First Time Build: Under $400

So, I have been wanting to trade out my laptop for a desktop.
I have yet to sell the laptop (Craigslist), but I have begun buying and looking into certain parts.

I don't really intend to do any intense gaming. I might eventually purchase a low end/low wattage
card like the GT 440 (Check Youtube for it, good enough performance for me), but for the
time being it will just be integrated graphics for me. I would really prefer going the Intel route though.

I have no problem waiting on a good deal, or buying parts at separate times.

Here is my current intended build (Nothing set in stone, if a better deal pops up, I will switch for the deal)

Case: NZXT Gamma Classic Series (Purchased)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146061

PSU: CORSAIR 430W Builder Series (Purchased)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139026

CPU: Intel i3-2120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115077

Ram: Patriot Gamer 2 Series
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220571

Motherboard: BIOSTAR H61MGC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138332

Hard Drive: Still looking for deals. Will probably wait for a Slickdeal. :lol:

I also need to know if I should pick up these 2 anti static wrist straps:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16899261001
I don't really want/have the money to replace something if it fries.
I know that touching unpainted metal will ground your body of static electricity.
Is all the chance of ESD gotten rid of when wearing anti static wrist straps?
62 answers Last reply
More about first time build
  1. The best deals on hard drives I have seen recently would be Newegg.com selling some 500GB drives for about $80 USD. It doesn't get better than that unless you spend over a hundred dollars for a terabyte drive and give your constrained budget and apparent lack of needing too much I'd say that the 500GB drives would be enough for you.
  2. Everything depends on your monitor's resolution. If you don't have a Full HD monitor, go straight for AMD Llano platform. Enough power to play at medium/high settings without adding a seperate GPU, and anytime you can add a 6670 and go for Dual Graphics for better perfomance!
  3. Instead of gaming, this computer will be used for converting DVD rips to a playable format on devices like PS3/Touchpad. Handbrake is the program that will be used.
    My monitor is a cheap HP x20LED monitor, 1600x900 resolution (it can do 720P via PS3).

    One reason I was drawn to using a budget build with an i3 was because I could upgrade down the road to a better chip like the i5.

    @Blazor

    Yeah, I wouldn't need that much. I think 250-320 would be enough. I am guessing that if a drive does pop up at the same price I am currently going to pay for a 250GB, I might as well wait till a 500GB does pop up.
  4. -the anti-static wriststraps are a waste of $10, just make sure you ground yourself while building.
    -if you have a Microcenter near you, they will have an i3-21xx for substantially cheaper than Newegg.
    -you'd get a minor boost in performance by going with a dual channel (2x 2GB) RAM kit over the single-channel kit you've got picked out, and for basically no extra cost. since you're doing video transcoding, you may even want to shell out the extra $15 for an 8GB kit.
  5. ultimabeam said:
    -the anti-static wriststraps are a waste of $10, just make sure you ground yourself while building.
    -if you have a Microcenter near you, they will have an i3-21xx for substantially cheaper than Newegg.
    -you'd get a minor boost in performance by going with a dual channel (2x 2GB) RAM kit over the single-channel kit you've got picked out, and for basically no extra cost. since you're doing video transcoding, you may even want to shell out the extra $15 for an 8GB kit.


    I SO wished I had a micro center nearby. I saw their recent prices for an i5-2500K and was shocked.
    But I live hours from one, so it isn't an option. I have been contemplating going with 8GB, and the original
    reason I went with one 4GB stick was so I could upgrade to another 4GB stick down the road.

    So it would save me $5 in the long run ($20 a 4GB stick, or $35 for two 4GB sticks.)
    Still deciding if I should go 2 x 4GB for $35, or 2 x 2GB for $20

    What about motherboards? I am looking at a $50 BioStar board. Any chances of a deal (No rebates though)
    coming up for any cheaper than that?
  6. That is the least amount of money I'd be willing to spend on a motherboard. I also recommend just getting the 2x4GB now if you plan on getting it later because a few years later we might have DDR4 memory, meaning DDR3 will go up in price.

    That and if you intend to upgrade something that only cost another $15... You might as well just get the upgrade when you buy the parts anyway.

    Make sure you get a single 2x4GB kit, not two 4GB kits mixed together.
  7. Get the i3-2105. It has HD3000 graphics, which is considerably better than HD2000. If transcoding is a primary use for this system, and you can use QuickSync, you want the stronger IGP. HD3000 is comparable to a HD5450, so you may even be able to play mainstream games.
  8. I don't think the HD 3000 can play anything serious even at the absolute minimum settings and resolutions.

