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New home PC below $700

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February 4, 2012 11:30:54 AM

I need advice on whether to go with Intel's i-3 2100 or AMD's A8-3850 for a home PC.


Budget Range: $600-700

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Mostly code development with Visual Studio but also some non-demanding games like Civilization or Starcraft II. No movies.

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Additional Comments: I am very interested in energy efficiency and low noise...

More about : home 700

February 4, 2012 4:25:06 PM

Civilization and Starcraft are quite CPU intensive, a decent graphics card is a plus too though.

If you're not bothered about ultra high settings though I would say an A8 would be an excellent choice. It's a lot easier to quietly cool a CPU than a graphics card, it's a lot more power efficient too.
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February 4, 2012 4:28:20 PM

I would say an i5-2500k, overclock it. For the GPU a 6770 will be fine.
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February 4, 2012 4:32:13 PM

I would definitely recommend you go with Intel's i3 or even i5 if you can afford it. The Fusion APUs are only good for extremely low budget builds and HTPC builds.
This is what I recommend for you:

CPU: Intel i5 2400 $190
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is a great CPU, it's better than the intel i3 2100, which is one of your CPU choices. It has 4 cores and 4 threads. It is perfect for your use because it is relatively cheap, but it cannot be overclocked, which should not be a problem. It has similar performance as the Intel i5 2500k but without the ability to OC the CPU.

Graphics: SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 $165
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is a great graphics card, it gives great performance for its price. It will allow you to play all modern games. I have this graphics card and it has not let me down yet.

MoBo: ASRock H61M-VS $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This motherboard will suit your needs, it is cheap but it also sacrifices some things such as PCIe slots and RAM slots. Overall this is the perfect board for you.

PSU: XFX Core Edition PRO550W $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is a great PSU and has enough power to make your system run. Infact, it should have enough power to SLI/CF, although I don't think you'll be doing that. It is also 80+ certified, therefore, it should be energy efficient.

Case: NZXT Gamma $40
http://www.amazon.com/GAMMA-Classic-Interior-Chassis-Bl...
This is a great case that is decently priced. You will not find another case with similar features with a $40 price tag. This case was also designed for a gaming computer and therefore it can support longer graphics cards.

HDD: Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This HDD is a cheaper one and is from a reliable company. If you need more storage, then you'll want a larger HDD, but this is perfect for most applications.

RAM: G.SKILL Value Series 8GB $37
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is a great RAM kit for the money. It is from a very reliable company and is decently priced. This RAM does not have heatspreaders but I doubt you will need them.

Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

DVD-ROM: LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk 24X $18
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This is a cheap DVD burner with great ratings. This is mainly to install programs that is on discs, but you can also watch DVDs if you want to. If you like Blu-rays better, then you can go with a blu-ray drive.

Total: $660
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February 4, 2012 5:07:10 PM

I don't think an i5 would be necessary for you personally. It would mean that you would need a graphics card and this would make the whole system consume far more power and be noisier. The CPU would be 95W and you would need a ~100W graphics card.

An A8 would not only be cheaper but also more power efficient while still having enough grunt for those games so long as you're happy with high settings instead of ultra. This CPU is 100W but has the graphics included. If you get an A8 and throw a decent heatsink on it, it should be silent.

I would go for something like this personally:

AMD A8-3850 OEM - $119.99
Cheap and power efficient with plenty of performance.

Scythe Shuriken SCSK-1100 - $34.99
Stock coolers tend to be noisy, this may be overkill in terms of cooling but will be very quiet.

ASRock A75M - $74.99
Well priced mATX board with USB 3.0 and SATA 3.

Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB) - $39.99
More than enough RAM for your usage, this is very low profile too.

Seagate Barracuda 500GB - $84.99
Nice quiet and reliable drive, 500GB is enough storage for most.

Fractal Design Core 1000 mATX Case - $39.99
Nice quiet little mATX tower. I would move the fan on the front to the back as an exhaust though, it would cool better and help keep the dust out. Also moving the fan further from you reduces perceived noise.

SeaSonic SS-300ET 300W - $39.99
More than enough power for this build and Seasonic PSU's tend to be extremely quiet. This is OEM so you may need a power cable.

LG DVD Burner - $15.99
Basic DVD Burner for your OS.

Total - $450.92

This is far cheaper and should be far quieter than an i5 build but should still handle those games fine on high settings.

If you wanted to upgrade that any further the first thing I would do is add an SSD. The most reliable brands for SSD's seem to be Crucial, Intel and Samsung. Intel are probably the most reliable but are very expensive for what you get. I would get a Crucial M4 or Samsung 830 drive personally. 64GB or 128GB depending on how many programs you have.
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February 4, 2012 5:13:40 PM

jmsellars1 said:
Civilization and Starcraft are quite CPU intensive, a decent graphics card is a plus too though.

If you're not bothered about ultra high settings though I would say an A8 would be an excellent choice. It's a lot easier to quietly cool a CPU than a graphics card, it's a lot more power efficient too.


Are they are at least playable in common settings without a discrete graphics card? And if the A8 can pull it off, how about the i3?
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February 4, 2012 5:14:53 PM

kouroubel said:
Are they are at least playable in common settings without a discrete graphics card? And if the A8 can pull it off, how about the i3?

The i3 is a stronger CPU but has a weaker onboard graphics compared to the A8
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February 4, 2012 5:28:28 PM

The integrated graphics on the i3 are useless for gaming, you MAY be able to play on the lowest possible settings.
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February 4, 2012 5:53:26 PM

One last question then...

If I go with the i3 plus a discrete graphics card, what happens to the overall power consumption?

Will the discrete card be set on some kind of idle mode when not playing games in order to save energy?



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February 4, 2012 5:58:13 PM

kouroubel said:
One last question then...

If I go with the i3 plus a discrete graphics card, what happens to the overall power consumption?

Will the discrete card be set on some kind of idle mode when not playing games in order to save energy?

There is something called Virtu that does that. It is, however, only on Intel motherboards that support it...which happen to be motherboards that have the Z68 chipset.
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February 4, 2012 6:01:47 PM

The i3 is rated at 65W, a half decent graphics card would be somewhere in the region of 60-100W. This rating shows roughly how much power they might consume under load, at idle both will pull far less.

The i3 and something like an HD 6670/6770 would give better performance but would probably consume a fair bit more power and be more expensive. Higher power consumption usually means more heat and noise too.

If you are bothered about playing on ultra high settings go for the i3 and GPU, if you're happy with medium/high settings go for the A8 because it will be cheaper and quieter and consume less power.
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February 5, 2012 9:05:36 AM

Best answer selected by kouroubel.
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