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Good starting Combo?

Last response: in Motherboards
June 1, 2011 12:08:21 AM

So I've decided reluctantly to build my own computer but since the price will be split I am trying to budget it well.

First I was just wondering if the CPU and Motherboard I am choosing is wise or whether a different motherboard would be better. The parts I have chosen so far:

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 455 Rana 3.3GHz 3 x 512KB
HardDrive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5002AALX 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL
PSU: Unsure...
Case: Unsure but low cost.
Video: Radeon 5770. Cheap and effective/bang for the buck. I am determined to get both this and the CPU for cost/efficiency.

Any help with this build would be GREATLY appreciated. My goal is for a college build with gaming. Frankly Word and the Internet is all I need but I have a copy of Starcraft II sitting here unused and also would like to play BF3.
Does this look okay? Am I an idiot? Will everything WORK lol?

More about : good starting combo

a b V Motherboard
June 1, 2011 10:51:49 AM
a c 114 V Motherboard
June 1, 2011 2:48:27 PM

NCIX is a really great place to start. Points and parts:

1. a $200 CPU like the i5-760 can handle roughly $800 in graphics cards (i.e. 2x$400)

2. any modern CPU (except netbook Atoms) is overkill for basic tasks

3. SSD's boost basic multi-tasking. Worth considering. 120GB recommended (plus a hard drive for backups)

4. Motherboard. Spend around $150 for good quality/value ratio (too cheap and you have cheap capacitors. too expensive is a waste of money for little extra features)

5. Windows 7 64bit Premium OEM (definitely what you want)

6. RAM: 4GB is optimal (very minimal benefit to 8GB but added heat and price)

7. Power supplies. VERY IMPORTANT TO GET QUALITY. (corsair, Antec...) *Spend some time reading.

8. **Your graphics card will be your bottleneck for gaming. There's a HUGE difference between a comparable $150 card and $100.

CPU pricing:,295...


(don't forget to look for sales, but read reviews.)

Parts recommendation:
1. Windows 7 Premium x64 OEM ($100)

2. Motherboard:

3. case: Antec 100 (I own this one. cable organization behind motherboard. *YOU NEED TO KNOW TO POP-OFF THE FRONT OF THIS TO INSTALL PARTS, then it's easy.

4. RAM: DDR3 1600MHz

5. graphics cards: HD6850 1GB

6. Hard drive/SSD (depending on funds)
- 120GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD + 1TB WD Green, OR
- 1TB WD Black + 1TB WD Green
- either main drive + USB/eSATA hard drive for backups

7. Power Supply: (600W or higher. quality. LOOK FOR SALES)
examples: antec Earthwatts 650W (sale for $90)

8. monitor:
- reasonable quality
- 1920x1080
- Samsung or LG?
- read reviews

9. DVD burner (just read reviews and get the best one.)

10. non-stock HSF for CPU:


1. NEVER get a cheap power supply
2. get two drives and create frequent backups of your C-Drive (WD Acronis True Image free version)
3. update bios/firmware for motherboard and DVD burner
4. get the motherboard main chipset driver from the motherboard website as well as other drivers
5. graphics drivers are direct from AMD
6. CPU fan must be plugged into correct motherboard slot AND the BIOS must be enabled properly (may have choices of auto/synch/voltage). run prime94 64bit and see if the fan kicks gets louder. If so fan control is working. (if no fan control fan is always 100%)
7. A better Heatsink/Fan makes a HUGE difference in noise (even just in idle). I spent some time looking up the best value (above).
8. HSF maximum height must not exceed 160mm (one I chose is 120mm).
Related resources
a c 114 V Motherboard
June 1, 2011 3:10:52 PM

Graphics update:

My above build (check carefully) can handle a LOT more graphics power if you ever decide to upgrade in a year or two.

Always remember the drawback is heat and noise, especially for a small room. If it wasn't for gaming I'd be strongly recommending getting a laptop with one of the AMD fusion chips when they come out in a few months (very efficient and quiet single graphics/cpu chip).

Actually, you may wish to consider holding off and getting an AMD Fusion laptop if they make one capable of basic Starcraft 2 play. Whatever. (it's mainly about the noise).

Most University students I know have this setup:
1) laptop
2) 23" 1920x1080 monitor
3) keyboard/mouse
Many leave the laptop shut and off to the side but sometimes use it as a second screen so they can have a Word processor open on one and other data on the other.
a c 114 V Motherboard
June 1, 2011 3:12:10 PM

in today's age your going to suggest a i5-760 for full price....?!

