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  • prdola0 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    In some of the systems, I would buy a GTX460 1GB instead of the HD6850 simply because most people play in 1920x1200 and lower (I would say 1680x1050 as the most common) and in those resolutions the GTX460 is better than the HD6850. It would be also a choice for the next generation of games, if the consoles ever let it come. Otherwise very nice systems.

    One question though, are all those memories you guys used from QVLs of the motherboards or do you just trust them?

    Thanks a lot,
  • ganeshts - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    The components suggested in my mid-range HTPC build are all tried and tested together :) Reply
  • therealnickdanger - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    It would be cool if each of these builds was benched and the results were shown... :) I know that's asking a lot, but like Brian said:

    "Heck, there's no reason you can't at least ask for the absolute best..."
  • AnnihilatorX - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I'd personally go for HD6850. It runs cooler, uses less power, can double up as high quality sound card (if you have a AV receiver with HDMI, Radeon HD68xx support DTS Master HD, etc). Reply
  • prdola0 - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    The GTX460 can of course also double up as a high quality soind card. Why wouldn't it? Reply
  • blotto5 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    for 1680x1050 it does perform better, but not by much. for 1920x1200 there is almost no difference, and for any resolution higher than that the 6850 blows it out of the water. when your have an amd processor and an amd chipset it would make sense to stay on the same platform and get an amd video card, everything plays nice together that way. Reply
  • prdola0 - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    Any nVidia graphics card will work just as good on an AMD system as on an Intel system. How did you find that it wouldn't? That's totally false.

    And your statement about no difference in 1920x1200 is only valid for the GTX460 768MB. The 1GB version is actually still better at 1920x1200. According to Steam Survey, 74.2% of players play at 1680x1050 or lower resolution and only 4.19% play at higher resolutions than 1920x1200. I still don't understand why all the reviews focus so much on the 2560x1600 resolution. I wish Ryan didn't ignore that fact in his Final Words. But world isn't perfect :)
  • Quizzical - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    If Zambezi isn't going to fit Socket AM3, then someone ought to tell AMD.

    End of page 5 of the AMD codename decoder that they released on financial analyst day:

    Market: Desktop
    What is it? four-, six-, or eight-core 32-nm AM3 socket desktop processor based on
    the “Bulldozer” processor architecture for the enthusiast market.
    Planned for introduction: 1H 2011

    If I give a link, this site apparently flags the comment as spam and disallows it. But you can find it yourself as follows. Do a Google search for "AMD 2010 Financial Analyst Day". Click the (currently) top search result, to a page on AMD's site with that headline. Click the "AMD Codename Decoder" link from that page. The above is a copy and paste from the end of the document.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Later on in the year they did say they tried to make Bulldozer compatible with the existing AM3 socket but couldn't do it, as a result you get AM3r2, where the motherboards will be backwards compatible with old AM3 chips, but the Bulldozer chips aren't going to be compatible with old AM3 boards. Reply
  • Quizzical - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    The information I quoted was released by AMD last week. "Later on in the year" than that would have to be very, very recent. As I said, if the information that AMD just released is wrong, someone should tell them to fix it. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    While it would be great if Bulldozer could run in current motherboards, all the information I've been able to gather (including asking a contact at a motherboard manufacturer) is that Bulldozer for desktops will run in AM3r2. That socket will be similar to AM3, and it will be able to accept and run current AM3 processors, but the reverse isn't true. So, in essence it's the AM2+ situation again.

    If you search AMD's site, there's no mention of AM3r2 that I can find outside of their forums. It's still possible that we're mistaken, but AMD hasn't unequivocally stated that "yes BD will work in current motherboards" so I wouldn't count on it. I think originally the idea was to try and make it happen, but now it's not guaranteed.

    If you really want to go to the rumor mill, BD might actually work in current boards but might blow caps or have reduced performance. Maybe someone will come out with a fix. All indications however are that there will be new chipsets (980/990 most likely), a new socket requirements, etc. I guess it may be a lot like the socket 775 transitions from Intel where we had a few manufacturers that got older 945P chipsets to run Core 2 and such.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Just to add a bit more: Phenom X6 will technically work in many 790FX motherboards... but it's not the same as running it in an 890FX. 790FX wasn't designed for Turbo Core, it has some power management issues with Thuban, etc. We have seen similar issues with previous updates where a CPU would work, but it didn't perform optimally. We may see that with Bulldozer as well, where it will run in 800 series boards with a BIOS update but it very likely will run best with a new motherboard/chipset. If AMD and their partners can prove me wrong, I'd be very pleased, but based on at least one source I'm not holding out much hope. Reply
  • blotto5 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    thanks for the info good to know since im running a phenom x6 in a 790fx mobo but i think im going to wait to buy a new mobo because of this talk of a new socket a la am2 to am2+ Reply
  • baba264 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    This comes quite handy as after the death of my graphic card two days ago, I was seriously thinking of buying a new system that would be quite similar to "Ryan's High-End Gaming System".

    However, when I had previewed the various parts I wanted, I had set my mind on a new lynnfield core with an i7 870 rather than the old Bloomfield core. Since I don't plan to upgrade to an SLI setting I thought that the i7 870 was the best choice of processor (for the price), was I mistaken?

    Anyway, thanks for the article, this article really comforts me in what I meant to buy.
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    The 870 is quite good. In fact when I was putting that list together I was seriously considering that instead of an X58 platform. The clincher was SLI support (P55 boards with SLI quickly drive the price up); but since you're not going to be using SLI I wouldn't be concerned. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    P55 boards run very nicely SLI, easily outperforming X58 boards, and that's
    with an 860, never mind an 870. See my results pages:

    Further tests coming soon with an 870 + GTX 460 FTW SLI.

    it's only really 3-way SLI where X58 takes over. For 2-way, the speeds
    are just as good (if not better) and the costs are significantly lower - the
    board I'm using costs less than 70 UKP ($110).

  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Color me confused, but those links don't seem to provide the data you're talking about. The question is how something like i7-930 with X58 compares to i7-860 with P55 while everything else is kept constant, and all the stuff there looks like 930 + 4870 CF or 460 SLI, and 860 + 8800 GT SLI, or some other sets of data. You'd need to show X58 460 SLI vs. P55 460 SLI to "prove" that P55 is "easily outperforming X58 boards". And if you do everything with similar quality components, the X58 ought to win out by virtue of having two x16 connects compared to two x8 connects on P55. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    (my friend has 4890s, not 4870s)

    I'm surprised you'd say that given existing articles have already
    shown that SLI doesn't need full 16x to perform nicely. Some games
    need it because they're written badly (FSX), but others run perfectly
    well at 8X, or even 4X.

    Specific data coming soon (still testing) but my point was that the
    existing data already shows the same effect - people on forums
    said the 4890s should win, but they don't much of the time except
    where resolution, etc. are a factor.

