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Help Finalize My ~$500 Build Please!

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November 6, 2011 1:12:50 AM

Minimum settings? This'll get you that, yes.
Your current PSU should be OK.
Both HDDs should be fine. Might as well go 500, no?
If you want, you can go 970 or 990 on the motherboard (socket AM3+). This'll let you upgrade to later AMD processors, and it may end up saving you money in the future.
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November 6, 2011 1:27:09 AM

EDIT: I plan to purchase the following parts later today, so could anyone look over it and tell me if everything is okay?
Purchasing today online:
- CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 450
- Mobo: ASUS M5A78L-M LX micro ATX AM3+
- GPU: Zotac GeForce GTS 250 1GB
- OCC: LG GH22NS70 22X

These are the parts I will purchase sometime during the week in person:
- PSU: Corsair CX430
- HDD: Seagate Barracuda 500GB

Thank you!



OP:
Hey everyone, just looking for some help on deciding whether to change something on this build, and some other questions. Any advice is appreciated!

I already own a case (HAF 932) and ram (4GB of 1600 Ripjaws X), so here is what I plan to purchase by Monday:
- CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 455 Rana 3.3GHz
- Mobo: ASRock M3A770DE AM3
- PSU: Rosewill RD400-2-SB 400W
- HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 320GB or Seagate Barracuda 500GB
- DVD Burner: Asus DRW-24B1ST
- GPU: Was going to go with a PowerColor HD4650 but has been deactivated. Considering Sapphire HD5670 (Redwood)


Note: I have about $420 to spend on the above parts and live in Canada, so if using Newegg, please make sure it is the Canadian site!


My questions:
1) Thoughts or suggestions on the GPU? I just need it to run Starcraft 2 smoothly at 1920x1080 with minimum settings. I'm accustomed to sub-minimum settings (I edited the settings file) at around 640x480 with no more than 15 FPS (drops to pure slideshow-level FPS in lategame battles). So I just want the game to run smoothly.
2) Thoughts or suggestions on the PSU?
3) Thoughts or suggestions on the HDD? I believe the WD name is trusted by more people, but from what I've read, Seagate is a safe pick. So should just go with the Seagate as it offers more space?
4) Anything else I should change? Any suggestions regarding anything? Once again, all responses are appreciated :D 

Thanks!

More about : finalize 500 build

November 6, 2011 1:43:32 AM

Agree with kajabla, an AM3+ MB would be my preference as well. I saw 6 AM# MB's on Newegg for under $100 USD and the have far superior chipsets. Do you really need a hard drive right now or could you get by with what you have. HDD prices are thru the roof!
You might consider this CPU
AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - C3 Revision
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
It's a dual core but apparently a lot of people have been able to unlock 4 cores and they say it OC's well. Not much more $$ than the Rana but just thought you might think about it.
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November 6, 2011 1:50:43 AM

Not too shabby, but you could definitely improve a few components.

1. You have a reasonably priced triple-core CPU, which is acceptable for now. - However, you may choose to opt for at least a quad core so your build will be a little more future proof. If you don't want to raise costs too much, I suggest going with a AMD Phenom II X4 (Less than~$100, I'm sure).

2. I wouldn't recommend your motherboard for a few reasons.
- Your motherboard is old (chipset), but it's not a big deal, save money. You may choose better brands such as ASUS, GIGABYTE or MSI for the same price.
- If you are only using ONE graphics card, I suggest you opt for the cheaper microATX motherboards (~$50) as it will only save you money.
- If you plan to use TWO graphics cards, your motherboard is STILL not suitable. The PCI-Express slots run @ x16/x4 mode, which is not preferred. The reduced x4 lane will hinder performance. Get a motherboard with at least x8/x8 or x16/x8 or x16/x16 PCI-Express 2.0 slots.

3. Your PSU is NOT adequate to ANY extent.
- You MUST buy a PSU with a minimum 80Plus rating. The 80Plus denotes efficiency and quality. They are not much more expensive (~40) than what you have chosen already.

