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Tight, budget upgrade

Last response: in Systems
April 27, 2010 6:41:11 PM

Alright I'm trying to piece together a good system for myself because my last upgrade was not researched, and screwed me.

BUDGET RANGE: ABSOLUTE MAXES- $500 Before Rebates (and I do mean absolute max, I'd prefer lower)
SYSTEM USAGE: gaming, basics (ms office, web, etc.), watching movies in no particular order

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, DVD Drive, Hard Drive, video card

Anywhere that I need to go to get the best deals



Sapphire HD4870 1gb
Antec Nine hundred Two
I have a bunch of sata drives I'm going to use unless I really need something else.
Core2duo e6420
OCZ Platinum Revision 2 2GB DDR2
Rosewill RP550V2-D-SL

So I think we are looking at mobo/cpu/ram/psu

My biggest thing is I want better performance with the opportunity to do some major upgrades once I get a stable job.

I'm thinking AMD is the way to go with my price, what would you guys suggest between the 790X and the 790FX chipset. I don't care at all for the on board graphics so the 790GX will do as well, but not something I care for. is there a better chipset I should get?

Looking at processors, I'm debating whether I should go with the Athlon II X4 635, Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition, Phenom II X4 955/965 Black Edition. Now that we are seeing a 6core from amd will that drop the prices of the 955/965? Also if I decide to OC with these, whats going to be best for my tight budget?

What I've pieced together so far:
OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB and OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ700MXSP -$195 ($35mir)
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition and GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 (free cod:MW2) - $299 ($15mir)
total - $494 ($444 after mir)
for an extra $21 I can get the 965. It's pushing my price range, so I'm not sure where/if I could cut down and not screw myself. Maybe go with an AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana?
which drops it to $419 ($384 after mir)

What do you guys think?

More about : tight budget upgrade

April 27, 2010 7:52:51 PM

I try to avoid OCZ RAM at all costs. Their sticks are very hit or miss because of having a lot of compatibility issues.

I'd say save you money by getting the X3 440. You may also want to consider the Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 because it will likely be a long time before you even consider Crossfire, perhaps long enough to merit another board.

So I guess my shopping list would be:

X3 440 (or even X3 425)
Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3
G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7
Corsair 650W (because that Rosewill is a POS)

Total: $355 w/ 440, $340 w/ 425 (after $30 of rebates)
April 27, 2010 8:15:50 PM

So you would not suggest a 790 chipset board?

Also, what performance drop will I see from the x4 955 to the x3 440?

And I understand that the PSU isn't any good thats why I just went ahead and tried to find a better one.

oh and for the extra $5 is this mobo worth it?
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April 27, 2010 8:30:55 PM

I didn't even look at the PSU you listed. Now that I look at it, I'd still spend a little more to get a higher quality one. OCZ is decent, but only if you're on an extreme budget.

There actually isn't much difference in the AM3 chipsets (770, 790, 8xx), so it doesn't matter too much. And the $5 isn't worth it, unless you want to Crossfire the GPU. If you do, I'd spend the extra to pickup a Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 and keep the USB 3/SATA III support.

You won't see much difference in game, as gaming is GPU driven. If you use a lot of productivity apps, you'd see a noticeable drop. This can be countered by overclocking and unlocking the fourth core, which requires an aftermarket cooler (the best one is the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus for only $35).
April 27, 2010 8:49:46 PM

If I go with the x3 and get the aftermarket cooler, I'm now within ~$40 of the 955. I'm fine with overclocking (never done it though), but is it worth saving the $40?

So right now I'm looking at these 2 builds I think:
GIGABYTE GA-770TA-UD3 - $90 ($10mir)
CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX - $90 ($20mir)
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB - $120
AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana - $85
Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus - $35
Total - $420 ($390 after mir)


CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX - $90 ($20mir)
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB - $120
AMD Phenom II X4 955 - $159
Total - $509 ($489 after mir)

Is it worth the extra $100 to go to the usb 3/sata III and 955? It's going to be very hard to go with the later of the two but if I should spend the $100 now then that's what I'll do.
April 27, 2010 8:57:16 PM

Keep in mind that you can always add the HSF on later. It's an upgrade option. You don't have to overclock right away.

