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Advice with new build

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June 28, 2011 1:45:11 PM

Hi everyone!

I am going to be building a new desktop within the next week, so I would like to get some advice before I buy.

Budget: ~$500.

Purpose: general surfing the web, word processing, might do a bit of photo editing and whatnot. Mostly random stuff, though I might dab a little with VM's and server stuff - but nothing too intense.

I have all the other parts already (screen, mouse, keyboard), only need to build tower.

Preferred sites: newegg, tiger direct, J and R


Parts I have considered:
  • CPU
    AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX445WFGMBOX2

    Note: I would like to try to unlock 4th core if possible. If not, then it is still good.
  • Case
    Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

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

    This comes with the necessary cables, right?

  • RAM
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM

    There are deals for slightly better RAM modules right now, but I don't think I will be overclocking that much in terms of speed.

  • HDD
    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    Does this come with a SATA cable?

    ASUS 24X DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS - OEM

  • Motherboard
    BIOSTAR A880G+ AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

  • Random wireless thing:
    Rosewill RNX-G1 IEEE 802.11b/g A-Type USB 2.0 Wireless Black Dongle w/ External 2dBi SMA Antenna Up to 54Mbps Wireless Data Rates 64/128bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, 802.1x and 802.11i

    Total (after tax/shipping) is at $412. I realize I still have the room in my budget, but really would like to keep the cost low.

    Main things I would like to be sure of before I buy:
    1. I am not sure if these items have all the cables I need. If anyone's bought these items before, it would be nice to know if I need to get extra cables.
    2. Is the PSU enough if I were to get a graphics card in the future? Just for reference, if I were to get a graphics card for it, it would be at max a GTX 460 768mb card. If it isn't enough, not a big deal, I just won't upgrade graphics card.
    3. I have a Windows XP 64 bit sitting around somewhere. That will work well with this stuff?

    Thanks for reading. :) 
  • More about : advice build

    a b B Homebuilt system
    June 28, 2011 2:06:39 PM

    You are on the right track and have good hardware listed. The build below is for comparison... Note that an AM3+ motherboard will give you better CPU upgrade options down the road. The 430w power supply will handle a modest GPU like the GTX 460 or HD 6850, but I would opt up for a 500w / 550w for good measure.

    "Bare Drive" will not come with a SATA cable so plan on picking one up if the HD you go wtih is listed this way.

    Don't mess around with WinXP 64-bit as you will run into software and driver issues. Best to opt up to Win7 64-bit (Home Premium).


    Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2GHz - $114
    Motherboard: GIGABYTE AM3+ SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 - $105
    Graphics Card: Onboard HD 4250
    RAM: CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 1.65v 7-8-7-20 - $45
    Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 RPM - $65
    Case: APEX Black Steel mATX Tower - $30
    Case Fan: KINGWIN 120mm 40CFM @ 19dBA - $7
    Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 430W - $45
    DVD Burner: ASUS 24X DVD Burner Black - $20

    $431
    June 28, 2011 3:45:22 PM

    This computer is built with no future upgrades planned. I do not have a spare Windows 7 64 bit sitting around, so that upgrade will be a bit expensive. Since I am not going to be doing anything too drastic (my hardware is not too specific and I don't plan on putting too much on it in terms of software), do you think I might be able to get away with the WinXP 64 bit?
    Related resources
    June 28, 2011 4:29:32 PM

    You don't want XP. Its old, very old. The only people still rocking XP is 14 year olds who just got into computers and think XP is the best OS ever made. Sadams has a solid build if you don't game that would fit your budget fine. You said ~$500 and its clearly less than $500.
    June 28, 2011 5:14:23 PM

    BohleyK said:
    Sadams has a solid build if you don't game that would fit your budget fine. You said ~$500 and its clearly less than $500.


    It is not less than $500 when I have to buy Windows 7. I have a spare WinXP key sitting around, which is why I want to use it. In addition, I don't have any complaints about his build, it looks good. Like he said, it is just for comparison.
    a b B Homebuilt system
    June 28, 2011 5:30:44 PM

    A combination of those two builds should be able to get you at $500 with the OS license. For example, my build with your X3 445 shaves off $40. Also, since you stated this PC won't be upgraded... You can swap the AM3+ motherboard with an AM3 board (like you listed) and further save some money. I would look for an ASUS or Gigabyte board with integrated HD 4250. The ASUS below would shave another $25.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Play around with the parts... Getting under / at $500 with the OS cost shouldn't be much of a problem.
    June 28, 2011 5:47:27 PM

    Is there a specific type of motherboards that I should get to see if I could unlock the 4th core on that X3 445?

    Seems like you both like Win7 a lot. I guess I should squeeze it in there.
    a b B Homebuilt system
    June 28, 2011 5:50:40 PM

    Look for "Core Unlocker", or similar, in the description. ASUS will be listed like:

    Core Unlocker
    - ASUS Core Unlocker simplifies the activation of a latent AMD CPU. Enjoy an instant performance boost by simply unlocking the extra cores, without performing complicated BIOS changes

    Keep in mind that unlocking cores is a bonus. Don't count on it...
    June 28, 2011 5:52:08 PM

    It has more to do with the chip than the board. You need a good board of coarse but the chip needs to have the extra core to begin with. Its 50/50 on unlocking. Probably less now since its been so long since release.
    a b B Homebuilt system
    June 28, 2011 5:59:30 PM

    *sigh*

    I agree that you should switch to an Am3+ board simply to be able to upgrade it latter, but it's up to you. For a cheap case with that budget I think this Xigmatek is best

    Xigmatek ASGARD II $30
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    There is also a model with black trim and one with silver. As for getting a GPU the GTX 460 is a bit power hungry for that PSU and while you should be fine, stressing the PSU with that may shorten it's life a little ^_^ and on the AMD side you may want to look at the 6850. If you go with the Xigmatek case you'd have enough for a power miserly Radeon 5770 1GB and still be under budget :D .
    a b B Homebuilt system
    June 28, 2011 6:00:59 PM

    Oh yeah, pay attention to what they say about the standoffs for the Xigmatek case, it's a good case but the standoffs are a pain ^_^. If you read toms $500 builds you'll see they have been using this case lately and they have the same comment.
    !