$400 budget build... Phenom II x3

By maddmatt02 ยท 16 replies
Nov 22, 2010
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  1. alright, Im going to build a desktop for my fiance real soon, as soon as I figure out what the right stuff is to order, I will order it. she is really ONLY going to use it to play with her photos with photoshop, and store them on the internal hard drive (I also got her a 320gb external and she might burn cds for each album or something) but we have a PS3 and she doesnt even play that, and if she does play games it will be things like worms, or bejeweled, etc... so the integrated graphics will completely handle her gaming needs.

    now I think the cpu and ram is more important for editing photos personally but people tell me to get a good gpu. these are people who dont know what they are talking about though, I would like to hear from someone who does. I just figure since it is a static image that she is basically applying different filters too and not a constantly refreshing, crazy 3D environment being rendered that the GPU wasnt important.

    right now she has a laptop with a turion MK 36, 1 gb ddr2 and Nvidia graphics(integrated), and she is lately complaining about its speed, but for a while she was more than fine with it(not too far back, so this desktop doesnt have to be spectacular or anything)

    ok, so here is what I was thinking

    MOBO - ASUS M4N68T-M V2 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131669 - $50

    CPU - AMD Phenom II X3 740 Black Edition - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103699 - $89


    AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103846 - $91

    I have read of being able to unlock the 4th core (or the 3rd and 4th on the x2). they are priced basically the same, and one has a clock speed of 200MHz higher but I heard that sometimes the unlocked cores arent always stable. now if I ended up not unlocking the cores, I would rather it be a tad bit slower triple core than a tad bit faster dual core, am I thinking correctly?

    HDD - SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185 - $55

    RAM - (2x for 8GB) Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226094 - $114

    DVDR - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106289 - $17

    CASE - APEX PC-389-C - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154095 - $20

    thats about 345 bucks. I already have a mouse and KB. her monitor isnt included in the budget.

    so that leaves only 55 bucks for the PSU, thermal paste and cpu heatsink... I am possibly only going to go with a single stick of 4GB RAM to have a little more money for the PSU and heatsink. and I can go a little past 400 bucks.

    so question #1, should I change anything from the list?

    #2, which CPU should I go with?

    #3, how large of a PSU would I need, possibly adding another DVD drive down the road and thats. (if I did add a graphics card later on it would be something cheap like a used ati 4770 or something with even lower performance than that, unless *read number 4*)

    #4, is a good graphics card really beneficial for photoshop? 4GB ram, cheap video card OR 8GB ram integrated video?

    #5, I plan on unlocking either one to a quad core(probably no OC for quite a while until she starts talking about upgrades), is this heatsink sufficient?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103075 or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233081

    I have no idea how much room I will have though so I have no idea on which heatsink to get until I get it all together and then measure (which is what I might end up doing)

    thanks in advance.
  2. maddmatt02

    maddmatt02 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 88

    oh, I also forgot, is it common for sata drives to come with cables or do I need to buy those things as well.
  3. maddmatt02

    maddmatt02 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 88

    no input??
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Photoshop is alleged to incorporate hardware acceleration into its latest issues, (PS CS-4 & 5). It seems to run under integrated graphics fine, (Core i3). That said, I don't use its animation features. I don't really think the graphics need to be as capable as a true gaming PC.

    The Photoshop Elements Organizer seems to like quad core CPUs, (and clock speed), or it won't generate thumbnails in a reasonable amount of time. It's sort of a bloated pig of a program, but the 16 bit color depth is indispensable for dealing with raw files from high end D-SLRs.

    Memory becomes a factor when dealing with extravagant file sizes, such as high megapixel panoramas.

    I'm going to say a good CPU, (preferably a quad), lots of RAM, and an average graphics card. A decent AMD quad can be had at a reasonable price, and the Intel Core i3-5xx CPUs act like a quad, (2 cores 4 threads), while their integrated graphics are sufficient for most uses of Photoshop and Elements.
  5. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    No you're not, unless you're lucky,
    Just don't be banking on that.