You can also swap the boards. So you could save $50 ($45 after MIR) by getting the non-Crossfire board with the X4 955.

At this point, it's really up to you. Either way you go, you're going to have a good foundation for the machine and have great performance.
April 27, 2010 10:10:53 PM

I'm thinking I might just go with the first build, and maybe the mobo from the 2nd just for the usb3/sata III I don't care for crossfire I don't think.
April 28, 2010 12:16:23 AM

You might not care about CF, but I'd get USB3/SATA III. You don't want to kick yourself later because you can't use X device because it requires USB3. I'd look at other PSUs as well. The Corsair is nice, but you don't NEED a $90 PSU. More true if you don't have a CF board. Look at their 450-550W PSUs to see if they are cheaper. You should consider the Antec Earthwatts 500, and some SeaSonic PSUs as well. If you can get one of those for ~$50, thats $40 more you can spend on the mobo/CPU.
April 28, 2010 12:22:41 AM

Definitely. If you're not Crossfiring, you can get a 550W PSU instead. I believe Antec's Earthwatts 550W is fairly cheap.
April 28, 2010 12:39:18 AM

I think your best option is the:
955 and 790xta-uD4 $300
Cas7 G.skill ripjaws 4gb ddr3 1600 mhz. $120
Corsair 650w 650TX $90

Which comes out to $510 + $0 shipping.
Then along the line I assume you'll buy a HSF (suggest Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus $35) and a good video card.

This setup will give you the most option to upgrade later while still keeping to your $500 budget for now. And you really should get a board with usb 3, sata III and a second pci-e 16x slot anyway just for the futureproofing. Usually the difference is $20-30 without those options so why do it?
April 28, 2010 1:16:46 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Definitely. If you're not Crossfiring, you can get a 550W PSU instead. I believe Antec's Earthwatts 550W is fairly cheap.

I'm only seeing the 430 and the 650 on newegg and the 650 is $75. What other PSUs should I check out?

Is there a guide somewhere for unlocking the 4th core on the athlon II x3? Is it even possible? What is the success rate for doing that? Also is there a guide for overclocking.

Lastly, what motherboards should I look at for usb 3/sata III even if they don't support CF?
April 28, 2010 2:09:31 AM

Well shoot. I really thought Antec had a 550W version of the Earthwatts. I'd go with the 650W. That would be enough power for whatever card you decide to throw in there later, and would likely still be good in several years when you do a rebuild.

For info on unlocking/overclocking, I'd take a look in the overclocking section. I'm by no means an expert at it.

The Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 is the go-to board for USB 3/SATA III without Crossfire, but there are a few others. Just use Newegg to narrow it down. I would stick with Asus or Gigabyte to get the highest quality boards.
April 28, 2010 5:20:30 AM

Antec Earthwatts 500w (80 plus certified not bronze) It is currently on clearance at staples for $35. Most the stores did not have the price marked on the shelves but they rang up as that. The 430w was for $23 or something like that...
April 28, 2010 5:50:22 AM

I tried narrowing it on newegg but there wasn't a usb 3 selection, i guess sata III and usb 3 are hand in hand it seems.

Is that 500w enough? or will I be wishing I had gotten more in 3 months?

I just looked on staples website and they only have the 650 and the 750 on their site, do I just need to call in and see if they have one?

[EDIT 2]
Alright this is what I think I'm going with unless theres something wrong with the idea:
GIGABYTE GA-770TA-UD3 and AMD Phenom II X4 955 - $233 ($10mir)
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB - $120
PSU - $???
Total - $353 ($343 after mir) before psu.
I'm also contemplating an aftermarket cooler so I can experiment with OCing.

