Help deciding on Barebone System From Tiger Direct

I realize many of you hardcore folks are going to poo poo the idea of me doing this at all, however I am still seeking advice. I am replacing my basic home desktop PC - currently a Compaq SR1722X P4 machine. I actually run this desktop headless and remote into it via RDP. It serves as a storehouse for my photos, documents, videos and banking, so it's requirements are low. That said, lately I have been doing more encoding of video so decided I wanted to upgrade the system - hence looked at these barebones systems at tigerdirect because they are so darned inexpensive. This is where I'm at - see below:

I'm down to FIVE systems (via here)

TWO Gigabyte, TWO Biostar, ONE MSI

1,2: Gigabyte deals - both based on M68MT mobo, same memory (Corsair 4GB DDR3)
Differences - Seagate 1TB HD ($279.99) vs WD 500GB HD ($299)
Both are AMD Phenom II - one is x4 840 CPU ($279) vs other is x6 1055T CPU ($299)
The $279 system has nicer case and power supply (550W) - the $299 system has the cheaper DiabloTek case and 450W power supply
BTBL: For $20 more, I get six core CPU, however sacrifice 500GB in hard drive space and crappier case and power supply - the crappier case and PS may be relevant as the diablotek only has two internal 3.5" drive bays.

3,4: Biostar deals - Very similar, but mobo and memory are different. Both use AMD Phenom II x4 805CPU, seagate 1TB hard drive and Thermaltake V4 Black Edition case with 450 power supply. Both are $299.
Item 1: Biostar A880GU3 with Corsair 4GB DDR3
Item 2: Biostar N68S3B GeForce with Patriot 8GB memory (2 x 4GB)
BTBL: Seems intuitive that if I were to pick either one of these, I'd pick the one with 8GB memory - will have to look at details of the mobos. The mobo with 8GB memory is clearly not as "nice" but I dont know what that means yet.

5. Lastly the MSI - 785GTM-E45, AMD Phenom II x4 920CPU, patriot 4GB (2 x 2GB), Seagate 1TB, Thermaltake V3 Black Edition Case, Diablotek 550W PSU. Not sure what the draw would be to this one. Unless the mobo or chip are better for some reason. It's also $299.

Lastly, Each of the 3 uses a different 4 core processor (excluding the 6 core on the 2nd Gigabyte) - The 840, the 805 and the 920. This is the wiki on it which honestly is out of my league with regard to understanding:

Thanks to anyone in advance for your help in reviewing these!
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  1. Hey there, welcome to the forums.

    My suggestion is get NONE of them. They ship with low quality parts at a high price.
    I would suggest you look at the combo's, they come with higher quality parts and give big discounts.

    I also hope you realize that most of the combo's from tiger direct do not come assembled, essentially nullifying the reason to get one.

    lastly, please fill out this form.
    We can help you decide on a system once we have some general information.
  2. the key flaw in these builds is the power supply. you just dont want those PSU's in your system. the cost of replacing the psu with a better one generally negates the combo savings, making it cheaper and better to hand pick your parts. If you fill out the form as striker suggested, we can help you pick these parts to give you the best performance/price. Please pay particular attention to your needs and the parts you do not require.
  3. I will have a look at Newegg as well as fill out the form as described.

    I do know they come unassembled and won't have any problems putting them together.

  4. Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP

    Budget Range: (e.g.: 600-800) 300 or less after rebates

    System Usage from Most to Least Important: Video encoding, data storage

    Parts Not Required: (e.g.: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS) - keyboard, mouse, monitor, video card, OS

    Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg

    Country of Origin: (e.g.: Grand Fenwick): USA

    Parts Preferences: by brand or type: MONE

    Overclocking: Maybe

    SLI or Crossfire: No

    Monitor Resolution: N/A

    Additional Comments: Basic PC as described above. Will be installing Windows 7 on it (32bit or 64bit depending). Predominately used as a headless PC - data storage, banking, video encoding.
  5. Best answer
    Ok, sounds like a basic PC... Here's what I came up with.

    CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz $70

    Mobo: ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD $55

    PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D $40

    Ram: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $40

    HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB $65

    Case: APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $30

    That comes to $300 even.

    It's a very balanced build, probably even a little overkill for your needs.

    I actually have multiple hard drives already and could probably forgo the hard drive purchase.

    I could also probably just use the Compaq case

    That would save an additional $95 - if so, would you put that towards a better processor? Or....
  7. Thats why you fill out the form. Do you live near a microcenter ( ?
  8. No, no microcenters in Florida.
  9. mrredpants said:

    I actually have multiple hard drives already and could probably forgo the hard drive purchase.

    I could also probably just use the Compaq case

    That would save an additional $95 - if so, would you put that towards a better processor? Or....

    Lol, once you do this a couple times you know what to look for.
    Anyway, could you post the specs on the hard drives? I want to make sure they are compatible. Also, what kind of case is it? The case does more than hold parts, it also is important for cooling.

    And you don't need a better processor. This triple core is enough to do some hardcore gaming if you see fit. What you are missing is a video card. Although you aren't gaming, it's something to consider if you ever decide to.
  10. The case would be the Compaq one that comes with the SR1722x - I attached a picture however I realize that's not much use to you. I have a plethora of cooling fans that I can install as needed.

