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< $500 build for son. Need advise.... please

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February 20, 2010 2:31:01 PM

My son has done a great job in school and has scrimped and saved and now has $500 to spend on a computer. I checked out the prebuilt PCs at the local megamart and they seem unupgradable and pretty crappy in his price range. I started to think maybe it would be better to build one with him so I started reading and found my way here. :) 

Here is what I have so far. I have not built a computer for many years and am not sure that all these parts will work together so I'm looking for a head check on this stuff and any suggestions that you all have. Also need memory and not sure what else.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Hopefully this weekend

BUDGET RANGE: $500 but I may spot him 20 or 30 if necessary. I'm sure there will be more snow to shovel.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Internet, Gaming, Photoshop, maybe some video editing but lowest on list

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: (keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, hard drive, DVD burner)

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD or Intel I don't care. Looking for sugestions. See list below.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: I don't know what this is

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024


ASUS M4A785-M
and
AMD Phenom II X2 545 Combo for $145.98

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W $69.99

SAPPHIRE 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 $93.99
or
SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB $62.99

Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $49.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $104.99

More about : 500 build son advise

February 20, 2010 3:19:41 PM

I would change the video card. You can get the SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 for 84.99 at newegg.
Also you will need to purchase memory for the system.
G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 106 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total with changes: 508.93

Also I would think about saving alittle more and possibly moving up to this combo.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Same motherboard but a better cpu.
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February 20, 2010 3:26:55 PM

Good points on the upgrades although i think we'll hold off on the faster processor for now. That blows his budget. He can upgrade at a later date if he wants. I changed the video card. Do you thing 2G of RAM is enough?
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February 20, 2010 3:33:55 PM

I would rather see 4 gb myself, but to keep the system around your price 2gb is a good start. If you want to run 4gb in dual channel this is a good choice as well but alittle more. Gskill 4gb http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for 89.99 just a 37.00 difference.

If it makes you feel any better. My system is archaic. I am waiting to order my parts for my new system. I only have a 1.5 gb memory in my current system and run most every game on the market now lol.
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February 20, 2010 3:38:38 PM

Remember your GPU (videocard) has more to do with graphics and games than the cpu.
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February 20, 2010 3:57:04 PM

What kind of games is your son going to be playing? If hes playing some more modern games you need to focus a little more on the video card, if hes playing older games then we can focus more on the CPU and other things to give him faster performance such as more RAM or whatever.
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February 20, 2010 4:33:57 PM

Hey he will OBVIOUSLY want to game, so i say go with the 4850. Its a lovely card.
And go for a AMD II x4 620 or 630 its like 100 or 120 buks.
Also to make your kid REALLY happy go for Cooler Master Elite 310 Case.
Fit some blue led's in there and he will jump around (:
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February 20, 2010 4:48:04 PM

Without an OS that only leaves $400 for a gaming PC. You won't be able to get 4GB ram with having a decent video card for that price.
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February 20, 2010 4:51:52 PM

squirrel15 said:
What kind of games is your son going to be playing? If hes playing some more modern games you need to focus a little more on the video card, if hes playing older games then we can focus more on the CPU and other things to give him faster performance such as more RAM or whatever.


WOW, CODMW2, TF2 for the games.
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February 20, 2010 4:55:32 PM

What the difference between the 5570 and the 4850. It looks like the 4850 has a 256 bit memory interface instead of the 128 for the 5570 but the 5570 has more RAM...
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February 20, 2010 4:57:45 PM

MotherBoard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H
Processor: Regor 240 2.8 ghz dual core
$116 http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Case: Antec TWO HUNDRED S:
PowerSupply: Antec BP550 Plus Modular:
$99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

HD: Western Digital Caviar blue 320GB
$50 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Ram: 2x1GB DDR2 800 mhz A-data
$36.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

VideoCard: ATI HD 4850
$93.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD: Samsung 24X dvd burner
$24.99 Free shipping http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: Windows 7 64 bit
$104.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $527
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February 20, 2010 4:58:08 PM

The 5570 doesn't compare to the 4850. The 4850 compares to the 5750

The 4850 can play any game out there today, and for $94 it's a steal.
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February 20, 2010 5:00:09 PM

Heres a build that I put put together that might require you to help out on his part a little bit:

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$70 after MailInRebate and use the code to get free shipping! Also comes with 500W power supply and also looks cool and has 4 case fans!

