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Old January 4, 2014, 10:37 PM
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Default Sub-$400 2008 Build Overhaul

Hi! My current rig that I built (2007-ish I think) is aging and I was gifted an unusually large amount of Christmas & birthday (Jan 1st) money this year, so I think it's time for an upgrade!

Budget & Current Build (aka parts)


I've got $400 to work with (which should include shipping), but I'll be able to reuse parts from my current machine. Speaking of which, this is my current setup (with links to old product pages):

CPU: AMD Phenom X4 9500 Quad core @ 2.2GHz
MB: XFX MD-A72P-7509
RAM: 4x 2GB Corsair CM2X2080-8500C5 PC2-6400 400MHz (link not exact)
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GSO G92 1GB 128bits bus
PSU: Ultra X3 ULT-HE0850X 800W
Case: Ultra X-Blaster Black ATX Mid-Tower (except my side panel has a window)
HDDs: 1TB, 2TB, 250GB. All spinning rust.

Prehiperials (not upgrading):
Razer DeathAdder Mouse
Logitech Wave Keyboard
1680x1050 LCD Monitor
Gaming headphones

Use Cases


Gaming. I've had a lot of trouble with my current rig so I don't play much on it right now. E.g. I can barely get 20fps on Skyrim with absolute minimum settings. I have an XBox 360, but the next gen hardware is just not very compelling this time around and I won't be upgrading, so the new machine will be my only gaming solution. I like it smooth and high resolution (well, up to 1680x1050, heh).

Software development/heavy multitasking. I'll be graduating with a degree in Computer Science in may, and I tend to have many heavy apps going at once while working on personal projects: editors, IDEs, things compiling, multiple server software programs running, etc. And then Chrome. (Oh Chrome, it seems we need a supercomputing cluster to run more than 50 tabs on you nowadays, what's up with that?)

Always running/low power. I like to tinker with stuff, and that sometimes entails just doing it yourself. My computer runs 24/7 as a media server, http server, irc bouncer, as a remote desktop, and whatever else I can get my hands on. They aren't particularly demanding, they just require it to be mostly idling all the time. This might be at odds with some of the other use cases, but I do care about power other things being equal.

Media conversion. I do some video re-encoding, but this is not a high priority.

Expectations & Comments


I will be purchasing parts in the United States. (And I'm willing to drive to get them in the Kansas City area, if that matters.)
I want to have this built within the next month or so.
I don't plan on overclocking or using other than the simple/default air cooling solutions.
I prefer high graphics settings, but that might be asking too much with this budget.
I don't have any strong brand preferences.
I'll probably be using a Linux-based OS at first.

I definitely want to upgrade the big three: CPU, GPU, & MB.
I definitely want to reuse my PSU. (It's actually still a decent PSU surprisingly enough.)
I definitely want to include all my current HDDs.
I have a feeling that an SSD would be a major improvement in the multitasking department, but I'm afraid I can't afford it if the rest of it is half-decent.
I'm willing to reuse my crappy ram until I can afford a decent upgrade.
I'm reluctantly willing to reuse my crappy case, but with all the drool-worthy cases that are reviewed around here it seems like a shame.
I definitely want USB 3.0, SATA3 6.0Gb/s, and the graphics card to support at least 2560x1600 resolution for my next monitor upgrade.
I'm willing to purchase used parts (except maybe SSDs).
I'm willing to budge to maybe $420 if it's an exceptionally good deal.

As a starting point, youtuber Austin Evans suggested a $500 gaming pc (see description) with parts similar to these:
$90: AMD Athlon 760K 3.8GHz
$60: MSI FM2-A75MA-E35
$190: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2048MB GDDR5
=$343 with a tiny bit of breathing room for... something.

But I'm not familiar with the budget market, and I don't even know where to start for used parts. Any suggestions?
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Old January 5, 2014, 10:03 AM
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I would absolutely consider building an APU system with your budget man. I can run diablo 3 no problem on this AMD A8-6600K APU, Black Edition 3.9GHz w/ 4MB Cache at Memory Express In fact I have a working one I will sell you for 80 shipped. (this deal is for this guy only incase any vultures here have any ideas) Only used for a month and collecting dust. It still has warranty on it from AMD for another 9 months or so.
Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H w/ DDR3 2133, 7.1 Audio, Gigabit LAN, CrossFireX at Memory Express mobo 99 2 year ipr
G.SKILL RipjawsX Series 8GB PC3-12800 Dual Channel DDR3 Kit (2 x 4GB) at Memory Express ram 84
Kingston SSDNow V300 Solid State Drive, 120GB at Memory Express ssd 104 with 2 year ipr

is 385 tax in.

If you want I can build this system for you and ship it to you. ( I get decent shipping rates ) I'm pretty sure theres' a couple guys around here that will vouch for me. (braineater, soulessone21,grinder, etc) If you aren't comfortable installing the cpu I can do that too as long as it's not a massive heatsink.

your system is getting pretty long in the tooth I wouldn't try to upgrade it any further.

