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First build component choice

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June 28, 2010 12:08:19 PM

Hello all,

After my laptop died a few weeks ago, I've decided to build my first computer within the next month for under £500. It will be used for photo processing and moderate gaming (e.g. MW2).

I won't be needing a keyboard, mouse, or speakers. I'll be buying a monitor later when I have enough money, but this is outside of the current budget and I'll be using an old one until then.

I'm leaning towards an Intel Core i5-750 because it looks like it will last a few years and there's potential for overclocking if I really need to in the future, and I won't be needing multiple GPUs so a Gigabyte P55-UD3 motherboard looks good (or can I get something cheaper?).

I definitely won't be using CrossFire or SLI. I'm guessing around 4GB of RAM is needed assuming I run Windows 7.

So rough costs of what I'm planning so far:

Core i5-750 £160
Gigabyte P55-UD3 £100
4GB GSkill Ripjaws 100

Basically I'm after a graphics card which will be well-balanced with my processor, will handle photo-processing easily, and cost around (but preferably less than) £100. Will an ATI 4850 do, or should I go with a 4870? Or an nVidia card?

Once I've decided on a graphics card I can choose the PSU, DVD drive and case, then I think that's it?

More about : build component choice

June 28, 2010 12:10:12 PM

And the HDD, obviously.
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June 28, 2010 1:31:40 PM

You could go for the Gigabyte GA P55 US3L for about £78. Or if you do not plan on manual OCing you may consider an MSI board so that it can OC well for you.
As for cards

The 5670 tends to beat the NVidia GT240 (its contender pricewise)
The 5750 is a good step up from the 5670, but at just over £100, you should be able to get a 5770 for about £10-£15 more.

Another option to look at is the GTS250 from Nvidia, the 1gb version is around £95, possibly cheaper if you shop around. It is around the 5750 in performance, though is older technology and no Direct X 11 support (but then, on the cards you are talking about, Direct X 11 would likely make games unplayable anyway)

For real budget I would likely be eyeing up the 5670, if stretching the budget going with the 5770.

Now, having said all that - if you could get a 4870 cheap, I would.
June 28, 2010 2:54:52 PM

Having spent all day reading reviews on graphics cards and there being no clear winner for the £100 mark, I think I'll go with Griffolion's 5750.

I've also been looking at the possibility of overclocking, and I think I'll leave it alone because the lifespan of the processor will be affected and I'll have to spend more on cooling. Asteldian, what features does the US3L lose compared to the UD3? And does the MSI board have some built-in overclocking features?
June 28, 2010 3:28:41 PM

So far you listed the following components:

Motherboard
Cpu
Ram
Video Card
(Keyboard, mouse, monitor - reusing)

keep in mind that you will be needing the following unless you plan on reusing what you have:

Hard drive ($50-100USD based on your needs)
copy of windows 7 (oem win7 64 pro is a bit over $100USD)
Case ($50USD+ for anything decent)
Modem (if required)

also make sure whichever motherboard is your final choice has integrated sound (or you will be needing a soundcard as well)

Keep in mind that you can save some money but the performance level of your new rig will suffer because of it (and not be as future-proof.) A cheaper motherboard, i3, and value ram (from a major brand) can be used to keep your budget if you need the hardware I listed. I would vote on expanding your budget, but that is up to you entirely.
June 28, 2010 5:18:08 PM

ssddx said:


Hard drive ($50-100USD based on your needs)
copy of windows 7 (oem win7 64 pro is a bit over $100USD)
Case ($50USD+ for anything decent)
Modem (if required)

also make sure whichever motherboard is your final choice has integrated sound (or you will be needing a soundcard as well)

Keep in mind that you can save some money but the performance level of your new rig will suffer because of it (and not be as future-proof.) A cheaper motherboard, i3, and value ram (from a major brand) can be used to keep your budget if you need the hardware I listed. I would vote on expanding your budget, but that is up to you entirely.



I've found a Western Digital 500GB hard drive for £45. I can also get a student version of Windows 7 for around £30, and I already have a modem.

I've found this casefor £20 ($30) - does it look adequate? Why do I need to spend more than $50?