Thanks again everyone for all your help so far.
April 28, 2010 11:48:49 AM

If your at $353, then get the Corsair 650W. Its only $90, and its a good unit. By my math that leaves you with just under $60. This should be enough to get a good cooler. I know that "212" one is a hot one right now.
April 28, 2010 3:16:31 PM

JB4times4 said:

I just looked on staples website and they only have the 650 and the 750 on their site, do I just need to call in and see if they have one?

Thanks again everyone for all your help so far.

This is an instore clearance deal. So it would just matter on the stores.

That site is also a good place to watch out for other good deals that are out there....
April 28, 2010 6:20:56 PM

4745454b said:
If your at $353, then get the Corsair 650W. Its only $90, and its a good unit. By my math that leaves you with just under $60. This should be enough to get a good cooler. I know that "212" one is a hot one right now.

Is that the best power supply I can get for $90? If so, I'll probably go ahead and get it.

lostpike said:
This is an instore clearance deal. So it would just matter on the stores.

That site is also a good place to watch out for other good deals that are out there....

Alright, is a 500w enough though?

oh also, what makes my rosewill one so bad? THIS ONE RIGHT HERE
I don't know much about PSUs so I'm trying to figure out what makes one better then the other.
April 28, 2010 9:29:38 PM

I found one of the antec 500w around here, so I went ahead and grabbed it. If it's not what I want, that is fine I'll find someone that needs it.
April 28, 2010 9:44:07 PM

That Corsair is proably the best you can get for $90, but I'm positive there are quality 650W (possibly even 750W) for about the same or less. Check out some Antecs for good quality, cheap PSUs.

500W would be enough for a single GPU up to the HD 5850, so you should be fine.

What makes Rosewill PSUs bad is that they're poor quality. Quality is something that's hard to quantify. Generally, you need to make sure a PSU has Active PFC (which your unit doesn't) and at least an 80 Plus certification (which the Rosewill also doesn't have). Even if a unit has both, it still might not be a good unit. A lot of quality is based on a lot of reviews and brand reputation. It's not advisable to go outside the major brands (Antec, Corsair, Silverstone and SeaSonic) without thinking it over first.
April 28, 2010 9:47:09 PM

Ok, thanks. I just used the newegg psu calculator and it suggested 527w so I'm going to shop around and find a good 650w probably.
April 28, 2010 10:42:42 PM

Newegg's calculator is very inaccurate, just to let you know. It highly inflates what you need for several reasons. First, it's what is recommended. The recommended size of a PSU is approximately twice your maximum need, as PSU operate most efficiently at 50% load. Second, they don't assume you're buying a quality unit. Lower quality PSUs overstate their wattage while quality ones understate it. Finally, (and this one is just my thoughts) their calculator inflates the needed size to sell larger units. Larger units are more expensive, which means Newegg makes more money.

That said, it looks good.
April 28, 2010 10:54:02 PM

So you are saying that I would be fine with this antec 500? if so I'd love to save the $90 till I can actually afford it.
April 28, 2010 11:45:33 PM

For a single card, yes. You'll probably lose a little bit in terms of efficiency though. Something else to point out is that if you get a bigger unit, you'll only spend a little more now (like $10-25), but if you wait until you need the extra power, you'll spend a lot (the $90).
April 29, 2010 11:00:15 PM

Ok, now I'm starting to think crossfire might be worth it in the future...but with the 4870, would buying a new card be better then crossfiring? (in the future of course)
April 30, 2010 1:31:06 AM

I'd say that you're looking at a new card the next time you upgrade. The 4xxx series are good in terms of power, but they don't have a lot of the features that you'll need later on.

As far as allowing for Crossfire, you probably don't need to worry about it. You can use a 4870 for a couple more years until DirectX 11 takes over and games need too much power to be playable with it. Then you should be able to drop in a $300ish card and be good to go for several years (probably 3-4 years). At that point (5ish years down the road), you'd be looking at an entirely new build. So in your case, I don't think you'll end up needing Crossfire.
May 3, 2010 1:10:34 AM

And now it's back...alrighty then.