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Family Budget $400 Desktop - Return of a First time Builder

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September 4, 2011 3:31:50 PM

Hello, everyone. I’ve recently convinced my parents to let me build a new desktop for them over buying a prebuilt system at a store. I return here after you guys graciously helped me build my own, gaming oriented, system around 2-3 years ago.

Firstly, I want to thank Tomshardware and their forums for all the great info and helpful informed posters who make up the community here. My first build for around 1,200 bucks went off beautifully and is still chugging along today, and will hopefully be ready for Diablo 3, Soon™.
The only hiccup was an improperly mounted heatsink, but that was quickly fixed. Just wanted to say thanks and post a couple of pics to show my appreciation, since I didn’t post when I actually finished it years ago.



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Anyways, I now have the opportunity to build a general use/family desktop for the whole fam. It’s specifically for my sister and schoolwork, but will be used by my parents to store photos, and surf the web.

The budget is around $350-$400. I think I'm forced have the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and OS as part of budget. My dad keeps seeing the low priced builds in the ads and wants it to be around that price, and they usually come with the monitor. I don’t know how realistic this is because its seems kind of low. However, this is just a computer needed for reliability, word processing, web surfing, and storage. I could probably convince him to go a little higher.

My thinking is skimp hard on the HD capacity to reduce price(even with a lot of pictures, they won’t come close to using any meaningful amount), and hopefully find some bundle deals on newegg, or some rebated items.

Basically have to prove to my parents that you can make a great build that is cheaper and better than the store prebuilt machines.
Do the on-line retailers have any special Labor day deals?
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Approximate Purchase Date: Sooner the better. Sister needs it for school papers, but still have old desktop to use in meantime. Labor day special deals perhaps?

Budget Range: Around $400. Still need to buy peripherals, monitor, and Windows 7.

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
General family computer needs. Word processing, web surfing, movie watching, and picture storage.

Parts Not Required:
Need everything new.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com

Country of Origin:
United States

Parts Preferences: Intel

Overclocking:
No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Whatever monitor fits best with the build, at a reasonable price.

Additional Comments:
I would like to have a SSD for the OS, but don’t know if it can fit in the budget. I feel that insane boot time would be a more noticeable thing to them than anything else I could add for extra-feature goodness.

Thanks everyone. Look forward to hearing your replies!
September 4, 2011 4:10:19 PM

Hello, I know you'd prefer to have an Intel system, but for this budget range, I think AMD offers best balance/bang for the buck. So, my suggestion is to have a look at the following link for starting/reference point, and make your own mind:

http://www.techspot.com/guides/buying/page2.html

Is that budget limit is inclusive of Monitor+peripherals ?
September 4, 2011 4:15:27 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

I think this combo which is $232 at newegg which is the whole tower would help.

Anyway, super budget builds will always be AMD territory so i'd think it'd be better for you to stick to AMD.

Just to add, you should definitely think of getting a $400 laptop. You won't be getting a good desktop since you need all the peripherals to fit in the $400 budget.
Related resources
September 4, 2011 4:38:06 PM

So you want a $400 build WITH windows 7, keyboard, moust and a monitor??
Good luck.
September 4, 2011 4:42:07 PM

ark300 said:
Basically have to prove to my parents that you can make a great build that is cheaper and better than the store prebuilt machines.


I'm not really sure that's the case. These $400 pre-built machines are only so cheap because the big companies can make so many of them at once. Realistically a monitor and win7 oem will be over $200 unless you find a great deal on a monitor. Not to discourage you, but $400 is a tight budget.
September 4, 2011 5:35:34 PM

Processor : AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Heka 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W - $75
MoBo : ASRock 760GM-GS3 AM3 AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $48
Hard Disk : Seagate Barracuda 500GB SATAIII - $40
DVD R/W : LG - $20
RAM : Kingston Value 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 - $24
PSU : Corsair CX430 - $25 (after mail in rebates)
Case : Cheapo - $20

Total : $262 after rebates
September 4, 2011 6:40:34 PM

You guys might be right. Even with some of these cheap builds, the addition of all the peripherals and OS put the price too high for the budget. I also forgot that I will need to get Office too, which adds an extra absurd amount to the total(probably most built desktops have it already installed).