Good idea, I can save around £40 by using this motherboard, because I don't think I'll be upgrading past 8GB of RAM, which is its only limitation as far as I can see (although I'm inexperienced with motherboards - can anyone more knowledgeable see any problems?). I could possibly save a further £50 by using an i3-550, would this massively affect the computer's speed?
June 28, 2010 7:14:42 PM

Truth be told: you dont *need* to spend over $50USD for a case. I just looked and the antec 300 is selling for $49 on newegg; the case has good airflow and is highly rated. You can go with an even cheaper case if you like, however, I would try to get one that has at least 2x120mm (front and rear preferred) for good case ventilation.

The case you picked out is only supplied with 2x80mm side fans which isn't ideal (it has slots for more, but you'd have to buy them)

As far as the motherboard.. I didnt do a thourough check but it does have onboard sound. The one thing I noticed was the socket. If you plan on upgrading your cpu to an i7 (or anything new up until they change the sockets) then you might want to use the newest socket available. If not, this is a non-issue. Also since you have two ram slots only.. if you want 4gb then make sure you get 2x2gb sticks.

as far as an i3 vs an i5: there should be performance charts here on toms hardware. In any case, either processor will be faster than your old laptop.

as for the hard drive... make sure you buy one with a sata 3gb/s interface (most hds nowdays have this)
June 28, 2010 7:26:21 PM

In terms of features there is no difference between the performance of the cheaper mobo, it uses different capacitors. I would recommend it over the one you just linked which is a micro board and also of the H55 chipset not P55

I would not get that case, I am all for a cheap case - mine is usually £25-£35, but I prefer larger fans, ideally a top one or a nice big side one.

The MSI boards have an OC Genie where you press a button and it Overclocks the CPU to a stable lvl, nothing excessive and nothing that will damage the CPU, but a nice boost. You can turn it off just as easily.

If you are buying a 5750, but are now planning on buying the cheaper mobo, I would use the money saved there to get the 5770.
June 28, 2010 8:53:33 PM

Okay that Antec 300 looks good, I'll go for that. The hard drive is SATA 3GB/s, so no problems there. I'll also go for an i3-550, sticking with a 5750 in order to stay within budget because I still have the PSU to consider.

If I ever do upgrade the processor, it'll be to an i5 at most I think, so I don't mind that the socket is 1156. Looking at the US3L, the i3 isn't in the list of compatible chips on the Gigabyte website (although it has the same socket as the i5, so I don't know why it wouldn't be). I can go for an £80 P55 full ATX Gigabyte mobo or pay around £20 more for the MSI OC genie functionality, but would it be worth me moderately overclocking the processor manually to get the same (or perhaps better) results from another, cheaper board? Bear in mind that although I'm reasonably technically competent this is my first time building a computer and I've never overclocked anything before...

June 28, 2010 9:48:11 PM

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/191826
Is a good PSU (XFX 650W)
£70
Gigabyte P55 US3L £80
4GB GSkill Ripjaws £100
Core i5-750 £160
Samsung 500gb Spinpoint F3 £38
Case £30
Optical Drive £15
Windows £30
Total £523

That's without GPU. So, yes you are likely having to go to an i3 in order to drop cost to fit a GPU in.
Of course you could also go with just 2gb of RAM which would be about £50-£60 instead of £100. It is not ideal, but I was gamng with my new machine with only 2gb while the other 2 was RMA'd
June 28, 2010 10:33:53 PM

Good shout on the HD - I managed to find 1TB for only £7 more - unbelievable. I'll run with your P55 US3L too.

I've had a minor overhaul of my spec list, managing to save £15 on RAM and about £40 by stripping back to an i3-550.

CPU: Intel Core i3-550 £117

Motherboard: Gigabyte P55-US3L (ATX) £80

RAM: Crucial 4GB DDR3 1333Mhz £86

GPU: XFX Radeon 5750 £105

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB £45

Optical drive: Samsung SH-S223L £14

Case: Antec 300 £42

Total: £489 excluding the operating system.

Cheers for suggesting a PSU. Is 650W too big? I ran an online calculator which suggested 248W, so could I go for a 300W?
June 29, 2010 9:54:14 AM

Thanks Davcon, interesting article. I do mean the 550, as available here, but after reading that comparison it looks like I might be better off getting a 530 and saving on the budget.

Regarding PSUs, the OZC look to be a nice reputable brand. But I'll just copypaste what I asked in my previous post -
mike89 said:
Is 650W too big? I ran an online calculator which suggested 248W, so could I go for a 300W?


I'd change this and say could I go for a 400W, so that I can expand to an i5 in the future if I want.
June 29, 2010 10:06:23 AM

650W is excessive for your needs. On the bright side it will likely be reusable in your next build.

