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Criticism on $500 system

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December 8, 2009 6:12:39 PM

Hello all. I am building my friends a computer for Christmas. I will not be buying a monitor, speakers, or a wireless adapter. Their mom gave me $500 to build it, and I can go up to $560, no more. They are not PC gamers, but it would be nice if they can run a few modern games. I am very interested in the following things: upgrade-ability (Esp. when it comes to the mobo and the PSU), compatibility (Will all these parts work together?), and quality (Are the parts good for their price? Will they last?). Here is what I have come up with:

CPU: $59: Amd Athlon II x2 240 Regor 2.8 GHz : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: $55: ASRock K10N78M AM3 GeForce 8100 Micro ATX: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: $70: ($45 after rebate) OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ55FTY 550W: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: $83: G.SKILL 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800 (PC6400) 240-pin: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card: $45 with OS: Sapphire Radeon HD 4650 512MB 128-bit GDDR2: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Hard Drive: $48: Western Digital Caviar Blue 320GB 7200RPM 8MB Cache: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner: $29: Lite-On SATA DVD Burner: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Keyboard: $7: Lite-On SK-1788: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mouse: $10: Microsoft N-71 3-button Optical Mouse: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: $105: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit OEM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Including shipping, and if the $25 rebate for the PSU comes through, this package totals $502, which is very good, considering my stated price goal. Of course, I have to buy a case still, but I intend to get one at CompUSA for about $40-$50 (if I order one online, I'll have to pay at least $15 more in shipping, so I might as well just buy one locally).

So, will this combination of parts (especially the CPU+mobo+PSU+RAM+video card) work? I have never dealt with a micro ATX mobo... is there any difference besides the size and less features (I presume)? Will the vid card fit?

More about : criticism 500 system

December 8, 2009 6:27:17 PM

Everything should work out fine. However... if I was you I'd drop the 4GB of Ram. Get 2 instead and spend that extra money on a better CPU or GPU.
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December 8, 2009 6:27:33 PM

nekko said:
The links are messed up man.


Yeah, I did a quick edit and it messed them all up, but I just fixed them. Sorry about that.
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December 8, 2009 6:29:42 PM

You might actually be able to get a better system buy buying a stock computer from a retailer and adding a GPU. There's some pretty good deals out there right now.
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December 8, 2009 6:31:42 PM

aethm said:
Everything should work out fine. However... if I was you I'd drop the 4GB of Ram. Get 2 instead and spend that extra money on a better CPU or GPU.


Will Win7-64 run on 2GB? I'm pretty much fixed on the CPU, but I would consider dropping the RAM to the similar G.SKILL 2GB 800 (PC26400), http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But since they are not really gamers, is it worth having 2 less gigs of RAM for a slightly better vid card? In fact, if 2GB really IS enough for Win7-64, I may just keep everything else the same and be that much closer to $500.

Is anyone sure if that RAM will work with that motherboard? Will the vid card fit in that motherboard?
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December 8, 2009 6:32:00 PM

aethm said:
Everything should work out fine. However... if I was you I'd drop the 4GB of Ram. Get 2 instead and spend that extra money on a better CPU or GPU.

I agree, also it will leave you some room if you stick with 2. BUT of course Win7 will run better with 4.
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December 8, 2009 6:34:51 PM

zicogja421 said:
Will Win7-64 run on 2GB? I'm pretty much fixed on the CPU, but I would consider dropping the RAM to the similar G.SKILL 2GB 800 (PC26400), http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But since they are not really gamers, is it worth having 2 less gigs of RAM for a slightly better vid card? In fact, if 2GB really IS enough for Win7-64, I may just keep everything else the same and be that much closer to $500.

Is anyone sure if that RAM will work with that motherboard? Will the vid card fit in that motherboard?


Win7 only requires 2 for 64 bit and 1 for 32.


I would drop the ram to 2, and if you want i mean you could even drop the gpu. Really you could go cheaper or stick to on board since they do not game.


ALSO: Here is the RAM compatibility list for the MOBO, http://www.asrock.com/mb/memory/K10N78M.pdf
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December 8, 2009 6:35:53 PM

aethm said:
You might actually be able to get a better system buy buying a stock computer from a retailer and adding a GPU. There's some pretty good deals out there right now.


