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Need Help Building $800 Mid-Range PC

Hey guys. In high school I built my first desktop, it has done me well through college but I'm wanting to build a new one now that I'm getting married and heading off to grad school. I've been getting more BSODs than normal on my current rig and I wouldn't want that to happen when I was in the middle of any important grad work. I'm a little rusty/behind the times and want to make sure the parts I have picked out will all work fine.

This is what I have picked out so far:

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel

Motherboard: Gigabyte AM3 ATX

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955

RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2 x 2GB)

Hard drive: WD Caviar Black 500GB 7200 RPM SATA

GPU: XFX Radeon HD 4770

PSU: Antec EarthWatts 650W

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit OEM

All of this puts me at $791.98 (including shipping). I work at Best Buy so I'm hoping I can get some parts (PSU, case, HDD) at a discount. Let me know if you would recommend any changes based on the parts I have already picked out. Is any of this overkill (would give me slightly better performance but not worth the money for what I'm doing)? I appreciate the help!

Other info:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Monday or Tuesday of this week

BUDGET RANGE: $600-$800

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Grad school work, photoshop, music, gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com

OVERCLOCKING: No overclocking, SLI, or Crossfire

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050
30 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. I'm also curious as to whether or not the i5 will be worth the extra money over this AMD Phenom II X4 955
  2. Best answer
    Your links seem to be broken. For your needs I do think that the i5 is worth the extra money. Especially if you are not going to overclock.
    i5 750 - 199.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215&cm_re=750_i5-_-19-115-215-_-Product

    Gigabyte P55A - UD3 (USB3/SATA6) - 134.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128412&cm_re=gigabyte_p55_usb3-_-13-128-412-_-Product

    Swap your Hard Drive for this:
    Seagate 7200.12
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148395&cm_re=seagate_7200.12-_-22-148-395-_-Product

    Look for combos to lower the costs.
  3. Thanks for the help! A few questions:

    1. Why the Seagate HD?

    2. This mobo seems cheaper and pretty comparable. Any reason to go with the one you linked to over it?
  4. Seagate HD because it has one 500GB platter in it while the Western Digital has 2 250GB platters I believe. Overall less platters = faster.

    That motherboard has no SATA6 which is pretty big for HDs/SSDs. Definitely go for that if you don't need the feature. Otherwise yes they are pretty comparable. At least they both have USB3 (only 2 ports though :()
  5. What is the advantage of SATA6? Do I need it if I don't plan on getting an SSD? Thanks again for the help. I think I'm going to go with your recommendation and get the i5.
  6. Well it really is SATA 6GB/s (600MB/s) and what it is just an upgrade on the bandwidth of speed that the cable transfers. It used to be SATA 3GB/s (300MB/s). There's not really an advantage yet as only SSDs (with a 6GB/s controller) will benefit most from this. HDs (assuming they support speeds of 6GB/s) from reviews I've seen may gain very little speed.

    So I won't blame you if you choose not to add the extra feature.

    Edit: Just wanted to note though that if you do get the feature don't feel bad because the SATA 6GB/s ports are backwards compatible.
  7. I would say go with this drive. I just got it and its very fast.
    HITACHI 0F10383 1TB SATA 3.0 7200 RPM 32MB Buffer Hard Drive Bulk

    http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=10011709&ps=weekly_10011709
  8. Hitachi still uses 5-platters, meaning that the 1 TB drive linked will consume more energy and be slower than the Seagate 7200.12 or Samsung Spinpoint F3.

    OP, if you really want to stick with Western Digital, they have a 500 GB platter 1 TB drive, the WD1002FAEX, which is SATA 6 GB/s...but it's about $30 more than the Samsung & Seagate drives.
  9. How are we looking? I feel pretty confident with this set up. I think the i5 processor is going to be worth the extra money especially with how it handles working with Photoshop and video files. I can't justify getting a better GPU because I just won't be doing too much gaming on it. Unless there is something wrong with the 640GB WD HDD I have picked out, I'll probably stick with it. We carry them at work and I can get a fairly nice discount on it since I'm an employee. I just don't need a terabyte. I have a 240 GB on my current desktop and still have 60 gigs free. The only reason I'm getting something as big as a 500/640 is so I have some room to play with.

    Any serious compatibility issues or should these parts set me straight?

  10. Theoretically, getting some CAS Latency 7 RAM would be slightly faster, but it's not a big deal if you're up against your budget already.

    Everyone (including me) likes to push the 500 GB platter drives, the Seagate 7200.12 500 GB drives are only $55 from Newegg. If you can get the 640 GB WD from work for something reasonable, go for it. It will be slightly slower than the Seagate, but it won't be the end of the world or anything.

