Budget Designer/Student Build

I am looking for some advice. Currently I am thinking about building around a 3 core phenom and a radeon 4850 I have tried to put some lists together on Newegg but I get distracted by shiny new things so I end up with a total way above what I am looking for. I need some help balancing the performance and future upgradability against what my actual needs will be over the next year or 2.

I will be using this for school work and web/graphic design so lots of adobe software! I also have a nasty habit of opening too many programs so multitasking is a must. I plan on using Vista 64 and may very well be upgrading to 7 if a 64 bit version of that will be available (I am not really up to date on Windows 7 information)

The only peripheral I need to get is a good sharp monitor that will calibrate for color accuracy well. Size isn't too big of a deal for me So I don't need something huge 19" would be more then adequate.
I am also trying to keep the case to a relatively small size, I don't really have room for a giant tower. Midsize would be awesome

And now for the template! Thanks in advanced for any help.


BUDGET RANGE: As far under $700 as reasonable Before / After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, lots of multitasking, basic everyday internet usage. Very little if any gaming.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: no speakers or input devices

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg tigerdirect open to others but Newegg is my favorite.


PARTS PREFERENCES: I am most familiar and comfortable with AMD, ATI, and Asus, but I am willing to use anything that seems like a good fit, I believe in function over brand loyalty.

OVERCLOCKING: nothing insane but yes

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not a requirement

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 or better

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: System is being built to serve for school as I work on my BAS my emphasis is web design; I also plan on working on some graphic design courses. This is not intended to be a professional workstation, but I want it to be able to handle the programs necessary with as little frustration as possible. I currently only have a relatively low tier laptop so I can see this being problematic in the future.
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More about budget designer student build
  1. AMD builds aren't my strong point, but I can make a few pointers to get you in the right direction. An Athalon II X4 system is probably a good candidate for a budget build, especially if you have overclocking experience with AMD. with the Athalon II X4, you get 4 physical cores, with the drawback of not having L3 cache. If you overclock, you can get around some of the shortcomings of not having that L3 cache, and it shouldn't hurt your multitasking abilities much at all. An AM3 board from ASUS is a good start, compare prices from boards by MSI or ASRock to help your budget. 4GB of DDR3 RAM, not going to be too specific here as current deals will be your best bets. for hard drive, 500GB Samsung F3 is the best value in price/performance. For video card, a 4850 or 4870 would be the ones to start looking at.
  2. Best answer
    I will address the monitor issue first as that will determine the remaining budget.

    All of the inexpensive LCD monitors you see are TN type panels. These do not reproduce colors well and are not recommended for design work at all.

    Here is the reference for monitor types and recommendations:

    Although it would cost a good deal for you, this Dell monitor is about as good as it will get on a budget:

    That does not leave you with much, but let's see what can be done:

    OK, here is your list.

    Combo deal, AMD quad core Athlon and Asus 785G MB
    This will give you a decent onboard GPU, and 4 cores are better than 3 for your work.... or at least no worse and the price is right.
    Also, the board is very upgradeable and should last.

    Combo cheap Rosewill mATX tower and Vista OS

    OCZ 400SXS
    After rebates it's a nice deal and before rebate it's reasonable. Quiet and stable and enough power to add a moderate GPU later as you can afford it.

    4 GB 1066 RAM

    Samsung F3 500GB

    Optical drive

    I think that might all be within your reach.
  3. Oh, and two words... Black Friday.

    (Nov. 27th as I recall)
  4. and two more words: Cyber Monday. I got even better deals on some stuff Cyber Monday, and I didn't have to freeze my ass off waiting for brick and mortar stores to open up.
  5. you freezing and we burning up at 38c ,nice
  6. we get that too, just in the middle of July sometimes. Anyway, Cyber Monday is better in my opinion since the deals are all online, no risk of getting trampled by a heard of crazed shoppers trying to save $50 on guitar hero. I'd even bet this year the online deals on Black Friday will probably be better than most of the stuff that will be found in retail stores. And you have a better chance of actually snagging them before they are gone.
  7. @Proximon, thanks allot for the link I learned a bit more about what I am looking for in a monitor, also the components gave me some ideas. I should have added that I already have access to a legit OS so I don't need to buy another one.
    What is the advantage to going with a micro ATX over a normal ATX? There is probably a good chance that I won't being doing a major upgrade to this, add RAM and a video card next year and probably replace it in a couple years.

    As far as Black Friday Cyber Monday last year was an epic fail for me I showed up at the Best buy 8 hours before they opened only to find out a bunch of people had been there since thanksgiving morning. I did get a couple good deals on cyber Monday though.
  8. If you don't plan on moving your system around much, there really is no huge advantage of going with micro ATX or ATX. mATX boards are physically smaller, can't fit as much stuff on them, and as a result tend to be a tiny bit cheaper, that's really all that's different, they still are built from the same chipsets.
  9. I am thinking about skimping on the monitor, i understand why that one was sugested it's just as I am not doing this professionally right now I think I can get away with something a bit less.

    basically I am thinking about getting what Proximon listed except going with

    and using the money to get something along the lines of

    I don't have any experience messing with micro ATX cases so I am just curious as to weather or not that video card will fit easily. also is this card too much for this system should i tone it down a bit?
  10. it depends on the micro ATX case manufacturer. micro ATX systems are fairly popular for Lan party machines, and some manufacturers have designed cases to support the trend. A nice Silverstone case, SGO 3 or SGO 4 I think, will do a fair job of fitting a micro ATX board with up to 2 large gfx cards easily, and still give halfway decent airflow. There's other choices out there too, though not something I've researched much.
  11. That's a lot of video card for "very little if any gaming" :lol:

    How about a CPU upgrade along with a more reasonable 4670?

