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Multipurpose build for $300-400

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July 13, 2011 9:21:58 PM

:hello:  Ok, so I've got two old towers that I've always hankered to rebuild just for the fun of building your own PC. I've used laptops since 2004 but my kids do a number on them physically. I like computers and I'm tech support for most of my family so I know a little--mostly software. I can add RAM, add PCI cards, simple stuff really. My husband is an electronics guy so he changes components and stuff at work but he's not the one that does that kind of thing at home. Once I get the components I could he would be able to help assemble.

I've looked at some of the systems you have "pre-built" but none of them were what I was really wanting. Either they were too expensive or kind of lacking in what I want to do. So, here I am asking the collective their opinions. I've looked at newegg but I just get confused about all the options. I'm willing to spend if needed to get the best but I don't know enough to make sure that there isn't a better, cheaper option.

I would like to keep some components that I have but I know that I want a new motherboard, CPU, RAM, graphics card, and a BD drive (would like a writer but not required). The hard drive is negotiable. I have these two computers so I would like to use one of these towers if I can unless they're too proprietary. This is what I have--Gateway 420GR. It has a 160GB HDD (Serial ATA, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache) that I can reuse-I can get a bigger one later if I want. I also have an external HDD that I put most stuff on anyway. I also have the PSU. The brand is Hipro there are two wattages listed on the housing-150W and 264W. I don't think that it is enough for the newer stuff. The other tower I have is an emachines T2042. It's so old (last powered up in 2007) that I don't think that it can give me anything except for the case itself if that is a better option. That said, I do like the Gateway better because it does have an integrated 8-in-1 card reader that I'm not sure that it would fit in the emachine.


Approximate Purchase Date: Not any real hurry. Current laptop is giving me a headache but still functioning well.

Budget Range: $400 or so...less is better you can get some components now and upgrade to better stuff later.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Surfing, Netflix (HTPC-esque), Streaming video via PlayOn, MS Office, Games

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, PSU if possible ( Hipro HP-P3087F3), HDD

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: wherever has the best prices really...newegg, amazon, ebay

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: I would really like an Intel CPU but I'm not sure it's in my budget. I want a computer that will last for a while/is easily upgradable when I need better performance. I have an AMD Athlon X2 (mobile) that I'm not very enamored with (Gateway NV5214U).

Overclocking: Maybe, this is graphics right? I don't really into games right now but I want the option there.

SLI or Crossfire: Don't really know what this does.

Monitor Resolution: (e.g.: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200): 1280x1024 max. It's a SyncMaster 191N. But I may end up hooking it up to one of the TVs.

Thanks a lot! I've already learned a lot about putting systems together from reading the forums. It's great that y'all offer this to newbies like me. :) 

July 13, 2011 10:44:22 PM

CPU ($75): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mobo ($35): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM ($16): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Blu-Ray Burner ($85): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GPU ($70): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU@500w ($25): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Approx price: $306 + shipping

Overclocking is changing the core clock of your CPU to make it faster, so your overall performance on your computer should be theoretically faster (not by a long shot though). I don't think this would allow you to do so.

P.S. (optional, though recommended)
Case ($30): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 14, 2011 12:50:51 AM

Diablotek makes PSU-shaped objects that should NEVER be connected to computer equipment if there is any chance they will be attached to an A/C power source at the same time. This is the sort of unit that wanders out of spec at around 60% of its labeled output, and goes "snap crackle pop" soon thereafter (killing attached components).

The following build is the cheapest I could in clear conscience recommend to someone on a tight budget:

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
$31.99 $31.99
I've had good results from G.Skill RAM; no DOAs, no RMAs, it just works.

Xigmatek ASGARD II B/B CPC-T45UC-U01 Black / Black 0.8 mm SECC / Aluminum and Aluminum Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer ...
Model #:CPC-T45UC-U01
Item #:N82E16811815004
$39.99 -$10.00 Instant $29.99
For the price, looks decent. I also like cheap Rosewill cases.

ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Model #:880GM-LE
Item #:N82E16813157199
$59.99 -$5.00 Instant $54.99
This is one of the first things I'd improve, IF you're looking for significant future expansion; in which case I'd get something with socket AM3+, which will be able to take Bulldozer CPUs. Otherwise, I've never had an ASRock mobo fail on me, and they offer good bang/buck in terms of added features. Even if you moved up to a more fully-featured board, I'd stick to ASRock, move even further ahead to Asus (from which ASRock was spawned).

SAPPHIRE 100287VGAL Radeon HD 5670 (Redwood) 512MB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
Model #:100287VGAL
Item #:N82E16814102871
$69.99 $69.99
At your resolution, a perfectly competent GPU; should be able to play any game, most on decent settings.

