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$550 Tight Budget Computer Build

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August 7, 2010 7:26:21 PM

Hi, I wasn't sure what site to post this and someone suggested I could get help here. I have always wanted to build a computer but this is my first time and I am a little rusty on the theory.

The purpose of this build is to run Starcraft 2 and possibly in the future run Crysis 2 after a graphics card upgrade (is motherboard/CPU good enough?). Justification for CPU/GPU choices come from benchmarks for Starcraft 2.
link: http://www.techspot.com/review/305-starcraft2-performan...

I live in Canada (remember shipping costs) but will also show prices in US currency using a 1.03 multiplier from US to CAD. All prices are pre-tax. Websites I looked on are bewawa.com, ncix.com, newegg.ca, tigerdirect.ca.

I am not 100% sure yet if all the components listed are fully compatible with eachother. For example, I was looking at the back of the case and I am not sure how the motherboard ports will manage to fit through those holes. Should I pick a new case? Please let me know if you feel they are not compatible.


My budget is $534 US which is $550 CAD.
This is what my build looks like:

Amd Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition - $111 US ($114 CAD)
http://www.bewawa.com/amd-cpu-hdz555wfgibox-phenom-ii-x...

GeForce 9800 GT 512 Mb - $78 US ($80 CAD) after rebate
http://ncix.com/products/?sku=45674&vpn=GV%2DN98TGR%2D5...

Asus M4A77TD - $71 US ($73 CAD) after rebate
http://ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=46944&vpn=M4A77T...

OCZ 2x 2GB DDR3-1333 Mhz - $77 US ($79 CAD) after rebate
http://ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=42870&vpn=OCZ3G1...

Gigabyte ATX Mid Tower - $22 US ($23 CAD) - Is this compatible with my motherboard? See back of case and motherboard ports.
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

OCZ 500W Power Supply - $58 US ($60 CAD) after rebate
http://ncix.com/products/?sku=33040&vpn=OCZ500MXSP&manu...

Western Digital 500 GB Hard Drive - $39 US ($40 CAD)
http://www.bewawa.com/wdc-500gb-int-3-5-in-sata-3g-16m-...

HP DVD Burner - $22 US ($22 CAD)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

Total Cost Before Tax: $477 US ($491 CAD)


Being below budget is not bad because that leaves me $59 to buy stuff like PC Toolkit, ethernet and other cables, Thermal Paste, cooling fans or heat sinks, anti-static stuff (gloves?) for when I build it (do I need all these things?). I also need to buy a new monitor so the spare cash will help me scrape together some funds for it.

Was wondering what you guys thought of the build and if you have any suggestions (budget monitor suggestions welcome also). Also do you think I can save some more money from the power supply?

Here are two more power supplies (at a lower cost):

Ultra 550-Watt Power Supply (Lifetime Warranty) - $53 US ($55 CAD)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

DiabloTek 550-Watt Power Supply - $47 US ($48 CAD) after rebate
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...


Planning on running Windows 7 Home Premium Edition - 64 Bit OEM. Also, I would really appreciate advice about keeping the system running efficiently for a long time (ie. security software (not-pirated please), reformatting, defragmentation, use of an external hard drive, how to use Win 7 effectively, etc.)

I am not against overclocking the CPU (was told that this CPU is only worth it for OCing) however I will need to learn much more and feel that I can do so safely.

Thank you in advance for reading this. If you wish to help me out I really appreciate it.

Chris
a b B Homebuilt system
August 7, 2010 7:31:02 PM

Actually the absolute latest SC2 review dated 5 days ago with updated ATI drivers enabling AA for SC2:
http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=958&type=expert&pi...
Quote:
To me this is obviously indicative of a game that was built with single and dual-threaded processors in mind which is disappointing, but not all that surprising considering the varied audience that the game will draw in.

Which is also in line with our very own forums findings i.e at least a 2.5ghz X2 preferably 3ghz So while strictly speaking your chip choice is fine, over a spread of current and incoming titles i would say the Rana 440 which is also cheaper the more wiser buy hehe

Real world examples: CPU scaling with GTX 460


I could ramble on about GTAIV, Dragons Age , yada yada but hope u get my point hehe
August 7, 2010 8:02:57 PM

ok , this build is good except for the case .
* u need a bigger one for example this "http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168..." i think its a good alternative and evn that motherboard won't fit in the case u mentioned .

* This power supply is better "
Ultra 550-Watt Power Supply (Lifetime Warranty) - $53 US ($55 CAD)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicat [...] CatId=1079 "
why ? cuz its cheaper , has a lifetime warranty and have a good performance but it could be noisy [according to reviews] .

* To me Nod32 is beyond awesome , the best security software evr but needs internet connection for updates . i have been using for more than 3 years its just great and alot of my buddies have switched from kasper , norton etc to it ! www.eset.com/

*Its not a good thing to format ur hard drive again and again , like twice a year if necessary .