4. Your GPU is adequate, but you could be getting better bang for your buck.
- If you're only looking to run starcraft II, you should be able to find a card for less than $50 on sale.
-->Here's what I've seen in the past month: EVGA 9800GT ($40), XFX 9600GSO ($15), XFX 5570 ($35), ZOTAC GTS250 ($40), ZOTAC GT430 ($20)
- If you want something more powerful (future proof), well, it depends on your budget. There are a huge variety of options available, and always room to upgrade at a later date if not now.

4. HDD - Western Digital (my preference) and Seagate are both great options. I suggest going with the Seagate 500GB, still (more value).
- The HDD prices has risen substantially so you are paying A LOT more than you shouldbe ... but what can you do? Prices are not expected to drop until mid next-year.


I too am from Canada so I understand how difficult it is to find parts at cheap prices but it is do-able. I will link my $340CAD build from August below, I hope you find it useful as reference to what you should be getting for your money. Please don't take this the wrong way, but this build is much better than what you have right now (when you account for quality, value, and performance). Let me know if you would like to elaborate of what I've written above, I'm only try to help.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/321663-31-budget-gami...



Cheers,


BTW, your existing case and RAM are great. Wouldn't want them to go to waste.
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November 6, 2011 2:04:49 AM

In response to what others have posted before me,

Using an AM3+ motherboard and AMD FX CPU, would be much better.... for a price.
A decent mobo+CPU of this era would cost you at least $200 (on sale). Just sayin'

Also, I wouldn't count on unlocking cores (from 2 to 4)... unless you're paying the price for a dual-core (~60-70). For $95, you could eliminate the risk and just buy a quad-core to begin with. I know I got my AMD Phenom II X4 955 'Black Edition' off newegg.ca for $105 last month.
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November 6, 2011 2:31:38 AM

Thanks everyone for the very informative responses! I forgot to mention that this build is somewhat of a throwaway, so I don't think there is a need to be future proof. Unless I'm getting a serious improvement for upgrading something, I just want to spend as little as necessary. Most of the parts will be upgraded anyways between Christmas and summer.

First off, the motherboard. The one in your build, Rex, is out of stock on Newegg and $74 (tax inc.) at Canada Computers. I can't decide on a cheaper alternative from the list of $25-50 and $50-75 AM3 motherboards...could anyone please give a suggestion?

And secondly, the PSU. I can get the Corsair CX430 V2 for $45 (tax inc.) at Canada Computers as well. I'm thinking that would be a good alternative.

Lastly, the GPU. Rex, where have you found your sales? Looking for those GPUs on Newegg, Canada Computers, and Tiger Direct, I can't find any on sale. I'm guessing I should just keep my eyes open for a sale, but where should I be looking?

EDIT: Looking at the GPUs Rex listed, I did find the 9600 GSO (which is, based on the reviews, extremely loud), and the HD 5570, both of which would save me money.
EDIT 2: Actually, the HD 5570 is $70 (tax inc.) with a $25 MIR, while the 9600 GSO is $57 (tax+ship. inc.) with a $30 MIR.

Thanks everyone.
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November 6, 2011 2:42:08 AM

Hmmm.. So far, I've only purchased my PC components from Canada Computers and Tigerdirect.ca (with the exception of that CPU ^).

With regards to the build I linked you,

- Case, PSU, Motherboard were from Canada Computers.

- GPU, RAM, CPU, HDD, and ODD were from TigerDirect.ca


Let me inform you, prices change day to day... so keep looking.

Ex. I bought the 9600 GSO for $15 (after MIR) and now it's $30 (after MIR). wtf?
BTW, I was one of the people who submitted a review mentioning it was LOUD. LOL
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November 6, 2011 2:43:37 AM

Let me look suggest some of the cheapest parts (that I would buy) .... Hold Up.