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
Has been my "goto" PSU on budget builds for years. Capable of outputting its full rated power, cleanly, day in and day out; but this PC may not even use 200W.

AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX450WFGMBOX
Model #:ADX450WFGMBOX
Item #:N82E16819103886
$79.99 $79.99
With as many background tasks as the OS, virus scanner, IM client, and other common applications use, I don't think you want less than three cores. For $30 more, the X4 955BE is considerably more powerful.

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Model #:WD5000AAKS
Item #:N82E16822136073
$44.99 $44.99
Not their fastest; if you can find a deal on a Seagate 7200.12 or Samsung Spinpoint F3, those would be better choices; but this drive should be reliable.

LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support
Model #:iHAS424-98
Item #:N82E16827106335
$24.99 $24.99
I realize you mentioned a BluRay reader; I think the cheapest ones are around $70 now. I'd be concerned you get what you pay for, so you might spend closer to $120 on one. It is something you could add later though; this drive will get the machine up and running and handle DVD movies, which are still far more common, and cheaper, than BluRay.

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM
Model #:GFC-02050
Item #:N82E16832116986
$99.99 $99.99
I'm assuming you do not have a Windows 7 license you can re-use.

Subtotal: $481.91

Another option to consider around this price is the new Llano APU. A build featuring one of those would not need the discrete GPU initially, although the APU and mobo would cost a little more. The build above offers a better upgrade path if you think you might need a stronger CPU (either system could accept any GPU). If you wanted to spend more, the place I'd put it first for future-resistance (future-"proof" is a myth) would be the motherboard.
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July 26, 2011 9:25:31 PM

How about this? I can pull the CD-ROM from one of the computers I already have. I can buy Windows locally if I can't get one of my two copies to work from computers I no longer own. I will also get a newer monitor eventually.

Will the onboard graphics be adequate for what I need? I like that it has an HDMI and SPDIF outputs already on the mobo.

Thanks!

Rosewill R103A Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case with 350W 20+4 pin connector Power Supply
Item #: N82E16811147010
$39.99

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822136769
$39.99

ASRock A75 PRO4 FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
Item #: N82E16813157258
$109.99

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
Item #: N82E16817371033
$39.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9S-4GBRL
Item #: N82E16820231310
$31.99

AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU AD3650WNGXBOX
Item #: N82E16819103943
$119.99

Subtotal: $381.94
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 26, 2011 10:11:25 PM

That would be a perfectly viable option; just take the PSU-shaped object out of the Rosewill case and install the Antec.
You lose any meaningful CPU upgrade path, although your stated uses won't really require much more.
Note that if you take Windows out of my build, you end up with the same price. Right now though, you can pick up an even better CPU, the X3 720BE, for $59: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... although you'll then need to spend around $30 for a decent cooler for it. I'd suggest a 120mm cooler like the Xigmatek Gaia.
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July 26, 2011 11:50:46 PM

Onus said:
That would be a perfectly viable option; just take the PSU-shaped object out of the Rosewill case and install the Antec.
You lose any meaningful CPU upgrade path, although your stated uses won't really require much more.
Note that if you take Windows out of my build, you end up with the same price. Right now though, you can pick up an even better CPU, the X3 720BE, for $59: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... although you'll then need to spend around $30 for a decent cooler for it. I'd suggest a 120mm cooler like the Xigmatek Gaia.


What are the differences between the Llano (which is what I thought I had selected) and the above mentioned CPU? In the original build you referenced a the Llano APU, is this not it?

AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU AD3650WNGXBOX
Item #: N82E16819103943
$119.99
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 27, 2011 12:47:10 AM

In my original build I had an Athlon II X3 450. The 720BE has the same number of cores, and their stock speed is lower, BUT it has L3 cache, and can be overclocked; 3.6GHz is not unrealistic.
Here's a comparison of them at stock speeds: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/189?vs=83
The 720BE overclocks easier and generally higher. The CPU portion of the Llano APU also lacks L3 cache, and I have no idea how well it overclocks. Its GPU beats the pooh out of any integrated offering from Intel, but is still weaker than a HD5670.
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July 27, 2011 1:29:04 AM

For gaming. If you wanna add some more powerful gpus you could get the 500w version of the Earthwatt psu. That's what I use and it's quite with no problems.
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July 27, 2011 3:12:21 AM


Hmmm.... What games do your children play anything demanding? I reccomend this card it will do the job depending the games that they play, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... as you can see only a 10% which is alright., though you will loose direct x 11, it doesn't matter the 240 is a cheaper card and will do the job as I said before.
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August 15, 2011 3:44:55 AM

Best answer selected by theSmurfette.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2011 4:53:25 AM

Thanks. Let us know how it goes.
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