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Cheapo AMD/ATI rig with upgrade potential...

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Anonymous
May 1, 2010 10:05:53 AM

Hey all. New to this forum, seems somewhere on the list for pretty much everything I search for on google these days.

The other day my Athlon 2800+ machine died (it lasted from 2002 so, I wasn't overly upset). I'm hoping to replace all the insides on the cheap, but with potential to add bits as I can afford them.

If anyone could spot bottlenecks where I may be wasting money, I'd be well gratefull.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Summer 2010
BUDGET RANGE: GBP 500 ... about USD 1000 I think?
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Music Production, 3D Studio Max
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Case, Hard-Drive, CD Drive, Sound

PARTS PREFERENCES:

Leaning towards the following:
GPU = Radeon HD 5770... seems to do ok in most benchmarks, especially given the price.
CPU = Athlon II X4 (2.8Ghz?)... I looked at (no. of cores x clock speed / cost), given that the Phenom's L3 Cache seems to have very little effect on games benchmarks at this time.
Mobo = Asus Republic of Gamers 790FX ... the difficult choice as it's the most expensive bit I looked at. The extra PCIE 16 slot and DDR3 compatibility leave enough headroom for later expansion.
RAM = Not really sure what I'm talking about with RAM. So far I've found a 3GB kit of DDR3 PC - 10666 by OCZ.
PSU = Again, I'm not really sure. OCZ stealthstream 450w is the cheapest not to be made by a company I've never heard of.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe... when it starts feeling old.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe...as above.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Whatever the HD TV allows. ? x 720... I think.

My main queries are regarding where the bottleneck lies, if the 450w PSU will be sufficient, if the RAM choice is sensible, and wether the mainboard is a needless overexpense. I'd be grateful for any advice.

Thanks.
May 1, 2010 11:13:51 AM

What sort of upgrade potential do you want? To be able to easily add/change graphics card, replace CPU when needed/possible, do you mind cutting back on RAM now and adding that later? Are you happy to keep changing power supplies as your graphics needs change? What about SSDs next year, do you want the option to add one?

Do you need an OS? Perhaps if you're going to be doing a lot of upgrading it would be better to get a retail copy of Windows.

Getting a 3GB kit of RAM is not a good idea, as most motherboards are dual channel. I would suggest either buying a 4GB (2x2GB) kit straight away or buying a single 2GB stick so that it's easy to add another.

My feeling is that the mobo should be the strongest along with either the CPU or PSU, everything else is much easier to upgrade. Changing PSU might not be difficult but it is cheaper overall if you just buy one that is really good quality and powerful enough for future expansion and keep it throughout the build's life. 750W is probably the right size to be able to not worry about running the most power hungry single cards or crossfiring two powerful but less power hungry video cards. 450W is probably enough for your build as is. I think the Althon II X3 440 is the sweet spot for strong for games and cheap enough that replacing it doesn't seem like a waste.

Having dual x16 is not important for crossfire with cards that are slower than a 5870. So you only really need that feature if you can envisage keeping this setup long enough to put in two cards in crossfire that will be released over the next few years and that will be faster than a 5870. The 5770 is definitely a good choice for now. If you want to be able to add a fast SSD next year then you would need SATA 6Gbps ports to take advantage of it to it's full potential.
May 1, 2010 11:24:42 AM

Scan.co.uk is a great site for finding parts in the UK.
HD Tv should give you 1920 x 1080 resolution
2 things I would immediately change - spend the money on a 5850, you want to know where your bottleneck will be and it is your 5770. It copes fairly well now but has zero upgrade potential unless you go XFire, but even then the 5850 would be better if you can get one.
2nd thing I would change is the PSU, get a 750W, this covers you for upgrade including XFire (I would not want to XFire with a 450W) it also gives room for when the PSU gets older and gives less juice.
Unfortunately I on't know much about AMD (I am an Intel man). But I bought my recent i5 750 system for about £675 (though that was without OS). AMD is cheaper as is their mobo, so that will save you some. If you can stretch for a 5850 then you can get a cheaper mobo with no XFire to mitigate some cost.

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/1GB-XFX-HD5770-PCI-E-20(x16)-4800MHz-GDDR5-GPU-850MHz-Cores-800-2x-DL-DVI-I-HDMI
£130
or
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gigabyte-GV-R585D5-1GD-B...
£225

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/4GB-(2x2GB)-Corsair-XMS3-DDR3-PC3-12800-(1600)-Non-ECC-Unbuffered-CAS-9-9-9-24-XMP-165V
£102. The price difference between 1066 and 1600mhz is only about £10 sogo with the better.