I was looking at some pretty good deals at CompUSA/Tigerdirect, but my concern with those is that I don't know what each of the parts is; so I don't know if the PSU is reliable, the quality of the RAM and hard drive, how much room I will have to upgrade it, etc. The cases also tend to be very compact. I mean, I think it is pretty well-established that given a certain amount of money, you can always obtain a better-quality system if you build it yourself rather than buying a stock computer. And I built my last one just fine, so that part is not really a factor.
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December 8, 2009 6:38:06 PM

2 GB is enough depending on what you are planning to do with the system. I'm using 2gb with windows 7 right now in my laptop. I don't think you'd see nearly as much of an improvement as you would if you upped the CPU. Plus... cpu is hard for non-tech people to swap. Adding Ram is easy.
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December 8, 2009 6:41:26 PM

zicogja421 said:
I was looking at some pretty good deals at CompUSA/Tigerdirect, but my concern with those is that I don't know what each of the parts is; so I don't know if the PSU is reliable, the quality of the RAM and hard drive, how much room I will have to upgrade it, etc. The cases also tend to be very compact. I mean, I think it is pretty well-established that given a certain amount of money, you can always obtain a better-quality system if you build it yourself rather than buying a stock computer. And I built my last one just fine, so that part is not really a factor.


Generally the parts are not all that great on the low end. But... they're cheap and should come with some sort of warranty.
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December 8, 2009 6:44:14 PM

I wouldn't buy a manufactured pc, just my OP even if it is cheap.

My grandparents did get a HP from office depot on sale (just the tower) for $300 after $50 MR and it has 4gigs of RAM and a 500 gig HDD :/ 
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December 8, 2009 7:03:23 PM

nekko said:
2Gig ($52.99): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4Gig ($90.99): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

These are on the compatible list for the MOBO for G.Skill

*Also read my post above


Thanks. I had looked at that list, but I didn't quite understand how to read it until just a few minutes ago. I switched from http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You guys are right that 2GB is enough for Win7-64, so I think that will be a good way to save some money on the build. As for the video card, my friends are not gamers, but it would be nice if they could play some games with decent FPS. I don't think the onboard will cut it. They don't care about playing Crysis at highest resolution or anything like that. But, it would be nice if they could play Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 with me online at decent settings, even if it's at 1024x768, with tolerable FPS.
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December 8, 2009 7:08:31 PM

Great I'm glad you figured out what you wanted to do, remember to press the best answer button on peoples post :)  just FYI. Glad we could help!
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December 8, 2009 7:19:40 PM

Regarding the selection of a case, after you pay sales tax... you won't be much better off than ordering online. I am a big fan of the Antec 300 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...), which falls within your $50 + sales tax budget. However, another good choice for many builders would be a Rosewill Wind Knight (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). The below build is based on the Antec 300...

Case: Antec 300
$55

MB: ASRock A780GXE/128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65 + shipping

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100

Ram: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$92

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100 (-$20 Rebate)

DVD Burner: LITE-ON Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD Writer LightScribe Support
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$31 + shipping

HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$105

Video Card: MSI R4670-MD512 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65 (-$10) + shipping

Keyboard/Mouse: Logitech 967973-0403 Black 104 Normal Keys PS/2 Standard Deluxe 250 Desktop
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$17 (-20%?) + shipping

Total: $675 + shipping with rebates

It is significantly over budget, but I don't have time to cut it down. Places to look:

1. Case: I saw a few "free shipping" cases in the $30 area. (-25)
2. CPU: Drop to a Duel Core Regor. (-40)
3. Ram: Could probably search around and save a bit. (-20)
4. PSU: Lower to the 550 (or even 400w), but keep a quality name. (-10 to -30)
5. HD: Lower to a 320 GB. (-10)

Total potential savings: $115 ... Total computer price= $560
-------------
However, as another poster mentioned, you would probably be much better buying from an OEM in this price range.
--------------
Edit: This MB was chosen because it allows for 8X/8X Crossfire... thus, buy another 4670 in the future for easy upgrading.
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December 8, 2009 7:55:45 PM

terr281 said:
Regarding the selection of a case, after you pay sales tax... you won't be much better off than ordering online. I am a big fan of the Antec 300 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...), which falls within your $50 + sales tax budget. However, another good choice for many builders would be a Rosewill Wind Knight (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). The below build is based on the Antec 300...

Case: Antec 300
$55

MB: ASRock A780GXE/128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65 + shipping

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100

Ram: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$92

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100 (-$20 Rebate)

DVD Burner: LITE-ON Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD Writer LightScribe Support
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$31 + shipping

HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$105

Video Card: MSI R4670-MD512 Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65 (-$10) + shipping

Keyboard/Mouse: Logitech 967973-0403 Black 104 Normal Keys PS/2 Standard Deluxe 250 Desktop
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$17 (-20%?) + shipping

Total: $675 + shipping with rebates

It is significantly over budget, but I don't have time to cut it down. Places to look:

1. Case: I saw a few "free shipping" cases in the $30 area. (-25)
2. CPU: Drop to a Duel Core Regor. (-40)
3. Ram: Could probably search around and save a bit. (-20)
4. PSU: Lower to the 550 (or even 400w), but keep a quality name. (-10 to -30)
5. HD: Lower to a 320 GB. (-10)

Total potential savings: $115 ... Total computer price= $560
-------------
However, as another poster mentioned, you would probably be much better buying from an OEM in this price range.
--------------
Edit: This MB was chosen because it allows for 8X/8X Crossfire... thus, buy another 4670 in the future for easy upgrading.


