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Thread: Building a PC, take 2

  1. #1

    Default Building a PC, take 2

    A while back, I had intended to build a PC. However because of a few reasons, I never got around to it. After christmas, I intend to actually build a new one this time, and I'm looking for advice.

    I'm getting an old PC (Pentium II, PCI graphics card etc. etc.) to use as a base, so I have to buy even less this time (though I'll still be throwing out most of the old parts). However, my budget is lower again (€200-€300, depending on how much I get at christmas).

    Things I don't need to buy:
    • OS
    • Monitor (must have VGA or HDMI outputs though as I'm using my HDTV as a monitor - apparently some cheaper new graphics cards only have DVI)
    • Speakers, Keyboard or mouse
    • HDD
    • PSU (depending on graphics card, it's only 330W)


    At that budget, I'm probably looking at integrated sound and graphics card, but I need to be able to upgrade the graphics card at a later time.

    Anyone care to give me probable components/specs I'm looking at for that budget? (Newegg is US only, so don't post that).

    This is Ireland, so while the actual exchange rate might be $1 to €0.67, the effective one once you count in delivery and/or markup by shops is $1 to €1 (it sucks, I know).
    Last edited by Hex; 21-Nov-2009 at 20:14.

  2. #2

    Default

    I'm not sure that I can help too much with a budget like that, since I've been recently planning a computer upgrade which looks like it'll end up costing me the best part of 1000, if not more (hello Core i7 and ATI Radeon HD 5750...), but I can definitely help expand your options, here:


    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamaker View Post
    Things I don't need to buy:
    • Monitor (must have VGA or HDMI outputs though as I'm using my HDTV as a monitor - apparently some cheaper new graphics cards only have DVI)
    DVI output ports on graphics cards will be chucking out both digital and analogue data through their various pins in such a way that makes them electrically compatible with both VGA and HDMI. All you need is a very simple (and thus cheap) pin converter. The graphics card might even come with a DVI->VGA converter, and DVI->HDMI cables are cheap enough, too.

    At least, cards are 99.9% likely to be made like that. It's technically possible for a DVI port to only output digital or analogue, thus making either the VGA or HDMI conversion impossible, but I've never heard of that being the case...

    A word of warning about HDMI, though: I've had trouble with overscan when plugging a PC into a HDTV via a DVI->HDMI cable. The picture was fine, but it was slightly too large for the screen (there were about 20 pixels on each side that were missing). We were able to fix it to some extent by fiddling with the graphics card's driver app, but it's something you may have to watch out for.

    And as for VGA, a lot of (especially 1080p) HDTVs limit the possible resolution over VGA to something around 1360x768, depending on the TV. For absoulutely no reason, as far as I can tell, but they still do it. They also don't support the widest range of resolutions known to man. There's a 720p HDTV in this house that, when connected over VGA to a laptop, the best resolution we can get from it is 1024x600 or something in that region - far below the notional 1280x720 of 720p.

    Hope this helps expand your options a little, and goes some way to explaining why graphics cards often only have DVI ports (in fact, it helps explain why newer ones are starting to include HDMI ports - they're smaller, yet can still be converted easily to DVI, thus work with most decent, newish monitors!).

  3. #3

    Default Inexpensive computer build.

    Gotta love trying to upgrade an old computer.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamaker View Post
    After christmas, I intend to actually build a new one this time, and I'm looking for advice.

    Things I don't need to buy:
    • PSU (depending on graphics card, it's only 330W)


    Anyone care to give me probable components/specs I'm looking at for that budget? (Newegg is US only, so don't post that).
    You will need a motherboard, processor, and RAM that work together at a minimum. The power supply must also be compatible with your motherboard choice. I find a spreadsheet to be very helpful when building a computer on a budget. This way, multiple builds may be stored for comparison.

    Newer ATX motherboards use a 24 pin power plug instead of the older 20 pin. This may cause you to need a new power supply. The cost of this can be in the $30+ range. Finding a used one may be possible.

    For the suggested price range, bleeding (leading) edge components are not feasible. You can find a processor or motherboard that will blow your entire budget, but should be more focused on "cost-effective." The motherboard, processor, and RAM prices trace a parabola over time. The newest and oldest components are most expensive with a small range that is least expensive. These are what you want. Providing specific components right now is a waiste of time since the price curve changes often. By Christmas, all of the prices will have changed especially if any new parts were introduced between now and then.

    The first step to selecting the components is choosing AMD or Intel becuase the processor and motherboard depend upon this choice. This is entirely up to you. The next step is to research which processor generation you can afford. The newest generation is always significantly more expensive than the previous generation at any given point in time. I use a spreadsheet for this part. Take the cheapest price for a processor, motherboard, and compatible RAM with each socket type that you may purchase. Use a standard size of RAM for comparison purposes. Most likely, the newest generation will be above your budget. The next older one should be below your budget. If not, go another generation down. This lets you know which compatible group can fit your price range.

