Advice On Final $600-$700 Build (UPDATED 1/3/11)


Updates/Addendum are listed below.

Hey guys. Back in November I made a thread here asking for advice on a new system. I started a new thread because 1) my budget has increased since then, 2) I'm actually close to the point where I can start purchasing these parts and get to work, and 3) the old thread was kind of a mess so I thought I'd start over and do it right this time. Hope that's okay with you guys.

So, here we go:

Approximate Purchase Date: A week or two. I would like to wait until the results of the System Builder's drawing are posted Jan 4th.

Budget Range: $600-$700 including taxes. I got some cash for Christmas to spend on this machine, but I'd still like to save money any way I can.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (surprised?), schoolwork (programming/word processing mostly), daily tasks (websurfing, etc.)

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, DVD-RW drive (it's an IDE connection, but it serves its purposes; I rarely use it anyway), OS (retrieved through MSDNAA)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: NewEgg, Amazon,, Since I live in California I have to pay a 8-9% sales tax on items I buy at NewEgg. I don't have to do this with Amazon, but the state still requires me to pay a use tax (equal to the sales tax my state would normally charge) on goods that I'm not charged a sales tax on. Then again, nobody really pays that tax because they probably don't know it exists, and the state doesn't need more money that they're just going to waste anyway.

I also have a Fry's near me, and a Microcenter 17 minutes away from my location.

Country of Origin: Southern California, USA.

Parts Preferences: From day 1, I've stuck with an AMD CPU/mobo. I'd like to stick with AMD, unless there's a better Intel configuration for a reasonable price.

Overclocking: No.

SLI or Crossfire: No.

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

I've set up a public wishlist on NewEgg, but it unfortunately doesn't show the notes I added to it. I'll post them here:

UPDATE: Only the case (if I choose to stick with the Challenger), RAM, and Graphics Card are the ones I'm considering buying at NewEgg.

* CASE: The case is the Rosewill Challenger, but I had two alternatives listed: the Destroyer, which is $45 on NewEgg w/o the tax (, or I could go with the NZXT Gamma ($40 w/o tax at NewEgg and presumably Amazon) and buy a 120mm Kingwin fan at Microcenter for $3 to act as an intake fan ( They're loud but I don't really care.

UPDATE: I've considered buying the HAF 912 instead, since the Rosewill Challenger is rather small and has poor cable management. I can buy it for $61 at Amazon, which is only $2 more than the Rosewill Challenger after taxes/shipping. I don't know how many fans the HAF comes with, though.

* MOTHERBOARD: I've been eyeing the AsRock 870 Extreme 3, but I could take advantage of Microcenter's deal and buy an Athlon ii x4 640 with an MSI motherboard for $176 after tax.

UPDATE: The AsRock Extreme3 has increased in price, and doesn't have an IDE connection. I would like a decent motherboard that would last me a while; two of the boards offered in Microcenter's combo deals, the MSI 870A-G54 and the ASUS M4A87TD, don't really have what I'm looking for. The ASUS 880 is, at the time of writing, not in stock, and the 890 deal goes over my budget.

I was considering ordering the ASUS M4A87TD-EVO from I could order the board on Amazon for $2 less, but I'd have to wait 2 to 4 weeks for delivery.

* PSU: I have the CORSAIR 650W, which is a good power supply (and I can get it at Amazon for the same price). The other three alternatives I had listed were:

--- OCZ ModXStream: ($75 @ NewEgg with taxes)

--- XIGMATEK 700W: ($81 @ NewEgg with taxes)

--- Antec EarthWatts 650W:$75 @ Amazon)

UPDATE: I decided to stick with the Antec EarthWatts 650, though I could go for the OCZ ModXStreamPro for $60 after Promo code.

* CPU: The Athlon I can buy at Amazon as well for $4 more.

UPDATE: Since I'm in a position where I can't really update this computer in the future, I'd like some decent power now that'll last me a while. That said, I'm planning on purchasing the Phenom II x4 955, preferably off of Amazon.

* RAM: The AsRock is kinda picky about RAM, so the G.SKILL 2x2GB F3-10600CL9D-4GBPK is one of the few DDR3-1333 sticks it works with. I also don't care about
Cas timings since I'm not overclocking, and I probably wouldn't notice the difference anyway.

