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PC under $400

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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
September 20, 2010 8:19:35 PM

Hi everyone,
I am planning to build a PC for home, which is going to be mainly used for playing some small games, word processing, surfing, transferring movies & images from Digital Cams (maybe a bit of editing at times), downloading, etc.

I want to have a system which supports at-least two monitors, though I would like to add a graphics card if possible in this budget but wouldn't mind to postpone it for later.
To this effect I am confused whether it would be advisable to have a motherboard with dual monitor support for now and add up a graphics card later on
OR
To go with non graphical motherboard and add a cheap graphics card for now and upgrade it later. I must admit that I am not sure if there are motherboards without inbuilt graphic support.

My main concern would be to future proof the system to some extent, maybe something like 3-5 years. I have a Windows 7 Home (32 bit) which I would like to use but its not a limiting factor as I am willing to move on to 64 bit OS in future.


Budget: $400

Usage (Current): Playing Windows Games, Microsoft Office, Browsing Internet, Movie & Image Transfer, Downloading etc.
Usage (Future): Surfing Internet, Visual Studio, AutoCAD, Share Trading, Gaming (Eg; Civilization)

Approximate Purchase Date: In a fortnight.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, HDD, Optical Drive.

Parts Preferences: None as such, but would want to try AMD for a change.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

I am new to this so may have missed out on something, please advise.
Hoping to be guided in the right direction.

Regards.

More about : 400

September 20, 2010 8:27:11 PM

amd athlon x3 440

asus m4a77td

5770 (if u want to run dual monitors during not hard games)

4gb ddr3 1333 mhz ddr3 cl7

corsair vx450w

if u want to add another hdd get samsung spinpoint f3.... i think is a good thing to get cause ur current hdd can bottle neck the sistem... depending on wichone u got

case... ur choise :p ... my recomendation haf 912
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September 20, 2010 9:14:30 PM

Processor:
Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3540
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
$99.99 @ MicroCenter

Motherboard:
ECS H55H-I LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Mini ITX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$69.99 AR @ NewEgg.com

RAM:
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) CAS 8 1.5V F3-10600CL8D-4GBHK
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$88.99 @ NewEgg.com

Graphics Card:
Integrated

Hard Drive:
Yours

Case:
LIAN LI PC-Q07 Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$59.99 @ NewEgg.com

Power Supply:
SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300W 80 PLUS BRONZE OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$39.99 @ NewEgg.com

DVD Burner:
Yours

Total: $358.95 (not including taxes and shipping)

I agree with the above it would be better (but not totall necessary) to upgrade to a new HDD.
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Related resources
September 20, 2010 9:52:25 PM

well 400$ for a future proof system is not to likely. your best option in that case would be to get a nice mobo and psu then skimp on the rest and upgrade as you need. juanchioos always pretty bad it seems which is clear here again suggesting a 70$ case and 140$ video card for a 400$ total build. also suggesting that your current hd would be a bottleneck not even knowing what it is. intel is definitely not the way to go with a budget system that low.

theres promo codes for 10$ off the case and 10$ off the psu i didnt put in the total is 386 with this you would just have to upgrade the cpu and gpu down the road or just add another 5670 for crossfire. if you consider rebates as part of your final price it ends up around 350. if you could afford about 410$ on the initial order price upgrade the cpu to x3 445 instead of the x2 245 its 20$ more and well worth it
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a b U Graphics card
September 21, 2010 2:47:26 AM

I disagree- future proof means different things to different people. WIth just graphics card upgrades, a cheap system can be more than usable for 3-5 years, and that's if the user plays 3D games. Look at how much use netbooks are getting, given their P4 level performance.
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September 21, 2010 3:52:10 AM

i didnt know future proof had different meanings ^^ as far as i knew future proof means usable or upgradable with things coming out over the next couple years. upgrading graphics wont help much if the rest of the computer wont handle it and i dont see what netbooks have to do with this
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
September 21, 2010 5:53:44 AM

Tor all the help guys, I really appreciate it. After following the suggestions in this thread, I have narrowed down my choice to the following.

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 445 - $78
(Fits in the budget an if I got lucky maybe I'll be able to unlock one of the cores, though am not counting on it. I assume its possible to unlock them on Athlons)

Motherboard: I am totally baffled at this as I am not sure which one to choose as I want best my limited budget can buy. When I say future proof, I mean that I should be able to upgrade the system in coming years. It should have capability to handle the upgrades and expansions in future, if any. So I wouldn't mind spending an extra buck there.
I am not sure if it would be of any help but am looking to replace a P4 based model with 2GB of DDR1 RAM.

Graphics Card: Currently there wouldn't be much of a demand on graphics card. I would be interested in getting something which would support at-least twin monitors.