    HD 3000 graphics does encoding faster than most video cards do but it struggles with playing many newer games like most video cards can.
  9. It can play Skyrim at 720P with really low settings and stuttering frames. LOL

    I don't know much about video cards, so please bear with me here. If I go with the i3-2105, and then decide to upgrade to an actual video card, would it cancel out the gain the 2105 gave?

    Say an i3-2100 runs games at 30 fps with a GT 440, will an i3-2105 with a GT 440 perform exactly the same as the 2100?
  10. For ram, which would you recommend?

    Patriot Gamer 2 Series:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220557

    PNY Optima:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820178333

    And what about this for a budget board:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138332

    Will the motherboard or Case come with the stand offs needed to mount the motherboard?
  11. Those kits and the motherboard should be just fine but I prefer getting a 1600MHz memory kit because it s a little faster and they tend to have near identical prices to the 1333MHz kits of the same capacity.
  12. blazorthon said:
    Those kits and the motherboard should be just fine but I prefer getting a 1600MHz memory kit because it s a little faster and they tend to have near identical prices to the 1333MHz kits of the same capacity.


    Board I posted seems to only support 1333, and the cheapest board that supports 1600 Ram is almost $100.
    Out of price range.
  13. Point made and taken although I think that there are cheaper boards that support DDR3-1600 than $100.
  14. I wouldn't reccomend going with Intel integrated graphics... I aven an i3 and I absolutey HATE it, but I've heard many fantastic things about Llano builds. Perhaps try these?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.782509

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138337R

    If you are thinking about upgrading this build to a more mainstream/enthusiast build some day, I would suggest just waiting until you have a decent amount of cash to build something that you won't need to upgrade in a years time.
  15. RichterFry said:
    I wouldn't reccomend going with Intel integrated graphics... I aven an i3 and I absolutey HATE it, but I've heard many fantastic things about Llano builds. Perhaps try these?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.782509

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138337R

    If you are thinking about upgrading this build to a more mainstream/enthusiast build some day, I would suggest just waiting until you have a decent amount of cash to build something that you won't need to upgrade in a years time.


    You make a good point. The Llano seems to use a good amount more electricity then the i3-i5 crowd though.

    I think your point on upgrading though isn't a very constant figure and is relative to the person though.
    Not everyone intends to upgrade a low end machine into a high end gaming machine.

    Although the Llano build you posted is really making me consider going with AMD over an Intel.
    The posted bundle doesn't include heatsink and fan, so I am looking at the similar retail models of it.
  16. No, of course, I was only saying that IF you planned on doing so. Anyway, good luck!
  17. RichterFry said:
    No, of course, I was only saying that IF you planned on doing so. Anyway, good luck!



    I appreciate it! I am looking into the Llano and am really surprised at the benchmarks and such.
    Passmark has it highly rated in terms of score also. Gives me something to think about on this build. LOL

    Is passmark very accurate here?
    Intel i3-2120 http://cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i3-2120+%40+3.30GHz

    AMD A8-3850 http://www.passmark.com/cpubenchmark/cpu.php?cpu=AMD+A8-3850+APU+with+Radeon+HD+Graphics

    With those numbers it means as a processor the A8 is about 30% faster than an i3.
    I am currently using a laptop with a Phenom processor, but it runs far too hot for me.
  18. One other question!

    I am putting a lot of thought into a Llano build, but I wanted to know something about the chips. I understand that Sandy Bridge (i3-i7) are Intel's current line of processors. What is Llano and the FX (FX-4100 and such) line for AMD? Is Llano the latest processor from AMD, and FX the previous line?
  19. No, Llano is a different type of CPU (kind of). Llano has the graphics on the CPU, as opposed to on the motherboard or a physical card itself. Llano is used for budget PCs, but it is used more commonly for Home Theatre PCs. FX is the latest mainstream CPU line up from AMD, and it does not have graphics integrated on the CPU itself. FX was actually just released a couple months ago. Llano is the latest installment of AMD's Fusion line up. Fusion orignated in 2006, but the Llano platform is the most recently introduced Fusion CPU.
  20. RichterFry said:
    No, Llano is a different type of CPU (kind of). Llano has the graphics on the CPU, as opposed to on the motherboard or a physical card itself. Llano is used for budget PCs, but it is used more commonly for Home Theatre PCs. FX is the latest mainstream CPU line up from AMD, and it does not have graphics integrated on the CPU itself. FX was actually just released a couple months ago. Llano is the latest installment of AMD's Fusion line up. Fusion orignated in 2006, but the Llano platform is the most recently introduced Fusion CPU.



