Building $600 - $800 advice


I'm new to building and have just done a bunch of research at this point. Any advice you have would be great.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: I won't use the computer till this fall (Sept. ish...I could even wait for black friday if you think I should) so anytime between now and then

BUDGET RANGE: (Low: 600 High: 800) After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: (graphic design, photo editing, productivity, gaming, video editing)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I just need the tower

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Whatever is cheapest and not a scam


PARTS PREFERENCES: I'll list what I've found below so far


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably not, though I don't know how this effects anything other than gaming

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 - though I might get a new monitor in the future

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: It would be nice if it was quiet and maybe under budget if you see anything not needed. If you think it's a good idea to max out the budget I will also consider that, even if you think it's wise to go over a little (note the little)

This is what I've found so far:

$158 CPU and Mobo
$87 RAM 4GB DDR3 1600
$125 Case and PS
$85 1tb storage drive
$60 Windows 7
$24 DVD Burner
$150 Graphics Card Radeon 5770 1GB:

$699 Total

I was also thinking about a 4850 Radeon, didn't know if this would effect performance other than gaming.
I don't know about a CPU Cooler or thermal compound. I also don't know if it's better to buy some of these now or if I should wait on everything including the case till closer to when I'll actually use the computer. Thanks in advance!
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  1. The other option I have is a guy not too far away is selling his for $850 with a 23 inch monitor:

    Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    2x G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel --- 8GB total memory
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor
    Rosewill RCX-Z775-EX 92mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler
    LG Black Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner SATA
    GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
    SAPPHIRE 100245L Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready
    CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified
    600GB Western Digital Hard drive

  2. the big thing I really need to know is if I should be looking now, or if I should wait till late summer/fall
  3. I'm going to go ahead and tell you that the $850 build sucks. The LGA775 socket is a dead socket. You're building yourself an obsolete computer before you even click the buy button. Same with DDR2. After that, you're using the aging 4xxx series cards and an older HDD. You're original build would not only be more powerful right now, but also be more future proof.

    Here's a better build than either of them:

    CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $265 after rebate
    RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
    GPU: HD 5770 $150 after rebate
    HDD: Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $90
    Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $125
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
    HSF: Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus $35

    Total: $802. If you absolutely have to be below $800, you can find a lot of good CPU combos with that board.

    However, sSeeing that the $850 might have been in budget, if you can go as high as $862 (or $827 and drop the CPU cooler for now), make the following changes:

    CPU/Mobo: X3 440 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $195 after rebate
    GPU: HD 5850 $315

    As for waiting, if you need it know, I wouldn't wait much longer than April. That will let you see what the new Fermi cards are going to do to GPU prices and what the new i7-980X does to CPU prices. I wouldn't expect much of a change...
  4. The changes you suggest, are they for gaming or will I see a huge increase in actual efficiency? (render times, etc.)
  5. Gaming, but if you're going after rendering times:

    CPU: i7-930 $295
    Mobo: ASRock X58 Extreme $160
    RAM: G.Skill 3x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 $170
    HDD/PSU: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB and OCZ StealthXStream 600W $95 after rebate
    Case: Coolermaster Elite $40 after rebate
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
    GPU: HD 5450 $50 after rebate

    Total: $834.
  6. EDIT: Double post. Moved to the above.
  7. Not necessarily rendering times in video, but with illustrator and photoshop. Boot times of programs, and program responsiveness/multitasking with resource intensive programs important. Also a little gaming ability would be awesome.

    I'm also the type of person who is patient, and can wait for prices to drop (up till the end of this year) if you think they won't come down, or go up then I'll buy them now. I'm just trying to solidify my build so I can start looking for deals.

    That said, why did you change the RAM to CAS 7 if it's $30 more expensive and the same every other way? Will I see a huge jump with 6GB instead of 4GB?

    It looks like the GPU has little to do with anything but gaming is that true? It doesn't matter in photo editing or web design or flash or anything like that? I should shoot for a great CPU? What about the motherboard why the way more expensive one? Will I actually see a noticeable difference? Or is it just so I can have an intel proc. with an ATI GPU?

