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Inexpensive ($500) Business Machine needed

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July 6, 2010 1:26:51 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: (this week) BUDGET RANGE: ($500)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: (compiling/developing; video encoding; gaming)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: (keyboard, mouse, monitors, speakers)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: (newegg.com) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: (USA)

PARTS PREFERENCES: by brand or type (AMD CPU)

OVERCLOCKING: Yes SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe / Future

MONITOR RESOLUTION: (currently have 1440 x 900 and 1280 x 1024)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: (light gaming, much more a business rig for heavy multitasking, compiling/building and some video encoding)

======================================

Here is a potential shopping cart:


(if this image is not visible, I will repost -- I'm not sure of the best way to upload shopping carts?)

I would really love to trim this down -- any ideas on where to save $50 - $100? Are my selections compatible and good choices?

Thanks for all your help!!
July 6, 2010 1:39:02 AM

I see no optical drive. May or may not be an issue, depends if you have another to use. You could save quite a few $$$ if you stepped down in the mobo and cheaper memory (DDR2 mobo and memory). You could also drop back to a dual or tri core CPU.

For your primary purpose, compiling/developing those step downs would have minimal impact.

Good luck.
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July 6, 2010 2:19:14 AM

COLGeek said:
I see no optical drive. May or may not be an issue, depends if you have another to use. You could save quite a few $$$ if you stepped down in the mobo and cheaper memory (DDR2 mobo and memory). You could also drop back to a dual or tri core CPU.

For your primary purpose, compiling/developing those step downs would have minimal impact.

Good luck.


Thank you for the fast reply!

Yes, I should have made it clear -- I am covered on the optical drives.

I suppose I chose the MB (and certainly memory) for the sake of future-proofing. For example, I expect Adobe CS5 to be next after my budget absorbs this hardware hit. I did not even think of stepping from DDR3 down to DDR2 -- in my mind I would have done without USB 3.0 and/or SATA 6.0 before stepping down in that memory ... am I wrong in that interpretation?

I also see I neglected to point out I will be running Win 7 64-bit, which I will get via student discount. Future upgrades would be CPU and dedicated video -- which is why I thought the first round I would beef up on MB and DDR3.

There will be some gaming involved, and some video rendering. Possibilities also include HTPC before creating a dedicated HTPC.

Thanks again.
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July 6, 2010 3:32:31 AM

brianfulcher15 said:
If it was mostly for business, i'd just buy an off the shelf pc, and then throw in a 9800 gt for 100 bucks. just get one with a quad core with more than 2.5 ghz.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/HP+-+Factory-Refurbished+De... core&contract_desc=null


i disagree on this one, as the difference in the quality of parts would make it worth while to build yourself (and can be cheaper at times as well)
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July 6, 2010 4:02:57 AM

Stepping down the CPU is a BAD idea for your uses. CS4 will benefit a lot from the extra processing power. OC and it will win most all the comparisons. And then you won't have to upgrade the CPU later.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/106?vs=121

I think keeping the USB 3.0 is a good idea at this point of building new. Especially if you plan to do external backups. It will make a big time diff if you have a USB 3.0 external drive.

The samsung spinpoint F3 1tb is a great drive and save a few bucks.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This ram will save $10, but if you look, can probably find a combo to save even more:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Not a fan of rosewill PSUs. OCZ would be my pick in this budget.


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July 6, 2010 4:36:26 AM

Is this over your budget?

AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz + GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM + Antec NEO ECO 400C 400W Continuous Power ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
COOLER MASTER Elite RC-310-BWN1-GP Black Steel
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
AMD Gift - Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Coupon

$524.93

LE: No crossfire on that mobo though.

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July 6, 2010 4:49:40 PM

Thank you for all of the replies!

First, I will be building my own -- for quality of parts, even though it may cost me more than Best Buy, etc.

As to the memory -- I was looking for 7-7-7 timing, and the RAM I picked had that.

As to the HD -- I see the big difference being brand name. My cart had a Western Digital, 6.0 Mb/s SATA, 64 MB Cache -- the Samsung has 3.0 Mb/s SATA, 32 MB Cache. So for $20, and West. Dig. vs. Samsmung, I have twice the cache and twice the (theoretical) throughput. Any other differences? Is SATA 6.0 not ready for primetime yet, or will I notice a big difference on hard drive read/writes?

mosox -- no Crossfire, and no onboard video (which you are replacing with a standalone Sapphire card). Is this better today and/or also better to upgrade in the future?