    I'm still ploughing through my P55/460 tests. All takes time as I'm
    sure you can appreciate. :)

  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I'm not saying X58 is substantially faster by any means; I'm just saying that all things being equal there's no reason P55 should be faster. x8 vs. x16 isn't a huge benefit, but especially with higher clocked CPUs and more powerful GPUs (i.e. GTX 580 or HD 5870) the X58 should come out ahead. Anyway, Gary Key did a pretty direct comparison when he was still with us:

    In general X58 CF is better than P55 CF, though the margin is never so large as to be alarming. What Gary doesn't show is how the SLI setups compare (probably for lack of an SLI capable P55 board at the time he was with us). I'd figure they're also similar. All told, P55 is faster for single GPUs, but the x8+x8 dual-GPU configuration should and usually does incur a small performance hit.
  • mapesdhs - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    Generally true, though remember the one advantage which
    can make a difference sometimes (and push it in favour
    of P55) is the better Turbo on the 870, etc. For fixed
    clocks, have a look at the CPU scores I get with the
    860 at 4018 for the 3DMark06 CPU tests, compare to
    my friend's 930 at 4136 (and btw, it's not RAM speed;
    I lowered my RAM to match, scores only dropped 1
    or 2%).

    You're right though about the top-end cards/CPUs, if
    I was playing at crazy res with expensive cards like
    the 580 then X58 would be more logical. For midrange
    though, like the 460 (with or without SLI), the gain from
    X58 is minimal at best - the cost difference (which
    may be large) can be used to have a better GPU,
    widening the gap further.

    And by cost difference I mean, for example, the Asrock
    P55 Deluxe, which is now as cheap as 68 UKP here.
    It has excellent slot spacing for SLI, ie. better cooling.

    Either way, we shall see; after doing default tests, my
    plan is to run the FTWs at lower clocks to match my
    friend's Palit Platinums, that should be interesting.

    All I'm saying is, don't be surprised if P55/SLI runs
    better than you might expect. I certainly didn't think
    two 8800GT SLI would be able to match or beat
    an X58 with two 4890s, but they can and do.

  • StormyParis - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    htpc should fit into a stereo cabinet. you're trying to build a NAS + HTPC + desktop into one machine, which makes no sense at all. Split the thing in 3, with a real, small, silent HTPC, a NAS, and a mini-itx desktop, and you're much better off, for pretty much the same price. Reply
  • ajlueke - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    While it is somewhat a matter of personal preference, I admit, some people really hate giant cases in the living room. I love having everything built into one system, and using it to serve the rest of the house and play Starcraft II on the big screen. The real downside, is then you are using a high end rig to serve you other computers as opposed to a NAS, and a NAS is going to have far superior numbers in the power consumption department. Reply
  • Mathieu Bourgie - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Good job on the builds everyone, great idea of getting several members of the AT's team to work together on this.

    Here are my opinions, suggestions and things that I'd personally change:

    Dustin's AMD Pure Budget System:
    Hard Drive: Actually, if you shop on Amazon instead, you can snap a Spinpoint F3 500Gb for about $46 and a 1TB for $53, without needing to find any coupons.

    Power Supply: I'd mention that the Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D 380W doesn't include a power cord in its package. Not a big deal for most of us, but still good to knowi f you don't have a spare cord.

    DVD Burner: Why go with an IDE based model, which is out of stock by the way? Because the motherboard comes with a single SATA and a single IDE cable? Hardly a reason if you ask me.

    Might as well get a SATA model that can be used for years and years, if you upgrade the system down the road. Going by customer's feedback on NewEgg, ASUS 24x SATA DVD Burner is one of the most reliable model available, for only $20:

    Balraj's Intel Budget System:
    The one stick of RAM is an interesting trade off, sure you lose dual-channel but you gain the ability to easily upgrade RAM down the road. Then again, a motherboard with 4 RAM slots would allow for both options.

    Blu-Ray: The Samsung SH-B083L/BSBP has pretty bad reviews on NewEgg, I'd get the Samsung SH-B123L instead, which costs $20 more, but is also faster (12x vs 8x).

    Power Supply: I cannot skip this: you really want to avoid using a low-end, generic power supply, for reliability purposes and to protect your components. You do not want to cut corners on a power supply.

    Jarred's AMD Budget Gaming System:
    You mention Crossfire support, but go with a motherboard that has the PCI-Express 16x slots running at 16x and 4x, which would bottleneck performance?

    For a similar price, the ASRock 870 EXTREME3 comes with two PCI-Express 16x slots at 8x/8x, which are well spaced to allow both cards to "breath".

    125W CPU, with a stock cooler? Sure, it's "adequate" for cooling in most cases, but that stock cooler is going to be heard from miles away when you game for hours and/or during hot summer nights if you don't have an AC. Not much of an issue if you play with headphones, but still, I'd get at least a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler.

    "Gaming depends primarily on your GPU" "You could even go with a cheaper CPU like the Athlon II X4 645 or the Phenom II X4 810"
    Agreed for most games, but there are games that will be CPU bound (Think RTS like SC2, or MMORPG like WoW), where you'll want a powerful CPU that allow the GPU to flex its muscles.
    Also, while the X4 645 isn't a bad CPU, losing the L3 cache and the lower frequencies are going to hurt performance quite a bit for video games.

    Vivek's Midrange Intel System:
    Once again, Crossfire is mentioned, but the second PCI-Express slot runs at 4x...

    An ASRock P55 EXTREME4 will fix that and if you want USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0Gb/s at the same time as Crossfire 8x/8x, you'll want an ASUS P7P55D-E Pro, which features a PLX chip, making it one of the few P55 boards that can run SATA 6.0Gb/s, USB 3.0 and Crossfire 8x/8x all at once, unlike most boards where USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0Gb/s will fall back to USB 2.0 and SATA 3.0Gb/s due to the lack of bandwidth (lack of PCI-Express lanes, thanks to the P55 chipset).

    PSU: OCZ don't exactly make the most reliable PSUs, with the biggest issue being that reliability varies from a model to another, since they use various manufacturers for their PSUs. You get what you pay for with a PSU and a solid Corsair or Seasonic PSU will serve you much better IMO.

    Raja's Midrange AMD Overclocking System:
    I actually agree with all your choices and like how you didn't strictly stick to NewEgg. Way to go.

    Raja's Midrange Intel Overclocking System:

    I'd avoid the ASUS Maximus III GENE like the plague. I used to recommend it, until I'd hear back from so many readers that had issues with it (Read some review on NewEgg) that I had no choice but to stop recommending it, because it's so unreliable.

    Ryan's High-End Gaming System:
    Way to go for keeping noise somewhat under control. Once again though, an IDE DVD Burner in a 2k+ system? Really?

