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Soliciting advice on custom build

Last response: in Systems
November 5, 2009 3:04:45 PM

COMMENTS: Just started looking into building a PC so I'd really appreciate comments on compatible of component parts. I think I'm ok, Newegg Learning Center has been very helpful, but still. Don't plan to mess w/ overclocking/SLI/Crossfire anytime soon...I just wouldn't understand what the heck I was doing.

USE: predominately casual (web, office, light photoshop, music/movies). I've never had the opportunity to try more than casual gaming but I'd like to give some of the more demanding games a go. Just to say I tried Crysis :p  Overall though I'd like a system that will hold its own for the next 3-5 years without slowing down tremendously due to being overtaxed by new software and programs.

PURCHASE DATE: Soon, given that some items have special time sensitive savings thru newegg. I can wait though if some item is due to become obsolete in the future with an impending upgrade.

BUDGET: $500-750. One of the fortunate few where this is not really a constraint so if there is something worth it that pushes me over the edge that's fine. But I don't really foresee needing to go outside this range for what I need.

PARTS: I just round to the nearest $5 or $10 for easier cost totaling.

MOBO $100 -- ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

CPU $120 -- AMD Phenom II X3 720 (I understand this can be unlocked into the quad core?)

MEMORY $90 -- G.Skill F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK

HDD $75 -- Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache

DVD/CD $30 -- HP1260i


CASE $90 (w/ $10 off promo code) -- Antec Nine Hundred

Total Cost = $535 if my math is right. All w/ free shipping right now.

What do you think? Missing anything obvious and important? I've considered a video card but will start with onboard and then consider an upgrade. Haven't picked a monitor. I think I can get a decent deal on black friday. Are there black friday sales for PC hardware?

Thanks a lot for your help in advance :) 
November 5, 2009 3:38:47 PM

I put this build together a little while ago, but it's a little over-budget for you. A couple of tweaks here and there should bring it down into your price range though...

You can obviously save ~$150 from the start by not getting that video card in favor of something like this:
It was $30 when newegg stocked them, I believe. It works great for office tasks, but won't hold up well against anything graphics intensive, including gaming.

The PSU can easily be dropped to a 650TX to save another $10-20

The RAM can be dropped in favor of these:
which will save about $30

That should bring the total cost just under budget at about $730 or so.

Let me know what you think.
November 5, 2009 4:32:30 PM

Black Friday/Cyber Monday there are lots of deals on things like monitors, DVD/Blueray drives and printers, but usually not core components like motherboards and CPUs.

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November 6, 2009 1:36:23 PM

Thanks for the replies. kufan64, I'm not sure I see the added value with the build you recommend such that it would justify an addition $200 over the build I originally described. Could you elaborate? Admittedly, it would have a better video card, but as I said in my original post I'm ok with onboard to start. And the PSU you give is about $70 extra, but I don't think I'll need the extra power or SLI/Crossfire ready (again, see my original post). Help me see the added benefit.

I should have said in my original post that I've considered for CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo e8400, Intel Core i5-750, and AMD Phenom II and have found that price wise, that any of the Phenom II's, combined with a good board, offer the most bang for the buck. If anyone disagrees please educate me. Otherwise I'd like to base my considerations around a AMD CPU for now. Thanks a lot.

Best solution

November 6, 2009 1:54:55 PM

About the 720 CPU: the chance of unlocking a dormant core is minimal.

About your CPU dillema:

Core2duo/Quad is over. The 775 socket is dead. You cannot upgrade, you get old technology and pricing is bad as well.

For gaming, the i5-750 and the Phenom II X4 955/965 are tied. For professional use, the i5-750 wins hands down. However, the AM3 socket will get new CPU's, the P55 (i5) sockent won't.

To sum it up:
-No Core2Duo
-Phenom II x4 for excellent price/performance and upgrade options
-i5-750 for great performance, but without upgrading options.

Also, change your HDD into a Samsung Spinpoint F3. 1TB capacity, higher speed, low power consumption and heat,...

The Antec 900 is (imo) a bad choice. It's not needed for your build and it collects dust like an Arabian desert. Get a cheaper case like the 300, or get the 902 if you must have a 900.

What about a graphics card? Add 250-350 dollars for demanding games. The $300 ATI 5850 currently offers the best price/performance on the market and supports DirectX11.

November 6, 2009 2:38:55 PM

Silmarunya said:
However, the AM3 socket will get new CPU's, the P55 (i5) sockent won't.

I've seen you post this quite a few times. I finally have to say something. That is NOT true. The LGA 1156 socket is Intel's new mainstream socket. There will be many new CPU's released for the LGA 1156 socket. You need to look at Intel's latest roadmaps before continuing to misinform people.
November 6, 2009 2:44:22 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
I've seen you post this quite a few times. I finally have to say something. That is NOT true. The LGA 1156 socket is Intel's new mainstream socket. There will be many new CPU's released for the LGA 1156 socket. You need to look at Intel's latest roadmaps before continuing to misinform people.