    Thanks for the clarification there. :)

    The cost associated with going with A8 Llano is about $30 more than going with an i3-2120 (Motherboard is more expensive, as well as the processor itself.)
  21. Llano is only faster in situations that use three or four threads for CPU work and I think the HD 3000 graphics has faster encoding/transcoding than Llano. Llano is about three times faster than Intel for gaming but not encoding/transcoding and really... Llano's graphics may be the fastest gaming IGP but it still isn't even as fast as a Radeon 6670. It does go good paired with a cheaper graphics card like the 6670 but alone Llano still isn't fast enough for many games anyway.

    AMD has historically been hotter than Intel for at least a few years. Performance per watt sucks on AMD and it has for a while. AMD's CPUs are comparable to the Core 2 Duos and Quads in performance per clock and performance per watt.
  22. I am leaning towards the MLB because of the added PCI slots (although I doubt I will use them)

    BIOSTAR H61MLB Originally $55, now $50
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138339

    BIOSTAR H61MGC Originally $65, now $50
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138332

    Opinions?
  23. I would still suggest Llano, it's a great bang for the buck, specially the graphical performance you get out of the APU vs the iGPU of the 2100/2105/2120. The A8-3870K is a bit better than the older 3850 specially since it can OC a bit more with the unlocked multiplier hence K.

    Check out my $400 build here:
    http://www.squidoo.com/electronicandmore
    The true total is only about $350.
  24. aznshinobi said:
    I would still suggest Llano, it's a great bang for the buck, specially the graphical performance you get out of the APU vs the iGPU of the 2100/2105/2120. The A8-3870K is a bit better than the older 3850 specially since it can OC a bit more with the unlocked multiplier hence K.

    Check out my $400 build here:
    http://www.squidoo.com/electronicandmore
    The true total is only about $350.


    Not interested in OC, is there any other plus?
    Your build also features a a $40 for a hard drive, sadly prices of hard drives are now about $80-$85.
    Any idea on if there will be an upgrade future for Llano? Say I go with the A8-3850, is AMD going to release a new processor in the future using the FM1 socket?
  25. Llano is quite recent, I doubt there will be a new Fusion CPU anytime soon.
  26. One other thing.

    I am not sure how the Llano is with ram, so please excuse my ignorance here.
    Can you allocate main ram to be video ram? Say I want 1GB VRam, can I set 1GB of my main ram to be used for Vram?
  27. No, it's all included in the GPU, which is included on the CPU. I have no idea how much is included in the HD 6550D, but I'm sure it's enough, since it's meant for HTPCs.
  28. AMD might refresh Llano with updates. The 3870K has, for some reason, a better APU vs the 3850.
    http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1365/pg5/amd-fusion-a8-3870k-overclocking-and-dual-graphics-performance-review-starcraft-2.html

    As for the HDD, again I clearly state it in the guide that it's off NCIX US
    http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=59705&vpn=WD2500AAKX&manufacture=Western%20Digital%20WD
  29. aznshinobi said:
    AMD might refresh Llano with updates. The 3870K has, for some reason, a better APU vs the 3850.
    http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1365/pg5/amd-fusion-a8-3870k-overclocking-and-dual-graphics-performance-review-starcraft-2.html

    As for the HDD, again I clearly state it in the guide that it's off NCIX US
    http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=59705&vpn=WD2500AAKX&manufacture=Western%20Digital%20WD


    Yes but ALL the hard drives on NCIX that are in stock are about as expensive as Newegg.
    The one recommended is back ordered currently.

    I am still divided on which route to go. The A8-3850 mops the floor with Intel i3-2100 for gaming, but loses immensely in video encoding benchmarks and general use. The amount saved by going the i3 route is roughly $40. If that money is put towards a better video card, it seems the i3 would win in gaming and general usage, right?
  30. Llano shares the system memory with the CPU. There is a new APU series coming out from AMD called Trinity that will use the Bulldozer modules with the Radeon cores and is supposed to have 50% greater CPU performance. There is no memory on the processor besides the few megabytes of cache.

    The system memory performance is actually a bottleneck for the GPU portion of Llano. You should get 1866MHz memory like the $60 kit 1866MHz 2x8GB kit by G.Skill so it is less of a bottleneck. 1866MHz instead of 1333MHz can and will provide a large and noticeable improvement in anything that uses the GPU.

