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1st Custom Build - Need Advice - $400 Budget

Last response: in Systems
January 3, 2010 2:54:39 AM

I'm Looking to build a new system (my first attempt), so tell me how this looks! I'm open to any suggestions. My budget is around $400, preferably less.
I'm planning on installing Windows 7, probably 64 bit because i think the CPU can handle that and I hear it's better.
Also, I am not a PC Gamer, but maybe I'll start? I'll use this pc mostly for downloading/uploading, surfing the web, sometimes graphic editing, music, movies, media, ripping, encoding, compressing, decompressing, stuff like that

Anyways, here it goes...hopefully I'm not missing anything & help me out please :D 

AMD Phenom X4 9750 Quad Core Processor
This Processor comes bundled with my Motherboard here
NOTE: I noticed in one of your guides that you said to avoid the phenom and go with the Athlon.. If you guys think I should switch then i found a good bundle here but ill probably have to change some other parts after that. If i use the bundle with the Athlon I wont need a separate CPU Cooler any more either.

CPU Cooler
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler

Biostar TA790GXE Motherboard

Wintec AMP-X Dual Channel (2 x 2 GB) - 240-pin - DDR2 - 800 MHz / PC2-6400

Computer Case
LOGISYS Computer Area 51 CS51WBK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower - 480W PSU
I dont know if a micro atx will fit in this, but i think so.

Video/Sound Card
Here's a card that supports CrossFireX with my motherboard
Pretty sure the motherboard has built in sound, so no card is needed.
XFX HD-435X-YAH2 Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card
The motherboard has integrated video and supports ATI Hybrid Crossfire, so i picked this, but do I really need a video card? I don't think I have an HD monitor anyways, so idk if this is needed.

Hard Drive
I already have a SATA 500 Gb Caviar Blue from Western Digital

DVD Drive
I already have a 22x SATA LG GH22 Super Multi DVD Rewriter

This all totals to $339 and ill have to get some thermal paste. So how'd I do?

Best solution

January 3, 2010 5:37:32 AM

Well first off, the CPU Ph x4 9750 is quite dated. It runs hot and consumes quite a bit of power.
* I'd opt for the Athlon II x4 620, if you want to stick to a Quad core. Generally you would do fine with a Dual core or Tri core CPU, too meet your budget restrictions.
* Your Case/PSU combo isn't what I'd call a safe bet. Logisys doesn't make good solid PSU's. I'm not saying that it'd work out, but I wouldn't hook it up to any parts that I spent $ on. I'd consider a quality PSU from Antec, Seasonic, PCP&C, & Corsair. You won't need an expensive Case, but I would make sure you use a quality PSU.
* The RAM you selecte is okay, but I'd probably try and stick with DDR3, unless your mobo doesn't support it.
* I don't think you need a dedicated GPU for your needs. The onboard GPU (AMD 3300) should be plenty for your needs. If you want extra gaming power than you should get a dedicated GPU.

So here's the tight fit!
CPU - $99 shipped!!
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

Mobo - $100 shipped!! Has Side Port memory and comes with good onboard GPU (AMD 4200!!)!!
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

RAM - $94 shipped!! One of the better sets to get that run on stock voltages (1.5v)!!
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail

Case/PSU combo - $100 shipped!! Definately worth the $. You get a quality 500w PSU and the case is built well. This will last you through several upgrades! Comes with 3 yr. warranty too!! I'm betting the Logisys doesn't even go past 1 yr warranty.
Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail

Total ~$393 shipped!! Now if you want to save some more $, than I'd consider a x2 or x3 AMD CPU. It'll save you about $20-45 over the x4 CPU listed above.
Related resources
January 3, 2010 9:46:37 AM

Photron said:
This would be a cheaper / faster CPU..the only thing I'm not sure on is the graphics editing, but much less heat than add cooling

Only problem is that your only saving $6 ($87 + $6 Shipping = $93). Also the CPU comes with a stock CPU HSF, so I'm not sure what your saying "no add cooling"???
January 3, 2010 1:04:09 PM

Thanks lunyone! Although I realize that the case you showed me is really nice, I think I can get by without spending that much on one, I also really wanted a window :p 
What if I got this for a case and this for a power supply?
Or maybe this for a power supply, although it's lacking some connectors.
Other than that I think the other parts you showed me are great.
January 3, 2010 2:09:10 PM

Since you have a budget, spend your money where you will get value.

1) Do you have an OS already? If not, look for an academic priced Windows-7 home premium. No reason not to go 64 bit. It should cost about $30.
2) Do you have a monitor already? If so, what is it's resolution?
3) Keyboard & mouse?
4) All retail cpu's will come with a cooler, there is no need in a budget system to spend more for an oem cooler. The cooler will come with pre-applied thermal material.
5) DO NOT buy a cheap PSU. Get one from Antec, PC P&C, Corsair, or Seasonic to name a few top tier brands. Here is a somewhat dated list :
6) Cases are a personal thing, but if you are on a budget, why spend extra on "bling" such as windows and lights. How about Antec 3480 including psu for 89.99? Cases are heavy, and may cost $20 to ship. Look for free shipping specials.
7) Next quarter, the Intel clarkdale cpu's will arrive. They will use 32nm manufacturing process, and have integrated graphics. Two cores and hyperthreading will be all you need starting at $90 or so. It might pay to wait.
8) If you want to build now, consider the Intel E5200 at $64.50:
9) You can get a nice micro 775 motherboard with integrated graphics for $50-$70.
10) Get a 4gb kit of ram in a 2 x 2gb configuration from a quality brand. It should cost about $75. Do not spend extra for better timings or faster speeds. It will not translate into a mesureable increase in real application performance or FPS. Do not get distracted by synthetic benchmarks.

