, and it will be much cheaper. I'm just wondering why. Was the card manufactured later with better techniques? Is HIS just a better manufacturer than Asus?
July 29, 2009 10:29:02 AM

^ The HIS is a very good graphic card manufacturer...
And the reason why the card is cheaper because as the demand is high, they mass-produce the card hence lower production costs and to compete with other manufacturers, they offer attractive prices...
July 29, 2009 10:33:47 AM

You're pretty good at this. If you think we can work the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition in under budget, would you help me do it?
July 29, 2009 10:49:17 AM

Ya Sure...
July 29, 2009 10:51:44 AM

What is the max budget and what are the components that you require ?? Dint see a HDD in your config...
July 29, 2009 11:05:21 AM

The phenom x2 550 is $114

the phenom X3 710 is $99 . The core speed is lower [ unless you overclock mildly ] but you have 3 cores instead of two . Some people have managed to overclock these to 3.6 GHz

AMD Phenom II X3 710 2.6GHz $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$254 for cpu/mb/ram
All the latest AM3

You can save more by using the X2 545 , or more again with the the X250
Either of these is stronger than the 6000 or 7850

If you need to save money then forget about the xigmatek cooler for the time being


gkays gfx card has the best cooler fitted to a 4850 .
July 29, 2009 11:08:02 AM

Anything over 500 USD is in the danger zone. Anything over 530 USD is unacceptable.

I have a small capacity (120GB) SATA 3.0 GB/s disk. I'll be reusing it. Basically what I need is what I posted. A CPU, GPU, PSU, case w/ cooling, and memory. I have a monitor, mouse, keyboard.
July 29, 2009 11:23:52 AM

Ugh. Let me get things straight. Are we all agreed on the graphics card and case? I think so?
July 29, 2009 11:29:21 AM

^ The case is more of a personal choice...But I would spend about $10 more and get the Antec 300 or CM 590 over that case mainly for the air flow...
July 29, 2009 11:30:29 AM

lrh9 said:
Anything over 500 USD is in the danger zone. Anything over 530 USD is unacceptable.

I have a small capacity (120GB) SATA 3.0 GB/s disk. I'll be reusing it. Basically what I need is what I posted. A CPU, GPU, PSU, case w/ cooling, and memory. I have a monitor, mouse, keyboard.



Ok so
my cpu/ram/mb $254

gkays 4850 $80 [after rebate ]

Totals $334

plus a dvd drive $26

$360

That leaves $140 for psu and case?

This is personal choice but its hard to go past the antec 300 for $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SeaSonic SS-500ET 500W ATX12V V2.2 $62
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thats all good quality components . The latest AM3 platform from AMD , complete with DDR3 memory

And the total is $482

[ or less if you go with the x2 545 processor ]
July 29, 2009 11:32:46 AM

No, no, no, no. 1) I don't need a dvd drive. 2) I can't factor in rebates while buying. I have a set amount of money and anything I get has to be within that limit BEFORE rebates.
July 29, 2009 11:37:08 AM

then its $6 cheaper up front cos the rebate is $20 and you save $26 on not buying a DVD drive

July 29, 2009 11:43:19 AM

Another config,

CPU + Mobo -
X3 720 +ASUS M4A78T-E AM3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM -
Mushkin 4GB DDR3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE + PSU -
Antec Sonata III with Antec EA500
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics card -
HIS 4850
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total - $489 | $454 Including rebates

The best part - Only the mobo would incur shipping costs as all other items including the case have Free Shipping... ;) 
July 29, 2009 11:52:56 AM

no no no, you got it all wrong.

here. let me update some of your prime components
cpu cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

go with the x2 if you plan on using xp for the life of the build, if you want windows 7 go for the tri core x3 720 BE the few dollars more will make you happier.

Case + PSU
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

any of those should work just fine, Building made easy with the flip out WHOLE RIGHT SIDE on most of those. The psu's in em work just fine, just make sure you have enough connections, i had to add a molex to sata power cable, no biggie.

and you're going to hate me for this, but you'll love me in the end....

get a BETTER motherboard... I know it's a big part of your budget killer, but i suggest an asus or gigabyte motherboard with a better chipset. 790gx/fx are best for gaming but you can get by with something less. the 780g chipset won't support more than one ddr2 1066 chip, i'm not sure about the mobo you picked but most of the lower end chipsets won't support more than 1 stick of 1066, it'll clock down to ddr2 800. also, you're going with an ati card, i'd get something that has an ati chipset for ease of adding another video card for either crossfire or extra monitors. here are some suggestions...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=P...

again, check to make sure it meets your requirements. 790x chipset would be a solid base platform and comes in at a good price.

