After some help and suggestions I think I have my final build list and am looking for any reassuring opinions or suggestions. Never built a PC before; a little apprehensive about part compatibility, so - please let me know if this looks good:
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Now until mid March.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: occasional Gaming (not real hard-core, but definitely the primary purpose for the build), internet surfing
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor - Asus 18.5" Widescreen LCD, Keyboard/Mouse - generic brand, Speakers - generic brand, 2Wire Wireless USB adapter, OS-Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com, Amazon.com, any trustworthy online dealer
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I know I might get away with 450W PSU, but I'd rather err on the high side, and I prefer the Corsair name on it even if it means paying a little more for peace of mind. the RAM is the cheapest lower latency I could find under $100 which was my goal - I can live with it over RAM with a CAS latency of 7. I'm also aware that the video card is not very high power, but that's why I wanted it and I also purchased it already, so I'd prefer to stick with it. Just wanted to see if anyone has had any compatibility issues with any of the above, particularly the RAM/Mobo/CPU.
Future upgrades may include new processor and/or replacement video card, but that's it, no RAID/sli/fancy cooling, etc. planned. Thanks for any help.
Thanks! I wasn't sure if the 450W would be enough for my system (though I suspected it might be) - I am a total noob at this, as I said it's my first build. I still am considering a modular PSU to make cable management easier on me:
Just not sure about compatibility with the Coolermaster elite 310 - maybe I don't need to worry about this since it is a standard ATX mid tower?
RAM looks great, though I think I'm going to hold out for a better price. I don't need the bestest and the fastest, just "fast enough" if you know what I mean ; I'll just be using the computer for occasional entertainment/gaming. Right now looking for the cheapest 4GB DDR3 1066/1333 ram I can find.
I hear ya on the video card, but honestly I prefer the 9800 Gt ge since it's smaller and less of a power drain-it should do me fine for my purposes. Case is tempting-have to decide if it's worth the price increase-I'm pinching pennies wherever I can.
The Antec TP-550 is a great PSU ....on par with Corsair. The OCZ while not junk is not on the level of the other 2 though.
I would get the RAM I linked to over the value RAM. DDR3 1333 is not really blazing fast as is so $8 to $10 extra for good low voltage and low cas of 7 7 7 21 ( faster ) is totally worth it to me. Also lifetime warranty and free shipping lol. Get what you can afford.
Just not sure about compatibility with the Coolermaster elite 310 - maybe I don't need to worry about this since it is a standard ATX mid tower
Standard mid tower so any should work fine. The Antec case is a great upgrade especially with the fans included. Good 120mm fans are $15 each. Also the Antec is almost silent with the fans on low.
I totally understand the budget being a factor. I usually try for the best "bang for my buck" myself and as I see it you are close to that in your price range anyway.
The Antec Truepower New is superior to the Corsair (which is an excellent unit too). Both have received favorable competent technical reviews (e.g. on jonnyguru.com, hardwaresecrets.com, hardocp.com, others). OCZ is not in their league, but Seasonic and PC Power & Cooling are also excellent.
Every Coolermaster case I ever bought had minor quality issues. All could be fixed and used, but I got tired of it and put them on my "do not buy" list. At the low end, every Rosewill case I've bought has worked out just fine. Otherwise I'd probably look at Antec, or maybe NZXT.
My next case will probably be an Antec 200 for the hot-swap eSATA drive bay on it, not to mention the excellent cooling.
I just upgraded and would highly reccomend the parts I bought for a new build.
Case: Antec 300 (+3 120mm fans) -$45 using employee discount (including the fans)
CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition -$159 (ewiz OR newegg)
Motherboard: ASROCK M3A770DE -$55 (www.ewiz.com)
RAM: Just pick any name brand memory kit running at 1600MHz with CL 8 or less.
Thanks for the suggestions! I think I will stick with the CM Elite 310 case, the reason being is because I actually ordered it last night -- the reviews seem to be reassuring and I don't think I'm going to be using the system that often for it to matter. The G Skill Ripjaw RAM is looking more tempting and I think I'll splurge for the CAS 7. It would appear from feedback that the Antec TP-550 or the Corsair 550W PSU are both reliable proven PSU's, and the Corsair is cheaper, so I think that my decision is made there. I know I might or probably will get away with a 450W PSU, but I'd like to err on the more powerful side, and besides which the Corsair 450W has some suspicious reviews about a consistent fan problem.
This is what the final build is looking like - if anyone sees any problems, please let me know:
Case: Coolermaster Elite 310 - $40
PSU: Corsair 550W VX - $91
MOBO: Asus M4A77TD - $77
CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 440 @ 3.0 Ghz - $86
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint SATA II 500GB 7200 RPM - $67
DVD: Asus DVD Rom Drive - $25
RAM: 4GB OCZ DDR3 1600 CAS 8 - $105
GPU: BFG Geforce 9800 GT (Green Edition) - $110
OS: Windows 7 Home P. 64 bit - $90
Already have monitor, keyboard/mouse, and speakers.
Total with Shipping: $691
I guess a $600 build is not possible for what I want.
Thanks for the help and any final thoughts on this build are appreciated.
Thanks guys - I'm feeling pretty confident about my selections. At least for now-when I have to stare at all the parts in the face we'll see how it goes.
From what I've read, as long as one doesn't overclock, the thermal paste that comes with the retail CPU package is supposed to be sufficient. I may look into this further, but I was hoping to avoid that step since I do not plan to overclock.
Ok thanks for the confirmation. I won't use the computer enough to fuss with overclocking - Just want to throw it together turn it on and play some fun games once in a while. For reference, I checked on AVA Direct and made an almost identical system for $701.85 + $72 shipping-so I did well. Plus, it will be fun to do it myself and I enjoy learning new things. Appreciate the help from everyone.