UPDATE: RAM's still the same.

* HARD DRIVE: The Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB has been out of stock on NewEgg for a while now, but I can buy it at Microcenter for $48 after tax. Alternatively, I can buy the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 for $50 at NewEgg or $42 at Amazon ( I'm planning on using the Seagate 1TB drive on my current computer as a storage drive on my new machine.

UPDATE: I'm buying the Samsung Spinpoint F3 at Microcenter.

* GRAPHICS CARD: As an alternative to the Gigabyte 6850, I had the MSI Hawk GTX 460 1 GB for the same price (

UPDATE: I'm sticking with the Gigabyte.

Currently, what I have listed on NewEgg (sans alternatives) is $633.93 w/o tax or shipping, $685-690 with taxes.

UPDATE: The price with the new parts I've chosen is around the same range.

So, there you go. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
24 answers Last reply
More about advice final build updated
  1. i would suggest some parts with the microcenter, cause its a good deal. but hey, a newegg rig wouldn't hurt.

  2. Hmm...your build, after taxes, is $745. Even without the DVD drive (which I already have), it's still over my budget.

    I'm still considering the Microcenter deal, but I had my heart set on the AsRock Extreme3, somewhat because of the 2 PCI-E x16 2.0 slots in x8/x8, even though I'm not doing Crossfire.

    Though I do have a question: is an Athlon ii x4 enough for gaming? Will there be any degree of CPU bottlenecking with a GPU like a 6850 or a 460 1GB? I realize stuff like this has been asked before many times, but I just want to make sure.
  3. a phenom X4 955 is enough for gaming. or even a atlhon x3. it wouldnt bottleneck that.
    read THIS
  4. Alternatively stick with newegg and pick up either a calisto or a heka in the phenom series.

    Either would be fine as is for current gaming needs, both have very high unlocking chance(which you can do on that board), and both also include the 6mb of L3 cache.

    Additionally they are both significantly cheaper than the athlon that you have selected.

    stop by microcenter to pick up the spinpoint, or pick up the seagate. I dont think you will see any earth shattering difference.

    g'luck to you!

    Additionally, I think you may be a able to save a few bucks on a power supply. you indicate that you have no plans to crossfire, if you stay with the ATI card I think you could easily power this system with something more along the lines of this or this

    not that extra power is a bad thing... but if you really don't need it either of these units are very high quality and will save you a few $
  5. Processors:
    just dropping the athlon x4 from 3.1 to 3.0 will save you $15+.
    dropping to a 3.2 x3 athlon would save you $35 or so.

    You can get an Antec NEO 620 for $50 after coupon code EMCZNNT26 (not sure when it expires)

    The HEC Blitz case looks pretty similar to the challenger (1 fan less but still 5 fan mounts) and you can get it for $30 after coupon code HARDOCP1222B. Expires Weds.
    The Rosewill Destroyer is almost the same as well and is $10 cheaper than the Challenger
    you can combo the Destroyer with a Rosewill Green 630 PSU for $90ish total.

    I am getting ready to build in the same budget window (I need an OS in my build though) in the next couple weeks after some Christmas gift money and those are all deals I have been considering grabbing now.
  6. Hey, thanks guys.

    @xurwin: Didn't notice that article. I'll check it out.

    @archer: The Fatality PSU looks nice, though the red LED would clash with the Challenger/Destroyer's blue. I just want to make sure I have enough power for everything , and that I have a quality unit that won't poop its pants several months down the road.

    @maawdawg: I think I had gone with an Athlon x3 originally but I assumed my budget could handle the 645.

    My father has always said that if you're going to do something, do it right, so I keep thinking I need better parts. Then again, I know more about computers than he does.


