$500 build for Uncle

My uncle wants me to build him a computer that's faster than his windows 98 (Pentium III, I'm guessing?) for around $300. I'm thinking I might put $200 of my own money in and not tell him because I'm not sure what I can really do for $300. Anyway, I really want him to be impressed with the speed of the new computer, so I'm thinking LGA 775 with a dual core processor. But I just can't seem to get anything together for such a low cost. Here's my best shot so far

USAGE: Internet, word documents, photos, music, video


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, keyboard, speakers, case

OVERCLOCKING: Probably not, but if i can buy a cheap pentium dual core and overclock the mess out of it to save some money, I'm open to that.



PSU: OCZ StealthXStream 500 W

DVD Drive: Sony Optiarc

Motherboard: Asus P5E3 Pro LGA 775

Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93 GHz

Kingston HyperX DDR2 1066 MHz (4 GB)

The board supports DDR3, so a memory upgrade (if he ever needs one) won't be super expensive because by that time DDR3 will be even cheaper.

This is the case I'm using:

I have one from my first build.

Video Card: HD 4670

Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB


That totals $567


For operating system, I'm still thinking about it. I'm gonna see if I can get a student who hasn't used their Windows 7 discount to let me use it.
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  1. Best answer
    Hard to get intel that cheap, and DDR2 RAM is starting to get expensive.. You should be looking at an AMD AM3 socket, DDR3 RAM solution.

    ASUS AM3 Mobo with onboard HD 4200 graphics. ($85)

    Athlon IIx2 2.9GHz ($66)

    (2x2GB) OCZ Obsidian RAM ($80)

    Thats $231 to replace the motherboard, RAM, CPU and video card you had for $436 and really wont sacrifice any performance for what he will be doing.
  2. Switch to a Phenom II x4 to save money and get better performance.
    AMD Phenom II 925 Deneb 2.8GHz $140


    OCZ Obsidian 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 $79, $59 after MIR

    Recertified OCZ 700w Gamexstream w/ 1 year warranty: $40

    What will your uncle be using the pc for? gaming? Or just web browsing?
  3. I think dndhatcher is on the right path. You don't need a discrete GPU if your uncle isn't gaming. Since he wants speed, I'd probably go for a better CPU, but you're still looking at only $100 for a X4 620 or $102 for a X2 550BE.
    Also, pick up an Antec Earthwatts 430W PSU instead of the OCZ. The former is 80+ certified and the latter is not. I haven't seen that OCZ reviewed, but the Antec has received multiple good reviews.
    If he thinks he might want to play games, the HD4200 IGP is good enough to at least give him a taste before he decides to get a nicer GPU, and the EA430 can handle a 4850 or 5750 (maybe a 5770?).

    Cory, your 700W OCZ is out of stock.
    I'll cast my vote for this $80 ASRock mobo:
    You may not care, but the ASRock seems to have a high success rate for unlocking extra cores. I've bought a few ASRock AMD boards over the last year or so, and all are going strong.
  4. Hey, thanks. I wasn't really familiar with AMD, so I'm really glad you guys showed up. This is excellent advice. This is just going to be a MS Office (word, excel), Internet Explorer, Picture Management kind of desktop. No gaming.

    So it's really a toss-up between that Gigabyte and Asus motherboard. I'm inclined to go with the one that has more reviews. How easy is it to overclock an AMD processor?

    Excellent RAM suggestions.

    How do you all feel about getting a $65 discrete graphics card? I want the Aero experience to be as fast and responsive as possible. Will the on-board HD 4200 on those boards handle it without any trouble or is the 4650 a worthwhile investment?

    EDIT: Posted before reading jtt.

    That link came up with multiple motherboards. If I were to pick an ASRock with a geforce 8100 on-board video, how does that compare to the HD 4200?
  5. For a better CPU, the next step I would probably go with is Phenom IIx3 720. I think its a better option for overclocking and adding a GPU to turn it into a gaming machine if that is a potential goal. Or you could just plan on tossing the $66 CPU and buy a PhenomIIx4 955, a decent cooler and overclock as an upgrade path.

