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$600 Office Productivity Build

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February 6, 2010 10:36:31 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: In one week
BUDGET RANGE: $550 - $650 Including shipping and rebates
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Surfing the internet, Microsoft Office, Watching YouTube, Watching DVDs, World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2 (eventually)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US
PARTS PREFERENCES: None
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, but if so, not by very much
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I will try to unlock the other two cores on the Phenom II X2. I will use Windows 7 x64, and I am going to move the Program Files, Users, and ProgramData directories off of my SSD using hard links, but Microsoft Office, Firefox, and Skype will be installed on the SSD.


CPU: AMD Phenom II X2
Motherboard: Asus M4A785-M (Motherboard+CPU Combo 139.98)
Memory: OCZ Platinum 2x2GB DDR2 1066 (109.99 - 30.00 MiR)
GPU: Asus GT 240 512MB GDDR5 (99.99 - 20.00 MiR)
SSD: OCZ Vertex 30 GB(139.99-20.00 MiR)
HDD: WD Black 750 GB (79.99)
ODD: LG DVD Burner
PS: OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W Modular 80 Plus (PSU+DVD Combo 75.98 - 25.00 MiR)
Case: APEX TX-381-C (24.99)
Misc:SATA II Cable (1.99)

Subtotal: $680.89
Shipping: $29.85
Mail-in-Rebate: $95.00
--------------------------
Total: $615.74

Any advice or notes that anyone has about this build would be greatly appreciated! I'm not terribly into gaming, and I don't mind playing WoW and SC2 on medium settings. I've heard that adding an SSD is one of the most dramatic performance increases that a consumer will see these days. Do you guys think it's worth it here?

(I also want to make sure that I will be able to build the system, buying exactly the above components. I think I need the additional SATA II cable, since the Mobo only comes with two. I don't think I need anything else, but I might be mistaken.)
February 7, 2010 11:26:20 AM

No, SSD is for a big budget. A 30GB Vertex sets you back $130-ish. If the budget is $1500-ish for semi-office/gaming pc, then yes.

The specs look good.
February 7, 2010 12:16:36 PM

Alright, so I took out the SSD, bumped up the GPU a bit to a 5750, and got a quad-core. I'm also trying to keep the price under $600, but of course, the lower the better. What do you guys think of this slightly altered build?

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition
Motherboard : Asus M4A785-M (Motherboard+CPU Combo 205.98)
Memory: OCZ Platinum 2x2GB DDR2 1066 (109.99 - 30.00 MiR)
GPU: HIS Radeon HD 5750 (104.99)
HDD : WD Black 500 GB (64.99)
ODD : LG DVD Burner
PS: OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W Modular 80 Plus (PSU+DVD Combo 75.98 - 25.00 MiR)
Case: APEX TX-381-C (24.99)

Total: $565.32
Related resources
February 7, 2010 12:30:39 PM

For office apps, the cheaper Athlon II line is the Phenom's equal. The new Athlon 635 should do the trick, at a lower cost.

The Samsung Spinpoint F3 (500GB or 1TB) is A LOT faster than the WD.

I'd get a case by a better quality brand like Antec if I were you. Take a look at their NSK series with built in PSU. Affordable and of very high quality.
February 7, 2010 12:42:33 PM

Uh, I would get an X3 720 for baout 100$, and then go with either a 4870 1gb or a 4890. The 5750 is just a rather weak GPU.
February 7, 2010 12:57:16 PM

The 4870 is also $45 more expensive and consumes more power than the 5750. I'm only going to play games infrequently on this computer, and even when I do, they will should not be particularly graphics intensive. (Think WoW, PopCap games, Braid, etc.)
February 7, 2010 1:23:52 PM

Silmarunya, you're right about that Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB being better. Thanks!
February 7, 2010 1:41:36 PM

Since you say you have no preferences, here's what I would go for in your position:

CPU: Athlon II X4 630 ($101.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Great for office multi-tasking.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-770TA-UD3 AM3 AMD 770 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail ($94.99 - $10 MIR)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Relatively "future-proof" with sata 6GB/s and usb 3.0

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail ($104.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Great DDR3 to go with the board.

GPU: XFX HD-575X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail ($139.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Good for mild gaming, though it may struggle with WoW a bit at your res.

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ($89.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Best HDD out there ATM.

ODD: ASUS Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM ($25.99)
Just a burner.

Case (w/ PSU): Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail ($99.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Antec make good cases and PSUs, why not buy them together?

Total: ~$656.94
If you need it to fit in your budget, get the 500GB model of the Samsung F3 for $54.99, I think it'll suffice?
February 7, 2010 2:49:15 PM

Thank you for the suggestions, Gnome. I have to say, though, that I'm not keen on the idea of moving to DDR3 because the marginal benefit doesn't appear to justify the cost. Your Motherboard+CPU+Memory combination comes to $299.84, while the Motherboard+CPU+Memory I posted earlier totals $276.97 and has a noticeably better CPU at the expense of marginally slower RAM. Maybe I'm mistaken, and please correct me if I am, but I don't think that the $23 extra for that part of the build is justified.

You're probably right about the 5750 struggling on WoW at 1920x1200 resolution. I need to research and think about this part of the build a little more. I can't seem to find any benchmarks of WoW for any of these cards: I guess WoW just considered too low-end graphically.

I would also really like to keep the budget under $600 shipped.
February 7, 2010 3:08:50 PM

ultraviolet83 said:
Thank you for the suggestions, Gnome. I have to say, though, that I'm not keen on the idea of moving to DDR3 because the marginal benefit doesn't appear to justify the cost. Your Motherboard+CPU+Memory combination comes to $299.84, while the Motherboard+CPU+Memory I posted earlier totals $276.97 and has a noticeably better CPU at the expense of marginally slower RAM. Maybe I'm mistaken, and please correct me if I am, but I don't think that the $23 extra for that part of the build is justified.