OS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$104 Free shipping

RAM/Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$140 after mail in rebates

CPU/GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

$160 after Mail in Rebate, decent video card and good CPU, if you do a little extra research I'm pretty sure that the mobo I selected can unlock that 4th core in the X3. AMD put unstable cores that they couldnt use into the X2 and X3 cpus. They couldnt just throw them a away so they put them to good use and put them in the X2s and X3s. Sometimes you can unlock this extra core(s) which is almost as if you have X4 cpu which is a big difference, but this isnt a guarantee since the cores are unstable.

Total $525, include sales tax (depending on where you live CA for instance.) I tried to get you as much free shipping I could and it should be about $6 for it all with the code with the case ($25 off). AND dont forget the $50 in mail in rebates, maybe a little extra work but its worth it. If you live in CA then this should put you a little over $500 after MIRs. But if you dont live in California then you just got an $43 to put towards the video card. I hope this helped.
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February 20, 2010 5:02:10 PM

I don't need the hard drive or the dvd so what can I upgrade with that $75?
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February 20, 2010 5:06:34 PM

There is a difference in a 512mb 4850 and a 1gb 4850. Heres a cheap 1 gb 4850 and you can skip the combo I have above and just add the AMD Athlon II X3 435 Rana separately. Are you planning on getting a new optical and hard drive???
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February 20, 2010 5:10:27 PM

You can maybe get a 4870 or a 5770 card with the extra $75. The 4870 is better, but the 5770 runs much cooler and requires less power. The 5770 also has DX11 which wont make the much of a difference on this card compared to a 5870 or 5850. So if you want old muscle that runs most games fine-4870, if you want new and improved and a little more future proofed card but isnt as strong as the 4870 get the 5770. Some 5770s on newegg come with free games too :) 
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February 20, 2010 5:18:06 PM

The difference in 512MB vs 1GB Video ram with 1280 by 1024 is 0-2 fps increase. There's almost no difference unless your playing at a high resolution.

I wouldn't ever buy a case that comes with a power supply, usually they are cheap power supplies that will die soon. Especially from raidmax.
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February 20, 2010 5:18:33 PM

Ok, now my older son is getting into this project and he likes the NVidia products and says the EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX 512M is a good option. How does this compaire to the 5770?
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February 20, 2010 5:19:19 PM

Now I'm more confused than ever...
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February 20, 2010 5:19:56 PM

The 5770 smokes the 9800 GTX
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February 20, 2010 5:20:49 PM

$500 won't be enough for a 5770 though, your best option is a 4850 which will max out most games.
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February 20, 2010 5:24:25 PM

Yeah the cheapest good brand GTS 250 is EVGA's $119 one which is $27 more then the HD 4850. They both perform the about the same.
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February 20, 2010 5:26:25 PM

whitefang said:
GTS 250 is $11 more :p 


$6 actually :pt1cable:  but getting XFX is more than worth it and has better resale potential
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February 20, 2010 5:28:02 PM

From my experience rebates never work O.o I don't even look at them any more haha. But maybe it's just my luck
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February 20, 2010 6:11:28 PM

This is a new case and PSU combo I found that may be better than the raidmax I listed:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

So subtracting the raidmax case/PSU set and adding the Coolermaster 690 and OCZ 600W modxstream the total should be $545 before rebates and shipping. MIKE, You can add the build to your cart on newegg and get more of a feeling what the real price is gonna be.
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February 20, 2010 6:17:38 PM

I really don't think it's wise to get such a good case when his budget is $500 including an OS. A case is a case, they don't really do anything. $40 is alot when his budget is only $500

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February 20, 2010 6:25:11 PM

Haha, this is a hard build, getting a good GPU with a decent Power supply and cpu/mobo with an OS? this is tough. He did say he would spot his son $20 or 30 and it sounded like he didnt mind spending extra on the MIR's even if they arent guaranteed.
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February 20, 2010 9:07:20 PM

I finally started thinking and referred to the system builder marathon that tomshardware had in Dec. 2009.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/system-Builder-Gami...