    EA430 would be a good PSU and should handle a 5750 or 5770 if a gaming GPU becomes desireable.
  6. If you get the HD 4200, you won't need a discrete, and it also performs better than the geforce 8100. I agree with jtt283, the Antec is a much better psu, and if you follow dndhatcher's recommendations for mobo+cpu+ram, you'd have a very nice computer easily capable of aero. I you want to upgrade something of dnd's list, you could get the athlon x4 620 like others have said.
  7. Okay, this is what it looks like so far. Using jtt's Antec, dnd's RAM and CPU, cory's motherboard,

    Total is $427 before shipping. That's really great so far. I don't think we're forgetting anything, either. And hopefully, I can catch some good deals on Black Friday for some of this stuff.
  8. I fixed the link to remove the period. It should work now.
    The Black Edition AMD processors are extremely easy to overclock at least mildly by just raising their unlocked multipliers. A little more work (maybe a slight voltage increase) will let it go still higher, then there are other things you can also tweak.
  9. I think he meant this motherboard that also has 4200 integrated.

    ASRock is a cheaper subsidiary of ASUS. Some of their stuff seems good and some is just cheap junk. I would not use newegg reviews, they are not very reliable. Google professional reviews.

    AMD black edition CPUs have the multiplier unlocked so its just increasing the multiplier for easy overclocking (and tweaking ram maybe). You can do more if you want to but that will get you most of the benefit easy. If you do overclock it, get a decent cooler.
  10. Your link doesn't work; it shows the cart of whomever clicks on it.
  11. Decent collaboration here; I think he will end up with a nice budget machine.
  12. Oh. I'm goofy.

    Here are the parts.

    DVD Drive, same

    Hard Drive, same

    Motherboard, Gigabyte AM3 with HD 4200 on board video

    Antec Earthwatts 430 watt

    OCZ obsidian 4 GB DDR3

    AMD Phenom II X3 720

    EDIT: just read dnd's last post.

    Okay, sounds good. What about the gigabyte board? Well, I've got time to read some reviews between now and black friday.

    For a cooler, do these usually run kinda hot? Are the stock fans better or worse than intel's? I'm thinking about a moderate overclock to maybe 3 or 3.1 GHz.
  13. Looks fine to me. Just remember to get a CPU cooler if you overclock it.
  14. Looks good, but as dndhatcher said, if you want to OC, you'll need a better fan.

    I'd recommend this one as a minimum- Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro- $28

    but this one would be better- Scythe Mugen 2- $35
  15. All right, I'll go with a Hyper 212 or the Scythe Mugen that pepperman just linked since that's actually in stock. Excellent work everyone! I really didn't know what to do and in about an hour, I've got a complete build that should work fine and is about $150 cheaper than what I could think of. I might pick dndhatcher as best answer, but everyone's input was greatly appreciated!
  16. Good luck with the build, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
  17. Here is a cpu/mobo combo deal for a better motherboard and $7 cheaper:


    you could add the fourth core with this combo: $211, $193 after MIR
    I am not familiar with ECS, but the reviews seem decent.
  18. cory1234 said:
    Here is a cpu/mobo combo deal for a better motherboard and $7 cheaper:


    you could add the fourth core with this combo: $211, $193 after MIR
    I am not familiar with ECS, but the reviews seem decent.

    The first motherboard has no onboard video.

    The ECS motherboard has older 3300 onboard video, otherwise the ECS black series has had decent reviews.
  19. If you decide to get a graphics card, here is a 4670 for $38 after MIR which is a good deal.
    Asus 4670
  20. thanks for that link. Is there a such thing as hybrid crossfire with the on-board HD 4200 and a 4670 like this?
  21. As far as the Asus vs the Gigabyte mobos, neither of them are any different, either one you pick you will be happy with. As far as the last question, No you cant crossfire two different cards, espically a onboard and a discrete.
  22. Hybrid crossfire is for cheap discrete graphic cards.
  23. The Gigabyte motherboard you linked doesnt say that it does hybrid crossfire. Im not sure with the difference between a 4670 and hd4200 how much benefit you would get over just running a 4670.
  24. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this on this forum but if you want to stay well under $300 for something decent, one of the desktops I'm selling in the classifieds is probably going to be better than something you're going to build. If you really want to spend an extra $200 of yours, then you can build something better. PM me if you want a link to what I'm selling (and I'll pick up shipping too)
  25. Ohhh shoot. So I delivered my uncle's computer and he loves it. Buuuuut my other uncle talked him into playing this Tiger Woods 08 golf game online with him. So they call me asking what kind of video card he'll need to play this game.

    His screen resolution is 1600 x 900.

    I'm thinking about a 4770??
  26. 4670,4770,5750,5770 depending on budget
  27. I ended up getting him a PNY 9800 GT. Good choice? Bad choice? I haven't opened it yet, so...
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