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AMD Phenom II x2 builds

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December 13, 2010 4:11:52 PM

Hi everyone,

I've never built a computer before, but after reviewing what was available in my budget, I determined that I could create a computer vastly superior than any I could buy. But I find myself overwhelmed at my choices.

About me... I'm a casual user. I want YouTube and other video streaming to work well without lag, same with my movie player. Right now that's the most strenuous thing I ask my computer to do--I don't game or anything like that. But I do run Linux, so these parts should be compatible!

I've pretty much decided on the AMD Phenom II x2 processor, though I'm not sure if the Athlon x4 would be a better value? It's confusing to read about, because I don't game, overclock, or plan on unlocking extra cores.

I'm wondering what motherboards you all would recommend? My price range is probably between $50-$120. I'd like something user friendly, since I'm new at this, and potentially upgradeable, though I hope this computer will serve my purposes for years to come. Also preferably ATX... I've heard the uATX boards have more cooling issues, etc.

Any thoughts on power supply units or anything like that? Memory, reliable brands? I read reviews on Amazon and Newegg, but...?

Thanks for your time and patience!

More about : amd phenom builds

a b B Homebuilt system
December 13, 2010 5:26:22 PM

The AthlonII X4 by a mile especially for Linux!
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T reviewed (for Linux developers) | What Digital Revolution?
Quote:
As anyone who does Linux development knows, going multithreaded is usually as simple as typing “make -jN”, where N is the number of parallel jobs that you want to execute while building your app (normally N = number of cores/processors + 1). At $200/$300 per processor, that would make the X6 a bargain-basement priced high-power workstation (Intel’s current six-core offering, the Core i7 9xx series, is actually faster than the X6 but also costs +$1000, out of the reach of mortals and students like myself).


point is more cores = better
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Related resources
December 13, 2010 7:05:15 PM

Thank you for the great links! =) I will be checking those out. If I can build an excellent computer that will last (or be upgradeable when the time comes) for around $300, I'll be a happy woman! :) 

My only real question regarding the Athlon II x4 and the Phenom II x2 is this: do I really need four cores? Will I use them all, does that matter, does the quad core run hotter, etc? Essentially, if I get the Athlon, will I be running more powerful components, using more electricity, etc., than I really need? Regardless of the amount of cores, the two models below seem to run at the same speeds, so... *sighs*

Here is the info for the models I'm considering:

Phenom II x2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Athlon II x4
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I appreciate you putting up with these questions, because I think I've hit the analysis paralysis stage, where I really just need some real world, real people feedback and advice.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 13, 2010 8:03:17 PM

For real-world applications, other then gaming and video encoding/editing, dual-core CPUs are better. Mainly because dual-core CPUs typically are more powerful per core then the lower end quads. And typical applications like an internet browser, media player, HD video, typing documents, and some photo editing, do not need more then two cores. That is why I would recommend the Phenom II x2 to you. Or even the Athlon II x2 250. These CPUs will do what they need to do, the only advantage of an dual-core Phenom is its 6MB of L3 Cache, which is good to have if you do a lot of editing videos and photos. These CPUs are now clocked at over 3GHz which is really good, since for the longest time budget dual core CPUs were around 2 Ghz.

If I was you I would look into a Athlon II x2 (Dual-core) or an Athlon II x3 (Triple-core).

Or if you bump your budget to around $400 you could possibly get an Core i3, which is one of the best CPUs for everyday tasks.
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December 13, 2010 8:45:58 PM

mattius92 said:
For real-world applications, other then gaming and video encoding/editing, dual-core CPUs are better. Mainly because dual-core CPUs typically are more powerful per core then the lower end quads. And typical applications like an internet browser, media player, HD video, typing documents, and some photo editing, do not need more then two cores. That is why I would recommend the Phenom II x2 to you. Or even the Athlon II x2 250. These CPUs will do what they need to do, the only advantage of an dual-core Phenom is its 6MB of L3 Cache, which is good to have if you do a lot of editing videos and photos. These CPUs are now clocked at over 3GHz which is really good, since for the longest time budget dual core CPUs were around 2 Ghz.

If I was you I would look into a Athlon II x2 (Dual-core) or an Athlon II x3 (Triple-core).

Or if you bump your budget to around $400 you could possibly get an Core i3, which is one of the best CPUs for everyday tasks.



Would you say that the Athlon II x2 or x3 is better/faster/longer lasting (as in will stay current and fast) than the Phenom II x2? I like the idea of sticking with AMD; they seem to produce quality products, caring more about quality than a brand name. I like to support that kind of thinking. :)  Though I'm sure Intel is good as well, hence its well-regarded reputation.

Now that I've had some feedback regarding my CPU of choice, what about motherboards and other parts that will complement the processor and my somewhat strict budget? $400 would be my max, I think. I'm looking to spend money where it matters, and save it where I can. From what I understand, quality mobos, processors, and PSUs are the most important places to spend the money.

