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Building my first custom computer


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#1
dstrout

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I am building my first custom computer. It will be a budget rig (~$350 budget, give or take no more than $20), but I am trying to get some performance out of it. Here is what I have so far (Amazon wishlist).

Quick list (without SATA cables, wireless adapter, etc.):
MSI AM3 AMD 870 125W-CPU Support 2 PCIEx16/1 PCIEx1/3 PCI 870-G45 ATX Motherboard
AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2 GHz
Thermaltake W0070RUC TR2 Series 430W Power Supply with 2 Fans
Kingston Technology ValueRAM 4 GB Desktop Memory (x2)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500 GB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s
Cooler Master Elite 310 ATX, MATX Mid Tower Case with Window

I am aware of the following:
1. No integrated graphics on the chosen mobo, and no graphics card included (I will be using a graphics card from another computer I already have, the Sapphire Radeon HD4650)
2. No keyboard, mouse, monitor, or optical drive (again, already have these from other computers and parts hanging around)
3. No OS (will be using Ubuntu)
4. The hard drive is 6GB/s, but the motherboard has no 6GB/s ports (I just picked this hard drive because it was the capacity I wanted for the best price, and I already have one that I find works very well)

Will these components work together? If so (and I know this can vary), will I get good performance with this combo? Note that there are 2 4GB sticks of RAM, so that is 8GB. I plan to use this PC for making web sites, schoolwork, some music, and watching some online video. I will not be using it for any gaming, so I figure I shouldn't need anything fancier than what I have here.

Edited by dstrout, 14 August 2011 - 09:29 PM.

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#2
iammykyl

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Hi dstrout, :)

you will not need to buy the following.
Thermal paste. The CPU comes with a thermal pad already fixed to the bottom of the heatsink.
Extra SATA cables. They will be supplied with the Motherboard.
Extra screw. More than you need are supplied with the various components.

Links I give will be to Newegg, you may find cheaper elsewhere.

The PSU is the engine in the PC and must be of good quality. Using a poor one will likely fail very quickly and when it does it is likely to fry some if not all the other components in the PC. your selected PSU is very poor, only has 2 SATA connectors. review, http://www.hardwares...ly-Review/332/9

Suggested, http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817171060

RAM. Check your selection as you have 2 different listings. This one looks to me as 4 X 1GB = total of 4GB. You would be more assured of getting better performance by buying RAM in kit form.

Suggested, http://www.newegg.co...1^20-231-311-TS

Case, Consider changing to this case as it is a better build, has better air flow and control with 3 adjustable fans, free shipping and rebate. You could then ditch the extra fan you selected.

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

Motherboard, If your budget would allow, I suggest you consider an AMD socket AM3+ Mobo giving you the option, at a later date, of upgrading to a newer AMD CPU (Bulldozer).

http://www.newegg.co...4^13-157-244-TS

The HDD will work OK on 3GB/s
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#3
dstrout

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Thanks for the suggestions iammykyl. I know the CPU comes with a thermal pad, but reading around, it seems that a higher quality thermal paste will provide better heat flow between the processor and heatsink. However, if you really don't think it is necessary, I am more than happy to ditch it. As to the SATA cable, you might notice that it is right angle, which according to reviews on the case, will be preferable (a bit tight on the hard drive space). Finally, I put the screws in for mounting the hard drive, as it is an OEM model with no cables or screws included, but I guess those can go.

As to your suggestions for the main parts:
PSU: I was aware of the limitations of the one I selected, I have been looking at others. The specs on the one you suggest look good, but there are no reviews on it yet. I want to know what other people think about a product before buying it myself. What do you think about this one: http://www.newegg.co...RS500-PCARD3-US

RAM: Not sure exactly what you are getting at with that. I am getting 1 4GB stick and one 2GB stick. I know you're supposed to match them up, but the computer I have right now has two 512MB sticks and 1 1GB stick, and I have no problems whatsoever. If you think 3x2GB sticks would be best, please explain why.

Case: I like the case I chose. There are a few minor cons, like narrow HDD space, but I like the side window, I like the blue look, and I like the price. The one you suggest might have a few more features and expandability options, but I am on a tight budget, and I feel that the case I chose provides everything I need.

Motherboard: Once I build this PC, I seriously doubt I will be changing the processor. I might add more RAM, taking it to 8GB perhaps, but the processor will in all likelihood remain the same. What more could I need with a dual core (possibly quad core) processor, overclocked perhaps to 3.5Ghz? For that reason, I don't see the need to shell out the extra for socket AM3+. However, after some searching, I have found a motherboard I like better: http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813138318
It has 6 SATA 3 ports, to get the extra speed out of my HDD, and also 2 USB 3.0 ports. It doesn't have many USB 2.0 ports, so I am just adding a PCI card with 4 additional ones.

So, altogether, I have this: http://amzn.com/w/1MZYBIVOCSWT3. It comes to around $348. Thoughts?

Edited by dstrout, 17 August 2011 - 04:01 PM.

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#4
iammykyl

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If you think 3x2GB sticks would be best, please explain why


I was suggesting 8GBs RAM, 2 x 4GBs, http://www.newegg.co...1^20-231-311-TS (I was also assuming your OS would be 64bit)

The difference is that the kits are pre tested to ensure that they work together at the same settings - Modules of the same line will still vary slightly and buying 2 separate modules on different days\weeks of production can result in them not working well together - so buying them in a kit ensures that you are getting 2 modules from the same production and that they have already been tested to perform together.

reading around, it seems that a higher quality thermal paste will provide better heat flow between the processor and heatsink. However, if you really don't think it is necessary, I am more than happy to ditch it.


You may get a few degrees lower temps with a quality paste but as you are not overclocking, the pad heatsink and fan all come with the guarantee so are more than adequate, you would also have the expense of a cleaning solution,, isopropyl alcohol.