    Also, the sound card is priced at $100, not $75, unless I missed something here.

    Brian's Intel Dream PC:
    Hahaha, now you're talking! Couldn't agree more on the motherboard, which is a one of a kind.

    Just one thing though: You forgot CPU Coolers, since Xeon CPUs don't come with any.

    Also, why ECC RAM? ECC seems kind of futile for a Gaming PC.

    Keyboard: Yes! Mechanical keyboards are the best. I personally recently got a Filco with MX Cherry Blue switches and that keyboard helped me increase my WPM typing speed tremendously. The feedback and noise is also great for gaming.

    Mouse: I've always been a fan of the Logitech MX-518, which remains excellent years after its release and offers a great bang for your buck too.

    Don't have much to add to the HTPCs, they make sense and quite frankly, it's a matter of personal tastes too.

    Except for a few things mentioned above, great job all on the builds. Although I'm a bit sadden to not have seen any Workstation build.

    P.S. For those who wonder about my experience building PCs and the like, I’m a computer enthusiast with 10 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying computers, who has been writing about/offering PC Builds of all kinds (Gaming, HTPC, Workstations, etc.) at various price points on my own blog ( for over two years and a half now.

  • Ben90 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I agree completely on the inclusion of a mechanical keyboard, they are the SSDs of the keyboard world. Once you try to type on rubber domes again it feels absolutely horrible.
    Personally I am a Cherry Black guy as I like the linear travel for gaming, but for typing its impossible to beat Cherry Blues unless quietness is a metric.
  • bji - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    How do you feel about scissor switch keyboards? I like them as I find them to be much less mushy than rubber dome keyboards, but alot quieter and with less key travel than mechanical keyboards. I use the Kensington "Slim Type Keyboard" (that's what it says on the bottom, I can't remember the exact model number) and highly recommend it. Reply
  • Tom_S - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Concerning keyboards etc. I *have* been living under a rock and had not heard of the DAS keyboard that sounds interesting, but while under the rock I have been using my Northgate and Avant keyboards (made by CVT Inc) which were always the gold standard in mechanical keyboards. I looked at the site, and it appears that the lesser of the Avant kbds is not available right now, but the Stellar is.

    I concede that these are old fashioned - not USB without an adapter, no USB hub, but they have been around since the 1980's and are noteworthy. To further date myself, one of their features has been to remap the left ctrl and caps lock keys (moving ctrl next to the "a" key), for those of us still used to old terminals and editors/programming environments that use control keys.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Are the current Samsung HDDs any good? A couple years ago I bought a Samsung HDD recommended on this site for a build for work. First one wouldn't allow an OS install. RMAed it, got a replacement. That one died a few months later. RMAed that, bought one from another brand, and after testing the third Samsung to be sure it could be formatted when we got it just kept it on the side for emergency use. Can't say I'm anxious to try again. Reply
  • Mathieu Bourgie - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Samsung HDDs are some of the best drives on the market in my opinion. Their F3 and F4 (The 7,200 rpm 320GB model that is) line-up offer some of the best throughputs rates in MB/s, are very reliable and emit very little heat.

    For the average latency time, the Western Digital drives tend to be better, although they run hotter and have slightly lower reliability. For Gaming, I'd say that WD drives are the best, but quite frankly, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a system equipped with Samsung or WD drives.

    Also, keep in mind warranty: W.D. offers 5 years on their Black Caviar line-up, as opposed to 3 years on their Caviar Blue and 3 years for Samsung drives.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I did try to price-check everything using our internal pricing tools (Dynamite-Data is an AnandTech affiliate of sorts), so where I could find clearly better prices from other than Newegg I went that route. Obviously, 10 systems or whatever makes it a bit difficult to get every little detail, which is why some IDE DVDRW drives slipped in. Oops!

    The CrossFire/SLI issue on lower end motherboards (i.e. P55 with x16/x4) was another one that I wracked my brain on for a good long time. I'd really like to go the Biostar route on Vivek's setup (or the overclocking board), but truthfully I'm a bit gun-shy with Biostar. I've had decent boards in the past from them, and other boards that sucked hard. Price is another item that I kept running into -- I don't want to recommend an expensive Intel board when SB is coming so soon.

    I'll try to go through and update the optical drives to be SATA, though. Shame on my fellow writers for being so lazy! :-) Thanks for the comments.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Okay, I made some updates and added some additional commentary where appropriate. But I chose to disagree (or let the editors disagree at least) with some of your comments. IMO, there's no need for aftermarket cooling on CPUs if you don't intend to overclock, so I left my build without one.

    The other big issue is Newegg reviews; they're just not reliable by any stretch. We've had motherboards that our guys loved that get mediocre scores at Newegg because of idiot users. "Gee... my memory isn't working and I plugged it in, never looked at the BIOS, never updated the BIOS. What's wrong with this board!?" Likewise, some items get 5 eggs not because they're the best but because a lot of buyers think they're a great value... and they wouldn't know quality if it walked up and punched them in the nose. So, while I generally avoid stuff that gets 3 eggs or less, the 4/5 egg stuff may be decent, good, or great depending on the user. Plus, people with problems are about 10X more likely to post as people where everything worked fine.

    Anyway, thanks for the corrections/suggestions.
  • DanNeely - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I've always put my faith in the low score reviews than the high ones because people are morel likely to complain about bad parts than to write good reviews. You definitely do need to read the actual reviews and filter the idiots out first though. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I'm glad someone caught me on the Xeon coolers - I usually forget that the boxed Xeons don't come with a cooling solution up until right as I start building, then run to the store and grab something.

    Honestly, everyone has their own LGA 1366/Socket B choice it seems. I went with one cooler one time that was too big for my Cosmos S case (the door wouldn't close), and hesitated to recommend something given that I haven't actually *seen* the SR-2 in the flesh. I wager one of those Zalmans that's flat (with the fan normal to the motherboard) probably makes most sense/has best chances of actually fitting.

    Awesome comments ;) I wish I could build that thing, honestly!

  • rootheday - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Interesting that the Intel budget system comes out >$120 higher than the AMD system... but most of that difference because of the choice to include a discrete GPU and BluRay drive in the Intel system. If you leveled that out (and chose same power supply/case) the Apples-to-apples comparison comes out much closer - down to a $40 difference (~10%).

    For that difference you get a tradeoff between slightly faster 3D graphics in the AMD 4250 (but neither will do much beyond casual gaming) vs Intel CPU that is faster in the case in most workloads and signficantly lower idle power. Both can handle media and normal browsing, photo editing, email, and productivity apps with ease.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Which is what we say at the bottom of the Intel page:

    "If you like comparisons, while some of the features are clearly different (i.e. Blu-ray, case, etc.), this Intel setup checks in at $40 more than our AMD build looking just at the motherboard and processor. It's true that Intel has plenty of less expensive processors, but rather than pitting Pentium G6950 against the Athlon II X4 645 we decided to go with the more capable i3-550. AMD's budget parts easily win in multi-threaded tests, but the Core 2010 architecture does very well in other areas. In other words, neither choice is always "right" but instead you need to decide what tasks are most important for your workload."
  • wwswimming - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    This system is adequate for watching the Pipe Masters.

