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Best Value, All-round PC

Last response: in Systems
July 1, 2010 9:28:20 PM

Hi Tom's,

I'm looking to take advantage of 4th of July sales to build a computer.

Trying to decide between an AMD X3 440, or the P2 940. I'm used to an Intel T7500 laptop and I'd like the desktop to be faster, but I don't do much that requires crazy speed. I think the 440 would work, but some of the 940 combos with motherboards aren't much more. I'm really not sure if it would be worth it for me.
I might get an SSD eventually if prices fall, but something like the Intel 80gb would be sufficient and it operates below the SATA 3.0GB limit so I guess I don't NEED SATA 6.0 GB. Also no real need for USB 3.0 currently. I might like to crossfire in few years when the 5770 isn't strong enough anymore, but that doesn't seem like a factor really worth considering. Future upgrade planning seems like a waste of time. They will change something interface, or I'll want something newer.

1) What is your budget?
$600-800 for the computer, not a firm number, looking for value more than a specific budget.

2) Are there any brands/resellers that you prefer or any you really don't like?
It seems AMD makes more of an effort to keep the same CPU sockets around for a while, but I’m not sure if the situation ever actually occurs when someone would update the CPU and not the motherboard.

3) What tasks will you be performing with the Desktop?
• Starcraft 2
• Movies primarily but also TV watching
• Small amounts of work such as MS Office and Project, 2d AutoCAD

4) Will you be playing games on it; if so, which games?
Starcraft 2 - thinking of a 5770. 5850 is more than I want to commit to games. I don't play them that often and am ok with non-max settings. Would consider the nvidia equivalent. I've heard you can't make a hackintosh with AMD. That's not a deciding factor, but it would be neat to play around with and my girlfriend is a MAC user.

5) Do you mind buying parts online without seeing them in person?
Don’t mind buying online if I don’t get killed with shipping. I have a microcenter near me and I don’t mind supporting them as it’s nice to physically see parts and returns are easier. I would be happy to use Newegg for combo deals or Gskill ram for example.

6) What OS do you prefer? Windows (XP or Vista), Mac OS X, Linux, etc.
Windows 7 with the option of Linux, OS X if possible

7) How much hard drive space is needed?
I'll get at least 500gb but I don’t edit video or pictures.

8) What size desktop would you like?(All in one, compact, large)
Not really important to me. Whatever is best for performance/ability to upgrade

9) Does the case need to be stylish?
Nope, in fact I'd like to reuse my old Antec SX600. It has room for two 80mm fans in the front and one 80mm in the back, plus the top mounted powersupply.

10) What resolution will the screen run at? One or Two screens?
I just purchased an off-lease dell 2407.

11) Do you need any particular hardware?(Ports, HDD slots, double DVD drives, etc.)
Whatever it takes to be able to use the computer as a TV, for airwaves broadcast not cable. I watch very little TV, but it's nice if the President is making an address or I want to watch Lie to Me with commercials. Also might like to get a wii in the future and would like to be able to play the wii on the monitor. I don’t currently own a separate TV and don’t want to.

12) How would you rate your technical skills?
Decent, I’m quite careful mechanically, but I don’t have much knowledge of bios, or system architecture.

13) Have you ever built a desktop before?
Nope, but I added a new hard drive to my old Dell Pentium 3. Also taken apart and cleaned the P3, down to new thermal grease in the SECC2 CPU card.

14) Do you need wireless connectivity?
Yes, I can’t guarantee that I would want this computer in the same room as the internet cable.

15) When are you going to be building this?
ASAP, the monitor arrived today and I'd like to score some July4th sales if possible.

16) Have you considered a pre-built desktop? Or even a notebook?
Yes, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy the learning process of putting it together. It seems a notebook that can play even non-demanding games like SC2 would cost a lot. I also like a larger screen than is easily portable and cost effective.

17) Are you going to overclock?
No, well maybe ; ) I probably will if I stay interested in computers for long enough.

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Best solution

July 1, 2010 11:01:03 PM

You'll need this

AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana $74.99

ASRock M3A770DE AM3 $59.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) $93.99

POWERCOLOR PCS+ AX5770 1GB $154.99

Seagate Barracuda 750GB $49.99 with promo code EMCYTNX58

Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM $94.99

LITE-ON Black DVD burner with Light Scribe, retail. $25.99

The total is $554.93

I don't know what kind of PSU you have or I would have used a 5830. The motherboard is an early AM3 board so if you pick a different CPU than the one I put you need to make sure that it supports that chip with the initial BIOS otherwise you risk it not posting. If you want to go with a higher clocked 445, that comes with free COD MWF2 by the way

AMD Athlon II X3 445 w COD MWF2 $84.99

ASRock 870 EXTREME3 $109.99

Total of $614.93

For that you get a board with USB 3.0, SATA3, eSATA3, and 8x/8x crossfire support allong with better compatibility for newer AMD chips.
July 1, 2010 11:01:33 PM

^ Those totals are before the coupons in the first link by the way :D 
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July 2, 2010 12:28:21 PM

Yeer mega man's components look well balanced.
July 2, 2010 1:28:04 PM

Thanks so much for your help.

I forgot to mention one thing. I have two DVD drives from the old computer which are IDE rather than SATA. A new optical is only $20 bucks, but is there any difference between the old and new interface. If not I might just keep the old ones.

Is there any reason you chose that particular 5770? Just cost or cooling or because it has Dirt 2, which is sweet.

Also does that hard drive compare well with the Spinpoint F3 or the WD Caviar Black? I feel bad for asking something that I could look up myself, but if you know the answer off the top of your head, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again.

July 2, 2010 1:28:32 PM

Best answer selected by lhurt.
July 2, 2010 2:06:27 PM

My power supply is an Antec SL350. I don't think it has enough 12v amperage. I'll probably get something like a Corsair 400W or 500W.

My PSU specs:
Voltage Current Power
+5 Volts 35 Amps 175 Watts
-5 Volts 0.5 Amps 2.5 Watts
+12 Volts 16 Amps 192 Watts
-12 Volts 0.8 Amps 9.6 Watts
+3.3 Volts 28 Amps 92.4 Watts
+5 Volts 2 Amps 10 Watts
July 2, 2010 4:51:43 PM

The ASRock 870 Extreme has no IDE so if you went with that one you would need to buy a new optical drive. The ASRock M3A770DE on the other hand has one IDE so you could connect both your old optical drives to it. The PSU is a bit weak for the build so yeah I would get a new one.

Yeah I chose that 5770 just for Dirt 2 :D . A slightly cheaper one at stock clocks would work just as well. For a Hard Drive comparison it's best to look up the Hard Drive charts here. As for the PSU, I would say go with at least a 450W.

Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green $64.99


CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX $64.99 (49.99 after rebate)

I used that same corsair in my cousins build and he used a more power hungry 4850 and an overclocked Kuma 7750 BE
July 5, 2010 6:42:54 PM

Thanks for all your help Megaman.

I ended up getting some different items than recommended, but mostly I used what you suggested. Several of them were offered as combo deals.

Here is the final purchace:

CPU & Mobo Combo: ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX, AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz w/ MDW2
Price after Mail in Rebate $168

PSU & Harddrive Combo: Corsair 450 Seagate 7200.12 500GB
Price after Mail in Rebate $168

Graphics and Windows Combo: Powercolor 5770 with Dirt2, Windows 7 64 bit Save an extra $10
Price after Mail in Rebate $225

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) $105

Also ordered a keyboard and a case fan.

July 6, 2010 5:53:24 AM

Cutting it a little close with the psu if you're planning to crossfire or upgrade, but otherwise it looks pretty good.