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Budget CPU/Mainboard/RAM upgrade for father's PC, to run Win7 64

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March 19, 2010 9:36:41 PM

Hello oh great and powerful gurus of Tom's Hardware! ;) 

I've been spending some time trying to get up to speed on current components in an effort to upgrade my father's computer. He's using XP and I'd like to bring him up to Win 7 64 so he's running the same system as myself... hopefully making my "support" role a bit easier.

Here's the problem: I'm a PC gamer, and my knowledge is all game based. I just built an i5-750 system for myself a couple of months ago. Problem is, this time I need to buy the minimum to get his computer Win 7 ready. I have limited time, and I know if I spend hours researching I can find my answers. But I'd like to ask you all for your advice. My brain is getting overloaded reading the component guides on the forums!

What I need is a CPU/Motherboard/4GB RAM combo to slap into his ATX case. I'll keep everything else the same as his hard drive isn't too old and slow.

My requirements:

It runs Win 7 Pro, 64 smoothly.
The mainboard has onboard sound.
The mainboard has onboard graphics which will run Win 7 Aero, etc. Gaming is NOT required. A very cheap GPU could be used... but I kinda think an onboard graphics solution should be sufficient?
Basic 4 GB RAM... again, no gaming but 4GB will be nice with Win 7.

The system will be used for basic desktop uses... MS Office, Browsing, but also streaming video to an HDTV.

Again, my father is on a TIGHT budget. So I just need a processor that will hold it's own for a few years. Where's the "budget" sweet spot.

Thanks so much for your patience and advice!
March 19, 2010 9:41:10 PM

PS. Maybe I was supposed to post this in the "new build" section?

Also, I've seen the "recommended builds" post. The thing is, they all suggest separate graphics cards. My gut tells me that's not necessary. Hence my post.

Thanks again!
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
March 19, 2010 10:15:39 PM

Athlon II x3 435 ($75)
ASUS AM3 motherboard with HD 4200 onboard video ($83)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
4GB (2x2GB) OCZ Gold DDR3-1066 cas7 RAM. ($84)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For $25 less you can drop down to an athlon II x2 if you need to.
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March 20, 2010 12:03:27 AM

Thanks very much for the reply! I'll give your recommendation some thought and research!

If anyone has any other input, it is greatly appreciated!

Thanks again

EDIT: Holy crap dndhatcher, some quick reviewing and I see that you have given me an incredible recommendation! Thank you SO much! There is a chance I'll go with different RAM, if I can find some deal or something... but this is spot on! Looks like it fits the bill, and will still provide upgrade options in the future, if necessary. :D 

I assume you suggest the X3 because of references I've seen about unlocking the 4th core? Or do you think it's just folly to go with an X2 to save some dosh?
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 20, 2010 2:10:41 PM

Hmm not too sure with OCZs these days but with GSkills DDR3 1600s we have


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March 20, 2010 9:30:22 PM

Thanks batuchka!

This looks pretty good too. My only questions regarding these 2 MB options are:

1. The ASUS MB has 128MB "Side-Port Memory", while the MSI Micro ATX board doesn't mention how much memory the onboard graphics has and the MSI website says it doesn't have SidePort memory. Does that mean the MSI board uses RAM for VRAM? What is Sideport memory anyway... can't find a clear description.

2. Both MBs say they support 1600 RAM if overclocked. If performance isn't the most important factor, should I bother with 1600 RAM, or just get 1333? Maybe on these boards the OC features are fool-proof?

Thanks again!
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 21, 2010 10:29:50 AM

1. Yep that means the IGP 'shares' up to 512mb from system (which IIRC could be lowered in BIOS)

2. DDR3 1333 especially if you can get down to say CL7 is actually very good for AM3

You are welcomed
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 22, 2010 11:04:25 PM

misterboy said:
I assume you suggest the X3 because of references I've seen about unlocking the 4th core? Or do you think it's just folly to go with an X2 to save some dosh?

I wouldnt buy assuming the extra cores would unlock. I selected the x3 since price/performance wise that seems the best deal to me right now. When you have background stuff like updates downloading in the background (which almost everything enables by default) the x3 multitasks much smoother than an x2 for not much price increase.
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March 23, 2010 1:21:22 AM

Thanks dndhatcher.

Definitely seems like the X3's are the sweet spot. And I suppose if I got lucky and the 4th core unlocked, then all the better.

Regarding the "Sideport" memory, it appears as though the ASUS actually has 128mb dedicated memory for the IGP. The "sideport" nomenclature appears to be mostly marketing. The MSI board relies solely on borrowing RAM to run the IGP. So I guess the 128mb extra is worthwhile if it doesn't cost much more.

Thanks again for your help!
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March 30, 2010 3:55:33 AM

Best answer selected by Misterboy.
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