Advice on budget pc

nonumb

Well-known Member
I have been using my laptop as my computer for almost two years now and I'm starting to miss having a desktop computer. I have an old one at home which I built ages ago;

Abit nf7-s
ati radeon 9800 all in wonder
athlon xp2500+
2gb ram
etc etc all in a coolermaster centurion 5 case.

Now for the price (£250) is there anything glaringly wrong with the following system:

AMD Athlon X2 5400+ 2.8GHz Socket AM2 1MB Cache OEM Processor
Gigabyte GA-M52L-S3P nForce 520LE Socket AM2+ 8 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard
Sapphire HD 4550 512MB DDR3 VGA DVI HDMI HDCP PCI-E Graphics Card including Low Profile bracket
Western Digital WD2500AAKS Caviar SE 250GB 7200RPM SATAII/300 16MB Cache - OEM
OCZ 400W StealthXStream PSU - 140mm Fan 1x PCI-E 4x SATA
Xilence Icebreaker Socket AM2 754 939 940 CPU Cooler
AKASA 80mm Amber series 3 pin Ultra quiet case fan
Xilence Black 120mm Case Fan - 4pin with 3pin adaptor
LiteOn 16x DVD±RW Dual Layer & Ram IDE Black Bare Drive - OEM
Hiyatek Black Fan Controller With 2x USB2.0 E-SATA Audio In/Out - 3.5" Bay
Extra Value 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered

I would be using a dvd drive and a 640gb external hdd and the case from the old system and that is about it. I want a system that is quiet does not have to be inaudible but as close to as possible at this budget.

If you suggest any changes please bear in mind I need dual screen output and optical audio out. I am into my home audio as I'm sure many are on here and so an output to connect to an av receiver is needed but a decent stereo output is good for music listening.

I am not a serious gamer or anything (not sure what sort of games I could play on a budget graphics card like the one shown) but would be nice to have the option of playing a few. I dont really put a massive strain on the system just like to be able to have things run reasonably fast.

I used to be quite up on computers but kind of lost interest and I have no idea about what is best especially with dual (or more) core etc.

My laptop specs are:
# Intel Pentium Dual Core Processor T2080
# 1.73GHz, 533MHz FSB, 1MB Cache
# Genuine Windows Vista (R) Home Premium
# 2GB Memory
# 100GB Hard Drive
# DVD ReWriter
# 15.4" Widescreen Display
# 128MB Shared UMA Graphics
# Wireless Enabled
# 2.7kg Weight
(advent 8115)

So if the system I have specced is not going to be much better than this then I wont bother.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

Ps I would run xp on this as thats all I've got, would it be worth getting linux? I am generally quite good with computers so am not afraid of something a bit more technical, however I have no clue when it comes to linux, what is involved and compatibility.
 
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Zed_X

Active Member
The system you've put together is a good one given your budget of 250 quid for everything, and yes, it will be way faster than your laptop. I'll start you off with this tip, dump the value RAM and get some name brand DDR2 memory. These Corsair XMS2 sticks carry at a lifetime warranty, they'll run cooler than value RAM and only cost £4 more.

Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Kit CL5 1.8v - Ebuyer

Regarding your OS question, you can run anything you want, XP, VISTA or Windows 7 when it's released, and with your 250GB Western Digital HD and 640GB external drive you've got plenty of space to dual boot any Windows OS alongside Linux. If your interested in Linux I'd try Linux Mint, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, it's a very user friendly distro, anyway good luck with your chosen system.

.
 
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nonumb

Well-known Member
Thanks for the reply reassuring to know that its ok. Another question re the ram, the motherboard says it can take 1066mhz ram should I be using this instead?

The reason I was looking into linux is I only have xp and I cant afford to buy any other OS so I thought linux might be a good option. You say dual boot is this when you have 2 os's installed then when you boot up it gives you a choice?

What are the advantages of having 2 OS'? Do most programmes run in linux or do you have some which dont run like with mac os?

Sorry for the quite basic questions but I'd rather ask silly questions now than get stuck later.
 

nonumb

Well-known Member
I also have this:

ATI Radeon™ X1550 Series - Specifications

left over from another computer, new in packaging, is this any good? Am I much better off with the graphics card I posted? I currently dont have the need for the HDMI but might do later on. Also the one I posted is passively cooled and I dont know how noisy the current one is.

Sorry think out loud again.
 

Zed_X

Active Member
yup, dual booting is exactly that, you have 2 OS's installed on your hard drive and a bootloader which is included with linux will let you choose which OS to boot. Before you install linux you need to create a separate Linux partition on your Western Digital HD, you can do this with Acronis, Partition Magic, and there are a few other free software programs available too, you can also boot into DOS and partition your hard drive from there, I don't recommend this method unless you're familiar with DOS commands, either way there's tons of info on dual booting on google.

Why do people have 2 OS's on their HD, who knows? If your happy with XP use it, if you want to experiment with Linux then dual boot, Linux is great because all the software is free and you get a ton of it with most distros. If you don't like Linux just delete the linux partition, your XP partition is still there you just need to resize it back to 250GB

regarding 1066 DDR2 you could install it if your mobo supports it, but why bother, it costs more, and is pointless if you don't intend to overclock.

.
 
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nonumb

Well-known Member
Excellent I'll probably install xp then see about adding linux mint after. On my laptop I have vista and have customised it a bit with various things and firefox has quite a lot of addons installed on it so I think linux might be quite good as I've heard its a lot more flexible in what you can do to it.

Thanks for the advice, I have partitioned hard disks in dos before so thats not a problem but will keep the others in mind.

I'll just stick with the normal ram then also, I have experimented with overclocking but doubt I'd be doing it on this system.
 

