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  • dudeofdur - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    yay. too bad i already bought a sb build. moniter looks good Reply
  • Jovec - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    No speakers? The monitor doesn't include speakers.

    The power supply doesn't include a power cord. For many of us, we have a couple extra to use. If you don't have one, it will add another $10 or so with tax/shipping.

    The "AMD Upgraded Budget System" should probably use the 500w PS recommended earlier. The $380 should handle a 640 and 5770, but the extra headroom is nice.
  • Rick83 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    actually, headroom on a power supply is to be avoided - maximum efficiency is usually hit around 80% load. I'd be surprised if a 640/5770 system would exceed 300 Watt by very much during even the most extreme load.
    Plus, a good power supply will go to eleven for short periods without having any issues.
    I firmly believe in getting the smallest power supply I can get away with.
  • Jovec - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Headroom for future expansion, upgrades, and overclocking. The efficiency differences you are talking about are only 2-3% when talking about 380w@80% load with ~88% efficiency versus 500W@60% load with 85% efficiency and might add up to a couple dollars a year difference to operate.

    I'm in the camp that thinks most of us run more PSU wattage than we need, but the 380w PSU just doesn't make sense for the upgraded build. For example, the article mentions both the 5850 and 460 which are both dual 6-pin cards. These or their modern equivalents are conceivable upgrades in the future, and the cost of replacing the 380w due to it's single 6-pin PCIe power connector more that outweigh any efficiency savings (dual molex to 6-pin PCIe adapters might work I suppose). The article also mentions the potential for overclocking, which would put a further strain on a 380w PSU.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    As a point of reference, I've got an i7-965, 12GB DDR3, HD 5850 CrossFire, and two 120GB SSDs in my main system these days. I'm running all of that off of a whopping 450W PSU: Thermaltake Litepower, 80 Plus Bronze certified.

    Idle power for the system sits at around 140W; that's power measured at the outlet, so accounting for ~83% efficiency the components are using about 116W. Under load playing games, I haven't ever seen a value above 400W; usually it sits around 350-380W (300-325W PSU load). So even with relatively high-end components, my setup still isn't coming anywhere near the 450W limit of the PSU.

    I'd say the only reason to move up from the 380W recommended in the guide is if you're planning on CrossFire or SLI, plus some pretty serious overclocking. At stock, it takes some pretty beefy CPU+GPU setups to break 350W -- even a GTX 460 won't get there, though the 470 and 480 would probably be toeing the line.

    Of course, replacing a PSU down the road is a pain in the butt (only a mobo replacement is worse!), so for a minor price difference of only $15 or so it's probably a good idea. I'll mention as much in the conclusion.
  • awaken688 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I agree that the efficiency savings isn't a big deal, but I'm also with Jarred on the size. I'm running a 460 GTX 1GB OC'd with a Phenom II 940 which is a 130W part and my system under max load (game at maxed settings) hits right around 300W at the wall and idles in the 125ish range. As far as the 2 6pins go, you can use a molex and it will be okay if your rail and wiring can handle it. I am using the Corsair 400CX and it has no issues at all. (only has 1 6pin as well)

    If you are buying with the thoughts of Crossfire or a super power hungry GPU upgrade later, then I definitely would suggest bumping it up to a 500-550W part. But if you are truly a budget builder, the 380 should be a solid choice.
  • MadAd - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    actually a (decent brand) psu power efficiency curve peaks around half its rated value, not 80%- the 80% rating seen on the better ones is something else Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    As jovek and MadAd have mentioned above about 20% load your efficiency curve is more or less flat. The reason you want to have about 150-200W headroom above peak load is that your PSU fan will never leave idle, making the PSU effectively a silent component. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, February 17, 2011 - link

    One of the things almost no one seems to consider is aging of components. I think headroom is a consideration in this regard, as well - your PSU rating is what it will do new, not after 3 years of service.

    Everyone else can build for what they see as reported by KILL-A-WATT if they want, but I will continue to build by max draw numbers as reported by the manufacturers of the parts themselves, what overclocking calculations show I might be drawing at max possible OC for my purposes, and future expandability. Yeah, this is partly because I came out of the days when PSUs were pretty much junk across the board and I frankly still have a little mistrust for the industry as a whole, but there ya go. That's my philosophy - I'm not saying anyone else is wrong, I don't have enough data to back that up, but I do know what flaky PSUs can do and I go out of my way to prevent having those issues.

  • SteelCity1981 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    "but don’t buy a cheap PSU!"

    Well that 380w Earthwatts is a cheap PSU. 17a on a single 12v rail. You can't get much cheaper then that. Good luck trying to put in a mainstream GPU in there without having to buy another PSU. I wouldn't even put in a Radeon 5670 or GT 440 let alone anything higher grade with that PSU.
  • GeorgeH - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    A GTX 460 (the most power hungry card recommended in the article) needs ~12A of 12V under a heavy gaming load. An Athlon II X2 250 (the more power hungry CPU of the two builds) needs ~4A of 12V at 100% load.