The savings on the case/psu should balance out a little some of the other products but i'd go ahead and put a few more dollars into it now and save yourself from an all too soon upgrade. ESPECIALLY THE MOBO. x2 6000+ isn't bad, it's just that there is better but i definitely wouldn't skimp on the mobo. (not to mention that open box won't include sata cables AND THE I/O shield... i/o shield is MOST imporant part of buying an open box vs. oem. IMO it's not worth the open box price.
anywho, ram + vid card should be satisfying. Don't forget an HDD plus all your cabling. zip ties are often overlooked, good to see you included your own thermal paste. I think that covers it for a quick overhaul. Post with your decision.
July 29, 2009 12:05:08 PM

A change in my finances has occurred so I'll probably have to wait 15 days before buying.

This PC is going to be the poor man's gaming PC. I've had this computer I'm on now for six years, and I'll probably have the new one for just as long. So I need performance AND longevity. I need something I can enjoy now and something that will still be working down the road. That means that a less than 3.0 GHz stock CPU isn't going to cut it because a smaller stable clock sacrifices performance and an overclock sacrifices longevity. And since I can only afford a dual core >= 3.0GHz cpu, that means it will have to be one of THESE CPUs. NO EXCEPTIONS.

GPU will be the HIS H485QT512P Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported IceQ4 Turbo Video Card - Retail. FINAL
July 29, 2009 12:23:05 PM

actually, here... this should make it easier within your 500-530 budget.
full on am3 build with ddr3

case + PSU
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

cpu
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

cpu cooler (thermal pad works fine, as5 optional)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ram
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=P...

video cards
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

comes out to 407 before the ram and the MIR on the case, that should get you the best bang for your budget buck right there and get you up to speed on a solid platform that should be upgradeable rather than the soon to be outdated am2/am2+ platform. Most of that stuff has free shipping as well, so shipping shouldn't be much of a concern. Happy shopping.
July 29, 2009 12:28:37 PM

nachowarrior the
GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 $80
is a 770 nb/710 sb board . The only restriction it has to upgrading is that the 770 only has support for a single pci-e x 16 slot .

Other than that performance and overclocking are much like the 790 series , and the board has successfully unlocked disabled cores on x2 and x3 processors
In other words its the AM3 budget king , with a whole lot of bang for buck since its gigabyte and quality

The raidmax case and psu is a different story . Average quality at best
July 29, 2009 6:22:07 PM

raidmax case is much nicer than any nzxt i've touched. btw. psu's out of them are running great for more than a year, for 60- 90 bucks it's one of the best deals you can get for a case/psu combo. not to mention building with that raidmax series is easy as pie because of the flip out mobo tray. Airflow is great. Door is magnetic and IT OPENS THE CORRECT WAY! haha, that's one of my personal peeves, companies that have the door open toward the window rather than away from it. (cept the antec p1xx series, double fold hinges).

On the AM3 platform the memory frequency is independent of the processor frequency, allowing for greater overclocks and stability so memory handling and bios features are key. The 790 series of chipsets show framerate increases vs. lesser chipsets, the 770 included. The 770 is actually a business class chipset. Sporting the 710 southbridge vs. the more robust 750 SB. That and amd's overclock utility works with 790 chipsets, he'd have a full "dragon" platform. whereas gigabytes "easy tune 5" is VERY lacking. I find it easier to OC via the bios than with easytune 5. But that's gigabyte specific. Anyway. Perhaps one of the largest points by far against the 770 is that the 16x slot drops to 8x when you fill any of the four pcie x1 slots. :-p Besides, the build i suggested still comes in at or under budget depending on how he decides to tweak it. So it's all good.

