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Discussion Starter #1
I currently have a fairly dated desktop that I use for my business and am thinking it is time to build something new. Rather than go out and buy a pre-made computer I figured I could build something better for less most likely. I previously built an HTPC and was surprised at how much better it was overall for the money.

In general I use the computer for word, excel, browsing, quickbooks, itunes, watching videos etc. I may use it to stream to a plasma television so i'm thinking an HDMI out would be nice to have.

I really have no idea about motherboards and what is good or necessary. Also unsure whether AMD or Intel is better for CPU and what is more important, number of cores or cache and speed.

I am trying to keep this fairly low budget but will spend where necessary. I mainly use Canada Computers as a reference for pricing etc.

For the motherboard would it be best to go with an AM3 socket type with integrated graphics card? Was looking at something like the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO.

For the CPU I don't know what is better but used an AMD in my HTPC and haven't had an issue. Maybe the AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition would be a good choice, I don't know anything to really differentiate what is better though.

For hard drives I currently have a couple, was wondering if getting an SSD made any sense for my OS and applications and use a normal hard drive for all my files?

For RAM I figured I would go with 4GB of DDR3 1333 unless there is a reason I should go with the more expensive stuff.

Lastly this means I would need a new OS as I currently run XP. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit is what I was leaning towards.

Thanks in Advance for all input.
 

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For hard drives I currently have a couple, was wondering if getting an SSD made any sense for my OS and applications and use a normal hard drive for all my files?
I'm replacing a dated desktop myself and I plan to use a SSD for the OS and normal HDDs for data. I would rather spend the extra on a SSD than a better CPU

The mobo and cpu are what I'm still considering myself. I'm not sure if it's still true but I always thought AMD was better bang for the buck, especially on a budget
 

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I don't think building saves these days especially when I look at where you pointed. FS has a budget PC for 399 and a person could upgrade the video for a few bucks.
 

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The problem with buying premade off-the-shelf computers used to be that the OS was legitimate BUT you did not get a true copy from Microsoft, rather you got one or two disks, one marked "recovery" or somesuch. You could not take that OS disk and install it on another computer, even if you scrapped the original computer on which it was installed. Dell, HP, etc buy licences en masse from Microsoft and pre install ad infinitum. I bought an HP off the shelf in Florida years ago for a winter condo and when a problem arose I often had to use recovery disk. Maybe things are different today and like the others above I also am considering a new system. My Canadian computers have all been custom built by Premier Computer in Etobicoke ON but they no longer have a walk in store. Nothing worthwhile lasts forever.
To gzink: Your statement is not really valid. Custom building allows you to pick the power supply wattage (off-the-shelf are usually on the lower edge whereas you can custom pick the power you need now plus upgrades in the future), in fact you can pick exactly what you would like including case with ample USB sockets at the front where they belong. You are not buying what some wholesale builder in some far off galaxy thinks you should have.
 

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To gzink: Your statement is not really valid. Custom building allows you to pick the power supply wattage (off-the-shelf are usually on the lower edge whereas you can custom pick the power you need now plus upgrades in the future), in fact you can pick exactly what you would like including case with ample USB sockets at the front where they belong. You are not buying what some wholesale builder in some far off galaxy thinks you should have.
+1

Those pre made big box desktops are usually junk. They have the specs to impress the naive but they cut costs in every way the typical consumer doesn't look.. such as powersupply, motherboard etc

Maybe building doesn't save as much money anymore, but it certainly can build a much better desktop for the price that will likely outlive the pre mades
 

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The problem with buying premade off-the-shelf computers used to be that the OS was legitimate BUT you did not get a true copy from Microsoft, rather you got one or two disks, one marked "recovery" or somesuch. You could not take that OS disk and install it on another computer, even if you scrapped the original computer on which it was installed.
To add:
Many computer manufacturers do not even come with restore CDs/DVDs anymore, just a restore partition. You need to make your own (and provide the blank media for), but they provide the tools to do that.

To play devil's advocate:
The OS is cheaper because of the lock in to the hardware and "the inclusions". The point of an OEM OS is that it lives and dies with the hardware it is made for. If you want an OS you can move amongst computers over the years, go pay full price for a retail OS.
OS re-installation is usually streamlined. System drivers are usually installed with the OS. You don't need to enter the product key or activate the system, nor will significant hardware changes trigger re-activation.

