Non-gamer build (upgrade), around $500

Hello everyone, I am needing to build a new system and would appreciate some input!

Approximate Purchase Date: Before the end of the month

Budget Range: Under $500

System Usage: Software development. No gaming.

Parts Required: MB, RAM, CPU, and probably a graphics card (see comments)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: AMD processor

Overclocking: Probably

Case Form Factor: MicroATX Slim (half height cards only)

Monitors: At least two at 1920 x 1080, maybe three in the future.

Additional Comments:
- Need 16GB RAM minimum. Could go for a MB that supports 32GB, but didn't see a MicroATX one.
- Overclocking is likely, but I don't want to spend alot on a cooler just to get a few more tenths.
- I could buy a new case if the half height card restriction is problematic, but prefer not to.


- AMD Phenom II X2 545 (
- MSI 760GM-E51 (
- G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1333

Specific Questions:

1) The AMD Phenom II X2 545 is dirt cheap and I'm leaning toward rolling the dice and see if I get lucky and can unlock a few cores. Any idea what my odds are? Is getting 4 cores a 50/50 chance, or more like a 10/90 chance? If odds are bad I'd probably go for an Athlon II X4 instead.

2) I'm not familiar unlocking cores, but I assume lower clock speeds can sometimes help you get more cores, and that is a trade-off I would take. Is that MSI motherboard a good choice for unlocking and overclocking, or am I better off going with an ASUS board?

3) Can some MBs run dual monitors off their onboard video? The idea is appealing because I don't game and really don't care much about video performance. Not having to buy a video card would save money I could spend elsewhere.

4) What the frack are those memory timing numbers? I see lots of different combinations like 9-9-9-24, 8-8-8-24, 9-9-9-24-2N, etc., but have no idea how to choose. Do certain motherboard / CPU combos require or do better with particular timings? Really clueless here.

Thanks for the input!
2 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about gamer build upgrade
  1. Best answer
    1) For a non-gamer build, the AMD Athlon II X4 would better suit IMO,... You get all 4-cores without trying any luck, And it is a 50-50% chances that you might be able to unlock the dormant cores, but not 100% sure that they would be stable,... So its upto you if you want to try your luck,...

    2) Core unlock should work on any board that offers ACC option in the BIOS(Setting it to Auto would generally unlock the dormant cores) or with the newer 8xx chipset, most of the mobo manufacturers give Core unlock option,...

    3) Yes they would be able to run dual monitors, but 1 via DVI or HDMI - Digital o/p and 1 via VGA - Analog o/p and not both digital o/p, but by adding a low-power ATI graphic card say HD 5450/ 4650, you can get more than 2 o/p

    4) Timings - If you want to understand, then this article would be a good start - It explains w.r.t DDR2, but would apply to DDR3 as well,...
    And generally you would just have to make sure your mobo supports the RAM voltage more than the speed because even if that speed is not supported, it would run at default speeds, but the same cannot be said for RAM voltages,...

    RAM - This would be a very good cheaper alternative - This has high quality Micron RAM chips,... Buy 2 of these

    CASE - This is a cheap and decent one -
    Rosewill Blackbone

    PSU - Why do you need a 500W PSU ? A quality 400W PSU would suffice and can handle even graphic cards like 570 or GTS 450,... But here is a good deal on a 500W PSU with rebates
    $5 off w/ promo code EMCKJJJ27, ends 1/17
  2. Best answer selected by BradleyMcK.
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