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$350-400 Home Desktop build

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March 30, 2011 2:32:52 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Today or tomorrow


Budget Range: $350- 400


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Internet use, Gaming, P2P, Watching movies at good (not necessarily awesome) quality, Microsoft Office usage


Parts Not Required: Windows 7 (I have both 32 and 64 bit), Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical USB, keyboard (dunno model), Monitor (Princeton)


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Country of Origin: USA


Parts Preferences: Eh...I prefer to use AMD because its cheaper...


Overclocking: No


SLI or Crossfire: No


Monitor Resolution: 1024x768


Additional Comments: I would like to play Starcraft II and Portal 2. I am not sure if the Power Supply fits or not. Here is what I am considering:

COOLER MASTER Elite RC-310-BWN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EARS 1.5TB 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock 880GMH/USB3 R2.0 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Basiq BP430 430W Continuous Power ATX12V Version 2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Value Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBNT
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor HDX840WFGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER DK9-7E52A-0L-GP CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Will all these parts fit together?
If not, could you please recommend a replacement (especially for the power supply or heat sink?
Am I missing any parts?
Should I buy warranty on any of these parts?
Will this computer be able to do gaming well (games like Portal 2 and Starcraft 2)?
March 30, 2011 3:37:09 AM
March 30, 2011 3:49:55 AM

I dont necessarily want you to give me parts, I just wanna know if the parts I have chosen work together and whether or not they will be able to play Portal 2 and SCII on low grpahics settings
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March 30, 2011 4:44:03 AM

The parts you've chosen will work, but they're bad choices. You should be open to suggestions.

Do you have a Micro Center nearby?
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March 30, 2011 4:53:28 AM

^+1

You could check out my build guide for 450$, they'd give you a better route.
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March 30, 2011 5:32:22 AM

There is a Fry's nearby, not sure what a micro center is
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March 30, 2011 6:50:30 AM

No, I don't have a micro center nearby, though that looks like a great deal :( 
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March 30, 2011 7:32:08 AM

Do you have a best friend that lives near a Micro Center? Because it's still saving you $80 if you can inconvenience somebody. If not, you'll have to do something else.

If you expand your budget to $450, you could probably still pull of an i3-2100 build on Newegg.

JoeAdams build isn't bad, but you should get a Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB HDD, a Radeon 5770, and 1600MHz CL9 DDR3. Same prices as those parts, better performance.

You should order the Spinpoint F3 1TB while it's $55 on Newegg today.

I'd consider a CPU upgrade to the 3.2GHz version too.
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March 30, 2011 6:51:08 PM

Try to get a graphic card if u want SC2. on board gonna be lol
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March 30, 2011 7:27:04 PM

Although the HD5770 generally outperforms the GTS450, check benchmarks for the specific Blizzard title Starcraft II; their games seem to favor nVidia cards. With a monitor resolution of only 1024x768 though, the game may be playable on AMD's integrated HD4250. It may be worth trying, then using how much improvement is needed to help decide on a GPU upgrade.
To answer the OP's specific question, the only part I don't like in it is the 430W Basiq; that's perhaps the one Antec PSU I've seen get only mediocre reviews. The 380W Earthwatts for $40 would be better.
The selected CPU comes with a cooler, so with no plans to overclock, it isn't necessary to buy a separate CPU cooler. That money, plus another $5 from the less expensive (but better) PSU could go toward a graphics card. With that resolution, a $70-$75 (before MIR) HD5670 would be a good, inexpensive choice. If you're planning a near-term monitor upgrade though, you'd probably want a HD5770 or GTX460 instead, which are $130 or $150 respectively, again before MIR.
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March 30, 2011 11:43:53 PM

Newegg prices:
$83: AM3 mobo
$110: Phenom II x4 840 (which is actually an Athlon II w/ misleading marketing)

$125: i3-2100
$70: MSI H61M-E33 (B3)

You match or beat a Phenom II x4 970 (stock) performance with the i3-2100 build. And it can be upgraded to any Sandy Bridge (or Ivy Bridge) 1155 CPU. I don't see how anyone can recommend the first option.

