My first self-built PC: Opinions to specs

I'm about to find components for my first self-built PC. Since I'm not an expert on these things, I thought I could find tips and help here. I'm not going to use my PC for gaming (at least not extreme gaming) -- I just want a very stable system where I can run programs flawless. I don't want things to get overheated, but I still want a silent system. Right now I have a MacMini, which is NOT good enough for me.

My budget is max 800$. This is what I have found. Please give me some feddback and opinions:

Motherboard: Don't know. I just know that I want good audio (because I don't want to spend money on a audio card in addition) and the basics.
RAM: 2x 2GB, will probably add more later
Graphics: Don't know. I have two monitors, maybe three, that I would like to connect to my PC, but I won't (as you already know) use the computer for extreme gaming. 1GB something?
HDD: 2x Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB SATA2
CPU: Intel Core™ i5 Quad Processor i5-750 or AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
PSU: Corsair HX 650W PSU
DVD-RW: Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S

Thank you!
26 answers Last reply
More about self built opinions specs
  1. Ok then with that budget we will go for an AMD system.

    Best case in it's price range in my opinion. Comes with 3 x 120mm and 1 x 140mm fans installed. All are 3 speed and on low are nearly silent.

    Your budget will not include a graphics card needing that much power. This is plenty even if you decide to upgrade later.

    Great RAM for the money.

    Motherboard with SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 for futureproofing. As well as a good overall board.


    Now do you have those 2 hard drives already? If not go with 1 of these. It is one of the fastest 7200RPM drives on the market.

    For graphics a HD 5770 is a great choice. With rebate this is a great deal.

    Total comes to $790 leaving you a few dollars for optical drives. I may have missed a rebate in that total as well.
  2. Hi! i'll start this thread by saying by no means am i even close to the skill and knowledge of the fine contributer's here at Tom's.I'm sure you'll here from them.

    I'll give it a shot though! for an 1156 set-up

    Mobo - might be more then your willing to spend but feature rich for the $200 mark

    Other boards are cheaper but have limited usb3 and sata6 functions ( no PLX chip) this may not be important to you so anything from ASUS or Gigabyte would serve you well.($130-150 mark)i'd look for a combo deal with i-5 750

    Ram - anything from Gskills or Corsair 1600mhz CL8 timings are the sweet spot on 1156 platform($125)

    GPU - ATI 5770 new generation and great price vs performance ratio. power consumption($150-170) or a 5750 which is cheaper if gaming isn't a huge concern

    HDD- looks good to me

    CPU- i5-750 a winner

    PSU- Corsair HX 650 a great psu might be overkill for a budget build.Find something cheaper from Corsair or Antec.

    OD - $20 on sale brand name

    You don't mention a case i assume you need one cuz this might not fit in a MacMini !
    Or an OS.

    Here's a good one

    Only thing is even if you cut back on some things you'd be hardpressed to get it under $800 with that power supply and a case assuming you need one.
    You'd be closer to $900.

    Really depends on your needs and buying a decent case and psu goes along way imho.

    I recently built an i-3 530 and had a hard time keeping it under $700 it required everything including an OS.
  3. Thank you so much for your input!

    I have listened to your recomendations and tips, and read more here on Tom's Harware, and now I think I've put together something even better:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 945 or 955 BE or 965 BE (I really don't know which of them to choose, all seem really good. I will probably go with the 945 just because of the fact that it's cheapest.)

    Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Socket-AM3 (This is the most interesting part, because this motherboard has built-in GPU, so I won't need this in addition, just like you said, anort3. I think it's a great way of saving money because I won't need to buy a graphic card. BUT I have two monitors (both 1280x1024). Will this motherboard be able to handle these two screens? If not, I will probably go for Intel or just buy a GPU.

    RAM: Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600MHz 4GB CL8 (Which is 2x 2GB RAM. I chose 1600MHz because of you, Davcon)

    Cabinet: Not really sure, but I have found different ones that I like.

    HDD: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA2 or Western Digital Caviar® GreenPower™ 1TB (Both seem great)

    PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro M600 600W PSU (I will probably not need more than 600W, and this is marked as almost silent, so I think this will be great)

    DVD-RW: Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S (It's cheap, that's all)

    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits

    Now, what do you think? Should I do something different? Have I forgotten something? I'm still hungry for tips.
  4. CPU: The 955 is the best deal imo, its the standard choice for AMD builders these days. The 965 is faster, but only because it has been factory overclocked slightly, those same results can be achieved in your BIOS for $40 less...

