AMD build for approx $550

Hi guys:

I am from Toronto, Canada, and the best place to buy parts here is ncix, so I will be quoting prices from their website.
I am on a very tight budget. The primary purpose of this system is running virtual machines (2-3 at a time), office work, watching movies/videos etc (not high def), listening to some music, surfing the net etc, light to no gaming. I have a console for gaming.

Here is what I have so far:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 925 $135
RAM: Corsair CMV4GX3M2A1333C9 4GB DDR3 $50
HDD: WD 1TB SATA3 7200RPM 64Cache $100
MOBO: SUS M4A88TD-M AM3 DDR3 AMD 880G SB850 mATX Radeon 4250 $105
VGA: Will use Mobo built-in one $0
DVD RW Drive $30
Case: Apex VORTEX3620 $50
PSU: Any 500 Watt $50

Total: $520

What do you guys think? I am a little flexible on budget if you guys think I should swap some parts, please let me know.
I am going with SATA3 to avoid bottlenecks. If I went with SATA2, I can save more money. Do you guys think that SATA2 will have any bottlenecks with this CPU/build? If not then I would prefer to go SATA2. Are there any other bottlenecks in this build or anything I need to swap in/out?

10 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about build approx
  1. AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 6 Core Processor 2.8GHZ 209$

    Corsair XMS CMX8GX3M2A1333C9 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1333 109$

    motherboard: same

    OCZ StealthXStream 2 700W

    so thats the only changes and whynot get sata3 if ur getting a new pc

  2. I can get 1055T for $190
    Should I really double the RAM to 8GB?

    Well the reason I was looking at SATA3 is bcuz I didn't want SATA2 to bottleneck the build, but if it won't then I'll stick with SATA2 because budget is a big issue. I don't have much to spend, so as long as there are no bottlenecks I am good. Would I see significant performance improvement with SATA3?
  3. SATA III is not needed for a hard drive...

    A quality 500 watt psu is all you need.

    If you are trying to save more, then a switch to an Athlon II is the way to go.
  4. Hi Paul,

    Are you going to, or willing to, overclock this at all?


  5. I would not want to overclock it for stability reasons. This system will run 24x7 with 2-3 VM servers.
    If I went Athlon II and SATA2, then the cost probably comes down to around $400. I couldn't be happier, but is this the right way to go from a virtualization+uptime standpoint?

    Here is what happens if I went with Athlon II 640:

    Mobo $60
    RAM: 4GB DDR3 $50
    CPU: Athlon II 640 $120
    HD: 1TB $70
    DVD RW Drive $30
    Case: Apex VORTEX3620 $50
    PSU: Any 500 Watt $50

    Total: $430

    Thank you.
  6. Best answer
    Hi Paul,

    Okay, I used NCIX as my source for the build below. I also made a few assumptions:

    * Since your post title says $550 I assumed that was okay even though your build was $520

    * You understand that each VM will get its own thread and RAM

    * Your gaming will be nil and if at all will not be games like Crysis with the graphics turned all the way up so video card chipset is of little weight

    * Your VMs are around 4GB+ each (otherwise why a 1TB drive? You could do a 60GB SSD for $150)

    * You do want as few bottlenecks as possible

    * ANY computer with onboard video and at least dual-core will do the "watching movies/videos etc (not high def), listening to some music, surfing the net etc, light to no gaming"

    * You will be running a 64bit OS

    * I ignored items with rebates

    Let me know if any assumptions are wrong or wonder why I assumed that.

    With that said, here would be my recommended system for you:

    *** Build ***

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 925: $135.44

    Good choice. I had toyed with the idea of a build around the AMD Phenom X4 Black Edition because it is unlocked (you can hit 3.6GHz SOOO EASILY) but at $170, being AM2+ (no DR3 RAM which is much cheaper than DDR2), and OEM (requiring at least $20 for a cooler) I agree that your choice of CPU will be best. If you want to overclock then based on the RAM in this build and this locked multiplier I feel confident you will get a minimum or 3.1GHz (14 x 222 FSB) or 3.25 (14 x 232 FSB) with NO impact on stability.

    RAM: Muskin Enhanced Silverline Stiletto 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333: $108.98

    VMs love RAM and Processor speed. 8GB will allow you to run 2 or 3 VMs in 1.5 to 2 GB of RAM AND have a minimum of 2GB for your running OS.

    HDD: Western Digital SE16 7200RPM 16MB 640GB (x TWO, RAID 0): $54.87 each, $109.74 both

    Since you seemed to want SATA3 and a 64MB WD BlackEdition drive to minimize IO bottlenecks I realized that two hard drives in RAID 0 will outpreform that. One issue here is I don't like the Caviar Blue editions and would prefer you use TWO Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 32MB cacce, 5 year warranty drives ( BUT That adds approximately $15. Anyways, 2 drives in RAID 0 will give you better performance and speed thatn a single drive and will offer the same fault tolerance (RAID 0 has no fault tolerance but neither would a single drive), This confirguration should let you load Windows and your VMs much quicker than a single drive. The issue of SATA 2 as a bottleneck is alleviated/minimized here.

