Budget Build with thoughts of the future for less than $600

I am looking to build a new computer system to handle basic web surfing, on demand video content from the web, my music collection and light to medium gaming chores. I do from time to time rip dvds and convert some of my on demand purchases to different file formats for my portable player. This is where my poor 6yr old current setup really shows its age, dvd rips and media file conversions take for ever. As important as what I expect my new system to be able to handle is the ability to build it in steps and with components that I can easily upgrade later on. I would expect to get 6-7 years out of my new system with non-bank-breaking upgrades along the way. So I am seeking advice on the parts and pieces to accomplish this goal and confirmation that it is even possible?? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

The following are the components I am looking at for the 1st phase of my build, using Newegg for pricing.

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX440WFGIBOX


RAM: Patriot Gamer Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model

GPU:XFX HD-567X-ZNF3 Radeon HD 5670 1GB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

CASE: SILVERSTONE PS05-B Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Tool-less Installation Design Computer Case

PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ700MXSP 700W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC ...
$129.99 - $45.00 instant rebate = $89.99

Phase one total: $573.94

Phase one concerns:

I plan on using my current optical drives and Hard Drive if possible. I have a Seagate 7200.12 1TB with Windows XP MCE installed. I am under the impression that Windows XP will not require re-registration and as this was an OEM installed version I do not have the discs. I am hoping to avoid upgrading my O.S. in this phase of building this system. As far as the CPU and MOBO combo, I believe this MOBO offers a great deal of upgrading possiblities down the road and although I have never OC'ed a system before I chose the X3 to save a little money up front with the option if need be to unlock the 4th core and OC this cpu through the MOBO. Is it worth it to go this route or just opt for the quad core from the onset? Also, with the GPU, I have a Samsung 24.5" at 1920 x 1080 and I am really up in the air as to which way to approach this area. Would a system that eventually will have 3 monitors be better off with 2 HD5670s or with only 1 HD5750? The main reason I ask is that the two monitors I plan on adding to the system are Samsung 20" models without display port connections, so am I correct in thinking that without the 2nd video card I would have to spend a fair amount of money on an active HDMI to Display port adapter to feed the eventual 3rd monitor? Or am I right in assuming that I can run 3 HDMI/DVI monitors with 2 video cards? On to the PSU. I chose the OCZ one because the case I am planing to use isn't the biggest one on the block and am hoping a modular PSU will help to cut down on the clutter while the 700 watts should be enough down the road should I have to power 2 video cards.

Phase two:

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

SSD: Kingston SSDNow V Series SNV425-S2/64GB 2.5" 64GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

BR PLAYER: ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BR-04B2T - OEM

$79.99 - $30.00 instant rebate = $49.99

Phase Two Total: $354.96

Phase Two concerns: Just in the hassle it will be to switch over to the SSD drive as a boot drive and cleaning out my old Seagate 7200.12 1TB to use as the storage only drive. And the clean install of Windows 7

Phase three:

2ND MONITOR: SAMSUNG E2020X Glossy Black 20" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor

3RD MONITOR: SAMSUNG E2020X Glossy Black 20" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor

2ND GPU: XFX HD-567X-ZNF3 Radeon HD 5670 1GB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

Third Phase Total: $469.97

Phase three concerns: See Phase one GPU concerns.

Total System Cost $1,398.87 plus shipping

I am looking to purchase Phase one of my build within the next week or so followed by phase two in August and phase three by the end of September. As long as the components check out I'll put the 2nd and 3rd phase parts on price alert and hopefully catch a deal or two along the way. I like to think that I've done a fair amount of research on all the components but am curious to have other people's opinions and a double check to see if I missed anything along the way. I understand that I will have to add cooling options if I decide to overclock the CPU, adding to the cost. Financially it is easier for me as a college student to buy this in phases as opposed to coming up with a lump sum of cash all at once. I appreciate any advice or suggestions and thank anyone in advance for taking the time to read my post.
7 answers Last reply
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  1. Heh you got it all set up in three phases. It's kinda cute in a way. :P

    If you can can you like stream line your questions in shorter paragraph summaries?
  2. Sorry guess I did get carried away a bit. With the CPU, is going with the AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz and the ASUS M4A89GTD PRO a good way to save a few bucks, knowing that I have the option for unlocking the 4th core and possible overclocking it at a later date with the motherboard or would I be better off going for a quad core from the start? The toughest thing my computer handles at the moment is converting video files and ripping Dvds, my kid plays WoW on this computer sometimes and thats about the most bleeding edge gaming this system will ever see
  3. So from what I understand, you're looking to run an eyefinity setup eventually with all three monitors?

    Take a look here for Tom's write up of how Eyefinity works.

    From my understanding of driver support of crossfire still being limited, I'd suggest looking at a single GPU option, with something having a lot more muscle then the 5670 you're looking at. I'd be really thinking of at least a 5830.

    My understanding is that also at least one of the 3 monitors will need a display port, or you'll need an adapter, even if you do go crossfire. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

    For the CPU I've seen more suggestions for the 435 or the 445. I believe that Tom's used the 435 on their last budget build, and it looks to be a bit better for the $1 more. Regardless, don't expect that it's a guarantee the 4th core will unlock.