Zed_X

Active Member
you'll like Linux Mint, it's very sexy! Linux fanboys rate it better than Windows 7, go register on their forums, tons of info & advice there ... good luck.
 

nonumb

Well-known Member
Sorry to carry on being a pain but what is the difference between these 2 processors

AMD X3 8400 Socket AM2+ 2.1GHz 2MB L3 Cache OEM Processor - Ebuyer
AMD Athlon X2 5400+ 2.8GHz Socket AM2 1MB Cache OEM Processor - Ebuyer

Now one is a tripple core 2.1ghz so does this equate to 6.3ghz? the other I believe is dual core 2.8 so does this equate to 5.6? so for £6 extra surely its worth going for the tripple core one?

Appologies if I have massively oversimplified things but back when I built my last computer I only had 1 core to deal with.
 

nonumb

Well-known Member
Ok so here is the final specification I've decided on (I think). I have upgraded a couple of things as it was only a couple of pounds more per component. Anything glaringly wrong? Is the new processor worth the extra £6 over the other one? Total price for all is £258.64 going into a coolermaster centurion 5 case.


AMD X3 8400 Socket AM2+ 2.1GHz 2MB L3 Cache OEM Processor
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/168140

Gigabyte GA-M52L-S3P nForce 520LE Socket AM2+ 8 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/161639

Sapphire HD 4550 512MB DDR3 VGA DVI HDMI HDCP PCI-E Graphics Card including Low Profile bracket
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/161559

Western Digital WD3200AAKS 320GB SATAII 16MB Cache 7200 RPM - OEM
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/124735

Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Kit CL5 1.8v
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166785

OCZ 400W StealthXStream PSU - 140mm Fan 1x PCI-E 4x SATA
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152505

Xilence Icebreaker Socket AM2 754 939 940 CPU Cooler
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/164453

Hiyatek Black Fan Controller With 2x USB2.0 E-SATA Audio In/Out - 3.5" Bay
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/136405

Hiper 120mm Case Fan - Clear HiperFlow Frame & Blades - 3pin with Adaptor/Screws Included
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/105137

Hiper 80mm Case Fan - Clear HiperFlow Frame and Blades - 3pin with Adaptor/Screws Included
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/116274

Plexus Serial ATA 2.0 (SATA) 7-pin Cable (Red) 46cm / 18"
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/151963


I have a Radeon X1550 graphics card which I could run instead of the listed one and spend the money allocated on the graphics card elsewhere if this would be better.
ATI Radeon™ X1550 Series - Specifications


Thanks and any help would be appreciated.
 
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Zed_X

Active Member
X2 has 2 cores running at a max speed of 2.8 GHz (if not overclocked)
X3 has 3 cores running at a max speed of 2.1 GHz (if not overclocked)

For most applications including gaming the X2 will be faster by virtue of it's 700MHz speed advantage.

Some software programs are multi-threading compatible and will use all available cores on a triple or quad core CPU.
Examples of multi-threading applications would be Image Editors like Photoshop, Video editors, Video converters, CAD/CAM
applications etc. So the X3 would benefit, but remember its still only a 2.1 GHz CPU and relatively slow for those type applications.

.
 
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nonumb

Well-known Member
ok so for general use (wont really be doing too much photo editing and little to no video editing and Cad) the x2 2.8 would be better? or this one? http://www.ebuyer.com/product/164048

My laptop is 1.73 dual core so there should be quite a noticeable difference in speed especially with 2gb extra ram, correct?

Thanks
 
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Zed_X

Active Member
Out of the three CPU,s you've looked at, the AMD Athlon X2 7850 2.8GHz Black Edition + 3MB cache is your best bet, larger cache than the others with the ability to
overclock it up to 3.0GHz or 3.2GHz without much sweat.

It will be way faster than your laptop, consider this, your laptop runs at 1.7 GHz and also uses on-board graphics which eats into your 2GB of laptop memory.

Your new system uses a standalone graphics card with it's own 512MB of memory, a faster 2.8 dual core processor, with 4GB RAM available to run your applications.

No contest!

.
 
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nonumb

Well-known Member
Hmm well partly because the processor is out of stock and partly because I fancy it I thought I might use the radeon x1550 card I have lying around for a few weeks and not buy a new one just yet. Then when I've got some more money then I can buy another one (possibly Sapphire ULTIMATE HD 4650 1GB DDR2 HDMI DVI VGA PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer) With the money saved I will upgrade the processor to:

AMD Phenom II X2 545 3GHz Socket AM3 6MB Cache Retail Box Processor - Ebuyer

Which seems to be almost the same as the x2 550 but .1 ghz less and the 550 seems to have great reviews. I read that you can use am3 processors on am2 boards but not am2 processors on am3 boards is this correct?

Also I thought I would upgrade the motherboard with the money saved to this:

Gigabyte GA-M720-US3 AMD Nvidia 720D Socket AM2+ 7.1 channel audio ATX Motherboard - Ebuyer

I also have several 12cm fans lying around and a few 8cm ones (cheap ones) so I thought I'd give these a go before splashing out on more expensive fans. I will quiten them with the 7v mod and the fan controller.
 

nonumb

Well-known Member
Right well computer is built finally. Just to let you know the final specs are:

Motherboard - gigabyte ma770-ud3 v2
CPU - amd phenom II x2 550 but I have managed to unlock the other 2 cores so its registering as a AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 B50 Processor. I will soon overclock this a bit.
RAM - kingston 4gb 1066mhz ddr2
CPU cooler - xigmatek hdt-s1283
Powersupply - ocz stealthxtreme 400w
Hard disk - samsung spinpoint f1 320gb
Graphics card - I have an old one I'm using currently but have a sapphire 4670 ultimate on order.

Thanks for the help I increased my budget slightly and I'm glad I did I've now got a really nice system.
 

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