Desktop pc, budget is $650

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by RayorDragonFall, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. RayorDragonFall

    RayorDragonFall I see you've played knifey-spoony before.

    Mar 15, 2003
    Hey everyone [​IMG]
    My old pc died after 6 years of loyal service, and it's time to get a replacement.
    There's a shop near me that'll build it from scratch and I just have to hand them a list with what I want. Problem? I have no idea about hardware [​IMG] , so I hope you guys can help me out on this one:

    My budget is about $650/€450

    I'll be using it to make digital music and for recording, pretty much the central piece in my little home "studio". I'll be using software like Reason, Ableton Live, etc and recording actual instruments/voice if that clarifies anything. My old pc was unable to hold its own and there would be considerable latency etc.

    I'll also be using it for things like movie watching, the occasional game, and just general internet surfing/work.

    I realise this isn't a music forum, but I have faith in you guys [​IMG]
    Thank you all for reading this,
  2. upbumpo190

    upbumpo190 GBAtemp Regular

    Jun 9, 2007
    The 5th dimension
    I would suggest a Pentium Dual Core (E5300 2 MB L2 Cache - 59,96 €), with an Intel based motherboard + at least 2GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM (16,35 € x2 for Crucial budget RAM). (Intel P35-P45 are good). (between 60-70€ for Intel P35/45)

    Also, a mid-range graphics card, preferably at least an ATI HD 3650 or 4650 or it's NVIDIA equivalent ( 8600GT and +) (ASUSTeK EAH4650 512MB HDMI/DVI - 51,08 €)

    If you spend an extra 30€ on a good CPU fan, you can overclock the Pentium to at least 3.0 GHz (I've been there, done that.)

    As you are into recording, I would suggest a dedicated sound card, preferably PCI-E x1, like the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme (67,99 €), or ASUS Xonar.

    That's a start, but you can compare Brands etc... I find ASUS and MSI good for parts, and I 100% recommend Logitech for Keyboard/Mouse, webcam etc...


    (P.S. I built a PC for less than 400 using those parts, and have all worked great, and being a gamer, I can say that performance is pretty good. I play Crysis etc... If you can spend some more money, get a good Core 2 Duo.)
  3. RayorDragonFall

    RayorDragonFall I see you've played knifey-spoony before.

    Mar 15, 2003
    Thanks! I just added those up and it's around €310, thing is I'm trying to squeeze as much out of those €450 as possible so maybe something thats closer to that?
    As far as webcam, keyboard, mouse etc, I already have my old ones so I'm fine in that area [​IMG]

    EDIT: Also, forgot to say that Im recycling the optical drive, so I don't need one of those either.
  4. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I am not much of a music type so anything I know tends to come from the video world, fortunately remastering is part of that so I would like to think I can at least hang in such circles. I am not familiar in the slightest with the software you mention (to the point that I would not have been able to tell you what they do if someone had asked me) so I will avoid commenting there, if they are high end as you seem to imply then it should not be a problem (ironically it is the fancy GUI based stuff they bundle with machines sometimes that is the problem).

    First thing: on any part of a machine you can spend absolutely silly money for what amounts to little or no gain. You will also be faced with a "for just €15 more" problem.

    Audio: are you going for a nice creative thing with front audio ports: (not necessarily this model specifically but it is a nice illustration).
    Or are you going to "suffer" a line in and a mic port (presumably with something fancy in the mixing deck side of things on the outside)?
    I mention this for while there are nice the cost means I will have to switch up what I suggest doing. For all of the flame/holy wars I would argue that analogue to digital conversion (what your sound card is doing) has been more than most people are able to detect in just about everything as of about 5 years ago and you would sooner get a better capture from a better mic and/or room layout.
    Frankly any modern piece of hardware should be able to hold it in half decent audio engineering circles especially if you only need to "record", if you need to record and filter at the same time then problems might arise.
    Things to consider: audio, especially uncompressed which most self respecting audio engineers will use, will take up a considerable amount of space but more importantly do so at a rapid rate (you want a fast drive or maybe two*/a RAID if you are doing multiple instruments to different "tracks"). Conventional magnetic drives should be OK, 7200 RPM and no need to spring for SSD right now.
    *one for the OS, one for the work, RAID stitches two or more drives together to make a virtual drive that is usually faster and assuming you are not using RAID0 with some error prevention.
    I would sooner spend €15 or less and wire myself up a front panel or something like it from parts in an electronics shop: I assume you are still on the "phono" jacks, 3.5mm jacks and other TRS stuff which are all more or less the same thing: . If your reply is something along the lines of "electronics is hard" I would politely tell you this is 3 wires per "component" and then suggest you never take yourself on the road either- you also get to be an insufferable bore when in bars in years to follow when you say things like "I built my own equipment back when".