    I don't know when Trinity comes out but it is in the works and has been for a while, it's probably some time this year. Since the date is either a little far off or just undetermined you shouldn't wait for this but it is coming and will use a new FM2 socket. FM1 is done and probably won't get another new CPU, according to AMD. I don't know if there is any compatibility between the two sockets but there probably is if AMD's other sockets are an indicator.

    Llano's integrated graphics is not even close to being as fast as the HD 2000/3000 integrated graphics of Intel's CPUs in encoding/transcoding but is about three times faster than Intel's in gaming. Llano's graphics still isn't fast enough for gaming without the addition of a $20-40 video card because most games are too demanding for it.

    The A8 parts like the A8-3850, A8-3800, and A8-3870K is almost as fast as the Radeon 6570. Even if you don't overclock the A8-3870K is a little faster by default than the A8-3850 and is about the same price, maybe $5 more.

    The reason for why the A8-3870K is faster than the A8-3850 even without overclocking and with overclocking is simple: it is much newer than the A8-3850 and AMD probably made some improvements. The i3 would not beat it in gaming unless you got a Radeon 6670 or better to go with it against the A8 APUs but even without the added video card the i3s would be much faster for encoding/transcoding.
  31. blazorthon said:
    Llano shares the system memory with the CPU. There is a new APU series coming out from AMD called Trinity that will use the Bulldozer modules with the Radeon cores and is supposed to have 50% greater CPU performance. There is no memory on the processor besides the few megabytes of cache.

    The system memory performance is actually a bottleneck for the GPU portion of Llano. You should get 1866MHz memory like the $60 kit 1866MHz 2x8GB kit by G.Skill so it is less of a bottleneck. 1866MHz instead of 1333MHz can and will provide a large and noticeable improvement in anything that uses the GPU.

    I don't know when Trinity comes out but it is in the works and has been for a while, it's probably some time this year. Since the date is either a little far off or just undetermined you shouldn't wait for this but it is coming and will use a new FM2 socket. FM1 is done and probably won't get another new CPU, according to AMD. I don't know if there is any compatibility between the two sockets but there probably is if AMD's other sockets are an indicator.

    Llano's integrated graphics is not even close to being as fast as the HD 2000/3000 integrated graphics of Intel's CPUs in encoding/transcoding but is about three times faster than Intel's in gaming. Llano's graphics still isn't fast enough for gaming without the addition of a $20-40 video card because most games are too demanding for it.

    The A8 parts like the A8-3850, A8-3800, and A8-3870K is almost as fast as the Radeon 6570. Even if you don't overclock the A8-3870K is a little faster by default than the A8-3850 and is about the same price, maybe $5 more.

    The reason for why the A8-3870K is faster than the A8-3850 even without overclocking and with overclocking is simple: it is much newer than the A8-3850 and AMD probably made some improvements. The i3 would not beat it in gaming unless you got a Radeon 6670 or better to go with it against the A8 APUs but even without the added video card the i3s would be much faster for encoding/transcoding.


    Thank you very much for the informational post! :D

    Hearing that FM1 isn't going to be continued kinda of puts another thing against my decision to go with the AMD build. I like the idea of starting with an i3, and if my budget allows it in a year; swap it out for something like an
    i5 LGA 1555 Socket. And hearing that the 2000/3000 is faster at encoding is another plus.

    My logic is that IF there was/were a faster Llano, I would be good with getting the A8. There would be something to upgrade to later on (a year), but seeing how the A8-3870K is the fastest Llano (And is still beat by the i5), and that the FM1 socket is being killed really puts me off the idea of going with AMD.

    PS. I received my case and power supply today! Both look great and feel rather sturdy (Especially the Corsair Power supply), so that is cool to have.
  32. Well it's your choice, the i3 2100 is a good option to go with. The A8-3870K I just recommend because usually people want to game and if that's the case it's a better chip for it meaning off the APU.
  33. aznshinobi said:
    Well it's your choice, the i3 2100 is a good option to go with. The A8-3870K I just recommend because usually people want to game and if that's the case it's a better chip for it meaning off the APU.


    Yeah, gaming isn't of high importance (I have a PS3, Light PC gaming is for further down the road), so I am close to finally deciding. I am hoping for another set of deals to pop up. What are the chances of the i3-2120 popping up at a cheaper price than $120 on Newegg with free shipping; the price is pretty standard, so I am hoping for a price drop or coupon code.

