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Challenge: Is it possible to build a competent rig for under $250?

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January 15, 2013 6:27:19 PM

I'm looking to build a desktop for my girlfriend.

Don't need:
Monitor (she has dual monitors)
Keyboard/Mouse
OS


She's not much of a gamer, so there is no priority on that. However, like myself, she is a photographer so Photoshop will be used as well as video editing programs.

Is this possible or should I bump up the budget? I know Tom's does a $400 rig build, just wondering if you guys can drop the price. :) 
January 15, 2013 6:46:39 PM

I'm not sure what the requirements are for her video editing programs, but it is just barely possible to build a rig from new components for under $250:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A4-3400 2.7GHz Dual-Core Processor ($33.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI A55M-P33 Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 2GB (1 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($7.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint M8 250GB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 4350 1GB Video Card ($26.32 @ NCIX US)
Case: DIYPC DIY-5823 B/S (Black/Silver) ATX Mid Tower Case ($24.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: StarTech 400W ATX12V Power Supply ($41.98 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($20.39 @ Amazon)
Total: $240.63
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-15 15:44 EST-0500)
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January 15, 2013 6:49:16 PM

Mauve, can't you drop the price more if you exclude the GPU?
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January 15, 2013 6:56:59 PM

If you drop the video card I don't think photoshop will run very well.
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January 15, 2013 7:00:23 PM

Holy Moly, well done guys! I was skeptical but this looks promising. Of course her expectations will have to be tempered, $250 will only buy you so much, but this looks to be a MASSIVE upgrade over her 7+ year old hunk of junk. Thanks again guys!
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January 15, 2013 7:04:08 PM

MauveCloud said:
I'm not sure what the requirements are for her video editing programs, but it is just barely possible to build a rig from new components for under $250:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A4-3400 2.7GHz Dual-Core Processor ($33.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI A55M-P33 Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 2GB (1 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($7.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint M8 250GB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 4350 1GB Video Card ($26.32 @ NCIX US)
Case: DIYPC DIY-5823 B/S (Black/Silver) ATX Mid Tower Case ($24.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: StarTech 400W ATX12V Power Supply ($41.98 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($20.39 @ Amazon)
Total: $240.63
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-15 15:44 EST-0500)


Why would you pay $40 for a Startech Power Supply? That's just asking for trouble.

This would be my suggestion:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A6-3650 2.6GHz Quad-Core Processor ($74.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: Asus F1A55-M LE Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: A-Data Premier Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($26.12 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 250GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.00 @ Compuvest)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 330 Upgraded ATX Mid Tower Case ($37.33 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $295.39
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-15 16:03 EST-0500)

A bit more than $250 but you don't have to settle for a poor case and power supply.
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January 15, 2013 7:11:00 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Why would you pay $40 for a Startech Power Supply? That's just asking for trouble.


I was filtering based on the pcpartpicker ratings - that power supply had a 5 star average, but only out of 2 reviews :(  I guess I should have looked into it more. I notice your suggestion has no discrete video card, though.
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January 15, 2013 7:16:54 PM

MauveCloud said:
I was filtering based on the pcpartpicker ratings - that power supply had a 5 star average, but only out of 2 reviews :(  I guess I should have looked into it more. I notice your suggestion has no discrete video card, though.


But it's got an A6, which has a more powerful GPU than the A4 you had does... It should be plenty for Photoshop.
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January 15, 2013 7:21:36 PM

DarkSable said:
But it's got an A6, which has a more powerful GPU than the A4 you had does... It should be plenty for Photoshop.


Photoshop is one thing, but what about video editing? Here's my new suggestion, with a good case and power supply (based on newegg reviews as well as pcpartpicker reviews), more memory, and a discrete video card, and for less than your suggestion (I thought it would be under $250 until I realized I forgot to include an optical drive):

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A4-3400 2.7GHz Dual-Core Processor ($33.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI A55M-P33 Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($33.84 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint M8 250GB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 4350 1GB Video Card ($26.32 @ NCIX US)
Case: Apex PC-389-C ATX Mid Tower Case ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($20.39 @ Amazon)
Total: $269.50
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-15 16:22 EST-0500)
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January 15, 2013 7:23:58 PM

get A10 chipset and MOBO without videocard
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January 15, 2013 7:34:24 PM

Do not get a dual core CPU. Get the quad A6 and forget about the need for a GPU
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January 15, 2013 7:43:02 PM

MauveCloud said:
Photoshop is one thing, but what about video editing? Here's my new suggestion, with a good case and power supply (based on newegg reviews as well as pcpartpicker reviews), more memory, and a discrete video card.


That's a fair point, but why an A4? You'd get way better performance with an Athlon, even.
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January 15, 2013 7:56:21 PM

DarkSable said:
That's a fair point, but why an A4? You'd get way better performance with an Athlon, even.


Not with the original Athlon that released in 1999, you wouldn't :) 

I was trying to keep the cost down. I should wait for OP to specify what video editing software is likely to be used, so I can look up the requirements and provide a suggestion based on that.
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January 15, 2013 7:58:34 PM

MauveCloud said:
I was filtering based on the pcpartpicker ratings - that power supply had a 5 star average, but only out of 2 reviews :(  I guess I should have looked into it more. I notice your suggestion has no discrete video card, though.


That's *EXACTLY* why store reviews aren't to be taken seriously. Here's a couple of things you should read before choosing really poor quality power supplies:

- http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-psu-re...
- http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/low-cost-psu-pc-pow...
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January 15, 2013 10:20:04 PM

MauveCloud said:
Not with the original Athlon that released in 1999, you wouldn't :) 

I was trying to keep the cost down. I should wait for OP to specify what video editing software is likely to be used, so I can look up the requirements and provide a suggestion based on that.


Hey, put a little liquid gas over that baby, overclock it to the point where it becomes sentient, then look it in the eye and tell it can't keep up. :p 

Though yeah, that does make sense. I'd lean towards a Pentium or Phenom II.
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January 15, 2013 11:05:26 PM

You'll want to get 2x 2GB RAM instead of 1x 4GB RAM with APU.
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January 15, 2013 11:27:00 PM

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/xOEW

CPU: AMD A8-3870K 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($79.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI A55M-P33 Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($35.57 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: DIYPC DIY-5823 B/S (Black/Silver) ATX Mid Tower Case ($24.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($20.39 @ Amazon)
Total: $290.90
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!