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Cheapest build for general use

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July 5, 2012 12:09:40 AM

I will be buiding a new computer for my uncle for general use such as e-mail, web surfing, paying bills, and occasional videos. It also needs to last at least 5 - 7 years or until Win 7 is obsolete :)  To give you an idea how to make it last that long, here is the old computer which still works. The last computer was assembled around 2005 or so.

Spoiler
CPU: Pentium 4 @ 2.40A GHz (533 FSB, L2 cache:1MB, 90nm)
MB: Asus P4S8X-MX
http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_478/P4S8X...
RAM: PNY 2GB DDR 400 (upgrade July 2011)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case: ATX Mid Tower - Will reuse case for new build
very similar to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: ATX-400W/P4
Video: ATI Radeon 9200
HDD: Maxtor 200GB SATA - Will reuse HDD for now
Optical: DVD/ CD-RW drive and a plain CD drive


Approximate Purchase Date: As soon I know what parts I need ~1 week

Budget Range: $200 - $300 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: General use such as e-mail, paying bills, web surfing, and occasional videos

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, case, HDD

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: AMD since it is cheaper, otherwise no preference

Overclocking: no

SLI or Crossfire: no

Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024

Additional Comments: I found some parts for it already to begin with but of course open to suggestions. Also, which OS would you recommend?



CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz - $77.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB: ECS A885GM-A2 (V1.1) AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s ATX AMD Motherboard - $47.98 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: Kingston HyperX Blu 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - $14.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: ATX Mid Tower - reusing old one
very similar to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: ???

Video: MSI R6450-MD1GD3/LP Radeon HD 6450 1GB - $14.99 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Maxtor 200GB SATA - Will reuse HDD from old computer for now

Optical: Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Burner - $16.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total so far: $172.93 :D 


What are your thoughts? Is there any outliers or bottlenecks?

Thanks in advance!

More about : cheapest build general

July 5, 2012 12:10:47 AM

For general use, an AMD APU is the best choice.
July 5, 2012 1:24:33 AM

I really don't know much about AMD, but how about this:

CPU: AMD A8-3850 Llano 2.9GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU - $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB:: ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 AMD A55 - $55.97 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I don't know how good this configuration is, but it seems like it's too much. And at these prices, isn't it better just to wait for Intel i3?


EDIT: Heh, wait for Intel i3... I was thinking of Ivy Bridge, but I can just use i3 sandy.
Related resources
July 5, 2012 2:14:30 AM

(1) Did you consider and discard laptop ? Plenty of really nice $350 lappys out there.

(2) Maybe this mod of Tom's $500 build? http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-pc-do-it-you...

CPU Intel Celeron G530 (Sandy Bridge): 2.4 GHz, 2 MB Shared L3 Cache $50
CPU Cooler Intel boxed heat sink/fan 0
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D3V: LGA 1155, Intel H61 Express $60
RAM Pareema 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 MD313C80809L2 $20
Graphics -- Video: MSI R6450-MD1GD3/LP Radeon HD 6450 1GB - $14.99 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814127584
Power Antec VP-450 450 W $38
Optical LG 22x DVD Burner SATA Model GH22NS90B-OEM $17

Total Cost $200 ? Stepping to the i3 adds another $70
July 5, 2012 2:18:55 AM

I agree with the above two comments. There are some good laptop deals nowadays, and most of them are at least running faster Sandy Bridge CPUs.

If you're looking for a desktop, one of the AMD APUs are probably the best purchase, since the GPU will be good enough to feel snappy and the CPU will be more than capable for general computing.
July 7, 2012 7:04:59 PM

tsnor said:
(1) Did you consider and discard laptop ? Plenty of really nice $350 lappys out there.

(2) Maybe this mod of Tom's $500 build? http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-pc-do-it-you...

CPU Intel Celeron G530 (Sandy Bridge): 2.4 GHz, 2 MB Shared L3 Cache $50
CPU Cooler Intel boxed heat sink/fan 0
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D3V: LGA 1155, Intel H61 Express $60
RAM Pareema 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 MD313C80809L2 $20
Graphics -- Video: MSI R6450-MD1GD3/LP Radeon HD 6450 1GB - $14.99 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814127584
Power Antec VP-450 450 W $38
Optical LG 22x DVD Burner SATA Model GH22NS90B-OEM $17

Total Cost $200 ? Stepping to the i3 adds another $70


As a rough guess ... would leaving the card out lower performance significantly for a general use PC ... just going with the built-in graphics?
July 7, 2012 7:25:20 PM

The AMD APU's have a great integrated graphics that will even run some newer games at lower resolutions with no problems, and run full HD without any issues. For general use, the AMD APU's are the best bang for your buck systems for basic everyday usage. Also, with that budget, check OEM's. Under $500, OEM's are better for they include Windows and software (Windows only is $100).
July 7, 2012 7:58:13 PM

runswindows95 said:
The AMD APU's have a great integrated graphics that will even run some newer games at lower resolutions with no problems, and run full HD without any issues. For general use, the AMD APU's are the best bang for your buck systems for basic everyday usage. Also, with that budget, check OEM's. Under $500, OEM's are better for they include Windows and software (Windows only is $100).


