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New mid-range pc

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Last response: in Systems
January 18, 2011 12:30:57 PM

Hi Folks,
I'm looking to build a new mid-range PC for myself. It'll be used for a mix of gaming and occasionally heavy-processing. I have no particular interest in overclocking; just want something simple, solid, but effective and "pokey". I'm in the UK so prices are GBP. No fixed budget but this setup will be around £350. I'm currently thinking along the lines of:

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 645 - Or maybe a 640, depending on deals available when/where I buy -

RAM: 2x2GB - no preference as to particular makes/models - whatever's cheapest when I buy. Not sure as to ram speed.

GPU: Undecided. One of the AMD/ATI Radeon range: 5570, 5670, 5750 or 5770. No dual-GPUing or anything fancy.

Motherboard: I'm flexible/unsure on this - ASUS M4A88T-M - - it's not the cheapest Mobo, but it's the cheapest that supports PC3-12800 that I could find. Plus it can do SATA-600, so if I do get a SSD in the future (and likely upgrade my HDD at some point too)...

HDD: I'll be using a current 500GB SATA 300 drive. Probably getting a SSD sometime down the line though, but not now.

PSU: Antec 380watt - 80PLUS rated -

1x generic DVD-writer.
1x generic case.

1) Would I be right in thinking a 380 watt PSU would be sufficient for that build? The GPU and CPU between them will use about 200watts (that's assuming I go with the 5770 GPU - it'll be less with any other) when loaded and I don't see the rest using much power.

2) I'd prefer DDR3-2000 (PC3-16000) for RAM, but am having trouble finding a cheapish AM3 mobo that supports it ( <£75 or so). Would there be much benefit over DDR3-1600 / PC3-12800? And even PC3-12800 doesn't seem to be available without overclocking. Hmmm. I've seen the numbers ( ), but are there any real-world differences between PC3-10600 and the faster stuff?

3) I've never been clear on motherboards. There are a billion different types and all have something slightly different. My current shopping style for them is: decide what I want (i.e. PC3-12800), and look for the cheapest that has it. Given this, are there any suggestions for attributes I should be looking for in my mobo?

4) Suggestions on GPU? I see the 5770 recommended around here in some other threads. Would any of the "lesser" cards offer similar performance? I currently using a GeForce 6800, so pretty much anything is an upgrade. :-) Comparing the numbers I'm kind of inclined towards the 5670 - about £30 cheaper - I'm most interested in price to performance ratio than absolute performance.


More about : mid range

January 19, 2011 8:59:08 AM

Hmm somewhere in my vault of fact, stats and benches i have a graph that shows little to no gains doubling RAM frequency in real world apps/games so DDR3 1600 is plety - in fact many gamer on cheapo AM3 platforms do fine on CL7 1333 hehe Anyway while i understand your concerns for SATA 6GB/s yada yada if i were u i would hit the best CPU and upgrade to a GTX 460 for a wee bit more ^^ Nice 500+ watter 80+ bronze PSU to boot

411 quid less that F3 500 Samsung off Ebuyer UK

January 19, 2011 9:24:39 AM

1 as long as its a good make like the one you picked 380W is fine, I would personally get a 420W+ to be on the safe side
2 RAM speed makes very little difference in real life so just go for 1333MHz unless there is almost no price difference
3 If you are not overclocking then getting the cheapest that has the specification you need is fine
4 I would try to get the 5770 if you can as its alot better than anything cheaper (If the 5670 was half the price then I would consider it)

I am ordering a system for someone else on a similar budget and came up with this
AMD Athlon II X3 445 3.1 GHz - Socket AM3 1.5 MB cache Retail Box Processor 235421 79 in stock £56.90 £56.90
EXTRA VALUE 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz Memory Kit 1.5V CL9 192049 32 in stock £28.11 £28.11
Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache 173804 > 5 in stock £43.98 £43.98
LiteOn IHAS124-19 24x DVD±RW DL & RAM SATA Optical Drive - OEM Black with Nero Essentials 176026 > 200 in stock £11.99 £11.99
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium - Licence and media - 1 PC - OEM - DVD - 64-bit - English 173791 317 in stock £74.34 £74.34
ASUS M4A78LT-M LE AMD 760G Socket AM3 DVI VGA Out 8 CHannel Audio MATX Motherboard 181968 55 in stock £39.89 £39.89
Corsair 430W CX PSU 4x SATA 1x PCI-E 240998 253 in stock £35.96 £35.96
Black Micro ATX Case - No PSU 205561 432 in stock £15.63 £15.63
Cart total inc vat: £306.80

I already have the graphics card but I did order Win 7 64 which if you don't need can be put toward the GPU.
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January 19, 2011 9:25:31 AM

Sorry forgot to say all form ebuyer
January 19, 2011 1:05:35 PM

Thanks guys. The RAM information is useful, I'll just go with whatever looks like it'll work then.

On the CPU I think I'll stick to the Athlon 2 X4 640 or 645; I did consider a low-end Phenom but after looking into it, the benefits versus the cost didn't seem to offer much for me. In fact, Simon12's suggest of an X3 now has me reconsidering how much I do that uses even my current two cores; I'll have to investigate that given it's about £35 cheaper. I can upgrade in a year or two after all if software actually starts being multi-threaded (it hasn't yet and multi-cores are 5+ years old :-S ).

Pertaining to the GPU, I've always had NVidea in the past but want to try AMD for idealogical reasons (open sourcing drivers, though I hear they need work). Plus that card (GTX 460) is a bit expensive for my liking - my shopping style is typically to have a set max-price for a specific component balanced against that component's use to me rather than a fixed budget for the whole. I'm happy to not play games at max-settings, I just don't like slide-shows (which is what I'm getting increasingly often on the current GeForce 6800).

So my next question is similar to my motherboard one - what's the difference between all of the graphics cards of the same type? Is there any reason I shouldn't just choose the cheapest one that has DVI-out? I.e. dabs has 8 5770's and they range from ~£95 to ~£150. For those two I don't see any difference beyond a fancy heatsink. - - well, the cheap one has a VGA-out ("with adaptor") that the expensive one doesn't.

Thanks again.
January 19, 2011 1:17:57 PM

If you are not overclocking the card then all 5770s will perform the same. Cooling is better on ones that vent outside the case but its not a hot card.
January 22, 2011 7:21:00 PM

Thanks Simon, useful to know. Still not 100% decided on the graphics card.

Motherboards - I've found two that interest me. Both have USB3 and SATA6.0 and cost about £69, which seems to be the starting point for mobos with these two features. I was wondering if anyone here had any suggestions relating to them or could suggest another motherboard at a similar (or cheaper :-) ) price range with these attributes.

The MSI 870A-G54 - £68 -

or the ASUS M4A87TD/USB3 - £70 -

They both look near-identical in features. As a bonus, both include core-unlocking which, given I've decided a Athlon II X3 would be better value, is something I may use.

Anyone have any comments or experience with either of these?