Recommendations for a $350-$400 build

Hello, :hello:

I have had an old pc for some time(10-year old) PII and would like to build a brand new system with a low budget of $350-400. Looking to do mainly Starcraft II type low end gaming, and surfing the internet, and watching movies. Would like a motherboard from which I can upgrade or something that is current technology i.e DDR3 Ram.

I've done a bit of research but there are just too many options to choose from and it seems to be TMI as I didnt keep up with the computer news since I last bought my pc (8-10 years ago) Would appreciate your help.


BUDGET RANGE: $350-$400.. maybe can push it $450) Before taxes

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming ( Starcraft II), surfing the net, watching movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor(i have an old monitor), speakers, OS)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: any would do,, tigerdirect, or any other good one with low shipping rates


PARTS PREFERENCES: which ever is the best bang for the buck... I think it would be AMD?


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: no idea of this

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I have a 15 inch lcd which is about 5-6 years old

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would like a motherboard from which I can upgrade i.e ddr3 ram and opting for the AMD side of things as they seem to be cheaper.
6 answers Last reply
More about recommendations build
  1. Thanks for the reply, I researched a bit on SLI/crossfire and it seems like a good option to invest in a motherboard that offers these capabilities in case I would like to upgrade in the future. I can go low on the ram i.e 2 Gigs and invest in a better mobo?

    What's confusing is that some of the video cards are DDR2 and 1Gigabyte and are much much cheaper than the GDDR5 ones that are just 512 MB.

    And if the mobo is SLI, do I also need a powersupply that offers SLI. And am I restricted to using Nvidia cards on a SLI motherboard or can I use ATI cards on SLI mobos? Also if the Power supply is SLI compatible, how does this work with ATI cards which offer crossfire technology.

    And how does one figure out how much wattage is required for the powersupply? I read a bit and the minimum recommended is about 500W.
  2. SLI/CFX is a good option if you have a decent budget and plan to upgrade, but I would put this after the CPU, and GPU and RAM, getting sub-par components will hold you back even if you CFX/SLI.

    For the Video cards, the different types of RAM is only one factor of performance, but the most important is the GPU core, eg HD4850, GTX285 etc. Heres a list for the performance of modern cards: . Also, 1GB RAM in slow cards is really is just marketing, general rule is, anything before the resolution of 1650*1080 and performance level of a HD5770, 512MB of vRAM is more than adequate.

    A SLI PSU is just marketing, as long as you have enough power on the 12v rail you could run a video card, regardless of CFX/SLI etc, heres a decent PSU calculator:

    However, the quality of a PSU is very important, as well as the real output. Just because a PSU is rated at 500W doesn't mean it can deliver 500W, or 500W to where you need the power. So be sure to investigate the output table and buy from reputable brands.
  3. MY ADVICE: Get this system- all good components, new technology, and will last you a few years. When you get another $175, add an ASUS 23" monitor and you're good to go. You could cut off another $75 with lower quality components, but it's probably not worth it.

    If you are not doing any heavy gaming, the mobo has graphics that work well- you could start with that setup for around $380, then add a new gpu later if you need. Let us know how it works out..
    I'm probably going to do this build soon for someone else..

    FX HD-567X-YNFC Radeon HD 5670 (Redwood) 512MB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity


    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT
    Item #: N82E16820231253
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy


    Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98

    LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98
    Item #: N82E16827106334
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    -$12.00 Combo


    OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Item #: N82E16822152181
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    -$20.00 Combo
    $20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card17-341-022


    select item 5 quantity of item 5

    AMD Athlon II X4 630 Propus 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor ADX630WFGIBOX
    ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813131406
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813131406

    -$10.00 Instant
    -$15.00 Combo


    Subtotal: $471.92
  4. Thanks for the excellent advice Timop and thanks to shar79 for the new build as well. Guys, these options do give me a better understanding of building my configurations.

    Now the next intriguing question I have is that the mobo, ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G, that shar79 has in the build, it has only 1 PCI-e x16 slot and the discrete video card is crossfire. Suppose there's no integrated Graphics card on the motherboard, then if there is just 1 PCI-e x16 card, how will a crossfire video card help me? It doesnt right? I need to have atleast 2 PCI-e slots in order to take advantage of crossfire right?

    So essentially,I should be searching for motherboards that have atleast 2 PCI-e cards if Im looking for crossfire if in the future Im looking to upgrade the build?

    Also, my monitor has a vga port, do these newer video cards have a vga port because I see a lot of DVI/HDMI these days. Would I still be able to hook up my vga monitor to these newer cards or do I need to upgrade my monitor as well?
  5. Even if a mobo has 2 x PCIex16 lanes it is only recommended to run CF/SLI if it is at least 8/8 on PCIex16 gen 2.0 lanes when 2 GPUs are in place rather than 16/4 which is the case with some entry level mobos

    Update: October 2010 sub $400 build


    Summary popular games performace

    Good to go Ultra/No AA SC2 :P
    Starcraft 2 Multiplayer GPU Performance Analysis

    Full HD + AA/AF WOW

    Full HD + AA/AF L4D2 (interpolating as being on par or slightly edging out HD 4770 hehe)
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