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Inexpensive but upgradable PC with case dimension limitations

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October 28, 2009 9:19:18 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP, within a month at latest

BUDGET RANGE: ~$400-$500 after rebates for the parts needed

SYSTEM USAGE: Primarily email, internet, productivity apps (Office, Money); HOWEVER, occasionally used for software development and virtual machines. Also, see “additional comments” below.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, optical drives

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, tigerdirect.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: No manufacturer preference, but see “additional comments” for case limitations.

OVERCLOCKING: Unlikely

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Doesn’t matter

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

My case dimension requirements are a little tight. I would like a quiet machine, but the case needs to fit in an area 9.5” wide by 19” high (the depth is irrelevant). Those are the absolute max dimensions—if the case has fans on the top, for example, that would need to be factored in. I will have zero airflow on the right side of the case, and if the case is wide, restricted airflow from the left side near the bottom. For you visual types, I found an image of the desk I am using on this site:
http://homeparents.about.com/od/furnitureandsupplies/gr...

I would like to get a computer that performs very well for my normal system usage (as above). But I would also like to position myself for smooth upgrade paths should I need it down the road. For example, if I had to add a dedicated video card for “medium” gaming, the power supply is already adequate. Or as software gets more bloated and the processor needs upgraded, I only need the processor and not a new motherboard.

I will be running Windows 7 Professional x64.

Based on the advice in the “sticky forum threads,” here are some of my initial ideas. This is my first build, so yeah, I’m clueless. I appreciate your help!

MOTHERBOARD

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thought AMD would be the way to go because of my budget, but using latest AM3 socket so that future upgrade might be easier. The AMD 790GX chipset is said to have good onboard graphics, so I hope to avoid a dedicated video card.

CPU

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Nothing fancy. 64-bit support and decent performance for normal tasks is all I need.

RAM

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

Hard drive

Western Digital Caviar Green WD6400AACS 640GB 7200 RPM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU

SeaSonic SS-500ES Bronze 500W ATX12V v2.31 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case

???

Anything else I am missing? Do the necessary cables come with the parts (motherboard, PSU, hard drives) or do those need to be purchased separately?

Best solution

October 29, 2009 9:19:02 AM

Honestly I'd go mATX, with a 785g AM3 system.

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$24 Linkworld PRESCOTT 43701-222FU
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$40 BFG GS-550
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$95 Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H AM3 (has 128MB sideport mem)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$60 (same one you listed)
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$74 Crucial 2x2GB DDR3 1333
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$60 (Same one you listed)
Fans: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$7 Scythe 92mm (need 1)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$15 Scythe 80mm (need 2)

Total: $390 + S&H (no OS)

Later grab these
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55 Noctua NH-U9B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$50 XFX 4650
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October 29, 2009 4:31:03 PM

That GS-550 PSU is also a bad idea. BGF has a couple nice models, but that is not one of them. The little red voltage switch indicates the PSU does not have active PFC and screams "do not buy me". Here's a build that uses a quality PSU for under budget:

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $49.99 - $10.00 MIR

AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $150.99 (CPU + motherboard combo)

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $69.99

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $54.99

Antec Two Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $44.95

Total - $370.91 - $10 MIR

You could even add in a quad core and only raise the price by $33.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $183.99 (Athlon II X4 620 + Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H combo)
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October 29, 2009 4:33:46 PM

The antec 200 wont work since he has no top clearance for the top fan to blow. Thats why I recommended the Rosewill Wind Ryder.
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October 29, 2009 10:37:54 PM

Thanks for the info, IH8U. Would you be able to explain your preference of the 785g? It's not that I doubt you, but I'm learning a lot, this being my first build, and am interested in the "hows" and "whys" of the decisions. Maybe I can help others down the road... Thanks!
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November 1, 2009 2:09:56 PM

OK, I'm getting ready to make some purchases, and wanted one last "is this all compatible / a good idea" reality check with the forum here. I REALLY appreciate the advice--I decided to go with the MicroATX after all, and found a smaller case that should work fine. (I think.)

Here's what I have:

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail ($94.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX245OCGQBOX - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Combo $100.99 (-$10 MIR)

COOLER MASTER Elite 341 RC-341C-KKN1-GP Black Steel MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail ($44.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ($55.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT - Retail ($69.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model GH22NP20 - OEM ($29.99)
(Turns out I will need a optical drive after all ... giving my old drives to a buddy.)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Is everything compatible there? Enough room in the case? Everything (PSU) venting the correct way? What additional cables / mounting parts do I need (hard drive?)

Thanks everyone for your help!
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November 2, 2009 6:54:44 AM

Well the 785 uses an ATI 4xxx series onboard GFX with 128mb built in RAM (for the card) which increases GFX performance, and decreases the amount of system RAM needed for it. FYI the case I listed was just the first I saw within budget, and the BFG PSU is fine, I have not had any issues with the 4 GS-550's I have used for other builds (even on crappy German power).
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November 2, 2009 7:40:42 AM

LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 22X DVD-R 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner - OEM

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

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

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

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

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

OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

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

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM - Retail

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

HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

+

AMD Athlon II X3 435 2.9GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Processor Model ADX435WFGIBOX

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

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

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

$515.88 before $35 mir
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November 2, 2009 1:17:47 PM

+1 to the SATA DVD burner and Samsung hard drive suggested by obsidian86.

The DVD burner you have listed is an IDE model. IDE should have been discontinued long ago. There is absolutely no reason to use any IDE devices in a new build.

The Samsung F3 500GB drive is considerably faster than the 500GB WD drive. The Samsung drive uses a single 500GB platter, while the 500GB WD drive uses two 250GB platters. The higher data density makes the drive considerably faster for the same price.
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