Might just tell the parents to buy a build from a big box store.
September 4, 2011 6:50:33 PM

Personally I don't use/like Libre Office, but it is reasonable productivity suite for basic/normal user. So you can save some money with it.

http://www.libreoffice.org/
September 4, 2011 7:01:31 PM

008Rohit said:
Processor : AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Heka 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W - $75
MoBo : ASRock 760GM-GS3 AM3 AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $48
Hard Disk : Seagate Barracuda 500GB SATAIII - $40
DVD R/W : LG - $20
RAM : Kingston Value 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 - $24
PSU : Corsair CX430 - $25 (after mail in rebates)
Case : Cheapo - $20

Total : $262 after rebates

That is an oem cpu, meaning that you would be required to get an aftermarket hsf.
September 4, 2011 10:18:18 PM
September 4, 2011 10:47:03 PM

you can manage a $400 build with Windows and a smallish monitor, but it WILL be tight. But we CAN do it. A note on office: All the ones included with cheap PCs are 60 day trials, you still have to pay full price to actually use it. I tend to use OpenOffice myself (a free office software)

Athlon II X2 255 + Win7 Home Premium: $151.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

AS Rock 760G Motherboard: $47.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G-Skill 4GB DDR3-1333: $25.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seagate 500GB HDD + Samsung DVD player: $52.48
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Antec Basiq 350W PSU: $25.99 w/ Promo Code, also a $10 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill R102 case, $24.95 w/ Promo code
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hanns-G 17" 1440x900 Monitor: $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $399.41 before rebates.
September 4, 2011 11:06:07 PM

E-350 APU netbook -- $350'ish or less. Here's an Acer refurb for $320

With an HDMI cable you can hook up to the family flat screen. Snagging a cheap SSD for the OS/Apps would be da bomb -- but then you would need an external enclosure for the netbook HDD, and that might eww-scray your budget limit (I've seen some combos out there, however, that would work).

And then there are all the family throw-downs over who gets to go mobile with the new acquisition each day - LOL
September 5, 2011 5:14:09 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
you can manage a $400 build with Windows and a smallish monitor, but it WILL be tight. But we CAN do it. A note on office: All the ones included with cheap PCs are 60 day trials, you still have to pay full price to actually use it. I tend to use OpenOffice myself (a free office software)

Athlon II X2 255 + Win7 Home Premium: $151.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

AS Rock 760G Motherboard: $47.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G-Skill 4GB DDR3-1333: $25.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seagate 500GB HDD + Samsung DVD player: $52.48
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Antec Basiq 350W PSU: $25.99 w/ Promo Code, also a $10 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill R102 case, $24.95 w/ Promo code
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hanns-G 17" 1440x900 Monitor: $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $399.41 before rebates.



Thanks a bunch. It looks like this is still reasonable build with some of those deals. What do you think would be a good step up from that Mobo if I could get a little more budget? The reviews seem to be a little iffy on it. Good news is that I remember that I still have my Office Home and Student 2007 and the license agreement says it can be installed on up to 3 devices. So, this saves me money on needing to buy that. I'm sure 2007 isn't too much different than '10.

MSI 760GM-P33 AM3 AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard -$54.99

MSI 760GM-E51 AM3 AMD 760G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $69.99

I'm sure I could get them to add a couple bucks, especially on something as important as the motherboard.

Quote:
E-350 APU netbook -- $350'ish or less. Here's an Acer refurb for $320

With an HDMI cable you can hook up to the family flat screen. Snagging a cheap SSD for the OS/Apps would be da bomb -- but then you would need an external enclosure for the netbook HDD, and that might eww-scray your budget limit (I've seen some combos out there, however, that would work).

