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Newbie build- $500- need advice please

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May 29, 2011 7:58:28 AM

Hi there y'all!

I'm just a mom trying to save some money and get something more current. Currently using a 10 y.o. e-Machines computer that is limping dragging along. Previously used a friends' 2005 Compaq that blew it's mobo. These two computers worked fine to allow my savings to grow but now it is time to get something decent.

I have looked at guides and other builds and did some research but hopefully you who have the awesome experience can offer feedback. So, here we go. . .


Approximate Purchase Date: in the next week, possibly on 5/31/11

Budget Range: $500- $600 Before Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Games (Maplestory, Monkeyquest, Sims, Fable 3 and whatever else looks good), music, movies, homework. Eventually e-publishing, online business. Frequently would have 3 or 4 apps going at once.

Parts Not Required: monitor, keyboard, mouse,
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Tiger Direct, Amazon, no access to Microcenter
Country of Origin: U.S.A

Parts Preferences: AMD to save money but with an eye towards Bulldozer, (really though, whatever brand to accomplish the following: save money, be current but not necessarily cutting edge and upgradeable over the next 5 or more years) Light Scribe DVD burner

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: not a big deal, have an older flat screen.

Additional Comments: Free Shipping; Quiet would be nice but not a dealbreaker; Keeps Cool; dual OS (Windows and Ubuntu). Some suggestions for a better keyboard and mouse as I have stuff that came with pre-built models. I know a student to get Win7 but a friend has XP and I have e-Machines XP discs that are loaded with crap but will do if need be.

It needs to grow as my kids grow: 7 y.o. girl, 10 y.o girl, 12 y.o boy, 2 y.o cat. You can see it will get a workout. I don't have a need for Firewire or HDMI for now but would be nice to have the option. Core unlocker mobo just because it might be fun. Might be able to salvage the DVD burner and the card reader from the 2005 Compaq if it will help.

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This is what I have so far:

AMD Athlon II X4 645 Propus 3.1GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor ADX645WFGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock 890FX DELUXE5 AM3+ AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100293DP Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card w/ Eyefinity
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ ModXStream Pro 500W Modular High Performance Power Supply compatible with Intel Sandybridge Core i3 i5 i7 and AMD Phenom
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony Optiarc 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 CD/DVD Burner LightScribe Support - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, option Fans-2x Side 120mm Fan
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PNY XLR8 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model MD4096KD3-1600-X8
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Total: $580.92
- MIR -$50.00

Grand total: $530.92

Still need to budget an OS.

Thanks for your help!
May 29, 2011 9:25:53 AM

Also have a problem So if anybody has time to answere my question. I want to buy a new PC around winter because i dont have enough money to do it right now then i will be able to spent som 1500 $ on it.

Right now i have

Asus P5LD2
Intel Core 2 CPU 6300@1.86
3 GB Ram
Win 7
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT Gigabyth

Would it help for me and is it good to buy Palit 240 GT maybe or something below 70$

Thx in advance,

Marko Car
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May 29, 2011 1:58:47 PM

carmarko, don't hijack this thread. Start your own thread if you have your own question to ask.

NotANerd - You won't save any money building a PC yourself if your budget is at $500. You'd be better off buying a pre-built PC because those are mass produced so the manufactures can give better deals than if someone was to piece that same computer together on their own. You're already over your $500 budget and don't have an operating system which is about another $100 for Windows 7 Home.

Back in the day you could save money building your own PC, but that just isn't the case anymore. Honestly you should be looking for a PC with a good warrenty in case something goes wrong. You don't sound like the type of person that wants to deal with troubleshooting dead components and RMAing those dead units back for replacements. That is the reality of building your own PC.

Just get a dell or something similar, now that you know what kinds of components to look for you can shop much more wisely and really that's all you need in order to save some money when buying a PC. If you really want to save money you need to increase your budget and get a PC that will last before being so quickly outdated. $500 would be a good budget for a tablet, but not a desktop PC you want to last a long time. Buying cheap now will cost more in the long run after replacing parts as they become outdated or fail from low quality. Spend about $1500 or so and it should last a good 3-5 years or more depending on what your needs are.
May 29, 2011 2:14:23 PM

aaron88_7 said:
carmarko, don't hijack this thread. Start your own thread if you have your own question to ask.

NotANerd - You won't save any money building a PC yourself if your budget is at $500. You'd be better off buying a pre-built PC because those are mass produced so the manufactures can give better deals than if someone was to piece that same computer together on their own. You're already over your $500 budget and don't have an operating system which is about another $100 for Windows 7 Home.

