Build or Prebuilt? $500 Budget!

Hey guys,

I'm looking to get a new computer this Christmas. My family has an old 1.8ghz Celeron from last decade, and my 4/5 year old AMD x2 3800 is running just alright.
SO my christmas gift to them, my old computer, I buy myself a new one!

My budget is around $500 preferably.

I can get Windows 7 for $15
Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse can wait, but buying it sooner would be nice if possible
Don't need speakers

I'm interested, would I be able to get a pre-built system (one without an OS to save $$ would be nice, $15 for W7 is cheap)
or is my budget so small that it would be worth saving some money and building my own?

And if I should look for prebuilts, any approximations I should shoot for as far as AMD CPU or i3, i5, etc.? I fell out of the loop with computers in the last two years..

So not looking to make you guys find me an entire build, but to see the rough outline of what I'd shoot for, and if my budget is reasonable.

(p.s. I don't game anymore, so it's only for internet, MS Office, music and Photoshop)
13 answers Last reply
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  1. If you really get Windows 7 for $15, then you should build your own computer. You can reuse parts (hdd, odd, case if possible). Depending where you live you can get pretty cheap processors and mobo. If you never build a computer before or has no ideal how, then should buy one pre-build.

    I don't think you get buy a computer from a major brand without Windows pre-installed. Besides, pre-built computers come loaded with crapware.
  2. With no gaming, AMD's integrated video is sufficient. The PSU can be an 80+ bronze 380W Antec Earthwatts, or one of the even smaller (300W-350W) Seasonics. Here is a sample build:

    Rosewill R218-P-BK Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    Model #:R218-P-BK
    Item #:N82E16811147073
    $29.99 $29.99

    AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX445WFGMBOX
    Model #:ADX445WFGMBOX
    Item #:N82E16819103872
    $78.99 -$5.00 Instant $73.99

    G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT
    Model #:F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT
    Item #:N82E16820231253
    $47.99 $47.99

    ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    Model #:880GM-LE
    Item #:N82E16813157199
    ===>> Out Of Stock
    ETA: 12/7/2010 2:27:00 PM
    $79.99 $79.99

    Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
    Model #:EA-380D Green
    Item #:N82E16817371033
    $59.99 -$15.00 Instant $44.99

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Model #:HD322GJ/U
    Item #:N82E16822152244
    $42.99 $42.99

    LG DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model GH24NS50 - OEM
    Model #:GH24NS50
    Item #:N82E16827136177
    $19.99 $19.99

    Subtotal: $339.93

    Note that the mobo is out of stock, but should be available by next week. Combo prices may be available here or there which will lower the price slightly, or personal preferences can affect the choices and still yield a perfectly viable machine for the intended purposes. Take this as an example, however; the machine I would probably build in your position (although I'd look harder for obvious combos). You've got enough left in the budget for peripherals, or other modifications.
  3. My current computer was built by myself, so I have done it before

    Yeah, I get W7 through my college for $15

    That build looks pretty nice... And I'd see a decent increase in speed between my current and that one? Not crazy, but decent?
    I was thinking of moving my 7900 gs oc to the new build, but I have a feeling that's whats causing my computer to fail at the moment.

    Thanks for the help guys
  4. for 500 bucks i'd build i like jtt's build in general but i'd upgrade the cpu to a athlon II x4 3.0 Ghz its only a few bucks mroe and four cores vs 3.

    also i'd probably put a larger HDD in there its onyl a few extra bucks to up it to a 500Gig or even a 1TB

    and you'd still eb under 500
  5. 320 GB is fine for me, but if I find 500 gb for a few bucks more I guess I'd upgrade.

    Also curious, should I look for 32-bit or 64-bit OS? How do I tell which parts are compatible with each?
  6. A larger HD is sometimes faster than a smaller HD.

    No need to go for 64bit OS unless you are needing more than 4GB of ram.

    It is hard to beat the price on a pre-configured Dell, especially with sales that will be coming up before Christmas. But if you want to do it yourself there is nothing wrong with that. I don't think Dell pays much more than $15 for Win7 so you aren't saving that much money there.

    You can search Tom's for their various systembuilder marathons and look at the lowest price machines they have built. Their focus is on gaming so compared to those builds you can save some money on the video card.

    You can easily double the speed over a Celeron 1.8, or even more. Plus there are a lot of benefits to having multiple cores. When you are doing file copies, virus scans, downloads, etc. in one window it won't slow the computer down so much for what you are doing in another window.
  7. g00fysmiley makes the point quite nicely that many variations are possible, and still within budget.
    You would see a substantial increased over your old 3800 X2. The 7900GS you have, if working, is stronger than the integrated video, but it would not matter for non-gaming. If you wanted another GPU, something like a HD4650 is comparable, although I'd probably choose a HD5550 or HD5570.
  8. I didn't ditch the thread, just took some time off, I'm ready to buy now...

    I'm thinking of just buying a new Case, Mobo, RAM and CPU, reusing my DVD Drive, which works great, practically new, strong PSU, Old Hard Drives for initial month or two, and old Monitor/keyboard/mouse and update those in the future later.

    My question is this:
    The Mobo is available much cheaper now, as open box (still out of stock otherwise). Is there another Mobo that you'd suggest that's still cheap, and USB 3.0 compatible?

    The x4 CPU is not $99, not $80, so might have to go with the x3 now..

    Thanks for all help so far

  9. Try this one: for $80 +$3 shipping, ASRock 880GXH/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard.

    An open box mobo may be missing the I/O plate, driver CD, or drive cables. I don't think I'd buy one.
  10. That's awesome, I think I'll drop the extra few bucks for the 3.0 built-in, ready for the future... Much appreciation. Wish I was still in the loop so I could find Mobo's myself easier.

  11. Finding them isn't so hard, but then you do have to be up on what is [relatively] current so you know what you're seeing. For a general-purpose build especially, fortunately modern components are pretty much all up to minimum requirements.
  12. Gonna buy everything tomorrow probably.

    Gonna go with this RAM: Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3B1K2/4GX

    Undecided thus far on the MoBo,
    Going with the AMD 445 CPU

    Gotta find a new case, that's sold out, any ideas?
  13. My 450 build is in my siggy and I think you should take a look at it. It'll give you future ability to game if you ever want to but also give you the processing power to perform Photoshop. (personal experience, the Phenoms run PS5 fine I don't know about the Athlons, never tried.)

    But if you don't plan to game at all then just go with jtt's build. It's just as fine.
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