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My 2011 Budget Build AMD/NVIDIA ~$800

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January 17, 2011 10:12:18 PM

Well my 2010 $2500 i860/5870/3150x1680 Eyefinity rig is still running like a champ. There's not a single component that I was disappointed with. Even with triple monitors it runs everything I throw at it with ease.

My wife's 2009 e7200/4850 1k build is still running, but has intermittent power cycling issues. So far Civ5 has been the only game that really has brought it to it's knees.

This year's build was something I wanted to keep budget oriented, but still pack as much gaming power as possible while also keeping future upgrades in mind. One of the more disappointing features of my wife's 2009 build was its lack of crossfire support. I had an opportunity to pick up a 2nd hand 4850 for $25 but didn't have the 2nd pcie slot required.

I will be aggressively overclocking, and keeping the ability to add SLI down the road is a must.

So with that in mind, my 2011 build, which will be for my 15 year old is shaping up like this:

CPU: AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition
After two consecutive Intel builds it's time to give AMD another look. I didn't feel like gambling with a x3 and I love the unlocked multipliers on the Blacks. The i3's were awfully tempting at this price range, but quad physical cores does give productivity boosts and I did want to give AMD another shot.
Price: $144.99

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H
I did wince a bit at the price on this board. This really puts the AMD into Intel territory now. That being said I did want x8/x8 and usb/sata 3.0. This board also offered proper spacing for future SLI.
Price: $134.99

Memory: GeIL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066
Price was the ultimate decider here. This is rated as 7-7-7-20 for the same price as most cas 9 RAM. I've yet to use GeIL but the reviews were positive.
Price: $39.99

GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1366-TR GeForce GTX 460 SE (Fermi) 1GB
Since the price drop this really became a no-brainer. I had already made my mind up that since my last two cards were ATI that I'd give NVIDIA another go around, and at $160 this was such an easy pick. While not the EE, the SE still packs more than enough power for today's gaming @ 1920x1080 and adding a 2nd card down the road will be an affordable upgrade path.
Price: $159.99

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB
I haven't looked much into HDDs since my last build. I refuse to ever purchase another WD as I've bricked 3x of them in 5 years. If there are newer drives that get better throughput via SATA 6Gb/s let me know.
Price: $69.99

Case: LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58W
This is a budget version of the K62 which I already own and absolutely love. While it doesn't include the prepainted black interior, I'm not too concerned about it. The dust traps on these cases are top shelf. After a year my PC has virtually no build-up even on the CPU heatsink.
Price: $69.99

PSU: SILVERSTONE ST50F-ES 500W
Some are going to question 500W and the prospect of running 2x 460's in SLI. Don't fret it. The single rail 12v on these silverstones is beyond impressive. It's 80plus and it's the price range I was looking for. I could have dropped another $20 for a 600w Corsair, but really I have no concerns about the silverstone.
Price: $59.99

Heatsink/Fan: CM Hyper 212+
As far as I know it's still the best budget cooler on the market. Fill me in if this has changed.
Price: $29.99

DVD Burner: ASUS Black 24X DVD+R
My only concern here was the support of DL burning. The Asus had a ton of positive reviews and the price was right.
Price: $16.99


Total Price: $726.91


Tear it apart, streamline it. Keep in mind that I would like to stick with AMD/NVIDIA, and that I won't buy subpar brand names (Asrock, cheap psus, generic cases, WD ect). Thank-you in advance.
January 17, 2011 10:32:20 PM

im sorry when did ASRock become a supbar brand name?
They're a secondary company to ASUS

Western Digital isn't either.
no longer than 6 Weeks ago they attempted to BUY seagate.
but then theyd have a monopoly on HDD's.

January 17, 2011 10:34:49 PM

HeyImGodly said:
im sorry when did ASRock become a supbar brand name?
They're a secondary company to ASUS

Western Digital isn't either.
no longer than 6 Weeks ago they attempted to BUY seagate.
but then theyd have a monopoly on HDD's.


ASRock is great in system builder marathons where the rig only has to run for a week. When rigs need to run for multiple years however, quality is king. I'm fully aware that ASRock is owned by Asus, but it's also their bargain bin hack shop.

I've already stated that I've had three different head crashes on WD drives in 5 years, so that's that. Just because they sell more drives than everyone else doesn't mean their QC is the best.
Related resources
January 17, 2011 11:01:51 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- ASUS Black 24X DVDRW: $17

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB: $70

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58W Black: $70

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX $90 ($70 after mir) -> if you want to SLI in the future as you mentioned... then you're going to need at least a 650w PSU from a top brand

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus: $30

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H: $135 (cheapest quality for SLI i could find too)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB (2x2) DDR3 1333: $40 -> you'll want at least a 1333 speed kit for overclocking

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz: $100 -> the L3 cache you lose over the Phenom II has been proven to be not important at all for a gaming PC... especially if you're under a budget and can put the saved money into graphics

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- EVGA 01G-P3-1380-KR GeForce GTX 460 SSC+ 1GB: $200 -> much better video card... and that puppy is clocked at 850MHz / 1700MHz..(!)

