I'm a frugal newbie who's thinking of adding an AMD3(+) CPU, motherboard, and RAM to some existing components for a basic non-gaming PC. I'd appreciate advice on my choices, especially warnings.
Approximate Purchase Date: October 2012
Budget Range: $150-200 (for CPU+mobo+RAM) After Rebates; After Shipping
System Usage from Most to Least Important: web surfing, email, office/homework, (maybe) watching movies
Are you buying a monitor: No (have HP LP2065)
Parts to Upgrade: CPU, mobo, RAM, (existing PSU = Thermal Master 500W TM-500-PSSR-F1)
Parts to Re-use: Monitor, IDE DVD-RW, IDE HDD, Bluetooth USB adapter, case, PSU.
Do you need to buy OS: No (plan to keep using Linux, but might add Windows later)
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, or other suggestions
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Parts Preferences: AMD AM3/3+ motherboards seem to have the best onboard features for my needs (IDE connection, DVI port)
SLI or Crossfire: No
Your Monitor Resolution: 1600x1200 monitor, also maybe 1368x768 HDTV
Additional Comments: This would mainly be a kid's homework and entertainment PC (no serious gaming) with possible use for viewing video on a 32-inch HDTV.
And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Old PC failed, want to build new one using surviving parts.
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My old hand-me-down PC (P4, D865GLC mobo, Linux Mint 13) developed intermittent power-on failures. I tested the old PSU, and it seemed OK. I found a Cooler Master case & PSU combo at Amazon, where I had enough card points to make it "free", and bought it. I figured I'd test the original motherboard in the new case/PSU, hoping that the problem was in the case switch or PSU. If it wasn't, then I'd have the case for a new build.
The old mobo showed the same bad startup symptoms in the new case, so I'm reaady to give up on it. Because I have a recent-ish IDE DVD-RW drive and HDD in the original PC, I'd like to re-use those in the new one. So I searched for boards that had an IDE connection. I had been using an AGP card for DVI video, and since that's too old to be compatible, and since our video needs will be light, I liked the idea of DVI integrated onboard rather than adding a new video card. Plugging those criteria into a Newegg search gave me a few well-rated motherboard choices in the under-$100 range, all AMD A3(+). That led me to a few Athlon CPUs around $60-70. The items and links are below.
Yes, I know that IDE is passe, that I could get more future-oriented lines from AMD (& Intel), and that this case & PSU are low-end. The goal here is a basic PC for kid & family things (no demanding gaming), that's usable for a few years, and that won't cost more than $150-200 on top of what I've already sunk into components. If I needed to spend much more than that, I'd order a retail one with new components, warranty, and Windows. I'll admit that I also like to tinker, so the experience of building this is a draw for me.
My maybe-nice/maybe-later list includes running HDMI out to our smallish HDTV (next to the computer desk) for watching videos, adding a wireless card (although the house is well-set for ethernet), and adding a USB3 card if future peripherals demand it. Those things have me leaning toward the ATX ASUS M4A88T-V motherboard, with its integrated HDMI and its plethora of PCI/e slots. It's ~$30 more than the others on my list, but that's what an HDMI video card would cost to add otherwise. I wouldn't aim to run the DVI & HDMI adjacently, just maybe occasionally switching to HDMI. The extra PCI/e and RAM slots also seem to make it more future-flexible.
I'm sure that 8GB of RAM is more than we'd need now, but for the difference between 2x2GB and 2x4GB, and the limit of 2 slots on the microATX boards above, it seems like it'd be worth going with 8GB now to avoid swap-out hassles later. Of course, the ATX board's 4 slots would make me more comfortable with filling just 2 of them with 2x2GB, allowing for additions later. I'm quite ignorant of RAM choices, beyond crudely matching DDR3 1333 to what all the mobo listings say. I'd be really glad to get advice on specs to look for there.
I've read a lot of threads and guides at tomshardware.com, and learned quite a bit while also finding out that there's a lof of expertise that I don't have but that a lot of very helpful forum-dwellers do. I know that my standards and budget are much lower than usual here, but I'd appreciate any suggestions or criticism that might help me make the best of what I have to work with.
So that all leads me to some particular questions:
- Is one of those motherboards or CPUs significantly better than the others?
- Are there any issues with running Linux on these?
- What kind & configuration of RAM would be best?
- What other factors should I consider in choosing all of this?
- Where am I going wrong? (Somewhere, I'm sure)
Like you said there was a asus board that you seemed to really like and that's a great board for what your using the pc for. Linux will work with it. For the ram you really will never use that much 4 gigs will be great for what you are doing. I think it's a very great build you have .
@ckholt Hmm, I didn't realize that
> the CPU you picked out doesn't actually have the integrated graphics chip
> you would need in order to forego a discrete graphics card.
I get that the Llano you suggest is an APU, combining a CPU and GPU. What I don't get is why the motherboard would say it supports onboard graphics, when the processors available for it (or at least my Athlon choice) would prevent that. What's the "Onboard Video Chipset: ATI Radeon HD 4250" do, then?
I admit I'm a novice, so if I'm missing something, let me know. I appreciate the alternative suggestions, whcih look good if I switch to that kind of setup.
@ThatMoose When you say a "very great build", were you assuming I'd add a discrete graphics card, or was the onboard video OK in your assessment?
Oh! Actually the mistake is mine. The motherboard you picked has the integrated graphics, not the CPU. That is how they used to do integrated graphics in general, I've just gotten used to the new method of putting it directly on the CPU instead. So your original build would still work without a discrete card, but the solution I proposed will give you a more powerful processor, AND better graphics, AND a shiny new / faster SATA HDD.
Whew - so my read on it wasn't crazy. Thanks for the advice, and the lightning-fast reply. Yes, the build I'd planned would be living in the past somewhat. I'll take a good look at your forward-looking alternative setup before deciding - the free 8GB of RAM is a nice touch.
But don't look too long if you want to opt for that $50 1.5TB drive, the sale is for today only. You could still get a 500GB SATA drive for around 50 bucks of course, which would probably also be more than sufficient for your needs. Just sayin'