    That's 16A total for the two most power hungry items. Factor in that the EA-380D actually has two 17A 12V rails for 34A of available 12V power, and the entire system will probably never go over 60% load on the 12V rails even with a "mainstream" GPU.
  • SteelCity1981 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Wow how far off you are. do you acutally think the GT 460 only needs 12a? I got an ocean front land in AZ i'd like to sell you. The minuim for a GT 460 is 24amp yes that's right 24amp on a 12v single rail Anything lower then that and you are basicly risking your gpu to short. When you facotry in the entire system and you are facvotoring in the total usage 12amp is not even close to enough. Reply
  • aylafan - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    The minimum for a GT 460 isn't 24A on a "single" +12V rail. You can have multiple +12V rails for a combined 24A or more, etc.

    Also, the EA-380D PSU has two +12V rails.
    +12V1 = 17A; +12V2 = 15A

    Just take the total Watts for the +12V rails and divide it by 12 to get the combined Amps on the PSU.
    336/12 = 28A

    Please, post a link of a better PSU with similar Amps and 82% or higher efficiency at this price. Otherwise, everything you have said has no real merit.
  • SteelCity1981 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    FSP Group SAGA+ 400R 400W ATX12V Power Supply

    Wasn't that hard. Not only does it have an 80% and above efficiency rate, but it also hase higher watts and a higher 12v dual rail for around the same price.
  • aylafan - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    FSP Group SAGA+ 400R 400W ATX12V Power Supply

    You call +12V1 = 10A; +12V2 = 13A and only combined 23A better than the EA-380D PSU? You have to be joking me.

    You do know that has the wrong specs right? Even the photo of the PSU specs contradicts with the listed specs on their page.

    Apparently, you didn't research hard enough. You lost credibility once again...
  • GeorgeH - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Do I think a GTX 460 needs only 12A of 12V? Absolutely - because I'm referencing experiments, not random values pulled from thin air:

    Running Crysis, the 460 drew 11.7A of 12V. Running OCCT, it drew 11.2A of 12V.

    Again, educate thyself.
  • ckryan - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Great job, Zach. I like the cut of your jib. You buying guide has some of the most sensible budget picks around. One item, the Earthwatts 380D, is my favorite budget PSU. It hits the sweet spot for a budget build. While it does eat a chunk of a budget build up, I think it's the finest budget PSU out there. You have to spend a hefty sum more to get something better. Apparently, some people haven't read Martin Kaffei's review on Anandtech.

    SteelCity1981 wrote:

    "Well that 380w Earthwatts is a cheap PSU. 17a on a single 12v rail. You can't get much cheaper then that. Good luck trying to put in a mainstream GPU in there without having to buy another PSU. I wouldn't even put in a Radeon 5670 or GT 440 let alone anything higher grade with that PSU."

    Say What?

    The Earthwatts 380w might be inexpensive, but calling it cheap is just ridiculous. It is eighty + BRONZE. It has 17a and 15a 12v rails. It is fairly quiet. It's probably as much PSU as most people need. I built a system for a friend using the 380D to power a Phenom II X3 @ 3.1Ghz AND a GTX 470. At stock clocks and voltage, the CPU and GPU loads under Furmark and Prime95 were reading under 318w AT THE WALL. Factor in the efficiency of the 380w (Read the AnandTech 380D review -- about 84%) and the system was only using about 267w. Running Prime95 and Furmark together is something that just doesn't occur under normal circumstances. Actual gaming power draw was between 220w and 280w. Again, at the wall, measured with a P3 Kill-A-Watt. Granted, you wouldn't necessarily want to run a GTX470 and a X58 platform off the 380D, but a dual- or triple core @stock? Money.

    I't doesn't come with a power cable unless you buy it in an Antec case. The spaghetti mess of connectors is difficult to wrangle. But all things considered, it's a good value at the $40 point. It's easy to find it cheaper with a combo, included in an Antec case, or on sale. I say, don't dis it ' till you've tried it. Or just understand what the hell you're talking about. Telling people about how you wouldn't want to power a "Radeon 5670 or GT 440" with this PSU just spreads more wrong information.
  • SteelCity1981 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Really? Go show me on this picture where you see dual 12v rails? because I sure the hell couldn't see it on the sticker.

    So by saying the Earthwatts isn't cheap is like saying a Ford Fiesta isn't cheap either right? LOL There is a reason why it's marked the way it is in price, because it is cheap. Apparently you know little about psu's that or you are a fan of Earthwatts to understand that these psu's are priced this low for a reason. Any true enthusiast will tell you that these PSU's are cheap and to make an argument other wise, you'd get laughed out of the building.