*u can't buy an lcd monitor less than 100 us dollars . This is a good one "http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168..." but is 122 us dollars

i hope this helps , take care and good night!
Related resources
August 7, 2010 8:18:29 PM

batuchka said:
Actually the absolute latest SC2 review dated 5 days ago with updated ATI drivers enabling AA for SC2:
http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=958&type=expert&pi...
Quote:
To me this is obviously indicative of a game that was built with single and dual-threaded processors in mind which is disappointing, but not all that surprising considering the varied audience that the game will draw in.

Which is also in line with our very own forums findings i.e at least a 2.5ghz X2 preferably 3ghz So while strictly speaking your chip choice is fine, over a spread of current and incoming titles i would say the Rana 440 which is also cheaper the more wiser buy hehe

Real world examples: CPU scaling with GTX 460
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q205/batuchka/FC2-1920-497x580.jpg
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q205/batuchka/HawX-1920-484x580.jpg
I could ramble on about GTAIV, Dragons Age , yada yada but hope u get my point hehe


Yes my only concern about the x3 440 is that there is no spec for L3 cache, while the x2 555 has 6 mb cache. It appears from the benchmark I listed (which seems to return poorer results (worse case?) than the one you listed) that cache memory is very important from the processor according to their justification for why the i5 beat out the i3 by so much.
August 7, 2010 8:23:35 PM

GamersAreTheBest said:
ok , this build is good except for the case .
* u need a bigger one for example this "http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168..." i think its a good alternative and evn that motherboard won't fit in the case u mentioned .


Thanks. I was wondering, why do I need a bigger case (is it about air flow and preventing overhearting)? I kind of was hoping to have a tight and light system that I can take to LAN parties (how do you take the tower to LAN anyway, do you have a case or just in your arms?).

GamersAreTheBest said:

* This power supply is better "
Ultra 550-Watt Power Supply (Lifetime Warranty) - $53 US ($55 CAD)
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicat [...] CatId=1079 "
why ? cuz its cheaper , has a lifetime warranty and have a good performance but it could be noisy [according to reviews].


What did you think of the $48 power supply? If this one is too noisy I don't know if it will be right for me. Hmm...

GamersAreTheBest said:

*Its not a good thing to format ur hard drive again and again , like twice a year if necessary .


What about de-fragmentation?


August 8, 2010 3:33:06 AM

* for the case , thats because that motherboard in your build list won't fit in that case u mentioned .

* for the power supply , the 48 dollar one is awful [according to the reviews] , i would say go for the 53 us dollar one as it may not be even that loud [only one review was complaining about the noise]

* as for defragmentation , i pretty much use windows 7's "disk defragmentation" but i think tis is better "http://www.piriform.com/defraggler" .

a b B Homebuilt system
August 8, 2010 4:50:40 AM

mishimaBeef said:
Yes my only concern about the x3 440 is that there is no spec for L3 cache, while the x2 555 has 6 mb cache. It appears from the benchmark I listed (which seems to return poorer results (worse case?) than the one you listed) that cache memory is very important from the processor according to their justification for why the i5 beat out the i3 by so much.



The effect of cache is not an apples-to-apples comparison when u referring to different architectures but all around for AM3/gaming it's not that big a deal :D 
August 8, 2010 7:01:48 AM

For a light and tight system you probably wouldn't want to consider having a L1, L2 and L3 cache.

L1 cache and L2 cache should be enough.

The Intel Core i5 has TurboBoost and other features that the Intel Core i3 lacks it is unlikely that having more than 4MB of L2 (or L3) cache would impact performance anywhere near as much as the TurboBoost feature in that particular review.

  • http://www.intel.com/technology/turboboost/


    Of course, it appears you are leaning towards an AMD system anyway - I'm just putting the mentioned benchmark into a better context.
    August 8, 2010 8:14:36 PM

    Do you think I should go with the Athlon II X3 440 3.0 GHz or the Athlon II X4 620 2.6 GHz? They are both the same price.
    August 9, 2010 4:18:51 AM

    It depends on your work load.

    Some games will run faster on the X3 440 due to the > 15% faster clock speed, even if they are 'geared' for quad-cores.

    Others will be more balanced and place at least 80% load over all four cores in wich case .... mmm .... actually the X3 440 would still be about 25% faster in those cases too (in non GPU limited tests).

    So unless you're video encoding the X3 440 is probably a marginly better buy.


    Due to the > 15% difference in clock speed & the fact that the cores are directly comparable:

    It's better to have 3 * 3.0 GHz cores at 95% load each (average over 60 seconds) than 4 * 2.6 GHz cores at <= 82% load each (average over 60 seconds).

    If you can: Check the kind of load the software you want to run places on a tri-core and quad-core processor.

    Strickly speaking:

  • 3.0 GHz * 3 cores = 9.0 (15.3846% more clock speed per core)
  • 2.6 GHz * 4 cores = 10.4 (15.555% more grunt overall)

    I personally lean towards the tri-core as most 'multi-threaded' software is not really equal in it's load balancing and several of the lighter workloads better utilize a processor core in themselves.

    The reason for this is that a lot of games these days complain if the CPU is under 2.8GHz in "performance" regardless of the number of cores, or even the type of core (a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 passes these tests, while a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo does not, despite the Core 2 Duo performing significantly more work per clock cycle).
    !