    Can I have it when you're done with it ?
  • Conficio - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I'm surprised with all the dream machines, that non of you went for one of the Multi Monitor setups.

    What is the hold back?

    I'd think that is way more attractive for home use than a 24 GB 12 core XEON system, that is waisting more than half of its power and money going unused 95% of the time in any personal home use.

    Really I'd like to hear why that does not seem to be on the wish list of any of you?
  • bji - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I can't see the point of multi monitor setups except when each monitor is used as a discrete desktop with no windows split across them. Setups where games split across monitors seem like the biggest joke to me. Who wants to play a game with a grid of bezels splashed across it? I can't believe that anyone even attempts such ridiculous setups or that these are featured by graphics card makers (AMD Eyefinity).

    Given that, I don't see too much point in multi-monitor setups for home use, when larger LCD panels (24 inches and above) give so much desktop real estate already.
  • geniekid - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    1) I would love to see Brian's dream machine built and benchmarked.
    2) Does the MSI 890FXA-GD70 for Alan's HTPC support Dolby Digital Live/DTS Connect? If so, I assume the intention is to use SPDIF to send the digital audio to the receiver? Otherwise I'm surprised at the lack of a sound card.
  • 3DoubleD - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    To answer your 2nd question. Nearly every motherboard sold today supports DD and DTS over SPDIF. Even Windows Vista/7 drivers include support for this (along with 2ch LPCM support for other Windows sounds). So if a motherboard has SPDIF support (optical or coaxial), you have DD and DTS bit-streaming support guaranteed. Reply
  • ajlueke - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    in response to 2). The idea as far as sound goes is to used the HDMI connection from the 5870 for sound. The AMD graphics cards have on board sound, as well as support for DTS-Master and TrueHD bitstreaming, no seperate soundcard required. I have found that multichannel support over the ATI cards for games is also very good, really makes Starcraft II come alive. Reply
  • ghoti - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Thanks for this! It's certainly timely. Wish you did the guides more often. I put together a new system a couple months ago, and would have welcomed one then. I wound up with an i-870 and GTX-460 (1 GB).

    Also, I'd be appreciative if there were a bit more mention of alternatives. I see you do some of that; more would be welcome.
  • mapesdhs - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Good choice!! Me too. 8)

  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    $800 for a "midrange" HTPC is patently absurd. How about $50 on ebay for an old intel ~915 chipset based SFF pc, plus a $30 video card? yeah I thought so... Reply
  • bji - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    $80 for an old crappy HTPC computer is patently absurd. How about FREE if you break into your neighbor's house and steal their HTPC? yeah I thought so... Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Your old intel probably won't have PCIe, seriously limiting your video card selection, and it probably will be very loud, like everything else that old is. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    rofl that you guys grabbed that opening image from Newegg, as some of those parts weren't even used in any of your builds Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Blame me. LOL. But I added the lovely text! And I did mention the Newegg setup on my page.... Reply
  • killerclick - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    They are not necessarily both good choices at a given price point. I can see sticking to a particular manufacturer if you're upgrading just your CPU but if you're building a new system, just call the best product whoever makes it. Reply
  • bji - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Agreed. I think these writers usually try to eliminate the inevitable whining by making sure to include a build of each CPU manufacturer at each price point. I can see not wanting to deal with the whiny fanboys, but I too would rather have a more definitive set of choices and just ignore the fanboys on my own. Reply
  • dustcrusher - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I think this guide was intended to show readers an example build at each price point, and that if the reader really wants to know which is "better," the authors trust that he/she will do the research. I like that the authors assume the readership is smart enough to figure it out for themselves, and that there is no such thing as an absolute best for every situation.

    Besides, had there been only one build at each price point, there would've been tons of "I prefer to go x instead of y, what would you recommend instead?"
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Honestly, the AMD/Intel stuff was in a large part based on editor personal preference. For a budget build, it's hard to match AMD, but ultimately it's just a $40 upgrade to Intel. Some of us really like AMD, some of us really prefer to run Intel. Funny thing is that I'm more of an Intel guy but decided that AMD made the most sense for what I was building, and Vivek definitely wanted to do Intel. Also consider that we didn't want a ton of overlap; if you asked each of us for a system we would REALLY build, no one would put together a dream setup, and likewise few of us would go budget; you'd get all sorts of $700-$1300 builds.

    The graphics card side was left entirely up to the editors. Some felt the need to list both options and others went with what they felt was "best". But then, there's enough parity in current GPUs that you really can go either way and be fine. So that's pretty much how the process went.
  • wumpus - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Why in the world do you need to make separate Intel/AMD builds to keep the fanboys happy, and why don't you bother to include AMD/Nvidia splits as well?

    Second, I have to question pairing a GTX580 with a 1920x1200 monitor. While it does let you play crysis2 with absolutely everything turned on, it will be spinning its wheels doing everything else. While trying to build a decent $900 eyefinity* system might require raiding the budget from other components, the end result (5' of monitor instead of a big port hole) is likely superior to any single monitor 1920x1200 (even 24" IPS and a GPU that *never* drops below 60fps).

    Finally, with all the worrying over hard drive brands nobody gave a thought to RAID5? You would think in the "ultimate HTPC" system might want to keep data after a drive death, but I guess all that expensive and noisy gear already thrown at it priced [physical] data integrity out the window (an SSD in an HTPC? Junk the software first and put something that works in its place!)

    *note that a pair of 460s should not be ignored, and probably fit the price best when trying to match with 3 monitors
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Might want to read Brian's build a bit more carefully:

    "On every system I've built in recent memory, I've gone with an SSD + RAID array of slow but capacious storage; I think the same is best here. Get four or five 1.5TB or higher HDDs of whatever brand makes you feel warmest inside, toss them in a RAID5 set, and enjoy a crap-ton of storage that's fully redundant. I suppose if you're really feeling ultimate, you could get a RAID card instead of using the ICH10R's software fakeRAID, but it probably isn't critical unless you want to eek out everything you can from those mechanical drives."

    Anand has also added his build, with RAID1.