It was an example of CPU/GPU ratios. I recommended the Intel 2500K unclocked CPU to be used with a Sandy Bridge motherboard if you clicked on my link for the CPU under "parts."
June 1, 2011 3:22:35 PM

I would look at i3 instead also I think a HD4850 might be better.
a c 114 V Motherboard
June 1, 2011 3:29:17 PM

About the case:

1) about $60
2) get a quiet 120mm fan and install it (just clicks on) to the back of the front piece.
3) use the LOWEST fan speed setting for the built-in fans
4) always tape over (on the inside) any fan mounts with no fans installed (just the left-side in this case). Big holes wreck proper air flow and pressure.
5) top-front tray works great as USB stick and coffee tray
6) *If you wish to use front-audio you may need to plan your installation to avoid covering up the audio plug.

If audio is important you may wish to get quality stereo or 2.1 speakers and an addon PCI or PCIe audio card. There's no need to buy that right away but it's worth thinking about and looking for sales as well. I have this and it's great:
1) M-Audio AV40 stereo speakers
2) Auzentech X-Fi Forte

If money's tight but you would like to spend a little more on audio, I recommend the M-Audio AV30 stereo speakers and just one the motherboard sound chip.

I got the larger AV40 stereo speakers to get good bass. Overall a 2.1 system is better but the floor-mounted subwoofer really carries the noise and that was an issue here.

There are a LOT of crappy speakers out there.
June 2, 2011 5:53:03 AM

Good suggestions. I forgot to mention budget goal. I am trying to keep this thing to 700 and down. Thats why I have been picking low end but effective? products. It sounds like the PSU is where I am forced to spend quality money. The MOBO is the biggest concern. I need a AM3+ with that CPU choice? I am actually hoping for a 6-7 or lower budget and that will last me quite some years without a need for an upgrade.

I've been researching for a couple days straight now and am still uneasy on that motherboard.

And for the record is that a decent CPU? I hear it can function well for that price and will play SC2 and last a while.
a c 114 V Motherboard
June 2, 2011 4:47:15 PM

It's difficult to build a half-decent gaming PC for $700.

You need to choose reasonable quality parts with a reasonable price, however there's basically a minimum of about $500 to build a basic PC which only leaves about $200 for graphics, better CPU etc.

Example of Minimal price/reasonable quality:
1) Win 7 Premium x64 OEM ($100)
2) Motherboard ($100)
3) 4GB DDR3 ($50)
4) CPU ($100)
5) case ($50)
6) DVD burner ($30)
7) Graphics card ($100)
8) PSU ($70)

So, with tax and shipping we're probably close to $700 already. In reality, you'd likely spend a little more on the motherboard, the CPU and the graphics card. However, once you have the BASICS covered it's amazing how much difference spending an extra $200 makes.

*If you want the best gaming PC for the money you need to spend less on the CPU and more on the graphics card. A $120 CPU + $180 graphics card will perform far better in gaming than a $200 CPU and $100 graphics card.

(it's generally recommended to get something like a $220 Intel 2500K unlocked CPU which can't be fully utilized now for gaming but can in the future with a second card or by replacing with a better card.)

**Motherboard update:
I am recommending an "1155" motherboard for compatible with the Intel 2500K unlocked CPU (click on my CPU link). I wasn't recommending an AMD CPU. Mine is just an example, if you feel you'll get the best value with an AMD setup then choose a compatible motherboard. My first choice is usually ASUS followed by Gigabyte then MSI.
June 5, 2011 1:55:40 AM

I would reccomend the am3+ motherboard too. nothing crazy just so long as you drop the integrated graphics. other than that its a pretty solid build assuming you aren't on a high resolution. then when bulldozer comes out youve only blown 80$ on your cpu. starcraft 2 only uses 2 cores anyway so its nice to have the third core for background stuff. id just drop the extra 20$ and get the 4th core but for scII you really dont need it. 2.8ghz phenom II x4 is 100$. yours might unlock anyway.

as long as you dont want to crossfire/sli the antec 380w psu should be fine

a c 114 V Motherboard
June 6, 2011 12:57:41 PM

either way is fine, it's a matter of preference.

I'm not a fan of spending money on a CPU if you know you'll upgrade in less than two years. That seems a waste to me.

The motherboard is the core of your computer, the most difficult thing to upgrade, and also the main thing that Windows is Activated too (changing motherboards invalidates Windows). So I always recommend getting a quality motherboard although it need not be super expensive (many great $130+ motherboards).

There are two main ways to build a gaming PC with the intent of upgrading:

1) get a CPU and PSU that's just adequate for your current needs (if you upgrade your graphics in two years you'll be required to purchase a graphics card, and better PSU and CPU)

2) get a CPU and PSU that's more than adequate for your current needs but allow you at least four years so all you need to do for upgrading is buy another graphics card in two years

In the long run you may break even, but I don't think you'd save much money. On the other hand if you absolutely are strapped for cash try to put as much as possible towards the graphics card because a $100 CPU can probably even handle the fastest single-GPU graphics card (or pretty close too it.)