    Hmm..., okay, how about this:


    * ASRock Extreme3 ($90 w/o tax)

    * SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze ($75 with shipping, w/o tax)

    * G.SKILL 2x2GB F3-10600CL9D-4GBPK ($48 w/o tax)

    * Rosewill Challenger Case ($54 w/o tax)
    TOTAL: $285.36 (with tax & shipping)


    * Athlon ii x4 640 Rana 3.0 GHZ ($100)

    * HIS Radeon HD 6850 ($180)
    TOTAL: $279.98 (Amazon has no sales tax, since Amazon doesn't have a physical presence in California...use tax be danged)


    * Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB ($49 after tax)

    GRAND TOTAL: $614.34

    Well within my budget range, and I still have room to improve. If I were to buy the stuff listed under Amazon at Newegg, I'd probably be paying $25 more. Contrariwise, if I were to buy a Athlon ii x4/Asus combo at Microcenter, I'd save at least $10.

    EDIT: Crap. I just realized that the AsRock 870 Extreme3 has no ATA/IDE socket for the DVD-ROM drive. Might be better off going with a deal at MicroCenter. Last I checked they were out of the MSI boards.
  7. You can get these 1333 Ripjaws for $50 shipped, they have 8-8-8-21 CAS timing and are also on the ASRock Extreme3 memory list, which not a lot of high end RAM is.

    Also, the Antec Earthwatts 650 is on end of the year special on newegg now so you may want to consider that instead.
    Antec Earthwatts 650 - $65 after code EMCZNNW24 - $50AR

    Your build is almost exactly the same as what I am planning on doing. I just have the Athlon x3 instead and a different case to cut a bit of cash since I need to get the OS too. I am also waiting to see what the January combos bring since there aren't any I can really use this month.

    The ASRock one is the only <$100 board with the 8X8 crossfire I think, that is why I am favoring it (for future upgrade path). Since you aren't worried about Xfire you could go with the MSI board, newegg has that on year end special as well. $85 after code EMCZNNW35, $70 after rebate.

    Making those three changes would knock about $40 off that build you have above (after rebates). you could dump half of that back in and get a new DVD drive for $16-18.
  8. if you are near a microcenter (I saw the hard drive there), you could opt for their Athlon II X4 + MSI 785 combo for $95.99
  9. maawdawg said:
    You can get these 1333 Ripjaws for $50 shipped, they have 8-8-8-21 CAS timing and are also on the ASRock Extreme3 memory list, which not a lot of high end RAM is.

    Why the 1333 ripjaws and not the 1600? This is on the ASrock Extreme3 memory list:

    What about these: or these

    Still trying to get a handle on the CAS ratings. Is 8 CAS 1333 better than 9 CAS 1600?
    Is lower voltage better than higher?
  10. @ScrewySqrl: I was planning on going for one of Microcenter's deals, but the 785 is both Micro-ATX and kinda old tech. Plus it doesn't have any USB 3.0 ports.

    I also decided not to go with the AsRock because it doesn't have an PATA/IDE port, and I need that for the DVD-ROM drive. I could buy a SATA DVD-ROM drive, but that's $20 extra. I could buy a IDE-to-SATA adapter instead, but those are usually unreliable.

    Man, this is hard.
  11. I recommended them in part due to personal preference for what I will be using (and because I want to mess with settings as little as possible), but also because you listed 1333 RAM in the OP and also because 1600 data rate is listed as OC on the ASRock 870 and you said you didn't want to OC initially. In reading user reviews some people have had stability issues when they set their ram to 1600, but many others haven't. The board will naturally set your RAM to 1333 anyway so 1600 will have to be tweaked in the BIOS (as will the timings probably).

    Here is GSkill's input on RAM choice from a response on Newegg.

    Manufacturer Response:

    Dear Customer

    Thank you for your G.Skill purchase and review. Most CPUs are made for DDR3-1333 max, so if you are unsure of how to overclock, or don't want the headache to even go there, DDR3-1333 CL9 would be best. Any memory specification above this may require tweaking, so feel free to contact us for help. We already know what your hardware is capable of, and what is required to operate certain memory, so shoot us an email for assistance.

    Thank you

    Quality and customer service are our top priorities.

    Tech Support Email:
    RMA Dept Email:
    G.Skill Forum:

    Any of the RAM listed will work or it wouldn't be in the mobo support sheet but some may take some tweaking to the listed specs.

