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Budget system, circa £250 - £275, what have I got wrong?

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November 28, 2010 3:55:28 PM

Hello all, first post here, and its a system build inquiry, sorry, I'm sure you're all sick of this kind of thing!

Approximate Purchase Date: next two weeks

Budget Range: £200 - £275 delivered.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Reliable everyday, Surfing the internet, watching movies, downloading, office, running lots of programs, occasional gaming

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, graphics card, case (have a decentish Antec case)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: www.amazon.co.uk www.ebuyer.com

Country of Origin: UK

Parts Preferences: by brand or type No real preference on brand, although it looks like AMD is the way to go at my price range. Want 4gb ram, 1tb hard drive.

Overclocking: Yes / Maybe - I would like to overclock but only if i can do it using the included tools on the motherboard and it is reliable. Reliability is my main concern

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Will be 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I want, in this order: Reliability, silence, longevity, speed.

I hope this has given an idea of what i need from my computer. Following is a list of parts that I've come up with, feedback greatly appreciated on which bits I've got wrong and whether I should save money in some parts to re-allocate it elsewhere for example.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H 880G Socket AM3 8 Channel Audio mATX Motherboard
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/218935

Does it matter if I for an ATX or an MATX motherboard?

I was originally going to go for a close to bottom of the range motherboard, e.g and Asus around £40. However I get the impression the motherboard is a place where it's worth spending a few pounds more. Additionally, this has an HDMI port, I was planning to buy a cheap graphics card with an HDMI port to replace my current radeon 8000 series (i think that's what it is!) because it has no HDMI port. My question however is, will the onboard graphics be enough for sensibly playing 1080p movies? Won't the HD decoding be done on the processor thus slowing the computer down?

Basically I'm asking is it worth me spending an extra 30 quid on motherboard to avoid spending 30 quid on a graphics card that can comfortably deal with HD and has an HDMI port, or should I save on the motherboard and buy a graphics card later? To clarify, no considering of gaming in graphics card choice, purely for super smooth HD playback. HD playback is a big concern

Processor AMD Athlon II X4 630 Socket AM3 2.8GHz 2MB L2 Cache
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/176579

Originally I was considering an X3 for about £10 less. However I've read that if you can afford to shift up to quad core then you should. This seems like a good use of an extra £10?

MemoryCorsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz/PC3-12800 XMS3 i5 Memory Kit CL9(9-9-9-24) 1.65V
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173122

No expert on memory. This seems like a good choice, is it?

Hard Drive Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173804

I was originally going to get a Seagate, as I've always had the impression that Seagate's were reliable, had a great reputation and were the best choice. But everyone on here seems to recommend the Sammy. Is this better than a Seagate?

Power Supply OCZ 500W Mod XStream Pro PSU - 2x PCI-E 6x SATA
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152009

I'm guilty of scrimping on PSU's in the past, not going to make the same mistake again. OCZ seem to be reputable, but there is a non modular "stealthxtreme" version which seems to be same without the modular cables. Is it really worth the extra £10 for some removable cables? Especially bearing in mind that the power cables themselves aren't modular its just the rest of them.
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So there we go, many questions, probably many wrong assumptions, would be glad if anyone can offer me some well reasoned advice. I would like to knock some money off the total shown below so if anyone has any ideas do let me know!

Many thanks,

Nick


November 28, 2010 5:06:46 PM

Have a quick look at www.scan.co.uk. I find them a bit cheaper sometimes.
November 28, 2010 5:39:44 PM

Sadly they don'r appear to carry the processor or power supply I am looking at, bit cheaper on the ram though to be fair so thanks for the recommendation. They don't have free postage though!
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November 29, 2010 3:51:14 PM

Just to update this a bit. I'm considering whether I want to stump up the extra for an 880 chipset over a 770 chipset. Struggling to find out what the actual differences are and whether the 880 is capable of "real" HD playback using just its on board graphics.

Any help appreciated.

Thanks
December 1, 2010 11:14:27 AM

Thanks for the response, is that believed to be a quieter power supply do you know?

Thanks very much
December 1, 2010 12:18:22 PM

the x4 630 is not on ebuyer anymore (out of stock) except in this bundle. it may come back in stock by the time you buy it.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/240618

if it doesnt, just go for this cheaper alternative. amd athlon II x3 445 3.1ghz. depending on your motherboard, it can be unlocked from a triple core processor into a quad core processor.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/235421

do you already have a optical drive/dont need one? any particular reason you are going for the ocz 500w modxstream pro?
December 1, 2010 1:06:41 PM

That Asrock M3A doesn't have onboard video and has old chipsets.