The integrated graphics should be able to play plenty of games at 1024x768 on medium/low settings. If you're strapped for cash, try it out before you buy graphics. If you can afford an extra $15, I'd say grab a mobo with two PCI-e slots (like this Gigabyte: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...).
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March 30, 2011 11:55:37 PM

CPU: $125 i3-2100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mobo: $85 GIGABYTE GA-H61M-D2P-B3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM: $45 Geil 4GB (2x2GB) 1600MHz CL9 (run at 1333 CL7) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: $45 Corsair CX600 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
HDD: $55 Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case: $35 Anything (more airflow the better)

EDIT: You could also consider this 430W Corsair http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... It won't handle powerful graphics cards, but you should do fine with a Radeon 6850 or so (double check that). I'd get the more expensive PSU because it could handle two midrange graphics, allowing this rig to be easily upgraded down the road.

I'd get this $40 Zalman case ($10 shipping): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... if I couldn't find the Antec 300 Illusion for a good price. You can get cheaper cases. But I'd get one with decent airflow. This one could stand to have a side mounted fan added.

This build would be functional at $330 (above parts, w/ $40 case) + shipping, but you'd want to graphics down the line. It would probably handle dual 6870's nicely (http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp)
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March 31, 2011 12:04:34 AM

^ Nice I have a similar build on my site Dalauder :D  Just updated.
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March 31, 2011 12:31:28 AM

Nice, dalauder, except that you are including MIRs in your prices. Those are dicey at best. Unfortunately, the $60 ASRock board I'd normally suggest here is out of stock, but the AMD board is still only going to be $70. The CPU is $80, not $110. No one is suggesting that an i3 would not be the stronger chip, possibly by a significant margin. On a rock bottom budget though, an AMD build will get the job done. Here's an example:

Rosewill R102-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Model #:R102-P-BK
Item #:N82E16811147111
$29.99 $29.99
Neat little case. I just built in one of these this past weekend.

BIOSTAR A880G+ AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Model #:A880G+
Item #:N82E16813138283
$69.99 $69.99
Not my first choice, but has solid caps.

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
Model #:EA-380D Green
Item #:N82E16817371033
$59.99 -$15.00 Instant $44.99
Quiet, solid, efficient, and capable.

AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX450WFGMBOX
Model #:ADX450WFGMBOX
Item #:N82E16819103886
$79.99 $79.99
Has been shown in SBM articles to be perfectly capable of playing games. May unlock.

G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNS
Model #:F3-10600CL9D-4GBNS
Item #:N82E16820231394
$39.99 $39.99
Meh. I've used it; it works.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Model #:ST3500418AS
Item #:N82E16822148395
$49.99 -$10.00 Instant $39.99
Nice drive at a great price.

LITE-ON DVD Writer - Bulk - Black SATA Model iHAS224-06 LightScribe Support - OEM
Model #:iHAS224-06
Item #:N82E16827106333
$20.99 $20.99
Meh. One DVD writer is much like another. This one has Lightscribe.

Subtotal: $325.93

Doesn't count shipping, but leaves $75 in the budget, which would just fit a HD5670: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is $73 before $10 MIR.

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March 31, 2011 3:23:18 AM

jtt283, what you said is true. But I have trouble recommending a build that I know to be so much weaker.

Also, a Spinpoint F3 1TB at $55 should still be the recommended HDD, regardless of the $15 savings. He can just go hungry for two random days out of the month and it's worth it.

The $5 extra on the RAM is worth it in my book.

My 430W PSU option is cheaper than yours and adequate for low budget builds.

The $70 MSI H61M-E33 (B3) motherboard is a viable option I mention.

Oh, I forgot the DVD--I'm pretty sure you can go cheaper than $21 though.

I included $35 for a case just like yours. But I recommended a case I liked MUCH better for $40 + shipping.