* You can make a slipstreamed install disc to include drivers, product key, and activation, or make an image of an installed and configured OS, but that takes time and maybe extra software (usually pay), but at leat you know what is installed and what is going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies, so anyone have any direct input on the items i'm looking at or suggestions on where else to look?
 

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have you looked at the X4 945, it's only about 20 bucks more, and gives you 2 extra cores (however it runs at 3ghz vs the 555 which runs at 3.2ghz). AMD is definately a better bang for your buck when it comes to "normal" pc's. If you want top of the line go with higher end Intel proc's. By the sounds of it you don't want a machine for gaming so I would definately stick with AMD.

4 gb of ram should be plently unless you plan on doing a lot of gaming or encoding videos. No need to buy more expensive ram unless you plan on OC-ing. Regardless, try to make sure you buy a brand name ram (Kingston, OCZ, Mushkin, etc..)

The M4A785TD-V EVO looks like a nice board, the pricing is definately very reasonable, and you do have an option to add a video card if you choose at a later point. You might also want to look at the ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3, its like the EVO, but newer (and around the same price)

Make sure you spend some money on a good power supply, for some reason it's something a lot of people cheap out on. I highly recommend the PS's made by PC power and cooling, it's what I've been putting in all the computers I build for friends and family - no RMA's so far... knock on wood!

OS... win 7 64bit premium is what I run, I ran XP and Vista previously, and I will never go back after running Win7, it's an al around solid, well built OS (way better than that Vista crap)

Feel free to PM or post here if you want any advice on price matching or have more questions.
 

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For comparison sake this is what's in my cart at Newegg.ca

$130 ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 mobo - bit cheaper than your choice except no integrated video and it supports DDR3 1600 without OC

$100 AMD Athlon II X4 635 Propus 2.9GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core - same price as your dual core on Newegg except quad core with twice the L2 cache but no L3 cache vs 6 mb L3 cache. Are you sure if your 555 supports integrated graphics? AMD's website doesn't seem to say, but integrated graphics does save $50 on video card

2 x $50 Kingston HyperX 2GB DDR3 1600 (same price as 1333 if your mobo supports it)

$55 SAPPHIRE 100292L Radeon HD 5450 1GB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.1 x16 - I was looking for fanless with HDMI/DVI.
Edit: $50 SAPPHIRE 100252HDMI Radeon HD 4550 512MB 64-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready

2 x $70 WD Green WD10EARS 1TB 5400 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s - slower rpm and quiet. I'll add a SSD maybe later

$73 Lian Li A06B case - well built aluminum case with rubber grommets to reduce vibration and large/slower/quiet fans

$125 Lian Li 750w PSU - quiet - Looking for cheaper 500w but the quiet Antec ones are $100 anyways
Edit: $80 Antec NeoPower 550W super silent fan - exhausts heat out of the case

Windows 7 64 bit - owned

If I spent this much on a pre made I would not get the little touches of rubber grommets, air filters, ball-bearing slower fans, aluminum (heat dissipation and sturdy) and efficient quality capacitors etc
 

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You might also want to look at the ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3, its like the EVO, but newer (and around the same price)
You're right I just realized the newer ASUS M4A87TD EVO AM3 AMD is newer, $20 cheaper on newegg.ca and it has USB3, SATA III
 

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Honestly for such light computing needs, virtually any budget to moderate priced computer will suffice. Consider a refurb from Tiger Direct or BB, you can save a lot of money and get a powerful machine for $400 to $600.
 

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$80 Antec 80 Plus Bronze Earthwatts 500w
$120 ASUS mobo that supports the latest
$100 AMD Athlon II Quad Core
$100 2 x 2 GB ram - just about any spec/name

Total $400 for the latest tech

If you already have a case and HDDs, its really not even worth going refurbished.

From finding my parts I found they charge the same thing for last year's tech and todays, if not less. But I agree for light usuage you won't even notice the difference between a dual or quad CPU. Having the latest mobo is good for future-proofing and expandability though
 

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do yourself a HUGE favour and put all your pc's in ANTEC cases

for tower style, I'd always recommend the p180 series

tons of room, great design for cooling, the stock fans are very decent and they're just a pleasure to work with

desktop style, the nsk2400 (and variants) are very nice too

not nearly as much room, but nice cases
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Took a look for the X4 945 but I can't seem to find it available? The X2 555 is $110, and everything within $10-20 seems to be slower or have less cache?

