Building a Basic System

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Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:44 am

Hi gerbils, my room mate asked me to build him a simple desktop and I need some guidance as to parts I will be choosing. The only thing for sure now is we will be using this monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6824005419
I am trying to keep the rest of the build less than $500, including keyboard. The PC will not be used for gaming. Mainly MS office and general internet browsing/youtube. I am wondering if it would be beneficial to go with a newer FM2+ motherboard for future upgrades or an Intel solution. I also have no idea what kind of GPU horsepower will be needed for youtube/video playback at 1080P. I am assuming an AMD APU would be fine for such process or intel HD graphics but never used one. It's been a while since I've built a budget desktop so any suggestions are welcome. Will mainly be buying from Newegg. For now here is a basic compilation I was thinking of that comes in around the price point.
AMD X4 740K FM2
ASUS A55 FM2+ motherboard
4GB DDR3 Team ram
Fractal Case
1TB WD Blue
LG DVD drive
EVGA GT620
Corsair CX430
This comes to a little under the budget but I am still unsure of using the low end GPU vs an Intel onboard or AMD APU. Thanks for any suggestion.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:09 pm

GeForce6200 wrote:Hi gerbils, my room mate asked me to build him a simple desktop and I need some guidance as to parts I will be choosing. The only thing for sure now is we will be using this monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6824005419
I am trying to keep the rest of the build less than $500, including keyboard. The PC will not be used for gaming. Mainly MS office and general internet browsing/youtube. I am wondering if it would be beneficial to go with a newer FM2+ motherboard for future upgrades or an Intel solution. I also have no idea what kind of GPU horsepower will be needed for youtube/video playback at 1080P. I am assuming an AMD APU would be fine for such process or intel HD graphics but never used one. It's been a while since I've built a budget desktop so any suggestions are welcome. Will mainly be buying from Newegg. For now here is a basic compilation I was thinking of that comes in around the price point.
AMD X4 740K FM2
ASUS A55 FM2+ motherboard
4GB DDR3 Team ram
Fractal Case
1TB WD Blue
LG DVD drive
EVGA GT620
Corsair CX430
This comes to a little under the budget but I am still unsure of using the low end GPU vs an Intel onboard or AMD APU. Thanks for any suggestion.


You could go for the latest Intel i3 chips or AMD's Kaveri. The later will even let you play games decently. Both will be fine for productivity apps and have now trouble in video playback. Save the money in the graphics font and acquire a SSD if you can fit in your budget. The Samsung Evo is a good choice.

Use the Econobox for reference: http://techreport.com/review/25743/tr-christmas-2013-system-guide/2
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:45 pm

Yeah, if this is just an MS Office/Youtube machine, you can skip the dedicated GPU and opt for a Kaveri or i3 chip. Go that route and pick up a mITX board can case and you (he) will have the convenience of a small machine. Heck, with the right mITX case, he could add a GPU later if he wanted to start playing games.

I'm not convinced that a SSD is a good investment, though. Personally, I would probably use one and store everything on an external hard drive as needed, but with a budget of $500, it will probably just be easier and cheaper to go with a solid mechanical drive, and you'll get a lot more storage space without connecting anything else.

So if that was confusing...an SSD would definitely make things feel snappier, but the price/GB is still weak in comparison to mechanical drives.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:47 pm

Do you live anywhere near a Microcenter? They have fantastic CPU+Motherboard combo deals. Enough to allow you to upgrade other components.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:33 pm

GeForce6200 wrote:AMD X4 740K FM2
EVGA GT620

I realize you're trying to get the cheapest modern "quad core" CPU available, but that CPU+GPU combo will cost you around $115. If you can wait for the A8-7600 @ $120 that would be a better choice. Should hit shelves soon. As you can see in the article I linked, the A8-7600 is a viable light gaming CPU by itself should the interest arise. If not, it will obviously play videos well.

If you absolutely can't wait, the A8-5600K for $100 (I've seen it around $90 on sale) is still better than the X4-740K + GT620 combo.

Consider a mITX build. They're sexy.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:34 pm

I'm doing a build for my employer with similar usage requirements. Right now I'm building it around this board...click here

Basically you get motherboard, cpu, graphics all taken care of for under $100.

There's also a Biostar model that has a PCI-E slot if you'd like the option to add discrete graphics.
Last edited by TDIdriver on Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:52 pm

If there is really no serious gaming going on, I would say you can dip below the i3 and get the Pentium's or Celerons.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:35 pm

If you cut out the aftermarket CPU cooler, the SSD and the Blu-ray burner, the Kaveri-based mini-ITX build in this thread comes in at $550 (without keyboard, mouse, speakers or OS):
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=92223

If you're really strapped for cash, look for a scratched-and-dented Inspiron 660 (Ivy Bridge) or XPS 8700 (Haswell) at the Outlet store.
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... 2&fid=9415
http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSale ... 2&fid=5991
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Thu Feb 06, 2014 3:49 am

Ditch the 620 in favor of an APU unless they're likely to replace the GPU before they replace the CPU. Kaveri is definitely worth waiting for.