    Deneb X4 945 and 785G board

  12. As for mATX cases, one of my favorite is this cooler master:

    Nothing extra can be a good thing. No extra drive bays you'll never use that would only get in the way. Space for an extra fan in the front. Quiet. Looks good.
  13. Yeah it is a hefty card, the only gaming I might do is when Diablo 3 releases, and if i reopen a WOW account. Thats why i have such a hard time staying on budget! I actually wasn't sure how important the graphics card would be for doing that kind of stuff, I was thinking it's probably more in the processor.

    I'm likeing that upgraded combo too. Thanks alot.
  14. NP. I can tell you a 4670 runs a smaller monitor at max settings in WoW. I have a friend doing that, 1440x900.

    Plus the bigger 4870 will have some serious power requirements and 400W might not be enough.
  15. This is pretty much what you recommended i just kind of collected the links, it comes out to being just a little over 600 after shipping unless I come up with some more funds i'll probably do something around this level. maybe next year slap that 4670 in and double the RAM. I think this will meet or exceed my current needs.

    With the stock heatsink and fan what do you think would be a pretty modest goal for overclocking?

    F3 500GB

    Optic drive LG

    Asus Monitor

    RAM Patriot (The other is out of stock)


    Combo M4875-M and X4945 combo

    Cooler Master Case
  16. It's going to be pretty good as is, but you'll likely get 5-10% easily on the OC.

    You'll have to monitor temps closely. Don't install any of the Asus junk....
    ASUS PC Probe II
    Anti-virus software (OEM version)
    ASUS Update

    (I pulled that off their site. None of that needs to be on your system.)

    Ask in a new thread here about free virus scanners. Use HWMonitor.


    That will keep track of max temps when you OC.
  17. Once again thanks for the helpful tips. I'll try and avoid the bloatware.
  18. It seems I may have a bit more breathing room in my budget should I just flesh this system out a bit more by adding ram and a GPU or make some changes... I was kind of looking at these components this would cost me less then 100 bucks more bring the RAM to DDR3 1600, the chipset to 790GX, add a bigger PSU and go up to a mid tower ATX form case.
    Basically I am just wondering if I should go out of my way to go to DDR3 RAM or if DDR2 1066 will be fine enough for a while.


    Phenom II X4 945 Asus M4A79XTD

    Corsair 4GB DDR3

    PSU OCZ 550W

    I just am not sure if it would be worth it or if i should just keep the budget low, and just plan on replaceing the system entirely if it ever becomes too outmoded... I was kind of looking foward to using that micro ATX case though.
  19. Great deal on a fantastic case and HD:

    This RAM is far faster due to timings:
    DDR3 is nice because it's going to be around for a while, and a pure AM3 board might be a bit more compatible with future CPUs. I try to fit it in if a budget allows, but it's not a huge priority.

    If you would like to upgrade the PSU, I would recommend OCZ500SXS or Antec EA500.

    I find the OCZ 550 to be questionable at best.
  20. That is a pretty awesome looking case, i'll look into the PSU.. I am just not sure if I am just getting overexcited because now I found this and It seems like this would be a pretty awesome deal
    AM3 board with a X4 955 BE

    I'd need a CPU cooler though, this look good?
    Artic cooler Freezer 64
    Newegg doesn't call out AM3 compatability but the website says it is compatable.

    Like I said the hardest part for me is not picking parts just for cool factor and keeping things within just what i need.

    ***Edit with that MoBo I realized I guess i'd probably stick with something more along the lines of the 4670 if i need more power later I can alway upgrade.

    That's a great one. Comes with good paste. Might be a tight fit on that board.
  22. I was thinking about maybe using a xigmatek

    Do you think that would fit better, I plan on eventually using all 4 RAM slots so I don't want to block them. The Xigmatek looks a little thinner then the sunbeam but i couldn't find sizes for the sunbeam.

    also I think I'll switch to this combo

    as the MoBo is a GX so I can save 30 bucks in the long run by not buying a GPU just to get it to start up.

    I've been searching the combos and discounts and i've got the total after shipping back down to about 740.00 which makes me happy. I was thinking about possibly just using the stock HSF for a while and not OC'ing to seriously untill I can get a decent HSF setup, but once I get it put together I don't really want to be pulling it apart again if i pick a HSF with a backplate or something.
  23. And that's the best MB choice yet I think.
  24. Well I got it put together last night, system turned out to be a little different as money issues came up, i plan on upgrading a few things later definately thinking about swapping RAM out, I am having an issue with the thing though, posted in the MoBo section
    Anyways turned out like this

    CoolerMaster RC-690
    AMD PII X4 965BE (stock HSF)
    ASUS M4A78T-E MoBo
    OCZ DDR3 1600 4GB(2x2gb) OCZ3OB1600LV4GK
    I have RAM set@ 1333
    Western Digital Caviar Black HDD
    Samsung DVD burner
    OCZ500SXS 500 watt PSU

    So far before rebates and after shipping I am under 600 bucks.

    Once i get it running solid I plan on getting a sunbeam CCF and a new monitor (just using an ancient 15" LCD for now.
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