CPU:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
or
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
(^ best for price - $75)

Motherboard:
http://canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=26_34...
or
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
or
http://ncix.ca/products/?sku=61739&vpn=M5A78L-M%20LX&ma...
(^ best for price - $57)

PSU:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
(^best for price - $30)

GPU:
http://ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=58617&vpn=HD467XZ...
or
http://ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=55505&vpn=ZT-2010...
(^best for price - $40)

ODD:
http://ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=60731&vpn=GH22NS7...
(^ best for price)
Btw, Newegg has 10% off all ODDs. so that's probably even cheaper.

HDD: I really don't know at the moment. I'm assuming you looked.. so I won't look myself.
http://canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=15_21...
(^ best for price - $90)


Alright, I'm done. I think this is the best you can get.. for TODAY. A new sale comes up everyday, so you just gotta be smart about it.

Let's see what he have here....

CASE - owned
RAM - owned
MOBO - $57
CPU - $75
GPU - $40
PSU - $30 (after $20 MIR)
HDD - $90
ODD - $18
--------------------
.......... $310 CAD

The GTS250 is pretty powerful. I'm almost certain you can run SCII on ultra.

Keep in mind, you are paying an extra $50 for nothing (when you buy a HDD today).

Let me know if you have any question about why I chose the parts above. I can justify my decisions.
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November 6, 2011 2:53:37 AM

Thanks for that list! After looking through it:
- The Asus M4N68T-M V2 from Canada Computers or the GIGABYTE GA-M68MT-S2P from Newegg would be the cheapest choices. My only concerns are that the PCI Express slot isn't 2.0, and they only have SATA 3Gb/s, while the GPU's I've been considering are PCI Express 2.0 and the HDDs are 6Gb/s.

- I'm going to go with that CX430, but from Canada Computers instead.

- The GTS 250 and LG ODD from NCIX seem like a great choice if I'm buying them together. It justifies the shipping cost.
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November 6, 2011 3:23:17 AM

Oh, no worries, they are backwards compatible and I don't expect there to be any noticeable performance loss.
It's an AM3+ mobo, you don't have to THROW it away, and just upgrade... just sayin' LOL

Here are the official specs for that mobo:
http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/AMD_AM3Plus/M5A78LM_LX...

ALSO, the SATA 3GB/S vs the SATA 6GB/S.... isn't noticeable either...
I encourage you to do some research. But for a low cost build, this type of thing is probably not of priority...
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November 6, 2011 3:27:35 AM

So that motherboard is definitely a better pick over the M4N68T-M V2?
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November 6, 2011 3:28:43 AM

A few more things to note...

1. The Asus M4N68T-M V2 from Canada Computers or the GIGABYTE GA-M68MT-S2P from Newegg are OLD motherboards... are a couple years old.... I would spend the $2 to get the new (better) one... but that's just me... ?

2. The GTS250 is actually a lot better (and cheaper) than the 4670.. I shouldn't have added it to the list.
Have a look at the scores yourself, just search: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu_list.php
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November 6, 2011 3:35:33 AM

The reason I preferred the M4N68T-M V2 is because the M5A78L-M LX from NCIX had a shipping cost, so it was more than an extra $2. But if I'm getting the ODD and GPU from NCIX as well, then it makes sense to go with the motherboard from there too.

And the reason I preferred the 4670 was because it is cheaper than the GTS 250 before MIR. But after adding up the costs, I should be within budget if I go with the GTS 250.
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November 6, 2011 3:36:59 AM

If it were I, I would buy it like this:

FROM NCIX:

AMD ATHLON II X3 CPU ($80)
http://ncix.ca/products/?sku=55074&vpn=ADX450WFGMBOX&ma...
(This processor is better than the $75, I listed before, but from ncix as well)

ASUS MOBO ($57)
http://ncix.ca/products/?sku=61739&vpn=M5A78L-M%20LX&ma...

Zotac Geforce GTS 250 GPU ($40) --> $30 MIR
http://ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=55505&vpn=ZT-2010...

