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Building a good Desktop PC for $500!


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#1 cap2587

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 09:48 PM

I am interested in building a Desktop PC for $500. Read below this post for a great post on Building a Top of the line Desktop for $1000. To be honest I think it is very hard to beat the price of the best deals at Newegg, Staples, HP, DEll etc. However I think if you search for deals you can get close to the price that the stores sell it for and you can customize it how you want. Here are two PC's that I like for that $500 price range: http://www.staples.com/HP-Pavilion-p6520f-...?cmArea=page_rr and http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16883113125

The two CPU's that I like that may keep me close to the total of $500 are the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300(2.5GHz) and the AMD Athlon™ II 635 Quad-Core Processor (2.9GHz).

Here is a couple of items I started with. Suggestions or recommendations on good components would be appreciated.

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx...N82E16811147120

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Se...AUHaM8bb3HoorOw (was on special for $100 a few days ago)

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx...N82E16827136147

Thanks in advance for any tips: Craig

About 8 months ago I posted under the topic "Building the top of the line Desktop for $1000. The forum post was very well responded to an a great way for people like myself to learn about building a PC and what components work well together. It's well worth a read http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/248910/building-a-top-of-the-line-desktop/

For those that are interested the Desktop runs incredible and here is the breakdown of every component and the cost.


1 x COOLER MASTER Stacker 830 Evolution RC-830-KKN3-GP Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail ($131)
Intel Core i7 920 ($212)
6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ($114)
Evga 260 GTX ($200)
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 ($160)
SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support ($21)
COOLER MASTER Intel Core i7 compatible V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler ($50)
1 x OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ700MXSP 700W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail ($47)
1x Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives -Bare Drive ($84)
Acer 20" Monitor $90
Windows 7 64 bit Home Premium $50

Total Cost = $1159

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#2 DJBPace07

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:43 PM

You didn't list what this PC will be used for, so we really can't give exact data, but here is a suggestion. I doubt you will be fully in the sub-$500 range.

Case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW - A decent Mid ATX case that is only marginally more expensive than the one you listed, once you factor in shipping. $59

Motherboard: ASRock 880GXH/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G - I'm assuming that you are not going for a high-end gaming PC on a $500 budget, this is why chose the ASRock board. It has on-board graphics, as denoted by the "G", USB 3.0, SATA 6, and will take AM3 CPU's. This is part of the new AMD 8xx series chipset. The on-board graphics eliminate the need for a discrete graphics card. $94

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz - This is one of the higher-end Athlon II CPU's. It doesn't have L3 cache like the Phenom II CPU's, but only enthusiasts or gamers would care about that. Because it is a quad core at a high speed, it is great for general computer usage and for the occasional processing intensive task. $99

PSU: Thermaltake TR2 W0379RU 500W - Is is more than enough for this build. It has additional power for an eventual graphics card upgrade. $54 (Before $15 mail-in rebate)

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - This is plenty for most users. Remember, you need a 64-bit copy of Windows to use all 4GB. $104

Hard Drive; Western Digital Caviar Green WD5000AADS 500GB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb - Plenty of space. $54

Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - A standard drive that can read and write to CD's and DVD's. It will not read or write to Blu-Ray discs. $18

Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit - You need this to run your PC. $99

Grand Total: $588 (Before rebates, shipping, and taxes)

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#3 cap2587

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 11:34 PM

Thanks DJBPace07,

The computer would be used for basic use. No gaming, some video watching, Internet browsing, downloading, etc

Let me take some time to look at your suggestions: I figured I might be slightly over the $500 mark with my build. Where does the components below beat out the Compaq (Newegg) and HP (Staples) PC's that I like. What really separates the store bought and self built PC? What is the key to matching up motherboard's with CPU's? Appreciate the quick response.

#4 cap2587

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 11:47 PM

I am assuming that going with the Intel Quad T8300 CPU would bump the price up. On a system like this do you instantly save about $100 by going AMD instead of Intel. If I see the Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition Quad Core Processor at $100 again I should grab it as that seems like a good price. It also ranks 86 on the CPU benchmarks, slightly ahead of the T8300. Thoughts.

I think budgeting $100 on the CPU seems about right.

#5 Luke L

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 12:39 AM

Yeah, with your budget limit AMD is much better. From what I hear, AMD usually wins price/performance wise while Intel is just better(new technology, ahead of the game, etc.). AMD has both cheaper CPU's and cheaper motherboards for the same features.