You're probably right about the 5750 struggling on WoW at 1920x1200 resolution. I need to research and think about this part of the build a little more. I can't seem to find any benchmarks of WoW for any of these cards: I guess WoW just considered too low-end graphically.

I would also really like to keep the budget under $600 shipped.


In the last few months DDR2 lost its pricing advantage. The only price benefit you'd get is a slightly cheaper motherboard, but futureproofing is worth $10 I hope? Gnome's suggestion is sound.

As for the graphics card: yes it might struggle, but alternatives are few and far between. A 5770 would be ideal, but increases price significantly. Nvidia's GTS 250 might do it, but that means giving up on DX11 and higher power consumption. If you must keep pricing down, an athlon 620 is another $10 cheaper. Also, DDR3-1333 is roughly as fast as 1600, so you might save a little bit there too. The NSK4400 series is cheaper than the Sonata III and has the added benefit of a smaller size.
February 7, 2010 3:11:09 PM

ultraviolet83 said:
Thank you for the suggestions, Gnome. I have to say, though, that I'm not keen on the idea of moving to DDR3 because the marginal benefit doesn't appear to justify the cost. Your Motherboard+CPU+Memory combination comes to $299.84, while the Motherboard+CPU+Memory I posted earlier totals $276.97 and has a noticeably better CPU at the expense of marginally slower RAM. Maybe I'm mistaken, and please correct me if I am, but I don't think that the $23 extra for that part of the build is justified.

You're probably right about the 5750 struggling on WoW at 1920x1200 resolution. I need to research and think about this part of the build a little more. I can't seem to find any benchmarks of WoW for any of these cards: I guess WoW just considered too low-end graphically.

I would also really like to keep the budget under $600 shipped.



The $23 difference is not due to the RAM, unless you actually expect to receive that MIR. Also, if this is an office build, you won't notice the difference between the CPUs.
The mobo I suggested has SATA III and USB 3.0, which I think you will come to appreciate, despite the higher cost.

The only way you'll keep this under $600 is if you remove the gaming aspect (meaning the GPU), and get a mobo with integrated graphics:
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO/U3S6 AM3 AMD 785G HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$119.99

The onboard HD 4200 on that board @ stock will be fine for PopCap games and Braid, but not for WoW/Starcraft 2. I've heard that the core clock can be OC'ed 100%, though at the same time you shouldn't expect too much.
February 9, 2010 5:22:14 PM

Alright guys, thanks for all of the input. I'm buying the computer in a day or two. I've thought carefully about it, and I'm leaning towards going with the following setup:


CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 BE 3.1 GHz $90.99
Mobo: GA-MA785GM-US2H $79.99
Mem: G.SKILL 2x2GB DDR2 1066 MHz $94.99
GPU: Powercolor HD 5770 1GB $169.99 - $10 MiR
HDD : Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB $54.99
Wireless: Gigabyte GN-WP01GS $16.99
Case: Apex TX-381-C $24.99
PS: OCZ MoxXStream Pro 500W
DVD : LG DVD Burner PS+DVD Combo $74.98 - $25 MiR

Total = $607.91 - $35 MiR

A few points about why I chose what I did:

- According to the benchmarks I've seen, with average latencies, DDR3 1333 is about on par with DDR2 800 for real-world tasks. DDR3 1600, while certainly faster on some benchmarks than DDR3 1333, doesn't seem like it will deliver the application performance that would justify purchasing it over DDR2 1066 memory.

- I chose the X2 rather than the X4 to save $50. I figure I have a much better than even chance of unlocking one or both of the other cores. Even if the other cores are bad, the Phenom II X2 is a great chip anyways.

- I am not interested in SATA III or USB 3.0. Maybe if I had more money, but not now - I won't be able to take advantage of those technologies for quite a while.

- The case, while inexpensive, got rave reviews.

I'm pretty happy with this build. I believe that I have a reasonably peppy machine for under $600. Unless someone thinks I am making a mistake, I will buy in a couple days. Thanks again for all the help!
February 9, 2010 5:37:03 PM

What do you expect the lifespan of this build to be?

If you intend to build a new box in 2 years, then stick with DDR2. If you're the kind of person that likes to build a new computer every couple of years, there's no reason to switch to DDR3 yet, if you're budget-oriented.

If, instead, you expect to upgrade anything other than the GPU in order to extend the life of the box to 3-5 years, I highly suggest you reconsider your mobo/RAM combo and go with an AM3 board and DDR3. While the performance gains going from DDR2 to DDR3 may be negligible, you do add a lot in terms of future-proofing your build.
February 9, 2010 8:43:50 PM

chrislipa said:
What do you think of this build? I switched out the memory and the motherboard.


CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 BE 3.1 GHz $90.99
Mobo: GA-MA785GMT-UD2H
Mem: OCZ Gold 2x2GB DDR3 1600 Mobo+Mem combo $176.98 - $20 MiR
GPU: Powercolor HD 5770 1GB $169.99 - $10 MiR
HDD : Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB $54.99
Wireless: Gigabyte GN-WP01GS $16.99
Case: Apex TX-381-C $24.99
PS: OCZ MoxXStream Pro 500W
DVD : LG DVD Burner PS+DVD Combo $74.98 - $25 MiR

Total: $633 - $55 MiR


5770 for $130!
512MB version but $40 less.

http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/Feb-0-2010/WeeklyE...
!