A quality 500W will be plenty for you and can save £15.

I have to admit, saing £40 on the processor...well, given how good the i5 750 is, I would seriously consider going another route:

Getting a decent 500W PSU will save £15.

How long does it take you to save money? Because I would drop to 2gb RAM with the plan to buy a second 2gb in a month or so. That and the 500W PSU should allow you to buy the i5 750 you wanted. The reason I suggest this is because adding RAM is very easy, also no money is wasted - simply saved until you could afford more. Whereas if you need to upgrade the CPU to i5 a bit later, a CPU is more of a pain to replace and that money on the original is essentially lost.

With the i5 750, 2gb RAM and the GPU, once you get another 2gb you have a near perfect machine to last until you play more taxing games, then all you need to do is replace the GPU with a powerful one and you have a fantastic machine, arguably the best gaming machine available too. As long as you aren't planning on a power hungry Nvidia card in the future, the 500W PSU should serve you fine
June 29, 2010 10:34:30 AM

mike89 said:
Thanks Davcon, interesting article. I do mean the 550, as available here, but after reading that comparison it looks like I might be better off getting a 530 and saving on the budget.

Regarding PSUs, the OZC look to be a nice reputable brand. But I'll just copypaste what I asked in my previous post -


I'd change this and say could I go for a 400W, so that I can expand to an i5 in the future if I want.

Wow! when did they launch the 550 last week?
Well if that's the case this is a very good choice
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/150985
however i still advise you to buy 500w minimum 400w doesn't cut it for expansion especially gpu wise
btw i own an i3 530 and an OZC ModXtreme 600w
June 29, 2010 1:20:02 PM

The 550 was launched early this month I think. Still, it's identical to the 530 other than a 0.3 Ghz increase, and £20 more expensive. So now I'm in a quandary between getting the 530 for £95, or splash out an extra £70 on the i5-750 and knowing I have 4 cores ready for software which can utilise them, as Asteldian suggests.

Honestly I can't see myself upgrading the machine (apart from maybe RAM), and I won't be using Crossfire, so your Corsair 400W suggestion should work for me.

Anyway, with the i3-530, and using the 400W PSU, I'm on £459. So final decision now is between the i3 and the i5. Hmm.
June 29, 2010 3:58:08 PM

mike89 said:
The 550 was launched early this month I think. Still, it's identical to the 530 other than a 0.3 Ghz increase, and £20 more expensive. So now I'm in a quandary between getting the 530 for £95, or splash out an extra £70 on the i5-750 and knowing I have 4 cores ready for software which can utilise them, as Asteldian suggests.

Honestly I can't see myself upgrading the machine (apart from maybe RAM), and I won't be using Crossfire, so your Corsair 400W suggestion should work for me.

Anyway, with the i3-530, and using the 400W PSU, I'm on £459. So final decision now is between the i3 and the i5. Hmm.

Well, if you're going to cut corners elsewhere in your build,then the i5 750 is the way to go.
Have you considered an AMD 955BE build?
June 29, 2010 5:12:47 PM

If I go with the Intel build, I'll go i5-750 then. I managed to find one for £130, which makes it look far more attractive.

I thought briefly about the X4 955 but they run hotter and demand more power than the Intels, which put me off. Do you think it'd be worth it?
June 29, 2010 7:29:28 PM

Bosh. Okay so the final build is looking like:

Core i5-750
Gigabyte P55-US3L
XFX Radeon 5770
Crucial 2GB DDR3 1333MHz
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
Samsung S223L optical drive
Antec 300 case
Corsair 400W CX

Totalling £514. This looks pretty good.

One question regarding the Radeon 5770 - does it matter which manufacturer I use? E.g. Sapphire, XFX, Asus, etc?
June 30, 2010 4:00:13 AM

I prefer XFX for the double lifetime warranty and good support.
It's what i use.
July 1, 2010 1:22:12 PM

Sounds good. I've been reading about some problems with the 5770 so after sales service might be important.

Looks like I've got a good rig here, thanks for the tips everyone. I was looking at the motherboard specs and although the name is p55, it's actually an h55 type. Does this matter?
July 1, 2010 6:36:07 PM

H55 mobos are entry level and most only provide 2x4 crossfire.
A P55 will give you 2x8 crossfire mode,some expensive ones have 2x16.
!