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The $300 Super Cheap Challenge :p

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February 27, 2012 4:05:03 AM

Hey folks!
I'm making a new computer for a co-worker. This computer will probably never do more than Facebook games and HD youtube videos. I'm trying to get the cheapest thing I can without making it straight out bad. Any advice?


Approximate Purchase Date: Tomorrow

Budget Range: 350-400 Before Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Word Processing, Youtube, Facebook

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, HDD, Disk Drive

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg

Country: US

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Any


This is what I have so far. What do you think?

Edit: Now that I think of it, since I'm trying to use integrated graphics with the i3, I probably don't even need the 430w psu. Isn't it true that (even if I am not pulling the power through parts) the psu still draws more power if it's rated for more?

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 (CMPSU-430CXV2) 430W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply

Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ...

ASUS P8H61-M LE/CSM (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32120
February 27, 2012 12:52:28 PM

Any comments, anyone? Does anyone think that I need a cheap GPU for this (and if so, any recommendations)? What improvements could be made?
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February 27, 2012 1:33:01 PM

It's pretty much good except for the HAF 912. I would get a cheaper case than that since it's a waste of money to get an expensive case for just watching vids and farmville.

A 300 watt would be best.

1 single stick of 4gb would be cheaper but not much difference.
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February 27, 2012 2:21:33 PM

All right; check out the current build. I think I even got it a bit better for cheaper (Yay!)

Total Cost: $309.95

Cooler Master Elite 311 ATX $40

Rosewill 350w ATX PSu $30

G.Skill 2x4GB DDR3 1333 $42

Asus Micro ATX Motherboard $70

Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz CPU $127

Any ideas on how to make it just a bit better? Could I change the motherboard for a bit more bang for the buck?

Also, does anyone know where to get a cheap copy of the most basic version of W7?
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Best solution

February 27, 2012 2:38:26 PM

for the CPU, try microcenter.

may as well drop the nice case and use the savings to get a i3 2125 so you'll at least step up to HD3000 graphics.

i3-2125 $119.99
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Biostar H61MLB LGA 1155 H61 mATX Intel Motherboard $54.99
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

8GB DDR3-1333 HyperX $29.99
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Thermaltake V3 Black Edition ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $37.99 - $10
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

I don't know how you feel about thermaltake but this PSU seems not bad.
Thermaltake TR2 430W Watt ATX Power Supply $37.99 -$10
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

otherwise the corsair you had was a good price.

That all totals to $281 - $20 in rebates.
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February 27, 2012 2:44:18 PM

Case + PSU: 50 pounds
http://www.ebuyer.com/220863-coole [...] 30-kkpl-gp

RAM: 16 pounds
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-CMX4GX3M1A1333C9-XMS3-D...

Motherboard: 60 pounds
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/gigabyte-ga-p61-usb3-b3-...(x16)-atx

Processor G840: 50 pounds
http://www.novatech.co.uk/products/components/processor...


All these prices are in pounds sorry but I'm sure you can find these in the US ( probably even cheaper).

Will definitely be enough for your friend's requirements with expansion ability for the newest graphics cards.



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February 27, 2012 2:46:43 PM

Microcenter scares me. I went to a Microcenter in Cincinnati for the first time last week, and it was like walking into a Chinese knock-off market. Can I really trust what I buy there?
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February 27, 2012 2:46:46 PM

alternatively, you could go AMD

FX 4100 Black Edition 3.6GHz Quad-Core Socket AM3+ Boxed Processor $99
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

ASUS M5A78L-M LX PLUS Socket AM3+ 760G mATX AMD Motherboard $59.99 - $50 bundle savings - $10 rebate (Free)

All else equal, that's a total price of $226 - $30 in rebates.

I guess the FX4100 is poor in gaming but that's not a stated use (can it really be that bad?) And if nothing else, it's quad core so multi threaded apps should perform decently.
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

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February 27, 2012 2:57:34 PM

Wyko said:
Microcenter scares me. I went to a Microcenter in Cincinnati for the first time last week, and it was like walking into a Chinese knock-off market. Can I really trust what I buy there?


at least here in Silicon Valley, Microcenter is probably better trusted if not as well known as Fry's, Best Buy, etc and it helps that I work about 5 min away. I've never been to another store so I don't know what they're like.

I buy my stuff there since they're often cheaper than Amazon even with tax, especially full builds because they have awesome deals on CPU/mobo combos. I asked a sales guy about it once and they said they're an Intel Launch Partner, whatever that means (Intel's headquarters is about a mile away) so they get killer deals on the CPUs. Also their staff is pretty knowledgeable here in SV, unlike any other big retailer. I'd say they were a pretty reputable outfit.
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February 27, 2012 3:05:50 PM

microcenter isnt a "chinese knock-off market". they carry all the big brands just like the other stores do. it just so happens that they also carry quite a few of the lesser known cheap brands. just because its cheap doesnt mean its crap.

bliq's build seems to be alright. you dont need 8gb of memory though.
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February 27, 2012 3:59:15 PM

If you're looking at something with that little usage, I'd consider AMD's E-350 platform or their new APUs (A-series). If they need added graphics power then they can throw in a cheap AMD GPU to couple with the integrated GPU.
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February 27, 2012 4:21:05 PM

Man these kinds of computers are popular! Here is a build which keeps the price in mind!


Case+PSU: APEX TM-302-3 Black/Silver Steel MicroATX Mid Tower + 300W PSU
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$39.99

Motherboard: ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 AMD A55 Micro ATX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$58.99

CPU+GPU: AMD A4-3300 Llano 2.5Ghz FM1
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$64.99

Ram: Patriot Signature 4GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$17.99

HDD: HITACHI 500GB 7200 RPM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
79.99

CD/DVD Burner: LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner Black
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$17.99


Total: $279.94 Before Tax.


The only thing I would look at upgrading is the case/psu. The PSU will do in terms of Watts, but in terms of quality it is probably pretty bad. - Still $39.99 for a case+psu is great!

I recently built an AMD A Series computer and I'm extremely happy with it. They are perfect for budget builds, especially if you are not building this PC for serious gaming or 3d modeling/rendering.

(If you want to be surprised, you can find youtube videos of people playing BF3 on an AMD A8. I tested this and yes, it is playable!)

-Madreag
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February 27, 2012 4:24:09 PM

Best answer selected by Wyko.
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February 27, 2012 4:24:29 PM

Thanks for your help everyone! I appreciate all your comments.
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February 27, 2012 4:36:57 PM

If I was you I would go with APU / FM1 solution. These chips blow the heck out of intel integrated graphics
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February 27, 2012 5:44:43 PM

Really? I've heard so much good about the Sandy Bridge series.
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February 27, 2012 6:02:30 PM

I would only go sandy bridge if you plan on buying a discrete graphics card.
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February 28, 2012 12:44:16 PM

The AMD 6330 graphics are definitely more powerful. I have an E-350 build myself but for the cost of the Brazos platform, you could get a quad core FX4100 with motherboard. The big win for E-350 is power consumption (which could be important). given the stated uses, I went with more CPU power and adequate GPU power. actually, to make the machine feel really zippy, I'd invest any remaining budget on a small SSD.
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!