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My goal is to build an AMD desktop that can easily upgraded, play most or all newer games at high resolutions, and most importantly cost about $350. After much debate and research on where I can cut cost without sacrificing performance, this is what I have selected.

I choose the GIGABYTE (GA-MA785GMT-UD2H) AMD 785G motherboard due to it's potential for upgrading and overclocking. With DDR3 1800 Memory, 2600MHz front side bus speeds, and AM3 socket type, it will be able to handle a new AM3 quad-core CPU when they drop in price. This particular GIGABYTE board is great, due to the dual bios feature, for unlocking additional cores and overclocking. The onboard Radeon HD 4200 graphics is adequate for older games, but I plan on purchasing a high end card when the prices drop. There are many options for cheap dedicated video cards that are more powerful then the onboard 4200 graphics, and I left this open for debate. The 785G chipset is also made to work with Windows 7 right out of the box.

I went with the AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor for about $58 due to it's low cost and ability to overclock with little change in temperature, even with stock fan and cooler. As much as I would love to drop in a Black Edition Quad 3.4 GHz, the cost is still too high for me.

G.Skill's DDR3 1600 PC3 12800 Ram (F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ) for $85.99 due to its great reviews, ability to overclocking versatility and lifetime warranty. Here is one place where I struggled with price vs. performance. While there are other models of 2 x 2GB PC3 12800 RAM for about $20-$30 cheaper, I couldn't bring myself to it.

In keeping the cost down I choose a cheap and reliable hard drive and optical drive. The Western Digital Caviar Blue WD2500AAJS 250 GB HD for $44 ($10 more for the 500GB model) and SAMSUNG SH-S223B 22X SATA DVD Burner for $31. I find myself constantly hauling my desktop around, due to not having a laptop, so I picked up a $20 Rosewill MicroATX case that I am pleased with. The CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W Active Power Supply is another area where one could cut cost, but I would personally rather spend extra for a reliable and efficient one with some headroom for future upgrades.

I included a $700 dollar version of this build that includes a full ATX case, 790GX board, Phenom II x 4 3.2 GHz, and 700 watt PSU with the ability to crossfire in the future. I am open to suggestions and thoughts about my build and unless someone can persuade me otherwise, I will be buying these parts and documenting my build for all to see (I'll take lots of pictures).


Tom's Hardware Reviews:
Graphics Card Hierarchy chart
785G Chipset Review
$650 Gaming PC Build


$350 AMD Build

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AMD 785G AM3 $87.99 w/ Free Shipping at ZZF

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ $85.99 w/ Free Shipping at the Egg

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD2500AAJS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $41.99/w free shipping at ZZF

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor $58.99 w/ Free Shipping at ZZF

SAMSUNG SH-S223B 22X SATA DVD Burner Black Drive $24.99 w/ Coupon Code "ZZF102031" & FS at ZZF

Rosewill R101-P-BK Micro ATX Mid Tower Case $19.99 w/ FS at the Egg

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W Active Power Supply $48.99 before $10 mail in rebate at ZZF with FS

zipzoomfly: MOBO, PSU, DVD Drive, HDD, & CPU $262.95 w/ Free shipping, $252.95 after $10 mail in rebate.
Newegg: Case & Ram: $105.98 w/ Free Shipping.

Grand total of $358.93 after $10 MIR & free shipping.



$700 AMD Build

AMD HDZ955FBGIBOX Phenom II x4, Black Edition 3.2Ghz Processor $159.99 w/ FS at ZZF

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ $85.99 w/ Free Shipping at the Egg

Antec Two Hundred ATX Mid Case $49.99 w/ Free Shipping at the Egg

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AMD 790GX AM3 Motherboard $114.99 w/ Combo & FS at ZZF

SAMSUNG SH-S223B 22X SATA DVD Burner Black Drive $24.99 w/ Coupon Code "ZZF102031" & FS at ZZF

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD2500AAJS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $41.99/w free shipping at ZZF

GIGABYTE (GV-R577D5-1GD-B) Radeon HD 5770 Video Card $159.99 w $5.99 Shipping at the Egg

OCZ OCZ700SXS 700W Active Power Supply $59 after MIR & FS at ZZF

zipzoomfly: CPU, MOBO, Optical Drive, Hard Drive, & PSU $418.96 before $20 MIR & Free Shipping
Newegg: Case, GPU, & RAM $301.96 Shipped
Grand Total: $700.92 after $20 MIR

