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Need four new PCs for my sons. Different budgets for each of them.

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May 8, 2010 4:57:58 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next few weeks.
BUDGET RANGE: £300, £400, £550, £700.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, internet browsing, schoolwork.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, speakers, mouse, monitor.

PREFERRED WEBSITE Any UK one would be nice, or U.S with cheap delivery.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm not sure on what would be best anyway.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Whatever works best.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've promised my lads that I'll help them out with getting a brand new PC for each of them to replace the old P4/P3 ones they have at the moment. They all like playing old PC games on LAN and to be fair I've told them they have to save up themselves. I've a friend who has told me he can build them no problem, I just have to get him the parts and what not.

So here I plead for help on what to choose. There is so much choice it's unreal. Either windows XP or 7 will be fine, I'm not too keen on vista as I had that myself and found it wouldn't play most games very well.

Any advice will be appreciated, thanks for your time guys. I know this is a lot of work to ask of someone for not just one but four separate computers, but I really will be grateful for any assistance.

Thanks in advance! :) 

More about : pcs sons budgets

May 8, 2010 5:15:30 PM

^ Lol, When I saw the title i was afraid you had assigned budgets based on how much you loved you'r sons!
May 8, 2010 5:38:24 PM

Haha not quite. The numbers would be quite different. The eldest wouldn't have a penny at the rate he's going atm!
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May 8, 2010 6:02:46 PM

Yorkbloke said:
Haha not quite. The numbers would be quite different. The eldest wouldn't have a penny at the rate he's going atm!

:lol: 

On Topic:

i would do AMD X3-435 and 890Gx/890FX / 5850/5870/5770 builds based on budget.
May 8, 2010 6:26:56 PM

Seem rather sound. Do you recommend getting some of those towers that come with the PSU or get them seperately? Also which site do you recommend?
May 8, 2010 7:44:53 PM

Hmm it's a good case but it's a large bit of their budget to be fair. Is it worth the money?
May 8, 2010 7:46:00 PM

Yes.

And it has a 15$ Promo code I think.

And it is a case AND a PSU!
May 8, 2010 8:16:23 PM

Newegg doesn't ship internationally, so it's kind of moot anyway.

Generally, I'd look at making sure that the lower-budget computers have a good base (power supply, motherboard, etc.) and that they can be upgraded as the boys get more money. AMD AM3 boards fill this role nicely, as AM3 is still on the roadmap for next year. AMD also has a good history of keeping backwards compatibility.

I would suggest spending about £30-50 on each mid-tower case, though if you find something for less, case is an area that's easy to go cheap now and get something better later. overclockers.co.uk (the only UK site I can remember off the top of my head) has the Antec 300 for £45. It seems that the 300 Illusion isn't available on that site.

For most of the builds, a 550W-650W power supply will be more than adequate. Make sure to pick something that is 80+ certified and has Active PFC. There is a special this week for the OCZ ModXStream 600W at £58.

The new 890 chipset is nice, but you could just as easily go with a 790. I'd also look at USB 3 and SATA 6.0 Gb/S (aka SATA III), but it's not a requirement. This Asus M4A88TD-M EVO would be a decent budget choice for £71, while the Asus M4A89GTD PRO would offer a little more future-proofing at £120.

I just realized this is getting long & wordy. I'll try a different format.
May 8, 2010 8:29:36 PM

Long and wordy is good. Thanks for the advice there, I didn't realise newegg wouldn't ship to the UK. Some sound advice there. I'll probably go with the first board as it has ample slots for upgrades etc.

They won't really need SLI so it's a good board to go with. I'll go with AMD over Intel then as backwards compatibility would be a good idea. What chip should I go for? Which is the best value for the money on the AMD side of things?
May 8, 2010 8:30:21 PM

Try finding it on Newegg.uk or something.
May 8, 2010 8:42:30 PM

For simplicity, I'll list common components first.

Mobo - Asus M4A88TD-M EVO - £71
HDD - Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB - £45
RAM - Corsair XMS3 - £110 (potentially split one set between the two low-end builds?)
PSU - OCZ ModXStream 600 - £58
Case - Antec 300 - £45
OS - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM - £77 - currently less than an XP license.

Varies by build:
Graphics - As builderbob said, ATI 5770/5850/5870 as suits the budget. 5770s appear to run about £130, 5850s about £240, and 5870s about £350
CPU - AMD Athlon X4 - £83 (no X3s for sale on overclockers.co.uk) or AMD Athlon X2 - £52
Mobo - could upgrade to something with USB3, etc. as mentioned in previous post.

Other things to think about:
Do you need monitors? I built the above expecting that no peripherals are needed, if some are, you're going to have to cut costs somewhere.

I'd like to recommend this G.Skill 4 GB kit at £100, but it's out of stock.

Eesh, £300-400 isn't a lot to work with if you have to include the OS in the cost.