    Thanks for your help so far!
  8. For what you've listed, you'll get a big performance jump from the 6 GB. CL 7 is the standard right now. Besides, OCZ has some problems with how much voltage their sticks use, and have some compatibility issues because of it. As for the price jump, you'll see around a 50% jump in prices for triple channel kits over dual channel, but that should be expected. You're getting 50% more RAM.

    GPU have deal with certain types of processing in addition to gaming. I would certainly check out the programs you use and see what's recommended and what's good.

    As for the motherboard price, the LGA1366 boards are just plain more expensive. In fact, all Intel boards are pretty expensive. The big price increase is so it'll work with the different CPU. And you're actually getting off easy. A similar i5-750 board to the original AM3 one is about $190, while a similar i7 board is more like $310.

    GPU brand and CPU brand are mutually exclusive choices. You don't need a certain GPU because you're using an Intel CPU.

    Prices will most certainly fall, especially on the GPU, CPU, and HDD. A price drop is more iffy on the RAM and motherboards. The case, PSU and optical will likely stay about the same, so watch for some deals.

    For example, for the last computer I built (November/December last year), the motherboard, case, PSU, and optical are still the same price. The CPU dropped $25. The GPU dropped $40 (it was very new tech when I got it). The HDD went up about $5, but that's because I got it on sale. My RAM went up about 50% in price. I would start watching prices and paying attention to new product announcements.

    Typically, when new products are announced, that means prices will go up before they're released, but drop significantly once the new stuff is out. For example, the 5xxx series of GPUs are the newest and best cards out right now. nVidia's new cards are due out at the end of this month. So prices on all of the 5xxx cards have gone up 5-10% to get the most money out of the market.
  9. Okay that's helpful. So I should look for a triple channel motherboard, 6GB of RAM CAS7 at ... 1333? 1600? Does it matter that much? I also don't want to pay double just so I can run intel instead of AMD I'm fine with AMD and that should open up the budget for the rest of the pc. I like the illusion case and it seems like a popular choice. There's a deal on newegg right now with a PS should I pick it up even though I'm a ways out? Also which PS should I get, since I'm getting it b4 the rest of the computer. The max GPU I would run is a 5870, single if I can find a good deal between now and Nov. If not I'm looking at the 5770 (for the gaming as well as the good render times in Photoshop and Illustrator)
  10. Speed doesn't matter that much. If you're trying for a big overclock, get faster sticks (1600 mhz). If not, get the 1333 mhz.

    The thing with AMD vs. Intel is that right now, Intel makes the faster chips. AMD is great, but they don't really have anything that can compete with the i5/i7 lines.

    That PSU and 300 Illusion deal is almost always around. You shouldn't worry about buying it now to get the deal.

    As for what PSU to choose, you would only need at most a 650W unit. Stick to Corsair, Antec, Silverstone, SeaSonic, and PC Power & Cooling for quality units.
  11. I would imagine that the primary reason MadAdmiral is recommending Intel for a rendering (mostly non-gaming) build is that the i7 chips (and a few of the others) have hyperthreading. While this doesn't truly double the number of cores available, it should provide a noticeable difference (over any non-HT quad-core, including all AMD chips) by adding 4 more logical cores.

    This feature alone should improve render times significantly, and is probably worth the extra money.
  12. Okay that helps. Does it matter which i7 I go with or are they all awesome? Right now I'm looking at:

    i7 CPU

    Mobo that has USB 3, DDR3, 1 PCI-E 2.0 socket, triple channel, i7 compatible

    RAM 4GB DDR3 1333 CAS 7

    Case and PS [...] mbo.345228

    1tb storage drive [...] 6822145287

    $100 Windows 7 (student version is apparently just an upgrade)

    $24 DVD Burner (basically the cheapest one I could find) [...] 6827135204

    Graphics Card between the Radeon 5770 512MB and the 5870 [...] 6814131331

    Do you think this is doable in my budget? Where can I cut back if it isn't? Remember I can wait till Nov. ish and look for deals in the meantime. Also for this setup what type of PS am I looking for? how many watts? thanks for all your help!
  13. The 5870 is not going to be doable on that budget.

