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Choosing the best parts on a low budget


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#1
Protoman.EXE

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Hi everyone, this will be my first time building a PC. I would like to build one that doesn't cost a lot, maybe around $600. I would like to know which motherboard and CPU combination would be the best choice for maximizing performance. I don't really know the main differences between the core i3, i5, i7 processors, and I want to avoid the risk of buying anything too cheap. Knowing the AMD "equivalent" of the intel processors would help. AMD seems cheaper but I am not sure if it can perform as well as Intel processors. I don't play high end mmorpg games, like Mabinogi, but I would like for the computer to run games smoothly while multitasking. Also, I would like to be able to enjoy watching movies on the computer.
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#2
Digerati

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AMD seems cheaper but I am not sure if it can perform as well as Intel processors.

When looking at the entire line of processors from each maker, Intels do perform better, run cooler, and consume less power - but tend to cost more.

But when you don't have a preference, you can't look at the whole line, you have to compare specific CPUs. I prefer Intels, but make no mistake, AMDs make great CPUs too.

Watching movies is no problem - it takes virtually no computer horsepower to watch a DVD, BluRay or whatever. And today's latest integrated graphics solutions, especially when coupled with a graphics oriented CPU like the i3, i5, or i7 can even support good, not the best, but good gaming - when coupled with lots of RAM. It is important to remember that game makers know that most people don't have the budgets for monster game machines costing $2000+. So these games are designed to provide good "game play" on lessor machines by cutting back on the background details and "extra" graphics features that do nothing for the "play" of the game except add visual effects.

The case and power supplies are two critical components often over looked, or where corners are cut - in a bad way. The case MUST protect the interior components from bumps and kicks. But more importantly, a case MUST provide adequate front to back air flow through the case. So the case is your first purchase. I look for large (120mm or larger) case fan support, preferably at least 1 in front and 1 in back. And I will never buy a case without a washable, removable air filter. I like Antec cases.

The PSU is super critical, and should be your last purchase. Why last? Because until you chose the rest of the components, you will not know your power requirements. Do NOT go cheap on your PSU!!!!

And note I always recommend all computers be on a "good" UPS with AVR.

Staying inside $600 is going to be tough. What do you bring to the table? Do you need a monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers too? And don't forget the OS.
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#3
Protoman.EXE

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Thank you for the informative response! It was reassuring and helpful. I was worried that choosing a lower-end CPU would leave out a lot of features but I guess the CPUS I'm looking at are all pretty upgraded anyway. I wonder though, what do people look for when buying a motherboard?

I'm going to buy the monitors, speakers, etc. and I have a Windows 7 CD already. I was trying to allocate the funds so that I don't go over $1000 in buying everything.
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#4
Digerati

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I wonder though, what do people look for when buying a motherboard?

I ask myself that for every new build. First, it has to the support the CPU I settled on. Then I look for the latest version of the integrated devices. For example, DDR3 RAM, USB3.0 and SATA 6Gbit/s. Except for some very budget, entry level boards, most boards have pretty good 7.1 (8-channel) sound - good enough for the vast majority of computer speakers. If I am buying a board with integrated graphics, which I do more and more of these days, it has to support the video outputs I need for my monitor, or monitors in my case. That would require at least two digital outputs. HDMI and Display Port will be the latest standards, with DVI and D-Sub (analog) in the process of fading away.

I don't get boards with chipset fans. They are noisy. They wear out quickly. And they are not needed with a decent passive (heatsink only) system in a good case - a case providing good cooling.

I like Gigabyte boards. And if buying Intel CPU, Intel makes some good boards too. And ASUS is a top tier maker as well. But I have also used Foxconn, MSI, Biostar, Chaintech, and probably a couple others. They all buy pretty much the same components (chipset, graphics, audio, BIOS, etc.) from the various makers and the ATX Form Factor standards doesn't give them much room for customization.

eSATA is becoming popular for external drives that connect directly to the controller, rather than going through the USB. So that may be a feature to look for.

There are some excellent, and reasonably priced µATX boards that would probably meet your needs. And in a mid tower, you have lots of room to stick your hands in there and still see what you are doing.