    The ECO ram is lower voltage (1.35 vs 1.5V). Basically 15% less power consumption by the RAM but offering the same (or at least very similar) performance. While the 1600 Ripjaw is 1.65V.
  12. @maawdawg: I think you're answering icepickjazz's questions, not mine. I have no problems with the RAM (speed, Cas timings, etc.), just the fact that the Extreme3 has no ATA/IDE port for my DVD-RW drive.

    To be honest, the reason I'm being so stingy with my budget was that I was trying to save money for a netbook. I received some money for my birthday to put towards the purchase of a netbook, with the rest being out of my own pocket.

    I'm beginning to consider whether or not I actually need a netbook, since I probably wouldn't use it often, and If I needed something for college, I'd probably be better off with a small laptop.

    Anyway, I found this AsRock mobo with an IDE port.

    But it's sorta ho-hum and doesn't support SATA 6. Probably better off with the ASUS or MSI, anyway.

    Also, I was thinking about using the new Athlon II x3 455 instead. It's about $10 less than the Athlon II x4.
  13. Okay, guys, I'm planning on purchasing my stuff tomorrow or thereabouts, so I've made updates to my original post.

    Any help would be appreciated. I'm struggling to keep it under $700, or, heck, even under $660.
  14. I know what you mean on keeping under budget. I had planned on checking the new combos on Jan 1 and then ordering and not only were there no good combos for me some of my parts went up in price. I am in a holding pattern until I can get back to $650ish again. My build went up to $710 which is hard to bite on considering the prices only days before.

    The ASRock 870 came back down to $90 today. I was not happy when it jumped to $110 either.

    Good luck in your build. I am hunting around tonight looking for deals on many of the same components as you so if I find something I will put it up.

    On the ModstreamPro PSU the $20 rebate is a prepaid VISA card that some people have had issues with so if you are banking on that $20 back you may want to stay leaning towards the Earthwatts 650.
  15. alrigh. I'll look in newegg's combos and see what I can see. $700 should be a decent hexacore system with a 6850.

    Product Description Savings Total Price

    SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C

    SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827151192
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    Rosewill DESTROYER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 120mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan

    Rosewill DESTROYER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 120mm ...
    Item #: N82E16811147144
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    -$10.00 Instant



    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Item #: N82E16822152185
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



    ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

    ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813157198
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    -$20.00 Instant



    GIGABYTE GV-R685D5-1GD Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

    GIGABYTE GV-R685D5-1GD Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with ...
    Item #: N82E16814125348
    Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy

    -$10.00 Instant



    Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

    Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
    Item #: N82E16817371034
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    -$10.00 Instant



    G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS

    G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS
    Item #: N82E16820231396
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy



    AMD Phenom II X6 1075T Thuban 3.0GHz Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT75TFBGRBOX

    AMD Phenom II X6 1075T Thuban 3.0GHz Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT75TFBGRBOX
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    Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy



    AMD Battlefield Bad Company 2 Gift Coupon

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    Subtotal: $707.92
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  16. @ScrewySqrl: I still have to pay taxes, so it's about $58 more.

    Here's what I think I'll do. When the ASUS 88TD-V comes back in stock on MicroCenter, I'll buy that with the Phenom ii x4 965. This comes to about $260 after taxes, though since the 88TD-V is out of stock, I can't accurately tell what the price is; I just added 8.75% of the purchase price to the total.

    If I were to buy the hard drive (the Spinpoint F3 500GB) there, as well, that's $49 after taxes, making a total of 309. The board comes with a $10 rebate, so if I were to apply for the rebate it would amount to $299.

    Then, buying both the graphics card (Gigabyte Radeon 6850) and RAM (G.SKILL DDR3-1333 2x2GB) at NewEgg, I would pay $242.46 total after taxes.

    Off of Amazon, I would buy the HAF (which I'm assuming comes with 2 fans) and the Antec 650w PSU, for $131 total (no sales tax, thank God).

    The grand total would come to approximately $672 (IF I receive the rebate on the board. I don't know how good ASUS is with rebates; I've heard their customer service is terrible). Without the rebate it's $680, and with the money I got for Christmas, plus the money I saved up over the months, it won't make too much of a dent in my savings account.

    Still, though, I could go with the OCZ ModXStream (linked above) deal on NewEgg. with the promo code, it would cost around $50. Is the ModXStream a good PSU? Some of the reviews say it is.

