Need Advice on First (and economical) Build

Something in my current computer just died - either the PSU or GPU - and it isn't worth replacing as I was planning on building a new computer over the next month anyhow.

Because of the timing of the holidays every dollar I can save or delay until 2011 in spending matters, so I am challenged with building the most balanced and effective machine for the lowest dollar value I can. I want to stay with at least the tri-core processor, and won't have a problem upgrading a single part later in the year (just need to keep total cost of initial purchase down).

In your esteemed opinions, does this look like a solid build? I have the option of two memory sticks, one with a latency of CS 7 and the other CS9. Will there be a tangible real-world impact between the two? What about memory frequency, I have selected 1600, as I am planning on doing a moderate CPU overclock, but is it necessary for an AMD processor (read a couple off-comments that it isn't as necessary vs an intel chip), or will I be fine downgrading this part to 1333?

Thank you all for your advice and time.

Approximate Purchase Date: Throughout November 2010

Budget Range: Sub $600

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (WoW, Diablo3, Dragon Age, Civ5), video playback, multiple monitor support, Surfing

Parts Not Required: Hard drive, disc drive, keyboard, mouse, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, and Microcenter

Overclocking: Plan to moderate overclock the CPU, and try to unlock its 4th core. First build I have done though.

SLI or Crossfire: Crossfire in the future

Parts Preferences:


Hard Drive: Legacy HDD from my Gateway FX

Case: HAF 912


Motherboard: AsRock 870 Extreme3

CPU: Phenom II x3 740

CORSAIR XMS3 4GB 1600 (PC3 12800) CS 7


G.SKILL 4GB 1600 (PC3 12800) CS9

Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 620 Bronze 620W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE


COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M600 RS-600-AMBA-D3 600W ATX12V V2.3 80 PLUS


legacy from current computer (Gateway FX530S) - 700 watt Grantsdale extended ATX

GPU: - SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850

CPU Cooler: Need Advice
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  1. CPU: Drop the CPU to an X3 440/445. It'll be basically the same, but cheaper.

    RAM: I'd look at these G.Skill Eco sticks. They're excellent at a good price. I'd definitely want to get something with 1600 mhz CL 7 though.

    PSU: If the choice is between those three options only, definitely the SeaSonic. I'd also look at some 650W units from Corsiar, Antec, XFX and Silverstone.

    GPU: The 6850 is alright, but I'd rather have the 5850 for the same price. The 5850 is more powerful and is basically only missing a few worthless features.

    HDD: I know you said you don't need one, but HDDs are the main bottleneck to how fast a computer feels. An old drive in a new build is going to make it seem like it's crawling when it should be flying. I'd recommend getting the Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB or 1 TB. They're fairly cheap, yet a hell of lot faster.

    HSF: Either the Coolermaster Hyper 212+ or Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B. However, if you don't buy an OEM CPU, and aren't planning on OCing immediately, you can leave this out for a while.
  2. Thanks for the response.

    So, I won't see a performance difference between the 445 and 740? Hadn't considered going all the way to the bottom of the chain. I will have to think about it.

    PSU isn't between those three, just pricing things out on newegg and elsewhere, it seems those are those are pretty representative of my best options. Unless I have way over estimated my power needs in shooting for a 550-600w psu.

    i haven't found a 5850 for the 6850 price of 180. The 5850's are hovering around 220 or so from what I have seen. Do you perhaps have a link?

    Just thought of one more question: Can I plop my current HD with Windows XP into this build, without reformatting everything? Not optimal but just looking to bridge the time between now and Christmas when I know "santa" is buying me an OEM copy of Win7. hehe
  3. There won't be a noticeable one. The X3 4xx are considered possibly the best bang for the buck gaming CPUs. They're consistently recommended over the X4 6xx and higher end X3s. Basically, unless you can afford the X4 955, you should get the X3 4xx.

    A 650W would be needed for Crossfiring. At the start, you won't need that much power, but you'll need it for expansion.

    For some reason I, I was thinking of the 6870. However, given that the 6850 is at $190 (with shipping), $220 is a pretty good price for the extra performance.

    As for throwing the HDD in with the OS, it's unlikely. It's possible, but I'd do a reinstallation once the drive was installed to be safe. However, if it's from a prebuilt system, you'll need a new OS entirely. Prebuilts come with an OEM version of the OS that will only work with the original motherboard. You can't move the OS to a new build. You could also settle for using Ubuntu to tide you over until you get a new OS if it's an OEM version.
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