    Once you know the compatible group that you can afford, it is time to narrow down the motherboard to the exact model you want. LAN and sound is usually integrated and will perform fine. Check the cost of motherboards with integrated graphics to a motherboard and seperate graphics card. Pick which one seems more worthy of your money.

    Once you know what motherboards may work and at what cost, it is now a balancing act between processor, motherboard, and RAM. My current desktop has 4 sticks of 2GB DDR2 800MHz RAM that only cost $60 since each pair was on sale for only $30. Check the cost of individual sticks and pairs. Here is where spreadsheets really shine. By making each workbook dedicated to a specific motherboard, you can list processors on the collumns and ram options down the rows to quickly show what each combination will cost. Pick your favorite.

    This method has worked well for me since 2000 for building my own computers and shoud get you the best computer possible for your money.

    Looking forward to hearing how well this works for you.

  4. #4

    Default

    Right so my budget has been increased to 300-400.

    My current component list:

    Motherboard
    Komplett.ie - MSI G41M4-F, G41, Socket-775, DDR2
    42


    CPU
    Komplett.ie - Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 2,5GHz,.
    Possibly upgrading to Core 2 Duo E7400 2.8Ghz at 119 if I get enough cash.
    61


    PSU
    Komplett.ie - Fortron/Source Powersupply ATX 550W,
    You were right Jeremiah, I do need a new one.
    59


    RAM:4GB DDR2
    135 here (should money be a problem I can downgrade to 2 gb at 72)


    HDD
    Reuse old one salvaged from WD NAS drive (which had a network failure) - 500 GB. It says WD Caviar on it, but I don't know if it is the same as the ones they sell seperately.

    Graphics card: I'm skimping for the time being until I know the final budget. Probably the integrated Intel GMA X4500.
    Sound card: Integrated
    Speakers, Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Case etc.: Reuse old ones.
    Network card: Reuse old USB wi-fi dongle.
    EDIT: Almost forgot: DVD drive: reuse.


    With Pentium D
    Subtotal: 297
    Delivery charges: 12.50 (Currently buying all from the one vendor atm)
    Total: 310

    With Core 2 Duo:
    Subtotal: 354.50
    Delivery: 12.50
    Total: 367

    If I'm missing anything important (components or compatibility information), please let me know. And if you can find anything a cheaper or better equivalent (including the cost of shipping to Ireland), let me know aswell.
    Last edited by Hex; 30-Nov-2009 at 19:32.

  5. #5

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamaker View Post
    Right so my budget has been increased to €300-€400.

    My current component list:

    Motherboard
    Komplett.ie - MSI G41M4-F, G41, Socket-775, DDR2
    €42


    CPU
    Komplett.ie - Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 2,5GHz,.
    Possibly upgrading to Core 2 Duo E7400 2.8Ghz at €119 if I get enough cash.
    €61


    PSU
    Komplett.ie - Fortron/Source Powersupply ATX 550W,
    You were right Jeremiah, I do need a new one.
    €59


    RAM:4GB DDR2
    €135 here (should money be a problem I can downgrade to 2 gb at €72)


    HDD
    Reuse old one salvaged from WD NAS drive (which had a network failure) - 500 GB. It says WD Caviar on it, but I don't know if it is the same as the ones they sell seperately.

    Graphics card: I'm skimping for the time being until I know the final budget. Probably the integrated Intel GMA X4500.
    Sound card: Integrated
    Speakers, Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Case etc.: Reuse old ones.
    Network card: Reuse old USB wi-fi dongle.
    EDIT: Almost forgot: DVD drive: reuse.


    With Pentium D
    Subtotal: €297
    Delivery charges: €12.50 (Currently buying all from the one vendor atm)
    Total: €310

    With Core 2 Duo:
    Subtotal: €354.50
    Delivery: €12.50
    Total: €367

    If I'm missing anything important (components or compatibility information), please let me know. And if you can find anything a cheaper or better equivalent (including the cost of shipping to Ireland), let me know aswell.
    Great Choices. If I can ask, what's the CPU you chose for the Core 2 Duo version of your build?

    Also, in addition to a new power supply... you might want to consider a new case as well. I can well imagine that Pentium-II era cases (I have a few PCs of that era kicking around) don't get very good airflow and are a hassle to handle with new-age hardware. A while back I tried to fit a Pentium-4 LGA775 motherboard/CPU/PSU into a Pentium II case (in theory, it does fit if it's an ATX layout), but the back I/O plate was the wrong size (too short) and wouldn't fit. In addition, the side panel was pure plastic/aluminum, no airflow coming from there. You said you'd use Integrated Graphics... so that doesn't really seem to be a problem for you since you won't be starving a graphics card. I'd just make sure that 1.) the motherboard will fit in the case, 2.) that there's at LEAST one intake fan (front) and at LEAST one exhaust fan out the back. I say this only because from experience I've had and seen cases without either, maybe just some breathing holes!

