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Best Non-Gaming Intel PC for $800

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  • New Build
  • Intel
  • Systems
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Last response: in Systems
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July 15, 2010 8:18:52 PM

I have an iMAC and am ready to go back to PC. I would prefer to build my own system (first time) and I won't be doing much gaming on it.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: August 2010
BUDGET RANGE: $600-$1000

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Surfing, Email, Listening to Music, Office Aps, Simple games for kids, photo storage/printing, converting video files to DVDs and watching movies.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Need all parts including Win 7 OS.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon.com, and newegg.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU, Intel Motherboard & Intel SSD (for OS & Programs only - would like large RAID system for all other storage).

OVERCLOCKING: Willing to do it though have no experience.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Will be buying the latest monitor with high resolution

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Efficient, quiet system.

More about : gaming intel 800

July 15, 2010 8:57:12 PM

You're other thread got deleted while I was typing in it...

You do realize that Intel makes absolutely crappy motherboards right? I wouldn't go near them. Also, a decently sized Intel SSD (80 GB is the smallest I'd go) will run around $200. With needing the OS and a monitor, that only leaves $500 for the rest of the build.

As for an actual build, it's pretty tough to put anything together with such vauge usages. When you say "simple games", what exactly do you mean? Are they actual games you buy, or are they more like little internet flash games? That's realistically going to be the most intensive task you have listed, judging by your descriptions.

I'll start by outlining what you'd be looking at with a $500 build (assuming you still want the SSD). I don't have all the links right now, so I'll be guessing on the prices.

CPU/Mobo: i3-530 and a Gigabyte or Asus H55 board $210
RAM: 2x2 GB 1333 mhz CAS Latency 9 $100
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case: Antec 200 $50
Optical/PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W and cheap SATA DVD burner $39 after rebate
Monitor: Asus 23" 1080p $170 after rebate
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100

Total: $744
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July 15, 2010 10:49:55 PM

Thanks...I don't know that much about mother boards so I am open to other ones.

Simple games means older PC games for my children - games from Hasbro, Freddie Fish kind of stuff.

Also my budget for hardware at $800 does not include a monitor (I'll by that separately)....so realistically my hardware budget is $800 (not including OS & Monitor - I wan't clear before).
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July 15, 2010 11:01:19 PM

Nothing in your list of uses would stress the computer very much. Just about any basic machine you would buy at BestBuy or whatever would do for you. However it is worthwhile to build your own if only for the enjoyment and pride of ownership, and you can build a really good machine for $800.

If you wanted to play serious games then you would need to spend more on the video cards and that would be a little harder to fit within $800 but could be done if you work at it. Toms has built some reasonable gaming machines for closer to $600.

The i3 chips are really good chips for normal uses. Also there are some AMD chips that are good for the price. For a budget of $800 you could maybe fit in an i5-750 and this would be a powerful machine that would last a long time. Really depends on how much you want to stretch the budget.

I wouldn't try to fit an SSD into this kind of budget. The fast WD hard drives for desktop machines will work fine in your machine. You would need to spend a lot on an SSD and still you would need to include a normal hard drive for things that wouldn't fit on the SSD.
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July 16, 2010 1:19:47 AM

@cadder: $800 can actually get you mean gaming machine, and Tom's builds aren't that great. Every time I read the System Builder's Marathon articles, I end up thinking of the several builds I put together that day that were massively better for the same price.

I agree that you don't really need that much power. Even if you wanted to spend $800, I'd stick to something cheaper. No reason to waste money if you don't need to.

The reason I recommended the i3 was for the enhanced integrated graphics with the chip. It makes it slightly better than a bare bones AMD system. That said, another option to look at would be using the X3 440 and an 8xx chipset AM3 board. The integrated graphics on the newer chipset are also pretty good. I wouldn't recommend the i5-750. It's expensive ($195 for the CPU alone) and it's hard to find good boards for it with integrated graphics. That means you'd have to shell out a little more for a discrete GPU.

I definitely wouldn't bother with an SSD right now. They prices are going to come down soon and the minor problems will be ironed out. There is no reason to pay a premium to adopt the technology when it hasn't been perfected.
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July 16, 2010 4:53:43 PM

As you are recommending that I stick with a cheaper i3 system with no SSD...is it really worth building my own machine? It sounds like building my machine is great if I need a gamer PC...but when it comes to normal home computing w/out gaming then am I better off $$ wise buying a cheap i3 from the Best Buy's of the world?

Also how much head room do I have for the future with an i3? Would I be better off going with a higher end processor so I won't have to replace my PC as soon...?

Thanks for your help.
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July 16, 2010 5:01:19 PM

Typically, once you get over $600, it's cheaper to build your own. Also, you get to specify exactly what you want instead of getting a cookie cutter build.

Given what you're doing, you shouldn't need to replace anything until it breaks down. I mean it's not like the system requirements for browsers are going to out pace modern CPUs.
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