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A computer for $800 (was forum=21)Follow

#1 Apr 13 2012 at 5:30 PM Rating: Decent
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This is the first computer I have ever built. Basically, can I do better with approximately 800 dollars?

Processor - Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (LGA 1155) - $210

Mobo - ASUS P8H77-M/CSM LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 - $120

Memory - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 –Cas Latency -9 - $55

Video Card - SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7750 1GB GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready - $110

Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" - $100

Case - Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower – 4 fans - $70

PSU - TOPOWER ZU-650W 650W ATX12V Version 2.0 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Certified - $45

Optical Drive – Any DVD/RW - $25

OS – Windows 7 Home (Student License) - $60

TOTAL: 795

Additional questions:
1) I don’t quite understand the north bridge on the Motherboard. As long as the processor is LGA1155 and the Mobo is LGA1155 they will be compatible right?
2) Are PSUs compatible with all Mother Boards or do I need to get ones that match
3) How many fans is a good number of fans for a case? Size? There were cheaper cases with less fans but I have no idea if that is ok.
Thanks in advance!
#2 Apr 13 2012 at 11:43 PM Rating: Excellent
29,913 posts
Yeah, thats really about the best price for those components you are going to find unless you buy them piecemeil and wait for sales and whatnot, and thats going to be a pretty decent system for the price. You are at the price point where throwing another $100 at the processer and the video card would really give you a dramatic step up in performance though, so you may want to consider that when you make your purchases. Good choices for a first build overall, though the power supply company is really a no name brand and is probably rated for a higher wattage than it actually puts out. It will probably do the job, just don't be suprised if it isn't able to run a second video card in crossfire mode later on.

I'd also suggest budgeting for a second identical hard drive and running both of them in Raid 1 mode. Raid 1 is a technology, which that motherboard you have specified supports, where two hard drives can be joined in a Mirrored array, so that everything you save to the drive actually exists on both drives at once. that way in 3-5 years when one of the drives dies (not IF) you still have all your data on the other one. Adds more cost, but relitivly cheap insurance overall and fairly simple to set up.

As for the additional questions:
1. In most cases, yes. Specifically for socket 1155, you might possibly run into an issue where an older generation socket 1155 motherboard was produced before the newest CPU chips existed, and thus they might not boot at all, or at least correctly until a bios upgrade is applied. Thats a very rare situation any more, and shouldn't be an issue with the hardware you specified, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

2. Most newer PSU's are going to be compatable with most motherboards. The motherboard takes a main 24 pin power lead, and a 4 or 8 pin "Core voltage" lead that is usually up near the CPU. Some motherboards won't boot if they don't have the 8 pin lead. In your specific case, the power supply only has the 4 pin lead, and the motherboard does have capacity for the 8 pin lead. I'd honestly suggest going with a better power supply (maybe something along the lines of this one: Cooler master, Antec, thermaltake, Enermax, Cool Max if you have to, they all make decent power supplies, and your computer as specified (even with a second hard drive) won't draw more than 550 watts. If you are ever considering adding a second video card, you may want to upgrade that wattage significantly, but I'd upgrade the video card itself first long before I considered that personally.

3. There is no such thing as too many fans in a computer case, especially a gaming computer case. That being said, fans can be noisy, so you want to go with an optimal setup for what you are doing. Never buy a case anymore with fans smaller than 120mm. Anything 120mm or larger is going to be very quiet, and the larger 230mm fans actually move an incredable amount of air, but are quieter than even the 120mm fans. The absolute minimum you want to run on a gaming computer anymore is 2 chassis 120mm fans, one front intake and one rear exaust. The case you have specified should have plenty of fans, however having worked on that particular case before, I'd reccommend you look at the Cooler Master CM 690 II instead, since the toolless installation makes initial setup and future upgrades much easier, and at the same price as that other one.

you may actually want to look at a higher end case too. keep in mind the computer case is the one piece of hardware you will have longer than any of the components in your system. If you can get a case you really like with better quieter cooling, it might be worth spending a bit more for it. The Haf X being a good example.

As for size of the case, I like the larger ones personally. They are easier to work with. more room for larger components, better airflow overall. I'd reccommend you get the largest case you can comfortably fit wherever you plan on putting your computer. Also try to get an Aluminum case if you can. they are much lighter than the steel ones, which makes carrying them less of a pain. Look for ones with removable drive caddies and a hard drive cage that is perpendicular to the case, which makes running cables much easier (the way the drives are arranged in the CM690 II for example)

Also make sure you get the 64 bit version of windows 7 when you order it.

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#3 Apr 27 2012 at 8:17 PM Rating: Decent
3,947 posts
Id recommend an SSD over a raid 1 setup, just use the 1tb drive as storage.

As far as cases go, Id just look at one that pleases and isnt a complete ****. Fans are a dime a dozen and its easy enough to add more. Personally for me I prefer cases that are painted on the inside, but those are typical a bit more exspensive.
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