Back in the day you could save money building your own PC, but that just isn't the case anymore. Honestly you should be looking for a PC with a good warrenty in case something goes wrong. You don't sound like the type of person that wants to deal with troubleshooting dead components and RMAing those dead units back for replacements. That is the reality of building your own PC.

Just get a dell, now that you know what kinds of components to look for you can shop much more wisely and really that's all you need in order to save some money when buying a PC.
Tottaly 100% disagree, if the budget is in the $300, yes going prebuilt does make sense.
May 29, 2011 2:18:07 PM

zooted said:
Tottaly 100% disagree, if the budget is in the $300, yes going prebuilt does make sense.

Who sells a desktop PC for $300? If you list some PC specs and the prices to build it out I'm sure I could find a comparable pre-built PC with a manufacturers warranty.

The original poster does not sound like the type of person that wants to deal with failed PC parts so the warranty would hold higher value to this person than experienced PC builders. Gotta look at the big picture here, she sounds like a normal mom, but if this mom wants to explore her geeky side then by all means build away!
May 29, 2011 9:40:20 PM

Thanks for replying! To answer a couple of questions-

Pre-builts have their problems too. As in carrying the thing back to Best Buy for the upteemth time every time something goes wrong. That gets expensive. Both pre-builts have had over- heating problems as well as graphics problems. So even if I got a computer for $500 I'd still have to get a graphics card to be able to play the kind of games my kids would like. Might even have to replace the PSU and install a fan.

Budget- I have a max of $600. Even then most of the reviews for computers in that price range have said they were not really worth the money, especially with graphics.

aaron88_7, what I want is a system that will grow more easily with my family. Can you upgrade a CPU on a pre-built? You are right in that knowledge is a good thing. I would like to point out that Mom's are more capable than you think. ;) 

When the last computer shut down, I opened the case, took a look around and was fascinated. it's pretty cool in there. I might not know nor understand everything right now but in time I will. Besides, how cool would it look to my kids to be able to troubleshoot and possibly fix a computer? :D  :lol: 
I have a friend taking computer classes right now who I have asked for assistance. He has always tinkered with computers.

zooted, thanks for your support!

omar954, Thanks for your suggestion. I knew that motherboard was too much but I was kind of tired when I researched the parts. I will look at your option.

But really guys, if building your own computer doesn't give you better results, then why do so many people suggest otherwise? Every guide I have read has decried manufacturer quality and how they are ripping you off. Is that not the case anymore?
May 29, 2011 10:18:16 PM

The only reason aaron88_7 recommended a prebuilt was because he thought you were in over your head and you had no idea what you were doing. But, it seems like you are very interested in building a PC and you have a friend who can help you. Building your own computer is still way better than buying a prebuilt so go ahead and build it yourself.
May 29, 2011 11:20:29 PM

Thanks omar954. Good to know I'm not wasting time.

If there was assurance that a pre-built computer was almost as good as building your own, I'd do that. Much easier to go to the store and take it home. However, those units have ended up costing me more money and the cpu's were outdated within 3 years. There was nothing I could do to upgrade except a graphics card. Not to mention overheating. So when I stumbled upon a guide that argued build your own was superior, even if it's extreme budget, that got me thinking.

Just now I saw some i-5 2400 SandyBridge computers on sale for $800-1000 and they put an ATI 5450 graphics card. Couldn't find it in the graphics card hierarchy so have no idea how good it is. 16x DVD burner is adequate but newegg has 24x burners for $22. I dunno but things don't add up right.

K, enuff ranting. If someone could show me a quality pre-built that would allow for games and web design for $600, I'd take it. Until then I'll research some more.
May 29, 2011 11:28:52 PM

i can sell you a pc i built last month for $350 shipped that hasnt seen much use so i need to unload it in order to pay for some college bills

im dan4patriots7 on ebay and i have 100% feedback


Here are the specs

Intel Core i3 2100 3.1 Ghz - this is one of the newest Processors from Intel
4 GB DDR3 CAS 7 GSkill Ripjaws
EVGA NVIDIA GTS 450 1 GB GDDR5
AsRock H61M U3S3 - features USB 3 and SATA 3 which are the latest standards
500GB SATA Hard Drive
DVD Burner w/Lightscribe
Antec 430 Watt Earthwatt Power Supply
Coolermaster Elite 341 Case
May 30, 2011 1:13:56 PM

NotANerd said:
But really guys, if building your own computer doesn't give you better results, then why do so many people suggest otherwise? Every guide I have read has decried manufacturer quality and how they are ripping you off. Is that not the case anymore?


