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Building new computer - anybody have good advice?

Aarmin

Active member
#1
This feels a little odd asking here, but I'm not getting any help at the three other forums I posted at.

First off, I'm not completely new to putting a computer together, but I feel there is more I could learn before spending my money. I live somewhat frugally, so my budget is $0. Impossible, so I'm thinking maybe around $400 ($500 including the computer case I want to buy). I don't need a massive gaming rig (non gamer), but it will be used for media; no separate video card planned. I would prefer energy efficient, is there a significant difference between the lower end processors vs. the higher 100 watt processors?

I will start with the Motherboard... I know I know, I should start with the CPU, but reason are because the computer case I picked out supports only Mini ITX layout. This case was purely picked for aesthetic and quality reasons, so forgive me.

AMD or Intel, grrr... I really don't know.

Starting with AMD, there are only two Mini ITX boards to choose from at Newegg.com. I have had an awful experience with motherboards in the past, so I'm sticking with two top brands: ASRock and Asus. If you can convince me otherwise, please feel free.

That leaves me with only once choice: ASRock A75M-ITX FM1 socket

Processor: AMD A6-3500 Llano

Memory:
Most likely: G.Skill 4GB (2 x 2GB)
or: Kingston HyperX; can I run these Kingston's at 1.5volts? I don't know too much about this.

Intel

Processor: Pentium G630 Sandy Bridge 2.7GHz
Will I notice much difference stepping up to a HD 2000 graphics? How about bolting up to the $120 i3?

Motherboard: ASRock H67M-ITX

Memory: same G.Skills listed above

Other Stuff you may not necessarily need to know:
Storage:
Crucial M4 SSD (for operating system / program files, etc...)
LITE-ON DVD Burner - hastily picked, should I be more critical?
Windows 7 64-bit OEM

Parts bin... stuff I already own
WiFi card
PC Power and Cooling - its a keeper

Western Digital hard drive - which would you pick?
640GB Caviar Blue (WD6400AAKS) or 1.5TB Caviar Green (WD15EARS)
Will only use one, the other one may go for sale on eBay.

Toshiba 200GB 4200rpm hard drive (HDD2A30) - laptop hard drive used only for backups
Hanns G HZ201 20" LCD monitor. 2 years old - have LCD/LED monitors offer anything new in details?

AMD: $501.93
Intel: $484.93
 

Adam Howard

Well-known member
#2
At those prices I can suggest you shop TargetDirect.com and pick up one of their build pc kits or bare bones kit

You'll get about, if not more than what you are looking for.

For about $450 I built someone

AMD 4 core 3.2 Ghz
8GB Ram
1 TB Hard Drive
Motherboard
full tower case
heat sink
dvd-rw with lightwrite

Sign up for their e-mail. Lots of specials and random sales.
 

MagnusB

Well-known member
#3
What do you mean by media? Viewing or editing? For viewing, that build works fine, for editing you need a gamer computer. AMD or Intel doesn't matter, it is more about preference. I have better experience with Intel, so I stick with them.

For a mechanical drive I would go for WD or Seagate, and I prefer WD. I recently bought a WD AV-GP, and are very pleased with that, though I don't use it as a primary disk. However, for that budget you can get a pre assembled desktop at similar specs, I would think (sorry, I am not confident about US prices on computers).
 

Aarmin

Active member
#4
Adam Howard, I'm looking around at Tiger Direct so... noted.

Keep in mind, I'm limiting myself to a Mini ITX motherboard, so socket design is a issue (otherwise I would just use my current processor). For AMD, the Athlon and Phenom are hard to match up with a ITX.

Total price I posted includes computer case and shipping.

What do you mean by media? Viewing or editing? For viewing, that build works fine, for editing you need a gamer computer. AMD or Intel doesn't matter, it is more about preference. I have better experience with Intel, so I stick with them.

For a mechanical drive I would go for WD or Seagate, and I prefer WD. I recently bought a WD AV-GP, and are very pleased with that, though I don't use it as a primary disk. However, for that budget you can get a pre assembled desktop at similar specs, I would think (sorry, I am not confident about US prices on computers).
I mean just regular media, no fancy editing. I don't think I need anything thrilling.

As for mechanical hard drive, I'm going to be re-using one of the two I listed above, so that's not on my shopping list.

I understand pre-assembled desktops may cost less, thanks. I like to install my own operating system, format it the way I want, not deal with any pre-loaded junk, and simply enjoy building my own computer. I really like the Lian Li computer case I have sitting on my desk.. a empty for now.
 

Aarmin

Active member
#6
Ok, I will have to make this clear. Mini ITX is mandatory :D .. I already have the computer case (empty) sitting on my desk.. most computer cases are really ugly, but not this one. For whatever reason I still included it in the total price I listed above.

...
Mini .... You're not going to build one for that pice
Why not? Maybe not the total package, but I don't know...

Keep in mind, I don't have a retail copy operating system (besides, its Vista), so that's another $100 (OEM) or more than what you just listed.
 

Adam Howard

Well-known member
#7
Ok, I will have to make this clear. Mini ITX is mandatory :D .. I already have the computer case (empty) sitting on my desk.. most computer cases are really ugly, but not this one. For whatever reason I still included it in the total price I listed above.



Why not? Maybe not the total package, but I don't know...

Keep in mind, I don't have a retail copy operating system (besides, its Vista), so that's another $100 (OEM) or more than what you just listed.
So netbook?

The price total... shipping and OS .... For a mini ..... Mac Mini?
 

Aarmin

Active member
#10
So netbook?