If by Fractal case you mean this one then by all means go for it, but don't blow lots of money on a case when other functionality is being cut.

See if you can get some used or open-box DDR3 to keep costs down. Memory prices are fail right now and not expected to get better anytime soon, and memory usually either fails out of the box or works forever.

I'm increasingly becoming a NUC/booksize fanboy for PCs that don't need gaming power, have you looked into those? $500 buys a very nice one, with an i5 and a cherry on top.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:19 am

DPete27 wrote:Consider a mITX build. They're sexy.


I've found that when building a budget system the price premium attached to ITX motherboards, cases and power supplies is not worth the extra money. mATX is plenty small and there are many more budget offerings.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:32 am

kumori wrote:
DPete27 wrote:Consider a mITX build. They're sexy.


I've found that when building a budget system the price premium attached to ITX motherboards, cases and power supplies is not worth the extra money. mATX is plenty small and there are many more budget offerings.

Hard to disagree with that statement, especially since AMD FM2/FM2+ mobos are most commonly mATX. For a "cheap-as-can-be" build, mATX is the best way to go. I just think mITX is more exciting.

Consider: The $40 Elite 120A can take any ATX PSU (like the $20 Corsair CX430) and standard sized optical drives (if desired), plus it has front panel USB3.0. So really, you're paying an extra....$30-$40 for a mITX mobo with more features (built-in WiFi for example) than those ~$50 mATX mobos...expansion slots notwithstanding. A WiFi adapter alone for a mATX board will cost between $10 and $20, and if you get an internal card (not USB) then you're down to 1 GPU (since most GPUs are dual-slot these days) which is the same you get with mITX, or 2 "other" cards (1 more than mITX w/ built-in WiFi)
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:19 pm

Thanks everyone for the quick replies!

Jon1984, thanks for the suggestions but we've ruled out the need for an SSD as it is too much for a basic build. Nothing would really benefit from having the SSD other than boot times, which aren't a big deal. Good to know that either AMD or Intel integrated can handle simple.

superjawes, I looked at the mITX boards but space isn't an issue thus found that a mATX board should be fine. Plus the mITX boards are a little more than a mATX board with same features.

TheEGG, Unfortunately not close to a MicroCenter. Closest one is about 2 hours away, plus cost of fuel might not be worth it. They do have amazing deals though.

DPete27, Ya it doesn't have to have the newest tech or be the fastest. Absolutely no gaming will be done on it so a basic AMD APU should suffice.

TDIDriver, Very interesting motherboard you listed. I will definitely take a look at that. Obviously has it's limitations but for the price that is pretty cool.

FlyingFox, Thanks I think if we go Intel a Pentium G series should suffice. And no gaming at all going on. Just basic internet research and MS office.

JAE, Those Dell's don't look too bad. Plus I have yet to be able to find Windows 8 cheap (Got mine for $20) so already having an OS is a large benefit. I have also found that Dell has a Military discount on certain PCs so we will also check that out. Completely forgot about prebuilt system as I usually ignore them.

NovusBogus, Ya the GT620 didn't really seem all that great even for the small amount of money asked for it. Better save the money and go for integrated. Yes, that was the Fractal case we were looking at and I completely agree no need for a $50+ case on a basic budget build. I will take a look at the NUC systems.

I appreciate the help in looking exploring different options. Tax return should be here soon which is when the final decision will be made.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:34 pm

It's not so much space being an issue, but if you just end up with a board and CPU, you can get an added benefit of a smaller system. This is in comparison to "Mid ATX" cases which take up a lot more space despite having very little inside...most people don't fill all of the bays on their cases.

But yes, there can be premiums attached to mITX boards, so mATX would be budget friendly.

Still keep MicroCenter in mind. If you ever find yourself going two hours in the direction of yours...just in case :wink:

On the OS, make sure you exhaust any Employee Purchase, Home Use, or Student Purchase programs. If you can't find a cheap copy of Windows, consider Linux instead. I know you said MS Office, but if you don't need the stuff from MS, there are free alternatives that will do most of what you need. It is at least worth considering. If you absolutely need Windows and can't get it at a bargain price, though, pre-built will probably be your best bet.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:33 pm

Don't forget to look for combo deals.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:30 am

Integrated graphics are more then enough for general use.

GeForce6200 wrote:Jon1984, thanks for the suggestions but we've ruled out the need for an SSD as it is too much for a basic build. Nothing would really benefit from having the SSD other than boot times, which aren't a big deal.


