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Building PC with sub $1000


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#1
Primevi1

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Ok Im sure this has been asked a thousand times, however I feel like I have a specialized case warranting a new post.

So I have had the same desktop for 4 years now which I bought barebones and slowly added more and more components too. However I now feel it is time to upgrade many of the origional components (Athlon CPU and Motherboard particulary.)

I have about $700-1000 to spend and my hope is to have a performance machine to last me for a couple years to come.

I want to purchase a new case, power supply, Intel CPU (prob e8800), motherboard (prob want to overclock), RAM (currently have 3 256mb), Graphics Card (prob nvidia), and possibly fans and/or watercooling to keep the system at max performance.

I already have a DVD +/- RW and CD/DVD drive and also a decent soundblaster 24bit 5.1 sound card, monitor, mouse/keyboard etc.

I dont really want this PC for gaming just for general everyday internet and photoshop use. Also I am undecided if I should stick with XP or upgrade to Vista. However I do want to get the best bang for my buck and something that will last for at least 2-3 years.

Preferably I would also like to use this as a Home entertainment PC which allows me to install a TV-tuner and have HDMI out capabilities, as well as firewire/SATA. I dont know if this is possible but I also would like a small compact case (maybe micro/mini ATX) as the computer will most likely be out in the open, so it has to look not to gaudy (ie flashes colors etc.)

Let me know what you guys think would be my best purchases at this moment in time 02/26/08.

Thanks for any help, I owe you one

Edited by Primevi1, 26 February 2008 - 01:29 PM.

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#2
Troy

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Hi there, welcome to Geeks to Go!

We have recently finished working on a sub-$1000 build, you can find it here.

Have a look through that and let us know what you think. It wouldn't be too difficult to add a TV tuner card to it. Also, here is a list of cards that have HDMI support from Nvidia, so you could swap that around instead of the recommendation if that's what you particularly want.

Cheers

Troy
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#3
Primevi1

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Yeah I happened to see that however there is a lot of stuff in there i dont need, monitor etc. This frees up money for other better components and I was wondering what they were. I really wanted to get an Intel CPU also.
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#4
Troy

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Okay, so you have $1000 to spend on the tower? You don't need a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers?

Here is what I would be looking at, then:

Case $39.99
Extra Case Fan $7.99
DVD Burner $28.99
Hard Drive 500GB $104.99
Motherboard $89.99
Intel Processor $244.78
2GB RAM $45.99
Antec 650W PSU $109.99
Video Card $329.99

Cheers

Troy

EDIT: My mistake, I've forgotten to include an OS (Vista Home Premium). I'll need to revise this later to include this in the price, it's around $100. Or someone else may make some changes first :)

Edited by troy, 26 February 2008 - 10:49 PM.

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#5
BravoZulu

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Actually since you said you want a decent quiet smaller footprint system with better HD decoding for an HD-MCPC I would get an HD2600XT like this one it has much better HD decoding than any of the other cards listed and is also passive for no noise. You won't need anywhere near an 8800 GTS 512MB for a non gaming machine.

This will also lessen the need for a 650W Antec power supply. You'll still need a good one but you don't need that Antec with 3X 19A on the +12v rails. If you have to have an mATX here's a great case I've built with it a few times. Get yourself a better power supply and use the case PSU as emergency backup only -- a good PSU for an mATX case (with a hefty single +12v rail) here.

A good mATX mainboard is the Gigabyte G33 here. I built two systems with the wolfdale core and this mATX board and it's out of the box compatible with the E8400.

So, with this machine you have less cost, same performance (non gaming wise) and the need for less power, and better HD capability, and if the video card ever fails and you have to RMA it you can use the integrated IGP as backup (albeit analog only) but it will get you by until you get an RMA back, and the integreted will also run Vista Aero if needed.

Edited by BravoZulu, 27 February 2008 - 12:02 AM.

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#6
Troy

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Hi there,

I'm going to say that you're right BravoZulu! My mistake - I got confused with another thread I was working on, and built a gaming computer. :)

The 2600 series would be a good choice, to save even a few more dollars you could grab a 2600 Pro, if this is going to be a non-gaming computer then the difference would not be noticeable.

Cheers

Troy
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#7
BravoZulu

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Hi troy, that configuration you had up was a good one for gaming certainly, or someone that might do some gaming that has a larger LCD, but if the monitor used is a CRT (easier down-scalable with 4:3 resolutions) or no bigger than a 19- 22" LCD I would suggest the $200.00 (USD) MSI 8800GT or one of the newer $170.00ish (again USD) 9600GT's over the 8800GTS 512MB or especially an ATI HD 3850-3870, again for better HD decoding than the NV counterpart at least for an HTPC box as ATI based cards have a lesser hit CPU % usage (practically nil) when doing HD decoding. I like the new NV cards slightly better for gaming purposes though.
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#8
Primevi1

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Wow thanks alot. I was wondering what the main pros/cons are to having a mATX mobo/case were. Is it just heat transfer and size and am I able to get similar performance than a full size unit?

Also Troy I already have a HDD and DVDburner so theres an extra $150 I have to spend on better equipment (or less).

From what you guys have showed me Im leaning towards the mATX case/mobo bravozulu recommended, but do you think there will be space to fite the sound card I already have, a TV tuner and also one of the Video Cards in without issues?

Also when are those processors going to be ready?

