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New AMD Budget Build! Advice Appreciated!

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August 4, 2010 9:37:11 PM

Hey all,
I've just come into some money, and there's nothing I would enjoy more than having a new Gaming/Production rig at home. I've been suffering lately using an old Dell Dimension 2400 for my homework and stuff, and frequently driving many miles into school to use their systems for my Lab work. I figured enough is enough!

Ultimately here's what I plan on doing with this build:
- Play Blizzard games (Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 when it comes out)

- Use VMWare (This is my lab environment. I should have the ability to have 5 server VMs going using 512MB each and a client or two using 256MB.)

-Rip DVDs and Blu-Rays

-Some Web Development and Photoshop

-Watch HD movies (720p is fine, 1080p preferred)

-Batch File Conversion/Compression

**That's all I could think of for now, but I'm sure other things will arise. I will update if necessary.

My Budget is $450-$500 initially but I plan to upgrade components or add to it every couple months. I already have a Case, Harddrive, and DVD-Rom drive so those aren't needed.

This is the parts list I currently have. Please let me know if you have any suggestions to improve it or if there is any advice you can give me with this.

MOBO:
Open Box: MSI 870A-G54 AM3 AMD 870
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU:
XFX HD-485X-ZNFC Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU:
Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W Continuous
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU:
AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Heka 2.8GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM:
Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

FANS:
MASSCOOL FD08025S1M4 80mm Case Fan x5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU COOLER/HEATSINK:
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm Ceramic CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I plan on overclocking this rig and at least trying to unlock the 4th core. I know it's a gamble so I'm counting on it not working. I would also like to have room to upgrade. What does everyone think? It's been a while since I specd out a system so I just wanted someone to double check for me and make sure that everything is compatible. Also, the GFX card is out of stock so I would take any suggestions on that within the $120 price range. Is there anything I should be worried about with this build? Any feedback is greatly appreciated! I almost ordered all this gear tonight but I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry. Thanks a lot for reading all this and for your future feedback!
August 4, 2010 10:07:09 PM

Overcklockalypse said:
Hey all,
I've just come into some money, and there's nothing I would enjoy more than having a new Gaming/Production rig at home. I've been suffering lately using an old Dell Dimension 2400 for my homework and stuff, and frequently driving many miles into school to use their systems for my Lab work. I figured enough is enough!

Ultimately here's what I plan on doing with this build:
- Play Blizzard games (Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 when it comes out)

- Use VMWare (This is my lab environment. I should have the ability to have 5 server VMs going using 512MB each and a client or two using 256MB.)

-Rip DVDs and Blu-Rays

-Some Web Development and Photoshop

-Watch HD movies (720p is fine, 1080p preferred)

-Batch File Conversion/Compression

**That's all I could think of for now, but I'm sure other things will arise. I will update if necessary.

My Budget is $450-$500 initially but I plan to upgrade components or add to it every couple months. I already have a Case, Harddrive, and DVD-Rom drive so those aren't needed.

This is the parts list I currently have. Please let me know if you have any suggestions to improve it or if there is any advice you can give me with this.

MOBO:
Open Box: MSI 870A-G54 AM3 AMD 870
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU:
XFX HD-485X-ZNFC Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU:
Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W Continuous
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU:
AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Heka 2.8GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM:
Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

FANS:
MASSCOOL FD08025S1M4 80mm Case Fan x5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU COOLER/HEATSINK:
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm Ceramic CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I plan on overclocking this rig and at least trying to unlock the 4th core. I know it's a gamble so I'm counting on it not working. I would also like to have room to upgrade. What does everyone think? It's been a while since I specd out a system so I just wanted someone to double check for me and make sure that everything is compatible. Also, the GFX card is out of stock so I would take any suggestions on that within the $120 price range. Is there anything I should be worried about with this build? Any feedback is greatly appreciated! I almost ordered all this gear tonight but I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry. Thanks a lot for reading all this and for your future feedback!

I would recommend faster memory. DDR3 1333 versus the 1066 Kingston memory that you chose. This is the memory I chose for my build and it's optimized for AMD systems, which are not as voltage limited as Intel systems.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
August 4, 2010 10:22:27 PM

Very interesting, I'll definitely keep it in mind.. Are there any articles or benchmarks you can share so that I can see what kind of difference this will make? I really just looked for 4GB ram that was around the same frequency as the MOBO. I was also wondering what kind of difference there is between DDR2 and DDR3? Differences in TDP or what?
Related resources
August 4, 2010 10:43:41 PM

DDR2 vs DDR3 is not a choice. Your motherboard dictates which you use. All newer motherboards use DDR3 RAM; DDR2 RAM production is dwindling.