    As for 580 + WUXGA, while Crysis is the game everyone mentions, let me just state that Bad Company 2 (and the new Medal of Honor uses the same engine) can be very demanding as well... about as demanding as Crysis in fact. Mafia 2, Metro 2033, and a variety of upcoming and recent titles are also very demanding. I've got a 30" panel with 5850 CrossFire, and I certainly can't max out everything!
  • ajlueke - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I did think about doing RAID 5 in my build. But in all honesty, out of the 3 WD20EARS drives I have purchased and the several 1 TB black editions from WD ,I have never had a single one fail...ever. Certainly I back up my programs and documents as well as anything that cannot be replaced such as pictures and itunes purchases. All the other data on the media drives is already backed up on the physcial discs from which they were ripped, and are now safely stored in my basement. Yes, it would be time consuming to rerip all of the media on a failed drive, but it is also time consuming to rebuild a RAID 5 array. I found the money spent on an extra drive for the storage overhead of a RAID 5 is better spent on cooling solutions to prevent drive failure in the first place. As I have never had a HDD fail in five years of building HTPC systems, I think the policy has worked out fairly well for me. The setup is actually extremely quiet, but certainly not as much some smaller solutions. But adding an SSD definately helps with the noise, as do the green edition WD drives. Reply
  • Jovec - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I agree with the need for data backup, but RAID 1/5 really has no place in 99% of home usage situations. You are better off using a spare drive(s) for a proper backup. RAID provides insurance against hardware failures, but not user error. You are much more likely to suffer an accidental deletion/overwrite/etc than a drive failure. Reply
  • mattgmann - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Everything has looked pretty good until this machine.

    For one, why is a monitor now included? Though I do think it's a good monitor (nice alternative to the dell U2410). But, as a gaming system, why not get 3 24" tn panels for the same price for eyefinity goodness?

    Also, what is with the use of all the WD drives? They're good drives, but the samsung f3 and f4 drives are just plain faster and don't cost any more.

    Is a sound card really necessary? I would only include it if you're including speakers.
  • Iketh - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    i really appreciated the addition of a monitor in the higher priced builds... the cheaper builds are assumed you'll reuse your current display, just common sense in my book... and then eyefinity? no thanks, unless a monitor with one large curved display exists...

    i have never and will never build my mid-range or higher gaming PC without a dedicated sound card... the sound clarity is very noticeable for headphones or higher-end speaker systems... but I agree 100% with not a mention of speakers for the systems including a dedicated sound card, please add suggestions!!
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    3 TN monitors is certainly an option and I mentioned it in the writeup. However all of these builds are ultimately based at least partially around our preferences, and my preference is for a larger, high quality monitor paired with a single fast GPU, as opposed to many low quality monitors and a dual-GPU configuration. Reply
  • Nataku - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Eh... I just thought we'd see a few low~mid range systems with SSDs lol

    I was going to put together a system like below (im going to wait for sandy bridge instead though)
    Zotac H55 w/ wifi
    One of the lower cost SSD
    probably thermaltake's Element Q for case
    cheapest 4GB kit I can find

    guess size of HDD does still matter more XD
  • Nataku - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    and... stupid of me to forget to include the CPU =.= i was thinking i3 lower end ones Reply
  • Aikouka - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    First, a few oddities on Balraj's build...

    Why sacrifice dual-channel support for the possibility of upgrading to 8GB in a budget system?

    Also, the blu-ray drive that was included is OEM and doesn't include blu-ray playback software, which just adds an extra cost (that can be significant depending on the route chosen to attain such software).

    Those Lian-Li cases... really make me wish I would've stayed with Lian-Li on my current build. I would've probably kept my PC-V1100+ (I think that's the right model number), but I noticed the case has an issue where the slide mechanism that holds the side panel on eventually succumbs to reverberation (which is rather annoying). My PC-V2000+ is still going strong though and no reverberation!

    I'm using a Cooler Master case right now, and the only problem is that the side panels are so darned flimsy unlike the Lian-Li cases where the side panels double as lethal weapons. Not to mention how it scratches like crazy!
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I had to switch the Blu-ray drive because I couldn't find Balraj's original choice in stock. Without doing more research, I figured 8X BD-ROM was better than 4X, and then there's a jump of $15-$25 to get to the better quality drives. I'll look around to see if I can find something else though.... Reply
  • Aikouka - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Well, I guess my thought was, "why not just stick with a normal DVD burner?" It is a budget build after all :).

    It might just be better to pick up a retail blu-ray drive, since they'll have OEM software (usually isn't as good as the fancier ~$90 software though).
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Okay, I found a decent price on a 10X LG... it's $85 at Newegg, but Microcenter currently has it for $70. As for leaving out the Blu-ray entirely, we mention that option. Think of this more as "Balraj's Budget Intel System" as opposed to "Balraj's Budget Intel System" and you'll get the picture. He personally thinks BD is great, and really his system is almost a budget HTPC more than a strictly budget PC. Cheers! Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Had a very bad experience like many others with the Intel mid-range Gigabyte mobos. They've had MANY issues and the customer support has been non-existent for some of us. You can read my story on Newegg, but there are many with the same complaints about bad hardware and no recourse from the company. I've purchased video cards and mobo's from them in the past but they are off my list for the foreseeable future.

    Ended up having to shell out for a new mobo (Asus) and it has been rocksolid from day 1 with no issues.
  • GeorgeH - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Laptop Guide = :-)
    Desktop Guide = :-)
    Smartphone Guide = :-(
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    That's coming... patience, grasshopper. :-)

    You can harass Anand, Brian, and Vivek if you'd like, though... but Anand is probably going to let others do that as he's got plenty keeping him up late at night.
  • therealnickdanger - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    The LG Optimus S is going to be $1.00 at Best Buy on Black Friday! Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    There is no patience - there is only read... or read not. :-) Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    Except that patience was pretty much Yoda's biggest problem with Luke... Reply
  • Rumpelstiltstein - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    These are all decent builds for the different price points, but I have a few suggestions for future system guides. Before I say anything else, I would just like to note that I am a big fan of your site, it is always a source of some great journalism and analysis of PC Hardware. Keep up the good work. However, when a PC Hardware site puts up a system guide, I like to use it as a source to send friends to that are thinking of building a new PC and I like to compare between different guides before deciding who to send them to. This is an area that I think you could improve in. I personally think that if you changed your approach to these guides a little bit, it would help out immensely. My model for comparison, since I have found it to be the most comprehensive guide out there is The Tech Report's system guide:

    This may or may not be the best example as recently released hardware has changed the game up a lot, but I think some of their guides in the past were pretty spot-on. Anyway, what these guys do is create a few budget tiers and all of the TR Staff debate over the best choice for each part, rather than assigning one person per build. I'm sure this could easily be accomplished by your editors. Sure, it might bring up some heated arguments, but I have no doubt that the final choices will be better overall. I understand that you have more builds here for a wider range of purposes, and that's great, but you can adapt this approach to accomplish the same goal. Even TR often has an alternate build every few months for a different audience. In this last one, they came up with a highly upgradable nettop-like system that is a good recommendation for those who would otherwise go out and purchase a system-in-a-box from the likes of HP or Dell.

