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Non-gaming (partial)) build for <$300

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October 8, 2010 5:57:49 PM

Approximate Purchase Date:
Before Christmas.
Early November at earliest, early December at latest.

Budget Range:
$300 after rebate

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
light photo processing (rather "picasa" than "photoshop" to give you an idea)
watching movies (including HD)
surf the web (including HD video streaming, flash)
general office tasks
audio encoding
very light gaming (no advanced 3D but rather internet games, ex: facebook)

Parts Not Required:
PSU: Rosewill RP600V2-S-SL 600W ATX12V v2.01 SLI Ready Power Supply
DVD burner: PLEXTOR DVDR PX-712A SATA
HDD (for STORAGE): 2x MAXTOR IC35L120AVV207-0 (120GB, PATA)
Monitor: Hanns-G 19" 4:3. Maybe Hanns·G HH193DPB but I'm not sure.
OS: Windows 7 Home
Peripherials: Keyboard, Mouse (both USB), Speakers (2.1), Card Reader, Printer...
Accessories: Cables, Thermal paste...

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:
NOT buy.com.
Newegg.com is preferred.
tigerdirect.com, zipzoomfly.com, frys.com... all acceptable.

Country of Origin:
USA

Parts Preferences:
I give AMD an edge for this build but it's not a requirement.
I am considering the following parts but I'm 10% over budget. Where should I save?

Combo deal on RAM and CPU
Currently (08/10) $152.98 after $20 MIR; includes:
OCZ Special Ops Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor (cooling included)

ASRock 880GMH/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Currently (08/10) $86.99 incl. s&h

OCZ Onyx OCZSSD2-1ONX32G 2.5" 32GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Currently (08/10) $52.99 after $25 MIR

Rosewill Blackbone Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Currently (08/10) $34.99 after $5 promo code

Overclocking:
Maybe - I am comfortable with it but it needs to be "fire-and-forget" once the system is rock stable.

SLI or Crossfire
Maybe - I'm considering IGP but a chipset that could be combined with a video card later would be preferred.

Monitor Resolution:
Currently 1280x1024 but the system should be able to handle at least 1680x1050.

Additional Comments:
This is a (re)build for a friend on a tight budget.
I have built many systems myself, but high-end only! I don't have experience with "budget builds".
How low can you go and keep acceptable performance?

There is very little demand for gaming but everything else should be "snappy" (her words).
The current HDD are slow but have enough storage.
So rather than get a new SATA HDD I'm thinking about a small SSD for the OS.
IMPORTANT: at least one PATA channel on the motherboard is absolutely required!

Also, this should be a "fire and forget" system.
Overclocking is only acceptable if the system remains ROCK-stable (i.e. no tweaking or maintenance!)
Future CPU or internal storage upgrading is very unlikely. Plausible later upgrades would IMO be:
- additional external storage (hence my idea to get a board with eSata and USB 3.0).
- new monitor (probably < 22')
- MAYBE an add-on video card, so the IGP should be combined with the card when that happens.

The components I'm looking at currently (10/08) total $327.95 including $45 MIR.
The budget is $300 (anything over it would be a tough sell), where can I save some money?

Thanks for any suggestions!
October 8, 2010 6:17:26 PM

ok, for this kind of system, you probly won't want/need the quad core. I'd go with a Athlon II X3 445 for this build. The Small SSD is ok, but I would upgrade to a SATA hard drive rather than using a PATA drive. there is a huge speed difference between SATA 2 and ATA-133.

here's what I came up with:

AS Rock 770 Extreme 3 + Athlon II X3 450 $149.99, w/ $10 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Rosewill Blackbone: $34.99 with promo code
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seagate 320 GB HDD: $37.99 w/ promo code:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mushkin essentials 4GB DDR3: $66.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Shipping: $7.63

total: $297.58. $287.58 after the rebate
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October 8, 2010 7:07:50 PM

Hi ScrewySqrl,

Thanks for the quick reply, but there is a major problem with the build you propose: the mainboard doesn't have onboard video! :o 
Adding any decent video card would bring the build over budget.

You're right of course about the SATA HDD being much faster than ATA-133, but the fact remains
that except for storing digital pictures my friend hardly uses any storage. It's more of a surfbox.
Hence performance of the STORAGE HDD is IMO a non-issue.

But yes, replacing the SSD with a HDD would put me right within the budget.
I have a 128GB SSD (OCZ Vertex) in my own rig and just love the effect it has on booting/app loading times...
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October 8, 2010 7:44:12 PM

MCSmarties said:
Hi ScrewySqrl,

Thanks for the quick reply, but there is a major problem with the build you propose: the mainboard doesn't have onboard video! :o 
Adding any decent video card would bring the build over budget.



D'oh! :pfff:  :cry: 

Try this for the same price:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
the 785 motherboard has onboard video (a 4200 w/ 128 MB dedicated DDR3) which should be plenty. It lacks USB 3 and SATA 3, though, which limits future upgrades. this may not matter right now though


You're right of course about the SATA HDD being much faster than ATA-133, but the fact remains
that except for storing digital pictures my friend hardly uses any storage. It's more of a surfbox.
Hence performance of the STORAGE HDD is IMO a non-issue.

But yes, replacing the SSD with a HDD would put me right within the budget.
I have a 128GB SSD (OCZ Vertex) in my own rig and just love the effect it has on booting/app loading times... said:

You're right of course about the SATA HDD being much faster than ATA-133, but the fact remains
that except for storing digital pictures my friend hardly uses any storage. It's more of a surfbox.
Hence performance of the STORAGE HDD is IMO a non-issue.

But yes, replacing the SSD with a HDD would put me right within the budget.
I have a 128GB SSD (OCZ Vertex) in my own rig and just love the effect it has on booting/app loading times...


The one trick on your HDDs though is this: most modern motherboards have only 1 IDE slot for PATA connections, a max of 2 drives. If you have a DVD and 2 HDDs, all on the older PATA connection, something has to get left out.
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!