XFX 450W PSU ($35) --> $20 MIR
http://ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=63238&vpn=P1450SX...
(I didn't see it before, it's actually better than the Corsair... ask anyone.)

LG ODD ($18)
http://ncix.ca/products/index.php?sku=60731&vpn=GH22NS7...

Seagate 500GB HDD ($90)
http://ncix.ca/products/?sku=63468&vpn=ST500DM002&manuf...


All these parts are from NCIX.ca so you only have to pay shipping once. The (better) processor is $5 more, but you make up for it in shipping costs ?

The total here is : $320CAD (after $50 MIR) + one S&H charge + tax.
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November 6, 2011 3:49:33 AM

That's also how I planned on doing it, except the HDD would be bought in person at Canada Computers, because it would save me slightly on shipping costs and make it easier for me to return it if I have to for whatever reason.

I'll likely go with the more expensive X3 455 because only one 450 is in stock, so I'm going to assume that I'll be forced to buy a 455. Because of that, I think I might prefer the Corsair PSU, because the XFX will cost me about $15 more than buying the Corsair at Canada Computers.
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November 6, 2011 3:55:13 AM

Alright, just so you know, there would be almost no difference in shipping cost if you added the HDD or not... like 25cents, I believe. (It would cost more to drive there....) but yes, returns would be so much easier.

I'm assuming you're not counting on the MIR rebate then? The XFX ($35 after MIR) would cost about the same as the Corsair ($40).. am I mistaken?

The difference between the 445, 450 and 455 is almost nothing.. which I why I suggested the 445 (up above). If you are forced to pay more, may as well opt for a quad core? now THERE'S a difference.

(I only like to pay about $25 per core, when I'm on a budget) I KNOW there are quad cores for $100. Argh. =="


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November 6, 2011 4:05:00 AM

Yes, it's cheaper after MIR, but I'm on a tight budget pre-MIR.

And I know that the difference is small, but I'm assuming that I'll be forced buy the 455 because there is only 1 450 in stock, so the chances of me getting it is probably not extremely high.
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November 6, 2011 4:11:43 AM

Understandable. You gotta do what you gotta do ~

I'll post back if I can find anything cheaper pre-MIR...
but I hate the fact that the MIR is the only thing that makes it a DEAL.. otherwise.. it's just ... normal...


BTW, this just occurred to me. If SCII is your ultimate goal for this PC, a dual-core will suffice. SCII was only designed to run off 2 cores to begin with.

That being said, save money by getting a dual core now... so you can get the other stuff pre-MIR (GPU + PSU). Besides, a triple core will only last you so long before you'll eventually "throwaway" .... and with this AM3+ motherboard, you can just upgrade the processor to some 8-core when the prices drop. NO PROBLEM : D

EDIT: If you got the luck, you can try to unlock the AMD Phenom II dual-core to quad-core, meaning you won't need to upgrade for a WHILE.... but no guarantees .
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November 6, 2011 4:17:05 AM

I'm going to get the GTS 250 instead of the 4670 because it is a great deal, but it doesn't seem like it is worth getting a dual core in exchange for the XFX PSU. I'll be using this for some video editing on the side, so I think I would prefer the triple core.
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November 6, 2011 4:26:29 AM

Alright, I'm sure you've thought it through. Glad you know what you want.

Right now, you're paying about 57 + 92 ==> $150 for the MOBO + CPU. I personally feel like it's a little much for what you're getting.

I know you mentioned you're on a tight budget, so I strongly encourage you to sit patiently and wait for one of the many sales if you're able to.

Good luck,
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November 6, 2011 4:36:09 AM

Is there any CPU that is cheaper and worth the money? If the 450 isn't sold out by the time I make the purchase, I'll likely choose it over the 455 for that extra bit of saved money.
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November 6, 2011 4:47:25 AM

I'll keep an eye out for you if I have the chance.

