$900 New Build

Hello Tomshardware community,

My trusty old Athlon 64/Geforce 7600GT PC seems to be breathing its last gasp as of today after a heroic career, so I'm tentatively looking to build a new PC. I have been keeping track of developments for a while, often through this site, and was sort of waiting to see what to make of Bulldozer but, ah...

Approximate Purchase Date: Around this week (tentative).

Budget Range: $1000 including ALL parts (monitors and other accessories), not hard limit but would rather not surpass.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, HD video, general purposes.

Parts Not Required: None.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I'm basing all this on's prices (first time purchaser!); might look for the exact same parts in the local Fry's if they're cheaper there though.

Country of Origin: USA

Overclocking: No/never will. I rarely buy computers so stability/longevity is paramount. That and it's hot around here.

SLI or Crossfire: No.


Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52400 $189.99

ASRock P67 EXTREME4 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $159.99

G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9D-8GBSR $79.99

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $64.99

SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity $169.99

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $59.99

COOLER MASTER Elite 430 RC-430-KWN1 Black Steel / Plastic Computer Case $49.99

Acer S201HLbd Black 20" 5ms LED-Backlight LCD monitor 250 cd/m2 ACM 12,000,000:1 (1000:1) $109.99

...might as well list everything...

Logitech Z523 40 Watts RMS 2.1 Speaker System $52.99

Microsoft Black PS/2 Wired Standard Business Hardware Pack $34.99

ASUS Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM $20.99

Total: $993.89 + Shipping

- I play a lot of single-core and/or CPU-heavy strategy games (Civ IV, Paradox games, etc.); my CPU vs. GPU tilt is therefore slightly different from the average gamer. Sandy Bridge's efficiency-per-clock and turbo mode are very desirable traits. And to think of my years with AMD... (goodness, Intel motherboards are expensive)
- How is the motherboard-CPU-GPU compatibility? What about the RAM? This is probably my biggest knowledge hole, and I hate surprises.
- Is a 430Watts Antec pushing it too close? Remember that I won't ever overclock or add another graphics card. Another harddrive however is not out of the question.
- In regards to GPU, I'm a longtime Nvidia user. Will the jump to AMD comes with driver problems? I like what I hear on the 6000 series, but an equivalent Nvidia card is not out of the question.
- The Coolermaster case comes with a fan. Do I need more?
- How's the noise of this system?
- Side question for anyone who knows: how's that Logitech speaker? I'm not an audiophile (can't afford to be one), but hey.
- Should I pick up the harddrive at the local Fry's instead of newegg? How is the packaging working out for the notoriously fragile part? DOA and RMA are not what I want to experience, if I could help it.
- I intend to get Windows 7 through Microsoft's Student Discount Upgrade [Is it still valid?], preferably the $30 Upgrade. I might find my old XP install CD, though I'd much prefer to clean install the "upgrade version" without inputting the serial, do the registry thing, and then input the serial...if that trick still works.

Thank you in advance for your advices!
8 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Hi,
    Damn fine first draft. You did an awesome job! There's really 2 glaring issues.

    One, save an easy $20 and get a nice increase in performance (yes, it's pretty confusing) grab this Sapphire 5850: It's actually better than the 6850!

    The other thing I notice is the CPU+mobo is kinda wonky. Are you planning to overclock? If so, pay the extra $30 (or if you live near microcenter save $10 :D ) for the 2500k, it's a huge performance boost if you overclock. If not you could grab a cheap H67 board, but you lose the ability to Crossfire.

    That PSU is a liiitttlle low, you should upgrade to it a brand name 500w. If you ever want to Crossfire, you will need a 650w-750w PSU.

    Your system right now is crossfire ready, I suggest you capitalize on it.

    Also, grab a 1080p monitor, they are $10-20 more.

    or, if you want a bigger psu

    consider this motherboard since you don't want to crossfire

    also, be sure to check amazon's prices as well, you can often save a few bucks
  3. ^ all solid suggestions. The crossfire ability is nice for a cheap upgrade, but if you don't wanna mess with it there's no need to get an expensive P67 board the the Extreme4. I don't really trust Z68 right now, but it's better than having a Micro ATX board. Those just look wonky in a full case.
  4. OP here,

    Thanks for the suggestions, striker410 and cmadrid! I didn't catch that the Acer monitor wasn't a 1080p; nice catch, and the other linked monitor is still remarkably cheap and with good reviews. Will change accordingly.

    The second linked motherboard is really appealing! A newer chipset and a cheaper price (I don't think debacles happen in doubles, do they Intel?) As I mentioned I don't intend to crossfire or overclock, so my primary concern with it is stability and compatibility. And indeed I did avoid looking at Micro ATX boards despite my low requirements because they're a little harder to set up properly in a full case, especially with the big AMD GPUs.

    Likewise I based my choice of the 2400 Sandy Bridge over the 2500K because I don't intend to overclock.

    As for the PSU, I based my choice on the Earthwatts' reputation and the Bronze certified factor. How is the Corsair stacking up? How about a bigger Earthwatts instead?

    Finally, the Sapphire 5850 is apparently out of stock. :( I'm impressed by the benchmark and the price tag (is this the 5850's last glory or something?), but will I be missing DX11 features that the 6000 series have and the 5000 doesn't? Future proofing and stuff like that.

    So the updated changes would look like this:

    Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green 500W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $59.99 [same price point for a bigger PSU of the same series? Well, why not?]

    ASRock Z68 PRO3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $119.99 [-$40]

    Acer S211HLbd 21.5'' 5ms LED-Backlight LCD Monitor Slim Design 250 cd/m2 12,000,000:1 (ACM) $129.99 [+$20]

    The 5850 Sapphire Extreme...may add if it's in stock.

    Total: $973.89

    It's looking prettier. You guys are awesome.
  5. Best answer
    Nice 2nd draft. BUY THAT RAM NOW! It's a total steal and won't be around for long. Order it by itself if you have to.

    Another forum member recently directed my attention at this board: Same price, supports Crossfire! (just in case :D)

    Also, P67 is a bit more tried and true than Z68. There is only one benefit on Z68 for gamers, and that's SSD caching which isn't all that useful.
    I personally would go tried and true, peace of mind.

    There is only really one difference between the Radeon 5xxx and 6xxx series, and that's wonky numbering and better crossfire scaling. There is also minor stuff like more efficient. Performance wise, the 5850 is a much better deal than the 6850. Even in crossfire, 2 5850's defeat the 6850's!
    But, it's out of stock :/

    If you can stretch the budget, grab a 560 ti, it will totally smoke anything. There's one for $189 after rebate, will fit snugly in your budget :)
  6. Alas, the Geforce 560ti is over my budget without mail-in-rebate, and I can't really count the mail-in part as the budget cost, upfront.

    So I decided to buy the PC right now with the 6850 (the 5850 is still out of stock :??: ). Oh, and I decided to go with the P67 board, the last recommended one, because I don't need Z68's SSD cache functionality, or the onboard graphics synch (I don't encode).

    Regardless, if everything comes in working condition I'll be having one lovely machine to waltz very soon.

    Thank you everyone!
  7. Best answer selected by Irenicus.
  8. If you can change the order, I suggest grabbing a cheap Gigabyte 6870, only about $15 more for quite a bit more performance. If you can't, no biggie. The 6850 is a MORE than capable card. Have fun!
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