    Another thing they do is provide links to newegg, since newegg is a good place to determine the price you would likely pay for the overall build and it provides good user feedback for people to look at as well as a great wishlist system for people to plan their purchase with, whether or not they choose to do their final purchases through newegg. This is not as essential a feature, but it does help. Granted, they do have newegg's sponsorship, so they have more incentive to do this. But they have been doing it even before newegg took notice and decided to give their thumbs up.

    They also put peripherals, accessories, and extras under a separate topic since these things really are very much user preference and don't necessarily depend on the system they are using them with. And of course, at the end they provide a conclusion to reflect on the changes and how the industry as a whole has changed since their last system guide to lead them to the hardware picks they have chosen for each build.

    Again, I'm not suggesting you try to adhere to the formula used by another site, but there are things that can be learned by reading them. I think if you made a few of these changes, particularly the collaboration of all your staff on each build, you will provide a much better guide that more people will be apt to follow rather than just look at, have a chuckle, and do whatever they were gonna do before reading it. You will likely have less members crying "that is a horrible choice for that build, this would be better." Granted that particular person can make all the changes he wants to suit his personal preference, but they could just build their system from the ground up which would render such a guide useless. You might point a few in a better direction with a guide like this, but more knowledgeable people would likely take it with a grain of salt. I think with a better approach you can hit a larger audience with your guides. It's all about helping people make a good investment in their systems and pick good quality parts with a nice price/performance ratio within the limits of a given budget.
  • Iketh - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    Agree 100% with this... when i read the title, and then read who the author was (Anandtech staff), I thought i was gonna read about "the best of now" systems which all the authors collaborated... i was rather disappointed when i saw otherwise :(

    it IS fun to read about each author's particular taste (and hence get to know them a little better), but you can better demonstrate this if each system is chosen as a team, and then break down, in the explanation, what one author was fighting for in a particular build over another and the ensuing carnage :)... THAT would be fun to read, as well as explaining why eventually one part was chosen over the other
  • benrico - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    This is a 32 nm chip... Improperly identified in the mid HTPC build. Reply
  • ERDoc - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    The one system I'm waiting to build is a large NAS. Something with 20 drives, RAID 6, Blu-ray disc player for backing up my content and serving to multiple HTPCs. WHS Vail or Server 2008 would likely be the OS of choice. 2 x SSD RAID 0 as system drives. Now that 3TB drives are available (soon), are there any server boards will support SATA 6Gb/s, 3 TB drives? I was thinking a Norco 4220 as the case. Any other suggestions? Same for for processors (will be transcoding on the fly, 8 to 10 separate output streams True HD)?

    Dual GB ethernet at minimum. There are companies such as Vidabox selling systems like this for $10k to $15k. I think I could build a better system (with 2 TB drives) for less

    Any other suggestions?
  • hglazm - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    No. Stop right here. Do not, DO NOT do these. They are never unbiased, they are rarely good to suit users needs, they direct a tremendous amount of consumers to products they dont need or are too underpowered for, and they will end up degrading you into the likes of TomsHardware.

    Just stay the fuck away from these, guys. Don't do it.
  • hglazm - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Also, what the hell is up with recommend the Antec BP series?
    Stuffs a load of crap.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    What are you talking about? This was a Holiday Buyer's Guide and we figured it would be nice to give everyone a voice for a change of pace. This is not intended to be the way we do buyers' guides going forwards, but instead is a large article that covers a huge swath of possibilities in time for Black Friday.

    As for the BP550, can you point me to any good review that shows it's a "load of crap"? The word on the street is that it's a decent Delta-built power supply. Is it the best PSU out there? No, but if you can pick it up for $35 with the current $30 combo at Newegg with the Antec Three Hundred case, it's a heck of a lot better than most other $35 PSUs. Best info I can find suggests there's nothing wrong with the BP550 (unless you're anti-Antec I suppose).
  • Bad_Wolf_Online - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I have a dual x5680 system, Brian asked for pictures and benchmarks how do I contact him?
  • Ryan Smith - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    brian@ you know the rest. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I think this is the best bang for you buck, period.
  • SteelCity1981 - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    I honestly don't care if I have the latest tech. the way I look at it new tech comes out every 6 months to a year anyhow. I get tech that suits my needs not what's out there. I'm one of those people that wait until the current tech gets replaced by the latest tech which ends up pushing the last gen tech down in price.

    I'll prob be looking at a first gen AM3 system or a LGA 1156 system early next year to replace my aging S939 system I currently have now. By then a lot of the processors and sockets for those systems should see a nice price drop from where they are now.
  • mapesdhs - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    A small note on budget systems one might build for friends, etc.
    (especially those without the tech knowledge). I built a PC for my
    neighbour & his family back in May; decided to see what I could do re
    mixing 2nd-hand 'professional' parts and consumer tech, try to make
    something with a bit of quality. I found a mbd/CPU/gfx/RAM combo for
    135 UKP (ASUS M2N-BM-DVI, Athlon64 X2 6000+, OCZ 2GB DDR2/800, ASUS ORB
    8800GT PCIe), LSI 21320-IS SCSI card for 5, U320 SCSI 73GB 15000rpm
    Fujitsu MAX3073NC and cable/adapter for 15 (knocks the socks off SATA
    for access time), and a company was offering a new Coolermaster
    Centurion Plus 534 case half-price for 25. The rest I bought new: 500GB
    SATA Samsung F1 for 40 (as it was back then), CiT 700W PSU for 30,
    Wireless 54Mbit PCI card for 7 and DVDRW for 18. Total: 275 UKP

    The main idea was to have a fast & responsive system disk, but with a
    normal SATA for data, so it feels very nippy but still has decent
    storage. The resulting setup ran very nicely (and the mbd combo came
    with Stalker, complete/boxed. :)

    For a display though, I recommended they buy new, something decent,
    which they did for 138 (LG W2254TQ-PF 22" 1680x1050, 2ms, 300 cdm/2,
    1000:1). Same cost today gets 1920x1080.

    They do a lot of surfing, so the fast system disk really helps.

    Just thought I'd mention for those who like to be a bit adventurous...

    (the landscape of what is available has changed since then, but the
    same concepts still apply)


    PS. Access time speed ref (the Fujitsu beats a WD VR 10K):
  • precarious - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    "never mind the old single-core Athlon 64 3800+ running in my daughter's computer!"

    does she really need more than that to download recipes and msds sheets for the latest household cleaning products?
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    FYI, my daughter turns eight tomorrow. LOL It's more like for her. Reply
  • ManjyomeThunder - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I see that you mention the Das in your ultimate-uber-badass dream gaming rig. And that's perfectly fine, it's a great keyboard, but I thought I'd take a second to clarify a few things.

