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1st Build-AMD-Compatible? Cheaper? Other Suggestions?

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January 15, 2010 3:19:09 AM

Hello All,

I'm going to take a shot at building my own system. My tech knowledge is average at best, but I have learned a tremendous amount just in the last couple of weeks by shopping around, reading reviews, visiting forums, etc. This old dog is ready to learn some new tricks! Here's my info:

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next 2 weeks
BUDGET RANGE: ~$750, after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: MULTI-TASKING, create/maintain documents & databases, online research, small local website administrator, heavy tab browsing, email, social networking, photo editing, NOT a gamer (unless you count Spider Solitaire!) but I do visit web pages that are graphics-intense...however, I just want them to load fast

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVD burner

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg (or TigerDirect if cheaper)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD-based system

OVERCLOCKING: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1024x768

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I am currently stressing an AMD AthlonXP 2000+ 1.3GHz with 512 MB SDRAM to its limits. It still has USB 1.0 (2 front ports don't work) and a floppy drive. Peripherals are HP PhotoSmart printer and e+Pro flatbed scanner. PC was built for me in 2002, but I had to replace the hard drive in 2008...now a Seagate Barracuda 160GB. I've also added an LG DVD-RW to go along with the Samsung DVD-ROM it came with. And I recently added a Seagate FreeAgent 465GB external hard drive (mainly for backup). I'm running WinXP Home Premium 32 bit.

I would like to connect my Sony TV via HDMI for video streaming (currently no HDMI) and also switch to Win 7 64 bit. I ran the upgrade advisor and know I need more RAM and my CPU is right on the minimum edge.

As you can see, I have several reasons to justify a whole new computer, but I'm hoping to keep a few things if possible. Of course, I'll keep the 2 DVD drives and I would like to use the Seagate 160GB as an extra internal drive, if possible. I'll even keep the floppy if there's room for it.

I would also like to use my existing case if I can...Enlight 7250 ATX Mid-Tower w/ 80mm fan (which I could replace if necessary). It's beige, but the added LG DVD Burner is black...so what! I prefer function over form...I don't care what it looks like, I care how it performs! The 2 non-working USB ports are molded into the front bezel, so not sure how to replace them. I'm considering just adding an internal card reader w/USB & other ports to an empty 5.25" bay. Here's one I've found with the features I want, but don't if I could do better or not. I can also wait on this if it's going to up my total cost a lot.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820132022

Here's the rest of my shopping list:

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Power Supply

SeaSonic X750 Gold 750W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 Modular
]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151087]
--or--
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V
]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006]

(I don't want to skimp here -I'm looking for a quality long-term PSU that can handle future expansion. "Quiet" is also very important to me. The SeaSonic would be my "splurge". It's $75 more than the Corsair, but is it worth it? Also, would I be just as well served with the 650W in either one...saving $10/$35???)

CPU

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz
]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103674]

(I don't think the 965 is worth paying $30 more for...is it???)

Mainboard

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX
]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128398]

(I'm going with onboard graphics right now, but might upgrade to something better later on.)

Hard Drive

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM
]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181]

(WD Cav Blk 750GB was my 1st choice, but everyone on here seems to favor the Samsung...I concede.)

RAM

OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227496

OS

Win 7 -- but I need some advice on which one to purchase now. If I am able to keep my old Seagate HDD as a 2nd internal drive, will I be able to use the Upgrade version instead of the OEM version? If I have to use the OEM version, does that mean I can't change out components down the road? If so, exactly which components? Mainboard? CPU? HDD? I'm confused in this area. I'm 32 bit now but would like to switch to 64 bit...is this possible? I think I want to get Home Premium now, for cost reasons, but later on I might do an 'Anytime Upgrade' to Pro...any thoughts on this? I've done a lot of reading on this subject but I still need help in understanding it all.
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Okay guys, there it is. Hit me with your best shot! This ol' girl will take all the help and advice she can get!
Thanks!
January 15, 2010 5:03:23 AM

I don't have time to check everything for you right now, but one thing for you to know:

As an owner of Windows XP already, you only need to buy the upgrade version of whichever Win7 you want. You'll have to do a clean install anyway (no upgrade install possible from XP to 7), so you can buy the 64-bit version if you want.