anyway, it's ultimately his choice weather or not he decides to skimp a bit and save a few bucks or go for it and have a more solid and flexible build. If you REALLY want my BEST offer, it'd be to spend 150-200 on the motherboard and get something loaded with features and quality. Still I took the budget and put the best quality into the working parts as I could find, and saved a few dollars on the deal leaving options for ram and video card. As for your dislike of the case, i don't know why, it's solid if not a bit on the heavier side... but changes out parts like a dream and at a wicked low cost.
July 29, 2009 6:36:28 PM

Get this CPU/Mobo combo instead
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Comes out cheaper than the gigabyte board with the 720

Also i would suggest getting a good quality PSU not a raidmax, ones from good brands go bad less often than those from cheaper brands, an antec 300 case may not have a fold out motherboard tray but it still has plenty of space inside.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
That PSU is plenty to power this card,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Get it now while you can i paid 110 for mine 2 weeks ago.
July 29, 2009 6:39:40 PM

I don't think Outlander_04 is questioning the case as much as the PSU. Raidmax PSU's are junk and should never be recommended unless you want to risk a fireworks show and fried components. I see that you're using a Raidmax PSU in your personal build. Let us know how that works out for you in a couple years. :) 

The Antec, SeaSonic, and OCZ PSU's suggested in threads above are much higher quality than that Raidmax one.
July 30, 2009 11:30:35 AM

found this today.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

btw, psu is over a year and still putting out stable voltages. there are only a few ACTUAL psu manufacturers, the basic components generally end up coming from the same companies, the look and quality depends on what kind of money the company that buys it decides to put into it. inexpensive doesn't always mean cheap. Kind of like how there are only 4 manufacturers of lcd panels. :-p your lcd weather it be samsung, acer, lg, viewsonic, or any other name the panel comes form one of four mfgs no matter what the part number says. :-p

not to mention, it's suggested for budget. I do understand that a solid psu is key, but you don't always have to pay through the nose for one. hell if nothing else, he's paying 60 bucks for a nice case, the psu, even if dead, is negligible at that price vs features.
July 30, 2009 11:31:24 AM

oh, sorry. i looked up to see you already posted the combo deal. :-p
July 30, 2009 11:40:13 AM

the raidmax case does look fine .

I think cases are an individual thing and theres a lot of hype about this feature or that , but for most PC users any damn case will work out fine .

The raidmax psu I used to own didnt impress me .
A psu isnt a box like a case , its a machine .
If that raidmax was a car it was a 1975 beetle with a flat tyre and rust in the roof and a broken engine mount . It might still be running , but it isnt a comfortable way to travel


A good psu ......... is like a Ferrari
August 4, 2009 9:26:34 AM

Finally ordered a few days ago. Got the components around 5:30 PM yesterday and built it by the evening. I'm very grateful (even though I got a little hysterical and frustrated and short at some points - hey it's stressful not knowing what to do) and feel that you guys should deserve to see the fruits of your labor and know that I'm very happy with what I have.

Final build:

Case:

The Cooler Master Centurion 534 ATX Mid-Tower Case w/ Side Fan and Vent

CPU

I splurged and got the AMD Phenom II X2 550 Callisto 3.1 GHz Black Edition Processor w/ Stock Fan/Heatsink

Memory

I got the G-Skill DDR2 1066 5-5-5-15 @ 2.1V 4GB Kit

Motherboard

I got the Asrock K10N78M mATX Motherboard

PSU

I got a cheap 50 dollar PSU. I know. They say never go cheap, but I think the only really bad things about it is that the fan is at the bottom of the PSU and it's not a modular power supply. The Centurion can keep things cool in the case and it has plenty of room, so problem solved and problem solved (or at least mitigated). It's the 500W Ikonik 80PLUS Gaia Power Supply. Berate me all you want. You might be right. You might not. I might be lucky. I'll post about it if things go bad with it.

I salvaged the DVD+-RW drive from my old computer to use in this one. Works good.

I also salvaged the hard disk from my old computer. The main drawback to the drive is it's small capacity. Otherwise it's a regular SATA 3.0 disk.

Operating System

I downloaded and installed the 64-bit Windows 7 Release Candidate.

Graphics

I'm using the onboard graphics at the moment because I didn't have the capital at the time of ordering to get a card. Unfortunately the deal on the card I really liked expired, so now I will have to find a new - and probably slightly worse - card.