    With that said, you'll need an 880G (or similar) to unlock the cores, plus there is no sense in buying outdated NVidia chipsets. An integrated 4250 should do just as well, if not better.
    ASUS M4A88T-M AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    Would you like USB 3.0 and/or SATA 3?
    Consider getting an Athlon II X4.

    Don't bump your own thread, then start another thread with the same issue.
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Retail SATA drives will come with SATA leads. OEM SATA drives are just the bare drive without cables.

    *In future please don't bump your own thread then create another one within an hour suggesting no input has been made. You need some patience, replies will come in time. Its not even 3AM Eastern time in the US.*
  7. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Here's his other thread...https://www.techspot.com/vb/topic157102.html
    EDIT: Oh, you already knew that.
    Now, what to do with both of them; I think i'll just stick with the other thread since the OP looks nicer and more readable.
  8. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    The other thread has been deleted. Its senseless having two near identical threads running.
  9. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Well if your girlfriend is just now complaining about issues with her current system I don't think you need to go overboard with what you get. As already pointed out by Captain the latest Photoshop CS4/5 incorporated hardware acceleration & utilize 64bit. So I'm thinking that she likely uses an older version.

    And I agree with HK, trying for unlocks on this build just seems like a waste of time and not worth it.

    With that said I'd go with the following build or something along these lines.

    CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 445 - $74 - It's retail so it will come with thermal paste already applied and a HSF. If you prefer a quad-core this Athlon II X4 640 should do just fine but it is $25 more.
    Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-880GM-UD2H AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD - $90
    RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - $55
    Optical Drive - LITE-ON DVD Burner - $24 - The one drive you selected was OEM which wont come with SATA cable.
    PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D - $60 - This should provide plenty of power for your system and even enough to take on a dedicated lower end video card down the road.

    This right here comes out to about $300 dollars leaving you $100 left for both a case & hard drive.

    Cases are pretty subjective in the lower budgets so whatever you choose make sure it's something you guys can look at :D. I personally think the Cooler Master Elite 335 is a good fit at $50 with $10 MIR and another $10 off if you buy it before Thursday. Note that most budget cases do not come with fans, this one comes with one rear fan and the option of adding a 120mm fan in the front for intake.

    Regarding HDD they are all pretty cheap and anything from Newegg will be a bare drive meaning you get no extras like SATA cable. However your Motherboard provides one for your HDD. I personally prefer WD drives and this $60 500GB Caviar Black would work well.

    You also neglect to mention if you already have an OS lined up, if not I recommend Windows 7 Home 64bit OEM which is another $100. If you care for a retail copy that will add $70 on top of that.

    Remember that this week is Thanksgiving and you might be seeing some crazy deals over the holidays so stay on the lookout for them.
  10. maddmatt02

    maddmatt02 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 88

    ok, this one I was asking about the whole system, and was anxious to get it going because her family is going to be here soon and I wanted to have it done. so I figured Id spend more time researching all the rest of the stuff and hope I got lucky, but I still needed to know what components were most important for photoshop (elements 7 I think plus a full photoshop suite or whatever youd call it but not sure on version).

    so I went and asked just that where I thought that question was appropriate.

    now on the cpu's, I read that the number amd gives it is a rating for relative performance to other amd cpus. I was also under the impression that the phenom line was better than the athlon line. so for 15 more than the x3 455 and 10 bucks cheaper than the x4 640 I could have the phenom II x3 740, and for the same price the phenom II x4 940. and I assume you knew that, which makes me think you like the athlon line better? of course the phenoms I listed are oem, which means no paste/heatsink right? but paste is 5 bucks and a heatsink isnt a whole lot for a basic one, not sure how good the one that comes with the athlon is, but <$25 could get a HSF and paste.

    i was unaware that the mobo I chose couldnt be used to *try* and unlock the 4th core, because under features, it lists - "core unlocker"

    later today Ill see what a cheap i3 setup would run.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    PSE-7 is a slug that likes CPU. It actually isn't certified for Windows 7, but it will run under it, albeit in a slightly quirky way. I make excessive demands on the program but, with an E7300 it takes several minutes to generate thumbnails, my i3-530 cuts the time by a factor of at least five. And as I said previously, the i3-530's graphics are more than sufficient, if not for all time, then at least for the time being.