    "movie watching [and] general internet surfing/work" with the exception of H264 can be taken care of by just about anything made in the last 10 years if you know how to set it up so I will not linger on it. H264 should not be a problem on anything I lay out either.

    Games if you will excuse the unintentional pun are a game changer although I will say things have evened out immensely in the last few years (my graphics card is coming up on 3 generations behind and it still plays games adequately which would be unheard of not so long ago- if I had to guess why it would be the failure of directX10). Similarly as long as you do not feel the need to play games at 16XAA, HDR and resolutions higher than most people's monitors then you should be good with something other than the latest and greatest.
    With a decent motherboard you can always whip out a graphics card and stick a new one in for minimal effort when it does start to fall behind. I have yet to see anything worth my time looking at let along considered for production in the graphics card audio encoding/filtering side of things (graphics cards have lately been opened up as high performance processors) so avoid being drawn in by anything there.

    CPU: something multicore is a must and I dare say audio is up there with video in being one of the few things that benefits from having more than two cores (most of the time we suggest people stick with a cheaper/faster dual core). If you try to wind down the price a bit make sure you still have some cache as a lot of the problems can come from lack of cache when in the multimedia world where it would not have much effect on games (what a lot of people around here build high end machines for).

    RAM: 2 gigs is a must if you want something slightly higher end but there is no need to go outrageous. Timings; keep the tight but do not spring for anything with a larger price tag just to shave off a cycle or two from the timings.
    Size above 2 gigs; if you must go higher than go for 4 (if only for future proofing; 2 is enough for me and I do not run a machine with a pagefile/swap space), absolutely no need to go for 8 in this sort of build.

    Motherboard: Get a good one, no need for SLI/crossfire compatibility.

    Extra cooling: most stock stuff will be OK as long as you do not want to venture into overclocking realms. It is also €30 better spent on other things.

    Case: tough one, your old machine might just be able to still be used but if not remember these can eat a good chunk of your budget (especially if you look at a fancy LED lit one).
    PSU: a good power supply is a must. Most of the case bundled ones are not good and I would say 500-550W at a bare minimum.
    I am going to suggest you hand this over to the local shop to decide upon and I will slice €80 from the budget to account for it, you might want €100 though. A case is a case until you are deciding that air is not longer a good thing to cool with so pick a pretty one if you want, make sure it is ATX though (you do not want to find you can not fit things in).

    Monitor: you did not explicitly mention it so I assume you have one (they are easy enough to upgrade when the time comes anyhow).

    Software: this is GBAtemp so such things I assume are free. Unless you want to go for linux then I say use XP instead as long as the drivers allow it (which they should).

    Actual parts: Amazon do not have a Spanish branch as far as I know and I do not speak Spanish well enough for technical talk so I am basing this on flicking around on Amazon France (priced in Euros and I can do tech talk in French).

    So €370, assuming no fancy audio right now.

    Processor: Intel would be my choice still. Low end quad core seem to be quite rare but if you ask you can often find end of line stuff which would be great for this build. Still dual core like a E7600 looks to be about right. €130 or less should net you something nice, if you are running over though drop this down a bit first.

    Motherboard- This is very much one of the "spend as much as you like" items.
    ATX (not micro ATX or the like just ATX)
    PCIe is a must (16x for graphics please)
    Onboard sound is good.
    Onboard graphics is not.
    Socket type needs to match the processor (will probably be LGA775) and support the speed your processor runs at (likely 1066MHz for the frontside bus/FSB).
    It should not matter if you have a shop to do it as they will probably have one kicking around the back but some slightly older boards may not work without a BIOS update- how can you get into the BIOS if you do not have a compatible CPU....
    I would look to spend around €100 on it although a nice one may pump that up to €120. While I am trying to avoid ASUS right now their ASUS P5QL-E looks to be spot on.

    Ram- 2 gigs of good memory appears to clock around €60-70 (you will see larger amounts but they will not be as good (slow) and may not be as reliable, unlike days of old you can more or less use whatever speed ram you like with a motherboard which is nice. Things to look for though are that you are getting DDR2 ram (DDR1 is older and DDR3 is still quite high end), 800MHz is nice (if you can timings of 4-4-4-12 but larger numbers are OK too) although your processor will most likely run at 1066MHz and matching them while not necessary in the slightest is nice.