I only recommend buying a pre-built computer to non-technical people. From your initial post I got the assumption that you only are looking to save money. You can save a little but not a lot really. I build my own not to save money but because I want to choose everything that goes in my PC. Most pre-built PC's may let you choose the amount of ram, but half of those sales clowns would have no clue how fast that ram runs at, let alone what the timings are. But as easy as I find it to build a PC I know that isn't the case for many others, so for them I wouldn't recommend they attempt to build one. You gotta enjoy working with computers to build one, so it takes a certain kinda person.

To flip things around a bit it's like when I talk about something wrong with my car and someone says I should just fix it myself because its easy. Well, if you are good with cars I'm sure it is easy, but I'm horrible with cars. I once had my engine opened up and spent all day trying to do what should have taken a 10-15 min max. I don't even like changing my own oil, I'd rather just pay $40 to Jiffy Lube so I can have my day off and do what I really want to do instead of getting oil all over myself. It's kinda the same with PC guys, I'm a gadget nerd so spending all day building a PC is something I get excited about whereas it might be stressful for others.

With that said I have seen some really good deals for pre-built PC's to the point that I've thought about picking one up myself. When I build my own PC I tend to spend more because I want all good quality parts in my system so naturally that pushes the price up. But I've definitely seen some good deals in the 500-700 range so I don't think it's correct that custom built PC's always give you more value. I think below $800 pre-built offer as good if not better quality (depending on brand obviously), but over that I think it's best to build your own if you can.

If you are interested in computers, however, then by all means let your inner geek out and build your own PC! I wasn't trying to discourage you at all. I do, however, think you would save more money by spending a little more on higher quality parts that can last longer so you don't need to upgrade as often. For example, that graphic card does not support crossfire so it might make more sense to get one that does so you could add a 2nd later on if you feel the need for more power. Of course that might mean that 500W power supply isn't going to be enough, so as you can see it's always difficult to plan for the future but this is why spending more early on tends to save you more over the long run.

The last time I spent a lot on a PC I built it lasted me for a long, long time. I had also built a cheaper one later on for my grandfather and that one quickly became outdated at a much faster pace. If you want to do any gaming I'd definitely get a different graphic card though.
May 30, 2011 1:23:55 PM

NotANerd said:
If there was assurance that a pre-built computer was almost as good as building your own, I'd do that. Much easier to go to the store and take it home. However, those units have ended up costing me more money and the cpu's were outdated within 3 years. There was nothing I could do to upgrade except a graphics card. Not to mention overheating.

I forgot to point out in my previous post that one thing to understand about CPU's is that if the socket changes you're pretty much stuck with whatever is available for that socket. This is what has made AMD very popular because Intel changes their sockets frequently. However, Intel also has some of the best performing CPU's and their newest 2500k and 2600k chips can overclock almost to 5Ghz with nothing but a simple aftermarket air cooler. While you may not be able to replace these in 3 years because there will be a different socket available, a good 4.5Ghz overclock should be plenty to last you until you are ready to upgrade with a new motherboard and socket.

I would highly recommend you consider an Intel 2500k chip if you can afford one. They run toe to toe in performance with AMD's current flagship 6 core chip. If you can wait AMD is about to release their new chip architecture called Bulldozer which will not work on older sockets. This is kind of a difficult time to build a PC because both Intel and AMD are transitioning into new chip architectures. If you can wait later this year you can see how well those perform, but I don't think you could go wrong with a 2500k. I think this would be worth it, you wouldn't need to worry about a new CPU for 3 years easily, if not more depending on what your uses are.
May 30, 2011 1:47:17 PM

She picked out an am3+ mobo which will support bulldozer.^
Not that I would recommend dropping that much on an AMD mobo when we truly dont know whats BD's performance will be like. But in all honesty, a 2100 will do fine for her budget.

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May 30, 2011 1:49:51 PM
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Sorry for so many posts....but I wanted to add my recommendations ;) 

Core i5 2500K - $224.99 (damn, these things were under $200 a few months ago!)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 - $46.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231438

ASUS P8P67-M PRO LGA 1155 Intel P67 - $149.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131707

CORSAIR CX500 V2 500W 80 PLUS Certified - $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027

Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive - $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Then you could use the DVD drive, GPU and Case you already selected and this would bring you to $678 and be a much, much better system. I'd still recommend getting a better GPU but I kinda added this up and forgot about that which is why you could go with a cheaper one until later on. If you don't need to do heavy gaming that one should be ok though.