Thanks again for all the replies -- I will see what cases/PSU I can come up with.
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July 6, 2010 4:58:44 PM

For that resolution the HD4670 is very good and you can play games on it, even demanding games. If you plan to change the monitor and game more seriously you can go the integrated video way and add later a video card.

For light gaming you definitely don't need crossfire mobo whatever your choice is.
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July 6, 2010 5:07:16 PM

NorCalJon said:
As to the HD -- I see the big difference being brand name. My cart had a Western Digital, 6.0 Mb/s SATA, 64 MB Cache -- the Samsung has 3.0 Mb/s SATA, 32 MB Cache. So for $20, and West. Dig. vs. Samsmung, I have twice the cache and twice the (theoretical) throughput. Any other differences? Is SATA 6.0 not ready for primetime yet, or will I notice a big difference on hard drive read/writes?


no, its only twice the connection speed from the drive to the motherboard, mechanical drives don't fully utilize SATA 3.0Gbps so you won't really notice a difference, especially fro $20
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July 6, 2010 5:10:02 PM

You will not get twice the throughput with the WD HDD. As it is today, mechanical HDDs can't saturate the SATA2 interface. Samsung makes very good HDDs so don't discount them, I have many of them and have always been very happy with them.

If you even plan (or plan to plan) to have CF downstream, then buy a CF capable mobo now. To save $$$ you can use the integrated GPU until you can buy what you want. The HD4200 GPUs found on many mobos today are actually pretty good as integrated GPUs go and perform quite well for most applications (including light gaming).

The DDR3 vs. DDR2 argument is largely moot given the components you buy. Lots of studies out there that show the differences are not all that huge (at this time) from a practical standpoint (theoretics are not the talking point here).

Buy the mobo you want and have fun with the new build. HOOAH!!!

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Best solution

July 6, 2010 5:29:53 PM

If i were to build a computer to target the 500-600 price range this is what i would build today.

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 630
Price: 99.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws ddr3 1600
Price 104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: OCZ ModXStream 700 watt PSU, 80 plus certified
Price: 84.99

GPU: Radeon 5670, XFX or Visiontek for life time warrenty
Price 89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: ASRock m3a770de
Price: 59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard drive: Samsung spinpoint 1tb
Price 74.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: Cooler Master Centurion 5
Price: 59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Media Drive: lite on cheapest avaliable dvd burner
price 19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This will support a crossfire upgrade later on and should run pretty decient.

It lacks usb 3.0 but pcs is one of those things that falls into the you get what you payfore catagory.

Total price: 607 Shiped, 575 after mail in rebates

you could skimp out on the PSU and get a lower quality one, and maybe a smaller hard drive to get it to the 500 price range.



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July 6, 2010 10:49:01 PM

First of all, THANKS TO ALL!! This community is great!!

I have taken all suggestions into consideration, and came up with the following:



Unless I am mistaken, I am seeing $545 with $60 in rebates.

Questions:

1) Do I need any aftermarket items -- fans, adapters, thermal compound, cables, etc.?

2) This PSU should work with this case / MB -- no conflict in mounting, fan placements, etc.?

3) I stuck with the RAM -- is the preference I am following for 7-7-7 timing as important as I seem to remember it being?

Again, I really appreciate all of the help -- I couldn't do it without Tom's Hardware!!!
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July 6, 2010 11:35:17 PM

you should be good to go, you may need some sata cables and stuff but i think you are set. unless you want to get some media drives.
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July 6, 2010 11:46:08 PM

Thanks, brianfulcher15 -- I have optical drive already.
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July 7, 2010 12:25:31 AM

The memory sub system really isn't as critical as it used to be. Reality is, the advances in memory speed have outpaced the other bottlenecks, so the memory isn't holding you back, even at CAS 9. Unless you're getting into heavy OC'ing, the timings aren't that important. After you get to 1333mhz, focus on timings as at that point, they do more than raw speed will. So you could get cheaper ram, maybe a 1600mhz CAS 9 and down clock it to 1333mhz CAS 7 for less.

What type of OC are you gunning for? If you're trying to max the chip, a HSF would be a good idea for the CPU. If you're looking for a moderate bump, the stock fan should get you 3.2-3.4 ghz just fine.

The case you have chosen is a beast. You could get sound performance from something less expensive if you're trying to come in under budget. We'll explore that if you want. But as it stands, no conflicts foreseen.
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July 7, 2010 2:47:51 AM

skora said:
The memory sub system really isn't as critical as it used to be. Reality is, the advances in memory speed have outpaced the other bottlenecks, so the memory isn't holding you back, even at CAS 9. Unless you're getting into heavy OC'ing, the timings aren't that important. After you get to 1333mhz, focus on timings as at that point, they do more than raw speed will. So you could get cheaper ram, maybe a 1600mhz CAS 9 and down clock it to 1333mhz CAS 7 for less.