On a budget = AMD (~$25 per core)

See if you can find any triple core for less than $75 and you should be getting good bang for your buck. To save even more money, dual-core (~50) would be the next best thing....
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November 6, 2011 3:29:51 PM

Hey! I found an AMD Phenom II X4 830 which is apparently a rebadged OEM version of a Phenom II X4 925, and also found a promo code for it, which brings it to grand total of $101.69

Good deal?
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November 6, 2011 3:47:09 PM

Yeah, sounds like a good deal~ I clicked the link and it shows $99.99 + FREE SHIPPING.

BUT, if it's OEM, you will have to purchase a separate CPU heasink-fan ... This will run you another $30 for a good one. I hear good things about the Cooler Master Hyper 212+/evo.

In the long run (not sure if you care), an aftermarket CPU heatsink will be better in terms of longevity by increased cooling... as the ones that come with the Retail versions of AMD processors are kinda poor in performance and quality.

BTW, I think OEM has a reduced warranty from 3 to 1 years.

----> For $130, you may as well go for the AMD Phenom II X4 955 'Black Edition' which is much better in the sense that it is clocked @ 3.2GHz AND it has an unlocked multiplier (so overclocking is a no-brainer). The CPU heat sink fan for the Black Editions are better than the normal ones, but they sound a litttttle like a vacuum LOL
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November 6, 2011 3:53:35 PM

Hmm...
I think I'm going to pass then, because I will be upgrading in the future to much better parts, so I'd rather just save my money now
Thanks anyways :p 
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November 6, 2011 4:05:36 PM

Yeah, I thought so.

Have you considered... the AMD APUs? (A4, A6, A8 series) ?
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November 6, 2011 4:10:24 PM

OH HOLD UP.

AMD ATHLON II X4 -- FM1 socket. ($90)

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

This is based on the FM1 socket though, so you will have to look for a compatible motherboard. Such as:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

If you want to save costs, Canada computer probably has them cheaper so you can just go in and buy it yourself ~
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November 6, 2011 4:30:39 PM

No, I have not considered any AMD APUs....should I?

Something like the AMD A6-3650 or the A8-3850?

Also, the CPU will cost me almost $110, and I can't find any of those motherboards for any decent price, so I'll pass on that. Thank you anyways.
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November 6, 2011 8:02:00 PM

Can anyone else read the edit in my first post and give some feedback? Please and thank you!
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November 6, 2011 9:03:39 PM

What, do you have some sort of big windfall in the future? This isn't going to be able to do anything BUT SC on low, but it seems fine at this price point.
However, you should do your best to make this something you can scavenge from in your next build. If you can sneak in a decent PSU, for instance, you should, assuming that you're not necessarily going to keep this build together when you upgrade (are you?). Do you have a sense of how much you're going to spend on the next, serious build?
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November 6, 2011 9:15:41 PM

I'm expecting to put at least $1000 towards my upgrades (and using the parts I get rid of to build a computer for my sister or perhaps a friend who could use it), so it will be a fairly good build. Because of that, if I'm going to buy something with the intention of scavenging it, it would have to be something that definitely doesn't fit into my current budget, no?
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November 6, 2011 9:18:20 PM

Well, are you going to scavenge the most basic parts? The case, keyboard and mouse? If so, you'll probably be able to go 580, and that'll take a 650W PSU. That's ~$100 CAD, and you probably can fit it in.
ASUS M5A78L-M LX micro ATX AM3+ $65
gts 250 $75ish
ODD $20
HDD something like $60?
X3 $80
TX650W $100
That's $400 CAD.
The case you already have.
Mouse and keyboard?
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November 6, 2011 9:23:59 PM

The keyboard, mouse, monitor, and case will be kept for a while. I'll likely keep the memory for a while too. The HDD and OCC will definitely be kept for as long as they last.

