Please advise, first build! <$550

EDIT: For anybody joining the discussion, this build has changed to an AMD Athlon ii x3 or Phenom ii x4 with a Radeon 5770 or 6850/6870 pending on later price range. Links provided a few posts down. Thanks!
Hi all!
Thanks in advance for any insight into this build. I will be a first time builder. After a couple weeks of research through the forums here and abroad I felt comfortable enough with my build to post it and ask for some experienced help.

NOTE: The purchase date should be late December (maybe even after Christmas). I really want to see if my current build is heading in the right direction and this feels close to a final draft.

Approximate Purchase Date: Dec. 2011, Jan. 2012

Budget Range: Hopefully <$500~$550. With the distance from purchase I am looking at a ballpark number, but under $500 seems doable w/o monitor.

System Usage: Light gaming online with HoN, Starcraft2, D3, and Skyrim if my build fits. medium settings are fine. web browsing and microsoft office apps.

Parts Not Required: I'm keeping my monitor budget separate though I would appreciate advice and which size/resolution might best fit my current build.

Preferred Websites: Prefer Amazon, but others are fine. Newegg, Tigerdirect - any other site recommendations too... but Micro Center is not nearby.

Country of Origin: US, AZ

Parts Preferences: Intel cpu, Radeon5570, and Antec PSU... mobo is most uncertain but Gigabyte, ASUS, or MSI

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: I'm planning on hitting sales over the holidays to find a monitor hopefully under $100 @ 18"-21.5". I know resolution is important toward the build so any advice will be taken. Again, not included in final price.

Additional Comments: Budget is important and must include OS. I have an AMD build too, but for gaming it seems the i3 beats the Phenom iix4.

i3 $500 Budget Build

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100

MOBO: Gigabyte GA-P61-USB3-B3

RAM: Kingston 2x2GB 1333 DDR3

Hard Drive: Anything from Seagate, WD, Samsung, (any others?) for $50... Pref at least 500GB @7200rpm and 3gb/s. Is this reasonable?

Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready

Case: Rosewill R218-P-BK Black ATX Mid Tower

PSU: Antec EA-430D Power Supply EA-430D

Optical: Sony Optiarc AD-7260S-0B 24x DVDRW Drive

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit (Full) System Builder DVD 1 Pack

Oh man that felt like a lot to write/read for anybody. Again, thanks for any advice for the build or for posting here.
28 answers Last reply
More about please advise build
  1. sadly, no hard drives are only $50 right now....flooding in Thailand has created a parts shortage, and drives have skyrocketed. a 500 GB from Seagate is $89.99.

    I would actually suggest going with an Athlon X4 or even X3, and getting a stronger video card. an 2100 on a 5570 will lose to an Athlon X3 and a 6790
  2. Well it's selfish, but I hope that HD prices go down by my purchase date.

    CPU: I have an AMD build too. The Athlon is a new consideration for me since it's a little older, but my knowledge base is out dated.

    Ok, the Athlon ii x 3 sounds pretty good. Should I look at a 450/455 or ___? I'm uncertain if there is a functional difference there.

    The Phenom ii x4 goes for about $15 more. Worth it?

    GPU: As a first time builder and a computer scrub, it's easy for me to forget just how important the GPU is for gaming. I've seen the 6850 getting great value reviews at ~$150. Would you suggest a 6790 over a 6850? They are both priced at $130-150 on Amazon at the moment.

    MOBO: Admittedly, the Intel mobo format is easier for me to comprehend. But from what I've read, the 1155 seems to have a range that will extend past an AM3 board (is this true?). As an extremely conservative person, I would love to be able to carryover something from this build.

    I don't know if asking this here is appropriate, but would you mind suggesting a AM3 mobo that would compliment the Athlon ii x3 and a Radeon 6xxx? I might be being lazy, but so far perusing forums has left me with the same question and then some. If there is someplace I should have looked by now I am willing to put in the time, but some advanced advice would go a long way.

    TY!:Finally, thanks for the reply. I've seen you around on similar topics and appreciate the time. Tom's has been an incredible resource toward what is becoming a fun hobby.
  3. the 6850 is better than the 6970, if they are about teh same price, get the 6950. the only difference between an Athlon II X4 and Phenom II X4 is the L3 cache and processor speed.
  4. I know it is Blasphemy to say this on Toms, but, you can get pretty decent Barebones kits off of newegg and tigerdirect.