LE Corsair is much better than OCZ.
December 1, 2010 2:52:49 PM

Thanks for the input everyone.

Already have an optical drive so dont need another one.

I've heard the Corsair may be better but can anyone shed light on specifically why?

I have read that cores cannot be reliably unlocked on all chips, specifically "if you want a quad core, buy a quad core, not a triple core with the hope to unlock"

Additionally, would there be some stability / reliability / warrant gains to be had from choosing a "proper" quad core over a unlocked triple?

I have a relatively "standard" size ATX case, not huge but a decent size I guess, a midi tower I think. I'm now seeing Gigabyte 880 chipset boards for around £60 which seems like the obvious choice?

Edited to add: thanks Mosox, confirms what I thought.

Thanks once again everyone!
December 3, 2010 8:14:15 AM

Hi, i've been running some numbers and I've recently made a build similar to yours recently. I've just got a couple of questions as regarding your request;

-What operating system are you going to be running? I ask because I run vista, with anti-virus and borderlands playing with 75% RAM usage of 2GB. So assuming your running Windows 7/XP, there is nothing you'll be running on your pc that will use more than 2GB of RAM. I Mean my sister's PC runs Windows 7 on a P4 and 512MB of RAM fine.

-Is there any reason your spending so much on a power supply? 500W is alot for a non/lowly over clocked X4 W/O a GPU.

Something like this;

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/124922

Which I own, was enough to power a GTX 460 OC'd and an Athlon 6000+

For 10 over budget you can get;

MSI 870A-G54 Socket AM3 8 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/205849

Scythe Shuriken Quiet Low Profile Processor Cooler
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/148079

Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173804

AMD Athlon II X4 630 Socket AM3 2.8GHz 2MB L2 Cache Retail Boxed Processor
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/176579

Crucial 2GB DDR3 1333MHz/PC3-10600 Memory CL9 1.5V - X2
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/159919

Arctic Power 500W PSU With PCI-E 2x SATA, 20+4 ATX12V 8pin +12V Connectors - Retail Boxed
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/124922

TOTAL = £284.53

Without knowing your case and therefore case fans I can't guarantee it will be silent. but for 10 over budget you can get 1TB HDD, 4GB RAM, SATA/USB III motherboard, a silent hard drive plenty capable of HD playback with plenty of room for overclocking and PSU also very capable of powering your setup.
December 3, 2010 9:37:49 PM

Thanks very much for the reply.

I see where you're coming from with the power supply. But I've fallen foul to poor quality power supplies in the past and I dont want to make the same mistake again.

I don't mind spending a few extra pounds to make sure that I've got a decent unit. I appreciate the one that you've suggested, but it doesn't have a 120mm fan, therefore I assume (possibly wrongly) that it just cant be that quiet! Also, I've never really heard of Arctic Power.

I'm now looking at these two:

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/245670
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/200489

Read too many bad reviews of the Corsair VX series suggesting that it buzzed!

You've suggested a 870 chipset rather than a 880, I'm not certain as to what the difference is?

I'm interested by the crucial memory, its a brand I trust, but I was looking at 1600mhz ram rather than 1333mhz. I'm leaning towards the 1600mhz I suggested.

Interested in your opinion and what anyone else thinks!

Thanks
December 4, 2010 7:26:08 AM

Hi,

I understand where your coming from with the power supplies, however I can confirm that the Arctic is silent ( 2x 80mm fans ) and also that any corsair series don't buzz unless there is some fault with the unit.

And so if you're leaning towards a higher market PSU, 1600Mhz RAM and a motherboard that supports it it seems that this will exceed your initial budget, unless you take it down to a dual core/2GB RAM.

And I suppose you're still certain about getting 4GB RAM?
December 4, 2010 7:45:23 AM



Thats the best I can come up with with the prerequisite of 4GB 1600Mhz RAM, 1600Mhz Mobo, 1TB HDD, silent, Quad.
December 4, 2010 7:49:56 AM

But again, assuming this is just for day to day use it would be much more efficient to raise it a little bit more, take it down to 2GB RAM and put an SSD. I'll try and run some numbers;
December 4, 2010 8:03:12 AM



For 30 Pounds more you can squeeze in a SSD for no discernible speed loss, and in fact your system will feel a lot more responsive. I chose an SSD with a higher read and low write because unless you're going to be writing from one SSD to another you'll never utilise the higher write speed. The write speed in day to day use is usually dictated by your internet or CD drive. the 355MB's read speed should make it boot up and applications run a lot faster and feel more snappy. If I could point you towards to below article;

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/component-upgrade-ssd,rev...
December 4, 2010 10:23:33 AM

to save a bit of money, im sure you could go for either of these antec power supplies. it should still be enough power since theres no graphics card.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/114928

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/185183

as an alternative to the shuriken cpu cooler, you could get the coolermaster hyper 212 plus for a similar price.