Full versions are only for those who have no copy of Windows whatsoever. Upgrade versions of the software are the full versions. Even when you're not using the "upgrade" feature, you can buy them. Microsoft confirmed the upgrade version applies to XP and Vista.
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January 15, 2010 7:06:51 AM

not a shabby build...but id strongly suggest a newer case. antec 300 would fit your needs i think. black, stylish, and not too taxing on your budget either. the 120mm fans in it would flow more air and likely be considerably more quiet than the 80mm fans of your current case. last time i checked it could be had on newegg for about 60 bucks.

also, that psu is quite nice..but youd need a dual high end video card setup to make use of it. a decent ~600~w would be more than ample (no pun intended :D  )..even if you do decide to upgrade to a PCIe vid card solution later on. really, you could get by with a quality 400w corsair unit assuming no video card would be upgraded.



edit: 1024x768? can we somehow persuade you to upgrade this also? you can snag a nice 22inch lcd for ~200
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January 15, 2010 3:06:19 PM

First of all, you'll be happy to know that you won't come close to your $750 budget with a non-gamer build, unless perhaps we can convince you to upgrade your monitor.
Unless you anticipate ever becoming a gamer, you will never need the sort of video card that demands a powerful PSU. It's nice to see that you are already aware that the PSU should be high quality (and my next one may be a Seasonic "X" for the efficiency), but I think you would be quite pleased with a 380W Antec Earthwatts. It is 80+ bronze, and has all the power you're likely to need, even if you end up running 3-4 hard drives and add a modest graphics card. I've got the older version of that PSU, and it has been running like a champ in a somewhat more demanding machine for almost a year now; for about 6 months of that, it was on 24/7 (now it's mostly a backup, but is still used for a few hours a few times a week).
Are you interested in overclocking? The 955BE is a good choice, and overclocks pretty well. No, the 965BE is not worth the additional money.
The motherboard you selected has been deactivated. If you prefer Gigabyte, you might like this one, for $115 (and $15 MIR if you play that game and win): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard.
If you want eSATA, check out this ASRock M3A785GMH/128M AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard for $80: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
With either one, should you need or want USB 3.0 in the future, you can always use an add-in card.
For lots of tabbed browsing and online research, nothing beats a PAIR of monitors. Get a new one that is 1920x1080, but keep your old one as well. The HD3300 and HD4200 integrated graphics on either of those motherboards will support two monitors. They have HDMI too. Since even Flash animations are/will be 3D accelerated, you can always add a HD5750 graphics card (which the 380W Earthwatts will handle easily) if your HDMI or 1080p resolutions aren't as snappy as you'd like.
There's no reason to suffer those broken USB ports; you can pick up a low-end Rosewill case for <$30 that will offer plenty of room, decent cooling, and working ports. If you decide to get a memory card reader anyway (useful for photo work I'm sure, to pull stuff off of camera cards) install it AFTER you've installed your OS, to avoid possible drive letter assignment issues (each card slot will get a letter, likely ahead of your optical drives).
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January 15, 2010 8:28:42 PM

branflakes71 said:
I don't have time to check everything for you right now, but one thing for you to know:

As an owner of Windows XP already, you only need to buy the upgrade version of whichever Win7 you want. You'll have to do a clean install anyway (no upgrade install possible from XP to 7), so you can buy the 64-bit version if you want.

Full versions are only for those who have no copy of Windows whatsoever. Upgrade versions of the software are the full versions. Even when you're not using the "upgrade" feature, you can buy them. Microsoft confirmed the upgrade version applies to XP and Vista.


@branflakes71:

I wasn't considering the full version, just OEM or upgrade.

I wanted to confirm that I could use the upgrade version if I buy a new hard drive, but also keep my old one installed as a 2nd. And yes, I understand about the clean install in switching from XP to 7.

