~$250 casual gaming but primary focus on cpu

Hey, I've decided it's finally time to retire my old 3.2ghz socket 478 computer. I will be keeping the tower (it's big, an old thermaltake xaser iii, so I'm not worried too much about things fitting), my hard drive, and pretty much everything else not mentioned below. Thanks ahead of time.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within a week, but I can wait if there's some dramatic price change or release soon that I don't know about.

BUDGET RANGE: 230-250 after rebates (maybe slightly more, depends on how well some items I posted on ebay do)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: coding, media, mathematica and the like, gaming, other stuff

PARTS REQUIRED: motherboard, cpu, ram, gpu (everything else from my old p4 computer should suffice)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg would be nice, but it doesn't really matter


PARTS PREFERENCES: I will be running linux on this thing (probably Arch or Ubuntu, depending on how lazy I am when I get the parts), so I'd prefer an nvidia card, but ati's not the end of the world.

OVERCLOCKING: Heck yes, but I don't want to spend too much on a cooler; cheap is good, cheap and cool is even better

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, not in the budget and honestly for the gaming I do I don't need much gpu power at all

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Good ol' 1280x1024

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This is probably going to be my college pc, so I'd like it to be as future-proof/upgrade-friendly as possible. Like I said, gaming's not super demanding, I'd probably be fine with something as docile as a gt 220, but I'm gonna want a decent cpu. Also right now my psu is 420 watts; I figure it should be fine with anything in this budget, but if you have doubts, please suggest something. One last thing -- I was looking at the athlon ii x3 and if that's what you suggest it'd be great if the motherboard you suggest would let me unlock the fourth core (assuming the cpu is capable). I haven't looked into it a ton and don't know which mobos will/won't let me do that.
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  1. $250 is a pretty tight budget, but I'll try.

    AMD Athlon II X3 440 3.0 GHz - $74.99

    ASRock 770 Extreme3 - $74.99

    CORSAIR 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - $46.99, $2.99 shipping

    EVGA GeForce GT 220 FTW 1 GB DDR3 $34.99 after $35 rebate

    Total = $234.95 after shipping and rebates.

    I'd go for that EVGA card quickly lol, epic steal at that price right now.
  2. Hmmm, that 420W PSU might be crappy, especially considering its age. A 380W Antec Earthwatts or 400W Corsair CX-400 would not be very expensive, but would be good quality and support whatever GPU you'd be likely to buy.
  3. These days, at least with Ubuntu, there's no reason to avoid ATI. The linux drivers have really improved in the last 2 years, and I haven't needed to do anything fancy for the last 2 releases or so.

    That being said, Lmeow's build looks pretty good.
  4. First of all, thanks for your input

    jtt283, the PSU is a roughly six-year-old Thermaltake Pure Power, like this one: http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/product/power/purepower/w00089r/w00089r.asp#specification
    So it was pretty good quality when it was new, I don't know a ton about how quickly these things age. Also, according to the eXtreme power supply calculator, my current setup uses around 247W (haven't had any problems) and Lmeow's would use around 221 stock, probably no more than 250 overclocked. That said, if you have any more suggestions about the psu, please tell me. The ones you pointed out look pretty good if I can stretch the budget a bit.

    coldsleep, I keep reading all this stuff about ATI drivers being fine and want to agree with it; I feel that I'm biased, though, because my 9800pro has been an absolute pain to set up with every distribution I've used, but it makes sense that the newer cards would have more support. In any case, yes, the gt 220 Lmeow found looks pretty awesome and totally sufficient for what I'd need.
  5. One other quick question; there are several cheaper motherboards on Newegg with similar specs, but not many (if any) that have USB3.0 and SATA 6Gbps support like the motherboard Lmeow found. How necessary are these interfaces? (I can't really think of a situation where I'd need them, but I don't know). If I think I can get by without them, should I get a cheaper motherboard and spend a few more bucks on something else? Or will I really need the new USB and SATA stuff?

    EDIT: for example, this motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157176
  6. http://img713.imageshack.us/img713/5310/252up.png

    If you do use that mobo it adds more room for a better gpu.
  7. Newegg has WD Caviar Blue 500GB 16 Buffer for $40 (till 7-28) and it is rated to 3.0GB, I would expect cd/dvd's to be SATA II 3.0 also.
    Money saved lessen benefits.
    Just a noob opinion but MB heart of system.
  8. walterm: I'm sorry but I guess I don't really get what you're saying. Also, I will be using the 250GB sata drive from my old computer in this build, so I'm not looking at new hard drives yet

    zooted: I've been doing some research and it seems the 4650 seems comparable to the GT 220, and especially the FTW version Lmeow found. I'm still torn, though, as to how to use those extra few dollars -- whether I should spend them on a nicer processor (maybe an athlon ii x4 or a cheaper phenom ii), an aftermarket cooler to make overclocking the x3 more accessible, or more ram: I found what I think is by far the best deal on 4 gigs of ddr3 on newegg, but would I see a noticeable difference from 2 to 4 gigs? Especially since I'm going to be using some flavor of Linux? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227483
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