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New Build - For Under $300

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January 3, 2010 9:12:51 PM

I have attempted to do the impossible - build a decent gaming computer for under $300. Some told me I was insane; others, naïve. But it has been achieved. Granted, I am reusing a few old parts, but the heart of the system is all new. It may lack SLI or Crossfire, or a quad-core processor, but it is a nice machine just the same. The order has been placed, and although I have yet to complete it, I invite you all to join me in this exciting endeavor. Here is my parts list:

Mobo: Gigabyte MA74GM-S2 ($60) (Microcenter)
RAM: WINTEC 2x1GB DDR2 ($40) (Newegg)
CPU: Athlon II X3 425 2.7GHz ($76) (N.e.)
GPU: MSI Radeon HD 4670 ($65) (N.e.)
Case: Linkworld mATX Case ($20) (M.c.)
HD: 320GB WD (Salvaged)
Optical: CD/RW (Salvaged)
PSU: 450W XION (Salvaged)
OS: Windows XP (Salvaged)

All in all, this system looks to be a winner (at least in my eyes). If any of you guys have suggestions for the future, I'd be glad to hear them. Keep in mind that this is just a secondary computer for me, for LAN parties and whatnot. When the final parts arrive later this week, I'll be sure to post the benchmarks from this setup.

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January 3, 2010 9:57:21 PM

you are damn right

i am looking into something similar myself as well, but the CPU has to have enough power to significanly be a upgrade to my x2 4400+.
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January 3, 2010 10:03:13 PM

What I figure is that most people can salvage the parts that I did, and for $300, anyone can afford this upgrade. If you're upgrading from an x2 4400+, I'd say to look into a Phenom II x4 at least, or get an Intel quad core. Keep in mind that this build was designed to complement my main PC, not replace it.
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January 4, 2010 1:33:29 AM

Looks like a perfectly usable setup to me, and not unlike what I was looking at before my brother sent me my current stuff, thus staving off purchasing an upgrade a while longer. Only thing I'd question is choosing DDR2 at this point, not because its bad, but because of future availability.

Oh and for the record lacking sli/crossfire is pretty much a non-issue IMO. My last 3 boards have supported one of the two, but I have yet to ever use it. By the time I'm ready to upgrade you're better off just getting a new card.
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January 4, 2010 6:45:59 PM

Yeah, I considered using DDR3, but it still costs significantly more than DDR2. As for future availability, I'm not really planning on upgrading this system too much. Many other systems in my home use DDR2, so I'll be able to switch things around if necessary.
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January 4, 2010 7:05:15 PM

rjkucia said:
Yeah, I considered using DDR3, but it still costs significantly more than DDR2. As for future availability, I'm not really planning on upgrading this system too much. Many other systems in my home use DDR2, so I'll be able to switch things around if necessary.


Actually DDR2 is now more expensive than DDR3

DDR2 800, G Skill $82.99 cheapest respectable ones on Newegg 4GB kit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DDR3 1066 OCZ Gold $77.99 Cheapest Respectable DDR3 4gb kit.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 4, 2010 7:32:42 PM

But I wasn't going for 4GB, I was going for 2GB. I found 2x1GB sticks for $40. I challenge you to find a better price on DDR3 (at least from Newegg or Microcenter, because that's where I was shopping). I also wasn't necessarily looking for a "respectable" kit, just a budget kit.
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January 4, 2010 7:59:07 PM

who cares for a "respectable kit" of ddr anyway, a "good" set of memory will only increase your in-game FPS by 3% when compared vs a "budget" set. The money is better spend towards a SSD (though that wont increase your in-game fps though, but will provide a much better pc experience all together).

Anyhow, phenom II X4 would be smart though the problem is that cheaper quadcores have lower clocks then equally expensive dual cores. Hence, for the same money the dual core provides better gaming experience.

I guess ill have to wait just a bit longer before upgrades in my budget are worthwhile.
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January 4, 2010 8:13:13 PM

SSD's are freaking expensive, a single decently sized one is around $300! And for the Phenom II X4, even if it's slightly lower clocked then the dual core, you should still get better performance because background tasks can be handled by the additional cores. Plus, most newer games support multiple cores, and that can provide better performance than a higher-clocked dual core. That's why I went in the middle with a triple-core, the clock speed was around the same as a $50-60 dual core, but the third core will help a lot in games.
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January 4, 2010 9:42:15 PM

We apparently have different definitions of respectable. When I say respectable, I mean the company is not a no name bargain bin company. IE, respectable = the cheapest that will actually work excluding the bargain bin crap.

Never heard of wintec before, but I guess a decent number of people have been happy with it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Yes, the cheapest DDR2 is only $40, vs $53 for DDR3, but it's not a significant price increase, especially when you consider 4gb is the current mainstream amount of ram.

Also, if you want absolute cheapest

4GB DDR2 is $75.99 with $5.99 shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4 GB DDR 3 is $77.99 free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



As for putting gedoe's idea of putting a SSD into a $300 system... yea I won't even bother with that one.
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January 4, 2010 10:39:03 PM

AM3 motherboards (which are required for DDR3) also cost a bit more than AM2+. While I admit the cost difference is negligible for a higher-end system, for my price point a difference of $20-30 is 10% of my budget. That's also why I didn't get 4GB, and I stuck with 2GB (and to be honest, with a WinXP-based gaming machine, that's all anyone truly needs).
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January 5, 2010 1:37:55 PM

Its true that high end DDR3 boards cost a bit more than DDR2 boards still, and I'm not knocking DDR2 as a usable option really (using it myself still). But I still think that for a new build I'd go with DDR3 and a board like this perhaps: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Which is still $60 for the board, though it does forego the integrated video in favor of two PCI-E slots.
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January 5, 2010 6:41:04 PM

Well I guess you're right then... Oh well, what's done is done. For future builds I'll be using DDR3, no question.
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January 6, 2010 1:10:41 AM

Don't get me wrong, I still think its a perfectly decent system, and probably beats what I'm using now in at least some respects. enjoy :D 
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January 6, 2010 1:15:12 AM

Haha, thanks. The rest of the parts are supposed to arrive tomorrow, so by the weekend I should have benchmarks for you guys!
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January 8, 2010 4:52:19 PM

It is built, I'm just installing my applications and drivers, so the benchmarks should be coming in soon.
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January 9, 2010 2:10:53 PM

Okay, I have some results from 3dMark06. I'm going to compare them to my year-old computer as a reference point (it cost around $800 when I bought it): Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz, Geforce 9800Gt, 4GB RAM.

Althon II X3 Build: 7,298 3DMarks
Core 2 Duo Build: 11,801 3DMarks

Obviously, the drop in price produced a drop in score. However, this still looks to be a decent gaming computer for my purposes; it's replacing a 4-year-old laptop that struggled to get 300 3DMarks!
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April 2, 2010 1:12:09 AM

Best answer selected by rjkucia.
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