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Budget build advice for under £500

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February 7, 2011 6:52:39 PM

Hi all, i'm new here on the forums but i've been checking out reviews on Tom's Hardware for a number of years now :) 

Anyway, it's my brothers birthday soon and i'm thinking about building him a new PC to replace his old dual core rig... I'm on a tight budget and already have a setup in mind, just want to know peoples opinions and advice please :) 

My brothers current rig (that i built a few years ago):

*Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 @ 2.33ghz
*4gb Corsair XMS2 DDR2 RAM @ 800mhz (2 x 2gb dual channel))
*640mb Nvidia Geforce 8800 GTS
*Asrock 4Core1333-Viiv motherboard using Intel P965 chipset (not my first choice of motherboard but the price was too good to pass :pt1cable:  )
*530W Hiper Type-M PSU
*Some weird bulldozer style ATX case (can't remember the make/model but it's a "love it or hate it" kind of thing... a bit like Marmite)

The new planned budget rig (overclocking is not in his best interest):

*AMD Athlon II X4 645 @ 3.1ghz
*4gb Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1333 (geting this as his XMS2 RAM has been rock solid these last few years!)
*Nvidia Geforce GTX 460 1gb *Or* ATI/AMD Radeon 5770 1GB (this costs about £50 less than the GTX 460)
*ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3 motherboard using AMD's 880G chipset (There doesn't appear to be any VRM/mosfet cooling on any of the cheaper AMD micro ATX boards... is this something to worry about?)
*600W Corsair CX PSU
*NZXT Vulcan Micro ATX case

All the above comes in under £500.... How much of an improvement will this be compared to his old PC? He mainly uses it to play World Of Warcraft, Unreal Tournament 3 and has started playing various Call of Duty games (Black Ops has made him realsie how old his PC is getting lol!).

Any other reccomendations are welcome, Cheers :bounce: 
February 7, 2011 7:08:55 PM

I forgot to mention... Any gaming he does will use a max resolution of 1680x1050 (that's the highest resolution his Asus monitor supports).
February 7, 2011 7:32:28 PM

The only thing that really needs to be changed is the power supply, as the new CX range is not very good, obviously better than junk, but there are better power supplies around for a similar price. It may say 600W on the label, but I believe that it only has around 500 watts on it's 12V rail.

Antec High Current Gamer HCG520W 80Plus Bronze £57
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/245671
It is more efficient, better built; has a higher temperature rating. You don't need any more for a build with a single GTX 460.

The GTX 460 is substantially stronger than a 5770, don't know if it's worth £50, but it will stand him in better stead over a longer period of time IMO than a 5770, which is still a good card at that resolution.

No I don't think the lack of mosfet/VRM heatsinks is a big deal, especially if you are not overclocking and/or have decent case airflow.
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February 7, 2011 7:41:31 PM

Silvune said:
The only thing that really needs to be changed is the power supply, as the new CX range is not very good, obviously better than junk, but there are better power supplies around for a similar price. It may say 600W on the label, but I believe that it only has around 500 watts on it's 12V rail.

Antec High Current Gamer HCG520W 80Plus Bronze £57
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/245671
It is more efficient, better built; has a higher temperature rating. You don't need any more for a build with a single GTX 460.

The GTX 460 is substantially stronger than a 5770, don't know if it's worth £50, but it will stand him in better stead over a longer period of time IMO than a 5770, which is still a good card at that resolution.


Thanks for the advice... I was thinkng about the Corsair PSU as they are usually quite good, but maybe i'll give this one a miss. The other PSU was the 550W Cooler Master GX which also uses a single 12V rail (44A) : ... What do you think? Or is the Antec still better?
February 7, 2011 8:08:11 PM

The Antec is definitely better. The Cooler Master GX series has had poor reviews.

BTW single rail doesn't necessarily mean better.
February 7, 2011 10:30:16 PM

I'd say your original build is great! No complaints here.
February 8, 2011 7:39:46 AM

ahthurungnone said:
I'd say your original build is great! No complaints here.


Are you talking about the old Core 2 Duo build or the new one i'm planning to build? The old build is definitely starting to show it's age and my brother wants to try out some of the newer games... But i'm on a tight budget and he's not bothered about running all games on max settings (His PC can't cope too well with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 either). I may change the CPU in my first post from an Athlon II X4 645 to a Phenom II X4 965 (A friend will be selling his cheap after upgrading to a Thuban x6).

My Bro would like his PC to be a bit smaller so i'm looking for a good but cheap Micro-ATX board, the one's i've seen have good specs for the price but none of them have VRM/mosfet heatsinks!! I'm not too sure what to think about this as i know they can get extremely hot and even blow! I would be grateful if anyone can point me in the direction of a reasonably priced Micro-ATX mobo with decent cooling (AM3). Thanks :) 
February 8, 2011 9:00:02 AM

After a quick look on scan I couldn't see any with more substantial heatsinks on the VRM/mosfet area. Again, I think that they are unnecessary if you are not overclocking and/or have decent case airflow, which I think the Vulcan will have. Alternatively you could install a top-down/down-blowing heatsink that will provide additional, directed airflow onto the motherboard and those components, thereby helping to keep them cool.
February 8, 2011 9:54:28 AM

Silvune said:
After a quick look on scan I couldn't see any with more substantial heatsinks on the VRM/mosfet area. Again, I think that they are unnecessary if you are not overclocking and/or have decent case airflow, which I think the Vulcan will have. Alternatively you could install a top-down/down-blowing heatsink that will provide additional, directed airflow onto the motherboard and those components, thereby helping to keep them cool.


Thanks for the quick reply... Hmmm I wonder if there are any small cases that can accomodate a full size ATX board then? It seems the full sized boards are usually better quality. I will try and look for the smallest full-ATX case :) 

I myself was going to build a mini-ITX gaming rig Using a Core i5 2500, ITX mobo, Silverstone Sugo SG07 case (comes with a good 600W PSU), 8gb DDR3 RAM and and either a Geforce GTX 570 or Radeon 6970.... But i've put the project on hold because of the Cougar Point chipset flaw. Apparently the fixed boards will start rolling out in April, but i'm sure AMD's Bulldozer will be in stores by then (AMD may even make me change my mind about building a Sandy Bridge rig, but we'll see :D  ).
February 8, 2011 10:18:26 AM

I don't think they're lacking in quality necessarily, just some features which some people don't need.

I can't think of any small cases that can accommodate ATX sized motherboards atm, that's partly because I'm at college now, so don't have access to my research on cases. The second reason is that my focus on small cases has not been that great. One possiblity may be the Antec NSK series. And the Silverstone TJ08.

It would be nice for the top end Bulldozer to be on par with, if not ahead of the i7-2600K.
February 9, 2011 3:21:56 AM

On UK/Europe i would rather hit an 80+ BeQuiet/Antec High Current line of PSU
!