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Budget Surf, Watch and Program System

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January 11, 2010 2:27:03 AM

I'm "moving up" when my bonus comes in this month. I'm currently running Windows XP MCE 2002 on a Dell Dimension E510, Pentium 4, 3Ghz, with 2 GB RAM. System is OK, but noisy with case rattles and I want to step up to Win7. Don't think I'll try that with this system. Would like a "sanity check" from the experts here.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: End of this month / February 2010

BUDGET RANGE: $450 to $600 (or ???)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: HTML programming (text editor, not Dreamweaver, etc.), FTP, web surfing, viewing online video, ripping MP3s, burning "home movies" onto DVD.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, and speakers (at least right now).

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, Frys, TigerDirect, MicroCenter or "other". Leaning toward Newegg and my local Frys B&M store.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Me? I'm in California. Stuff? Not particular about where the items are made.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Unsure, but want quality components within my budget.

OVERCLOCKING: No (no need for SLI OR CROSSFIRE either)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1024x768 for now. If I find a good deal on a monitor in the next few months, I may upgrade. Mobo should have D-Sub connector for now.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Want to avoid the kind of crapware that came with my last two systems that I bought (haven't built a system since my 386sx with an CGA video card ... for you young guys, that stands for "Caveman's Graphics Adapter"). Want plenty of "headroom" to keep the system fast booting and responsive, even though my graphics needs are very light.

Here's what I'm considering:

MOBO:
GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Also considering the ASUS M4A785T-M/CSM AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail which looks equivalent, but is in the micro-ATX form factor I'd prefer just to keep the tower smaller (see cases below). Hope is that a processor/memory upgrade will allow me to step up in a few years with either board if I feel a need to. Any comments as to which is better for a non-oc'er, ASUS or Gigabyte? I'll be using the on-board gpu and will start without any cards added into the system (have the drives already)

CASES:
COOLER MASTER ELITE 335 RC-335-KKN1-GP Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail if I go with the Gigabyte or another ATX board, or the COOLER MASTER Elite 341 RC-341C-KKN1-GP Black Steel MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail if I use a uATX board like the ASUS. I really prefer the smaller uATX case.

PSU
CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
... but I want recommendations as to quietest PSU, even if its a few dollars more than this guy.

PROCESSOR:
AMD Athlon II X3 435 Rana 2.9GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Processor Model ADX435WFGIBOX - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MEMORY:
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail
Model #:F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Any comments on the best memory to use for either Gigabyte or ASUS mobos?

DVD:
HP 24X Multiformat DVD Writer Black SATA Model 1260i - Retail (or whatever's on sale when I pull the trigger)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

I'll be using a 320GB harddrive I have on hand for the OS, along with a 1TB drive for local mirror images (same set up I have on my Dell currently), and buying (or building) a WHS server for additional backup and offline storage of the thousands of pics of the grandkids my daughter sends me.

So, any recommendations for this light duty build?

Best solution

January 11, 2010 3:19:06 AM

You have made some excellent choices.

I prefer the Gigabyte mobos because of the UD - ultrad durable construction. You might consider this micro-ATX board that is $5 cheaper than what you selected:

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note that it does have a D-Sub connector, and DVI and HDMI.

For $3 more you can get GSkill memory with the faster 7-7-7-21 timings (compared to 8-8-8-21 on the ones above). Seldom can you can such a significant increase in performance for so little:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The mobo I recommended is on the GSkill memory list of compatible mobos:

http://www.gskill.com/products.php?index=223
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January 11, 2010 5:00:54 AM

Thanks, rockyjohn. Great recommendations; I wasn't even looking at the timing on the memory.
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January 20, 2010 11:31:27 PM

Best answer selected by fshagan.
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