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Micro ATX budget build

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June 25, 2010 3:10:40 AM

My desktop computer/space heater died yesterday. I'd like to replace it with something smaller, quieter, and cooler running. It was an Athlon 64 x2 6000+, ATI Radeon HD 2900XT 1GB with 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 RAM. Since it was put together in 2007, I assume I can get something that will perform better but output less heat and less noise for relatively low cost. Am I wrong?

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next two weeks.

BUDGET RANGE: Under $600.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Surfing, torrenting, multimedia, word processing, MATLAB/Excel/other math stuff, some gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, optical drive (unless I can upgrade to Blu-ray and stay on budget), floppy drive, may be able to reuse the 4GB DDR2 if mushkin honors the lifetime warranty and gives me a replacement set (would that be advisable?)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: micro ATX, eSATA, optical audio out, wifi. I would consider ITX if it is less expensive.

OVERCLOCKING: I wasn't planning to, but the guide to choosing parts tells me I should.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: It has been a long time since I've looked at processors or video cards, so I have no knowledge about the latest stuff.

I would like the case to be handsome. Black with red LEDs possibly?

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June 25, 2010 7:20:29 AM

RAM prices are volatile but definitely under $56x before rebates
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June 25, 2010 6:05:17 PM

Another option that would perform a lot better but cost a little more is a Core-i5/650 on an ECS H55H-I mini-ITX board, in a Lian Li PC-Q08.
What a coincidence :bounce:  , there's a slide show on YouTube of just such a build: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTeAknYYVr8
This machine is quiet, fast, looks great, and has the eSATA and optical audio out that you want.
You did say you wanted cheaper, so you could put a Core-i3 on it instead and still have better performance than your old rig. The board has 4 SATA ports on it too, so you could mount 3 internal hard drives in addition to your optical drive (which must also be SATA; there's no IDE header).

Edit:...but would not work if you NEED the floppy drive.
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June 26, 2010 12:37:15 AM

@jtt283:

I'm willing to sacrifice the floppy. It is mainly for nostalgia, and because I happen to find 3.5" floppies sexy... :whistle: 


The mini ITX form factor looks pretty cool, so I would be willing to go that route rather than micro ATX. I have a few questions about the proposed set up.

1) Would it be better to go with a slower speed quad core rather than the proposed dual core?

2) What graphics card should I go with?

3) Is there any particular reason to go with that case? It's somewhat expensive, and if I could put the extra money toward a better processor, it seems like that would be a better use of my money.

4) Any recommendations for a power supply?

5) DDR3 vs. DDR2: Noticeable difference?


@batuchka:

Thanks. That looks pretty cool. A good honest computer at a tasty price. I'm a little concerned about heat though. I realize my ATI and AMD are old at this point, but I'd rather not have my desktop double as an Easy Bake Oven. Do you know if that video card is going to run as hot as my previous one?
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June 26, 2010 1:09:42 AM

the radeon 5770, like the rest of the 5000 series (besides maybe the 5970), is a very good card that uses very little power and doesnt run very hot. as for the psu, maybe a corsair 550watt hx or tx series. theres not much of a difference in real world performance between ddr2 and ddr3 at similar speeds...
heres what i would say:

mobo 70: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
cpu 200: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ram 93: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
gpu 125: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
case 45: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
hdd and psu 95: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

total: $628
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June 26, 2010 1:46:41 AM

well i know mine is a little over budget and assumes you have a sata dvd drive. other than that, i used an intel cor ei5-750, but had to skimp on the case and graphics to stay reasonably close to your budget. yes the case isnt the most beutiful thing in the world, but you could add a 120mm rear and 80mm side red led fans...and maybe even wiggle on a red len fan in the front cooling the hard drive.
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June 26, 2010 2:20:03 AM

60Hz donut said:
@jtt283:

I'm willing to sacrifice the floppy. It is mainly for nostalgia, and because I happen to find 3.5" floppies sexy... :whistle: 


The mini ITX form factor looks pretty cool, so I would be willing to go that route rather than micro ATX. I have a few questions about the proposed set up.

1) Would it be better to go with a slower speed quad core rather than the proposed dual core?

2) What graphics card should I go with?

3) Is there any particular reason to go with that case? It's somewhat expensive, and if I could put the extra money toward a better processor, it seems like that would be a better use of my money.

4) Any recommendations for a power supply?

5) DDR3 vs. DDR2: Noticeable difference?


1. The i5/650 has hyperthreading, so it looks like a 4-core to Windows. It isn't as fast as a true quad, but I'm not noticing a difference. Since you're getting a discrete video card, you could get an i5/750 for $20 more, which is a true quad and may be faster, especially if overclocked. I don't think it's worth it, especially if you're concerned about heat. The 650 is only a 73 watt chip, vs. 95W for the 750.
2. You say "some gaming," but you have a 1920x1080 monitor. Check some benchmarks. Although a HD5750 might be enough, I suspect you'd end up wanting a little more, like a HD5770.
3. I like the case because it has front and rear-top fans (you can see them clearly in the slide show). Being large fans, they are quiet, but do a good job of cooling. I also like that it will take a standard PSU.
4. Definitely get a modular one. I used a 550W Truepower New because I got a great deal on it; I was otherwise considering a 500W OCZ that isn't too expensive.
5. I'm not sure. A number of other things make this machine very fast for my uses, like the 80GB Intel SSD.
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June 27, 2010 8:02:05 PM

I opted to go with batuchka's recipe, but I'm going to use an optical drive and HDD that I have on hand, and I changed the power supply to a cooler master. The RAM ended up being a little more expensive than when he priced it. After rebates it's about $490 shipped.

Thanks for the help, everyone!
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June 27, 2010 8:02:25 PM

Best answer selected by 60Hz donut.
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June 27, 2010 8:17:35 PM

A Coolermaster PSU??????? Tell me it doesn't have a little voltage switch on it...

(If it does, it is garbage; check out HardwareSecrets.com or jonnyguru.com for reviews)
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June 27, 2010 8:54:25 PM

Onus said:
A Coolermaster PSU??????? Tell me it doesn't have a little voltage switch on it...

(If it does, it is garbage; check out HardwareSecrets.com or jonnyguru.com for reviews)


It was the Silent Pro variety. I checked reviews here, at hardwaresecrets.com, and jonnyguru.com. It received good reviews from all of them. :) 
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June 27, 2010 9:49:03 PM

Ah, ok. That's a relief. Have fun with your build then.
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