I'm not sure how I can fit in a $100 PSU when my current one is $45 and I'm at the limit of my budget :( 

EDIT: The HDD is about $100, the GTS 250 is about $80, the X3 is about $90, and I already own a mouse and keyboard.
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November 6, 2011 9:41:30 PM

You're not taking tax and shipping into account like I am. My budget includes tax and shipping :p 
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November 6, 2011 9:42:41 PM

So though you're soon going to drop $1000 on an almost-new build, you can't go even a little over at the moment to save $50 (not having to buy the 430W now) in the future? Not being rhetorical, just wondering.
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November 6, 2011 9:49:18 PM

Well it would mean doubling the amount I currently plan on spending on my PSU. And I'm not spending that much at once right off the bat, it's going to be over a period of about 6 months.
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November 6, 2011 10:31:53 PM

Kajabla is right, instead of spending $400 now, and $1000 later.... It might be wiser to just wait and spend $1400 altogether (in 6 months time). But that's just me..

For now, if you're set on the $400, you should just go with the NCIX build. I would STILL suggest the XFX PSU (so much better, for an initial cost of $20 more, but you'll get it back) and buying the HDD online (save gas $$$, the shipping cost difference will be less than $1). You most likely won't need to return it, anyway.

Good luck,
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November 6, 2011 10:42:24 PM

For future reference, you should only count on salvaging your CASE, ODD, and HDD.

The CPU, MOBO, RAM, GPU, PSU are not high end components at all. Although made with good quality, they are all too weak to be apart of a $1000 build.
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November 6, 2011 10:52:19 PM

I definitely will not put up with this for another 6 months, so that's out of the question :p 

The XFX PSU is a consideration. I guess I'll make my final decision on the PSU when I purchase everything in about an hour.

And yeah, I didn't plan on salvaging anything more than that, except the RAM for a bit. I would upgrade eventually, but it wouldn't be too high of a priority.
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November 6, 2011 10:58:27 PM

Nice.

4GB of G.Skill really isn't high end in my book, try for 8GB of Corsair Vengeance next time (~$50)!

Besides, you'll still need to buy RAM if you're planning to give this computer to someone else.
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November 6, 2011 11:04:42 PM

I know it isn't high end, I just assume that it will be one of the last updated parts.
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November 6, 2011 11:10:39 PM

My bad, I was assuming you would be entirely swapping computers. Or else, may as well start upgrading with individual parts you would keep now!

What are you currently using anyway?
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November 6, 2011 11:14:10 PM

A horrible Toshiba laptop that I bought it about 5 years ago.
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November 6, 2011 11:16:13 PM

LOL. Where did the case + RAM appear from then?
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November 6, 2011 11:21:12 PM

I bought them on sale back in...July? The money for the rest of the parts was "lost" (don't ask), so I couldn't buy the rest of it.
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November 6, 2011 11:32:31 PM

Just purchased the parts, including the XFX PSU! :) 

Thanks for the help! I'll keep the thread alive for now in case I have any more questions :) 
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November 6, 2011 11:34:21 PM

The RAM will be fine. Corsair RAM wouldn't give you any sort of tangible performance increase. I would recommend getting another matching 4gb set at some point, but the 4 that you have now is perfectly usable.
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November 6, 2011 11:43:32 PM

kajabla said:
The RAM will be fine. Corsair RAM wouldn't give you any sort of tangible performance increase. I would recommend getting another matching 4gb set at some point, but the 4 that you have now is perfectly usable.


+1

Although, I was merely trying to say that this set of RAM would be best allocated with the rest of this 'low end' computer.

& that, when new components are bought, (including RAM) you could get something better for $1000~


*** Maybe it's just personal opinion, but I always considered G.Skill for the budget conscious builder.
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November 7, 2011 12:06:53 AM

You'll find no difference between RAM sets of the same latency (G.Skill vs Corsair) and very little difference between latencies and timings. Those fancy heatsinks are just there for style. You could go 1866 if you wanted, but it'd be a waste of money that could be spent on other portions of even a $1000 build.
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!