I would suggest that you download and read the manuals for your motherboard and case before ordering. If the instructions are not clear to you, consider another brand.

---good luck---
January 3, 2010 4:03:42 PM

1) Yes, I already have Windows 7 Ultimate
2) I already have an Acer monitor. My resolution is always set on 1280x1024, which is the max
3) Already have keyboard, mouse, speakers, printer, modem, router
4) Ok, i was just going to ask about thermal material...I only had the CPU Cooler listed because in the 1st bundle I posted the CPU didn't come with a fan
5) Thanks for the list, I'm probably going to go with this PSU
6) Thanks for suggestion but I found a cheap/decent case here with a window, a mail in rebate, and free shipping.
7/8) I kinda wanted to build soon. I also wanted a Quad Core processor because this computer will probably be lasting me a long time. I also chose AMD because their processors are cheaper.
9) The micro 775 motherboards with integrated graphics look like good deals, but I would have to buy an Intel CPU which are more expensive
10) What would you consider a quality brand? Most of the brands I recognized were around $90 for a 2 x 2gb configuration

Thankyou very much for you suggestions :) 
January 3, 2010 4:18:18 PM

Most ram brands are probably OK. If you ever need support, a US based company is probably better. I have used Corsair, Kingston and Patriot.
January 3, 2010 4:28:48 PM

ok, heres Patriot G Series ‘Sector 5’ Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model PGV34G1333ELK - Retail for $80 after rebate. I didn't go with the cheap OCZ ram because both sets only had 3 eggs and people reported they didn't work with their amd system
January 3, 2010 4:55:35 PM

so i looked at the motherboard's page on the manufacturers site and was looking at the qualified vendors list for memory and then searched some of them and found this...holy ***! but a $290 instant rebate, damn
January 3, 2010 7:21:54 PM

mikexnemesis14 said:
so i looked at the motherboard's page on the manufacturers site and was looking at the qualified vendors list for memory and then searched some of them and found this...holy ***! but a $290 instant rebate, damn

DON'T buy for a i5/7 system. It is 1.8v ram which will permanently damage your cpu. You neeed 1.5v ram, 1.65v max.

For any ram you are considering, do your own homework.
Go to the ram vendor's web site, and access their configurator.
Corsair, Kingston, Patriot, OCZ and others have them.
Their compatibility list is more current than the motherboard vendor's QVL lists which rarely get updated.
Enter your mobo or PC, and get a list of compatible ram sticks.

Here are a few links:

Cpu performance is not very sensitive to ram speeds.
If you look at real application and game benchmarks(vs. synthetic tests),
you will see negligible difference in performance between the slowest DDR2 and the fastest DDR3 ram.
Perhaps 1-2%. Not worth it to me.
Don't pay extra for faster ram or better timings unless you are a maximum overclocker.
January 3, 2010 8:10:37 PM

wow thanks
wth, most of these companies dont even have the M4A785TD-V EVO listed :'( 
January 4, 2010 1:18:20 AM

Funny thing on the Case/PSU, is that your getting the cheaper Antec Basiq PSU and a different case. The one that I linked for you is basically a similiar price, but you get the better quality and better warranty PSU in the package. It's up to you, but a windowed case doesn't help in performance of your system.
January 4, 2010 10:26:41 PM

well i did save 30 bucks by going with what i picked out. I understand that a windowed case doesn't help with performance but i'm stubborn and its always been my dream to have a case with a window and with lights too. I don't think i need such a high quality PSU anyways. I understand it's important but I don't have much in my computer. Here's what i've decided on so far:
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK - Retail
Cooler Master Elite 310 ATX, MATX Mid Tower Case with Window RC-310-SWN1-GP (Black/Silver)
Cooler Master 120mm Green LED Case Fan - (R4-L2R-20CG-GP)

all this for $ 369.54 including shipping and after rebates
January 5, 2010 1:23:08 AM

Which PSU did you buy??
January 5, 2010 2:48:51 AM

Here is a better PSU to get:
BFG Tech GS-550 550W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V V2.8 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply - Retail

It has 1 x 6 pin and 1 x 6 + 2 pin (8 pin) PCI-e power connectors. It also has 36A on the combined 12v rails and only costs $56 shipped!! The OCZ is $80 shipped - $25 MIRc = $55, so it's basically the same price (after rebates). So if you think your going to get the MIRc and don't mind spending $25 more (initially) than the OCZ isn't a bad choice. I just like the BFG, because it's been reviewed well and it's initial cash outlay is less.
January 5, 2010 9:58:43 AM

That also looks good, but they've both been reviewed well. Also, the BFG isn't modular. Since the OCZ cost more initially I would imagine it would be better ( although I know this doesn't apply to everything).