I took some advice from there. Heres the build thats $506 (without shipping and tax) This might be the best quality build you can get for around $500.

Motherboard and CPU ($132): http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Case/PSU combo ($100): http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Operating System ($104): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM 4gb! ($75): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU video card ($94): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total $506 (without shipping, tax) of you can play with build, maybe down grade the cpu and increase video card or vice versa or play with the RAM but with this being a gaming build this is a decent video card and thats what you need to focus on. You can play around with this build but this looks like its as good as its gonna get for a $500 budget. I hope this helped.
Cant believe I managed to find 4gb of ram for about $75
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February 20, 2010 9:49:34 PM

Okay mikez104, let's get some things out of the way and get this organized.





CD/DVD Buner - Have one.





Computer Case - HEC 6T ($25)
Power Supply - HEC 585W. ($27)




CPU - AMD Phenom 545 3.0GHz Dual Core[/b] ($65)
Motherboard - ASUS M4A785-M ($80)



Want to know something really cool about your Processor? It has 2 more dormant cores. Yeah... you can make this puppy a quad-core starting at 3.0GHz. There are TONS of guides on how to do this on the internet :D !







Hard Drive - Have one.



RAM Memory - OCZ Gold 2GB DDR2 @ 800MHz (Supported by your Motherboard) ($42)




You said you were looking for 2GB of RAM (Your motherboard will support DDR2, so I picked the right RAM).
If you want 4GB of RAM, choose this one right HERE for $77






Operating System - Windows 7 64-Bit ($105)



Video Card (GPU) - ATI Radeon HD 4850 ($94)




You said you were confused between picking your son's NVIDIA 9800, an NVIDIA GTS250, or an ATI Radeon 4850. In my expert opinion, pick the 4850. It's cheaper and does better than the other two NVIDIA cards. If you want to future proof yourself, try to get an ATI Radeon 5750 (They're around $130)








Grand Total after Shipping + Taxes: $476.06



So, for an extra... $25 you can upgrade your Video Card to an ATI Radeon 5750 or get 4GB of DDR2 RAM @ 800MHz.






Need any more assistance mikez104?

:D 
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February 20, 2010 10:10:22 PM

Heres a DDR3 Build for you with a quad core CPU, total is 491 BEFORE rebates.

Case

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

Looks nice, one of the very few cases that comes with 3 fans in this price range. 2 are even LED.

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

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

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

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

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

Nice tight 7 timings for 60 bucks. Its 2 gigs, and should be the first thing he upgrades when he can. Its even 1333.
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February 20, 2010 10:56:31 PM

Stick a fork in it, it's done. Here is the final build... I think ;) 

Case 29.99

GPU 93.99

PSU 74.99 +25.00 rebate

RAM 41.99

OS 104.99

MOBO/CPU combo 145.98

Shipping 5.99

Total 497.92

-$25 PSU rebate

Total after rebate - 472.92

Truhls, The DDR3 ram looked good until I saw the reviews and many people didn't like the blinky LEDs and I also think that would get old quick.


Necromentia, good find on the case with free shipping. He can use the DDR2 RAM now and scrap it (I'll take it ;) ) for DDR3 later if he wants and prices may come down by then.

Squirrel15 and Whitefang, Thanks for all your help! It looks like the 4850 will be the card. One less rebate to worry about.

