Green/budget build for $500-600?

Hi I’m trying to put together a system for $500-$600 that will mostly be used for web surfing, gaming (see below) and picture editing. I already have a Dell 19” monitor with 1280x1024 max resolution. I’m trying to be as green as possible, hence the low wattage PS or green PS.
The only game that I forsee playing at the moment is Battlestations Pacific, which lists the following requirements:

Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3+GHz or AMD Athlon 2.5+Ghz
Memory: 1GB (Windows XP) / 2GB (Windows Vista) system memory
Graphics: 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 6 series 6800GT (or better) / 256MB ATI 1800XT (or better)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz or Athlon 64 X2 4400+
Memory: 2GB System Memory
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX / ATI HD4800

Quick recap:
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: within the next two weeks
BUDGET RANGE: $500-600
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: web surfing, photo editing, games (see above)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers



ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: green, quiet, best bang-for-buck

I am trying to decide between two options. Build a system from scratch (for a total of ~$618 or 10% less with Bing CB) or buy a Dell 546 system (for ~$449) and add a 4670 video card for $65, bringing the total to ~$518. One question about the latter option, do you think the 4670 is pushing the 300w Dell ps too far? I’ve seen numerous posts with people using this card in similar systems, but I know the 9750 processor is pretty power hungry (125w) and don’t know if they will play well together in this system.

Build my own:

Qty. Product Description Savings Total Price
1 SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support
1 AMD Athlon II X2 245 2.9GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor
1 G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
1 SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4670 100255HDMI Video Card
-$5.00 Instant
1 Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
- $79.99
1 Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Computer Case
Antec earthwatts EA430 430W Continuous Power Power Supply
-$25.00 Instant
-$10.00 Combo

1 Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee
-$25.00 Combo
Grand Total: $598.87

Dell system:
Module Description Product Code & SKU

Inspiron 546 MT Inspiron 546 Minitower w/ Black Bezel
Operating System Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1, 64-Bit
Processors AMD Phenom X4 9750 (2.4GHz, 1066MHz, 4MB)
Memory 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz- 4 DIMMs
Keyboard Dell Consumer Entry USB Keyboard and Mouse
Monitors No Monitor
Video Cards Integrated ATI Radeon HD3200 Graphics
Hard Drives 500GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
Media Card Reader Dell 19 in 1 Media Card Reader
Mouse Mouse included with Keyboard purchase
Network Card Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
Modem No Modem Option
Adobe Software Adobe® Reader 9.0
Optical Drives 16X DVD+/-RW Drive
Sound Card Integrated 5.1 Channel Audio
Speakers No Speaker Option
Microsoft Works and Office Microsoft® Works 9
Security Software McAfee SecurityCenter 9 with anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, 30 Day
Service 1Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis
Service 1 Dell Online Backup 2GB for 1 year

Sub Total $449.00
Plus HD4670 card for $65 for a total of ~$520.

The Dell system has the more powerful (but older and more power-hungry) x4 processor and costs $100 less (or ~$40 less with Bing CB), but is not easily upgraded and might be handicapped in other areas. The build it myself system has upgradability and would just have to drop in a more powerful processor in a few years to keep it updated.

Any and all ideas and opinions welcome!

Thanks much!
6 answers Last reply
More about green budget build
  1. Well (most) of us here will tell you to build it yourself! You get peace of mind knowing EXACTLY what went into your system. With the two systems above I would lean towards the first one. Socket AM3 is alive and healthy, and sooner or later a nice 'green' AM3 quadcore will roll out and be a nice upgrade for you.

    Do you need 750GB of HDD? You could shave a little by going with a smaller model of the WD Caviar Black.
  2. Go with your own system. You will be able to upgrade your processor when you decide it is time or anything else you decide. Better quality build also.
  3. You may have some basic overclocking options with your build. SLI or Crossfire are not available without a new motherboard.
  4. That dell system while it has a quad core wont perform as well as that athlon II on most games as they tend to be dual threaded, the athlon II is clocked higher and more efficient, plus if you have a cpu bottleneck and need to upgrade it in a few years its just a quick switch to a new processor.

    I would swap the hard drive for the seagate 12 500GB drive, its a single platter drive so it will be quiet, fast, and power efficient.
  5. if you care about a low power pc, stick to a integrated graphics card. And pick a low TDP cpu.
  6. I think the 4670 or 4770 are both good choices for relatively green gaming. EA430 will run either.

    As has been mentioned, the quad core Dell will actually be fairly weak. Those old AMD Phenom quads were never much good.
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