Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

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Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:01 am

Hi, I'm needy today. :D My stepdaughter is buying a desktop. Back in the day I'd just build it myself, but I don't think I can meet her budget and still get quality parts. She just got her first job in January and has been saving up for this all year.

She bought an ibuypower desktop at first but it was POS right out of the box. It wouldn't boot into windows if the mouse (that it came with) was plugged into a USB3 port. Eventually it failed to show the screen when connected to video through HDMI. It had an MSI motherboard and graphics card. I guess MSI has slipped in quality since I last was in the game. Newegg was great though; they paid for return shipping and issued a full refund upon verifying the problems.

Under $500 (shipping included), what can be recommended? The condition is that it has to be upgradeable, so no mini or flex or all-in-one's allowed. If I need to do a motherboard swap in the future, I want that flexibility, and same with an upgraded GPU. HDMI output already available would be great too, since her monitor has speakers. I'd prefer to buy from Newegg, but failing that, it needs to be somewhere with a good return policy on DOA's. Her mom wants to order this weekend, but I haven't had a lot of time to research other systems. The 'egg has a couple Asus and Acer towers that fit the bill, but I don't know who still makes good stuff these days.

As always, thanks in advance!
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:11 am

What is the computer being used for?
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:14 am

Ah, sorry. Typical high-schooler stuff. MS Office, U-tube, Netflix, internet. It won't need more than 4GB memory and does not have to be graphics intensive.
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"Good grief, man! WHAT are you trying to install on that poor computer?"
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:17 am

This is the basis for a $750 tower I'd been looking at, but I've cut out the GPU, HDD, and reduced the RAM:


Crucial M500 120GB ($74.99)
Intel Core i3-4130 Haswell 3.4GHz ($124.99)
GIGABYTE GA-H87M-HD3 mATX ($92.00)
CORSAIR CX430M ($49.99)
SilverStone PRECISION Series PS09B ($49.99)
LG Internal Super Multi DVD Drive ($19.99)
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) ($47.99)



$459.94 + $12.83 super eggsaver shipping, $472.77 grand total


The motherboard has HDMI out, which you'll find useful. As it's mATX, there's a 16x PCIe slot + 2 PCie 1x slots (and, boo, an old PCI as well). The CPU's HD 4400 graphics will handle your desktop + streaming video + verrrry light gaming duties. An inexpensive GPU could be dropped in later to increase performance.
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:24 am

Terra_Nocuus wrote:This is the basis for a $750 tower I'd been looking at, but I've cut out the GPU, HDD, and reduced the RAM:

Crucial M500 120GB ($74.99)
Intel Core i3-4130 Haswell 3.4GHz ($124.99)
GIGABYTE GA-H87M-HD3 mATX ($92.00)
CORSAIR CX430M ($49.99)
SilverStone PRECISION Series PS09B ($49.99)
LG Internal Super Multi DVD Drive ($19.99)
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) ($47.99)

$459.94 + $12.83 super eggsaver shipping, $472.77 grand total
The motherboard has HDMI out, which you'll find useful. As it's mATX, there's a 16x PCIe slot + 2 PCie 1x slots (and, boo, an old PCI as well). The CPU's HD 4400 graphics will handle your desktop + streaming video + verrrry light gaming duties. An inexpensive GPU could be dropped in later to increase performance.

That's not a bad build, but you also have to account for a Windows license. I'm also not sure if I would use an SSD on this type of build, as they're more of a luxury item and only 120GB to a system might feel a little constrained. Kvndoom, if you live near a Microcenter, they have some incredible CPU+Motherboard combo deals and will match Amazon/Newegg on everything else.
i5 2500k - P67 - GTX660 - 840 Pro 256GB - Xonar Essence STX - Senn HD595's
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:26 am

The Egg wrote:That's not a bad build, but you also have to account for a Windows license. I'm also not sure if I would use an SSD on this type of build, as they're more of a luxury item and only 120GB to a system might feel a little constrained. Kvndoom, if you live near a Microcenter, they have some incredible CPU+Motherboard combo deals and will match Amazon/Newegg on everything else.


True. I think the 1TB WD Blue runs about $59, so there's some savings, but not enough to account for a Windows license.
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:27 am

There's one in Fairfax, a little over 2 hours away. I'm not against driving, but yes I have to acquire a Winders license as well as the time to put this all together. I will check their site though in detail.
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"Good grief, man! WHAT are you trying to install on that poor computer?"
"Antivirus."
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:37 am

http://www.techpowerup.com/202053/cyber ... ystem.html

see if you can upgrade to the 2 GHz kabini?
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:44 am

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/q2NzFT

If not gaming, swap out the 750Ti and replace it with a Core i3 for ~$60-70 more.
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:50 am

Microcenter AMD Bundles

If you scroll down you'll see a A6-6400K plus a Gigabyte GA-F2A55M-HD2 motherboard for a grand total of $64.99
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:17 pm

A refurbished or clearance Dell could do the job.
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:30 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:A refurbished or clearance Dell could do the job.


This, all the way.

Also, I'm finding that my 6GB laptop just doesn't always have enough RAM for basic tasks to run smoothly, assuming a modicum of multi-tasking, despite popular (and previously my own) belief. I recommend a minimum of 8GB these days where possible. Note that the laptop that I'm using is a 4c/8t 2.0GHz Sandy, which should never be particularly slow for standard user workloads, and that it is backed up by an Intel SATA2 SSD. Startup times are downright fast even with it's aging (but modern) equipment. But it still does get bogged down more than I like.
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:32 pm

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with iBuyPower (BTW, plugging a mouse into USB3 won't make it work any better). I bought my first computer from them back in 2004 and was very happy with it. It's still running strong. Since then, I've built my own. It's just more fun. If you're looking for "standard" swappable components, iBuyPower or CyberPowerPC are probably your best bet. Asus makes good stuff, but I have no experience with their pre-built stuff. JAE will probably point you to some refurb/clearance/scratch&dent Dell stuff if that's your fancy.

Here's the full list of Microcenter AMD bundles.
You really don't need much for the usage you've listed. Certainly don't need a discrete graphics card for today's CPUs with IGPs. I was just helping a friend convince his wife to let us build them an APU system:
A8-6600K (quad core) + mobo = $110 @ Microcenter
Silverstone PS09B = $48
Corsair CX430 = $20 after MIR (on sale at this price frequently at newegg)
4GB RAM = $40
1TB hdd for $55-60
Optical drive = $20 or less
Windows for $90
Rough total = $383. I gave him a couple comparisons of very comparable systems from the likes of Dell/HP that were in the $500+ range, I just priced that same system at iBuyPower for $550 (albeit with namebrand components unlike Dell/HP).

You don't even really need that much computing power for the usage you've listed, although what I've got there is fairly "future-proof." You could just as easily drop down to the A6-6400 (dual core) or an Intel Pentium G3220 and probably not notice the difference.
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Re: Looking for a sub- $500 tower...

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:53 pm

Damn, I might just have to drive up to Fairfax. She can give me gas and lunch money and still put $50 or so back in her pocket! :lol:
"No I don't want the Ask toolbar! No I don't want Bing as my default search! No I don't want to make Chrome my default browser!"
"Good grief, man! WHAT are you trying to install on that poor computer?"
"Antivirus."
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