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$500 upgrade

Last response: in Systems
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 6:44:25 PM

I have about a $500 dollar budget and am looking to buy in the next month.

All I need is a motherboard, processor, and RAM to work with it.

I currently have a 550w cert 80 psu, plenty of hdd, and a GTS 250.

I am bouncing between an i5 or a Phenom x4 955 (perhaps 965), so I am open to suggestions on any builds.

Again, $500 dollar budget to upgrade those 3 parts, but I will also need to grab Windows 7 as well, so that zips 99.99 right off the top (per Newegg).

I will probably order all parts though Newegg.

Thanks for the tips folks!

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a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 7:17:22 PM

CPU - Phenom II X4 955 - $150
Mobo - Asus M4A89GTD PRO/USB3 - $140
RAM - Mushkin Blackline 1600 MHz CL7 1.65V 4 GB kit - $95
G.Skill Eco Series 1600 MHz CL7 1.35V 4 GB kit - $99

At $400 (+$100 for Win 7), I'd go AMD. If you had a little more money, you might consider an i5 build, but the only motherboard I'd go with is the Asus P7P55D-E Pro, which runs $180. That plus an i5 is going to be close to $400 already, leaving little budget for RAM.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 7:22:32 PM

That's good things right there. Thanks! I can probably work a i5 build for about 100 bucks more. Guess it depends on what the budget looks like. :) 
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 7:28:20 PM

Personally, I'd just get the AMD build and use the $100 to start saving for a new graphics card, but I guess that depends on whether you're using this for a gaming build or something else.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 7:57:40 PM

Definitely gaming. Good advice! Thanks!
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 7:58:03 PM

Best answer selected by Madallaw.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 8:42:59 PM

Ooo... nice find.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 8:50:26 PM

That is a nice combo, and you should probably go for it. I should have added the caveat that I didn't bother searching for combos. I usually leave that as an exercise for the reader. :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 9:07:17 PM

My problem is not knowing what is a "good" motherboard. Especially for AMD as I usually go with Intel.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 31, 2010 9:16:51 PM

That MSI mobo is good. :)  If it cost a lot more than the Asus 890GX, it wouldn't be worth the added expense, but with that combo at nearly the same price, it's a good deal.

Right now, there are 2 AMD lines to consider. The 700 series and the 800 series. There isn't a lot in the 800 series that's worth paying a ton more for, but there are some future-resistant options that might be worth $20-30. The 800 series boards are more likely to have USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0 Gb/s, mostly. Those features are few and far between, if they're available at all on the 700 series.

Beyond that, there are the different models within each series.

FX is top-of-the-line, and does CrossFire at 16x/16x, roughly equivalent to Intel's socket 1366.

GX is the 2nd most expensive model. It has integrated graphics, but can CrossFire at 8x/8x, and is pretty equivalent to high-end socket 1156 boards.

Below that, there are multiple models for both the 700 and 800 series. By and large, the only other models worth considering for gaming builds would be 770, 870, and 790X. Most of the other models have integrated graphics and won't CrossFire.

Of course, CrossFire isn't necessary for most gaming builds, but as you get into the lower-end models, you also lose features. My typical recommendation for an AMD gaming build is an 890GX mobo, as it can still CrossFire if necessary, but you're not spending the extra $40-50 for an 890FX motherboard...but you still get the other features, like USB 3.0.