    Graphics- I avoided onboard and frankly you will probably not have to worry about the NVIDIA vs AMD-ATI discussion. You should be able to net a nice one for €65 or so (or you could go down to €50 and it would still work but be prepared to upgrade it in about a year and a half if you still want games). PCIe only; if it says AGP leave it alone. Pay little attention to ram size and clock speeds as it is not worth it unless you want to get into gaming in a big way.

    Hard drives: go with one for now and if you can stick your old drive in the new machine for use as the secondary drive. No idea what you want here space wise so I am ignoring this, you can search for a review as well as any of us. Your board should have IDE but go with SATA if possible, 3.5 inch drives are what you want (2.5 are for laptops and small machines and are generally slower, smaller in space and more expensive for your trouble). €50 gets you a good, if slightly smaller, drive (320 gb or so).

    Given what you have now just read it would probably be easier to pick out your own parts and for us to suggest alternatives.

    By my calculations you have little to no money left to spend on things.
  5. DSGamer64

    DSGamer64 Canadian, Eh?

    Nov 9, 2007
    A cold cold place
    I my honest opinion if you are on a budget, go for an AMD based build, Phenom II X3 triple core processors are not that expensive and should serve you well for all your needs, the X4's are a bit more but I do not know whether or not you could squeeze it into your budget. Graphics wise, look at an EVGA GeForce 9800GT as those are pretty cheap and will run most games at decent settings.

    You could always go with this setup:

    AMD Phenom II X4 940 3.0Ghz CPU:

    Gigabyte GA-MA790X motherboard:

    G.Skill 2x2GB DDR2 1066 RAM:

    Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB drive:

    Just choose whatever else you want or try and find some things that are more affordable, however if you are doing a lot of audio recording on your computer, you will want to shell out some extra coin for a really good card like this HT Omega, while expensive will probably suit your needs the best:

    I don't think you need a quad core machine so you could probably bump the processor down to an X3 and it will be plenty fast enough, you might have a tough time fitting other components in your budget.
  6. RayorDragonFall

    RayorDragonFall I see you've played knifey-spoony before.

    Mar 15, 2003
    After doing some research, I'm going for something similar to this (I'm in the fase of going to shops and comparing prices ).

    CPU: Intel Dual Core E7600 (or the E8400 depending on the discounts I get) ---> Shop 1: E7600 is 134€ and the E8400 is 160€ (Shop 2: 152€)
    Motherboard: Asus P5GL-E ----> Shop 1: ??? Shop 2: 88€
    Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 4670 ----> Shop 1: ??? Shop 2: 74€
    RAM: 4Gb (2x2Gb) Kingston DDR2 800 MHz ----> Shop 1: 55,44€
    HDD: 500GB SATA2 Seagate 7200 rpm Barracuda 12 -----> Shop 1: 48,86€
    Audio: Not sure -> Creative SB X-FI TITANIUM PCI-E ----->Shop 1: ???? Shop 2: 108€

    Case and PSU not quite sure yet, Shop 1 told me that I didn't really have to worry about the PSU and that they came with the cases, and he showed me cases that were around 40€.... [​IMG]

    About the audio, I'll see how I can fit it into the budget, I'm sure I'll find a way [​IMG] , I'm still shopping around. I've considered using an audio interface a la

    Shop 1 Prices: The guy will tell me the prices of the ones that aren't in the list tomorrow.
  7. Joe88

    Joe88 [λ]

    Jan 6, 2008
    United States
    generally any PSU that comes with a case is absolute crap unless its an antec (antex usually ship their PSU with their brand cases which are good) other wise just get a case without a PSU and buy something like a 400w-500w corsair
  8. DSGamer64

    DSGamer64 Canadian, Eh?

    Nov 9, 2007
    A cold cold place
    Don't buy a Creative soundcard, they are not that great. I have one and it's meh.
  9. RayorDragonFall

    RayorDragonFall I see you've played knifey-spoony before.

    Mar 15, 2003
    CPU: Intel Dual Core E8400
    Motherboard: Asus P5QL-E or Asus P5QL PRO
    Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 4670
    RAM: 4Gb (2x2Gb) Kingston DDR2 800 MHz
    HDD: 500GB SATA2 Seagate 7200 rpm Barracuda 12
    Audio: Integrated & Audio Interface

    I'm between the Asus P5QL-E or the Asus P5QL PRO, I'm not sure if there's that much of a difference or which one is the better choice, any help with that?
  10. Joe88

    Joe88 [λ]

    Jan 6, 2008
    United States
    gigabyte UD3 series boards have the best value and ratings right now
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