    I would recommend this board:

    It features the new 8XX northbridge, which means its more compatible with future CPUs, should you want an easier upgrade path in the future.

    The Corsair Dominator RAM is overpriced, go with a 2x2GB kit of G.Skill Ripjaw RAM,

    Some good choices: CoolerMaster HAF922, CoolerMaster RC-690II, Antec 300 Illusion, NZXT makes some more flashy cases, if you want something more aesthetically pleasing.

    Definitely go with the Samsung HDD

    I would stick with the Corsair suggested above. OCZ makes decent mid-range PSUs, but this is the one category where you should spend and extra $20-30 to get the good brand, because its good for a reason.

    Should be a nice computer =)
  5. Looks great to me and definitely stick with a 8xx series mobo.
    Both case recommendations are great from top-notch outfits.
    I have a psu suggestion that will power new gen cards and future ones.

    Not too sure if your graphics set-up will work with two monitors i honestly don't know.

    If your budget allows now or in the future that can always be remedied by adding a discrete gpu later.5770 being your best bet.

    Other then that your're pretty much set if you go with AMD on your budget.


    Btw Transmaniacon is dead on about the ram his suggestion is exactly what i used on an i3 530 build
  6. As far I know, there are no motherboards do dual video outputs. And you would probably be straining the onboard GPU with more then one screen anyway. I would go with a discrete GPU, any of the cards on the table will handle 2 screens fine, the HD5670 is a decent GPU for light gaming, the HD5770 is a step up.
  7. Your last sentence, Transmaniaco, makes me so happy :D , and a bit proud too becuase this is my very first computer, and only three days ago I barely didn't know anything about this.

    OK, this is getting only better. Please comment the bold parts (which are the parts I haven't I don't feel sure about), be feel free to comment other things as well. Now, I would do it like this:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 945 or 955 BE (I still don't know, even though you recommend the 955 BE. 945 is still cheaper, and the specs seem (to me) like almost identical.)

    Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Socket-AM3 or GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD (What makes one of them better than the other?)

    RAM: Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600MHz 4GB CL8 (I will get these, no discussion)

    Cabinet: Antec 300 Illusion (I like this one)

    HDD: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA2 (don't really see what makes this a so good choice, but ok)

    PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro M600 600W PSU or Corsair TX 650W PSU (What do you think?)

    ODD: Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S (It's cheap, that's all)

    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits

    And I still have this important question: Will the motherboard be able to run two (or three) screens?

    Thank you!
  8. I'll do as you say, and pick the GIGABYTE motherboard. And I will get a "discrete GPU" as well. But I won't need a motherboard with built-in GPU, so I should maybe go with a motherboard without GPU, then. Any suggestions.

    And I don't understand everything you're saying about PSU's.

    Thank you all!
  9. And since I don't need the GPU-parts in the motherboards, I think it will be better to find a motherboard with great audio.
  10. I'll chime in again i won't comment about the cpu or mobo cuz i know your in good hands.Never built an AMD.

    The SpinPoint is the cats ass.

    Corsair psu no contest!

    Whatever you decide your PC looks awesome so far!

    Most current mobo have very good audio but i wouldn't say great.
  11. A majority of AMD boards have onboard video, I wouldn't concern yourself about it either way. You need the discrete GPU for the two monitors, and having the onboard doesn't affect you either way. I would stick with the Gigabyte board I recommended, its pretty similar to the Asus, but I am just a gigabyte fan. If you can find a good combo with either or, go for it.

    Onboard audio is pretty standard across the board, and very good for 75% of PC users. Unless you are connecting some high-fidelity studio monitors, then a discrete sound card is uneccessary.

    The reason I suggested the 955, is because its the Black Edition, which means its multiplier is unlocked, and overclocking is super easy. The 945 does not have an unlocked multiplier.

    Corsair makes some of the best PSUs out there, I would spend a little more and get it, though in your case, you could drop down to their 550watt version.
  12. Regarding the PSU, I will go for a Corsair VX 550W PSU. It's Corsair (quality) and it's not exceeding my budget.