    1) The link specified is for the "Silent" model of the Das Keyboard, which uses non-clicky, tactile Cherry MX Brown switches. While these keyboards do provide tactile feedback just like, say, the Model M, the majority of any sound produced is from "bottoming out" the keys. The normal Das keyboard uses Cherry MX Blue switches, which are tactile and clicky, and produce a more distinct sound like the Model M, only much more high pitched.

    2) The Das Keyboard is far from being the "modern Model M". If anything, the direct equivalent of the Model M would be the Customizer 101, manufactured by Unicomp in Lexington, Kentucky. They own the rights to the patents and such on the Model M, and produce nearly identical keyboards for an affordable price. I'm typing on a black Customizer 104 now, which costs a fair bit less than the Das keyboard. There are also somewhat smaller models such as the "SpaceSaver" available. Make sure to pick up a model that uses "buckling spring" switches (most of theirs do), because that's what makes it mechanical and clicky.

    3) In addition to Unicomp, there are a large number of mechanical keyboards, including Razer's new BlackWidow, the Deck Legends, Filco Majestouches and Steelseries 7G. There are a lot of different switches, each with their own unique properties, so it's best to look into these things before you buy them. A good place to start would be over at GeekHack. We're all keyboard nerds there.
  • raghu1111 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I would like to know estimated idle power consumption for AMD and i3 budget systems. Dell 580s with i3 550 lists idle power at 40 watts.. which is very good.

    My use case : this is an always on computer running ubuntu. I don't plan to put it in sleep mode and hence the sensitivity to power consumption. I have been using a laptop as desktop for this reason so far.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    Here's Anand's figures from Bench for two similar setups:

    Note that those both have a 5870 GPU, so you can knock off around 10-15W if you go with IGP or a low-end GPU. I figure an Intel i3-550 setup can probably get down to around 40W idle power draw for the entire system, depending on components, where an Athlon II X4 will end up 10-15W higher. Running 24/7 you're looking at a power bill difference of around $10-$15 per year in most places, so it's nothing major -- though if you were doing something like a Folding@Home PC I think the difference might be more like 35-40W at load.
  • raghu1111 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    Thanks Jarred. The page lists 66 W at idle. IGP should be good enough to start with for me. I can disconnect DVD drive (may be just a couple of watts). May be I am looking at best case of 50 W. Reply
  • Out of Box Experience - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I want a tablet PC that can control a REAL computer in realtime, with compressed graphics sent wirelessly from my tower to the tablet at FULL frame rates.
    It needs wireless usb3 for sending data and controlling the tower with bidirectional throughput (USB2 is a one way street)

    I also want a mini-ITX tower with a built in KVM switch and a power supply that can handle 2 or more motherboards

    I want hard drives that have a read only switch (like SDHC cards) so I can backup ALL my stuff without worrying about viruses & worms

    I want mini-itx motherboards with built in digital audio amps (Low powered for mobility)

    and while I'm dreaming, lets make XP-Pro open source so we can fix it properly and add SSD support!

    and I want it all by Christmas
    Thanx Santa
  • raghu1111 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    What would be the idle power consumption for i3 550 based budget system. would AMD based much different. Dell lists Inspiron i3 550 based 580s at 40 Watt, which is pretty good.

    My use case : always-on Ubuntu desktop. not planning to set it to sleep mode. 3D graphics performance is a not an issue.

  • raghu1111 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    Sorry for the repost. I thought my earlier comment didn't make it. Reply
  • sjfischr - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    I think that it's a fantastic setup. To those commenting on the number of drives, let me tell a Ceton owner myself, it's extremely easy to eat up space. I am already eating about 25% of my 4 TB of space thanks to this wonderful card, and I have owned mine for less than four weeks. 1080p HD takes up a good 5.5GB/hr, so let's be certain that many movies approach 12-15 GB apiece. To be sure, I can record up to 4 NFL games at once, and watch them in fast forward (these of course eat up space like crazy). You will need a huge amount of space over time--6TB will be a fine amount of space for now, but think about the fact that as it progresses, the media library will continue to grow.

    My only disagreement is on the case. Why get a $300 tower when the Thermaltake DH101 provides arguably one of the best examples in the $250 range? The DH101 is full ATX, is quiet enough for most tastes, has 4-3.5" bays, is tool-less, and has a built-in LCD display/remote. The LCD display recently had a firmware update, making it very easy-to-read, and it extremely customizable. With a supplied IR remote, this enables anyone (not just iPhone/Android folks) to point at the device and find what they want. I combine this with a Logitech diNovo Mini (it's much sleeker), and I agree that this combination of case, remote, and keyboard rate the highest on the Spousal Approval Factor.
  • just4U - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    With options out there for memory that is in the cas 6-7 range I am not quite sure I understand why those of you building the more expensive systems are not considering them..

    It doesn't make sense. Please explain.
  • just4U - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    A prime example comes from this link (the cas 6 lineup at Newegg)

    For me it's at the point where I don't care if it it goes higher I want those latancies to come down so ... C9 is great for a budget system but higher end?
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    My personal experience with high-end RAM over the years has been less than ideal. Notice how all the CL6 RAM requires 1.6 to 1.65V, and compatibility with motherboards is less certain. A good mobo should work with it, and it would be faster than CL9 or CL8 memory, but it's not going to be such a huge difference that I'm personally ready to recommend spending $30 more on it. Besides, many of the DDR3 kits can do better timing with a bit of added voltage (just like the CL6 kits). If you want better RAM, by all means go for it, but I'm not promising it will always work. Reply
  • iMav - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    Another recommendation for Unicomp. Their keyboards ARE the modern-day Model M's. Not Model M-like, they are honest to goodness Model M keyboards.

    Definitely check out for more information you'd ever care to know about regarding mechanical keyboards.
  • jonup - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    I can't agree more with Anand's mobo/CPU recommendation. I am personally waiting for Sandy for my next build. Meanwhile, I picked up this yesterday: . For an extra $4 I got P2X4 940 and a similarly/slightly better spec'ed 785G mobo. I think that the extra core and 6MB of cash are worth the for buck. The trade off is that I am stuck with DDR2 but it is not an issue for me since I have 4GB in the system I am putting it in.
    All in all, stick with Anand's choice of picking up a cheap CPU/mobo and wait till January/February of next year. I would even extend this recommendation to the choice of SSD. With many new and exciting SSDs coming out soon after the holidays and the lower production costs of the 28nm manufacturing we should expect higher performance/capacity and lower prices once the next generations start popping up. Maybe 60GB for $100-130 or 80-90GB for <$150 would be a smarter investment.
  • ivaxona - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    I've already placed the orders, most of the components arrived.