If the goal is a general purpose PC (no games, no video editing ... movies and streaming video) are the on-board graphics in chips like the Celerons or Pentiums good enough ... meaning HD resolution and no fuzzy, stuttering, pausing, glitching video?

I'm thinking the APU graphics are similar to low-end cards ... ones that go for $25 - $50 ... maybe not?
July 7, 2012 8:19:56 PM

The AMD APUs destroy the Intel HD 2000 that comes in the lower-end chips.

Here are some gaming benchmarks (couldn't find any video benches, though I didn't look really hard)
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4448/amd-llano-desktop-pe...

Basically, the APUs combine Athlon II CPU performance with above average GPU graphics (beat out most of the 55XX series), and the whole setup costs less than most comparable Intel setups.
July 7, 2012 8:39:57 PM

I agree go for AMD APU. The trend is for all programs are moving towards using GPU resources even web browsers. I'm thinking HD2000 will be outdated before 5 years - AMD's implementation has a better chance of making it :D 
July 7, 2012 11:41:01 PM

FinneousPJ said:
I agree go for AMD APU. The trend is for all programs are moving towards using GPU resources even web browsers. I'm thinking HD2000 will be outdated before 5 years - AMD's implementation has a better chance of making it :D 



I'm assuming that if a CPU with integrated graphics becomes a bottleneck with GPU resources you could add a discrete card right? I understand what AMD is selling with the APU chips but it is only a CPU with a LOT better GPU built-in right? Intel CPUs are APUs too ... except that the GPU part is pretty crappy ... or am I missing something here?

JimR
July 7, 2012 11:46:46 PM

Intel CPUs aren't technically APUs. The graphics is combined in the CPU packaging (unlike previous generations, where it was part of the chipset), but they are still separate in the architecture.

AMDs APUs combine GPU and CPU cores in the architecture to accelerate video processing (hence, the name Accelerated Processing Unit). It's actually very clever.

The APU should be more than enough for general use, but certain AMD 6XXX cards can be paired with the system to enhance video performance for very little extra $$$.
July 8, 2012 12:40:57 AM

jrau said:
I'm assuming that if a CPU with integrated graphics becomes a bottleneck with GPU resources you could add a discrete card right? I understand what AMD is selling with the APU chips but it is only a CPU with a LOT better GPU built-in right? Intel CPUs are APUs too ... except that the GPU part is pretty crappy ... or am I missing something here?

JimR



You are right. For 2D, text, etc. the video in the i3 is exactly the same as in the intel APU. the only time you'll see a difference is if you hit some flash in a web page.

Its a very reasonable approach to purchase an i3, run the integrated video and upgrade later if you ever need to. This will give you a stronger system if you put a midrange video card in it later.

(Its also a reasonable approach to get the AMD APU based system).
July 8, 2012 12:45:20 AM

I'd argue that the AMD APUs make more sense. They cost less and exceed both the CPU and GPU needs of the OP in a more balanced manner than a similar Intel build.
July 8, 2012 1:12:20 AM

boiler1990 said:
I'd argue that the AMD APUs make more sense. They cost less and exceed both the CPU and GPU needs of the OP in a more balanced manner than a similar Intel build.


Thinking on the Tom's article comparing an AMD APU to a Intel CPU plus discrete GPU the conclusion was that going the Intel route would allow more upgrade possibilities down the road. Which makes sense unless the AMD APU system is always fast enough.

I'm still stumped ...
July 8, 2012 1:17:58 AM

Of course it would - the Intel CPUs are stronger than almost any of AMD's CPUs, let alone the APUs, so you could upgrade the GPU and still be balanced.

However, general tasks are generally much more dependent on the graphics capabilities, as well as the hard drive speed (loading Office used to take forever because the drives sucked, not because CPUs were too slow).

Buying a decent Intel CPU + dedicated GPU will always cost more than a single AMD APU.
July 15, 2012 11:23:04 PM

After some reading, I think I’ll go with an APU. What do you think of this config?

CPU: AMD A4-3400 Llano 2.7GHz - $54
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB: ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 AMD A55 - $55.97 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: Pareema 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 - $21.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical: Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Burner - $16.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Someone please recommend a PSU for this!!!

Best solution

July 16, 2012 12:27:46 AM
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You're not looking at a very big PSU for this. Something in the 300W range with 80+ certification is your best bet.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 16, 2012 6:15:26 PM

Thanks everyone, I'll see how this build turns out. I want to try Win8 on this as well. I'll update when everything is ready.
July 16, 2012 6:16:33 PM

Best answer selected by Tony_g.
July 16, 2012 6:27:36 PM

I'm looking at using an APU for a home server/media PC that's always-on. I'd love to see power draw from the wall on something like this.
July 25, 2012 12:11:19 AM

I finished this build a few days ago, and it's working very well so far. This APU plays HD video no problem. Watching 1080p YouTube video uses 45% of the CPU.

As for the power draw, I checked it with KillAWatt, and it idles at 42W and with the cpu at 45%, its around 65W.

CPU: AMD A4-3400 Llano 2.7GHz
MB: ASRock A55M-HVS
RAM: Pareema 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333
PSU: SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300W
HDD: Maxtor 200GB
OS: Windows 8 release preview

With 4 fans on the case, it runs very cool. 29C - 36C.
!