    These won't be the greatest PCs ever, and they don't leave too much room for upgrading in the future. But for what you want and the price range you are looking for, I think you could find a decent kit and just the graphics card for under $500.
  5. Case:
    $40 Xigmatek ASGARD II B/S ($10 MIR)
    $40 LEPA N Series N500-SA 500W (Lepa is a rebadged Enermax PSU)
    $85 ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970
    $125 AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
    $25 Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
    HDD: (wait on this, HDD prices have easily doubled in the last few days)
    $19 SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner 22X
    Vid: Go with the 6850
    $140 Win 7 pro 64 (you can save $40 getting home instead)

    Total: $614 + S&H

    Looks like it's not just the HDD's that went up in price. I suggest the quad, while you can get an X3 the quad is the better buy.
  6. ScrewySqrl said:
    the 6850 is better than the 6970, if they are about teh same price, get the 6950. the only difference between an Athlon II X4 and Phenom II X4 is the L3 cache and processor speed.

    6850 is better than a 6970 :O. Did you mean 6770?
  7. gah, I hate typos :cry: I mean the 6790
  8. ScrewySqrl said:
    gah, I hate typos :cry: I mean the 6790

    :bounce: hehe! it's okay!
  9. sardonicjester said:
    I know it is Blasphemy to say this on Toms, but, you can get pretty decent Barebones kits off of newegg and tigerdirect.

    I took a look at barebones kits and some other custom build sites, but didn't really like the versions of build they put out. Most ended up costing about $150 more than what I already have listed if I wanted something other than a stock PSU or a slightly better motherboard, which I do.

    so the build has changed after the cpu/gpu advice from ScrewySqrl. here are the main players now in what has become an AMD build.

    CPU: AMD Athlon ii x3 450

    MOBO: MSI 870-G45

    GPU: SAPPHIRE 100283-3L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit

    I'm aware that the 6850/6870 are much better cards, but the extra $50 hits a little hard at the moment. This is a budget build after all ;). If prices have changed by my purchase date I'll act accordingly.

    Toward the quad core issue, does quad core really apply for my needs? I'm looking at light gaming mostly and it sounded like the Athlon ii x3 would be enough when paired with a 5770 for what I'll be doing. To this effect, the 3 core thing always seemed funky to me since 2 or 4 core systems are the most prominent. At my price point is this a big deal? Or are 4 cores basically an excuse for an extra $50?
  10. I'd get a Phenom II x4 or FX-4100. The only reason you get less than quad cores is that you don't have enough money :).
  11. This is about as close as I could get to you budget and still give you decent gaming performance. The only real downsides to this build, are the harddrive and the lack of AM3+ upgradability. While a 6850 would have been nice, it just didn't work within your budget.

    Also, for the price, the case is pretty nice, IMO.

    LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM Item #: N82E16827106289Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    NZXT Source 210 S210-001 Black “Aluminum Brush / Plastic” ATX Mid Tower Computer Case Item #: N82E16811146075Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    Recertified: Seagate Pipeline HD ST3500312CS 500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive Item #: N82E16822148786Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy
    This drive has some questionable reviews, but it is the cheapest 500GB option at the moment...

    ASRock M3A770DE AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard Item #: N82E16813157176Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    Unfortunately, your budget doesn't allow getting an AM3+ mobo, which woudl allow BUlldozer chip drop-ins, limiting your upgrade path, but Phenom II's will work fine.

    PowerColor AX6790 1GBD5-DH Radeon HD 6790 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card Item #: N82E16814131397Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy
    $129.99 (not including $15.00 Mail-in Rebate)

    CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 430W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply Item #: N82E16817139026Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    $44.99 (not including $20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card)
    15% promo code included at bottom

    G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS Item #: N82E16820231396Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

    AMD Athlon II X3 455 Rana 3.3GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX455WFGMBOX Item #: N82E16819103911Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy

    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM Item #: N82E16832116986Return Policy: Software Standard Return Policy
    10% promo code included at bottom

    free "gift" goPatriot Signature 4GB Flash Drive (USB2.0 Portable) Model PSF4GUSB Item #: N82E16820220099Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy
    -$6.99 Saving = $0.00

    Subtotal: $579.91

    Shipping: $4.99

    Apply Promo Code(s): (for OS and PSU)
    Promo Code: -$16.75

    Grand Total: $568.15
  12. beans: in this case, he doesn't really have the money, especially with hard drives skyrocketting.

    the 450 is a couple bucks cheaper at newegg..

    the triple cores have a 50-50 chance of unlocking to a X4. left as an X3, it should overclock to about 3.6 GHz if you want to do that.

    the HD6770 from XFX is a little cheaper than the 5770. Basically the same card, with a few tweaks, but $109.99

    or a XFX HD6790, just $10 more than your 5770

    if you aren't planning on upgrading to bulldozer, you could also go a bit cheaper on the motherboard:
  13. cutebeans said:
    I'd get a Phenom II x4 or FX-4100. The only reason you get less than quad cores is that you don't have enough money :).