I'm considering a bundle package, the Phenom II x2 with the following mobo. Any thoughts? I'd like to keep it ATX, unless someone has a very good reason to go with a micro ATX. :p 

http://www.microcenter.com/specials/promotions/AMDbundl...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

I really appreciate this, everyone!
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 13, 2010 8:49:33 PM

Lorelai27 said:
Thank you for the great links! =) I will be checking those out. If I can build an excellent computer that will last (or be upgradeable when the time comes) for around $300, I'll be a happy woman! :) 


You have answered your own question - for the same $$ software/apps would only get more optimised for multi core and as shown, linux in particular makes it an even better environment for these :lol: 
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December 13, 2010 9:43:35 PM

Lorelai,

I've recently built two win 7 computers with the microcenter cpu/mobo deal. It's the best deal out there!

They both have identical:
2x2 1333 DDR3
1 TB HDD
DVD/CD RW Optical drive
Media Card Reader

The first has:
Phenom II x2 555 BE (3.2 GHz)
MSI 785GM (microATX)
60 GB SSD
Older 750 Watt PSU

The second has:
Athlon II x4 640 (3.0 GHz)
MSI 785G (ATX)
No SSD
380 Watt 80+ Bronze PSU

I was able to enable two dormant cores on the Phenom, making it a quad core (YMMV). It consumes about 60 watts idling.

The Athlon consumes about 45 watts idling.

The Phenom is significantly faster for everyday tasks. But I don't know how much of that is from the SSD.

The current Phenom II x2 offering with the microcenter deal is the 560 BE, which runs at 3.3 GHz stock.

Either CPU can handle YouTube or any other video tasks. The MSI ATX has HDMI, VGA, and DVI outputs, the mATX has HDMI and VGA. They both can drive a 1900 x 1200 monitor for all video content without adding a GPU.

I don't think you'll go wrong with either CPU or motherboard. But with the Phenom, you'll have a chance at one or two extra cores; and you'll have a VERY easy overclock option. My next build with use the Phenom 560 & MSI 785G ATX.

Happy Hunting!
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December 13, 2010 11:49:42 PM

koz said:
Lorelai,

I've recently built two win 7 computers with the microcenter cpu/mobo deal. It's the best deal out there!

They both have identical:
2x2 1333 DDR3
1 TB HDD
DVD/CD RW Optical drive
Media Card Reader

The first has:
Phenom II x2 555 BE (3.2 GHz)
MSI 785GM (microATX)
60 GB SSD
Older 750 Watt PSU

The second has:
Athlon II x4 640 (3.0 GHz)
MSI 785G (ATX)
No SSD
380 Watt 80+ Bronze PSU

I was able to enable two dormant cores on the Phenom, making it a quad core (YMMV). It consumes about 60 watts idling.

The Athlon consumes about 45 watts idling.

The Phenom is significantly faster for everyday tasks. But I don't know how much of that is from the SSD.

The current Phenom II x2 offering with the microcenter deal is the 560 BE, which runs at 3.3 GHz stock.

Either CPU can handle YouTube or any other video tasks. The MSI ATX has HDMI, VGA, and DVI outputs, the mATX has HDMI and VGA. They both can drive a 1900 x 1200 monitor for all video content without adding a GPU.

I don't think you'll go wrong with either CPU or motherboard. But with the Phenom, you'll have a chance at one or two extra cores; and you'll have a VERY easy overclock option. My next build with use the Phenom 560 & MSI 785G ATX.

Happy Hunting!



Thank you! I really appreciate how specifically you tailored your response to my questions. My impression from reading about the Athlon x4 and the Phenom x2 is that the Phenom would be superior for everyday tasks, which is really what I'm looking for. Do you have any recommendations regarding ATX or microATX boards?
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December 13, 2010 11:51:26 PM

Oh, and I forgot to ask how the motherboards in question work with Linux? Specifically, Ubuntu?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 14, 2010 4:48:39 AM

Err unlocking + stable for PhenomII X2 should not be seen as a given but a bonus Nor should it be a basis to compare with an AthlonII X4 as it would give the impression that *all* PII X2s could be turned to X4s
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December 14, 2010 7:41:26 PM

Alas, I have since discovered that I don't live anywhere near a Microcenter, and of course they don't ship. :pfff: 

So this is what I've got so far:

AMD Phenom II X2 560 Black Edition Callisto 3.3GHz Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Desktop Processor HDZ560WFGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-880GA-UD3H AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard [great reviews of onboard video card]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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...

Two PSU choices:

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 ... [Instant discount + rebate make it tempting, even if it's overkill for my current system specs]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR Builder Series CMPSU-600CX 600W ATX12V v2.3 Active PFC Power Supply [Will likely work well and saves me a bit]
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All comes to about $400 (bit less if I go with the cheaper PSU) before shipping and rebates, which I figure will cancel one another out. It's not entirely out of the question budget-wise, and it think it will suit my needs for a long time to come, while still giving me some breathing room to upgrade (ddr3, usb 3.0, full ATX, more power than I currently need, etc). Any comments, questions, concerns, advice? I based these decisions on hours perusing reviews on Newegg.com and Amazon.com, also keeping in mind the opinions here. :) 
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