What you need to do is start looking at prices of the various components you will need - CPU, RAM, board, case, PSU. With no graphics card, a good 500 - 600W PSU will be more than enough. Motherboards come in dual or triple channel memory architecture. This means they support using the RAM modules in pairs or trips to optimize memory performance. I recommend 6Gb (3 x 2Gb) for triple channel boards and 8Gb (2 x 4Gb or 4 x 2Gb) for dual channel. For best performance, the RAM modules need have matched electrical specification. To ensure that, it is recommended they be the same brand and model number - and RAM makers package their RAM in dual and trip packages to same them a few cents, err, I mean for your convenience.

And then you will need 64-bit Windows to take advantage of that extra RAM.

Some places have "bundles" where they have already matched a motherboard and CPU, usually at a small discount. Newegg and others have kits - though I note you often get other things you don't need - like an anti-malware program that costs money.
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#5
iammykyl

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Hi.

but I would like for the computer to run games smoothly while multitasking.


What is your interpretation of multitasking? Having email, browser, office application etc running in the background? or Photoshop, Maya, Video encoding running and a game?

For your $600 budget you are looking at buying these parts only?

Motherboard.
CPU.
RAM.
HDD.
DVD or Blue ray.
Case.
PSU.

Edited by iammykyl, 13 July 2011 - 12:56 AM.

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#6
Digerati

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Today only, that Gigabyte board looks inticing: Newegg Guerrilla Deals
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#7
iammykyl

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Info, > http://www.tomshardw...llano,2975.html

> http://www.xbitlabs....0_23.html#sect0

> http://www.legitrevi...article/1652/8/

You can do more research and see if this build is what would be OK for you.

Mobo. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813157260

CPU. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103942

RAM. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820104173

HDD. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136319

DVD. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827106289

CASE. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811129066

PSU. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817371047

Optional.

GPU. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814121441
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#8
iammykyl

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Info, > http://www.tomshardw...llano,2975.html

> http://www.xbitlabs....0_23.html#sect0

> http://www.legitrevi...article/1652/8/

You can do more research and see if this build is what would be OK for you.

Mobo. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813157260

CPU. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103942

RAM. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820104173

HDD. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136319

DVD. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827106289

CASE. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811129066

PSU. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817371047

Optional.

GPU. > http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814121441
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#9
Protoman.EXE

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@Digerati Thanks again for the tips, they certainly do reassure me of choosing what I really need vs what I just want. I made a wishlist on newegg on which parts I wanted and it went a few hundred dollars overboard. I guess that can't be helped, but I think I'm going to go with the Core i3 since there are several things unneeded in i5.

@iammykyl I would like to be able to open a lot of windows and not lag, like those examples you mentioned. And for $600 I am looking for only the necessary components and not extra upgrade parts. Thanks for the links by the way.

My wishlist:

Case: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119233

Motherboard: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813130571

Graphics Card: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814130640

Power Supply: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817139019

CPU: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819115074

RAM: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231416

HDD: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822148697

Disk Drive: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827151222
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#10
iammykyl

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Hi.

Your CPU link goes to a i5 SB 2400.

HDD. Consider changing to the Samsung F3,

> http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822152185

Info. > http://www.bit-tech....3-1tb-review/10

> http://techreport.co...cles.x/19330/11

Your selected CPU if installed on the P67 Mobo will deny you access to integrated graphics as there are no on board video outlet and being a non K CPU does not have access to overclocking. (P67 Mobo + K2500 or K2600 CPU)

Usually a non K CPU is installed on a H67 Mob, still no overclocking but access to integrated graphics as there is usually video outlets installed.

Consider using a Z68 Mobo for the latest tech and access to every feature of any particular CPU that is installed..

Info. > http://www.bit-tech....l-z68-chipset/1

> http://www.newegg.co...2^13-157-252-TS
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#11
Digerati

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Not sure the point about integrated graphics. That motherboard does not have any - hence the card. I see no problem there.

I am not in favor of overclocking and don't see limitations on overclocking as a problem. Overclocking is, frankly, overrated - especially in today's graphics oriented world. And, overclocking validates the terms of both AMD and Intel warranties!
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#12
Protoman.EXE

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I made that wishlist before I changed my mind which explains the i5. I would prefer not to have integrated graphics actually and I don't need to overclock xP
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