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Should get the seagate 500gb 7200.12 Sara hard drive. Perfomance is worth the extra few $$. Is around $50-55 rght now

Hc000 said: Should get the seagate 500gb 7200.12 Sara hard drive. Perfomance is worth the extra few $$. Is around $50-55 rght now

agreed ed I am also wondering would it be worth squeezing the extra money out of your wallet for a 545 or 550

Hc000 said: Should get the seagate 500gb 7200.12 Sara hard drive. Perfomance is worth the extra few $$. Is around $50-55 rght now

SEAGATE Barracudea 7200.12 ST 3500418AS 500GB HD $52.99 combo deal with free shipping at ZZF

This one?

One small critique - can you order the components in the same order in the different builds in order to better compare the prices?

Logician1313 said: Hc000 said: Should get the seagate 500gb 7200.12 Sara hard drive. Perfomance is worth the extra few $$. Is around $50-55 rght now

SEAGATE Barracudea 7200.12 ST 3500418AS 500GB HD $52.99 combo deal with free shipping at ZZF

This one?

Is this Seagate reliable? I have been hearing mixed reviews of the 7200.12 series..

My Uber cheap build runs as below:

I think it is important to note that this mobo + CPU combination has a high probability of being unlocked to a Phenom II X4 940

from Newegg:
1 x ($39.99) CASE AZZA| CSAZ-201 RT - Retail $39.99 ($20 rebate)

1 x ($17.99) FLASH 8G|TRANS SDHC TS8GSDHC6 R - Retail $17.99

1 x ($79.99) MB GIGABYTE|GA-MA785GM-US2H RT - Retail $79.99

1 x ($49.99) PSU CORSAIR|CMPSU-400CX 400W RT - Retail $49.99 ($25 rebate)

1 x ($55.00) CPU AMD|ATH X2 5000+ 2.2G 65W RT - Retail $55.00

1 x ($-20.00) DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #271915 $-20.00

1 x ($-17.99) DISCOUNT FOR AUTOADD #5370 $-17.99

Subtotal $204.97
UPS Ground $9.65
Order Total $214.62 - $45 (in Rebates) = $170

I got the 300GB Maxtor for $30 from the seagate outlet sale (which is unfortunately out of stock.) so you'll have to find your own HD

I'm still looking for RAM since there are no real deals at the moment on DDR2 (FRY's -- but $12 in taxes and shipping eats my soul)

I'd argue for saving the $30 on the RAM and getting a budget HD 4650 or 9500GT graphics card, with 512MB (or more) ram. When you have more funds, you can sell off the memory and the graphics card and replace them with your ideal. In the meantime, equipped with either of those GPUs, the machine will easily outperform the integrated graphics, giving you a much more satisfying gaming experience until your next round of upgrades.

http://www.Newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500062

http://www.Newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121338

I completely agree that this build needs a video card and for as cheap as $35 I can get one that is better then the integrated. I am still debating and waiting for a great deal on a GPU for this build. I included the often sited Tom's Hardware Review of The Graphics Card Hierarchy chart for reference.

For $9 more, you can get a faster CPU (3.0 Ghz) at Newegg by buying this combo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.272119

instead of a athlon x2 go with a athlon x4 620, most cases it's under 99 dollars and has great performance.

how about we move this to deal discussion, everyone will have different need for a system.

Seems like a good build.
I'm looking to build a similar PC too.

Would this be a better PSU?
Or is the extra wattage wasteful?

http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=1000...

I'm looking to upgrade my system (processor/motherboard/RAM everything else stays). Do you think that prices will go down around Thanksgiving or should I just upgrade now?

Good basic build, but your intergrated graphics will be a major bottleneck and may make playing some games difficult. All the overclocking in the world won't get you past that. When you upgrade to a video card, you may need a more powerful PS.

Just wondering, since I dont' keep up with hardware. Why an AMD instead of Intel? Is it a big cost advantage? More bang for the buck? I don't know, just asking. I know the name of the thread is AMD, but I'm still curious why that choice instead of Intel.

I was going to build a PVR/light game machine or buy prebuilt. I have the AVerTVHD Duet tv tuner card that needs Win7. Would this build (which would be approx $450 adding Win7) be a better choice than the Dell deal I found online?

