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Best MB & CPU for $300-400

Last response: in Systems
March 11, 2011 3:10:50 AM

So I built my cousin an extreme budget computer a few years back and now he wants to upgrade. He has accquired some new parts in the last 2 years and wants to keep them so all he needs now is the best MB and CPU $300ish can buy. He would also like the best most stable wireless card (usb or pci) and the best multicard reader that goes into the 3.5 floppy slot. Currently his pc is as follows:

Case - Vintage (2001) Alienware cyber blue full tower. A case I gave to him after my Alienware fried... go figure. On the otherhand I an still using the laser mouse I bought from them 10 years ago lol.

OS - Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

Next 3 items will not be used in the new PC
MB - MSI k9n6pgm2
CPU - AMD Phenom 9600 quad-core Processor 2.31 GHz (black edition)
RAM - Generic 800MHz DDR2 2GB x 2

GPU - MSI Geforce 9600 GT
HDD 1 - Generic 160GB SaTa 8MB Cache (it litterally said generic when I bought it on ebay)
HDD 2 - SAMSUNG EcoGreen F2 HD154UI 1.5TB SATA
Display - LG Flatron W2243

A few questions about the build, my cousin wants to use his Generic 160GB just for Windows and the 1.5TB for everything else. Now I do not know what the 8MB Cache does but I do know it goes up to 64MB, so should he also invest in a better "main" drive, he says windows load times do not bother him, but will it be stable?

I wish I would have know how helpful this site was before I built my pc, but I do not want to make any mistakes with his. When I built mine I went ASUS all the way because its a name I trusted. But if you guys trust it and back it I'll follow suite (by "it" I mean anything not ASUS lol).

He allready has 16GB 4x4GB of G Skill 1600 DDR3 (got it the same time I did when newegg had it on sale for $75 per 2x4GB)
He wants the MB to be-able to handle 24GB just incase he wants to add 8GB more later.
As for a processor a 4 Core or more is a must for him.

So with all the has been said above, please let me know what the best MB and CPU I can get for him for $300-ish
Also whats is a great wireless adapter and multi card reader.
One more thing, he wants to sell the old MB, CPU and RAM as a combo, what would be a good asking price? I know they are old but for a non gamer they would work wonders.

More about : cpu 300 400

March 11, 2011 3:31:30 AM

Do you happen to live near a MicroCenter?
March 11, 2011 3:34:43 AM

Unfortunatly the closest one would be detroit mi, but thats about 200 miles away.
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March 11, 2011 3:52:54 AM

Oh, I missed the $300-$400 part. I was trying to hit $300ish.

This one would be better.

  • XIGMATEK 3.5" Internal 75 in 1 Card Reader 75 in 1 USB 2.0 Card Reader
  • Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
  • MSI P67A-C43 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
    TOTAL: $357 plus whatever you want to get for the wireless card.

    The one catch on that motherboard (aside from prices being higher than I would like) is that it doesn't support multiple graphics cards. Not sure if you were entertaining that thought of 2 video cards later or not, but worth mentioning.
    March 11, 2011 4:32:23 AM

    Ok so nevermind about the possibly wanting 24GB of RAM at some point in time. I can not find a single board on Newegg that supports more then 16GB... but I swear I saw one... maybe not.

    Both me and my cusin like AMD over INTEL, INTEL is overpriced and for the minor advantages you get with a INTEL (if any) over a AMD, I'd say not worth it. So lets refocus this post on the BEST AMD CPU & MB you can get for $300-ish.
    Unless some one can open my eyes to why a Intel Core i5-2500K for $220, would be better then a AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition for $10 more or even a AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition for $30 less.

    March 11, 2011 4:40:22 AM

    I personally do not like the Thubans. I've had 3 and been underwhelmed. 2 are sitting in my desk drawer in favor of 955s. Not sure what I'll do with the stupid things...

    My suggestion:

    I actually have 5 of those machines. I also have GSKILL running in all of them (of course I have no idea what GSKILL you actually have, your mileage may vary) That chip/mobo combo is also very forgiving to OC and tinker with.

    For your budget it's the best bang for the buck.

    ETA: the stock heatsink that comes with the 955 is absolute crap. If you need a cheap and functional (but not for heavy OCing or the like) option, these are pretty good for the money:

    And of course, this:

    March 11, 2011 11:23:53 AM

    No problem, we can recommend some AMD options as well, but there are a few things that you should consider before you decide.

    Travis4261 said:
    INTEL is overpriced and for the minor advantages you get with a INTEL (if any) over a AMD, I'd say not worth it.

    If you try to rely on a rock solid rule like that in the face of constantly changing technology then you're going to miss out.
    There have been, and will be, times when that was true. But now is not one of them.
    AMD still holds an advantage at lower price points, but in the range of processors that you're discussing they have not yet responded to the Sandy Bridge chips. That's not to say they won't, just that you're comparing one generation vs the next.

    Travis4261 said:

    Unless some one can open my eyes to why a Intel Core i5-2500K for $220, would be better then a AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition for $10 more or even a AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition for $30 less.[4788]=on&prod[4757]=on

    Aside from some benchmark tests here are some of the reasons why you should keep your Intel option open.
    1) The only places where the 1100T beats the 2500k is in heavily multi-threaded applications. Most applications, especially games, can't take advantage of more than 4 threads anyway. As gimmicky as it sounds, this 'turbo' feature on the sandy bridge chips (boosting clock of a single core during single-threaded applications) really does seem to work.
    Overall, the 2500k beats the 1100T.

    2) Not only does it beat the 1100T, but it does it with 4 cores on a 95w chip. That means it runs cooler, so overclocking headroom is greater. Speeds of 4GGHz are easy, 4.5 is common, and 5's have been reported but shouldn't be counted on. So overclock vs overclock the 2500 is going to leave the 1100T behind.

    3) The 1100T is the end of the line for that socket because Bulldozer comes out in June. So you'll never upgrade to a new CPU on that motherboard, while the LGA1155 socket is still early in it's life cycle.

    On a different topic, are you planning to do anything with that video card? AMD or Intel aside, we're talking about some incredibly powerful processors here. If we put them in there with 16G of RAM the PC is going to be crazy fast... but with a 9600 GT it still won't look any better.
    Don't get me wrong, if he's fine with the video card as is that's perfect because then he can wait and upgrade that later. But I'm not sure if he's expecting a lot better video performance with this CPU upgrade or not.
    March 11, 2011 5:38:21 PM

    Well I will have him take a look at this, right now it comes down to the $300.00 price point and the most bang for the buck. Yes he plans on getting a new video card once Diablo 3 is released. But with his current build of a Phenom 9600, 4GB of DD2 800 and the Geforce 9600GT he can play Starcraft 2 on max settings. So the only thing he is looking forward to is the future so having "future proof" options on a motherboard would be nice. Also what the heck is bulldozer? lol