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Cheap build for my son

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December 28, 2010 2:14:34 AM

Hello, my son and I are planning to build him a computer. The case and 400w PSU will be cannabilised and we are looking at the AMD 1055T, ASUS M4A88TD-M EVO/USB3 Motherboard, 4GB of Corsair 1333 Ram, Gainward GeForce GTS250 1GB, 1TB Samsung F3 Spinpoint, and a wireless G card (I don't currently have a wireless N network in the house). Plus Windows OEM (I will build and sell the system to him). DVD drive will either be cannibalised or I'll buy a $25 cheapie.

Total build cost is $700. Any comments or suggested improvements?

Many thanks!

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a b B Homebuilt system
December 28, 2010 2:26:35 AM

Are you building this for gaming or something else? what kind of resolution do you plan on running it on?
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December 28, 2010 3:07:46 AM

Quote:
Are you building this for gaming or something else? what kind of resolution do you plan on running it on?


Good question. Some gaming and a lot of schoolwork. And of course more net than you can poke a stick at. The concept is to have a machine that is 'behind the curve' so that he can continually upgrade it for minimal cost until he can afford a brand new machine (in about 5 years or so). The original screen is an old AOC 24" that can run a bit less than HD quality, but that too will change.

I'm aware that AMD will move beyond the AM3 architecture soonish but I can't find a more compelling chip/mobo combination for well under $350.

Cheers
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 28, 2010 3:43:33 AM

If gaming is the most intensive thing that the computer is going to be doing than a x6 cpu is hard to justify. A quad core like the 955be will work very good for what you need and should last a long time. Most games arent even optimized to run on 4 cores let alone 6 cores right now.

Also do you own that gpu or are you planning on buying it? With the money saved on the cpu invest in a better gpu, or if you dont change the cpu consider a better gpu.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 28, 2010 4:17:23 AM

^+1 for the downgrading of the cpu and the upgrading of the GPU. Only other consideration is if the schoolwork involves video/music editing/rendering/mixing or some of the more intensive 3D graphics CAD programs. If that's the case then you will want to stick with the 6 core.

If cannibalized means you're going to reuse the psu then make sure it has sufficient power for either graphics card along with the proper and enough connectors and/or adapters. If you're using adapters you will also need to check that you have enough plugs for the other components once you have the card plugged in. Make sense? The specs from the sheet for that video card FOUND HERE says "A minimum 500W system power supply with two 6-pin power connectors available"! So I don't think your current psu is going to be sufficient. HERE's A Thermaltake TR2 650W ATX Modular for $75 + shipping. Adds a lot to the overall price but you don't want to cheap out on the power supply unit, it can be catastrophic if it fails and takes out your other components when it goes. So if you downgrade the CPU and want to keep the GPU you already have picked out you can put it towards the PSU. - You can always upgrade the card later.

And I doubt that the AM3 architecture will outdated very soon. AMD tends to stick with what works for the long haul unlike Intel's killing me with new architecture and sockets every couple of years.
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December 28, 2010 5:01:51 AM

bavman said:
If gaming is the most intensive thing that the computer is going to be doing than a x6 cpu is hard to justify. A quad core like the 955be will work very good for what you need and should last a long time. Most games arent even optimized to run on 4 cores let alone 6 cores right now.

Also do you own that gpu or are you planning on buying it? With the money saved on the cpu invest in a better gpu, or if you dont change the cpu consider a better gpu.


Re the GPU, I don't own it but it's on special for $90, much cheaper than normal. The diff between the two CPUs in question is $45. We're a bit over budget as is so I don't want to increase one expenditure without reducing another. Someone on this site was saying that the GTS 250 would blow an ATI 5750 away, and that was the other main GPU we were looking at. The Powercolour 1GB 5750 comes in at $125, so the trade-off could be made - I just haven't found a direct authoritative comparison.

I imagine that spreadsheeting, possibly some database work and wordprocessing, image editing and the like will also get done. He may also get into engineering (shows some interest in that) or architecture. Over 5 years, as a 15 year old boy turns into a 20 year old man, who knows where his interests will go?

I really appreciate the interest and advice.

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December 28, 2010 5:31:20 AM

suteck said:
If cannibalized means you're going to reuse the psu then make sure it has sufficient power for either graphics card along with the proper and enough connectors and/or adapters. If you're using adapters you will also need to check that you have enough plugs for the other components once you have the card plugged in. Make sense?