As to the SATA cable, you might notice that it is right angle,


Looking at the new selected Mobo, it does come with right angled SATA cable BUT only 2, so you will need more for the HDDs.

Not keen on the PSU you selected, quite low on the +12v rails, not a good review,
http://www.hardwares...y-Review/728/10

still think the one I selected is the way to go.
http://www.coolermas...product_id=3035
http://pro-clockers....ly.html?start=4
http://aphnetworks.c...aster_gx_450w/4

also 2 USB 3.0 ports. It doesn't have many USB 2.0 ports, so I am just adding a PCI card with 4 additional ones.


You can use the USB 3.0 as they are back wards compatible. The Mobo has internal USB headers, so you Can connect to the case outlets
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#5
dstrout

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OK, the explanation of the RAM helps. I think I will go with your suggestion. Also, I probably will be overclocking, but not to start because it voids the warranty. I'll ditch the thermal paste for now. As to the SATA cables, I noticed the Mobo had them, but I only need two, one for the HDD and one for the optical drive. I have found another PSU as well, the CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 430W. Looked it up on HardwareSecrets, and they give it a good review. So do the customers who have bought it. Plus, after a rebate, it comes to only $25. Finally, just thought I'd mention, I'm aware that USB 3.0 ports are backward compatible with 2.0, but I want to keep them open for actual USB 3.0 devices. Without them, I have 2 available USB ports in back, and I need at least three. Hence the card. Plus it's always nice to have extra ports back there.

So, updated wish list: http://amzn.com/w/1MZYBIVOCSWT3. Taking the best prices (with rebates) from between Newegg and Amazon, it comes to only $330.42! That's an extra $20 I could stick into one component or other. Probably will just save it though, unless there is a really good component worth switching to. Any thoughts?

Edited by dstrout, 18 August 2011 - 07:24 AM.

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#6
iammykyl

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PSU looks good, review, http://www.jonnyguru...Story5&reid=239

Very good budget build. I think the only way to improve is to look at a quad core CPU,

OS needs to be 64bit, some selections,

http://www.google.co...&q=Ubuntu 11.04

Stand installation instructions.

https://help.ubuntu....ty/Installation

Please let us know how the build goes.
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#7
stettybet0

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I have found another PSU as well, the CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 430W.

Yes, this is the PSU you want.

Also, here is 8GB of RAM for only $35 after rebate if you want to save a bit more. It will actually perform a bit better than the RAM you currently have selected too.
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#8
iammykyl

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That is a good find but i fear the time to get the rebate will not be enough.
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#9
stettybet0

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What do you mean? The rebate can be postmarked up to 30 days after purchase.
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#10
iammykyl

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Sorry, I did not click on the print this link.
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#11
dstrout

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Very good budget build. I think the only way to improve is to look at a quad core CPU.

I am hoping to be able to unlock the two dormant cores on the CPU I chose, people seem to have good success with that.

OS needs to be 64bit, some selections,

http://www.google.co...&q=Ubuntu 11.04

I was aware of that, I actually already have the 64-bit Ubuntu ISO. And as to installation, I'm running Ubuntu right now, so I think I have that covered :)

Here is 8GB of RAM for only $35 after rebate if you want to save a bit more. It will actually perform a bit better than the RAM you currently have selected too.


I didn't think that would be compatible, I thought I had to go with PC3-10600, that is PC3-12800. Anyway, iammykyl is probably right about not enough time on the rebate if it ends any time soon. I am working at a job right now, saving up for the build. I will probably be at least a month or so before I actually buy the components and build this machine.

In any case, thank a lot to both of you for helping me put this thing together. Your advice has been invaluable!

Edited by dstrout, 19 August 2011 - 07:14 AM.

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#12
iammykyl

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I didn't think that would be compatible, I thought I had to go with PC3-10600, that is PC3-12800.


Link to your Mobo main page specs where you can look at the QVL (top of page, memory support).

http://www.biostar.c...nt.php?S_ID=524

List is of RAM tested on the Mobo, not every brand can be tested but DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800 is listed, will run at the Mobo default speed DDR3 1333, can then be overclocked if you wish.

You could order the RAM now as it comes with free shipping.

************************************************

I am hoping to be able to unlock the two dormant cores on the CPU I chose,


You may only be able to unlock one core.

stettybet0 Would a better option be II X3 460 Rana 3.4GHz 3 x 512KB L2 ?(http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103936) or would the lack of the L3 cache hamper performance?
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#13
dstrout

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Link to your Mobo main page specs where you can look at the QVL (top of page, memory support).

http://www.biostar.c...nt.php?S_ID=524
List is of RAM tested on the Mobo, not every brand can be tested but DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800 is listed, will run at the Mobo default speed DDR3 1333, can then be overclocked if you wish.

Thanks, that's helpful. BTW, what's the point of overclocking memory? Does it increase performance? Do I have to have certain kinds of memory to overclock?

Would a better option be II X3 460 Rana 3.4GHz 3 x 512KB L2?

I looked at that line of processors, but then when I found the Phenom I am considering now, I jumped on board because of the overclocking abilities, the fact that it could get up to a quad core, and the L3 cache.
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#14
dstrout

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Browsing around, and I found another case I like. Better ventilation and cable management, also has good reviews and a good price. It is the Rosewill Challenger Black. What do you guys think?
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#15
iammykyl

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what's the point of overclocking memory? Does it increase performance? Do I have to have certain kinds of memory to overclock?


Yes, there is a performance gain.
You can overclock installed RAM through the Mobo BIOS or a utility, up to it"s rated speed. Maxing out the highest speed RAM would generate a considerable amount of heat so RAM coolers are often installed. You will be OK with your selected though.
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