I was also looking at the OEM version because it's cheaper. Isn't it like the full version in that it's meant for those who have no previous copy of Windows? (As would be the case if you're building all new.) But I read that if you install OEM, it's only valid for that computer. What does this mean exactly? That I can't change out the hard drive later on and still keep my OS???

Something just occured to me...In my case, even if I don't use my existing hard drive, I can install XP first to the new one, then upgrade that to 7. Is that how it should be done on a completely new build??? If so, I feel kind of stupid just realizing this!

I'd still like to know about any restrictions on the OEM version and if/how I could use it... because it's cheaper.
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January 15, 2010 9:39:53 PM

An OEM first will key itself to your mobo and your overall components. You can add a hard drive, or memory, but if your mobo were to die, you'd have to call Microsoft and convince them to let you activate it again. I've done it, and it's no big deal, in fact the system was automated. It asked if I was replacing the motherboard, and I said "Yes." The automated system then gave me the activation codes. I think it will also make you re-activate if you make a lot of other changes at the same time, but the one time that happened to me, the system just re-activated online.
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January 15, 2010 10:29:13 PM

loks good, why not just get a 945? save 30watts, btw go corshair, but 750w is xcessive for that systtem, 450 will do ust fine
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January 16, 2010 12:15:09 AM

Ok, I guess I need a new case since it's been mentioned more than once!

@justaguy...: the Antec 300 is a little too 'flashy' for me
@jtt283: couldn't find this cheap Rosewill you mentioned, but didn't see any I liked anyway

So what do you think about this case?

NZXT BETA EVO Classic Series CS-NT-BETA-EVO Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146059

Reg. $59.99-$20 MIR-$10 promo code by Jan 18 & free ship = $29.99 total cost

Don't know anything about NZXT, but this case had good reviews. It has USB/eSATA/audio ports on top. I like that the PSU is bottom mount. And the price is right. But only one 120mm fan in front. (Hope the blue LED isn't too spectacular!) Should I install another fan in back? If so, which is a good one?

I'm going to look at the Corsair & Earthwatts PSU's next. I loved the 90+ efficiency of that SeaSonic and the fact that it was so quiet...but you all have convinced me it would be overkill. However, I really think I would like to have 500W.

I'll be back in touch.
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January 16, 2010 2:59:20 AM

I looked at the power supplies and here's what I came up with:

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139003
$65.98 total (incl. $10 MIR & 5.99 ship)

I also looked at the Antec EarthWatts 430W for the same price. I chose Corsair because it has a single rail, 120mm fan, higher amp, and 5 yr warranty (vs 3 yr for Antec). Any comments???

I also took another look at motherboards. @ jtt283: You were right that the Gigabyte had been deactivated, or at least that link had. The link you posted is for the same board, same Item#, same price. No, I don't 'prefer' Gigabyte...it just seemed like a good choice, all factors considered. I also looked at this ASUS for almost same price:

ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131366

You mentioned overclocking. This board has "Turbo V & Turbo Key for easy O.C." So, even though I really don't know much about it, if I ever did want to overclock, would this board be advantageous?

Gigabyte and ASUS seem to have better reviews than ASRock, so I think I'll stick with one of those. Any suggestion on which of these 2 might be better?

As for a new monitor...Yes, I know I could use an upgrade, but I want to get this other stuff taken care of first...then I'll see if I can swing it. BTW...I could probably buy 2 bigger LCD's now for what I paid for this 'little' one 3-4 yrs ago!!! Such is life in the tech world! :( 
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January 16, 2010 3:15:52 AM

Onus said:
An OEM first will key itself to your mobo and your overall components. You can add a hard drive, or memory, but if your mobo were to die, you'd have to call Microsoft and convince them to let you activate it again. I've done it, and it's no big deal, in fact the system was automated. It asked if I was replacing the motherboard, and I said "Yes." The automated system then gave me the activation codes. I think it will also make you re-activate if you make a lot of other changes at the same time, but the one time that happened to me, the system just re-activated online.



