$800+-CAD budget for compsci student/mild gamer

First time poster here! Sorry in advance for any mistakes I make (i.e. wrong format, redundancy / lack of info, etc.)

I'm two years into studying comp sci, I've taken some analog/digital electronics courses, as well as some low level/high level programming, architecture, OS concept courses... Most of what I know though is theory - so I'm a novice when it comes to this....

I've been meaning to buy a new computer for a while now. My current machine is about 8 years old I believe:
- CPU: AMD 64 3400+ 2.2GHz~
- RAM: 1.5GB
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 5500
- Storage: 160GB HDD
- PSU: Thermaltake TR2-430W
- OS: XP... etc.
I also have some salvaged craptop (Presario X1000)

Long story short, I'm lacking in everything, tried to at least buy a large HDD so I wouldn't have storage issues, but this was with a SATA6.0GB/s interface, which apparently is disagreeable to my ancient chipset.

My intentions are primarily educational, there is some software I might use that probably requires a better computer (Some Adobe products?), but mostly it's not necessary, though if I ever find time to do so, I'd like to play some games (StarCraft 2 or Diablo 3 maybe?). Watching movies... hopefully running Flash apps without lag. I'd like to avoid having to buy a new machine for a few years, HOWEVER, if the new machine is sufficiently cheap and lasts until I actually have more money, I'm welcome to that idea.

I found what I think is a very good price on the i5 750 ($150). I'm wondering if I should wait still and educate myself further, and in the process maybe watch prices drop, or jump on this deal. I assembled a computer at the end of my post with prices, components, etc. As much as I'd like a better monitor, I think that will have to wait as non-essential.

I immediately notice that the RAM is not on the QVL for the mobo. I've heard complaints / compliments for every part imaginable... it's hard to distinguish real issues from nitpicking / stupidity and my own lack of knowledge.

Any comments are greatly appreciated, including how I should proceed, if I should wait, jump on it, superior parts, etc.

As it stands right now, I'm jumping between doing work for school and reading randomly about computer parts - I've read a bit of Tomshardware forums in the past, but probably not enough to know all about the expected syntax of posts, so again I apologize if anything is glaringly incompetent on my part...

Thank you again!



APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Whenever I can get most bang/buck


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitors (would be nice to upgrade!)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Whatever is most reliable / cheap / least hassle

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPUs are supposedly better than AMD for performance, right? Stability / performance parts, nothing fancy.. though a nice case doesn't hurt?

OVERCLOCKING: Within reason of price

COMMENTS: Read essay prior to summary

After Mail In Rebate: $99.99 CAD Video Card
//Powercolor Radeon HD 5750 PCs 700MHZ 512MB 4.6GHZ GDDR5 DVI HDMI VGA DIRECTX11 PCI-E Video Card

After Mail In Rebate: $29.99 CAD PSU
//Corsair CMPSU-400CX 400CX 400W ATX 12V 30A Power Supply Active PFC 120MM Fan

After Mail In Rebate: $69.99 CAD Case
//Azza Solano 1000 Black ATX Full Tower Case 10X5.25 1X3.5 8X3.5INT 2X230MM LED Fans & Window No PSU

Total: $354.18 CPU, RAM, 1.5TB HDD
//Intel Core i5 750 2.66 LGA1156 L3 8MB
//OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 Gold 4GB Dual Channel Kit
//WD Caviar Green WD15EARS 1.5TB 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

Total: $299.00 Mobo, 60 GB SSD
9 answers Last reply
More about budget compsci student mild gamer
  1. I will try to give you some constructive criticism

    a 5750 is fine but a 5770 or GTS 250 will give you better performance

    a good power supply and is tempting at that price but you risk outgrowing it
    i would suggest a 550w-650w for comfort and future expandability


    not a bad case looks like an Antec 900 copy the width of that case will limit aftermarket heatsink choices to those 150mm and under

    ram wise OZC scares me i would buy any of their other products though


    that's an awesome price for the cpu
    hdd if you want 1.5tb fine but lots of deals for 1tb
    that mobo combo is a good deal if your not interested in USB3.0 and Sata 6

    now someone else is going to read this thread and recommend you build an AMD
    LOL! I knew it!
  2. I think you should go with the hexacore AMD. It will be cheap, and if you plan on using it for long like your last rig, it will still be more updated than a quad core processor. Plus if gaming is not your priority, try cutting down on your graphic card. Take something around the HD 5670, as it gives decent 1152*864 at medium settings for all games I've played(including Crysis Warhead, Arkham Asylum, Conviction), and plus when it feels dated, you can simply buy one more and crossfire it.
  3. Hey again, thanks for the replies. I guess this alleviates some urgency on the purchase, I didn't want to let the seemingly good deal slip... but I guess I will educate myself a bit more before buying a system. Would like to see some more thoughts / opinions though I guess.

    I too was thinking about buying the hexa core AMD CPU, or a higher end Intel CPU. I was told that the Intel architecture of the CPU was superior to that of AMD's, and that the quad core Intel would outperform the AMD hexa core. I didn't find any benchmarking tests or any evidence to support the claims though...

    I know NOTHING about GPUs... I've not looked into them much so I have no idea what information about them is important.... From what I understand, a GPU is something like a CPU designated and designed only for graphics, in which case I would think the clock speed, architecture, memory, etc. would be important...

    Can you crossfire any different video cards?

    Again, from what I heard, Antec and Corsair are supposedly higher quality PSUs than the other manufacturers, so a higher wattage rating doesn't necessarily mean a better product / that it will hold up that long.

    I don't know what CUDA is, no.

    @banthracis -
    Strange, I can't seem to navigate to most of your links - maybe something to do with the affiliate marketing redirect or something?
  4. The hexacore CPU is better if you plan to use multi threaded applications, so not for now, but definitely for the future if you plan on using the rig for a long time.

    You can check compatible crossfire options on the AMD website http://ati.amd.com/technology/crossfire/charts.html
  5. archzeratul said:
    Strange, I can't seem to navigate to most of your links - maybe something to do with the affiliate marketing redirect or something?

    In IE, the links work fine.
    In chrome/firefox, I can't make them work.
  6. either TOM's or newegg.ca does weird things with the links in firefox. Not sure wat's up there as US newegg site links fine.

    Err if you're using CAD you really should take the time to look up CUDA. CUDA uses GPU to do any parallel calculation, specifically benefiting floating point calculations. Properly coded and implemented, a CUDA card can act like a CPU with hundreds of cores.

    Intel is better, but you can't get a full Intel build for $800 canadian.
  7. Ah sigh, it didn't occur to me...

    I meant CAD as in Canadian $ currency, not the engineering software. Though in the future, I may be using that software so it wouldn't hurt to educate myself about it. That sounds like a very interesting concept...

    By full Intel build, what exactly do you have in mind? Like.. dishing out in excess of $1000 for just the CPU? That would probably be out of the question, but if it's only a few hundred more for the entire system, it may be possible...
  8. If you want to go intel, here's a rough build

    i7-930 $290
    GA x58 UD3 MOBO $210
    Ripjaw RAM $110
    Spinpoint F3 HD 500GB $55
    OPtical $20
    OCZ PSU 550W 80+ $60
    9800gtx+ for CUDA $140
    Antec 300 illusion case $60

    That's $945 US
    For CA prices, add another $50 ish, so $995 before tax, shipping and rebates.

    If you also want to game, then depending on resolution you might have to shell out $350 for a gtx 470. So another $210 ish to the total.

    Bear in mind, if you don't intend on using CUDA you could go AMD and get a 5770 for $150 ish.
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