    There are 3 i7 processors you should consider:

    i7-860 - dual channel RAM (buy 4 GB), uses socket 1156
    i7-920 - triple channel RAM (buy 6 GB), uses socket 1366
    i7-930 - triple channel RAM (buy 6 GB), uses socket 1366, updated version of 920, should only be bought if the price difference isn't too great

    Unfortunately, your links appear to be broken, so we can't double-check them. Honestly, MadAdmiral's build above is very good, but you're not going to get an i7 that does both rendering and games (well) for under about $1200, especially if you need the OS.

    PSU is primarily dependent on what the GPU needs. There are some calculators in the build threads on this forum, but unless you get a big card (5870), 500 W or less should be fine.

    If you go with an i7, you're likely to get closest to your budget by getting the i7-860. This 1156 Gigabyte board appears to be the cheapest 1x PCI-E 2.0 & USB 3 board, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

    The i7-860 is basically the same price as the i7-920, but you end up saving about $150-200 on motherboard & RAM compared the the i7-9nn series.

    My napkin math suggests that an 860 + the linked mobo + the rest of MadAdmiral's build + $100 for Win 7 is about $800...but I'd feel better about a slightly more fully-featured mobo.
  14. another question came up regarding the socket of the i7. It can be both 1156 and 1366. The 1156 is quite a bit cheaper. Any reason I shouldn't go with that? Or is it cool?
  15. could you link a mobo you would be comfortable with? I'm lost when you say it's not fully featured it looks good to me. Also you recommended 4GB of RAM. Would it be better to go 6GB with perhaps a lesser processor instead of the dual channel board with an i7?

    Also what would you recommend for the GPU?
  16. To answer a much earlier question, I wouldn't be looking now. I mean, start looking for ideas, read up on the tech. But you're going to be better off buying most of it at once, as there is are likely to be changes in the market before the fall. (More USB3 mobos, more hex-core support, more SATA 6GB support, etc.)

    The 1156 socket is cheaper because it's Intel's current mainstream line, while the 1366 socket is Intel's "enthusiast" line. There are some minor performance advantages to going with the 1366, but the price doesn't justify it at your budget.

    Typically, you want to go with multiples of the RAM channel spec for your socket. Everything will still work, but you might experience some performance losses if you don't follow spec.

    For an i7-860 (dual-channel), this means you want to add DIMMs in sets of 2. Usually this means you add 2x2 GB sticks in pairs, though you could reach 6 GB by going 2x2 and 2x1.

    For an i7-9nn (tri-channel), you would add DIMMs in sets of 3, which is why 6 GB is so common for those builds.

    The part that concerns me about the linked mobo is the slowdown when the standard PCI x16 slot is used. That's definitely a concern for gaming, I don't know if it would affect standard display tasks. Newegg doesn't seem to have USB3 as a guided search option, which is making finding a good mobo somewhat tedious. This ASUS mobo seems good to me, but there are probably other more informed opinions to come (from other posters).
  17. well there's this mobo that Mad suggested:

    doesn't seem too expensive. However it's triple channel which raises price for RAM also. I don't mind as long as there's a performance benefit you know?
  18. Okay, just to recap. I'm going to wait until Nov ish to purchase the majority of components. What I'm looking for is:

    CPU - i7-920
    GPU - 5770 Radeon (at the moment, unless Nvidia counters with something)
    Mobo - triple channel, DDR3 USB3 1 PCI-E x2.0 slot
    PS 550 - 650 watts
    6GB DDR3 CAS 7 RAM triple channel
    1tb 7200RPM HDD
    antec illusion case
    Windows 7
    DVD Burner