    Microcenter sells the Core i3-540 for $99.95 on a walk in basis. Otherwise, it runs about $120.00. Gigabyte H-55 socket 1156 boards for it run in the neighborhood of $100.00. CL8 latency memory is recommended in conjunction with these boards; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231189 Other than that, everything else is the same.

    I'm currently using this board; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...21&cm_re=Gigabyte_H-55-_-13-128-421-_-Product But you can worry whether or not you need USB-3 or SATA 600Gbs, I don't. Being an old stick in the mud, and all that.
  12. maddmatt02

    maddmatt02 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 88

    ended up spending a bit more, well will once it is all ordered, but did end up going with a AM3 setup.

    Im not gonna bother about posting all the links to everything, but its a biostar 880G mobo, reviews were mostly positive, and it was bundled with the phenom II x3 740 B.E. for only 114 bucks.

    it doesnt have the most ports/slots for expansion btu it will handle the cpu, and a hard drive/dvd drive, as well as video card later on. has HDMI/VGA/and DVI for video out, 4 slots for RAM, 6 SATA2 plugs, PCI-E 2.0x16, good enough for this build.

    antec psu
    4GB corsair ram
    seagate barracude 1.5TB HDD
    coolermaster elite case with dual 120mm fans
    windows 7 64bit oem (85 bucks right now)

    and after all the rebates its only 327 shipped.

    now am on the hunt for a DVD drive, heat sink/fan, and thermal paste.

    probably find somewhere to wait in line tomorrow night to get a nice monitor fri. morning. (or just get one at best buy depending on price difference because she has a best buy card) but I do have an old 17" CRT that can be used until she gets her 20+" LCD.
  13. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Well for a HSF the Hyper 212+ would be your best bet and for only $15 after MIR which is a steal atm. Regarding thermal paste AS-5 & MX-2 are the most recommended, I personally prefer MX-2.

    Regarding an optical drive Newegg has several on sale for Black Friday. I personally like this LITE-ON and use it.
  14. maddmatt02

    maddmatt02 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 88

    thats actually the heat sink I bought, Ive gotten everything on its way for 365 after rebates.

    I wish it would have been more instant savings deals because its a decent chunk of change in rebates, but it will be nice to be surprised by money in the mail down the road I guess.

    and I just chose a samsung dvd burner, didnt get a dual layer because I got one for my netbook I have in an external case but I really never ever burn a DL unless I am copying a DVD that I care about not compressing to a single layer. (I know that its copyright infringement or whatever its called, but in my defense to accompany my <25 burnt DVDs I have over 600 legally purchased DVD/BD's)
  15. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Ya I wish Newegg had some more instant savings this Black Friday, but MIR isn't that bad depending on the vendor you buy from. Most take anywhere from 5-8 weeks, with the exceptionally slow ones taking 4-6 months =/ .

    Also burning/ripping DVD's technically violates the DMCA but you are also allowed to legally make backups of your own purchased digital media, it's dumb and a legal headache from my understanding.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Unfortunately, I doubt that a court would accept your mathematical machinations as an affirmative defense.

    You're allowed to make one copy of a disc you own as a backup. However, it's illegal to circumvent the copy protection. Yeah I know, it's a conundrum. Best idea is to keep your mouth shut, here and abroad.
  17. maddmatt02

    maddmatt02 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 88

    oh I know it wouldnt hold up in court, just giving my reasoning behind not caring about a dual layer burner, and then just putting it out there that I dont have a huge library of pirated dvds so no one reading the post decides Im some jerk who doesnt deserve any help because (insert whatever reason you see fit)

    I got a hitachi external hard drive from them a while back and the MIR took right around 7-8 weeks if I remember right, not too bad.

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