RAM: From what I have come to understand, that since I am going to use 32-bit OS, anything more than 3GB here will not be recognized anyway. So for now I would settle for 2GB RAM and spend whatever saved into the motherboard. Maybe will add more in later stages.

HDD: Well currently I have a spare Seagate 400GB @7200 r.p.m, does it qualify to be the bottleneck or would it pass, or would you be needing more information on that.

Case: As for case, well looks is last of my concerns, anything which can conceal all the paraphernalia without looking particularly hideous should suffice. However it should have space to accept the expansions later on like if I would want to add an extra fan or may be an extra storage disc.

Thanks a lot for reading through and for all your suggestions.
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September 21, 2010 6:06:26 AM

the motherboard and video card i listed would work well for your situation. mobo is usb3/sata6 surround sound yada yada so ready for future upgrades. no built in video but thats where the card comes in. you could drop the card though and go for a higher end mobo that has built in video that would be a good option. dual monitors shouldnt be a problem though most mobos i see with built in video have dvi vga and hdmi plugs. also dont worry about the hd being a bottleneck unless its like a oldddd ide :p  then you might wanna upgrade to a newer sata. about the ram im pretty sure that only applied to xp 32bit anything vista and up will support over 3gb


you could get this and forget about the video card and save 50$ to put towards something else. you should focus on a good mobo and psu for now though the cpu and video can always be upgraded later if you feel you need more power. from my reading though new asus boards are picky about ram so might wanna research a little and see what works.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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September 21, 2010 7:09:41 AM

I went with a stronger CPU and opted to go with integrated graphics for now. I chose a PSU which leaves you the option to upgrade to pretty much any single discrete video card other than a GTX 480, 5970, or some new behemoth.

Processor and Motherboard: $212.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM and Power Supply : $134.98 (has $15 rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Graphics Card: Integrated
Upgrade when needed

Hard Drive: $0
Yours

Case: $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical Drive: $0
Yours

Total: $392.95 (not including taxes and shipping)



I did another build with an Athlon x3 445 and 5770 but I went over the budget by $30

Processor and Motherboard: $120.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM: $79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics Card and Power Supply: $184.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Hard Drive: $0
Yours

Case: $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical Drive: $0
Yours

Total: $430.94 (not including taxes and shipping)

Like others have said, you might want to consider getting a new hard drive. Good luck with your build
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
September 21, 2010 4:42:08 PM

So far thanks to all the guidance through this forum, I have shortlisted following so far:

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 630 - $115
Motherboard: Asus M4A88TD V EVO/USB3 - $70
Memory: Kingston 2GB DDR3 1333 - $45
Hard Disk: Seagate 500GB SATA II 3GB/S - $45 (I found out that my spare HDD was PATA so had to swallow the bitter pill)
Cabinet: Gigabyte ATX Mid Tower - $20

So far total is around $295 with around $105 still in hand what should I splurge them on.
For an extra $75 I can get AMD Phenom X4 955 BE should I go for it or should I rather stick with Athlon and get myself some graphics card.
Will there be any major difference in performance or can it be compensated with an extra RAM module and maybe a graphics card.

Thanks for all the help.
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September 21, 2010 8:10:17 PM

im confused how is that asus board 70$ is it an open box? how is the 955be 190$ if you ment 75$ more then the 630? your also missing a power supply in your list there. i would highly suggest the 4 gigs of ram for 35$ more itll make a big difference over 2. the x3 445 for 78$ cant really be beat especially when you add in the chance to unlock.
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September 21, 2010 11:42:09 PM

Quote:
So far thanks to all the guidance through this forum, I have shortlisted following so far:

CPU: AMD Athlon X4 630 - $115
Motherboard: Asus M4A88TD V EVO/USB3 - $70
Memory: Kingston 2GB DDR3 1333 - $45
Hard Disk: Seagate 500GB SATA II 3GB/S - $45 (I found out that my spare HDD was PATA so had to swallow the bitter pill)
Cabinet: Gigabyte ATX Mid Tower - $20

So far total is around $295 with around $105 still in hand what should I splurge them on.
For an extra $75 I can get AMD Phenom X4 955 BE should I go for it or should I rather stick with Athlon and get myself some graphics card.
Will there be any major difference in performance or can it be compensated with an extra RAM module and maybe a graphics card.

Thanks for all the help.