Thanks for the info. I guess I 'misremembered' what I read and it was the motherboard instead of the hard drive change.

Newegg has cut the price on the upgrade version and it's only $5 more than OEM now, so I think I'll just get the upgrade to avoid making that phone call later on.
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January 16, 2010 3:55:00 AM

taugal6 said:


RAM

OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227496




No one made any comments or suggestions on my choice of RAM. I need to purchase it by Jan 16 to take advantage of the $20 MIR. If you think I can do better, please speak up, else I'll order it tomorrow.

Thanks!
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January 16, 2010 12:00:37 PM

That Corsair reviewed very well on jonnyguru. The newer Antec 430D hasn't been reviewed yet, but of all of their PSUs, only one of the Basiqs hasn't gotten favorable reviews. The Earthwatts is 80+ bronze and is built by Delta, the same OEM who makes their Signature series. In any case, you cannot go wrong with either one.
I don't see a problem with that RAM. It's a little cheaper than a couple other common choices, but has similar timings, so I'd say it's ok.
Between Gigabyte and Asus, buy on the features you want. Both have a good rep.
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January 16, 2010 5:31:41 PM

Onus said:
That Corsair reviewed very well on jonnyguru. The newer Antec 430D hasn't been reviewed yet, but of all of their PSUs, only one of the Basiqs hasn't gotten favorable reviews. The Earthwatts is 80+ bronze and is built by Delta, the same OEM who makes their Signature series. In any case, you cannot go wrong with either one.
I don't see a problem with that RAM. It's a little cheaper than a couple other common choices, but has similar timings, so I'd say it's ok.
Between Gigabyte and Asus, buy on the features you want. Both have a good rep.



I ordered the RAM today. Will think on the mobo and PSU for a couple of more days before deciding. Thanks!

Any thoughts on this case???

NZXT BETA EVO Classic Series CS-NT-BETA-EVO Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower
6811146059]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811146059

Reg. $59.99-$20 MIR-$10 w/promo code by Jan 18 & free ship = $29.99 total cost

Don't know anything about NZXT, but this case had good reviews. It has USB/eSATA/audio ports on top. I like that the PSU is bottom mount. And the price is right. But only one 120mm fan in front. (Hope the blue LED isn't too spectacular!) Should I install another fan in back? If so, which fan is a good one?
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January 16, 2010 5:57:59 PM

That case looks nice. Buy a couple more fans for it though, one for the back and one for the top. Look for airflow and noise when choosing a fan. I like Scythe fans, and also Antec; the latter typically have a 3-speed switch so you can balance cooling vs. noise as you see fit.
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January 16, 2010 6:54:24 PM

it looks ok. but for your build the phenom ii x4 is over kill you would be fine with a triple core. Im pretty sure that some of them are quad core with a deactivated core so if you got a little bit of tech expierience you can reactivate it.
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January 17, 2010 5:10:14 PM

Onus said:
That case looks nice. Buy a couple more fans for it though, one for the back and one for the top. Look for airflow and noise when choosing a fan. I like Scythe fans, and also Antec; the latter typically have a 3-speed switch so you can balance cooling vs. noise as you see fit.



Thanks. When you say airflow and noise, what numbers am I looking for? And should they be 120mm like the one already in the case?
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January 17, 2010 5:14:25 PM

irule9000 said:
it looks ok. but for your build the phenom ii x4 is over kill you would be fine with a triple core. Im pretty sure that some of them are quad core with a deactivated core so if you got a little bit of tech expierience you can reactivate it.



I saw that mentioned in several forums and reviews about unlocking the 4th core. Alas, I don't have that kind of knowledge!
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January 17, 2010 5:22:28 PM

Unlocking a fourth core is not a done deal. It may or may not be possible. Consider it a potential bonus, but if you need four cores, buy four cores.