But the real difference between our two builds is this:

Do you want a dead-end mediocre build? Or do you want a solid build with upgradeability to be good for the next 4 years? The better build runs you roughly $50 more initial + upgrades though.
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March 31, 2011 12:58:09 PM

An i3 is stronger, of course, but if this comes down to budget, it may not be an option.
I've only installed a dozen or so of them, but I've noted no subjective difference in "feel" between the Seagate 7200.12 and the Spinpoint F3. Benchmarks show them trading; again where budget counts, the cheaper of the two is the better choice.
The smaller Corsair isn't a bad PSU, and the JG review was good, but I know the EA-380D is a very good PSU. If budget decides, the Corsair wins; I'll admit a strong personal bias for the EA though; I've used lots of them with no failures or DOAs.
DVD drives seem to have crept up a little lately. You could give up Lightscribe and save maybe a dollar.
Case is such a personal preference item. To me, that Zalman looks a lot better than the Rosewill, but I just did another trouble-free build in one this weekend so at this budget I'd keep it.
In any case, the "dead-end" argument died when the fastest CPUs available were P4s. An i5-2500K runs rings around any AM3 CPU, but an AM3 CPU can easily handle any home user's needs. A sledgehammer hits a lot harder, but a fly squished by a crab mallet is equally dead.

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March 31, 2011 9:49:41 PM

@jtt283 You're right, budget may end up controlling. And in the interest of budget, he should get the Corsair 430W if that means the i3-2100.
I do have a strong personal bias for Spinpoint F3's. I own three. And even with the time lost to initializing my RAID array, I haven't seen another computer boot Windows 7 as fast (~35 seconds).
"Dead-end" still applies because a $100 upgrade will keep the computer useful for an extra two years. My Athlon 64 x2 5000+ used to do everything you could want. The only reason it doesn't is because things are written to use more CPU resources since most CPUs can handle it. The same will be true for Athlon II x3's in two years. By then, it'll be a 4 year old CPU.

Considering the OP was willing to spend $193 on a mobo & CPU, I still have to recommend $195 on an i3 & mobo.
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March 31, 2011 10:46:04 PM

^ I still say i3 2100!
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March 31, 2011 11:46:41 PM

I've made this comment in a couple of other threads today. That doesn't make it any more valid, but at least I'm consistent :-); I browsed through all of the Anandtech CPU benchmarks in the gaming category. With very few exceptions (like Starcraft II), almost every game could be played with high settings on a miserable little Athlon II X2 255. That doesn't mean I'm suggesting that chip, but it does mean that an overclocked, expensive CPU/cooler/mobo is not needed to play games. My own budget when I build isn't so tight that I'm limited to AMD, but if the OP's is, I don't think he's going to suffer for it.
I can think of another strong point in favor of an Intel build: support for SLI, but I don't know if that will ever be relevant for this PC. Time has a tendency to assign additional tasks to a PC, or in other ways the PC takes on additional roles. An upgrade path is one way to deal with this, but so is the "repurpose old PC + build new PC" approach. The former favors Intel, the latter the cheapest AMD. So, in addition to budget, there's another decision for the OP to make. How upgradable does this PC need to be, or will it be passed on (perhaps to a school-age child) when it can no longer handle modern games | applications?

Edit: Looking again at the thread title, and through the thread and not finding a budget revision, I just don't see fitting an i3 into a $400 budget, especially with any hope of including a GPU.
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March 31, 2011 11:57:12 PM

I can't justify a two-year old underperforming chip over a new good chip IF the purchaser can afford it--especially considering the purchaser may want to try it with integrated graphics to start. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Intel HD 2000 beats a Radeon 4250 quite handily.

And there's only a $40 difference between the Athlon II x3 and the i3-2100. If the $40 is a deal breaker, go with the cheap AM3. OP, what say you?
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April 1, 2011 12:17:46 AM

^ Well w/ 450$ I fit the i3 2100 into the build. Just saying.
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