If I had a camera, I would have taken some pictures while building it and of the final build, but unfortunately I didn't. However, I have taken some screenshots I think you guys might like.

Windows 7 Themed Desktop



The Aero Experience



Fluid Mize



Note: This screenshot is of a window being maximized. It maximizes in one fluid animation going from transparent to solid. A video would show it better.

Alt Tab Anyone?



Windows Experience Index Score



CPUZ Approved

August 4, 2009 9:58:25 AM

congratulations!

when you get a gfx card in it be sure to let us know how its gaming

August 4, 2009 10:40:30 AM

Will do. I feel like gaming right now, but the only games I have are old games that stressed my old computer. I suppose Halo Combat Evolved would be a pretty decent game to test the capabilities of the onboard video. Maybe I'll take some in-game screenshots and post? I don't know how I'm going to get the frames per second though. There might be a game command to display the frame rate. Will check and post.
August 4, 2009 12:40:00 PM

Crap on a cracker. I've lost my Halo install disk. Oh well. I still have Half-Life and Morrowind w/ MGE.
August 4, 2009 2:35:39 PM

Congratulations on getting the system running! One thing I noticed is that CPU-Z shows your RAM is running at DDR2 800 by default. Now that you're probably fairly familiar with the system and some of the BIOS settings you can change the RAM speed/timings/voltage to the manufacturer's settings of DDR2 1066/5-5-5-15 @ 2.1v.
August 4, 2009 2:41:14 PM

I don't know if I like my new system so much now that none of my DirectX9 games work. I think I'm going to be sick.
August 4, 2009 2:52:58 PM

Nice catch on the memory. I'm not used to reading memory speeds in MHz.

I installed the latest DirectX package. No improvement. I'm going to try to install the Windows 7 drivers for my graphics chip now.
August 4, 2009 3:11:29 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Congratulations on getting the system running! One thing I noticed is that CPU-Z shows your RAM is running at DDR2 800 by default. Now that you're probably fairly familiar with the system and some of the BIOS settings you can change the RAM speed/timings/voltage to the manufacturer's settings of DDR2 1066/5-5-5-15 @ 2.1v.


Doesn't work. I get screen artifacts and bsods.
August 4, 2009 3:28:12 PM

Did you change the voltage also? Have you run Memtest86+ to test for RAM errors yet? I guess you could just leave it running at DDR2 800, but AMD CPU's actually benefit from the additional bandwidth of DDR2 1066.
August 4, 2009 3:35:13 PM

Don't you need to make a boot disk to run Memtest86+? Isn't it limited to 32-bit tests? Or does that make a difference?

I changed the DRAM (is this the right one?) to 2.1V. I even manually set the relevant timings just in case the board was autoing wrong. The only setting I couldn't find to change was the 2 CMD. What is that?
August 4, 2009 3:39:57 PM

You have a few different options for running Memtest86+. You can use a CD, USB thumb drive, or floppy disk. Memtest86+ works just fine on 64-bit hardware.

Yes, the DRAM should be the correct voltage setting for the RAM. The command rate can only be changed on some motherboards. I'm not sure you'll be able to change it on your board.
August 4, 2009 3:54:05 PM

Right. I think it defaults to 2t anyway.

I updated my video drivers. System is a little bit more stable, even though still no games. Might go back and try the memory settings again. (After I test them first.)

August 4, 2009 4:50:41 PM

playing with onboard video is going to be terrible :)  grats on the new build.
August 5, 2009 2:21:13 AM

Yeah. Onboard video always sucks. I downgraded to Windows XP. All my old games run. Go figure then I come to tom's hardware and see an article saying that Windows XP virtualization made it to the Windows 7 Release Candidate today. MICROSOFT!!! :fou: 

Anyway I figured since XP would be more stable and I had all my drivers updated I'd check to see if I could get my memory to run at the rated speeds again. Changed the settings, booted up, noticed a couple of screen blinks but no major artifacts. Got to desktop stable. Started a game, played for a minute and got a BSOD. So I know it's not a software issue. Now whether I have bad memory, did something wrong, or some other hardware problem is the question. If it helps give any indication of what was wrong, the PC started up slower running on 533 MHz than it did on 400 MHz. Oh well. Even running at a speed lower than the rated speed it's still good.
!