I saw the Dell Vostro 220 Mini Tower, Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core E5300 (2.60GHz), 4GB RAM, 320GB, 16X (DVD+/-RW) Burner Drive, Integrated Video, Intel® GMA X4500HD, Dell USB Keyboard and Optical Mouse, Windows 7 Home Premium, 1yr Next Bus.day Onsite Warranty + Western Digital 1TB My Book Essential Edition External Hard Drive USB 2.0 » for $394 at Dell.com

The ram is a huge waste of money. It will give you no real world performance boost.

Move that money into a graphics card, or better cpu/HD.

what about an O.S.?

BocaDogJr said: Just wondering, since I dont' keep up with hardware. Why an AMD instead of Intel? Is it a big cost advantage? More bang for the buck? I don't know, just asking. I know the name of the thread is AMD, but I'm still curious why that choice instead of Intel.

It's a matter of preference for I am an AMD and ATI guy due to low cost, low power consumption, and rooting for the underdog.

michal1980 said: what about an O.S.?

I am planning on running Windows 7 on this machine, with all the recent student deals, but in the mean time I have XP Pro I can use.

rbstern said: I'd argue for saving the $30 on the RAM and getting a budget HD 4650 or 9500GT graphics card, with 512MB (or more) ram. When you have more funds, you can sell off the memory and the graphics card and replace them with your ideal. In the meantime, equipped with either of those GPUs, the machine will easily outperform the integrated graphics, giving you a much more satisfying gaming experience until your next round of upgrades.

http://www.Newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500062

http://www.Newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121338


I completely agree. Withouta dedicated graphics card, you will have trouble running even the simplest of games. Save yourself about $50-60 and pick up a 4650. For just a little bit more, you get so much more performance.

syvyn11 said: instead of a athlon x2 go with a athlon x4 620, most cases it's under 99 dollars and has great performance.

AMD Athlon II X4 620: Quad Core For The Masses At $100 - Tom's Harware Review

Do you guys think the size (11 inches) of newer graphic cards will limit us to go for expensive and bigger cases?

Even for the $700 build, I dont think the Antec 200 case will fit newer/larger video cards.


did you end up ordering yet? i'm looking forward to this build.

I am thinking about an Athlon II X4 microatx build.
Just ordered the coolermaster elite 341 case
I was thinking of using this PSU with that, but realized that the case doesn't have a vent on the top to facilitate proper airflow utilizing the fan on this PSU. What are your thoughts?

Logician1313 said: I think I would substitute the PSU with this one for my $350 build.

OCZ ModXStream Pro (OCZ500MXSP) 500W Modular Power Supply $28.99 After Coupon Code, MIR, & Free Shipping at Newegg posted here.

ajitation said: I am thinking about an Athlon II X4 microatx build.
Just ordered the coolermaster elite 341 case
I was thinking of using this PSU with that, but realized that the case doesn't have a vent on the top to facilitate proper airflow utilizing the fan on this PSU. What are your thoughts?


I was under the impression that when installed into your case, this PSU would have it's fan facing down into the case, which then the air is pulled out via the 120mm rear fan.

I am a newbie, I ordered 64bit windows 7, can some help me please in understanding which AMD CPU supports 64 bit OS or not? Or What is the latest and greatest AMD processor available for running windows 7 64 bit oS?

Thanks
GS

domonas said: did you end up ordering yet? i'm looking forward to this build.

So far I only have the microATX case, Wave Keyboard (not listed), and the Samsung optical drive. I was waiting to pull the trigger just a bit longer in hopes of a combo deal on these parts, but I think I will order the rest next week. I appreciate all the great feedback and suggestions and will post my final parts list when I place my order.

ganesh01 said: I am a newbie, I ordered 64bit windows 7, can some help me please in understanding which AMD CPU supports 64 bit OS or not? Or What is the latest and greatest AMD processor available for running windows 7 64 bit oS?

Any newer AMD processor supports 64 bit operating systems (Athlon II, Phenom II, Athlon 64, Opteron, Sempron, Turion 64, Phenom) but as far as the latest and greatest I would choose an AM3 chipset Phenom II x4 Black Editions. Are you planning on updating your current computer's CPU, or buy a new mobo as well?

Logician1313 said: ganesh01 said: I am a newbie, I ordered 64bit windows 7, can some help me please in understanding which AMD CPU supports 64 bit OS or not? Or What is the latest and greatest AMD processor available for running windows 7 64 bit oS?