    Oh, and it will help immensely for ease of build to go ahead and get that aftermarket cooler for $20-$30 for your first phase.

    Check out Cooler Master Hyper TX3

    Last thing I would suggest is for your PSU, this is the last thing you should skimp on! Few would argue about Corsair's quality.

    check out Corsair HX750w

    Of course if you choose to go with a solo 5830 you'll be fine with a Corsair HX650w
  4. eyefinity cant spread across multiple monitors. the crossfire power can but not the connectors. only one of the Gpu's can be connected to all 3 monitors.

    plus either one of your monitors is going to have to have a Displayport connector. or your going to need to buy an adapter. and not just a passive 5$ adapter. but an active adapter. which can run anywhere from 30$-100$. it would probably be much simpler to get a monitor that has a native displayport connection.

    next problem is even two 5670s arnt going to be powerfull enough for the intense resolution of triple monitors for gaming. i found that out with my 3 monitors and my 5770. your going to want at least a 5830 like he said.
  5. so if this is three phases as you say phase
    1 should be a good mobo this will and should be the main component if you are going to build in phases
    low end chip (x 3 like you mentioned only the cheapest you can find regardless of native clock speed ......overclock the f out of it)
    low mid end ram look at the set you want then see what you can get for 55-60 % of your ram budget
    second tier PSU or the absolute bottom of tier one ( just imagine the most you want to spend and spend 75-80%)
    low- mid graphics you have it already chosen
    case something cheap with good air flow NZXT is right there for you
    $575 about

    then continue making graphics phase two DONT BE CHEAP!!!!

    and CPU phase three...

    me I messed up and went cheap on the phase two and three
    phase two I went mid-upper mid...not the place to go if you want to keep it alive for ..........I went on the 3/4 when this should be a 100% of you budget investment
    Me I mixed 1 and two together my mobo I went 50 over budget kinda screwed myself

    phase 3

    old lady is an ebay fiend Q6600 wished I had sprung for another 75 and bought a 9550... Q6600 125 including shipping so she bought it for me...(with my cash)

    total 900 (CAD without monitor or input or speakers or OS) ????
    about 882 USD ?

    sound right to you ???

    want to play ???

    kill console graphics ????

    want to not be a fool who spends money on machines that can be beat 2 years later with a mid end machine ???

    thats my plan guy ... don't blow it for me !!

    haha 3 beers

    in the very end (phase 4 ??) sell then upgrade your ram and (and if you need to PSU)
    with your budget I do not see crossfire in your future
  6. Some thoughts:

    1) Nothing you buy today will still be good in 6-7 years.

    2) Do not buy different size/type minitors for a multi monitor setup. Duplicate your current Samsung monitor if you can. Different sizes cause images to change size when you drag them across screens. I know, I tried it, and you will never like it. The color qualities will also be different.

    3) It is not clear to me if you just plan to extend your desktop across three monitors, or if you plan to game on just one monitor, or if you plan to game using all three monitors.
    If you plan on gaming using all three monitors, you are looking at dual cards of a fairly strong type such as 5850's. If you will just game on one monitor, then you do not need as much; a single 5850 and a cheap 3450 will do for the aux monitors. Even integrated graphics would do for them.
    In any case, a 5650 seems very weak to me at 1080P resolution for gaming.

    4) As an alternative to the AMD cpu, take a look at the Intel i3-540 and a H55 chipset motherboard.
    The 540 is being reduced in price to $115 this month. It is a very capable cpu with two cores and two additional tasks via hyperthreading. In gaming it does very well, compared to the X3. Read this tom's article on <$150 cpu's:
    For the applications you mentioned, I see little need for three or 4 cores. It is better to have two fast cores than 4 slower cores with some under used.
    The 32nm chip runs cool, and overclocks easily. It also has an integrated graphics component that can run two displays. (not for gaming though)

    5) The OCZ psu is a weak one, even though it claims 700w. The XFX 650w psu is actually stronger with 52a vs 46a on the 12v rails, and it has 4 pcie connectors vs. 2 for when you want two strong graphics cards. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817207002 Yes, it is also modular and has been well reviewed.
    The 750w unit is only $20 more and is silver certified.

    6) Your drive with windows XP on it will not work unless your new motherboard has the same chipset as your old. You will need a XP install disk, but you should be able to reuse your oem XP license. You will have to talk to microsoft to reactivate, but so long as the OS is being used on only one pc, you are ok. My suggestion, though is to move windoes-7 into phase 1. If you are a student, look into an academic license, about $30. Otherwise get an oem or upgrade license for about $100.

    7) I agree with Drace on installing a cpu cooler up front. I like the large tower type coolers with a slow turning 120mm fan. Almost any will do, you can get one for <$40.

    OOPS! I just noticed, your prices are canadian$, I used US$.
  7. The OCZ PSU you picked is not weak at all...very overpriced but not weak.
    for the money you can do better
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