And then there are all the family throw-downs over who gets to go mobile with the new acquisition each day - LOL


That sure is a unique way to work within my budget. However, I'm afraid my parents want the computer in my sisters room so she has no distraction and can work on her stuff. Thanks for the idea though!
September 5, 2011 7:29:07 PM

if you want to go up a little in the budget for a motherboard, here are a few $60 choices (+$12 from the model in my build)

Asus 760G+: $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
it is ready to upgrade to bulldozer, so every AMD product except Llano will go in there

ASRock 880G: $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It won't upgrade to bulldozer, but it has a better on-board GPU (4250 vs 3000)

also, with the suggested power supply, you could add a basic video card as an upgrade, up to a 5670 or 6670
September 5, 2011 11:26:05 PM

Alright, final build:

Case: Rosewill R102-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $24.99 w/promocode
Mobo: ASUS M5A78L-M LX AM3+ AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $59.99
CPU + OEM Windows 7: AMD Athlon II X2 255 Regor 3.1GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor ADX255OCGMBOX - $151.98
Ram: G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS - $25.99
Hard Drive + LITE ON DvD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500413AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - $52.48
PSU: Antec Basiq BP350 350W ATX12V v2.01 Power Supply - $25.99 w/promocode
Monitor: HANNspree By Hanns-G HF225DPB Black 21.5" 5ms Full HD WideScreen LCD Monitor w/Speakers (1000:1) - $99.99 w/promocode

Total w/promocodes, free shipping, -$10 Newcustomer:
$431.26 ($421.26 mail-in-rebate)

Basically went with ScrewySqrl's great build, got the little more expensive ASUS mobo, and convinced parents to get the discounted 21.5'' monitor that is on the labor day special deals.

I think I'm ready to buy it, everything seems good compatibility wise, any last objections?
September 6, 2011 12:20:10 AM

Looks great. enjoy!
September 6, 2011 10:57:59 PM

The only thing I might suggest is going with a single 4GB stick of memory so that you may max out the mobo if need be ...

Dual-channel over single-channel is not a tremendous boost in performance. I might also add that Asus has qualified memory for both AM3 and AM3+ motherboards so you may want to eyeball some of those QVL lists in hopes of making a positive future CPU upgrade (if wanted)

September 7, 2011 4:48:59 AM

If your sister is using it for school, she qualifies for Microsoft's student-pricing on Windows 7 Pro and Office 2010. You can use the $30 Windows 7 Pro Upgrade with any older Windows OS and Office 2010 Professional is $100 (but I do agree that Open Office just as good and is FREE which is, well, cheaper). Here's the link: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/en_US/cat/c...
September 7, 2011 6:33:29 AM

[qoute] (but I do agree that Open Office just as good and is FREE which is, well, cheaper) [/quote]

Open is good, but not as good as MS Office is. I would say the same thing like this:

"Open Office is as good as a ordinary user need to do whatever they have to do".

For a power user, however, it is a different story. By the way I have used Open Office / Symphony Office (or whatever it is called) / Libre Office etc.
September 10, 2011 10:45:23 PM

Thanks everyone who helped me out. The build went great, and only had a problem with the optical drive. The case has little drive bay doors that flip down (probably to hide off colored drives that clash with the case). The case had little plastic buttons (see in 2nd pic) that you would push which, in turn, hit the open/close button for the optical drive. I couldn't line the drive with the screw holes and not have the drive far back enough so the plastic button wasn't hitting the drive button. So, in essence, the drive button was always depressed. I could have possibly finagled it to work, but I just ended up throwing it down 3rd slot that has it flush with the front of the case.

I also didn't recognize that the case had the Mobo mounts implemented into the case in the form of "bumps" pinched right from the case panel. I was thrown off because they included one riser with the screw package, and I thought I was short changed, but then realized that if the bumps had additional mobo stands screws it would rise above the I/O shield.





Thanks again everyone for the help!
September 11, 2011 6:20:01 AM

congrats. Looks great.
September 12, 2011 8:51:39 AM

Pretty neat, congrats and happy computing :) 
!