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Requesting review of components on build

By SNGX1275 · 20 replies
Jan 17, 2011
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  1. Looking at building a computer for someone finishing up a Masters degree and working on a PhD. So most of the tasks would be simple Office apps and then work with Canvas, ArcGIS, and ENVI (image processing for Geo-spatial stuff, not like Photoshop). It won't be used for serious gaming, so no need for a high end graphics card, although when money permits this person may want to add a mid level graphics card (somewhere in the performance of a 9600GT, so again not high end).

    Its been a long time since I've built anything so I'm a bit out of the loop on components, esp AMDs.

    Also, the price is a big concern because students are poor.

    So far the components I've came up with are:
    Case: Cooler Master Elite RC-310 $39.99
    HD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 $64.99
    Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H $69.99
    PSU: Cooler Master Extreme Power Plus RS-500 $39.99
    RAM: Patriot Extreme Performance Gaming Series 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 $59.99
    Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 640 $99.99

    Total: $374.94 (not counting discounts and shipping)

    Recycled components will be: Monitor(s), KB, Mouse

    So, I was wondering about any suggestions for improved performance for not much increase in cost (or better yet lower cost), and any overall criticisms in the build.

    Edit: Also, this system is replacing a P4 system, so there is going to be quite a performance increase no matter what is decided on.
  2. Scshadow

    Scshadow TS Evangelist Posts: 498   +131

    My first thought, though I'm no expert, is ddr2? DDR3 seems cheap enough that I wouldn't consider buying ddr2.

    My second thought is that the core system of the Techspot Buying Guide budget box is only $331. Its got a nice dual core that can be unlocked to a 4 core processor as a bonus. Its easy to unlock and you just have to test and make sure its stable. The X2 555 BE is 89.99 right now and I had no trouble unlocking mine and it tested stable. Lucky me. Even so, I've heard plenty of people say that the dual core alone is pretty competitive at the price point. Plus this build has ddr3 1333 mhz. You should read and consider it I'd think.
  3. Mizzou

    Mizzou TS Enthusiast Posts: 823

    For the money it looks like a solid budget build, as you mentioned can always add a discrete graphics card down the line.
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,729   +409

    I thought there might be major flaws in my choices. Like I said, its been a while since I've build anything (last build was my current C2D 6400). I did see the buying guide, but admittedly I forgot about it after I got lost in googling performances for processors.

    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll wait a bit before pulling the trigger on an order.
  5. Mizzou

    Mizzou TS Enthusiast Posts: 823

    Looks like the GA-MA785GM-US2H calls for DDR2 so that should be ok. Had some trouble a while back with the Seagate Barracuda so switched over to Western Digital, but assume Seagate has those firmware problems sorted out by now.
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,729   +409

    Yeh, I've owned a lot of hds for 1 person, and really I think that sometimes you just get unlucky, but mostly drives are ok. I was one of the people involved in the IBM Deathstar drives back when they really had a documented problem, and I also got unlucky with the 1.5TB Seagates. But both times I've had the drives replaced under warranty and their replacements were fine. So yeh, having drives die does suck, but if they die early they should be under warranty and you SHOULD :) have a backup of important data (although I know that doesn't always happen).
  7. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,010   +18

    Are you able to recycle a hard drive? That would save you 70 bucks, which you could invest into other components.

    If you're able to do that, then you could consider getting a 890GX motherboard, which would give you the ability to have USB 3.0, Sata 6, and DDR3 RAM, as well as the 4290 video chipset.
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,729   +409

    Recycling hds would be an option, and I discussed it with the buyer, but in my discussion I wondered about the speed. The newest hd in the current P4 system is a 320GB, I think even a "green" 1TB hd now would outperform it. But, True, it would save some money, and perhaps that money saved could be put forward on a better component.

    Is that ddr3 going to help much over ddr2? USB3 probably isn't going to be a big deal for this person, the Video chipset may be though if they never buy a PCIe card.
  9. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,010   +18

    Its just a thought about being able to use the system in the future. I guess it mainly depends if this person will be using this particular computer as for the next five years, or if they'll be planning on getting a new PC once they graduate.