    Still not wanting to pay $80-95 (counting shipping) for a hard drive.
  34. It's probably not going to drop in awhile. Just go with the i3 2105
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115090&Tpk=i3%202105
    It has a 10% off right now.
  35. aznshinobi said:
    It's probably not going to drop in awhile. Just go with the i3 2105
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115090&Tpk=i3%202105
    It has a 10% off right now.


    I have the cash, but not the money in my account to purchase it online at the moment.
    Newegg seems to post new coupons once an old one expires, so I ain't worried about it.

    What is a good recommendation for 1333 DDR3 ram?
    I originally thought Pareema, but I was told to not go with them.
  36. aznshinobi said:


    That wouldn't work with an Intel i3 though, right?
    Boards I am looking at support 1333 max.
    Is 1600 compatible to a lower speed?
  37. I am mostly liking going to go with a board like this:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138339

    But I am confused by the PC numbers on the ram. Isn't all DDR3 1333 compatible? Or does it need to be a certain type of PCxxxx ram?
  38. Yes you're correct, pretty much all DDR3 1333 ram is compatible. H61/H67 really only goes along with DDR3 1333 ram, though 1600 can be used.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820161364
    As you can see even 1600 ram is cheaper.
  39. aznshinobi said:
    Yes you're correct, pretty much all DDR3 1333 ram is compatible. H61/H67 really only goes along with DDR3 1333 ram, though 1600 can be used.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820161364
    As you can see even 1600 ram is cheaper.



    So under $40 for 2 x 4GB sticks, what is the best?
    I see models like Patriot, G.Skill, Kingston, and Team Elite.

    Would this ram:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220570

    or this ram:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820313086


    Work with this Mobo:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138339

    Here is a memory list, but I doubt it is very full:
    http://206.108.48.60/app/en/mb/introduction.php?S_ID=544&tab=1

    Only tested up to 2gb sticks. :(

    I am leaning towards Team Elite because it sounds like there is a better chance of it working with the Biostar Mobo.
    Anything bad about Team ELite?
  40. Just go with the Patriots since it's cheaper and Patriot is pretty solid brand. Team Elite is pretty good brand, though I've only heard of them recently they seem to make solid sticks.
  41. aznshinobi said:
    Just go with the Patriots since it's cheaper and Patriot is pretty solid brand. Team Elite is pretty good brand, though I've only heard of them recently they seem to make solid sticks.


    Seeing a lot of bad reviews on the Patriot brand.
    For a little more; I am seeing a much higher percentage of positive reviews:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231308

    Sorry for asking so many questions. :lol:
  42. It's fine.
    I'm using Patriot ram right now and it's fine, been 2 years running. As for the G.Skill it's a good option, it's a little more money. I think all of them are pretty good.
  43. aznshinobi said:
    It's fine.
    I'm using Patriot ram right now and it's fine, been 2 years running. As for the G.Skill it's a good option, it's a little more money. I think all of them are pretty good.


    Thanks! :D

    Can't wait till Newegg emails me the promo gift card for $15 :fou:
  44. Good luck and Happy New Years!
  45. aznshinobi said:
    Good luck and Happy New Years!



    You too! :sol:
  46. Hey, there's no need to get an i3 for a budget build.
    Based on your requirements, a Sandy Bridge Pentium/Celeron should do just fine for you.
    Don't be fooled by the names, the low end Pentium G620 has performance very similar to the once flagship Core 2 Duo E8500, even beating it in some tests!
    Also to be noted is that G620 consumes half energy compared to the C2D!!!

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/54?vs=406

    And Intel has confirmed that even the cheap H61 chipset mobos will be compatible to upcoming Ivy Bridge.
    So I'd recommend going for a cheap SB for now instead of an i3, and when Ivy comes out in around March 2012, just upgrade to the newer and probably much better platform (Intel claims around 20% faster CPU and around 50% faster GPU and 30% reduced power consumption, fingers crossed!)
    This should bring the integrated graphics performace of Ivy quite closer to Llano.

    Think about it...
  47. Umm.... Even if Ivy did bring it close to Llano, that'd be this years Llano, not the new set of Trinity chips which are expected to have about a 30%-40% increase in GPU performance. I don't exactly know the CPU performance and Power requirements as I've forgotten but it will probably be lower TDP and much faster on the CPU side.
Ask a new question

Read More

New Build Laptops Systems Product