This will be my first build. Nothing fancy at all. My current computer is a six-year old Dell laptop with 512mb of ram, so anything even remotely better will blow me out of the water with its newness. I want to run win 7 64-bit pro, which I get for free through my school, and Ubuntu.
Basically, I'm looking to maximize value. Cheap, but still with good name brands, good warranties, decent quality, etc.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: hopefully by June 11, 2010.
BUDGET RANGE: $300-$400 for the system after MAD rebates.
don't really have a budget for keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, etc, although I'll need those as well.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Internet, I take a lot of classes online, word processing and MS Visual Studio, maybe streaming movies (no blu-ray), light photo editing. The only gaming I might do is some old-school point-and-click adventure games.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: discrete graphics card, OS (Win 7 Pro 64-bit and Ubuntu)
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: whatever's cheap and not a complete scam. newegg.com, frys (b&m or .com) zipzoomfly although I know they suck)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US
PARTS PREFERENCES: quality brands, decent warranties, not COMPLETELY obsolete, small size case (I prefer desktop to tower)
OVERCLOCKING: Yes, for fun and education
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: LOL...No.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: eventually I'd like to get a 24" HD monitor, but I will probably go with a free craigslist CRT for now and wait till black friday to get a nice 24" LCD on the cheap.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I may want to use some of the parts from this build as an HTPC in the future, whenever my old TV dies and I break down and buy an HDTV. So I'd be willing to spend a bit more on parts that are good for an HTPC.
What I've purchased so far (but can still return if needed):
Athlon II X3-440 and ???? motherboard
(fry's usually offers the Athlon X3 as one of their super-cheap cpu-mobo combos (the combo will probably be <$90), but I can't decide if I should go with that or if I should actually shell out cash for a better/more current/more feature-rich motherboard. The combo motherboards would probably have only 2 ram slots, an older chipset, and low-end onboard graphics.) This is the key decision that will make or break my ideal sub-$300 budget. If I have to actually pay for a motherboard, my budget will be in the $350 range. Also, I don't want a mobo that is too new, because the price of DDR3 will raise my costs way too high.
Yah, but that DDR3 doesn't have the greatest reviews. I think for my purposes, the performance differences between DDR2 and DDR3 are not enough to justify the $30-40 price increase, especially when you compare the latency. For that price I could get another pair of 1 gb sticks to add to my current setup, to go up to 6gb (assuming I get a compatible mobo).
I agree with your mobo choice...it's the one I have my eye on as an alternative to fry's combo deals. It's got 4 ram slots, and what I hope are a nice chipset and decent graphics. I just can't decide whether to spring for newegg's combo now, or wait another ad cycle or two at Frys to see what mobo they're offering. I guess I will wait a bit and see if anyone else has any input or alternatives.
Nice case at a nice price, but the case is the one thing where I'm going more for surface-level appeal than for quality or absolute lowest price. I just really like the look of small, cute desktop cases rather than a tower. Somehow I just don't want a tower in my office. I'm a bit worried about the b-gears case because I think it's probably pretty cheap quality, but it's so darned cute, and the next-closest options cost twice as much, shipped.
Well, I think you've convinced me to at least move up to the X4. I think I'll still stick with DDR2 (and compatible mobo) to stay within budget. There's a computer recyclery very close to where I live, so even when DDR2 goes the way of the dodo, I'll still be able to find it for cheap. I just don't think the slight performance boost to DDR3 is worth it for me.