I really disagree with SSDs being only good for boot times. Any disk IO is going to be faster. Swap, AV scanning, downloads, anything that is going to write or read from the disk will see gains because SSDs aren't as bottlenecked as traditional HDs are.

For the ultimate cost cutting, HDs still have the best price to storage ratio, and I would go with a 7200rpm drive to squeeze a little more IO out of it.

Also, I've been buying 8GB of RAM for base systems lately. The extra RAM will help mask the limited disk IO of an HD, and more RAM never hurts. Office and a browser can eat up a surprising amount of RAM.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:58 pm

So here's a wild idea.... pick up a Dell Refurbished C2D for ~$150 and drop a 120GB SSD in there for $80. Should make that machine pretty snappy for the usage you're describing. The Dell refurbs come with Win7 and by the looks of it, a mouse and keyboard as well.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:30 pm

Here is a vote not for going low end Intel. I have a C2D (7400) and the built in Graphics are now showing their age. It will studder on HD youtube videos. If you go with a Pentium or used Dell save some cash for a low end graphics card if online video suffers.

At the basic system level you really are better off buying instead of building. If it were me I would go with JAE scratch and dent dell.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:49 pm

Flatland_Spider-I realize that an SSD, especially for a boot drive would make everything snappier. I had an Intel 335 SSD as my boot drive but for such a basic system with a small budget at the current time isn't a necessity.

DPete27-I think what we are going to is get a basic Dell system (i3, 4GB) as they are the best with our budget and get ten percent off via military discount. I would almost always avoid a pre built but with needing a copy of Windows and the deals the Dell can offer it frees up other money for better peripherals. Plus I don't have to be tech support whenever it would be needed.

Dagwood-The current i3 with Intel HD graphics should work for video viewing from the research I have done. You are correct though I was skeptical of on board video being able to handle Youtube and other decoding.

Well it looks like a pre-built system in the works but there are some pluses with this system now. Can go for a class-T amp and some near field bookshelf speakers for a decent listening experience and I won't have to be tech support if/when something goes wrong.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:24 am

@Gforce,
I think we are in agreement, I was vague about what I meant by low end Intel. I was referring to the scratch and dent Intel with Core2Duo chips in them. They have Intel’s old school graphics silicon glued right next to the CPU silicon. I would even be cautious of anything Intel labels Pentium these days. The chips have cut down caches and turn off enough features that modern video streaming could suffer. But I cannot speak from experience regarding the new Pentium chips. My Desktops are old and due for an upgrade.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:06 am

Dagwood wrote: Intel with Core2Duo chips in them. They have Intel’s old school graphics silicon glued right next to the CPU silicon.

I resurrected a C2D with integrated (GMA...?) system for a friend to use as a HTPC. It worked for 720p ripped movies and 1080p Netflix streaming (IIRC), but I ended up getting him a 7750 for $32 (newegg open box + rebate) because he was having trouble with refresh rate matching (dropped frames in fixed time increments) AND he wanted to do some light gaming with it. You're right though, the integrated GMA graphics in C2D's are not up to the task of modern HTPC use. Nothing that a $30 dGPU can't fix.

Dagwood wrote:I would even be cautious of anything Intel labels Pentium these days.

I probably woudn't be cautious of LGA1155 / 1150 Pentiums for HTPC use. AFAK, they contain the same graphics core as i3's except they don't support Quick-Sync.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:28 am

I'll agree with DPete that the IGP's in Celerons and Pentiums are pretty much the same as the equivalent i3/i5/i7. You lose quicksync but decode and game performance is identical

I don't have a lot of experience with it but I've upgraded work laptops with Celerons to i5's and my own laptop from a Pentium to an i3 - and the IGP performance was damn-near identical from what I could tell. Quicksync doesn't provide great quality encoding anyway, so I tend to avoid it even when it is an available option.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:22 pm

Update the pre built systems are what was decided on. Saved a fair bit of money that was able to be put towards other areas, speakers etc. While I generally despise pre-built system it's not half bad and after doing some simple tweaks runs just fine for Office and web browsing. TR's review of the 750 and 750Ti means that it is possible if the on board graphics suffer with playback that I can quick pop one in and have potent GPU. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions throughout. I also encourage anyone looking for a basic system to not rule out prebuilt. There are Asus prebuits that have nicer entry level Asus mobos and not bad PSUs.
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Re: Building a Basic System

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:21 am

GeForce6200 wrote:nicer entry level Asus mobos and not bad PSUs.


The most appealing thing about a pre-built is that you get a $100 Windows OEM license for free, but normally you get awful motherboards and PSU's that aren't even 80+

Asus seem to be the exception to the rule.
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