    I still don't know about the CPU cooler and thermal compound if I need them or not. Still think this is a bit much? Or in my budget for a November build?
  19. That build is fine, but it's not likely to fit in under $800, unless prices change dramatically.

    i7-920 ~ $290 (will probably go down a little, or you could get the 930)
    linked mobo - $160
    RAM ~ $150+ (unlikely to move much)
    GPU ~ $150 (will probably drop a little)
    HDD ~ $55 (unlikely to move)
    Windows 7 - $105 (unlikely to move)
    DVD burner ~ $25 (unlikely to move)
    Antec Illusion - $70 (unlikely to move)
    PSU - $60-70 (unlikely to move)

    Even at the low end, that's over $1000.

    If you are waiting, there's always the chance that you can save up a little more and add to the total.

    You could also, as mentioned, switch to the i7-860 and save between $150-200 on mobo & RAM, potentially. Other places you could save money - going to a non-gaming graphics card. That's really about it.

    Note: I'm not trying to talk you out of going with this build, I'm just pointing out that if you want both the i7-9nn series, 6 GB RAM, and a gaming card, your budget is probably going to have to give.
  20. I have the option of going to a 4850 GPU, which is what I was planning on before I read about how it was an older GPU. It's listed as equivalent with the 5770 however on the GPU list. How would that effect this? Would it make the computer any slower? Is the only real difference DX11? How important is DX11 anyway? I have no idea...

    The PS needs to be how many watts? Also do I really need an i7 processor? Will I lose a ton if I go with an i5 or the best AMD can offer in my price range? They might have a competing processor by Nov. too, which could be an option.

    Where have you seen a 1tb 7200 HDD for $55? That seems like a really good buy.

    If I switch to the i7 860 can I still have triple channel ram? Or should I go dual?

    This is really complex. Also I still don't know if I need a CPU cooler or thermal compound lol.
  21. I would say the 4850 is more the equivalent of the 5750. The 4870 is about as powerful as the 5770.

    The 4850 would be little less powerful for gaming (slower). It would also make the computer run hotter and use more power. Also, you wouldn't get as great of a benefit from Crossfiring it, if you decide to go that route. You will not be able to overclock the GPU as high.

    Right now, DirectX 11 isn't very important. There aren't very many games out that make good use of it. However, it will become the standard in a year or so. That means you would want to replace the 4850 by that time.

    The $55 HDD is a 500 GB Samsung Spinpoint F3 or Seagate 7200.12. The 1 TB versions are $90.

    The i7-860 uses dual channel. It's on the same socket as the i5-750. You only need triple channel RAM if you use the i7-9xx series (a LGA1366 socket motherboard).

    It's only complex figuring out all the parts. Really, it's not even that complicated. You just have to match the specs on all the parts.

    Technically, you always need a CPU cooler. However, almost every CPU will come with a stock cooler with thermal compound pre-applied. If it doesn't, the product description will say it's an OEM model and state that it doesn't include a heatsink. You only need an aftermarket CPU cooler if you're overclocking. Thermal compound is only needed if the heatsink doesn't already come with it pre-applied (which is rare), or if you're trying for a massive overclock.
  22. I thought going triple channel was a really good cheap way of boosting performance. If it's not then I should go dual channel for sure.

    I'm not into overclocking (yet) so I'm good there I'll stick w/o a cooler and compound and that gives me some room. What about going with something like this as well:

    Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor
  23. Yep that's the combo I usually suggest, it's got USB 3.0 sata 6GB, CF 8x8, 890GX for hexacores and it's made by gigabyte. what more can you ask for? :P
  24. vigorvermin said:
    The PS needs to be how many watts? Also do I really need an i7 processor? Will I lose a ton if I go with an i5 or the best AMD can offer in my price range? They might have a competing processor by Nov. too, which could be an option.

    Missed this earlier...

    The PSU doesn't need to be that large. If you get one of the new 5xxx series cards (the lower end), you could probably get by with a 450W unit. You also don't NEED the power of the 5770. You really only need a cheap card that fits the budget. The 48xx, 57xx and higher cards are gaming cards, which you said you weren't doing.