    Pjenom II X4 955 - bought second hand
    Gigabyte 880GM-UD2H
    Corsair xms3 2x2GB 1600MHZ
    Seagate 500GB and dvd-rw from my old PC
    Antec p180 mini
    Seasonic M12II 430W

    I will buy a 6850 as soon as i have the money, until then the onboard 4250 has to keep me covered. A Corsair force 60 gb on the long run and better cpu cooler. Maybe i'll wait for a new revision of coolermaster Hyper 212 after the new amd socket arrives :)
  • GullLars - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    I have a couple of points i want to make in critique of this so called "dream PC".
    First off, while the RevoDrive x2 is a great single part that will not be a bottleneck in any normal system, this is not a normal system, and if you clock the CPUs a bit, it can still be a major bottleneck for bandwidth of incompressible data (like media, compressed or encrypted files).
    RAID-5 off ICH10R with 4x 1,5TB HDDs isn't dreamy either (4R5).

    Since this is a $8K+ "dream system", i feel it warrants a real hardware RAID controller, like the Areca 1880 with a 4GB stick of RAM. This controller supports 6Gbps SATA/SAS and plays nice with SSDs, and comes with 8-24 ports with good support of expanders, should they be needed. You can also hit 2GB/s bandwidth and >100K random IOPS.
    I'd suggest 8R6 Hitachi/Seagate Green 2TB drives + 4-8R0 Crucial C300 from the 12 or 16 port versions. The capacity of the SSDs dedicated by the budget, 8R0 of lower capacity taking priority over 4R0 of higher capacity. OFC with an image of the SSD RAID kept on the HDD RAID, and daily backups of userdata kept on the SSDs.

    I'd also list water cooling as an alternative, especially since 2x 580 in SLI would benefit from being watercooled.
  • eBob - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    I was wondering if there are any companies that provide remote control hardware for HTPCs other than Soundgraph/iMon. My current HTPC case has this solution pre-installed and it has been a huge headache. Basically, I am unable to turn power on from the remote after turning power off. If I turn off power at the power supply and turn it back on the remote works, but only once. I am running a Linux OS on this box and apparently Soundgraph is unable or unwilling to support such a setup and their customer support is useless. Reply
  • PubicTheHare - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    I see the case pictured in the "cover," but I don't recall any of the systems using this case. I know this case is highly regarded for it's airflow and design. Are some of the cases selected better in these regards, or is case selection truly that personal and cases within the same price range tend to perform the same? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    It's from Newegg's EggXpert system (see the shout out in my config on page 4), and it's a good case. I chose the Antec Three Hundred simply because there was a combo offer with the PSU to save $30, but I've used the HAF in a build before and liked it a lot. Anyway, mostly the picture was used simply to have a picture there with an introductory text. I figured some readers would notice the components didn't exactly match anything we selected, but I didn't think it would really matter. :-) Reply
  • pvdw - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    For a near silent PSU go with the Nexus Value 430, or for more power the Seasonic S12II range. Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    Just wanted to say thanks for making the guide base off of each reviewers choice. Personally I think this is a better way to approach a guide and sometimes a review than relying one one person. Reply
  • scarfinger68 - Monday, November 29, 2010 - link

    With the help of great sites like AnandTech I finally put together a new system.

    AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition
    (2 for SLI) ASUS ENGTX460 (Fermi) 768MB 192-bit GDDR5
    SeaSonic X750 Gold 750W GOLD Certified
    CORSAIR XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin SDRAM DDR3 1333
    (2)Western Digital Caviar Blue 250GB 7200 RPM SATA
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64

    It may not be perfect but its mine now. With shipping it came in at $1297.
    Thanks again,
  • rdh - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    That Athlon II X4 640 comes with a free MSI motherboard (or $10 upgrade to a choice of other Motherboards) at Microcenter. That would knock $75 off your price.

    I upgraded to the MSI msi 785g-e53 for $10 more. Total price was $106 for CPU and Motherboard after the $20 rebate. Also, there have been a rash of 4GB(2x2gb) DDR3 memory sales for $35 or $40 AR. Microcenter had the AData memory for $50 , no rebate.

    In all, you can EASILY knock almost $90 off your budget price... enough for a Radeon 5670/4850/5750 Graphics adapter to create a TRUE budget gaming system for about $370.
  • rdh - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    ps... only applies if you have a Microcenter... or someone who will match them... nearby. Reply
  • rufwork - Sunday, December 05, 2010 - link

    I've been looking through NewEgg with this guide "in hand", and it appears there are several AM3 options that'll save a few bucks if you BYOV[ideo card]. That said, I couldn't quite get enough on Northbridges to figure out where I'm actually saving money and where I'm settling for less.

    Like the GIGABYTE GA-MA78LMT-S2 is currently $65 and $55 after rebate, but it has a 760G Northbridge. Enough to scare me away? The Intel budget system made do with two RAM slots, so I think that's okay. And it looks like it's still got an IDE plug for my old DVD and hard drives.

    I'd like to conserve as many parts from my last white box, built five years ago, and the "recycler's low end" system is still a bit of an unknown. This is largely my fault for not keeping up with SATA, PATA, PCI-e/x, etc, but I'd love to see it all laid out for those with parts still laying around. Drives (hard and optical), cases & PSUs, and video cards seem to be the things with the best reuse potential -- but even PSUs might have new 8 pin connectors?

    Alternatively, where would an out of touch buyer go?

    (My first Celeron whitebox used an ISA sound card I borrowed from a friend's junk heap... I'm all about the reuse.)
  • FullHiSpeed - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    I would love to reach for the stars and have Brian's 24 thread dream machine (or see how it performs).
    If you're not ready to spend $3760 on CPU, MB, and RAM, you can get 2/3 the number of threads for 1/3 the price like this:
    SUPERMICRO MBD-X8DAL-i-O Dual LGA 1366 Server Motherboard $289.99
    16 logical processors - Xeon E5620 2.4GHz 80W Quad-Core CPU 2 *$384.99= $769.98
    12g GB RAM - 2 x Kingston (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 ECC KVR1333D3E9SK3/6G 2 * 90.99 = $181.98
    That's the guts of a 16 thread machine for $1,241.95
  • Stormblade - Tuesday, January 04, 2011 - link

    I was all set to start building my machine. I based it on the High End Gaming system here. I'd gone so far as to add the parts to my cart. Came back to check on something and I see the article about Sandy Bridge. Well now I gotta re-think.

    Definitely want to get an i7-2600K but which motherboard? I see the Asus P8P67 being coupled with it so was thinking of basically still getting the system described but getting that MB and CPU instead. Any thoughts on whether this is a horrible idea or not?
  • Stormblade - Tuesday, January 04, 2011 - link

    To be a bit more clear I was referring to Ryan's High End Gaming System. Reply
  • kakfjak - Thursday, May 05, 2011 - link

    All kinds of shoes + tide bag

    Free transport

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