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$400-500 build

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November 9, 2010 8:04:06 PM

Hello,
I'm looking to build a budget system for MS Office, tax work, light photo editing and maybe the occasional movie. The price would need to include Windows 7. Nothing fancy, just reliable. Thanks.

More about : 400 500 build

November 9, 2010 8:12:22 PM

Unfortunately, with your budget, you'd likely be better off with a prebuilt. Windows 7 alone will cost $100. The cheapest CPU I would consider (AMD's X3 445) is $75. RAM will cost $50-90 (2 GB vs. 4 GB). The HDD is another $55 (Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB). Add in a PSU and a case and you're already at $400. Optical drives are $20, leaving only $80ish (with 2 GB of RAM) for a quality board. Given the fact that the budget won't allow for a discrete GPU, you'd need an 8xx chipset to handle the photo/movie tasks, and they aren't cheap.

$500 is about the minimum you can build on (counting the OS), but you'd be sacrificing a lot of quality to do it. Check out what you could get from Dell, HP, or whoever. Then look at parts from Newegg.com. If you still think you can build what the vendors are selling for their prices, then go ahead. You'd basically be looking at the cheapest parts you can find, making any advice moot.
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November 10, 2010 12:31:31 AM

Maybe I'm missing something but on these forums and New Egg's I've seen X3 systems with 4 GB RAM & what appeared to be quality parts (judging from the reviews) for $400 give or take. Adding $100 for Windows would bring it up to $500. From the talk back & forth on these, they didn't appear to be junk. I was under the impression that even at this price range, I would get better quality than what was in a prebuilt. Just trying to get the most for my money.
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Related resources
November 10, 2010 1:07:19 AM

I've never seen a quality system recommended on this forum for $400 or under. Typically, the lowest budget builds asked for here are $500 for the parts, and even those are rare. In addition, prices for components change. They don't just decrease, they can increase. I've also noticed that many of the excellent deals that make the bargain budget builds practical have disappeared. You can generally count on saving anywhere from $50-100 on Newegg using their combos, but the good ones are basically extinct right now being so close to the end of the year.
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November 10, 2010 3:08:20 AM

LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$21.99

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE PSU
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$44.99

Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1066D3K2/2GR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$37.99

Intel BOXDG41AN LGA 775 Intel G41 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$71.99

Intel Celeron E3300 Wolfdale 2.5GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor BX80571E3300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$51.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
LIAN LI PC-Q07 Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Combo Discount: -$10.00
Combo Price: $149.98

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$39.99 ($15 off w/ promo code EMCZZYX23, ends 11/15)

Subtotal: $418.92

I've built similar to this for the exact uses you describe and have had only very happy customers with this system.

Since your budget is $500, if you don't mind going over a bit, you can update this build by substituting this RAM and motherboard/CPU combination:

Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1066D3K2/4GR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65.99

Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3540
GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Combo Discount: -$17.99
Combo Price: $206.99

Subtotal: $529.93
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November 10, 2010 11:39:25 AM

Like I said, not a QUALITY build for under $500 w/ OS. Intel's boards are absolute crap, and should be avoided. In addition, the LGA775 socket has been obsolete for at least two years.
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November 10, 2010 2:17:03 PM

Well, again, my experience has been very different when it comes to these general purpose "office" systems. I've found this build to be very stable, high quality and extremely responsive for the given tasks. I've never had a problem with either the Seasonic or Antec PSU, Intel DG41MJ or DG41AN boards (Q2'10 release BTW), Kingston RAM, WD HDD or Lian-Li cases. As far as I am concerned and in my experience, these are all quality products and together make a QUALITY build for general "office" type tasks.

Given that these systems aren't intended to be upgraded, just low-cost and to serve a certain purpose, I don't buy the "LGA775 is dead" argument. If it fits the budget and performs the tasks as expected then how is it different from any other CPU? What's dead? Aren't AM3 and LGA1156 "dead" too? Who is going to upgrade an AM3 or LGA1156 in two years with Bulldozer, Sandy Bridge, et.al. released?

In my own experience, I've never been asked to upgrade a CPU and I've never upgraded any of my own -- the technology when the system gets "too slow" has usually advanced in ALL areas and people, including myself, just get a whole new system. Why bother when it cost $400-500 years ago?

BTW, what's going to be in a prebuilt system anyway? sub-$400 it's going to be some low-end Athlon or Celeron/Pentium. $500 it's going to maybe be Core i3/H55. Is there some magic I am missing here -- there's some magic non-"dead end" prebuilt sub-$400 system out there somewhere?
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November 10, 2010 2:44:45 PM

First off, the AM3 socket isn't dead. They'll be seeing Bulldozer for it still. Intel's other sockets are being replaced soon, so they are indeed dead.

Second, a prebuilt certainly won't have high quality, but neither would a cheap homebuilt. Intel's boards are pretty much universally despised. Their quality is right down there with Foxconn and Biostar. The difference between the prebuilt and the homebuilt in the low end is that you can often get more power with the same quality for the same money with a prebuilt. It also comes with a full system warranty.