For gaming, the RAM speed increase gets you a few percent going up in speed and down in timing. The CAS7 timing is good so it should perform as well as 1333speed Cas9. I would look for some DDR3-1333 Cas7 at around the same price.

The 4850 you linked is out of stock. If you cant find one anywhere, the 5750 is a newer model with about the same performance. Generally the 5770 is a better value as its usually only $30ish more and is 50% faster. The 5670 at $100 would be the newer model at the same price point. Its not quite as strong as the 4850, though.

Did you know that was an open box motherboard you linked? That means parts could be missing and someone else may have returned it already. The motherboard is the most RMA'ed part to begin with, is your time worth the savings?
August 4, 2010 11:46:22 PM

Yeah, the whole Open Box MOBO scared me a lot. Actually it was the main reason that I decided to drop by Toms before ordering and ask what you all thought. It is worth the drop in price to me as 500 is all I have to spend, but if I have to pay to send it back and get a new one I'm probably just spending more money. I take it that most experienced PC builders would avoid open box MOBOs at all costs?

I know the 4850 is out of stock.. I mentioned it in my post actually. Ultimately I was looking for something that had 1GB VRAM and 256-bit memory. I'm not quite sure what to look for at the ~$120 range. I'm also not sure what brand to go with. I read tons and tons of reviews but most contradict each other. I don't want a cheaply made product I want a nice product at a lower price point. I do think I'll be going ATI though.


Now that that's established.. Any suggestions on MOBOs?

Here is the criteria I have for the MOBO.. ( I know the first one I chose didn't cover all of this)

-Under $80
-Potential to Unlock 4th core
-Potential to use Crossfire/SLI in the future
-Sata III and USB 3.0
-ATX form factor
-1 PATA port (HDD and DVD-Drive)
August 5, 2010 12:09:35 AM

This is the cheapest USB3/SataIII motherboard I could find. Not sure it it will unlock but it says it has UCC, which I think is what does that.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


If you are in the US, XFX has the best warranty (lifetime). Everyone else has 1-3 years.
5670 $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
5750 (xfx not in stock) $135 - significantly faster
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
August 5, 2010 12:15:40 AM



Thanks for the response! I already have a HDD, Case, and Optical Drive so is there any way you would redistribute that money into the rest of the components? (Preferably taking the cost down below 500)

Also wanted to note that the HDD I'm planning on using is an older 40GB PATA Seagate drive. I use a NAS for the majority of my storage so a small HDD is all I really need. Will this cause an extreme bottleneck versus a newer SATA drive? Will this bottleneck be noticeable as far as gaming and VMWare?
August 5, 2010 12:26:07 AM

dndhatcher said:
This is the cheapest USB3/SataIII motherboard I could find. Not sure it it will unlock but it says it has UCC, which I think is what does that.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


If you are in the US, XFX has the best warranty (lifetime). Everyone else has 1-3 years.
5670 $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
5750 (xfx not in stock) $135 - significantly faster
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


First off I'd like to say thank you so much for taking the time to help me with this stuff! I'm glad I didn't just make a hasty order. (Starcraft 2 is calling my name lol)

Secondly, the MOBO you selected does not have the core unlocking feature. And the 5670 you attempted to link me to actually turned out to be a Gigabyte MOBO.

However, XFX is one brand I really like. Their products look well made and their reviews back that up for the most part. The lifetime warranty puts me all in though.

Also, Is there any benefit to video cards that run @ 256-bit vs. 128-bit? Should I just be looking at video RAM? What other features help you to make your decision? I think it's between the XFX 4850 and 5750.
August 5, 2010 12:29:05 AM

that hdd is goin to bottle neck the system so getting a new one is a better idea
August 5, 2010 1:58:36 AM

Overcklockalypse said:
Very interesting, I'll definitely keep it in mind.. Are there any articles or benchmarks you can share so that I can see what kind of difference this will make? I really just looked for 4GB ram that was around the same frequency as the MOBO. I was also wondering what kind of difference there is between DDR2 and DDR3? Differences in TDP or what?