    Maybe they can ask their department "guru" when it comes to this software, and find out if those programs need a lot of RAM, or if a fast CPU would be better, etc.
  10. hellokitty[hk]

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

  11. Tarkus

    Tarkus TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 621

    Well, I'm a big fan of Asrock now, so I second hellokitty[hk]. ;)

    /sngx1275 turned me on to Asrock with a board he lent me for a year. I built the last 3 PCs with their boards.
  12. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,687   +356

    ASRock H67M LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - $88.99
    Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor - $194.99
    Thermaltake VL84301W2Z V3 Black Edition with 430W Power Supply ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $69.99 (case and psu)
    OCZ Obsidian 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3OB1600LV4GK - $43.99 (board says it supports 1333 ram but 1600 means you can OC it a little and there isn't much cheaper 1333 ram than 1600, can maybe trim another $4-5 off)
    Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 - $64.99 (although personally for a few bucks more I'd go for a Samsung Spinpoint F3. Had a few of those drives over the years and have always been impressed with them for the price.


    A little pricier (~$85-90) than I hoped but I think(from what I remember reading about it) the on chip HD2000 is a better non discrete graphics solution than the ATI Radeon HD 4200.
    Plus you get the 2nd gen i core video encoding/transcoding wizardry(Intel® Quick Sync Video) when using the HD2000 through the h67 chipset.
    And the i5 2400 with HT beats even the Phenom X6 1090T - http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/the-sandy-bridge-preview-three-wins-in-a-row/8 (a few graphics and 3d test benchmarks from Anand...)

    Just a new technology intel option with Sata 6g, USB3.0, UEFI bios, but on the downside no overclocking unlike the AMD option.

    Saved a bit on the case+psu deal which should be enough power for the system you are listing, so could trim another $10 off.
  13. Mizzou

    Mizzou TS Enthusiast Posts: 823

    Still not used to thinking of Intel for budget builds but that's a nice configuration for the money with the Core i5.
  14. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,687   +356

    Was surprised myself. Got to pay a premium price for the processor but the motherboards aren't too pricey. Plus DDR2 ram seems to be quite expensive compared to DDR3, so that helps the 1155 socket system too.
  15. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,672   +9

    Hi SNGX1275. I would consider getting a different PSU than the Cooler Master Extreme Power Series. It should actually do fine for your build but generally does not have a very high efficiency. The Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W which HK suggested is a better choice but in case you would like to add a discrete GPU later I would pick something with a higher wattage (around 500W).

    Also an AM3/DDR3 combination would be more sensible to purchase.

    The build Arris suggests is also excellent in terms of price/performance ratio, albeit pricier.
  16. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,729   +409

    No doubt Arris's build suggestion would be faster. But it probably doesn't need to be that fast. New component choices are:

    Mobo: ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $59.99
    CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor $99.99
    Case: COOLER MASTER Elite RC-310-BWN1-GP $39.99
    RAM: A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) $39.99
    PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-500-PCAR-A3-US 500W $39.99

    Total: $279.95

    Going to recycle a 320Gb HD for now. So shaved off $95 and have a DDR3 system. Final thoughts?
  17. hellokitty[hk]

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

    Looks good IMO.
    The Antec 380D can run up to a 9800gt. The coolermaster is probably a little better, so it could support some decent cards.
  18. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,729   +409

    Yeh, I debated the power supply for a while. I don't think the efficiency 'issue' with the one I chose is that big of a deal.
  19. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,979   +71

    You know SNGX1275 I went a did a little research on the software you listed in the first post I have to say an AMD Phenom II Quad and its L3 6MB cache is probably a better processor for this work. You've already shaved a $100 off your original configuration.

    Phenom II X4 925 Deneb 2.8 Mhz @ $125.00 - $25 difference between this and the 640 Propous plus it has the L3 Cache.

    Phenom II x4 945 Deneb 3.0 Mhz @ $135.00

    * Just my 2 cents worth (they'll work on that board)
  20. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,010   +18

  21. Ritwik7

    Ritwik7 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,672   +9

    I agree with Route regarding the X4 925. It will be the best buy in this case.

    As to the PSU efficiency issue, it will not come in to play significantly if you're not planning to add further components or overclocking.

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