Welcome to hardware canucks btw.
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Old January 5, 2014, 10:24 AM
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Your plan will work well, but it's not without compromise. With that budget I would try to get a used i5 (ideally a 2500k/3570k and a used budget z68/z77 motherboard). Add 2x4gb ram and you will have a very nice platform to last for years. Used you should be able to get that for approx $275-350 depending on the parts and how good of a deal you find. Then find a graphics card to use the rest of the budget, or wait till you get a few more $ for the one you want.
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Away from home light Gamer: Acer Aspire 15.6", A8-3500m undervolt and OC to 2Ghz, 2x4gb Corsair Vengeance, Crucial M500 240gb
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Old January 5, 2014, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clshades View Post
I would absolutely consider building an APU system with your budget man. I can run diablo 3 no problem on this AMD A8-6600K APU, Black Edition 3.9GHz w/ 4MB Cache at Memory Express In fact I have a working one I will sell you for 80 shipped. (this deal is for this guy only incase any vultures here have any ideas) Only used for a month and collecting dust. It still has warranty on it from AMD for another 9 months or so.
Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H w/ DDR3 2133, 7.1 Audio, Gigabit LAN, CrossFireX at Memory Express mobo 99 2 year ipr
G.SKILL RipjawsX Series 8GB PC3-12800 Dual Channel DDR3 Kit (2 x 4GB) at Memory Express ram 84
Kingston SSDNow V300 Solid State Drive, 120GB at Memory Express ssd 104 with 2 year ipr

is 385 tax in.

If you want I can build this system for you and ship it to you. ( I get decent shipping rates ) I'm pretty sure theres' a couple guys around here that will vouch for me. (braineater, soulessone21,grinder, etc) If you aren't comfortable installing the cpu I can do that too as long as it's not a massive heatsink.

your system is getting pretty long in the tooth I wouldn't try to upgrade it any further.

Welcome to hardware canucks btw.

Not trying to sell your stuff for you, but I was thinking APU as well.
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Old January 5, 2014, 11:23 AM
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everyone here knows for 400 dollars it's a pretty tiny budget for a gaming platform. The apu at least stands a chance at providing some performance at medium settings. pretty sure it will destroy the video card he's currently running.

pulled this from another site.
Quote:
The Elders Scrolls v: Skyrim (with HD textures)
This is an interesting one, the game was perfectly playable and 90% of the time the gpu overclocked it sat at 60fps neat, however it was possible to slow it a bit but I didn't personally see it drop below 45 fps, given enough mods were applied and certain situations i'm sure you could bring it to its knees however if your just playing without going over the top with modding handled it well.
So unless you dump a lot of heavily modded files into skyrim it should run really well.
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__________________________________________________ __________
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My stuff for sale.

Last edited by clshades; January 5, 2014 at 11:28 AM.
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Old January 5, 2014, 11:25 AM
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Add on to my previous...an APU build, while it does have some compromises, would still be a big improvment and give you more or all parts in your budget without having to hunt around.
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Away from home light Gamer: Acer Aspire 15.6", A8-3500m undervolt and OC to 2Ghz, 2x4gb Corsair Vengeance, Crucial M500 240gb
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Old January 5, 2014, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bond007 View Post
Add on to my previous...an APU build, while it does have some compromises, would still be a big improvment and give you more or all parts in your budget without having to hunt around.
makes it a little easier to get the ssd in there too. Good trade off on buying a video card imo.
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My stuff for sale.
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Old January 5, 2014, 11:29 AM
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OP don't forgot you need new ram, the new board takes DDR3, and you're running DDR2.
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Old January 5, 2014, 02:22 PM
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Thanks for all the replies! I feel very welcome, thank you clshades!

I hadn't considered an APU (honestly forgot they existed), but it looks like the way to go for my budget. And look, that frees a bit of cash for an SSD which I probably need more anyways.

That's a good point, Hinouchie. I didn't think of DDR compatibility.

Going off of your suggestion, clshades:
NewEgg has the MB a bit cheaper at $78.
I saw some reviews claiming the newer revisions of Kingston SSDNow V300 have performance problems. The Kingston HyperX 3K is about the same at $100.
A single stick of ADATA XPG V1.0 series 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 is only $72 instead of the 2x 4GB. While I'll be losing out on the Dual Channel support I want more than 8GB of ram eventually anyways and this gives me a clear upgrade path. Is this a Bad IdeaŽ?
Your AMD A8-6600K APU offer at $80 looks pretty sweet.

Comes to $330 + ~$6 for shipping + $5-6 for some new thermal compound.

That leaves enough to maybe get a new case. This NZXT H2 looks nice at $85 shipped. (Might be pushing my budget a bit, but that's OK.) What do you guys think? HC actually has an old video review of this one. This makes it sound pretty awesome compared to my current Ultra:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Review
Easy installation, smudge-friendly exterior, no bright lights, lots of spaces for big fans, easy-to-clean air filters over all air intakes, cable tie-downs in all the right places on the interior, and overall sturdy feel for the price.
Am I missing anything?
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Old January 6, 2014, 12:59 AM
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Going Single channel for the RAM is not what I would recommend. Besides, the Mobo has 4 slots. 2x4 now, 2x8 as an addition. Also you would want 2133 or higher speed RAM. The APU graphics performance is definitely influenced by RAM speed.

FM2+ Mobo is a good choice, should give you an upgrade path once the Kaveri APU's roll out(in a week or so).
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