    Depending on how much you plan on gaming, the 4770 is a little bit of a concern. 5770s start around $140, but they should be quieter and consume less power than an equivalent 4xxx series ATI card. They can also support EyeFinity if that's in your future at all. It would also be a little more future proof, as it supports DX11.
  11. What GPU would you recommend then? I found this one but it's a little bit out of my price range. Honestly, gaming is the thing I will do the least on this computer. I'm getting married and starting grad school next fall, won't have too much time to play video games. I just want to know that I'll be able to run most current games at 1680x1050 with fairly high settings with no problem. From what I've read, the 4770 should be able to do that. If I'm not going to be a hardcore gamer would you still recommend the 5770, even though it's a higher price point?

    Good call on the HDD. I'll see if we carry those Seagate 500GB single platters at work. If not I'll just snag one on Newegg. Hard to beat that price point.
  12. RParmly said:
    What GPU would you recommend then? I found this one but it's a little bit out of my price range. Honestly, gaming is the thing I will do the least on this computer. I'm getting married and starting grad school next fall, won't have too much time to play video games. I just want to know that I'll be able to run most current games at 1680x1050 with fairly high settings with no problem. From what I've read, the 4770 should be able to do that. If I'm not going to be a hardcore gamer would you still recommend the 5770, even though it's a higher price point?

    Good call on the HDD. I'll see if we carry those Seagate 500GB single platters at work. If not I'll just snag one on Newegg. Hard to beat that price point.



    Dude no need for a 650W powersupply. The 5770 is OVERKILL for your case. I have 2 5770 XXX Edition(OCed) in Crossfire and a 500W PSU is powering both. My specs:

    i5-750

    8GB(2X4GB) 1600 MHz

    64GB Cosair SSD

    750GB 7200.12 Barracuda

    2TB Fantom

    2 5770's XXX Edition in Crossfire

    4550 Physix Card

    500W Cosair PSU

    HAF 932
  13. SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827151192
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
    $19.99


    Recertified: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 HDD-ST3500630AS-R 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive (Perpendicular Recording) -Bare Drive
    Item #: N82E16822148516
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
    -$10.00 Instant
    $59.99
    $49.99


    Kingston ValueRAM 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1333D3K2/4GR - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820134792
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy
    -$10.00 Instant
    $104.99
    $94.99


    Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified ... - Retail
    Item #: N82E16817371015
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    Antec TWO HUNDRED S Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    Item #: N82E16811129074
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    -$20.00 Instant
    -$20.00 Combo
    $149.98
    $109.98


    SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VXL Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
    Item #: N82E16814102868
    Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy
    Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
    AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model HDX945WFGMBOX - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819103809
    Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
    GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 AM3 AMD 790X SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    Item #: N82E16813128416
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    -$10.00 Instant
    -$30.00 Combo
    $15.00 Mail-in Rebate Card
    $475.97
    $435.97
    Subtotal: $710.92

    Dont go with 1556 it might not be upgradeable.
  14. @Userremoved- If I'm looking to just keep what I have for the next 4-6 years would it be better to just stick with the i5? I doubt I'll need to upgrade, just something reliable to get me through grad school and to do some gaming on.

    Also, would a small (40-60GB) SSD be a good investment to put the OS and some of my main programs on (Photoshop, Office, etc.)? I know it will set me back another $150 or so but do you think it would be worth the performance boost?
  15. RParmly said:
    @Userremoved- If I'm looking to just keep what I have for the next 4-6 years would it be better to just stick with the i5? I doubt I'll need to upgrade, just something reliable to get me through grad school and to do some gaming on.

    Also, would a small (40-60GB) SSD be a good investment to put the OS and some of my main programs on (Photoshop, Office, etc.)? I know it will set me back another $150 or so but do you think it would be worth the performance boost?

    With the I5 you dont gain much i think about only like 5%-10%.Also for the SSD I'm not sure i think it only cuts down a few seconds.

    SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827151192
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
    $19.99


    Recertified: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 HDD-ST3500630AS-R 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive (Perpendicular Recording) -Bare Drive
    Item #: N82E16822148516
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
    -$10.00 Instant
    $59.99
    $49.99


    Antec EarthWatts EA750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V version 2.3 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC ... - Retail
    Item #: N82E16817371026
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    -$35.00 Instant
    $20.00 Mail-in Rebate
    $139.99
    $104.99


    Kingston ValueRAM 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1333D3K2/4GR - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820134792
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy
    -$10.00 Instant
    $104.99
    $94.99