From what I have seen there is nothing faster than the i7 860 coming for 1156. There will be new dual core hyperthreaded CPUs but no 6+ core CPUs like there will be for AM3 and 1366. You have a link to something that says different? That would be good news.
November 6, 2009 3:10:18 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
I've seen you post this quite a few times. I finally have to say something. That is NOT true. The LGA 1156 socket is Intel's new mainstream socket. There will be many new CPU's released for the LGA 1156 socket. You need to look at Intel's latest roadmaps before continuing to misinform people.

All of the new 1156 CPU's I've seen are, as said above, slower than the 860. Hardly upgrading, is it?

Of course, I'd be happy to be wrong here :p 
November 6, 2009 3:19:22 PM

I can see where you're coming from, but you're wording is not correct. You said "However, the AM3 socket will get new CPU's, the P55 (i5) sockent won't." It is not true that the LGA 1156 socket will not get new CPU's.
November 6, 2009 3:36:47 PM

Okay, my wording is flawed. What I meant is that there aren't CPU's planned that outperform the i5-750, thus making upgrading impossible in the foreseeable future. Excuse me for the confusion I caused.
November 6, 2009 4:03:31 PM

Why Phenom II x4 over x3? Is the $ increase from x3 720 to x4 955 (today on newegg: $120 to $175) worth it? Would I notice a difference in normal day to day use?

Considered Altec 900 only b/c I thought it might be good for a more heat intensive system upgraded to later on. Future proofing I guess. But you're right, this is likely a component I should save $ on. Is Bottom v. Top PSU mounted something that even matters in the context of a more basic rig like this? Should I even be concerned about which is better for heat dissipation?

Why is the Samsung Spinpoint F3 the same price as the Western Digital I had originally selected, when the Samsung is almost twice as large and equal on all other specs (7200 RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, cache)? Does WD just have name power over Samsung?

Graphics: would the mobo onboard (ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU SidePort Memory - onboard 128MB DDR3 1333 memory) not hang with mid range gaming (whatever that means)? I know gamers think all onboards are junk but again, not really a huge gamer. If I do need to suck it up and buy a card what would be an solid option price/performance wise that doesn't tack on $250-300? Say under $150? Maybe EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+? If it will fit in the case.
November 6, 2009 4:18:32 PM

In today's applications, a 720 will often be equal to the 955. However, more and more applications can take advantage of multiple cores, so the 955 is gaining an edge. Quad core is a great way of somewhat 'futureproofing' your pc.

I don't have a crystal ball, but most components in the future will use less power (green computing!), so they'll get cooler, not hotter. Besides, even the more basic antec cases have good airflow.

The Samsung is better. Why is it cheaper? Most likely because WD is a name with a reputation, while Samsung is newer and less respected. That's my guess, but anyway the F3 is a great quality HDD.

Onboard GPU's aren't suited for gaming, even for older ones. A lower end graphics card is certainly possible. The new ATI 5770 and 5750 are rather budget friendly and are new directX11 cards. The older ATI 4870 and 4890 are a lot cheaper nowadays and offer great performance. Nvidia also has some tasty offerings.
November 6, 2009 4:29:47 PM

The Samsung F3 is a new drive using newer tech. The older drives cost the same to build so they cant sell them cheaper. WD does have better name recognition also. The new F3s are really making Samsungs name in the HDD market.

You would need to do alot of multi-tasking to see a performance difference between the x3 and x4 CPUs.

I dont think even trying Crysis is worthwhile with onboard video.

The ATI 5750 ($130ish) is about as fast as the 9800 GTX is cheaper, uses less power and has DX11. The 4870 is only DX10 but is faster right now at about the same price as the 5750. The next step up is the 5770 ($160), which almost as fast as the 4870 but has DX11 and low power consumption. All 3 cards are mid range gaming cards and will play current games at medium-ultra high settings (depends on game and resolution).
November 6, 2009 4:41:19 PM

Agreed on the GPU.

As for quad-core, you don't need 4 cores, but the price difference between 3 and 4 isn't that large anymore and as more and more apps can use multiple cores, it just seems a logical step to make your pc last longer. Of course, a 720 will do nicely for a long time as well.
November 6, 2009 5:13:54 PM

Really appreciate all the helpful info.

I'm not opposed to paying a little extra for the ATI 5770 if it has the speed, low power and DX11 support all in one. But I'm wondering how quickly GPUs become outdated? How long was DX10 the standard before being abandoned for future game design with DX11? If I'm going to pay as much for the video card as...say...the CPU, and the whole system is only around $600-700 total, I'd like to know that the video card, and what it will support, will continue to be relevant (like the quad core of the x4) for some years to come. I understand there are no guarantees in these things, but do graphics tend to improve exponentially compared to other core elements, or at a more even pace?
November 6, 2009 6:34:38 PM

DX9 has been around a good while. DX10 failed because Vista failed. DX11 and Windows 7 look to be the next stable platform. My guess is DX11 will become common in less than 2 years and DX12 wont supplant it for 5-7 years, thats why I have a hard time recommending a DX10 card at this point. It really depends on the software developers making use of tesselation to improve efficiency. It seems if used properly that a 5770 could produce the same visual quality at the same frame rates as a much faster DX10 card.