    It's not the best system, but it's miles better than the Dell Optiplex GX280 I have now, and light years better than the HP Pavilion 522n I got in high school.

    Might buy this tomorrow or something. I'm trying to get ready for college, so that might take up more of my time.

    EDIT: Hmm... according to Microcenter's website, the purchase of a Phenom ii x4 965 is restricted to only one per household due to limited availability, which leads me to believe that once they're out of stock of the Phenoms, they won't restock them. Or it could be that they're so popular that they sell fast, or something. Can someone clue me in on that?
  17. I saw this combo this morning, newegg dropped the price on the Sapphire 6850 overnight, plus it has a rebate, and you can combo it with an Antec 650. I will probably use it in my build.

    The HAF 912 got a coupon code on newegg today for $10 off, EMCKJKF34.

    Maybe you can save a couple bucks by using either of those deals. :D
  18. you can also step back from the 1075t 6-core to a 955 Quad, saving $55
  19. Hey guys.

    I'm planning on going with what I said in my last post.

    Unfortunately, now I've found out that many people have reported that the Phenom II x4's stock fan is extremely loud, and since I have sensitive hearing, I'm concerned it's something I may not be able to tolerate. I was thinking of going for the Cooler Master Hyper TX3 instead of the 212 because I'm not planning on doing any overclocking. That's about $20, and I can squeeze it into my budget. I'm at the point where I don't care about saving money, and since I received $325 for Christmas and am planning on using $400 of my own money, I actually have $725 to spend. I kept out the $25 originally because I didn't think it'd make a difference.

    I'm hoping there's an alternative if my fan speeds get out of whack.

    Also, my room is carpeted, so would a bottom mounted PSU get fried easily? Thanks.
  20. will you be placing it directly on the carpet? or do you have some sort of platform you can put it on? Directly on the carpet MIGHT cause overheat if the carpet is deep enough, much like a laptop overheats in a bed
  21. I guess it would depend on where your PSU intake is drawing from too. You definitely wouldn't want your PSU intake to be coming through the case bottom on a thick carpet. If you have the intake on the inside of the case and the case has pretty solid ventilation that would probably be better. I don't know if the Challenger/Destroyer even has a cutout for bottom intake for a PSU?
  22. ScrewySqrl said:
    will you be placing it directly on the carpet? or do you have some sort of platform you can put it on? Directly on the carpet MIGHT cause overheat if the carpet is deep enough, much like a laptop overheats in a bed

    All my previous computers have been placed directly on the carpet under my desk, though they've all had top-mounted PSUs.

    EDIT: Well, actually, that's a slight exaggeration, as I've gone through many computers (and desks) throughout the years, but they've all been placed on carpet without any problems.

    There's a special compartment for a computer tower as part of my desk, but it's not well ventilated (which is why I moved it under my desk) and getting cords back there is a hassle. Plus the back of the desk is so flimsy that I fear that cutting out the prepreferated holes in the back of the compartment would make the table unstable. I could probably find a board or something to place it on.
  23. if its prepreforated holes, punching them out shouldn't be much problem and won't affect your stability -- its designed for that. If you have a few inches clearance on all sides, it should be enough for cooling. However, you could also place the case on a board or the top of the desk. Alternately, you could mount the psu 'upside down' pulling air from inside the case instead of from outside.
  24. Well, prepreferated is probably the wrong word to use, but there are outlines for where you're supposed to cut the back. I remember asking my father whether could cut the whole outline out instead of a few holes but he was afraid the desk couldn't handle it.I'm still concerned about the hassle of switching or adding a new cable.

    Also, I was hoping to put it on my desk, I don't think there's enough room and the desk doesn't appear strong enough to hold it up there. I wish I could find a picture of the desk (my parents bought it for me at OfficeMax many years ago), but I doubt they make it anymore.

    I'll see if there's something I can do. Perhaps a slab of cardboard? Might be easier to slide the case out.

    About the cooler, though. Should I go with it, or is there a way to control the stock cooler's fan if it gets out of control? I'm starting to think I may be able to tolerate it, because the fan on my current video card (Visiontek 4350) is rather loud (then again it's pretty tiny), but I usually don't pay much attention to it.
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