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$400-500 AMD build, maybe future SLI capability - thoughts/discussion

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August 15, 2010 11:55:38 PM

Hello Folks,

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Maybe around September 2010 (I'll probably go around in circles for awhile before pulling a trigger)

BUDGET RANGE: hopefully $400-500 initial cost to get up and running. (I'm willing to spend what it would cost me to buy a previous generation mac mini on ebay, which is around $500. I can't justify Apple on this go around, not enough under the hood for the dollar). Theoretically, I'm may go as high as $700 (cost of a new mac mini) if I can come up with enough justification.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Surfing web, video editing/compressing/converting, image manipulation, mild gaming, random geeky stuff.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, Keyboard and Monitor should not be considered.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg (prefer to order everything from them for simplicity sake, I don't care about a few dollars difference to keep it easier).

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: I thought all of this stuff was made in asia somewhere? point of purchase will be USA. USA headquartered or made products would be preferred but not required.

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD, Nvidia,

OVERCLOCKING: unlikely

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: SLI or neither

MONITOR RESOLUTION: up to 1920 x 1200 maybe. 1920 x 1080 is probably the maximum I'll ever get.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: ........

I just decided to go ahead and join TomsHardware so I could get some feedback on this. Since my interest has been "sparked" again on computer hardware I'll probably get sucked in for awhile anyways!. It's been 5 or 6 years since I've built a computer, and the last time I built myself one was almost a decade ago. I've tried to keep up by stopping in here at TomsHardware and read a few things a couple times a year but I'm probably pretty rough around the edges.

I suppose I'll go ahead and admit, I've been making do for ~8 years with a 1GHZ G4 eMac with the dual display hack (so it's on a 17" internal and 19" external CRT). The machine is obviously far past it's useful life and is finally exhibiting some hardware "flukes" that concern me.

I'm planning on going back to running Linux and hopefully doing some more computing intensive tasks. (I ran Slackware back in the late 90s and early 2000s). From what I have seen, modern distros are much easier to get up and running, and most common software is available in package style installs similar to the commercial OSes.

With linux in mind, I'm leaning towards an Nvidia based build (I guess some things never change, lol), however, I also really *want* a quad-core or better configuration. I'm a big fan of finding the "sweet" spots in price to performance, so AMD makes sense at this time. I realize I probably don't need quad-cores for anything I do, but it's one of those build requirements that will make me happy so I've decided on what appears to be a more rare build combo, the AMD/Nvidia alignment. I'm not too interested in hacking some cores to life (sounds like that's popular these days), I want everything to be working as intended.

Current build plan. (rough)

MSI NF750-G55 AM3 NVIDIA nForce 750a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard ~$100
The plan would be to use the on-board video "for now" until I can afford to start slapping a card or 2 on there. From what I understand, I could drop just 1 card on there and it will do hybrid SLI with the built in 8200.

I'm not too worried about the 8X operation of the PCI-Express slots in SLI mode, form what I understand, only the very high end cards will need that much bandwidth. (right?)

Crossing my fingers that the MSI brand doesn't give me as many weird problems as a MSI board I used in a build WAY back in the day.

Wish it had built in 1394a, my old handycam still works! I'm sure I can just pick up a PCI card for that someday.

AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz ~$100
Propus processors appear to be the most bang for the buck. I think I can live without an L3 :)  Will use included heat sink and fan. I don't really intend to over-clock (might do like 10% just for kicks if it's possible on the mobo but I don't really care either way). It just needs to work correctly.

A-DATA Gaming Series (2x2GB) 240P DDR3 1600 ~$90
Looks like these should be reliable. I'm guessing 4GB is enough to get started these days. (Not sure to be honest though).
Cost doesn't change much going to a lower speed. I guess the only battle I have to do in my head on this one is whether I want 1600MHZ w/CAS 9-9-9 or 1066MHZ w/CAS 7-7-7 or some other trade-off... hehe, I doubt it matters enough for me to waste any time worrying about it.
Buy in pairs for dual channel right?

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB SATA ~$75
Looks like the SamSung Spinpoint's are making some real competition for WD at this time. Even though a 320GB drive would be more than enough for my needs at this time, $75 for a 1TB with good reviews and everyone raving about price/performance ratio is a no brainer. Oh, and as a bonus, I can bug my WD obsessed friend about what a great deal this drive is, lol....