    The hard drives - currently installed:
    1. Hitachi HDS721010CLA332
    2. SAMSUNG HD103SJ
    3. HDS728080PLAT20 - this currently has OS on it (XP Pro)

    I also have a variety of spare 250GB drives and others (from a windows home server build)

  11. wow, crapload of hard drives. Um, yeah. Most of them should work, however I see 2 that won't. Just use the sata ones.

    And by the way, I would load the OS on the Spinpoint. I have an F3, and that thing is SCREAMIN fast.
    You will have to reinstall the OS anyway, so I would move it to the F3.

    I assume you don't wish to use all these, correct? Otherwise we made need a new case to hold them all. The mobo can support 5 hard drives and 1 optical drive (6 in any combo).
  12. No no, I dont want to use them all! I took that picture to prove my geek-ness and posted it on facebook. I will likely use the two 1TB that I have and maybe one more for the OS - although you're saying put the OS on the samsung so maybe I'll just do taht and partition it. So, if I were to upgrade one of your recommendations with the saved cash, what do you think?
  13. Well since you don't game, I would put the money towards a better motherboard. The one I linked is OK, but it does not have USB 3.0 or sata III. This means that you will be limited in the future, meaning it'd be bottlenecking an SSD or can't use the newest flash drives/external devices.

    The other thing I would do is get a video card. That's just me though :p (PC gaming is FTW)
  14. Thanks for all your help, I'll give it a shot! And no time for gaming my friend.
  15. In that case, I suggest getting a mobo like this: It's very nice, has USB 3.0 and sata III, and has 7.1 surround audio built in! Pretty badass.
  16. Is it a coincidence many of the choices are the same as here:

    Or is it just that those are the right choices? I'm only asking because I was going to combine your advice with that of this system guide. Thanks!
  17. Haha, it's just coincidence. That's a good guide though.
  18. Here's my final system - using my current Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB

    The decisions where based on your recommendations as well as the Ars System Guide - Budget Box from March 2011

    1. Processor - AMD Athlon II X3 450 retail - both recommended by you and Ars = $70 ($10 off ending 6/8/2011)

    2. Motherboard - ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3 motherboard - this is board Ars has in their budget box and was the one recommended by you as an upgrade. (There are a lot of options between $60 and $100 as well. ) = $105

    3. Memory - G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1333 1.5v - you and Ars both recommended the same. I considered doubling to 8GB however it doubles the cost and I decided to put $$ towards case and PSU.

    4. Case and PSU - Antec NSK4482 - $90 - This is case recommended by Ars - however happens to have the same PSU you had recommended. So, nicer case with same power supply for about the same $$.

    Total = $319.95 with shipping

    I was going to add a tube of arctic silver but I presume the processor (OEM) comes with heatsink and thermal compound, no?

    Hopefully this thread will help someone in the future! (well NEAR future they way things go out of date week to week :))
  19. Looks good! And yes, the heatsink will come with thermal paste.

    I'm glad you got it all worked out.

    Here's a handy guide for building a PC:

    Have fun!
  20. OK, one last question

    I would really like to keep my two 1TB drives as data only (including the Samsung spinpoint F3) - I was originally going to partition it, however I'm reluctant. So, I'm trying to decide between these three drives to put the OS on.



    ST380023AS (don't think there's any reason to choose this 80GB drive)

    As I'm not doing any really heavy computing, I didn't think I would notice any big differences using one of these drives for the OS versus the spinpoint. I did my best researching these drives but they all seem to have the same general specs (300 MB/s, ATA 2.0, 7100, 8MB buffer)

    Thanks in advance.
  21. I think either will work.

    And there won't be a big difference for going with one of those vs. the spinpoint. I suggested the Spinpoint simply because it was the fastest drive you had, due to platter density. But yeah, either the 250 or 160 will work. It's only a matter of a few seconds.
  22. UPDATE:

    System built and happy as ever. If I were a true geek I'd be posting some sort of benchmark specs, but, alas.

    I thought I'd share a couple things for anyone with any kinds of similar problems:

    1. I installed Win 7 pro full - not an upgrade CD. I was using the 250GB sata drive. Every time I loaded it, the installer wouldn't see the hard drive. I tried the other 160GB hard drive and it couldn't see it either. I was concerned. But, I persevered. I loaded up a gparted live CD and formatted the 160GB drive (this is a shortened story) to NTFS and then Win7 saw it. Did the same with the 250GB drive and voila. I didn't think I needed to do that because I know Win 7 has it's own partitioning and formatting options during the install. What I didn't remember was that these two drives were pulled from a WHS 2010 box. Apparently WHS drive extender does something to the drive to make it hidden in Windows - even at the installation level. So, first problem fixed.

    2. Started installing and install would halt on Windows Starting Up....I tried everything and spent a lot more time trying to fix that one. Other hard drives, different installation disks, nothing would work. Finally I remembered I had turned on the core unlocking feature on the motherboard when I first did the build. Turned it OFF and I was off and running.

    Two lessons learned for anyone else out there.

    So, my last steps are to do some mobo BIOS tweaking and re-try that core unlocker now that I know a little more about it. I need to search this forum for anyone else with this mobo and processor to find optimal BIOS settings (if you know a link that would save me some searching, feel free!)

    That's it. Thanks for all the help. It was and is a fun build.
  23. Well I'm glad it all works!

    You might try setting the core unlocker to auto, and let it detect the dormant 4th core (if you have one) on it's own.
  24. Best answer selected by MrRedPants.
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