Would it make a difference if I use 4 x 1GB DDR3-1333 compared to 2 x 2GB DDR3-1600?

I guess I could bump up to the M4A88T-M/USB3 with HDMI for the extra $10, thanks for the advice on that.

I was thinking of just getting a case with a power supply, how much difference does a good power supply make?

Is it worth it to get an entry level SSD for my OS or should I just get a good quality hard drive?

have you looked at the X4 945, it's only about 20 bucks more, and gives you 2 extra cores (however it runs at 3ghz vs the 555 which runs at 3.2ghz). AMD is definately a better bang for your buck when it comes to "normal" pc's. If you want top of the line go with higher end Intel proc's. By the sounds of it you don't want a machine for gaming so I would definately stick with AMD.

4 gb of ram should be plently unless you plan on doing a lot of gaming or encoding videos. No need to buy more expensive ram unless you plan on OC-ing. Regardless, try to make sure you buy a brand name ram (Kingston, OCZ, Mushkin, etc..)

The M4A785TD-V EVO looks like a nice board, the pricing is definately very reasonable, and you do have an option to add a video card if you choose at a later point. You might also want to look at the ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3, its like the EVO, but newer (and around the same price)

Make sure you spend some money on a good power supply, for some reason it's something a lot of people cheap out on. I highly recommend the PS's made by PC power and cooling, it's what I've been putting in all the computers I build for friends and family - no RMA's so far... knock on wood!

OS... win 7 64bit premium is what I run, I ran XP and Vista previously, and I will never go back after running Win7, it's an al around solid, well built OS (way better than that Vista crap)

Feel free to PM or post here if you want any advice on price matching or have more questions.
 

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Personally I wouldn't worry about 1600 vs 1333 ram. If they cost the same get the 1600, but it won't make much diff and the motherboard you selected does not support 1600 (but it's backwards compatible afaik)

The ASUS site has a nice form to tell you what minimum power supply you need.

Using a SSD will make more performance difference than a $$ CPU or 1600 ram/mobo. Personally I'm going to use several HDDs in RAID for cheapness/space

I just received my Lian Li aluminum case for $73 and I'm very impressed with the quality

That X4 945 is $159 on ********** I'm very impressed with them. Their shipping was very cheap and the fastest I've seen in Canada.

Edit: newegg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ah, the 945 is $160 which is about $50 more than the 555...probably better to spend that money on an SSD?
 

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for a HTPC i don't really see the big bonus of a SSD (for the cost)

you don't need a huge amount of horsepower, and even with slow old 5400 rpm drives it still takes less than 20-25 seconds to resume from sleep on my old amd dual core
 

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for a HTPC i don't really see the big bonus of a SSD (for the cost)

you don't need a huge amount of horsepower, and even with slow old 5400 rpm drives it still takes less than 20-25 seconds to resume from sleep on my old amd dual core
SSDs are great for HTPC because the are smaller, quieter, faster! OP is not building a HTPC?

SSD will make more performance difference for the $ but they are still new and expensive. I don't like to be an early adapter of things before they mature

I went with multiple 5400 rpm drives in RAID over 7200 rpm because 5400 is cheap and quiet etc

Don't spend an extra 50% on that CPU. The new CPU's barely make a difference to anybody for normal use. Anybody can notice a SSD

Here is what I built today



Hand crafted aluminum case $70 (very impressive quality)
Mobo 6GB/s USB 3 $110
AMD quad core 635 $100
WD 1TB Green $70x3 RAID
4GB DDR3 1600 $100
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Getting ready to finalize things and here is what I am leaning towards now.

Mobo: Asus M4A78T-E Socket AM3 AMD 790GX Chipset + ATI SB750 ATI Radeon HD 3300 Graphics $95
CPU: AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition (80W) Dual-Core Socket AM3, 3.2GHz, 7MB Cache, 2000MHz HT, 45nm $100
RAM: Kingston ValueRAM 2GB 1333MHz DDR3 x 4 ($38 each)
Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB x 2 in RAID 0 ($44 each)
or
Intel X25-V 40GB $110 + old normal HD I have
OS:Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $110

Good? Bad?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Any thoughts on going with this Motherboard instead, priced under $100 and it is using the latest chipset from what I can see.

BIOSTAR TA890GXB
 
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