And yes, get 120mm fans. Fans that are adjustable are best, as you can balance noise and airflow. I prefer quieter fans myself, usually <25db. I have enough fans in my case that heat is not a problem for my moderate OC. My 92mm Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro will go away next month though, as it tends to be a little whiny, and is the most notable noise from my case. The replacement will be 120mm.
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January 18, 2010 7:02:21 PM

Regarding the case, I've used NZXT before and like them a lot. I haven't used that particular case, but their build quality is good.
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January 19, 2010 4:23:39 AM

@branflakes71: The only thing that I wasn't totally happy with on the NZXT case was the blue LED front fan...just not my cup of tea! So I went looking for something else and found this:

Antec Two Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129070

It's $10 more, but has 2 fans (120mm & 140mm) so I think it's a better deal...and no LED!

@ EVERYONE: Here's the rest of my final build:

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103674

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128398

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139003

OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227496

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116713

The Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB Internal Hard Drive is out of stock right now at Newegg.

My total cost, after all MIR's and without the Samsung drive--$583.75
Total cost with the Samsung drive--$638.74

I'm pretty happy with that. Maybe I'll even look into upgrading my monitor!

Thanks to you all for the advice on the purchases. I might need more when I start putting this thing together. But I do have one more question:

Should I wait for the Samsung drive before I start my build, or should I go ahead using my Seagate 160GB drive that I was intending to use as a 2nd drive anyway...and install the Samsung later???
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January 19, 2010 10:39:41 AM

If you can't get the Samsung, then there's no real reason not to get the next best thing: Seagate 7200.12 500GB, it also uses a 500GB platter.
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January 19, 2010 3:52:47 PM

Branflakes71 is correct -- however if coming a from a Windows XP machine it would be best to download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will determine if your current computer configuration will be compatible with Windows 7, for further information as well as a link for download please go here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/get/upgrade-...

Another resource to verify compatibility is available at the Microsoft Windows 7 Compatibility Center located at the following link: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/windows-...

Also, please note that when migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 you will not have an "in place upgrade" option. You will however have the option to select "custom" install when prompted. The Windows 7 install process will then copy all of your data in "My Documents" over to a Windows.old folder within Windows 7 itself. All applications and documents stored in other locations will have to be reinstalled / transferred manually.

For more information on the Windows 7 Upgrade, please go here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Installing-...

For additional assistance with the migration of Windows XP to Windows 7, please go here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ee150430.asp...

Jessica
Microsoft Windows Client Team
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January 19, 2010 5:45:46 PM



Thanks Jessica...but I've already been there, done that.
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January 19, 2010 6:33:32 PM

I'm with you on the LEDs...Antec makes some great cases and the 200 is good for your budget.

If you want to start your build while waiting on the Spinpoint, you can use the 160Gb drive, then image it onto the new drive.

Of course, I also don't see why you can't switch to something in stock. Western Digital's Black series are good solid drives with a 5 year warranty. The 32MB cache helps with speed, too.

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

I have 4 of their drives in my 2 computers.
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January 20, 2010 3:40:34 PM

branflakes71 said:
I'm with you on the LEDs...Antec makes some great cases and the 200 is good for your budget.

If you want to start your build while waiting on the Spinpoint, you can use the 160Gb drive, then image it onto the new drive.

Of course, I also don't see why you can't switch to something in stock. Western Digital's Black series are good solid drives with a 5 year warranty. The 32MB cache helps with speed, too.

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

I have 4 of their drives in my 2 computers.



Funny you should mention that! WD Cav Blk 750GB was my first choice for a hard drive...but almost everyone on this forum favored the Samsung Spinpoint F3...so I conceded to them (it was also cheaper).

Since Newegg got everything to my door 24 hrs after I ordered it (Go Egg!), I have everything I need to start building right now. Think I'll just wait for a sale on one of those hard drives.

Wish me luck!
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January 21, 2010 2:28:00 AM

Enjoy the new build! Spinpoints are good drives, too.
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January 21, 2010 3:32:29 PM

Best answer selected by taugal6.
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January 21, 2010 9:09:43 PM

Thanks for the nod. Enjoy your new build. For my part, although I'm not fond of bling, I like a soft blue glow emanating from my system, letting me know it is on and ready to be told what to do.
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!