Asus DVD Burner Model: DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS ~$25
I don't no jack about picking a DVD drive, so I just picked one :) 

LOGISYS Area 51 CS51WBK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower 480W PS ~$50
Seems pretty cheap, reviews aren't too bad... Might need a bigger PS later on down the road depending on which video card/s I put in.

12CM case fan ~$15
The case has an un-used slot for a 12CM fan. Might as well right?

------

So that's coming in at under $450. I can see throwing another $400+ at it as needs arise (video cards, memory, power supply).

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?
August 16, 2010 4:19:52 AM

mdocod said:
Hello Folks,

I just decided to go ahead and join TomsHardware so I could get some feedback on this. Since my interest has been "sparked" again on computer hardware I'll probably get sucked in for awhile anyways!. It's been 5 or 6 years since I've built a computer, and the last time I built myself one was almost a decade ago. I've tried to keep up by stopping in here at TomsHardware and read a few things a couple times a year but I'm probably pretty rough around the edges.

I suppose I'll go ahead and admit, I've been making do for ~8 years with a 1GHZ G4 eMac with the dual display hack (so it's on a 17" internal and 19" external CRT). The machine is obviously far past it's useful life and is finally exhibiting some hardware "flukes" that concern me.

I'm planning on going back to running Linux and hopefully doing some more computing intensive tasks. (I ran Slackware back in the late 90s and early 2000s). From what I have seen, modern distros are much easier to get up and running, and most common software is available in package style installs similar to the commercial OSes.

With linux in mind, I'm leaning towards an Nvidia based build (I guess some things never change, lol), however, I also really *want* a quad-core or better configuration. I'm a big fan of finding the "sweet" spots in price to performance, so AMD makes sense at this time. I realize I probably don't need quad-cores for anything I do, but it's one of those build requirements that will make me happy so I've decided on what appears to be a more rare build combo, the AMD/Nvidia alignment. I'm not too interested in hacking some cores to life (sounds like that's popular these days), I want everything to be working as intended.

The $400-500 price range is assuming no monitor included, In case you're curious, I'm thinking about something like this.

Anyhow. Here's my current build plan. (I'm shopping newegg, I've always had good luck with them)

MSI NF750-G55 AM3 NVIDIA nForce 750a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard ~$100
The plan would be to use the on-board video "for now" until I can afford to start slapping a card or 2 on there. From what I understand, I could drop just 1 card on there and it will do hybrid SLI with the built in 8200.

I'm not too worried about the 8X operation of the PCI-Express slots in SLI mode, form what I understand, only the very high end cards will need that much bandwidth. (right?)

Crossing my fingers that the MSI brand doesn't give me as many weird problems as a MSI board I used in a build WAY back in the day.

Wish it had built in 1394a, my old handycam still works! I'm sure I can just pick up a PCI card for that someday.

AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz ~$100
Propus processors appear to be the most bang for the buck. I think I can live without an L3 :)  Will use included heat sink and fan. I don't really intend to over-clock (might do like 10% just for kicks if it's possible on the mobo but I don't really care either way). It just needs to work correctly.

A-DATA Gaming Series (2x2GB) 240P DDR3 1600 ~$90
Looks like these should be reliable. I'm guessing 4GB is enough to get started these days. (Not sure to be honest though).
Cost doesn't change much going to a lower speed. I guess the only battle I have to do in my head on this one is whether I want 1600MHZ w/CAS 9-9-9 or 1066MHZ w/CAS 7-7-7 or some other trade-off... hehe, I doubt it matters enough for me to waste any time worrying about it.
Buy in pairs for dual channel right?

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB SATA ~$75
Looks like the SamSung Spinpoint's are making some real competition for WD at this time. Even though a 320GB drive would be more than enough for my needs at this time, $75 for a 1TB with good reviews and everyone raving about price/performance ratio is a no brainer. Oh, and as a bonus, I can bug my WD obsessed friend about what a great deal this drive is, lol....

Asus DVD Burner Model: DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS ~$25
I don't no jack about picking a DVD drive, so I just picked one :) 

LOGISYS Area 51 CS51WBK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower 480W PS ~$50
Seems pretty cheap, reviews aren't too bad... Might need a bigger PS later on down the road depending on which video card/s I put in.