Thanks to everyone else who threw their 2 cents in! Lets hope it all works when we put it together.
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February 20, 2010 11:04:35 PM

Squirrel You forgot the HD and the DVD burner.

Good setup mikez, I just hope your rebate on the PSU works. All of mine never came back.
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February 20, 2010 11:19:28 PM

logan the huge said:
Mike, If your son is a student then he may be eligible for Microsoft's student discount on Win7.

http://www.win741.com/ (only works with IE, I think)

You can get Win7 premium or professional for $64.95+tax. If that doesn't work for you, Zipzoomfly is a bit cheaper than newegg:
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

Also, if your son wants to go from ddr2 to ddr3 he'd need a new MB, unfortunately.



Yeah, I just noticed that. I was looking at the final items with my older son and saw that in the specs. :pfff:  That may be a deal breaker.
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February 20, 2010 11:20:39 PM

Whitefang, Mikez104 already said that he has a DVD burner and hard drive already and doesnt need them for this build since he is reusing those parts.
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February 20, 2010 11:26:32 PM

Mikez games aren't that processor intensive. You should get a cheaper processor/mobo combo and get 4GB of ram instead.

Like this.

1. GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H: $79.99
2. AMD ADX240OCGQBOX: $56.99
Combo Discount: -$20.00
Combo Price: $116.98

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

and grab 2x2GB ram http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your overall computer performance will be increased alot more with 4GB ram then with that 3.0 ghz dual core. And this Mobo is better then the one you have too.
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February 20, 2010 11:27:21 PM

squirrel15 said:
Whitefang, Mikez104 already said that he has a DVD burner and hard drive already and doesnt need them for this build since he is reusing those parts.


Yeah I realised that later, sorry haha :p 
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February 21, 2010 12:23:23 AM

mikez104 said:
Stick a fork in it, it's done. Here is the final build... I think ;) 

Case 29.99

GPU 93.99

PSU 74.99 +25.00 rebate

RAM 41.99

OS 104.99

MOBO/CPU combo 145.98

Shipping 5.99

Total 497.92

-$25 PSU rebate

Total after rebate - 472.92

Truhls, The DDR3 ram looked good until I saw the reviews and many people didn't like the blinky LEDs and I also think that would get old quick.


Necromentia, good find on the case with free shipping. He can use the DDR2 RAM now and scrap it (I'll take it ;) ) for DDR3 later if he wants and prices may come down by then.

Squirrel15 and Whitefang, Thanks for all your help! It looks like the 4850 will be the card. One less rebate to worry about.

Thanks to everyone else who threw their 2 cents in! Lets hope it all works when we put it together.




You're very welcome mikez104! Here is a link to the MAIL IN REBATE you need! Just follow the instructions. It's fairly easy. You'll wait about 6 weeks ~ for your $25.



The address on your rebate application must match the billing address
US residents: If your rebate payment is $10.00 or greater, you will receive a Visa® Prepaid Card!

Just a quick heads up on what to expect with the Rebate money. Many companies do this to avoid certain things.




Take care mikez104! Email me at NecromentiaGaming@gmail.com if you need anything. If worst comes to worst with the power supply, I have a spare 650W from Silverstone I can send you if you really want. No guarantees though. You might as well buy the new Power Supply. The one I have is about 6 years old and still runs!
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February 21, 2010 12:25:12 AM

Mike, did you ask your son about wether he likes LED's or not? Cus that seems to be the "big" thing now lol. Gotta have dem LEDS in your case or your not cool! :p  But ugh ddr3 ram that is 1333 for 60 bucks with cas 7 is extremely hard to find lol.

EDIT i also just realized i forgot the OS in the build, but then again who needs to pay for an OS!?!?!
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February 21, 2010 2:12:25 AM

whitefang said:
Mikez games aren't that processor intensive. You should get a cheaper processor/mobo combo and get 4GB of ram instead.

Like this.

1. GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H: $79.99
2. AMD ADX240OCGQBOX: $56.99
Combo Discount: -$20.00
Combo Price: $116.98

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

and grab 2x2GB ram http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your overall computer performance will be increased alot more with 4GB ram then with that 3.0 ghz dual core. And this Mobo is better then the one you have too.



I think I'd rather keep the faster processor he can buy more ram later. How about this combo? It takes DDR3 and seems like a decent board.
New combo
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February 21, 2010 3:46:54 AM

Hi Mikez104

This list is over the $500 mark, however bear with me.

Case with 550W PSU $99.98 ($10 Mail in Rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM 4GB $99.99 ($10 Mail-in Rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard $76.99 ($10 Mail-in Rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU - $95.99 (with the above motherboard you have a possibility to unlock the 2 cores)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card $93.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 $104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OR as "Logan" suggested Zipzoomfly
Windows 7 $99.99 ($10.00 Mail-in Rebate)
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

Total before shipping from Newegg = $571.93 - ($30 in rebates) = 541.93 (shipping is $18.12 by UPS)

Total with Windows 7 from Zipzoomfly (no shipping cost) $566.93 - ($40 in rebates) = $531.93

Cost to performance, possible Quad Core Phenom for $550.05
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February 21, 2010 5:13:57 AM

Mike that is MUCH better combo, just make sure you get DDR3 ram with it!
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February 21, 2010 5:32:44 AM

Jairo said:
Hi Mikez104

This list is over the $500 mark, however bear with me.

Case with 550W PSU $99.98 ($10 Mail in Rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM 4GB $99.99 ($10 Mail-in Rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard $76.99 ($10 Mail-in Rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU - $95.99 (with the above motherboard you have a possibility to unlock the 2 cores)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card $93.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 $104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OR as "Logan" suggested Zipzoomfly
Windows 7 $99.99 ($10.00 Mail-in Rebate)
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...

Total before shipping from Newegg = $571.93 - ($30 in rebates) = 541.93 (shipping is $18.12 by UPS)

Total with Windows 7 from Zipzoomfly (no shipping cost) $566.93 - ($40 in rebates) = $531.93

Cost to performance, possible Quad Core Phenom for $550.05



What made you pick that MOBO? I'm not questioning your choice, I'm just curious what features people are looking for.
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February 21, 2010 5:34:39 AM

Truhls said:
Mike that is MUCH better combo, just make sure you get DDR3 ram with it!


Will do. And I agree with Whitefang, I'll order 1 stick of 2MB not 2 1MB.
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February 21, 2010 11:18:02 AM

I highly recommend the Antec 300 case. Best budget case i've seen. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Friend of mine bought it and it's a sexy case. Built surprisingly solid, no sharp edges to be found. Room for the largest gfx cards, etc.

2gb of RAM should be enough, he can always grab 2 more gb :) 
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February 21, 2010 2:31:10 PM

Why has no one recommend this combo?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

I chose the motherboard because its cheap, it has your DDR3 and a x16 or dual x8 crossfire in case your son wants to in the future. If your son couldnt care less about crossfiring and wants to save his money he can go with something like this.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

I know both of these dont have a phenom 2 therefore it doesnt have a L3 cache but with a budget like mikez, he cant gamble and hope that your going to unlock the other 2 cores. Many games require at least 3 cores now and if he doesnt unlock any cores then hes stuck in 2005 with a dual core. Theres a bigger difference between having a dual core with a L3 cache (which I heard doesnt make much of a difference in gaming) compared to a quad core thats super overclockable. He needs a quad core now for gaming, and his son can always upgrade the CPU later to a Phenom ii X4 or something but I would rather have a guaranteed quad core for now and upgrade later than hope to unlock the cores and if it fails then your stuck with a dual or triple core (at best with a failure). People have been successful in unlocking cores but its really completely to chance. I'm just providing another option here, I'm not telling you what do but I'm just suggesting another option.
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February 21, 2010 3:11:36 PM

Good point but I don't know much about games. What games have that requirement? I can see if he has any interest in them.
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