TOTAL: $752 ($732 after mir)
January 18, 2011 12:21:57 AM

wasupmike said:


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX $90 ($70 after mir) -> if you want to SLI in the future as you mentioned... then you're going to need at least a 650w PSU from a top brand


Yeah, I've never found MIRs to be reliable enough to count them in the price. I'm not really worried in the least about the Silverstone. I know what you're saying, and while I agree sort of, I also know that a 500w single rail is going to out perform a 750w multi-rail just because you're not shifting the pcie to a separate rail. Under full load the 460 is 160tdp, an overclocked 955be is going to push another 160. While stress testing (in SLI) the 500w might gray out, everday operating and even heavy gaming should keep it well under the 80pct @ 40c mark. I'll look into some others but $90 is too much for the 650tx imo.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB (2x2) DDR3 1333: $40 -> you'll want at least a 1333 speed kit for overclocking said:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB (2x2) DDR3 1333: $40 -> you'll want at least a 1333 speed kit for overclocking

I've always felt that cas latency > frequency. Once you start cranking up the BCLK the frequency of the RAM is going to rise, as will the CAS timings. I'd rather end up with 9-9-9-24 @ 1600 then say 12-12-12-28 @ 2000. In all honesty if I could find some of the older 5-5-5-15 800 DDR2's I'd eat those up in a heart beat. Unfortunately 2.4v I doubt would fly and DDR3 is cheaper now.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz: $100 -> the L3 cache you lose over the Phenom II has been proven to be not important at all for a gaming PC... especially if you're under a budget and can put the saved money into graphics said:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz: $100 -> the L3 cache you lose over the Phenom II has been proven to be not important at all for a gaming PC... especially if you're under a budget and can put the saved money into graphics

This does seem to be a great suggestion. I'm still concerned about the locked multipliers of the 640. While I do tend to OC BCLK first often times you end up having to overvolt to get up to that 3.8-4.0 range with base clock alone. It might still be worth the $45 difference, I'll have to look more into it as I'm not familiar with Propus chipset at all. It's just so much easier to overclock with unlocked multipliers. Bump the bclk raise the multiplier to 19x and poof, instant near 4.0 speeds.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- EVGA 01G-P3-1380-KR GeForce GTX 460 SSC+ 1GB: $200 -> much better video card... and that puppy is clocked at 850MHz / 1700MHz..(!) said:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- EVGA 01G-P3-1380-KR GeForce GTX 460 SSC+ 1GB: $200 -> much better video card... and that puppy is clocked at 850MHz / 1700MHz..(!)


Great Find, my only concern with going with a non-reference board is finding a duplicate of it later for SLI. With reference cards even if you can't find the same card you can always flash the bios to match. Is this even a concern with SLI anymore?
January 18, 2011 11:30:33 AM

a4mula said:
Yeah, I've never found MIRs to be reliable enough to count them in the price. I'm not really worried in the least about the Silverstone. I know what you're saying, and while I agree sort of, I also know that a 500w single rail is going to out perform a 750w multi-rail just because you're not shifting the pcie to a separate rail. Under full load the 460 is 160tdp, an overclocked 955be is going to push another 160. While stress testing (in SLI) the 500w might gray out, everday operating and even heavy gaming should keep it well under the 80pct @ 40c mark. I'll look into some others but $90 is too much for the 650tx imo.

-> try this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- CORSAIR Builder Series CMPSU-600CX: $70 -> single rail + 600w (bare minimum in my opinion for 460's in SLI)

I've always felt that cas latency > frequency. Once you start cranking up the BCLK the frequency of the RAM is going to rise, as will the CAS timings. I'd rather end up with 9-9-9-24 @ 1600 then say 12-12-12-28 @ 2000. In all honesty if I could find some of the older 5-5-5-15 800 DDR2's I'd eat those up in a heart beat. Unfortunately 2.4v I doubt would fly and DDR3 is cheaper now.

-> it seems to be from all the info out there... if you had to choose between a higher clocked RAM /w a higher CL... vs lower clocked RAM /w a lower CL... the faster RAM (even though with a higher CL), will still perform better in most cases. i'd still recommend you go with (at least) 1333mhz speeds over 1066mhz...


This does seem to be a great suggestion. I'm still concerned about the locked multipliers of the 640. While I do tend to OC BCLK first often times you end up having to overvolt to get up to that 3.8-4.0 range with base clock alone. It might still be worth the $45 difference, I'll have to look more into it as I'm not familiar with Propus chipset at all. It's just so much easier to overclock with unlocked multipliers. Bump the bclk raise the multiplier to 19x and poof, instant near 4.0 speeds.

-> the 'Propus' overclocks well (for AMD)... you should be able to easily take it to a comfortable 24x7 overclock that'll be perfect for a well balanced gaming machine under a budget

Great Find, my only concern with going with a non-reference board is finding a duplicate of it later for SLI. With reference cards even if you can't find the same card you can always flash the bios to match. Is this even a concern with SLI anymore?


-> as far as i know - you'll still be able to SLI any 2 cards - as long as they're from the same model series (like GTX 460 1gb), unlike AMD that can mix 2 cards from different series and models (has to be same generation i think though)
January 18, 2011 3:38:52 PM

my suggestion for a 2011 build is to wait about 6-8 weeks, Bulldozer is coming at the end of Q1. (end of feb, early march)
January 18, 2011 7:20:14 PM

Unless I'm missing something that board only supports crossfire not SLI. You have to pick an AMD board that has an NVIDIA chipset
January 18, 2011 7:42:05 PM

jasonh8806 said:
Unless I'm missing something that board only supports crossfire not SLI. You have to pick an AMD board that has an NVIDIA chipset


that was a while ago... and Nvidia for now, is out of the desktop chipset arena, so to speak... so it's better if you choose from Intel or AMD chipsets, if you're building a modern and up-to-date PC

nowadays, basically any (modern) motherboard that has at least 2 x PCI-e x16 2.0 lanes that can do at least x8+x8 -> can have SLI
!