Crap...just noticed I also forgot to include the OS.....I knew a Sandy Bridge system under $700 wouldn't be easy lol. Well anyway you kinda get the idea of what price range your looking at with a Sandy Bridge system. Remember, those chips can clock to 4.5Ghz easily, although you would want to replace the Intel stock cooler....but that's better than replacing the actual chip, right?
May 30, 2011 2:11:47 PM



Here is a 600$ Sandy Bridge build with windows 7 and a MUCH more powerful gpu.
May 31, 2011 10:37:18 AM

^^But that is only an i3 dual core and isn't able to be overclocked. The best reason to go with Sandy Bridge is to use a K series chip that she can over clock when she is ready for a good speed boost. Yea, it would be okay for right now, but it really wouldn't be optimal for gaming. She'd most likely want an upgrade even sooner than if she just spends a little more right now to go with a 2500k, which is rated as one of the best chips currently available for gaming. There just isn't a chip out there that gives you the best bang for your dollar than the 2500K.
June 1, 2011 4:43:18 AM

aaron88_7, your comments have been invaluable. They really got me thinking about priorities. I think your initial instincts were well founded as I wasn't really clear on my intentions. Over the weekend I saw so many deals on Sandy Bridge computers that I really wondered whether to put so much effort into building my own. It's going to take a lot of research as well as mechanical understanding. If I didn't have someone to help me I might not undertake such a task. However, this next computer needs to be as flexible as possible to last more than three years. Pre-builts seem to become obsolete pretty fast with limited upgrading options after the fact. Like I mentioned in other posts I haven't had good luck with retail computers.

I did a lot of reading this weekend. There is a lot to be excited about in computer world right now with the pending launch of llano and Bulldozer plus Intel announcing 22nm technology. It seems that If I can hold off a few months (who knows when Bulldozer will be available) it might be easier to see what is best. That would be a tall order but do-able.

Plus. . . . a cousin is going to help me out so now my budget is between $700-$800!!! Yeahhhh!!!

Quote:
Crap...just noticed I also forgot to include the OS.....I knew a Sandy Bridge system under $700 wouldn't be easy lol. Well anyway you kinda get the idea of what price range your looking at with a Sandy Bridge system. Remember, those chips can clock to 4.5Ghz easily, although you would want to replace the Intel stock cooler....but that's better than replacing the actual chip, right?
I like your submitted builds aaron88_7 they help a lot.

I have been taking a hard look at SB because the benchmarks have been so good. It seems that anything other than the i-52400K would be a waste, and it's easier affording a better cooler when it becomes necessary to overclock than replacing a mobo. Which is why I hope AMD can get their stuff together with that new motherboard with universal socket because that would be the ultimate value. From what I've read though, it's not looking good performance wise.

Under serious consideration is a SB laptop. There were a couple that used i-7 2xxx on sale for a little over $800 but I'm not sure about gaming with them. Okay, back to reading and researching since the game has changed with a couple hundred dollars more to invest.

Again thank you for all the great comments!
June 1, 2011 5:05:16 AM

aaron88_7 said:

With that said I have seen some really good deals for pre-built PC's to the point that I've thought about picking one up myself. When I build my own PC I tend to spend more because I want all good quality parts in my system so naturally that pushes the price up. But I've definitely seen some good deals in the 500-700 range so I don't think it's correct that custom built PC's always give you more value. I think below $800 pre-built offer as good if not better quality (depending on brand obviously), but over that I think it's best to build your own if you can.

If you are interested in computers, however, then by all means let your inner geek out and build your own PC! I wasn't trying to discourage you at all. I do, however, think you would save more money by spending a little more on higher quality parts that can last longer so you don't need to upgrade as often. For example, that graphic card does not support crossfire so it might make more sense to get one that does so you could add a 2nd later on if you feel the need for more power. Of course that might mean that 500W power supply isn't going to be enough, so as you can see it's always difficult to plan for the future but this is why spending more early on tends to save you more over the long run.

The last time I spent a lot on a PC I built it lasted me for a long, long time. I had also built a cheaper one later on for my grandfather and that one quickly became outdated at a much faster pace. If you want to do any gaming I'd definitely get a different graphic card though.

I totally understand what you mean about good deals especially if the computer has an i-5 2xxx or i-7 2xxx cpu, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD and Blu-Ray. Not so sure what the good brands are anymore though, it seems to change pretty fast.

I think I'm discovering an "inner geek". Surprising the H out of me! It's also an issue of control, not feeling like you are completely at the mercy of the computer companies and box stores. It seems that as long as you get the cpu and mobo correct at the outset, affording a second GPU and power supply doesn't seem like so much of a big deal. Even spending a couple of Benjamins on a new cpu would be better than forking over 8 or more for a new computer.

So on this mobo, ASUS P8P67-M PRO LGA 1155 Intel P67, the socket wouldn't fit an i-7? or are you saying that's as far as it could go since Intel likes to do major socket changes so frequently? Also, how do you find these combo deals on Newegg? I've only seen total package combo deals.
June 18, 2011 5:38:11 AM

Best answer selected by NotANerd.
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