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/750W-Powercool-PC750UM-M...
£53

or

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/750W-Antec-Truepower-New...
£93

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Microsoft-Windows-7-Home...(Green)-32-and-64-Bit
£93

or

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Microsoft-Windows-7-Home...
£67

Expensive:
£576 still need Mobo and CPU

Cheap (Upgrad OS, 5770, cheaper PSU):
£352 leaving £150 for mobo and CPU

Recommended (5850, Upgrade OS cheaper PSU)
£225
£102
£53
£67
Total: £447 but you still need Mobo and CPU

Apologies but I could not give opinion on AMD as I am purely Intel man so any info I gave would be guessing. I had i5 750 and MSI P55 CD53 Mobo which is about £250 which brings the total to £697, but AMD is usually cheaper.

With some clever buying (using ebuyer.com and possibly even ebay) you may get good deals. (I bought my processor on ebay for £140 instead of £160 and I bought the 5850 for £205 and also the RAM for £74...however, I would not recommend buying non branded RAM, I did and I have it working but had to play around withthe sttings, currently it is not running nearly as fast as it claimed...on the other hand my software is causing trouble so the RAM may not be responsible...but I still wouldn't risk it). But with luck you should get close to £600 and then if you must keep within budget then buy a 5770 instead of the 5850.

OS system Note: Assuming on your old computer you bought a retail version of your OS, it is legal to use the Upgrade OS of Windows 7 to install on a clean hard drive (which it can do), in order to then activate your winows you either need to install it twice or do a simple work around in the registry (plenty of info online regarding it).

There is no difference between the full OS and Upgrade in terms of the Software, the difference is purely the licensing, if you do not own a previous full windows OS then you cannot legally use the Upgrade version on a clean hard drive (though it still works if you don't care)


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May 1, 2010 6:07:52 PM

Silvune said:
I would absolutely not recommend this.

I agree it's crap listen to the people with badges.
May 2, 2010 4:52:34 PM

At £500 money has to be saved somewhere, a PSU that is not one of the usual brands is never a good idea, but if some are willing to take a gamble then it is a cheap option to go with.

I actually tried an experimental budget PC build saving where possible using my non usual methods to see how things go - I bought unnamed RAM (it works but I definately wouldn't recommend it). I have the £53 PSU which so far is running fine so will have to see what happens in the long term.
May 2, 2010 5:02:43 PM

You can get a good quality PSU with E50.
May 2, 2010 5:11:09 PM

AMD Athlon II X3 435 http://www.ebuyer.com/product/191955 £60
You should be able to get away without replacing this for at least a year.
Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H http://www.ebuyer.com/product/197546 £105
Allows for crossfire.
Kingston DDR3 2GB 1333MHz i5 Memory Module CL9 1.5V http://www.ebuyer.com/product/147903 £44
Can add another stick later on to get 4GB total and it would only cost an extra £45 or so.
HIS HD 5770 1GB http://www.ebuyer.com/product/186468 £123
OCZ Z Series 650W http://www.ebuyer.com/product/190772 £68
Will have enough power for two 5850s, so two 5770s will be no problem, you could also easily replace the 5770 with another much more powerful single card.
Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium Retail http://www.ebuyer.com/product/168373 £98

Total: £500

That is how you do a budget build with lots of potential for upgrade.
May 2, 2010 5:25:26 PM

Silvune said:
AMD Athlon II X3 435 http://www.ebuyer.com/product/191955 £60
You should be able to get away without replacing this for at least a year.
Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H http://www.ebuyer.com/product/197546 £105
Allows for crossfire.
Kingston DDR3 2GB 1333MHz i5 Memory Module CL9 1.5V http://www.ebuyer.com/product/147903 £44
Can add another stick later on to get 4GB total and it would only cost an extra £45 or so.
HIS HD 5770 1GB http://www.ebuyer.com/product/186468 £123
OCZ Z Series 650W http://www.ebuyer.com/product/190772 £68
Will have enough power for two 5850s, so two 5770s will be no problem, you could also easily replace the 5770 with another much more powerful single card.
Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium Retail http://www.ebuyer.com/product/168373 £98

Total: £500

That is how you do a budget build with lots of potential for upgrade.

That's a great build!
!