DJBPace07 knows what he is talking about. He helped me with the computer build that I am now using. He suggested an AsRock board to me as well, which has worked excellent.
I agree with his build completely except for the Hard Drive. Western Digital Green drives are very slow from what I understand. They are aimed at less power consumption and lesser price. The biggest drawback is they don't spin at 7200rpm. And since the hard drive is usually the bottleneck of most systems, you would want to get a decent one at the least. Here are two that I would go with:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136218 WD Caviar Blue 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB
Go with this one if you order within the next few days as the promo code will save you money. $70, or $50 with promo code

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136073 WD Caviar Blue 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB
This one is same as the first with less space. $55

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136319 WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB
Even better than the ones above. I don't know if I would suggest this, but it's another option. I personally think that blue would be fast enough. Get it if you have an extra $25 to spend. $75

Edited by Luke L, 11 July 2010 - 12:40 AM.


#6 DJBPace07

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 10:04 PM

The Western Digital Green drives can spin somewhere between 7200 and 5400 RPM's, depending on the model. The Green drives are meant for general usage where high performance isn't as essential. The Black drives are designed for power users and the Blue drives are for mainstream users. I do suggest you get a drive with 32MB cache for a slight bump in performance. The differences between the Staples PC and mine is that you get a better power supply and an HDMI port with the build I came up with. It is also can come with a faster hard drive and it is easier to upgrade CPU's and motherboards at a later date since those are "off the shelf" and not rebranded, possibly proprietary, units with a special BIOS or design.

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#7 cap2587

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 06:34 PM

Appreciate all of the good responses. I am not yet sold on the motherboard. Why is there no reviews on this item. Is it because it is new. Is there any disadvantage to going with on-board graphics. I'm assuming it is more cost efficient. Below are the items I really like.

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz If I can luck out and get the Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition Quad Core Processor for $100 then I will go with that one.

Case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (I might get 2 sticks of 2GB RAM, which should be less expensive).

Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner

PSU: Thermaltake TR2 W0379RU 500W

Windows 7 Home Premium

That leaves me with the motherboard and Hard Drive to decide on. I may go with the Black version of the W.D Hard Drive if I can get a good deal on one. All in all I think this will be a very solid PC and come in at somewhere close to $500. I know how to find good deals on components, therefore should be able to stay within budget. Enjoying all the good insights so far.

#8 cap2587

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 06:37 PM

DJBPace07, How would you compare the Case below vs the COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-WW

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16811129058

Today's shell shocker is the Antec 900

#9 cap2587

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:48 PM

This Hard Drive looks like a good one and at the right price.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...6-319-_-Product

#10 cap2587

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:51 PM

How about this Hard Drive for $49

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136218

#11 DJBPace07

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 11:02 PM

The reason why there are no reviews on that ASRock motherboard is for two reasons, one, the AMD 8 series chipset is new, making reviews few to begin with, and two, that motherboard is new so there aren't many sold to get reviews. In fact, the most reviews on the 880G chipset motherboards I've seen have been below 20. Don't put too much weight into the reviews on Newegg as there are plenty of people who rate things without buying them, using/installing item correctly, or whine about something small that happened. As a whole, the majority do know what they are doing so the aggregate score is fairly accurate if there are plenty of reviews. The downside with on-board graphics is performance, you get enough graphics hardware to do a few things, like video decoding, but don't expect good framerates in gaming. With the RAM, you will save a few dollars by going with a quality 2x2GB DDR3-1333 set, which you may have to as the one I suggested is sold out for now. The closest one-stick alternative I found is the WINTEC AMPO 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 which is more expensive, you may be priced out of getting a single stick and just getting G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 instead. You should only really hold out for the single RAM stick memory if you believe you may need 16GB of RAM later on, which most people don't. That last hard drive is $69, but the first hard drive you posted, the Black 640GB, will be enough.

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#12 cap2587

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:27 AM

Thanks for the good tips DJBPace07!

The Hard drive is actually $49 until today.
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$20 off with promo code EMCYVYW25, ends 7/14

I figured that getting the 1 4GB Module is only important if the price is very similar to the 2 by 2 GB of RAM and it makes sense to get it as you can have more overall RAM in the end.

You seem pretty certain this motherboard is a good one. This PC will not be used for any gaming, just some DVD burning, Internet, youtube watching and the everyday use. Is the biggest positive to this motherboard is the cost efficiency of having the GPU built in. Seems very tough to come up with a Mobo and GPU for $100 as you have come up with. Thoughts.

#13 cap2587

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:57 PM

Came across this deal today on Tiger Direct. I think Corsair RAM is pretty good. What do you think?

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Se...8NBi.xuwORUi1yg

#14 cap2587

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:31 PM

I forgot that I had a Cool master Power Supply that I have not used yet.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16817153023

Is this something that would work with this build. I don't mind buying another PSU if you think it is not a good fit for this build as the PSU's are pretty cheap. Let me know.

#15 Steadyhndz

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:38 PM

PC World Magazine (I think it's that one) just did a great review on processors and the 945 and 635 were the 2 AMD's to buy they said if you can't get the x6 core




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