Again thanks for everything

Here is what I have so far on my checklist pending approval:

Case - $39.99
MOBO - $94.99
Intel Processor - $244.78
2GB RAM - $45.99
Video Card - $112.99
PSU - $79.99
Plus cables etc. - $50

Total (so far) - $669 + shipping costs

Edited by Primevi1, 27 February 2008 - 08:50 AM.

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#9
BravoZulu

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There will be space ... just enough space for the sound card and an HDTV card but that's all the space you'll have but that's another benefit of getting/using a smaller PCIe video card without a large clunky heat sink fan (EG you have more space underneath the PCIe slot). With the mATX case you'll fine with heat and temperatures as long as you don't overclock much or don't overclock at all. You'll be able to get a moderate overclock out of it even with the stock Intel heat sink fan, and yet you may not be interested in overclocking at all which is fine. In fact you can probably undervolt the CPU for even better temperatures. As for when the processor is ready? if you mean the E8400 you can get those right now and it's a straight drop in on that mortherboard. It was for my builds and in one build I used that first case I linked, and in another mATX build I used this allied case because it had more room for an bigger card later later because the client though he might eventually upgrade to a larger-much longer PCB ATI based 3870 (or 8800GT) class card.

Keep in mind though that if you specifically don't need that small of a case the case that Troy recommended will work out nicely and the recommendation I gave you is for a user that really does want to use a small case and not use a larger case. If you think that you might upgrade to a larger or longer video card I would strongly suggest that Allied case for room under the PCIe slot. If not the first case I recommended will work out well.

Edited by BravoZulu, 27 February 2008 - 10:49 AM.

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#10
Primevi1

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Well will the shorter card work well enough for me to use/open photoshop and extract files at a decent pace because that is the one thing that irks me the most about my current setup.

Also what kind/size of extra fan should i get or should i get something like this?

Edited by Primevi1, 27 February 2008 - 02:53 PM.

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#11
BravoZulu

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If it were me I would use the stock Intel heat sink fan because the 45nm E8400 is so efficient that the HSF itself will stop spinning at times because your temps will be so low and it will kick back in at a certain threshold and when it does it won't be very loud at all. Also, that HSF you linked won't fit in the smaller case as it will hit the side of the case, just as any of the taller heat sinks will like that one (thermalright Ultra 120 or Scythe Ninja series) If you want to use a quieter HSF you're going to want to use one that has a 4 pin PWM lead and the newer version of the Artic Cooling Freezer Pro ships that way (I use one), but you'll need a bigger case like the one Troy linked (and if you do you might as well get a full ATX mainboard) or you can use a Zalman as long as you're willing to install the ram first and possibly not touch it for a while because it will overhang and cover a wide swath of mainboard PCB area including the memory , so if you have tech issue you would have to remove the HSF just to remove the memory. I have to go out of town to install network with some new software+debug+secure for about 5-6 days but I'll try to check in on this forum when in the hotel if I have time so good luck.

Edited by BravoZulu, 27 February 2008 - 04:03 PM.

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#12
Primevi1

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For the HDTV tuner card do you have any recommendations? Should I get a PCIe x1 or x16? Which one will be better for space requirements with the video card and sound card in there? Also how do I run the SATA cables that come with the mobo to the outside so that they are easily accessible with that case?

Also do you have any idea how you get HD digital cable to work with the tuner card? My guess is that you still have to get the box and attach to the tv, and then tv-out to tuner card? Or is it box to tuner card then hdmi from graphics card to TV?

Im new to this whole computer as DVR/media center thing so any advice would be appreciated.

Also I found this PSU for the same price as the other one after rebate? Is bigger always better when it comes to PSU's?

Edited by Primevi1, 27 February 2008 - 09:11 PM.

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#13
Troy

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Also I found this PSU for the same price as the other one after rebate? Is bigger always better when it comes to PSU's?

Bigger is not always better, but in this case it is :) That Corsair is a good choice.

Troy
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#14
Primevi1

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Oh man im going to piss you all off now...

So ive been thinking about what i said earlier whe i wanted a system that is going to be easily upgradeable in the future and I am now leaning towards the mid size tower. I think this will allow for more upgrade ability as there are more slots for expansion.

With that said the case that troy recommended looks good as it matches my 1080p LCD TV and the mobo also (except from the fact it doesnt include firewire, but it has SATA for my external hdd anyway) So with that said do you still think I should get the 550W PSU or the 650W PSU for about the same price? Also the video card I feel is a pretty important component so I think as long as it can handle 1080p without any problems and has a hdmi out, what will be the cheapest best performance product.

Also will my current HDD be able to swap to the new system or will I have to reformat since I am replacing so many components, not to mention switching from amd to intel?

Thanks once again.
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#15
BravoZulu

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I'm about to leave for the airport but I have time to answer a few. First if you have the room it's always a wise choice to go with a larger normal size ATX case and the one that Troy picked looks fine. Secondly, I would take the Corsair PSU over the Antec (unless running SLI) because I like one single strong +12v rail over 3X +12v rails, and the fact that Corsair PSU's seem to have slightly better quality, it's up to you though either would do. Thirdly, since you now will be looking at a regular ATX mainboard and a full sized case you might as well get the normal sized motherboard (not the mATX) and I would presume that this was what you're now looking to do. The one Troy picked was fine, or you could get a Gigabyte like this one and just add your 1394 card here. Then you can add an Artic Cooling Freezer Pro CPU heatsink fan (for quietness and better cooling) and you're good to go.
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