The price total... shipping and OS .... For a mini ..... Mac Mini?
ok, my shopping list is:

Motherboard, but must be Mini ITX form factor
Processor
SSD / undecided, I may just stick with my current HDD since I have two
Ram memory / unless my current sticks will work... just thought about that, but RAM is relatively cheap
DVD burner
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit Home
 

MagnusB

Well-known member
#11
I understand pre-assembled desktops may cost less, thanks. I like to install my own operating system, format it the way I want, not deal with any pre-loaded junk, and simply enjoy building my own computer. I really like the Lian Li computer case I have sitting on my desk.. a empty for now.
You are really limiting your self with that, but if that is what you want... Anyway, try to google the components, I saw the components mostly got decent reviews, though they aren't any powerhouses.

As for the GPU / CPU stuff, I can mostly say you won't get much of an experience either way. If you are only looking for viewing media, go for something with digital video out, like HDMI, don't go with analogue video, the difference is quite noticeable. I would get an SSD on top of this build though, to get an increased performance. If money is tight, you should look on running a Linux distro instead of Windows, especially if you only use it for media viewing. My personal favorite is Xubuntu.
 

Aarmin

Active member
#12
Believe me, I would love to go with ubuntu, but I just can't let my Word 2010 go; I like how fluid it is and the hover-menus help. I work in Word weekly. I also use Hypersnap for my forum design and iTunes to watch/rent movies and TV shows that I cant get at Amazon's online video or Hulu. I ditch Cable TV two years ago.

Anyway, I'm not sure what you mean by "you are really limiting your self with that"? I would think I would limit myself even more if I purchased pre-built computers.
 

MagnusB

Well-known member
#13
By going with mini ITX, as you your self pointed out, there isn't much out there with that form factor. As I said, those items you listed all get decent reviews, except for the wireless card, though I guess you already have that. In terms of CPU, it is dealers choice basically, though comparing them it seems the AMD one wins out:
http://compare-processors.com/intel-core-i3-2100-vs-amd-a6-3500/1454/

For DVD drives, I still use one from one HP pre built computer that is 3 or 4 years old, I barely use it, so I don't want to spend money on it. I wouldn't throw money at that, I basically only use it when I format the computer, or if I want to rip a music CD for some reason. For HDD, as I said, I would go for an SSD, though I recommend you have a mechanical drive or two in backhand for big data files. I have a 120 GB Corsair Force 3, which I am pretty happy with, but I have had it less than one week, so I can't really say much about it. Your Toshiba disk is a SATA150, I would look to replace that. If you do use allot of media etc, you will need HDD space, and as SSD's are expensive, I would use a SATA600 disk for data storage.

As I said, you have picked out decent components, and they will work, but don't expect major performance, especially in terms of graphics. If you do decide to run Windows 7, I would turn off all visual effects.

BTW, Word 2010 runs decent in Wine, not sure about Amazon or Hulu, but my guess is that they use Silverlight and block out Moonlight, which most of these services tends to do for some reason.
 

Aarmin

Active member
#14
lol, I'm not limiting myself, and just because I live "somewhat frugally" doesn't mean moneys tight. I know you probably didn't mean anything by that but I just have to point that out.

Whats the average car make a millionaire drives? Lexus, BMW... no, its a Toyota.

Anywase... Intel Core i3-2120 or AMD A6-3500 or maybe even a sandy-bridge Pentium; decisions decisions.
 

Aarmin

Active member
#16
This case isn't cheap, its a LIAN LI PC-Q08A; I landed it for $60 free shipping, so I can't complain (its usually $100 - $130)

By building my own computer I'm increasing the price, whats your point?

Guess I'm on my own :(
 

Aarmin

Active member
#18
You know what I did last Saturday in my own driveway? I changed my oil, transmission fluid, flushed the power steering fluid, checked my spark plugs, adjusted my engine valves and replaced the gasket set while I was in there, changed my front brake rotors and pads, rotated the tires, bleed the brakes, changed the cabin and intake filters, sprayed some a/c cleaner foam up the condenser drainage port underneath the car, replaced my PCV valve (it was getting in bad shape), and replaced my front boot because it was leaking, lubricated the window track mechanisms (windows were sticking), cleaned and conditioned the leather interior. Inspected everything while I was crawling around underneath the car.

I also had autozone scan my car for trouble codes, because they don't charge anything. My SRS light was on and the Honda dealership wanted $80 just to diagnose it (no thanks). Turns out it was just the sensor in my seat belt, and some WD40 has so far solved that issue.

Now I have a 150,000 mile car that I couldn't be happier with.

You know how much this would have cost at the dealership?

There are many ways to save some money. Anyways, the computer case I have I'm really fond of and purchased it at an excellent price. Sure, I could buy some ugly cheap ass case, but my home office is special and I worked really hard in life to live this dream called home ownership. Yes, I admit I bought the case for aesthetic reasons and small form factor is that a crime?
 

DBA

Well-known member
#20
lol, I'm not limiting myself, and just because I live "somewhat frugally" doesn't mean moneys tight. I know you probably didn't mean anything by that but I just have to point that out.

Whats the average car make a millionaire drives? Lexus, BMW... no, its a Toyota.

Anywase... Intel Core i3-2120 or AMD A6-3500 or maybe even a sandy-bridge Pentium; decisions decisions.
Ok I'm also one of these "frugal people" however I realize that sometimes you have spend a tad more so that it's cheaper in the long run (especially in electronics). What they're trying to point out is that by trying to save money by using your old Mini case, you're actually making the build cost more. The items you linked to are already way outdated and cost more as they're Mini form factor. IMO you'd be better off in the longer run getting a more robust bare bones system. Overall it'll be cheaper per year in its lifespan, which is what us frugal people are really after.

For example here's a low end system that has everything you need (including Windows 7) for $483
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2317262&CatId=5205

However I'd suggest moving up to something like this (i5) as it's lifespan will be longer.
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2580461&CatId=4910