Athlon X4 630 is fine for what you need, instead get 4GB Ram if you're considering upgrading to Win7 64bit (though that's an extra $100 for Win7 OEM disk); after you should have enough for a decent graphics card in the $60-70 range.
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
September 22, 2010 6:03:35 PM

Sorry my mistake, I mixed up the prices. The price for the motherboard is $115 while there was an offer of a processor for $75, but not anymore. I haven't shortlisted any power supply yet, but have earmarked around $40 for the same. Going by Skervy's suggestion, I think M4A88TD-V-EVO/USB3 proofs the system to a foreseeable future. Even though the idea of unlocking a core is quite tempting but with my luck, I think I would be better off by choosing a X4 instead.
As for extra 2GB RAM would it be advisable to go for an extra core right now and add up RAM a bit later when my budget would permit me, or should I rather stick with an extra stick (of RAM) and loose a core.
Thanks for all your help guys, its been a great help so far and I hope you'll continue supporting me with your valuable advise till the end.
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a b U Graphics card
September 22, 2010 6:48:36 PM

this power supply is $39.99

it does lack a power cord, but you probly have one lying around you can use, or a new one is $3.00 at an office supply store. Sea Sonic is absoutely top-of-field in quality, and this one is 80+ certified and 300W. a low end graphics card (Like a 5570) would fit in this PSU with plenty of headroom.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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September 23, 2010 12:08:41 AM

Quote:
Sorry my mistake, I mixed up the prices. The price for the motherboard is $115 while there was an offer of a processor for $75, but not anymore. I haven't shortlisted any power supply yet, but have earmarked around $40 for the same. Going by Skervy's suggestion, I think M4A88TD-V-EVO/USB3 proofs the system to a foreseeable future. Even though the idea of unlocking a core is quite tempting but with my luck, I think I would be better off by choosing a X4 instead.
As for extra 2GB RAM would it be advisable to go for an extra core right now and add up RAM a bit later when my budget would permit me, or should I rather stick with an extra stick (of RAM) and loose a core.
Thanks for all your help guys, its been a great help so far and I hope you'll continue supporting me with your valuable advise till the end.


It's cheaper to buy RAM as a 4GB bundle; who knows how much the ram you need will cost years from now? Also you can get lucky with discounts and combos from Newegg.com This is the ram I got OCZ AMD Black Edition 4GB -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Right now it comes with a $20 rebate and tons of combo offers such as this one with Athlon II X4 640 for an extra $20 off -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
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September 23, 2010 12:32:44 AM

ya im not fully sure on the technical part of it but im pretty sure a x3 with 4gb of ram is gonna perform better then x4 with 2gb of ram. might want another opinion on it but from my experiences having low ram back in the day sucked badly lol. yes core unlocking is not a guarantee but a real nice bonus for a 78$ cpu if it works. even at stock the x3 is well worth the money. if you insist on getting the quad core though choose wisely with your ram combo alot of the ones offered have bad reviews and prolly why their so cheap in combos. also dont skimp on the psu i dont know what you found for 40$ but theres plenty of quality ones around 50 unless you ment that antec was 40
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September 23, 2010 12:56:16 AM

not having enough ram is a surefire way to ruin the performance of any machine. 2gb will see the machine function... but it wont be great, and you almost certainly will not be able to play any games, especially if your OS is windows 7. 4gb is what you need. besides, ram is cheap enough now to warrant 4gb in any new system.

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September 23, 2010 2:40:52 PM

Guys, guys, guys... I can run Sim City 4 on high with an integrated 4200.. you don't need a graphics card for solitaire.
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September 23, 2010 5:21:01 PM

hmm never seen him say he was just gonna be playing solitare and the graphics card has been removed for a board with intergrated video :p  now the debate is what ram and cpu
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2010 12:30:59 PM

How do you people feel about this system.
Motherboard: Asrock 890GX Extreme3 - $125
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 635 - $99
Memory: Kingston 1333MHz 2GBX2 - $100
Hard Disk: WD Caviar Green 640GB/64MB/SATA 3.0Gb/s/3.5" - $55
Cabinet + PSU: Sentey classic/450w RPower/2Fan/4USB/Black - $50

Total comes out to be around $430 which is a slightly more than what I started with but, it became essential since I had to account for the HDD.
Your comments are eagerly awaited.
Regards.
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a b U Graphics card
September 25, 2010 5:08:35 PM

ok, if we want a sub $400 budget, we want budget parts. $125 for the motherboard is overkill, we can also get memory cheaper and a faster HDD:

Motherboard:ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard: $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mushkin Essentials: 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM: $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Earthwatts 380W 80+ Bronze Power supply, and Antec 200 case: $64.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

the 380W has a combined 32 amps on the 12v lines (17 and 15 on 2 lines), so could handle a mid range graphics card)

Athlon II X4 640 3.0 GHZ quad core and LG 22x DVD Burner: $109.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

This totals $304.92

you ca add a hard drive samsung spinpoint HD: F4 320 GB is $43, f3 500 GB is $55, and 1 TB is $75

or

use your existing hard drive and get a low end graphics card lke a HD 5670 ($80), or GT240 DDR5 ($80) or go a bit over budget for a GTS 450 (110) or HD5750 ($120)

either will keep you under $400.

the lowest hard drive and video card, combined will put you at about $430
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