That RAM I recommended...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

...is DDR3 1333 at 7-7-7-20-1T timings, it is very fast and very inexpensive for what it does. You'll definitely notice the difference, especially if you can unlock that fourth core. :D 
August 5, 2010 5:24:43 AM

Well I chose to go a different route I guess..

CPU & RAM:
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3

CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

PSU & HDD:
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

MOBO:
MSI 770-G45 AM3 AMD 770 ATX

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GFX:
XFX HD-577X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit DDR5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

What does everyone think of that? I figured why even take the gamble on unlocking the 3rd core and on the open box. Not to mention I'll get like 50 bucks back in rebates. Any objections??
August 5, 2010 7:27:00 AM

Looks okay. That Athlon II X4 should overclock pretty good in the future when you replace the stock heatsink and fan.
August 5, 2010 9:30:55 AM

looks good

@lordconrad the thing important with ram for an amd system is the frequency so he will notice no difference if he upgrades to the ones u mentioned
August 5, 2010 1:00:05 PM

mrhoshos96 said:
looks good

@lordconrad the thing important with ram for an amd system is the frequency so he will notice no difference if he upgrades to the ones u mentioned

I noticed a big difference with my Phenom II X4 955 setup using that RAM, but I'm not trying to push him into anything. I'm sure the RAM he chose will work fine, Corsair makes good memory.
August 5, 2010 2:12:48 PM

`yea the top newer phenomII scale better every little bit helps if not much more won't hurt
August 5, 2010 2:55:36 PM

LordConrad said:
I noticed a big difference with my Phenom II X4 955 setup using that RAM, but I'm not trying to push him into anything. I'm sure the RAM he chose will work fine, Corsair makes good memory.

yah u r right :D 
August 5, 2010 7:13:32 PM

So just for future reference, where do you think the bottleneck will be on my system?

Also, would I run into timing problems if I decided to pick up the ram LordConrad suggested and add it to the corsair? (I've heard that mixing ram is a bad idea even if it's just mixing brand names.)
August 5, 2010 8:17:59 PM

memory can be finicky but not so much now i think anyway the memory will
default to the lowest timings of different ram you'll have to overclock it and
thats questionable same speed timings otherwise better ram may be going to waste
August 6, 2010 10:23:59 AM

Your memory timings will only be as good as your slowest memory module. Mixing memory usually works fine, but higher speed memory will be held back by the slower memory.
Anonymous
August 9, 2010 5:57:33 PM

So what did you decided on for your build I am curious as i have been following this very close.
August 13, 2010 6:15:22 AM

@bobby4374
This is what I chose if your interested. I just got my parts today and I'm almost done putting it all together. Everything's gone together extremely easy so far. If you'd like I can post some benchmarks or something once I get everything up and running.

CPU & RAM:
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3

CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Comb [...] 63938&SID=

PSU & HDD:
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Comb [...] 63938&SID=

MOBO:
MSI 770-G45 AM3 AMD 770 ATX

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813130250

GFX:
XFX HD-577X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit DDR5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814150462
Anonymous
August 13, 2010 6:20:25 AM

Yes please do. as I my self am looking at yoru set up as I am running a vm lad as well. What all are you going to run on your vm, how many esx hosts and then how many vms on those esx hosts? Are you going to run vsphere or v center or test vdi on it? What ever you can post as far as what you do and results woudl be great. Also you have everything minus a case, what would you or others recommend as a case? Thanks for your info!
August 14, 2010 12:55:19 AM

I installed Windows XP as the host OS and I use VMWare Workstation 6.0. Sorry I don't have any info for ESX, but I do know someone in my class that is using ESX. As for VMs I usually run 2 2K8 Servers, A 2K8 Server Core, 2 CentOS servers, a Zenoss virtual appliance, an XP client, and a Windows 7 Client. Not usually all at the same time. I set each server to 512MB RAM, the clients to 256MB or 128MB if I need to. I have 4 GB of memory so I'll run as many as I can, giving my host OS at least 256MB.

As far as cases my motto is the bigger the better. I always go for maximum airflow, but if you're looking to purchase I'd try to shop locally and find a nice big one that's fairly rigid. Shipping is a bitch for those nice heavy cases. Other than that the only other things to look for in a case are really expansion bays and if they are tools free. Tools free can be pretty handy but may also ware out.

Hope this helps..
!