Thanks very much for your reply.

Good point about the cases. In fact, I did not even really consider the free shipping options for cases, which completely undermines my previous reasoning. I did hear good things about the Antec 300 and was very interested in it when I was building my current system (I decided on the HAF932 ultimately, because I could afford more). I think I will go with that.

That CPU is just too expensive. My friends will not be utilizing SLI or Crossfire. I know that much. I could be wrong, but does that mobo not support AM3? Or does AM2+ mean that it does? Also, the memory standard (acc. to Newegg) is DDR2, but you listed DDR3 RAM...

... which brings me to something I am wondering: should I opt for DDR3 RAM/mobo instead of DDR2 or does DDR2 still have some life in it? The price difference doesn't necessarily seem to be much.

For less than $10 more, and the free shipping bonus, I will definitely get that 500GB hard drive instead of the 320GB one I had in mind.

I would love to get a Corsair PSU (like that one I have), but they are not really in my budget, and the 400W Corsair unit only has a 6pin vid card connector, vs the 8 and 6 pin connectors that come with the Fatal1ty one; I know I said that they will not SLI or Crossfire, but it will be good for them to be able to hook up an 8pin card in the future if they need it.
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December 8, 2009 7:57:06 PM

I'd go for DDR3, DDR2's life is about to be gone.

Simple as that go with AM3/DDR3
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December 8, 2009 8:17:41 PM

You are right on the ram, I didn't notice the AM2 on the board I choose. (I was specifically looking for DDR3 boards, for the exact same reason nekko said.)

As for the cpu, duel core cpu's are also nearly dead. I would at least try to get a triple core.

The only reason I went for Crossfire/SLI was because you mentioned easy upgradability. (2 extra ram slots, Crossfire ready, and... I thought... AM3... but due to my error)

To confuse things even more, however... I briefly went to HP.com and built a p6250t series with the following specs:

Win 7 64 bit
AMD Athlon x4 640
4 GB DDR3 1066 ram (2 dimms)
500 GB drive
<Integrated 4200... see below comments>
Lightscribe 16X burner
1 Gigabit network port
Front media card reader + 2 USB
Integrated sound
Mouse and keyboard
Microsoft Works 9.0
(1 PCI-E x16 slot)
(300 watt PSU)

Total price: $499.99

In theory, you could buy the computer, buy the 4670 video card I linked from Newegg, put it in the HP, disable onboard video, and boot with ease into the Win 7.

Even a 300w PSU should power a 4670. You would only have to uninstall the bloatware... But, you would get a "system" warranty of 1 year (add another 2 years for $55)... you would just have to tell your friends to not mention the 4670 if they ever needed to call support. (As well potentially returning the computer to onboard video.)
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December 8, 2009 8:44:25 PM

terr281 said:
You are right on the ram, I didn't notice the AM2 on the board I choose. (I was specifically looking for DDR3 boards, for the exact same reason nekko said.)

As for the cpu, duel core cpu's are also nearly dead. I would at least try to get a triple core.

The only reason I went for Crossfire/SLI was because you mentioned easy upgradability. (2 extra ram slots, Crossfire ready, and... I thought... AM3... but due to my error)

To confuse things even more, however... I briefly went to HP.com and built a p6250t series with the following specs:

Win 7 64 bit
AMD Athlon x4 640
4 GB DDR3 1066 ram (2 dimms)
500 GB drive
<Integrated 4200... see below comments>
Lightscribe 16X burner
1 Gigabit network port
Front media card reader + 2 USB
Integrated sound
Mouse and keyboard
Microsoft Works 9.0
(1 PCI-E x16 slot)
(300 watt PSU)

Total price: $499.99

In theory, you could buy the computer, buy the 4670 video card I linked from Newegg, put it in the HP, disable onboard video, and boot with ease into the Win 7.

Even a 300w PSU should power a 4670. You would only have to uninstall the bloatware... But, you would get a "system" warranty of 1 year (add another 2 years for $55)... you would just have to tell your friends to not mention the 4670 if they ever needed to call support. (As well potentially returning the computer to onboard video.)


Well, with an AM3-socket mobo, they should be upgrade to even quad-core in the future if they want, no? I just don't think I can afford more than a dual core on my budget, but I'll be happy to be proven wrong. Also, I understand what you meant about SLI/Crossfire. I thought the same thing with my build (I have a 3-way-SLI motherboard), but it's not necessary in the sense that they CAN always just replace their single vid card. As long as it's PCI-E 2.0, I think they should be good for a while.

Thanks a lot for presenting that possibility, but I've already given up on the idea of ordering a pre-assembled computer.