    However you decide, G'luck!

    PS: What I found a little weird was that you didn't want a graphics card. With those nice specifications (the G41, RAM, CPU...) I would recommend that even if your budget can't handle a dedicated GPU right now, I'd plan on getting one once you can kick up a bit more cash. Aim for a nVidia 9600GT or 9600GSO. Amazing midrange card, and are usually cheap enough (here in the United States, but I would imagine it's not too bad over the pond either). ATi guy? Get a 4830 or 4770.

  6. #6

    Default

    The Core 2 Duo I'm considering is this one: Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 2,8GHz, - €120. That is however dependent on getting more money than I'm guessing I will at christmas, or other components going down in price in January.

    It's not that I don't want a dedicated graphics card, it's just I can't afford a decent one without totally blowing my budget. And I don't want to get a cheap one just to throw it out in 3 months time when I do get a decent one.

  7. #7

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamaker View Post
    The Core 2 Duo I'm considering is this one: Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 2,8GHz, - 120. That is however dependent on getting more money than I'm guessing I will at christmas, or other components going down in price in January.

    It's not that I don't want a dedicated graphics card, it's just I can't afford a decent one without totally blowing my budget. And I don't want to get a cheap one just to throw it out in 3 months time when I do get a decent one.
    Well the E5200 is a great chip -- and a great overclocker too. I'd stick with that. The gain from getting the E7400 won't be worth the extra money investment.

  8. #8

    Default

    The price list at the store has changed post Christmas so:

    Same motherboard, same price

    The E5200 is no longer available so I'm now getting the E5300 for €59: Komplett.ie - Intel Pentium Dual Core? E5300 2,60GHz,

    RAM: Komplett.ie - Corsair Value S. PC6400 DDR2 4GB KIT CL5: Still 4GB, found it for €86. (It is however slower than the ones for €135 )

    PSU: Going down to a 500W one for €40.

    Extra bits I'm getting:
    And using the money saved on the PSU and RAM, I can now also afford to buy a seperate graphics card. Geforce 210 512mb for €30. Given my poor experience with ATI and Linux, I'm definitely going nVidia this time.

    Wi-fi card for €20.

    All going well, I should have it ordered by New Years, and delivered by the 6th or 7th.

    And I'm considering getting a new case aswell, just in case of problems like mm3 mentioned. Opinions on the one linked?

  9. #9

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Dreamaker View Post
    The price list at the store has changed post Christmas so:

    Same motherboard, same price

    The E5200 is no longer available so I'm now getting the E5300 for 59: Komplett.ie - Intel Pentium Dual Core? E5300 2,60GHz,

    RAM: Komplett.ie - Corsair Value S. PC6400 DDR2 4GB KIT CL5: Still 4GB, found it for 86. (It is however slower than the ones for 135 )

    PSU: Going down to a 500W one for 40.

    Extra bits I'm getting:
    And using the money saved on the PSU and RAM, I can now also afford to buy a seperate graphics card. Geforce 210 512mb for 30. Given my poor experience with ATI and Linux, I'm definitely going nVidia this time.

    Wi-fi card for 20.

    All going well, I should have it ordered by New Years, and delivered by the 6th or 7th.

    And I'm considering getting a new case aswell, just in case of problems like mm3 mentioned. Opinions on the one linked?
    Not a bad build. The case is also decent -- whenever looking for a case, you want to make sure you have both an intake as well as an exhaust, and enough room for everything in your PC. You want enough room for airflow and air movement.

  10. #10

    Default

    I built a PC for 10$. Here's its specs:

    - Seanix Professional PC as the base (free from a friend) Win98, 333MhZ Pentium II, 64 mb RAM.
    - OEM Seanix replacement motherboard for 10$, 500MhZ Pentium III, three DIMM slots
    - Windows XP Home Edition (the same friend brought his CD)
    - 196Mb or RAM taken among my BUNCH or RAMs.
    - ATI 3D Rage II on PCI Express taken from my BUNCH of graphic cards.
    - Western Digital 40 Gb hard drive, taken from another old Win 98 computer.

    So, the only thing I had to pay for is the motherboard for 10$, the rest was free! A few times I had random errors (really weird ones LOL) but hey, it's homebuilt! Despites the few random crashes I had, I'm very satisfied of the performance of my homebuilt PC!!

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