    As for needing an i7, to get the best rendering machine you can find, you really do need an i7. The hyperthreading alone will speed all the processing up a lot. You would see quite a bit of performance drop if you switched to the i5 or an AMD build. However, given that six core CPUs are out/coming for the LGA1366 and AM3 socket only, I would either get a X4 955 or an i7-930. That way you can drop a six core CPU in later and absolutely tear through the processing.

    AMD is so far behind on the CPUs that I have a hard time seeing them offering anything that competes with the i7-980X (the six core Intel) by fall. They may have six core CPUs out, but they're are likely to not be as good.
  25. sound great go for it.
  26. okay I get the idea. So for now I'll be looking for a case, PS and some RAM at good deals. I'll let you guys know when I get closer to build time what I have, and see where the market sits. Thanks for your help
  27. hey if you want a sick mobo check out this one:


    I have it paired with a i7-860 and 4GB of ram and its sick!
    Here is a build for you:
    Here is the CPU:





    Tower and PSU:

    Your choice make sure the PSU is AT LEAST a 600W.



    Not sure what size you need but $100 is enough for like a 1.5TB at 5900RPM or a 1TB at 7200RPM.


    That is about it.
  28. can anyone confirm this as a good option? Looks good to my novice eyes
  29. ^ is about $900 build.

    I would take down the I-7 860 to a an I-5 750 and stick a 5770 in over the GTS 250.
  30. I'm looking at this PS to power the build stated

    for i7 / 4GB RAM / 5770 ish GPU would this be enough?
  31. I found the i7 860 for $200, the 920 for $180 and the 930 for $200 should I jump at any of these? Which one? I don't want to go overbudget if I don't have to. Also if you think the price will be lower later, I can wait. What do you think?
  32. in case anyone's interested in the deal, it's at microcenter btw
  33. Yeah for $200 for a 930 is excellent. I'd grab that =)

    By the way, I wouldn't get anything less then 600W. Try the earthwatts 650. it's excellent.
  34. Will that fit in an $800 budget with the Mobo and CPU and RAM costing extra?
  35. It'll be close to fitting in the budget. You could probably get some cheaper RAM or start with only a 500 GB HDD.

    CPU: i7-930 $200
    Mobo: ASRock X58 Extreme $160
    RAM: G.Skill 3x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 $170
    HDD: Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $90
    Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $125
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
    GPU: HD 5450 $50 after rebate

    Total: $819.
  36. MadAdmiral said:
    It'll be close to fitting in the budget. You could probably get some cheaper RAM or start with only a 500 GB HDD.

    CPU: i7-930 $200
    Mobo: ASRock X58 Extreme $160
    RAM: G.Skill 3x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 $170
    HDD: Seagate 7200.12 1 TB $90
    Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $125
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
    GPU: HD 5450 $50 after rebate

    Total: $819.

    Ah, very nice.
  37. okay, It's getting close. I like the above, but think I might switch out the GPU for a 4850. any thoughts on this? Also the Earthwatts, do you think I can get away with a 550W or a 500W? I don't want to waste electricity if I don't have to. I'm looking at around $920 with the OS also, so if you can find a way to save a little more money I'm all for it! Is getting a 930 over the 860 really worth the extra $150 cost ish?
  38. A lower wattage PSU isn't going to lower your electric bill, just make sure it's 80+ PFC.

    4850 is dramatically better then the 5450. The 4850 is a gaming GPU, so it can play most games on high at resolutions below 1600x1200, and medium on res of 1920x1080.
  39. how good is the GPU in the motherboard? I'm thinking about waiting till November to pick up the GPU till then I'd be using the one in the motherboard
  40. The video card on the motherboard isn't all that great for what you want to do. Your doing video editing / rendering / some gaming etc. The 4850 seems pretty right for that.

    Or go with what madadmiral suggested, however that video card cannot play games.
  41. kk I'll see what I can find, and start by picking up that 930.
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