    MOBO: MSI 760GM-E51: $74.99

    I feel that from the choices NCIX offers this is the best one. It offers RAID0, on-board video, 4 slots for DD3 RAM (16GB MAX), micro-ATX, has a good reputation and is 24+4 on the power supply. Being micro-ATX gives you more case selection (coming up).

    Video: On-Board: $0

    Optical Drive: Lite-On IHAS124 DVD-RW OEM: $25.99

    Fast, SATA and good reviews on the internet. Only drawback is that since its OEM you will need a SATA cable for it.

    Case (Option 1): CoolerMater Elite 342 (Micro-ATX), Front USB/Audio, 120mm Front Fan: $39.99

    Case (Option 2): Logisys CS 305 (ATX), Front USB/Audio, 120mm Front Fan: $39.99

    I looked briefly at the Gigabyte G2-PH2A3 but it only has a 80mm rear fan. Either case above has a 120mm front fan (bigger fan, less noise, good airflow, pulls the low cooler air). Both also have plenty of space for hard drives and such and I wanted you to have the front panel audio and USB access.


    I used the Power Supply Estimator ( to try and guess what you might need. I got around 367W and 432W (with 3 harddrives and a 'high' end mobo). I always try to build in tolerance by assumming that the power supply doesn't want to run at full to generate the listed Wattage so I mutiply the PSU power rating by 70% and 80%. That means that in my world a 500W PSU is happiest at 350W (70% of 500W) and 400W (80% of 500W). Since neither of these are at the 432W (my assuming of a good buffer for you) I would say at a MINIMUM get a 550W PSU as it turns into 385W/440W (70%/80%). Also, I believe that a larger 120mm fan is better for noise.

    550W: Coolermaster Extreme Power Plus 550W ATX 12V V2.3 Silent Power Supply 20/24PIN 120MM Fan: $59.98

    The 550W cooler Master has a 2 year warranty, >100,000+ MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures: This is a rating of how long the manufacturer says it will go between any two possible failures:, and the 24 and +4 pin.

    A 600W PSU would give you a 70/80 estimate of 420W/480W.

    600W: Thermaltake TR2 600W ATX12V V2.2 24PIN Power Supply with 120MM Fan : $69.99

    Chosen for a good buffer on my thoughts of how a PSU is happy PLUS has the 120mm fan, 24 +4 pins and a 5 year(!!!) warranty.

    Now, assuming you are going to ignore the PSUs greater than 500W below are the 500W PSUs I would choose.


    First 500W Choice: Thermaltake TR2 600W ATX12: $59.99

    All the great things of the TR2. 5 Year warranty and 120mm fan.

    Second 500W Choice: Coolermaster Extreme Power Plus 500W: $59.99

    2 year waranty and 120mm fan.

    I wouldn't get the Antec Basiq BP500U because even though it has a 3 year warranty it has a smaller fan and I couldn't find its MTBF rating. I wouldn't get the Apex AL-D500EXP because even though it has a 120mm an it has a 50,000 MTBF (1/2 of the other choices) and a paltry 1 year warranty. However since the 500W are the same price as the 550W I would recommend getting that.

    Above with NO PSU: $495.13

    Above with 500W PSU or the 550W PSU ($59.99): $555.12

    Above with 600W PSU: $565.12

    Please let me know what you think about this build.


  7. Hi Paul,

    "This system will run 24x7 with 2-3 VM servers... is this the right way to go from a virtualization+uptime standpoint?"

    What are on the VMs? How big are the VMs? Are they all going to be connected to the network? Are the VMs going to each be a virtual server? How much traffic do you expect? How much disk reading/writing per each VM? What is your backup methodology?


  8. Best answer selected by pauld82.
  9. Hi Ardri,

    Thank you for your detailed response! I really appreciate it.

    The VMs I'm running are CentOS over VMWare Workstation. Although I'm considering running all of them over Xen even the Windows, which is kinda like ESX as the base OS and then all VM's run on top of it. The VM's are web, mail, dns, file server, cache servers.

    Traffic isn't that high. Mostly on the webserver is just wordpress based stuff.

    The VM's are around 50 gigs each. I was going for 1 TB so I could use it as a fileserver as well.

    I have a 2 TB external USB HDD to which I will be backing up all data thru a scheduler.

    I like your build and it makes sense to me. I will decide on a PSU option and get back to you.
    I'm also gonna PM you with something.

    Thanks again!
  10. cheers to that paul, but if ur gonna use vms, more cores are gonna be beneficial, vm uses alot of cpu power, cheers
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