For the £300 build, here is what it could look like (assuming no OS):
Asus M4A88TD-M EVO
Athlon X2
2 GB RAM
Spinpoint F3 500 GB
Antec 300
OCZ ModXStream 600
& use integrated graphics until he can come up with the money for a discrete graphics card
Total ~ £325 (really, this is the £400 build if the OS has to be included)

The £700 build would be something like:
Asus M4A88TD-M EVO
Athlon X4 (or move up to Phenom II X4 955 for £136)
4 GB RAM
Spinpoint F3 500 GB
Antec 300 (or upgrade as appropriate)
OCZ ModXStream 600
ATI 5850
Total ~ £650 (or ~ £690 with the Phenom II)


Alternatively, could go with less expensive case & PSU and get a 5670.

In general, the cost of the OS is what really sinks the low-end builds when compared against pre-builts. It's difficult to come up with a real gaming machine at that price. Any chance you can get the brothers to disproportionately share the costs of 4 operating systems?

EDIT: Best value for the money for AMD chips is actually the Athlon II X3 435, but it isn't on overclockers.co.uk. Do check the Tom's Hardware Best CPU and Best Graphics Cards (April '10 linked, May should be out soon for both) for the Money articles for more ideas, if you have the time.

FURTHER EDIT: builderbobftw, there is no newegg.uk. overclockers.co.uk, ebuyer, microdirect, and novatech seem to be the closest equivalents.
May 8, 2010 8:53:04 PM

To sum up, any modern 4-core processor should be more than adequate for driving all but the biggest graphics cards. A faster 2-core will be ok for the time being, though. AMD is used for upgradeability & historical backwards compatibility. 2 GB of RAM is the minimum recommended, 4 GB is ideal for gaming.

Some games can be played on integrated graphics, but obviously a discrete card is better.

Costs can be cut on case & CPU, but should not be cut (much) on PSU. Quality PSU & motherboard are the fundamentals of any system designed to be upgraded over time. The easiest component to upgrade later is the graphics card & RAM.
May 8, 2010 9:14:25 PM

I'm looking into getting them all a LCD monitor each and I may grab a copy or two of windows 7 for the youngest. I can split a few funds each way and unless it's glaringly obvious they won't notice. My first born unfortunately is fairly clued up and to be fair it is his money so I don't want be too hypocritical.

I'll read up on the articles as there is some good info in there. I'll probably split that RAM pack between the two low end ones. Unfortunately there isn't much to work with as you've already said.

Those HD are great value for money though, and as for cases I've found some rather cheap ones that will do the trick I suspect.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/108273

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/128413

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/132129

There isn't anything obviously wrong with them, the reviews aren't bad and they can always be upgraded at a later point. Those builds are rather nice, and I can use the cold CD rom drives from the other PCs easily enough.
May 8, 2010 9:14:39 PM

coldsleep said:
AMD is used for upgradeability & historical backwards compatibility.


:lol: 

Got a chuckle out of that!

For reals?
May 8, 2010 9:23:28 PM

builderbobftw said:
:lol: 

Got a chuckle out of that!

For reals?


Perhaps I should have also added "for gaming price/performance," but the point still stands.

Riddle me this, which company has one of its current sockets still on its roadmap for next year? Intel or AMD? (I'll give you a hint, it's not Intel.)

And which company provided some support for transitioning to new technology? (Hint: think AM2, AM2+, AM3.)

To be clear, Intel has excellent chips and some technology that AMD can't match right now. But they cost a lot more than AMD, and overall, the performance benefits at reasonable resolutions are negligible, as gaming is much more dependent on the GPU.
May 8, 2010 10:04:24 PM

It's AMD.

But AMD has screwed people before also.
May 9, 2010 5:36:17 PM

Why build 4 PC's?
Build 2 dual boot systems with separate partitions for the users with 2x the performance of 4 and share them. Are 4 kids going simultaneously use 4 PC's all day?
May 9, 2010 5:38:58 PM

bas94041 said:
Why build 4 PC's?
Build 2 dual boot systems with separate partitions for the users with 2x the performance of 4 and share them. Are 4 kids going simultaneously use 4 PC's all day?


Yeh, If it was me I would build 1 superawesome one and tell them to share it.
May 9, 2010 7:34:03 PM

Well they play their games at the same time as they get back from school at the same time and they like playing one another on games like age of empires or battlefield 1942. These kids aren't going to share anything, it's less of a headache to get them 4 systems sorted out
May 9, 2010 10:21:57 PM

The 400, 550, and 700 GBP budgets are realistic. However, I seriously doubt if it's possible to get a 300 GBP PC using all new parts. For that system at least, you may want to look at Ebay (or what ever else they have over their like Craigslist ).
May 9, 2010 10:37:23 PM

Speaking of that, i'm selling my old 4870 1gb rig....
!