    When it comes to the CPU, I'm still not sure. I don't know much about overclocking, but I will probably love it if I get into it. Therefore I may go for the 955 BE.

    I will get a discrete GPU for my two monitors. It won't be a beast of a GPU, but I want something that works.

    And since my speakers are Logitech Z4 (stereo with bass) I don't think I'll need more than standard audio specs from the motherboard.

    Now, it's only the motherboard. I will do some research, but before I start, do you have any tips for my research. Any brands/etc. that I should get og not get.

  13. As far as motherboards go, Asus and Gigabyte are the two biggest companies. Both are pretty similar in their different boards, the real differences show up in the higher end boards where the companies have more flexibility with design and function. In your price range though, around the $140 mark, this Asus , and the Gigabyte I linked are the two I would look at the most. I feel they are the best balance of quality and value, provide good future upgrade options, and are both reliable when it comes to overclocking.
  14. And that is what I care about. Perfect.

    I think I'll go for XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB GDDR5 (it's over my budget, but in the other hand I won't need much upgrade the coming years, if I don't go into gaming) and the ASUS motherboard with USB3.

    And what is Crossfire?
  15. Both good choices, XFX is great with the double lifetime warranty.

    Crossfire means linking two similar ATI GPUs to further increase performance. Down the road you could crossfire two of those HD5770s if you wanted better gaming performance for example.

    Please take a look at this. I don't understand everything, so here comes some questions:

    It seems to me that dual monitors are supported, so then I won't need a discrete GPU, I will more likely add one later, as I feel that it's necessary? (See VGA Output Support)

    And RAM with 1600MHz is not supported? (See Memory Features)

    Are SATA disks up to 6gb/s supported or does it need to be only 6gb/s (See Next-gen technology)

    Are there any other things I should know?
  17. Hi! again 1600MHz ram will work but the bios will set it as 1333MHz
    However if your not going to overclock your cpu the advantages over 1333MHz ram are negligable.

    Your better off going with something like this

    Onboard graphics use system resources such as your cpu and ram otherwise taxing your system.

    If a gpu isn't in your budget now that's fine you can always add one later.

    As far as hdd and speed go that's a topic that i don't pay much attention to as long as you buy a good hdd such as the SpinPoint you're fine.

    I'm using a hdd that everyone slags and its fine as far as i'm concerned.

    If you want fast read and writes add a SSD in the future that's what i'm going to do once 120gb come down to a reasonable price.

    As far as 6gb/s Sata goes pure marketing imho i wouldn't concern myself with it right now.

    USB 3.0 will be very useful in the near future.

    I don't know what your're upgading from but whatever it is you'll probably be blown away be the difference.

    I know i was when i upgraded from a Pentium 4 Northwood XP Pro to a i7 Lynnfield
    Windows 7 Pro 64
  18. Okay, since the motherboard don't dierctly support 1600MHz, I will go with a 1333MHz instead. But I've heard that 1600MHz works like a dream in proportion to 1333MHz ...

    I will get a discrete GPU, even though this will increase the price over my budget. XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB GDDR5, or maybe one more later with Crossfire.

    As HDD I will defenitely get the Samsung Spinpoint. I have the same plan regarding the SSD.

    I'm upgrading from a several years old MacMini (it's so crappy that even my web browser crashes sometimes if I'm watching Youtube or playing mini games), so I actually imagine a huge difference.

    Should I do something different?
  19. Actually: Would you recommend to just forget about a motherboard with GPU. I 'on't need it anyway. So instead I should probably go with this motherboard to not waste money on a built-in GPU that I won't use anyway. Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4, Socket-AM3. It offers the things the ASUS motherboard has, except from GPU.

    Or maybe isn't that smart. The built-in GPU maybe "helps" the discrete GPU so that the discrete GPU won't need to work as hard as it normally would. Just guessing.
  20. Onboard graphics do not boost a discrete gpu in anyway.
    It's quite the opposite a discrete gpu will help your cpu and ram loads.
    When using a gpu card you would disable the onboard graphics if your mobo had onboard graphics .
    No matter how you look at it a discrete gpu is always the best option if you plan on doing any type of modern gaming.
    On board graphics are fine if your purposes are e-mail,web surfing,and some video watching.
  21. Thank you so much for all your help!