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/245376

theres not much difference between a 1333mhz ram and a 1600mhz ram unless you are overclocking. save some extra money by going for the 500gb samsung hard drive instead of the 1tb. the 1tb harddrive is slightly cheaper (£45 vs 48) on amazon.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002MQC0P8/ref=asc_df_B002MQ...

its only around £40 on scan.

http://www.scan.co.uk/products/ss1tb-samsung-hd103sj-sp...

whereas the 500gb samsung can be found for under £30 at bt.

http://www.shop.bt.com/products/samsung-500gb-spinpoint...

also under £30 at dabs.

http://www.dabs.com/products/samsung-500gb-spinpoint-f3...
December 4, 2010 1:12:33 PM

Joe and Infernox, thankyou both for your effort in replying its much appreciated!

CPU coolerwise I have a Zalman that I hope to recycle. If that doesn't work then I'll just take the hit.

On the subject of power supplies, I just don't think I can have one with less than a 120mm fan. I accept this may be stupid, indeed there are some recommended on SPCR with 80mm fans. But I cant do it, sorry!

I think I'm pretty much set on the corsair, its more than I need I know, but I cant put a price on piece of mind! It has a five year warranty and is recommended by SPCR so it seems sensible, the reports of buzzing worry me but I guess I can return it if that happens.

I contemplated going for 500GB but I know I will regret it so that's a no go.

I appreciate what's said about not needing 1600mhz ram unless I overclock, but overclocking seems to be so "easy" and common place these days that I'm sure I will have a go at it. With that in mind please see the choice of motherboard below. It supports 1600mhz, has usb + sata 3.0. My only issue is will it be able to handle 1080p HD content? I guess probably not. This is an area where I feel I could potentially make a saving but I'm not sure

I think I'm dead set on the processor and ram.

Please ignore any previous comments about budget, I don't have a fixed budget, I'm prepared to pay the extra if its "worth it" as you can see from the build cost rising through this thread lol. But you can see the price range I'm looking at. 20 to 30 quid either way doesnt make much difference.

Thanks very much once again, and please don't feel like I'm arguing with you!

Latest parts list attached below.

December 4, 2010 2:00:29 PM

Hi again,

If you're worried HD playback, i suppose the best thing to do would be to go ahead with that motherboard, and if it doesn't work how you'd like it to, just get anything like this;

Asus HD 4350 512MB DDR2 DVI VGA HDMI Out PCI-E Low Profile Graphics Card
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/169294

Or you could worry less about chip-sets and go for a cheaper motherboard and just buy a GPU from the off. Its up to you which way you go.

And as far as over-clocking goes, I'm not sure how much 1600Mhz RAM would be a bonus as I think I can assume you're not going to be an extreme over-clocker; "Silence and Reliability" But in saying that its only 10 pounds extra for the RAM. I've easily got a 0.5Ghz over-clock on the cheapest of DDR2 value RAM and a mid-range Asrock motherboard.

The PSU looks good to go.

I've never re-used a CPU cooler so it may be a case of scraping it off the stock AMD or of the Zalman. But again if it doesn't work out you can just use the stock AMD for a bit and order some new paste.

The Chipsets of motherboards has been something I've always meant to look into, but I could never find any solid information on the differentiation between them. All I can say is I can run 1080p fine on an athlon 6000+, 2GB DDR2 667mhz RAM on an AM2, GeForce 8200 chipset motherboard.
December 4, 2010 5:08:40 PM

Hi Joe,

So that's running 1080p HD video on the onboard graphics card? That's very interesting!

And you're right, certainly not going to be an extreme overclocker, that ram just seems like a good midway point of high speed, good brand and good price.

The motherboard issue is exactly what I'm wondering about really, do i buy a worse motherboard an extra card, or do I go for a good motherboard and hope I wont need a card. I do already have a card more than up to the job, but it doesnt have and HDMI out!
December 4, 2010 8:58:55 PM

i think the integrated graphics card on the motherboard is actually better at gaming than your current 8000 series radeon card, so i think there will be no problems with 1080p HD video playback.
!