What type of OC are you gunning for? If you're trying to max the chip, a HSF would be a good idea for the CPU. If you're looking for a moderate bump, the stock fan should get you 3.2-3.4 ghz just fine.

The case you have chosen is a beast. You could get sound performance from something less expensive if you're trying to come in under budget. We'll explore that if you want. But as it stands, no conflicts foreseen.



Thanks, skora -- Not heavy OC'ing, but certainly wanted to boost things -- I would think 3.2 - 3.4 would be plenty for what I am doing.

The case was part of a combo, as I'm sure you can see -- I tried a G.Skill RAM + Lian Li case combo along the lines of what you suggested (cheaper RAM / Case) but it didn't seem to drop the price too much. I was trying to future-proof the case and PSU since this is for my own use. Maybe you had other RAM and Case choices to really drop it below $500? My previous cart was at $545 with $60 in rebates, with that combo instead I calculate at $495 with $20 in rebates.

Thanks for all your help!
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July 7, 2010 4:01:58 AM

well the case is future proof, but the psu really isent, the new gpus now all call for 600watts or more.

are you planing on geting the bulldozer when it comes out.

can you post your mobo model number? I cant see it in the picture.
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July 7, 2010 2:46:42 PM

brianfulcher15 said:
well the case is future proof, but the psu really isent, the new gpus now all call for 600watts or more.

are you planing on geting the bulldozer when it comes out.

can you post your mobo model number? I cant see it in the picture.


for new GPU's it depends which one, the 5850/5870 can be used easily on a 500w PSU of good quality and crossfire on 650w PSU of good quality, though the GTX470/480 need a bit more
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July 7, 2010 4:13:57 PM

The MoBo is a Gigabyte GA-880GA-UDH3H -- $109.99 at NewEgg.

The PSU is 600 Watts, OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V. In a combo deal with the CPU (AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz) both are $154.98 with $20 rebate.


The next combo deal is the G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) and LIAN LI Case. Total for this combo is also $154.98, with no rebate.

Now, for the hard drive, I see the wisdom from previous posts in the Samsung F3. Altogether, this setup is $494.94 with $20 in Rebates ($474.94 net) before tax & shipping.

==================

Option 2 would be to select a combo with the Samsung F3 and the Thermaltake V9 Case. If I remove the LIAN LI Case, this total is $519.94 with $45 in rebates ($474.94 net) before tax & shipping.


So, what do you think? Thanks!!
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July 7, 2010 4:58:45 PM

i would go with option 2. That thermal take case will be really quite. It has a side fan which is nice.

I dont think either have filters.

are you planing to use the same ram with both options?

if you go with option 2 I woudl spend 5 dollars more and get th elower cas memory
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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July 7, 2010 5:10:41 PM

brianfulcher15 said:
i would go with option 2. That thermal take case will be really quite. It has a side fan which is nice.

I dont think either have filters.

are you planing to use the same ram with both options?

if you go with option 2 I woudl spend 5 dollars more and get th elower cas memory
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Yeah, I'm definitely leaning towards that Thermaltake V9 case. Some of the customer reviews of the PSU say to make sure the case has bottom PSU -- which the Thermaltake V9 has. I also like the fans and ventilation layout.

I did upgrade the RAM as you suggested.

I am now at $524.94. Are all heatsinks, thermal compounds, etc. that I should need included? I'm not going to push the OC too much, but that Athlon II x4 635 is just itching to be bumped up a little!
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July 7, 2010 5:44:48 PM

Also, since I am open to changing RAM selections -- and there seems to be a large number of choices around $105 -- any other suggestions?

This will be my first OC rig in a number of years, but I am a fast learner and don't mind reading to educate myself. I think the MoBo and CPU are an excellent fit for my business (only light gaming) needs.

I guess I am seeking out the best bang-for-the-buck, feel confident in the RAM suggested by brianfulcher15 -- but there are (like I said) a whole lotta choices in that price area.

I am ready to purchase today.

***Update***
I just read the Tom's Hardware story about under $150 RAM, which concludes with the G.Skill’s Trident DDR3-2000 being the winner for "for mid-budget overclockers who believe in the importance of memory speeds beyond those we’ve found to be beneficial to program performance." (I do include this quote as a possible answer to my own question -- meaning not beneficial to program performance)

That RAM, plus everything else including the Thermaltake V9 Case results in $544.94 with $45 in rebates (before tax & shipping=$7.87).