    The specefications will be something like this:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE

    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4, Socket-AM3 (it has the specs from the ASUS, except from built-in GPU, which I don’t need)

    GPU: XFX Radeon 1GB HD 5670or 5770 (what do you think? Both support three monitors, but since 5770 is a higher number, I suppose it's better

    RAM: 1600MHz or 1333MHz???

    Cabinet: Fractal Design Define R2 Black Pearl (changed to this because of aproximately zero noise. Would you recommend it? If not, I will go for a Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced)

    HDD: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA2

    PSU: Corsair HX 750W PSU (found one at 20% off)

    ODD: Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S

    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits

    What do you think? Tips?
  22. Looks almost identical to the recomendations in my first post. Go with the RAM I linked to as well......very fast with very low timings ( low timings = fast ).

    I have never heard of that case. I have used the Antec 300 Illusion in many builds and it is nearly silent with the fans on low. You also have the option of turning the fans up ( all are 3 speed ) if heat becomes an issue. In my opinion it is the best case in it's price range. Also it has great cable management.

    You are not even close to needing a 750w power supply. Even if you get a 5770 and decide to add another to Crossfire with 550w is enough. If it will save you money get the Corsair 550TX. The HX series is more expensive because of the modular design. I am not saying do not get it but if you are on a budget ( I thought that you were.....) that is somewhere to save money.

    The graphics card I linked to orignally is one of the better 5770s out there and I still recommend it.

    What resolution are your monitors? That is THE most important thing to consider when buying a graphics card. If they are lower than 1920x1080 you can go with a HD 5750 and still play most games. If you want to play at 1920x1080 or above then the 5770 is the best choice in your budget.
  23. The fact that this is very much the same as your first recommendtation shows how good you are at this, but I want to know why I choose the different parts, and not just let others chose them for me without knowing why they are in my computer. That is one of the main reasons for building my own PC. All of you have been really helpful, so thanks a lot! Anyway, here comes some updates to the specs:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE

    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4, Socket-AM3 (it has the specs from the ASUS, except from built-in GPU, which I don’t need)

    GPU: HD 5670 1GB (I don't see any reason to pick a HD 5770, because they look identical except from the fact that 5770 is a higher number than 5670. What is really the difference?)

    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB

    Cabinet: Fractal Design Define R2 Black Pearl (if not, Cooler Master CM 690)

    HDD: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA2

    PSU: Corsair TX 550W

    ODD: Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S

    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits
  24. My ASUS M3A78-CM MOBO with onboard ATI 3200 ran two monitors at a time one monitor was a Westinghouse 32" @ 1366X768 the other a 19" Acer A 1366 X 768 no problems so I would think that the onboard graphics for the ASUS M4's would be even better at handling two monitors, mind you that I did not use it for gaming until I got a discreet GPU, It did perform okay with a few games....
  25. AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE (C3 stepping version)
    Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4, Socket-AM3
    ATI 5770 HD. Sapphire or XFX.
    G.skill ripjaws ddr3 1600 cas7
    Fractal Design Define R2 Black Pearl (changed to this because of aproximately zero noise.
    ** Certainly looks like an interesting case. It's up to you on this one, make sure it's wide enough for moderm HSF. Otherwise your choices are Haf922, CM690 II or Antec 900 .. which is $97 right now with a discount code
    Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA2
    Corsair HX 750W PSU (found one at 20% off)
    Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S ... get the cheapest, not necessarily a sony one
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits

    Ok I just realized this will add up to about $100 (962 exactly less taxes.. S/h)
    You could certainly drop down to a cheaper mobo and a rana x3 440. Perhaps a lower case such as the antec 300. Other then that the only other playing room is 1tb --> 500 gb drive (about $30 savings) and reusing an older windows if possible?

    5670 vs 5770.

    Again if you weren't planning to do some real gaming then 5670 is a viable option.
  26. Great! Thank you all for the help you have given me. You have taught me a lot. Thank you again, everybody. This will be my PC:

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4, Socket-AM3
    GPU: XFX HD 5670 1GB GDDR5
    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
    Cabinet: Fractal Design Define R2 Black Pearl
    HDD: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA2
    PSU: Corsair TX 550W
    ODD: Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7240S (or a cheaper)
    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits

    (Even though the pricing isn't within my budget, I will gladly buy these components without caring about the price. It's still a great PC for the value. I'm just so glad! :D)
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