    Budget trumps the extra money at the moment. The Athlon ii x3 450 runs at ~3.2Ghz right? I know that other processors are more capable than the Athlon ii x3 that are a seemingly small price ahead of the one I have selected; but the extra $50 for a FX-4100 or Phenom ii x4, another $40 for a newer gpu, and another $15 for a different mobo ends up being a $105 tack on for something that would really exceed my current needs.

    The potential to have something that I can carryover in the next three years would be nice and I did ask for that in my original post, so thank you - but I need to reevaluate my statement. Budget is still most important for me. As a new builder I don't have a monitor, case, PSU, OS, ODD, or HD to start with and next time I will. Any two or three of those things might be able to work in another system and extend my budget for the big 3 (CPU, GPU, MOBO), right?
  14. Yeah, just make sure you get a AM3+ Motherboard if you plan so that you can upgrade that build when the time comes.

    Asrock 970 AM3+ Motherboard.

    The Tri Core is actually pretty good. :) I have one on another build.
  15. If you choose even somewhat well, the PSU, OS, case, and monitor should be able to carry over to a new build in the future. The HDD would be more questionable, but possible.

    The Athlon ii x3 450 runs at 3.2 Ghz, and the 455 runs at 3.3 Ghz and are currently separated by $2 on newegg ($78 v. $80). The 445 runs at 3.1 Ghz and is $75 on newegg, but at the moment has a $10 off promo code.
  16. yes....if we need to get keyboard, mouse, monitor, and Windows 7 in all this, it will be very tight, but still doable.
  17. Mouse and keyboard combo is only $27 bucks. Speakers is only $13
  18. Alright, thanks all! :hello:

    Like I posted before, my purchase date is a month or two away. In your opinion/experience will prices have dropped by then or have risen after the holiday rush on stock?

    Obviously as time goes by prices tend to fall but the component stock situation got into my head.


    As a new forum member I think I need to apologize. Since I posted this as a Discussion topic I can't select a Best Answer (am I wrong?). I did not realize that this was the case and I am sorry if that may have been something you were hoping for. Everything has been helpful and I'll remain active here, but realistically my question has been solved until I get within a week of purchase at which point I'll throw it up again.
  19. It's okay. Everyone helped because they wanted to help not because they wanted a best answer award. This is the best month to buy parts except for the HDD.
  20. The mouse and keyboard are taken care of and I'm keeping the monitor and headphones budget separate.

    I'm keeping the OS (Win 7, 64bit, $99) in the build price though.

    My biggest concern with 2 vs 2+ cores comes down to if a 2 core processor will adequately run a game like Skyrim, which would be the performance ceiling for what I will do in the next 3 years. I know the GPU is more important for games, but the cpu still plays a factor, right?

    If a 2 core processor would work adequately the next logical step would be to move down (pricewise) if it would still work on an AM3 board. That would leave me with a mobo to make a minor upgrade on in the future and honestly my needs are pretty slim. The building aspect is more of the hobby than gaming at this point. That said, I would still like to build a decent machine :).
  21. It's decent. I assure you though that you would not have a hard time playing HON or LOL and D3. Skyrim, I'm not so sure.

    This is the minimum requirements.
    Windows 7/Vista/XP PC (32 or 64 bit)
    Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent processor
    2GB System RAM
    6GB free HDD Space
    Direct X 9.0c compliant video card with 512 MB of RAM
    DirectX compatible sound card
    Internet access for Steam activation

    With an AM3 motherboard, the next upgrade you can do is get a Phenom II x 4 which is a big jump from the Athlon II x2. It's sounds pretty good.
  22. cutebeans said:
    It's okay. Everyone helped because they wanted to help not because they wanted a best answer award. This is the best month to buy parts except for the HDD.

    Thanks for that. And from experience, where would you expect prices to trend? :sweat: Most of what I'm looking for might just stay the same since it's kind of dated, right?

    :lol: I mean the cheaper the better, but I can't buy now anyway.
  23. prices tend to trend downwards as new technology replaces old
  24. In a month, don't expect anything to change drastically except the prices of HDD which I think will still climb up.
  25. The Phenom ii x4 was in my original build but the recommended increase in gpu meant an inevitable decrease in another area which ended up being cpu. Hopefully the prices stays similar or I get a Christmas bonus :) Thanks for your time! Domo.
  26. I probably worry too much a/b part compatibility, but should I worry about my combination of mobo/cpu/gpu?
  27. nope. Athlon II and Phenom II +AM3 motherboard = Always compatible.
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