    Kingston SSDNow V Series SNV125-S2BD/30GBKR 2.5" Desktop Bundle 30GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820139149
    Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy
    -$15.00 Instant
    $30.00 Mail-in Rebate
    $119.99
    $104.99


    SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100283VXL Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
    Item #: N82E16814102868
    Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy
    Protect Your Investment (expand for options)
    AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model HDX945WFGMBOX - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819103809
    Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
    GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 AM3 AMD 790X SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    Item #: N82E16813128416
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    -$10.00 Instant
    -$30.00 Combo
    $15.00 Mail-in Rebate Card
    $475.97
    $435.97
    Subtotal: $810.92

    But it's your choice! :)
  16. Based on THG Best Graphics Cards for the Money 3/10, it looks like your best bets between $100 and $150 are an ATI 4850, 5750, 5770 (512 MB), 5770 (1 GB).

    This Powercolor 5750 is $120.

    This Powercolor 512 MB 5770 is also $120 after $15 MIR. Or this 1 MB version is $140 after MIR.

    The 4850s start at $90, if you want to drop down a little in price.

    Again, I'm not saying "don't buy the 4770." I'm saying "you might consider spending a little more on a graphics card for a little more future-proofing."

    SSDs are nice, and I'm in favor of adding them to high-end builds, but I don't think they're the right choice for budget-oriented builds at the moment. I would go with a traditional hard drive for now, and if prices come down in the next year or so, consider getting an SSD then.

    The Antec case & PSU looks like a good combo, but it appears to be out of stock. Antec is a good manufacturer, and the power supply is 80+ certified.
  17. coldsleep said:
    ...this 1 MB version...

    What year is this? LOL
  18. I bought the 650W Earthwatts and the Antec 300 case at work for cheaper than I could have gotten on Newegg so that is taken care of. Here is what I have left, and I think I'm ready to order tonight. I decided to go with the 5770, namely because upgrading was only about 50 bucks more and I feel like it might buy me an extra year or so of top notch performance. I also decided to stick with the i5. After researching, I feel like it offers a significant enough boost over the Phenom X4 when it comes to photo/video editing to be worth the extra case. I'm coming in a little over budget but that is mainly because I didn't factor in the cost of buying Windows 7. Total cost for the build will be around $900.

    Any last suggestions or does this look good to go?

  19. To be honest AMD is a lot better for under $1k as you can put the extra towards a better video card.

    Cheaper processor + more expensive video card > More expensive processor + cheaper video card.



    Only disadvantage is not as good of a case, however the case doesn't increase performance.
  20. Go for this RAM:
    G.Skill DDR3 Ripjaws 4GB - 104.99 ($2 cheaper plus lower voltage at the same speed)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231274&cm_re=g_skill_ddr3_4gb-_-20-231-274-_-Product

    Other than that it looks great!
  21. No, the ram in my above post is the best ram for under $120.

    timing is the most important. Voltage and speed isn't as important.
  22. @Whitefang- Your advice makes sense if gaming was going to be the primary use. It won't be. Mainly this rig will be for grad school work, image editing, internet browsing, etc. I just want the capability to play the current games out now and be somewhat future proof. The price point on the graphics card is way higher than I can justify. I want the better processor speed because I'll be using the computer for photo editing and eventually video editing.

    @Rokez- The reason I selected the RAM I did is because it is compatible with the mobo I have picked out based on this chart. Should I stick with that since the compatibility is 100% verified or go with your suggestion?

    Thanks guys for all the help! I feel like I'm getting back in the groove of PC building again.
  23. RAM these days work with just about any motherboard unless there is something faulty with the RAM itself. You just have to manually set in the timings through the BIOS.

    At the end of the day if it lets you sleep better at night then of course go grab that RAM. They both will provide the same speed.

    Edit: Just had a look at the RAM whitefang suggested. It definitely is a pretty good buy for RAM like that. Worth the extra $5 IMO.
  24. I would still go for AMD at that price point, switch the 5850 out for the 5770 and your set. The difference between an i-5 and 955 is almost unoticeable

    The ram I selected is the best ram under $120 period. It is also compatible with every motherboard. Doesn't matter what ram you select they will all be compatible. Just don't get OCZ as they are known for high voltage which causes problems.
  25. I thought Kingston made good RAM.
  26. Thanks for the help! Getting close to placing my order. Do I need to get Arctic Silver 5 for my processor? Will the standard heatsink be enough if i'm not OC'ing?
  27. You don't need Arctic Silver 5. The stock heatsink that it will come with will be good enough. If you are worried about temps. Think about an aftermarket heatsink not just the thermal paste. Thermal paste may reduce temps a 2-3 degrees.
  28. All the help has been greatly appreciated :sol:

  29. Best answer selected by RParmly.
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