12CM case fan ~$15
The case has an un-used slot for a 12CM fan. Might as well right?

------

So that's coming in at under $450. I can see throwing another $400+ at it as needs arise (video cards, memory, power supply).

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?



It's always best to follow the system build template:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/282333-31-read-first

..but you're pretty close to it now

I know you're going for a Linux build (I personally like Ubuntu), but what exactly will you be doing with it? "Computing intensive tasks" is kinda vague


The Samsung F3 1TB can be found for as little as $65.
http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=HD-HD103SJ


depending on what you do with it, the Geforce GTX460 s the best bang-for-buck videocard out there, but its $230. The GT 240 is a good deal at $70, and if you arent doing games, It'll do everything else you ask of it. Most other price points the Radeons are the best deal (a HD5770 is top choice around $150, for instance)

a DVD burner can be had on newegg for about $18

a 12cm/120mm case fan should be $5 for a plain jane model

August 16, 2010 4:43:04 AM

The PSU in the case/PSU combo is junk. Come on, a case/PSU combination for $35?.
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August 16, 2010 7:03:24 AM

Hi ScrewySqrl,

I have seen others using variations of what I assumed to be a semi-standardized tomshardware forum build template, but I don't see a template in the link (which I did read before posting), and have even searched a bit for the full original version of said template. I'd be happy to edit my post to be in accordance to the proper template. If someone could direct me to the full and blank template that would be great.

Quote:
what exactly will you be doing with it? "Computing intensive tasks" is kinda vague


Could wind up doing anything from CAD to photo editing to video editing/ripping/converting/compressing. Seems like many of my little projects wind up across several apps and I'm constantly bouncing back and forth between them. I'd like to have enough over-head to play a movie (possibly HD) on a second monitor without a problem while crunching away on projects. Might see about some games. I just really think that a quad-core system would be well suited for the way I like to use a computer. Doesn't need to be the latest greatest proc but I'm thinking a handful of cores to keep busy would work well.

Since posting the original build idea, I was browsing around on newegg and found a combo special for a biostar board (no SLI and no on-board video) that works out to a total of about $122 for both a quad-core 2.6GHZ propus and board combo. (Same combos available for the 2.8 and 2.9 and 3.0GHZ at steadily increasing prices). I probably don't really "need" SLI for anything. Like you were saying, the 460s are looking really good. I'm going to play with the build and see if this could come in budget with the good video card right away.

Eric
August 16, 2010 11:08:13 AM

here's the right build template:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261222-31-build-advic...

if you're going to be doing CAD, Photo Editing, and video editing, you might want to consider the AMD 6-core processors (the Phenom II X6 1055 and 1099.) which do that sort of intense graphics work better than quad cores. At $200/300 each, they are probably out of your price range though.

a better quality power supply would be anything from Antec, OCZ, Cooler Master, Thermaltake, Sea Sonic, and Ultra are all reliable brands.
August 16, 2010 6:46:03 PM

Hi ScreySqrl,

That's the link! Perfect! (I didn't want to copy and paste one from one of the threads I have seen it used in because I wasn't sure if it would be the full version).

Last night I was actually looking at build options that would take advantage of combo-discounts to see if there would be any way to swing a 6 core machine. Probably not going to happen. If I could afford to put together a 24 Core machine I probably would.

Considering the machines I have scraped by with in the past, I could probably make do just fine building a micro-machine with a single or dual core. The quad will be a real step up from the usual for me anyways. I edited through hundreds of hours worth of video in final cut on a 400MHZ G3 many years ago. It can be done, it just stinks. Render times for a few minute segment with a lot of fancy tricks would be measured in days.

Thank you for the tip on the power supplies, good to know.

Eric
August 18, 2010 7:16:37 PM

Of course I'm still going around in circles, but here's where I am at now:

RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP 1mm ATX Mid Tower Foldout MB w/500W Power Supply
Reviews look solid, price is right, Research I've done says that the initial build would probably run fine on a 300-350W anyways.

ASUS M4N98TD EVO AM3 NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI ATX AMD Motherboard
Jumped up to an even nicer MOBO, line of thought being to hold onto the MOBO fairly long term and be able to keep upgrading without a total rebuild for quite a few years.

AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX440WFGIBOX
Available in the combo with the board. Savings by moving over to the X3 in conjunction with the combo special offsets the more expensive board. The mobo selected *might* be able to unlock a core or some L3 depending on which version of the X3 this actually is but I'm not sure if I would bother. In a couple years, 12 core procs will probably make their way to consumer sockets, I can cross my fingers that this board will run one.

A-DATA XPG Gaming Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000G (PC3 16000)
This seemed like the most memory for the dollar. I actually have no intention of trying to run it at "2000MHZ," I'd probably see if it will run at 1333 6-6-6 as that would probably be better than ~1600-1800+ 9-9-9.

EVGA GeForce 9800 GT HDMI 512MB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
This mobo doesn't have built in video to get me started. This is the part I'm having the hardest time with. The GT240 GDDR5 would probably be as fast or faster for about $20 less, but won't SLI in the future. The 9800GT is only a few dollars shy of the GTX+/GT250 category. Tough call.

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Dropped to half a terabyte. Needed to come up with a few dollars in the build for a video card.

Sony SATA CD/DVD Burner - OEM
August 18, 2010 8:54:38 PM

mdocod said:
Of course I'm still going around in circles, but here's where I am at now:

RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WBP 1mm ATX Mid Tower Foldout MB w/500W Power Supply
Reviews look solid, price is right, Research I've done says that the initial build would probably run fine on a 300-350W anyways.

ASUS M4N98TD EVO AM3 NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI ATX AMD Motherboard
Jumped up to an even nicer MOBO, line of thought being to hold onto the MOBO fairly long term and be able to keep upgrading without a total rebuild for quite a few years.

AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX440WFGIBOX
Available in the combo with the board. Savings by moving over to the X3 in conjunction with the combo special offsets the more expensive board. The mobo selected *might* be able to unlock a core or some L3 depending on which version of the X3 this actually is but I'm not sure if I would bother. In a couple years, 12 core procs will probably make their way to consumer sockets, I can cross my fingers that this board will run one.

A-DATA XPG Gaming Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000G (PC3 16000)
This seemed like the most memory for the dollar. I actually have no intention of trying to run it at "2000MHZ," I'd probably see if it will run at 1333 6-6-6 as that would probably be better than ~1600-1800+ 9-9-9.

EVGA GeForce 9800 GT HDMI 512MB 256-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
This mobo doesn't have built in video to get me started. This is the part I'm having the hardest time with. The GT240 GDDR5 would probably be as fast or faster for about $20 less, but won't SLI in the future. The 9800GT is only a few dollars shy of the GTX+/GT250 category. Tough call.

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Dropped to half a terabyte. Needed to come up with a few dollars in the build for a video card.

Sony SATA CD/DVD Burner - OEM


take a look at this combo, which might save a few bucks:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

its $525, $505 after rebate, plus shipping. It doesn't include a video card.

the Rana processor is a great deal right now, with a chance to unlock a 4th core, but no L3 Cache. regardless of future developments, you can at least do an x6 upgrade in the future with this bord

the GT240 is basically a die-shunk and low wattage version of the 9600GSO. Its a decent card at around $75-80, but won't do the heavy duty stuff you're doing.

The 9800GT is an older card, but still good one. The 250 is basically it, die-shrunk
August 19, 2010 3:47:02 AM

Thanks for the link to the combo! Funny thing, I've been looking at a lot of those combos like that on newegg, and they all seem to have a seagate slapped in the mix. I just don't have the best feeling about seagate, nothing personal hehe... I want to go with either WD or SAMSUNG drive for the build.

If I understand correctly the 9800GT is a little shy of most 250s, but should do all of the same things just fine. The 250s are probably more like the older 9800 GTX/+ performance wise.
August 19, 2010 3:56:49 AM

Seagate is a very old, reliable hard drive company. They were founded in 1978, and KNOW hard drives.
August 19, 2010 3:23:59 PM

You don't need SLI for mild gaming. And rather than two older weaker cards, it's better a good one.

AMD Athlon II X4 635 + OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 + GIGABYTE GV-R577SO-1GD Radeon HD 5770
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB + LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
LITE-ON Black 24X DVD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$605.93 AR
!