Any newer AMD processor supports 64 bit operating systems (Athlon II, Phenom II, Athlon 64, Opteron, Sempron, Turion 64, Phenom) but as far as the latest and greatest I would choose an AM3 chipset Phenom II x4 Black Editions. Are you planning on updating your current computer's CPU, or buy a new mobo as well?


Thank you very much for the very quick response. I want to build a fast computer for transferring a ton of mini-dv tapes of my children and vacations that I have accumulated over the years. Therefore I am looking to build a fast video transfer/editing/encoding computer. The way you suggested $350 and $700 configurations, maybe you could tweak and suggest a new configuration for video transfer/editing purpose, which I believe is a little different than a hard core gaming configuration.

1. Compared to a gaming configuration, i guess i can save some money on the video card.
2. I will also need a case that has a lot of diverse front inputs (composite, firewire, svideo, usb) for easy hookup of camcorders/cameras etc.

Thanks again
GS

May want to checkout NewEgg Combo for 199.95 - $10 Rebate + around $6 Shipping = $195.

RAIDMAX Tornado ATX-238WRP Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450W Power Supply - Retail
AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCK23GQ - OEM
G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-2GBNQ - Retail
GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Thanks BargainsJunkie for the heads up, but the GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H motherboard only supports DDR2 RAM vs the GA-MA785GMT-UD2H which supports DDR3. I have seen a few different combo deals that include the GA-MA785GM-US2H with ram, HD, optical drive, and whatnot, but I am looking to be able to upgrade in the future.

Gives me headache trying to find a cheap, decent cooler for the chip! And i guess ddr3 hasnt made into the budget build section, yet! arg

I just put my build together, except the RAM which I'll be picking up tomorrow.

Should I be concerned that I don't have a system fan or North Bridge Fan ? My case has three fans powered by the regular 4 pin connectors, and the CPU fan.

Thanks in advance

cheaprulz said: I just put my build together, except the RAM which I'll be picking up tomorrow.

Should I be concerned that I don't have a system fan or North Bridge Fan ? My case has three fans powered by the regular 4 pin connectors, and the CPU fan.

Thanks in advance


I don't think most boards really need a fan on the north bridge. CPUs run cooler now and if you don't have a big video card that produces a lot of heat, heat will probably not be an issue. I like to have one fan in the front pulling air in and one pushing it out in the back. On micro XT cases without much of a video card, one good fan in the back is probably adequate (assuming you're not overclocking anything).

I really like the cases with 120mm fans. They move a lot of air and make less noise.

Logician1313 said: syvyn11 said: instead of a athlon x2 go with a athlon x4 620, most cases it's under 99 dollars and has great performance.

AMD Athlon II X4 620: Quad Core For The Masses At $100 - Tom's Harware Review

and? curious about your inference from this.

any updates?

One update, MS Windows 7 64 bit doesn't always recognize the Gigabyte board correctly. Spent 2 hours on the phone with MS "tech support" in India last night and no one could realize there is a possible coding error involving the Gigabyte SATAII chip controller. Board is a MA790XT-UD4P. W7 says that the board is NOT ACPI compliant when IEEE says it is.

Skipping 4 Messages...
Send/Receive throughput is bandwidth divided by latency and multiplied by packet size. OCZ DDR2 AM2 Special is the fastest memory around since it uses 11 bit packets instead of 10 bit packets so each packet is 16k instead of 8k. DDR3 has 50% greater bandwidth than DDR2 but about 90% higher latency at this point. So on standard 10 bit packet memory DDR3 is 10-15% slower in REAL through put than DDR2. Top of the line DDR is still the fastest because of low latency. DDR-35ns, DDR2 76-80ns, DDR3-130ns. DDR3 would have to have 105ns latency to break even with DDR. IBM still uses DDR for the Blue Gene series of supercomputers and Cray uses DDR2 with 11 bit registers in the XT4/5.

If your software can take advantage of 16k page files (games are essentially trivial as they use 4k page files)the fastest unit you can build would be a Phenom II-940($150 @Newegg) with an AMD 780/790 chipset ($71 for the MSI K9A2N-CF@Newegg)motherboard and the OCZ AM2 Special memory still available (allegedly $120/4gb) at Memory4Less. What would you use it for would be 3D CAD like Catia, Solidworks or Unigraphics NX. Autocad, Maya, Photoshop, and Premiere all have compilers that are biased toward Intel but still have large enough files to exploit the 16k page file system. That bias is negated mostly in 64 bit where the IEEE standard is AMD64 not EM64T.



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