My question is, does that higher-end (to me) RAM provide tangible benefits to my system as described? Does it really not matter in the real world, and I should get quality RAM for ~ $105?

I really appreciate all of the help provided in this thread!!
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July 7, 2010 11:08:13 PM

Reality is, ram isn't a part that needs a ton of decision put into it. Even CAS 9 isn't going to hold back your system and CAS 6 isn't going to make it notable faster. As long as you're not buying junk no name ram, you'll be fine.

Here's my order of picking specs for ram:

Get at least 1333mhz.
Then look for one of two factors, either Cas 7 at stock voltage or Cas 9 at low voltage (1.5.
Getting 1600mhz Cas 9 with low voltage is also good. A little bump in voltage will make either OCing or timing tightening very effective.

Here's a couple links of what I think will do well.

1333 Cas 9 at 1.5v and THG Best of Award
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ddr3-4gb-p55,2462-7...

I even think these would perform well:
1333mhz Cas 9 1.5v. Cheap because it looks like quality control issues in comments.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As you can see, heat spreaders are over emphasized as the toms article linked points out it actually hinders performance. Most of those heat spreaders are applied with thermal tape that act more like an insulator than conducting heat away.

1600mhz Cas 9 1.5v
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Lots of options, might be easier to say what to avoid.
1066mhz
1333mhz Cas 9 at 1.6+v
1600mhz Cas 9 at 1.7+v

Okay, I'm just rambling at this point because I've been up since 430a. Might be time for a nap.
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July 8, 2010 1:03:04 AM

Thanks, skora -- I'll take your rambling (for info) when needing a nap anytime!

I have made my purchase -- thanks to all for their recommendations and ideas!!

Even though not a gaming-heavy machine, everyone's input at Tom's HW was very helpful. Now, as I build this thing I know where to turn ... :) 
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July 8, 2010 2:42:35 AM

So what all did you finally get?

And from the looks of what you have picked i think it all was retail, and not OEM. Retail kits come with cables fans heatsinks, etc... oem kits are usually the piece of equipment with no extras. eg. oem cpu = only CPU, retail cpu = cpu, owneres manual, box, fan, heatsink, and usually a longer warrenty.

I found that out the hard way back in the early e8400 days when they were selling otu the day they came in, and i thought i was geting a good deal, but ended up with an oem when i thought it was a retail, needless to say my thermalright aftermarket cooler and fan are much better than stock however that was another 80 bucks for them.
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July 8, 2010 4:57:32 PM

brianfulcher15 said:
So what all did you finally get?

And from the looks of what you have picked i think it all was retail, and not OEM. Retail kits come with cables fans heatsinks, etc... oem kits are usually the piece of equipment with no extras. eg. oem cpu = only CPU, retail cpu = cpu, owneres manual, box, fan, heatsink, and usually a longer warrenty.

I found that out the hard way back in the early e8400 days when they were selling otu the day they came in, and i thought i was geting a good deal, but ended up with an oem when i thought it was a retail, needless to say my thermalright aftermarket cooler and fan are much better than stock however that was another 80 bucks for them.


I agree with you on retail vs. OEM -- sometimes I've over-thought that one thinking I was saving when I ended up spending more. I think that case will keep my stuff cool with my moderate OC'ing, and the included heatskinks, etc. will probably be fine.

I went with pretty much what I had been writing, including the higher-end RAM. I'm sure it was extra money that won't necessarily show a benefit on this system, but I think I will be upgrading another computer within a year and I think it will provide the most flexibility when that time comes.

Specifically, here it is:

The MoBo = Gigabyte GA-880GA-UDH3H -- $109.99.

The PSU = OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V. In a combo deal with the CPU (AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz) both are $154.98 with $20 rebate.

Next the Samsung F3 1TB HD and the Thermaltake V9 case and G. Skill Trident RAM.

Total = $544.94 with $45 in rebates. Shipping only $7.87 which was for the mobo (happy there was free shipping on case!). I'm sure I overshot the RAM, but the Win 7 64-bit pro was less than I thought with the student discount ($29.99) so it made the RAM easier to absorb. Tax (I'm in California) was $43.31.

Thanks for your help, brianfulcher, along with everyone else!
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July 8, 2010 6:05:23 PM

yep cali is the worse state to live in if you buy online... everything seems to based there lol.
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July 17, 2010 12:40:49 AM

Best answer selected by NorCalJon.
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