Wide Open Upgrade Path


BUDGET RANGE: $200-$500


PARTS NOT REQUIRED:Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard, Hard Drives, DVD Burner






ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: PC Games such as Batman Arkhum Asylum, Netflix, lots of music and video.

Looking to build a PC for my son for his birthday. I've got a lot of experience in the area, but I honestly haven't had time to research.

I want a wide open upgrade path, but I'm going to go cheap on the system and let him upgrade. I want to start off with a good core, and let him do odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn money to upgrade the HDD, Video Card etc.

This will be the first PC he builds for himself, like I said we have DVD Burners, HDD's, some video cards sitting around that can serve the purpose for now - which also will give him an incentive to work and upgrade. He may teach himself to overclock, but it probably won't be happening on this particular machine.

You know I'm going to get bonus points on looks - so the cool cases are a plus.
14 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about wide open upgrade path
  1. Best answer
    Athlon II x2 240 with stock cooler ($60)
    Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H motheboard ($95) with onboard 4200 video
    * Onboard video wont play advanced games well. He will have to earn the graphics card as a first upgrade. Its the more expensive component, really needing at least a $170 ATI 5770 to play at the highest resolutions. There are some adequite $100-$125 cards about 2/3rds as fast as the 5770, but they dont have DX11 and may be hard to find.

    4 GB (2*2GB) DDR3-1333 RAM kit ($105ish)

    500-600W 80+ certified PSU <Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, PC Power& Cooling> ($60-80)
    Bad power makes for a flaky computer. Dont skimp on quality.

    Case Ideas:
    Antec 300 illusion ($50-60)
    Antec 200 ($40-$50) * he can buy/install the LED fans.
    Antec 600 ($80)
    Coolermaster HAF 922 ($80-100)
    Coolermaster Storm Scout ($80-100)
    Rosewill Wind Knight ($60)
  2. Definitely won't skimp on the power supply, I have built using Antec cases in the past exclusively. I like the 200 and 300. The video card will be his first purchase I am sure - what are you're thoughts on a good upgrade path on the Intel side?

    I agree on the DDR3, I don't see the reason to go with anything that uses DDR2 at this point. I am not familiar with Seasonic on the PS, or Gigabyte on the motherboard. I know the Gigabyte name, but have always used Asus, MSI for my motherboards.

    Perhaps the 5770 will drop in price by the time he's had a few months to save up. Mowing season is sneaking up on us in the South pretty soon, so he should be able to make some money there.

  3. For Intel, even with the new i3s and i5s, you're still pretty limited. If the budget was a little higher, you could possibly get an i5-750 for ~$200, but then a decent motherboard is at least $100, plus case, power, etc.

    For most sub-$500 builds, AMD is the way to go, and the AM3 motherboard has a much clearer upgrade path right now than the Intel 1156 board which is supposedly nearing end of life (but is probably not actually EOL).
  4. Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    Item #: N82E16811129066

    GIGABYTE GA-MA785GT-UD3H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    Item #: N82E16813128411

    Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified ... - Retail
    Item #: N82E16817371015

    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820231193

    AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCGQBOX - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819103688

    Your thoughts?
  5. I like that build.

    Intel has change architecture and you really cant build one for less than $500; the good thing is you can get top of the line intel for less than $200 more than that. They are pretty flat at a performance level ranging near the top of AMD to faster.
  6. Just saw this on -

    Gigabyte X-Blaster Barebone Kit - Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H Mobo, Intel Core i3 530 CPU, OCZ 4GB RAM, Seagate Barracuda 750GB HD, Ultra X-Blaster Black ATX Mid-Tower Case, Ultra LS500 500W PSU

    $399 - that doesn't look like a bad deal - what are the pitfalls?

  7. The CPU is upgradeable to the i5 750 (which is good thing)

    I have an ultra LP750. Ultra is a decent power supply maker (they invented modular PSUs) but the LS and LP are a bit older designs that dont have as much amperage commited to the 12V rails as newer designs. As a comparison, the LS 500 has 28 amps on the 12V rails whereas a Corsair 450 has 33 amps. It could probably handle a 5770 or 5750/GTS 250, but I would hesistate to put anything more powerful. It only has one PCIE cable so yeah those are the only two decent GPUs it will handle.

    Its probably minimum spec RAM, OCZ has a couple different grades. Its likely Cas9 and 1066 or 1333 speed, Cas7 and 1600 would be better.

    The case has a top mounted PSU, heat goes up and makes it hotter so it spins faster and is noisier. Cables fall down acrosss the motherboard. All antec gaming cases have bottom PSUs and top vents for a reason. Also that case doesnt come with fans so you may have to spend $20-30 extra on a couple of those.

    The seagate 750 has got to be three 250GB platters, they run far slower than the new 500gb platter drives. I just replace a noisy seagate 7200.10 400GB with a Samsung F3 500GB (a couple hours ago). Its dead quiet and noticebly faster on bootup.

    I dont see a graphics card. Cant run without some video. The new intel H57 motherboards have onboard video and that might be an option.
  8. What about the NZXT Tempest Case with a 550 watt Corsair?
  9. Best answer selected by jtbryant.
  10. Ok, I've ordered part of it, and I splurged, but he's already got $80 toward his video card, so I got a ATI Radeon HD 4850 1 GB GDDR3 PCIe 2.0 Graphics Card, Antec 900 Case, and a Corsair VX-550.

    I'm gonna let those come in and hide them, next step is the Memory, CPU, Motherboard. Would you suggest a different motherboard now that I don't need onboard video?

  11. How about these:

    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ

    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820231193
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy


    select item 2 quantity of item 2

    ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
    AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX


    ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    Item #: N82E16813131402
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy


    AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819103706
    Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
  12. I wouldnt choose that CPU, its the slowest of all quad cores. For a gaming system you will get generally better performance from fewer faster cores. A cheaper faster 2 or 3 core would be a stronger starting point and leave the uprgade path to a fast quad later.

    If yo ucan get Cas 7 or 8 ram for the same price, that would be preferable. Not a big deal as RAM is generally only a few percent performance difference.
  13. OCZ Platinum 7-7-7 1333 MHz 4 GB kit - $99.99 (1333 MHz, but that's not really a big deal, 1333 MHz is the sweet spot right now)

    Corsair XMS3 7-8-7 1600 MHz 4 GB kit - $109.99

    Both with free shipping.
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