But.. I think I will go with DDR3, so I've replaced http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... and http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I've also added the Antec Three Hundred to my online order (yay for free shipping) and the Samsung Spinpoint 500GB hard drive. The total is now $570, including shipping. And if I get the $25 rebate for the PSU, that brings me to $545, which is great. Should I order this? I checked the RAM on the VQL for the mobo and it is compatible.
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December 8, 2009 9:07:02 PM

(Warning: I am more of an Intel fan than an AMD fan...)

Until AMD/ATI decides to spend more R&D on cpu development than graphics, I am of the opinion that you are correct. (This is because AMD will probably stick with the AM3 socket, then upgrade to a AM3+, etc.) There comes a time, however, that one must drop "backwards compatibility" and go with what is needed. (Intel has recently taken it too far, but AMD is too far on the other end recently.) As such, you are correct, as long as the MB manufacturer continues to provide BIOS updates.

(The last sentence is the catch... I got caught in this trap with my Nvidia 680i lt MB... they stopped practical BIOS updates with the Intel Core 2 Duo E6xxx series.)

In regard to the SLI/Crossfire debate, you are correct. However, in my household, it has come in handy. (Whenever I upgraded my previous pair of 8600 GTs in one computer and pair of 8600 GTSs in another, the 8600 GTs went into "older friends' computers that needed upgrades... but didn't have PCI-E power. The 8600 GTSs became PhysX cards for the 9800 GT upgrades.) Of course, Crossfire is slightly different, but I see the point and might follow the same mentality with my next complete builds... due to ATI winning the graphics war for the foreseeable future.

And, I unfortunately cannot find a triple or quad core Athlon 2 or Phenom 2 in the ~$70 range.

As a result, without clicking links myself, what you are looking for... with the changes... should work well for you. (I, however, would recommend 4 GB of ram instead of 2 GB. This is due to the 2nd computer in my household being my mate's computer... and they usually keep 10 or so applications, a GoogleChrome Browser window with 15 or so webpages, .... all open at the same time.) I could function on 2 GB... they couldn't.
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December 8, 2009 11:11:45 PM

terr281 said:
(Warning: I am more of an Intel fan than an AMD fan...)

Until AMD/ATI decides to spend more R&D on cpu development than graphics, I am of the opinion that you are correct. (This is because AMD will probably stick with the AM3 socket, then upgrade to a AM3+, etc.) There comes a time, however, that one must drop "backwards compatibility" and go with what is needed. (Intel has recently taken it too far, but AMD is too far on the other end recently.) As such, you are correct, as long as the MB manufacturer continues to provide BIOS updates.

(The last sentence is the catch... I got caught in this trap with my Nvidia 680i lt MB... they stopped practical BIOS updates with the Intel Core 2 Duo E6xxx series.)

In regard to the SLI/Crossfire debate, you are correct. However, in my household, it has come in handy. (Whenever I upgraded my previous pair of 8600 GTs in one computer and pair of 8600 GTSs in another, the 8600 GTs went into "older friends' computers that needed upgrades... but didn't have PCI-E power. The 8600 GTSs became PhysX cards for the 9800 GT upgrades.) Of course, Crossfire is slightly different, but I see the point and might follow the same mentality with my next complete builds... due to ATI winning the graphics war for the foreseeable future.

And, I unfortunately cannot find a triple or quad core Athlon 2 or Phenom 2 in the ~$70 range.

As a result, without clicking links myself, what you are looking for... with the changes... should work well for you. (I, however, would recommend 4 GB of ram instead of 2 GB. This is due to the 2nd computer in my household being my mate's computer... and they usually keep 10 or so applications, a GoogleChrome Browser window with 15 or so webpages, .... all open at the same time.) I could function on 2 GB... they couldn't.


Right, that is the impression that I got about the AMD sockets, in comparison to the Intel sockets, more all-around compatibility. I am also an Intel fan (I'm loving my 920, even if I don't know the future of the 1336 socket). I might end up handing down my gtx 275 one day to my friends if they want it (although I'm very happy with it for now). I would have loved to put 4GB but since it is not entirely necessary, I decided to save the $40-$50 and go with 2GB, since it CAN run Win7-64. I think it will be sufficient for my friends; they are not really heavy multi-taskers. They will most likely be using this PC for browsing the internet, listening to music, running AIM, and playing games. I think they will be able to do all of those fine, even at the same time, with 2GB. But anyway, the mobo that I selected supports up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM so upgrading that won't be a problem for a LONG time.

Thank you very much to everyone who replied and offered very useful suggestions. I have ordered all the parts online from Newegg.com (and they are already charged, as a matter of fact.. that was quick compared to my last build which took days to process).

If anyone is interested, I can post pics and info about the build later. Wish me luck that I don't get any parts DOA, lol.
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