Finally, a sub-$400 prebuilt (including the OS) will get you a current gen CPU (Athlon II x2 or X3 mostly) with a discrete GPU and 2 GB of RAM. sub-$500 will get either the same CPU or possibly an i3, 4 GB of RAM, and possibly a discrete GPU. And that's from only looking on Newegg, so that's not even quoting the best prices or deals.

The reason a person looking for a low budget/low powered computer should go prebuilt is simple: the cost of quality (a replacement for a full system warranty) and the cost of the OS simply drive out the gains of a homebuilt (customization and power mostly). Since this isn't a specialized build (general use) and bargain budget, the most value will be found from a prebuilt. I HATE recommending prebuilts, but in this case, it's not efficient or desireable to build your own on such low budgets. Once the budget gets to around $450-500 for the parts only (no OS), then a homebuild is by far the recommendation.
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Anonymous
November 10, 2010 2:48:43 PM

Cpu:AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor ADX640WFGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mb:MSI 870A-G54 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory:G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Disk:Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case with Psu:COOLER MASTER Elite RC-310-OWR460 Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case RS-460-PSAR-J3, Elite 460W Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics Card:MSI R5570-MD1G Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Os:Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total 500$
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November 10, 2010 3:20:16 PM

Siva is pretty good for $500.

Here's a $400 build ($403.92)



decent quality parts (especially the 80+ Bronze PSU!) the 880's built in 4250 is solid for anything short of heavy gaming (and is fine for casual games, and low-settings on things like SC II)
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November 10, 2010 3:30:52 PM

Perhaps using the term "quality" is too subjective when it comes to these forums. Performance may be the more accurate angle to take to ltyler's post. They are asking that a system perform certain tasks effectively. Not that it will provide a reasonable upgrade path, outlast a more expensive build, etc...

If a Diablotek PSU provides the power you need for the tasks you have then it will still provide performance but the quality is speculative. I think anything by Diablotek is a complete rip-off but then again, my opinion is meant to be just that, an opinion. It is based on my experience alone.

MadAdmiral obviously has experience with a bevy of manufacturer's products and can speculate on the quality based on his experience. That experience will be invaluable to him when building a system or providing advice in these and other forums.

ltyler- in the end, you will have to balance three things once you set your budget. They are all dependent on that budget. Some things will have to be sacrificed. Those three things are:

Quality- are the parts known to contain better materials and have generally better specs than a similar product from a competitor?
Performance- Will it do what you expect it to?
Service- Will the manufacturer honor it's warranty and provide an acceptable level of service?

Good luck.
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November 10, 2010 4:12:27 PM

I agree that experience/familiarity is the key and that in some ways quality can be subjective. For me, quality are the brands I've had success with coupled with good reviews. I've had great experience with the parts I recommended but even that is a small sample size and limited to those specific Intel boards. It could be luck of the draw, it could be those particular SKUs are good while everything else from Intel sucks as claimed, etc. I don't know. I only know that when a rig has been requested of me with the same budget/needs, I've had 100% success with these builds and people just love the mini-ITX form-factor and that Lian-Li mini-tower. Once you go SFF it's hard to ever go back to a tower sitting on the floor.

It meets the need; it meeds the budget; people love it. That's as much as I can ask and given that experience it's what I am going to recommend.
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November 10, 2010 9:00:03 PM

I very much appreciate all of the input here. Though you all may have different opinions on this, it gives me many valid points to consider. I agree that there is no one correct answer here - it's all a matter of compromise.

I do have one one more thing I'd like opinions on. Given my budget, I saw the following refurbished system on buy.com:
HP Pavilion p6520f refurbished Desktop, AMD Athlon X4 635 (2.9GHz), 6GB, 1TB, DVD+RW, HD audio, Windows 7 Premium 64-bit, 90 day warranty
It's on sale for $479. Is this a decent deal or would one of the configurations in this thread still be better?
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November 10, 2010 9:27:44 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
Siva is pretty good for $500.

Here's a $400 build ($403.92)

http://img44.imageshack.us/img44/1691/400pc.jpg

decent quality parts (especially the 80+ Bronze PSU!) the 880's built in 4250 is solid for anything short of heavy gaming (and is fine for casual games, and low-settings on things like SC II)


I think a system like this nails the price bracket
Its streets ahead of the intel celeron option

And a good example of how a decent powerful computer can be put together by the home builder when you are prepared to focus on whats actually important instead of whats trendy

My personal taste would be a 400 watt psu though this isnt essential , and a 500 gig hard drive , or alternately a second 320 gig drive to set up a RAID 1 array for data security since this is a prime requirement of a business computer
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November 10, 2010 9:45:39 PM

Take a look at my page here it a $400 "gaming build", but you could use this for your budget and could get 2gb ram instead, or exclude the video card cutting some costs. Add in Windows 7 OEM for $99 and could be up to $500, but lower with lower RAM / No Video card

http://newbcomputerbuild.com/400-entry-level-gaming-bui...
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November 11, 2010 2:12:48 AM

a build based on an AMD chipset motherboard is better idea . The 880 G with an 850 south bridge will give you the best on board video at the price and also the latest SAta AND usb connectors
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