Thanks, suteck. Yes it makes sense and I've worried about it. I had read that 400w should be enough for most budget systems, so the link to the spec sheet does give me pause. What I think I'll do is look at the assembled goodies and connectors and see what the body count is like first. If worst comes to worst then, the power source will probably be the first upgrade - a good 80+, 650W item.

As I mentioned to bavman, he may be doing some CAD on it and his brother, a photographer, may occasionally come over to use some of the bits as well. I'm pretty tempted to stick to the hexcore for that, even though my understanding is that the multicore software for single threaded applications is ... less than brilliant.

I agree that AMD is much more consistent than Intel, and I've had my fair share of both - I'd just read that they were thinking of a significant move when the new architecture came out. Still some backward compatibility, but essentially requiring both a chip and mobo refresh over time.
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
December 28, 2010 8:08:42 AM

Ermmm should he being doing PS5 work or any Adobe work. I say a GTS 450 (as disappointing as it was) is a better choice w/ the cuda cores. Granted PS5 doesn't use Mercury playback, but a lot of companies optimize their programs (should it involve cpu intensive apps) and the 450 will allow you to take advantage. But I suppose the 250 works too.

As for the CPU the 955 is just fine for photoshop, gimp, effects, after effects and all that stuff. I myself do some editing as a photographer (stick this in: Go Canon!) and the 955 suits my needs just fine. PS5 applies effects with ease on my 955. But the only gripe, should he do HDR merging in PS5 he should wait a bit. Only like 2 minutes but still not as fast as say an intel i5 750. Still good on this budget though. This is coming from someone who regularly uses photoshop to make sigs, edit, merge HDR, and all that fun stuff that PS5 can do.

Oh if you want to look at the new SBs coming out. the i5 2400S (a quadcore i5 like the 750) is a great 200$ cpu that offers excellent Photoshop and CPU performance. It's 200$ US and it performs at an i7 880's level. Great isn't it?

2400S: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-pre...

Pricing: http://www.lowyat.net/v2/intel-sandy-bridge-processors-...
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December 28, 2010 9:35:16 AM

Best answer selected by 2tanners.
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December 28, 2010 9:40:39 AM

Final order.

As you'll see, I took the advice about moving back to a quad core and decided not to risk it on the PSU. There was no way I was getting a GTS 450 for less than about $150 and the difference wasn't worth it. I hope.

I was thinking about Linux, but the lad was really unenthusiastic and it's essentially his pocket money. Thanks to all for the advice, I ppciked Bavman's answer as it made me think things through more thoroughly.

Qty. Product Total
1 AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition $169.00
1 Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB HD103SJ $69.00
1 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit OEM $119.00
1 Corsair CMV4GX3M2A1333C9 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 $55.00
1 Gainward GeForce GTS 250 1GB $89.00
1 Tp-Link WN350GD 54M Wireless PCI Card with Antenna $15.00
1 ASUS M4A88TD-M EVO/USB3 Motherboard $125.00
1 Thermaltake Litepower 500W $59.00
Sub-Total: $700.00
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 28, 2010 4:47:41 PM

Ouch; painful...
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 28, 2010 5:18:25 PM

I grabbed all these prices off of newegg.com: (except for the mobo, i couldnt find it there so i just used your price)

-phenom II x4 955be - $145 - same chip as the 965 be but lower clock speed. You can easily overclock it to the same level with stock heatsink
-spinpoint f3 1tb - $70
-windows 7 oem 64bit - $100
-g.skill 4gb 1333mhz - $50 - just a cheaper set i found, still a good brand
-460 GTX 1gb - $150 - much better gpu
-wireless pci antenna - $15
-asus m4a88td-m evo - $125
-ocz 500w 80 plus certified - $50

total after mir's - $705, you can save $30 or so if you switch to a .75gb 460 instead of the 1gb one.

Let us know what you think.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 29, 2010 4:07:19 AM

Just to save a little more - HERE IS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 bit Full Version OEM (Dell) for $85. Takes about $35 off the build.
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December 29, 2010 8:29:33 AM

What I think is that as I am in Australia where they charge 20% more for everything and then add 10% tax, I'm actually doing OK. My price was in $A which SHOULD be the same as $US just now but for some reason when the $US drops our prices don't. Newegg have great prices but shipping to Australia is expensive and both the tax-paid Newegg price and the extra shipping cost incur that same 10% tax. :cry: 

So I just have to look enviously at your prices and hope that I get a business trip to the US while our dollars maintain their comparative worth. :D 

Putting my same system together using 'street prices' from the magazines would have been over $1000.

Still, I know where you're coming from. If I'm ever in the states for at least a week, there's gonna be an order put out for the bits for a killer machine.
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