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My First Build: Budget Desktop

Last response: in Systems
a b B Homebuilt system
August 22, 2010 2:29:41 AM

I'm not in a particular rush, but my current desktop is just about ready to die on me. I suppose I could try and see what I could get for Black Friday deals since November isn't too far away... I'd still have no idea what I should be looking for though.

About $600~800, give or take. Cheaper is, of course, always welcome. I've been looking at pre-builts in the same price range but am wondering if I can do better and find myself a new computer building hobby while I'm at it. :wahoo: 

1) Multimedia aspects such as watching movies/listening to music are top priority.
2) Internet surfing for casual entertainment including media streaming, flash, etc.
3) I also do a bit of gaming, but mostly very low-demand fps games, so any components that help this would just be more of a bonus rather than a necessity. I assume whatever GPU I end up with for my multimedia purposes will do just fine, but I could be wrong.

I need just about everything, but can live with the speakers, keyboard, and mouse that I already have if it starts to get a bit hectic in controlling my budget.
I also have a few really old CRTs lying around, so a monitor isn't dire, but I've been looking to clean up the clutter of my desk by getting with the times and going for some nice LCDs. I've also admired dual-monitor setups for quite a while, so even if it's not possible for me to do with this build, any advice just for future reference sake would be much appreciated.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: is the only online site I'm actually familiar with from previous purchases and it seems to be quite popular on these forums as well, so I guess that'll do.

New Jersey, USA

I'll be inclined to take you experienced folks' words over my own assumptions about what is good or bad, but brand names when possible for parts that are particularly susceptible to ZOMGWTH rage.
Though I understand that can hike up costs in comparison to using smaller company products, it just makes me feel more secure about any investments.

Maybe. Getting intense benchmarks isn't a huge concern though. As long as my system is stable and can run the tasks I mentioned in the System Usage section, I'm pretty much a happy camper. Admittedly, I am interested in it though.

Maybe. Again, not a huge concern considering what I need from the system. I do plan to use this system for a fair few years though, so whether I upgrade this system or shove it downstairs as a giant brick HTPC upon getting a new one for myself, I suppose it could be something to think about to make it a bit more future-proof.

Depends on my final build, doesn't it? I'd like to treat myself to a decent LCD for my multimedia viewing, but again, I can suck it up and stick with my clunky old CRTs until a ridiculous sale comes around.

I don't really care about LEDs, windows, and other cosmetics. My system could look as dull as a cardboard box for all I care. Comp noise isn't much of an issue either, as long as it doesn't sound like a freaking lawnmower is going off inside.
Efficiency and reliability FTW.

My post got a little wordier than I had planned, apologies.
Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for the help!

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a b B Homebuilt system
August 22, 2010 3:15:28 AM

Hey! Welcome aboard.

A good starting point IMHO for something in your price range is this combo deal from newegg:

It got the following parts:
AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX445WFGMBOX
MSI NF980-G65 AM3 NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL
COOLER MASTER NV 690 NV-690C-KWN2-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Rosewill Green Series RG700-S12 700W Continuous @40°C,80 PLUS Certified,Single 12V Rail
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Its $524.. $504 after the $20 rebate

Add this video card: $144.99

And this inexpensive DVD burner: $17.99

the total is $686.97

I'd recommend a 22" 1680x1050 monitor from Acer at $154.99, but that's over your budget. (I use that very monitor myself)

There is a 1600x900 monitor from Emachines for $109.99. It includes speakers.

This is $796.96, plus shipping.

The Acer monitor I'm using is $154.99, as I said:
a b B Homebuilt system
August 22, 2010 4:32:55 AM

Heya Sqrl,

I've been looking over a number of threads and products myself.
Much of what I came up with looks similar to what you suggest, at least from my newbie perspective, thus the combo deal is appealing.

I was thinking of throwing the Spinpoint F3 into my machine as well since it seems to come very highly recommended from many users. Can't really have too much hard drive space when I have tons of movies and music anyway. :pt1cable: 

For the GPU, GIGABYTE's GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB was looking all shiny and what not, and I've heard a lot of good about it, but I do suppose it is overkill on a budget system.

I was also looking at the Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) which appears to be pretty much the same thing as the one you suggest. The Juniper XT seems to have a larger fanbase though? Not really sure what's going on there.

I might be able to skimp out on the optical drive for the time being if I yank out the one I'm using right now and just replace it with a blu-ray down the line. Will keep an eye on it though.

Seems you posted the emachines link for your Acer monitor. I'm guessing you meant this one judging from the specs and price you gave?

I was looking at the top rating/reviewed ASUS 23.6" HDMI Full 1080P Widescreen LCD as well since it's pretty solid for $179.99 (with rebate) as it provides me with that longer desktop feel that I want from a dual-monitor setup. Newegg is throwing in a free Rosewill Tilt/Swivel Wall Mount right now as a limited offer too, which could be handy to move my monitor around a bit when I want to watch my movies while not at the desk. Thoughts?

Thanks for the quick reply Sqrl, appreciate the insight.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 22, 2010 5:00:09 AM

The setup you suggest looks good at quick glance as well, batuchka.
I need to head off to bed for now though so I'll check the specific details on it tomorrow.

P.S. You guys have been great! I look forward to checking out the other parts of tomshardware. :D 
See you lot when the sun goes back down.