    So you make an argument about the watts. Well news flash the watts isn't' nearly as important as the amps. Everyone that's truly knowledgeable about PSU's understands that the amps are the most important factor in a PSU especially when it comes to high powered hardware in the psu. Let me give you an example. A 500w psu with only 16amps on single 12v rail is actually worse then a 400w psu that carries a 24amp single 12v rail. Why? Simple. The voltage rail supplies power to the most demanding components including the processor, drives, cooling fans and graphics cards. All of these items draw a lot of current and as a result you want to make sure that you purchase a unit that supplies enough power to the +12V rail. Which clearly shows an Earthwatt psu 17amp 12v isn't truly enough amps for any decnet mainstream gpu especially if you want to upgrade to better hardware in the future, you're going to need a much better psu. Again there is a reason why Eathwatts are priced where they are.
  • GeorgeH - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    The picture on this page clearly shows 17A+15A of 12V:

    The specs on the Antec page claim 17A+17A of 12V:

    Educate thyself.
  • SteelCity1981 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    educate myself you are the one saying 380w are fine LOL Reply
  • GeorgeH - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I'm saying 380W is fine by referencing readily available data and reviews.

    You're saying 380W is not fine by making claims that have been trivially demonstrated to be completely false.

    LOL indeed.
  • ckryan - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Yes. I have used the 380D in several situations. One 17a rail would only amount to 204w maximum. Even if you've never seen the unit in question, the Anandtech review has a clear shot of the label. Besides, while the 380D is a great PSU, it's not what I'd put in my computer. Why? Because modular is what I need. Antec took some measures to reduce cost by not including a power cable or prettying up the mess of wires.

    By the way, a GPU with two 6pin PEGs can receive up to 75w per plug. That's 150w. That would leave you with 54w to spare on the rail, provided the (up to) 75w a GPU can draw through the PCIe 16x is on another rail. But no one suggests running a 4 or 6 core + a mainstream (or up) GPU with one 17a 12v rail. The maximum power a GTX460 could draw would be 150w from the PEGs and 75 through the Mobo. That would 225w (Or at the wall, with an 80% PSU, you'd be drawing ~275w) in a worst case scenario.
  • Roland00Address - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    The Antec Earthwatts EA-380D has two 12 volt rails one at 17 amps and one at 15 amps. These two rails can do a max combined watts of 336 on the 12v rail (336/12=28 combined amps on the 12v rail)

    This psu can easily handle a 5850 or a 460 if you keep the cpu at stock settings and buy a molex to 6 pin adapter.
  • Kaboose - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    At least some people know what they are talking about.

    As long as you DON'T OC the CPU, GPU, or RAM you should be fine, and it is hard to find a non-synthetic situation that puts your computer under FULL 100% load.
  • pvdw - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    You really need to do your research:

    And there's a huge difference between a CHEAP psu and a GOOD BUDGET psu. The earthwatts definitely qualifies as good budget.
  • pvdw - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Oh, and my guess is that you don't know anything about the construction of quality PSUs. Cheap power supplies use low quality parts, can't be used at rated wattage, have horrible ripple and voltage regulation, etc. Reply
  • mgl888 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Can I suggest that you take out the cost of Windows 7 from the build price? Or at least take it out of the Base System Cost.
    It just seems a little out of place considering it's not a piece of hardware and the price of an OS can vary depending on what you choose to install and where you are getting the software (hopefully legally...).
  • richardginn - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I fully agree. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Sure we can: subtract $100 from the cost of the systems. BAM! You're at $321 and $345. Come on guys, it's $100 and you can do the math for that one without a second thought. Reply
  • seapeople - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Don't be silly, use tech people intent on building our own computer system from scratch NEED you at AnandTech to do all the thinking for us. That is why I hope you are working on the new Bench feature that will purchase and deliver the perfect system to our door. Reply
  • jonp - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    not me, i build systems for others and you can't deliver it without the OS. it's integral to the cost of the system. along with the power cord some have also commented on. Reply
  • kevith - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Yep... Reply
  • HangFire - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    It's a hard cost, keep it. Reply
  • Icabus - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    On the Base System Performance Summary page under the CPU Upgrades section:

    AMD offers five compelling CPU upgrades to the Athlon II X4 250.

    This should be the X2 not the X4.
  • SmCaudata - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    When you talk about the i5-760 you don't mention the need for a discrete video card. Doesn't seem like an upgrade option you should mention in this budget segment. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    True. I've updated the text just to make this clear. We really aren't recommending anyone go out and buy an i5-760 right now. It's a fine CPU, but for the cost and features, I would much rather wait a month or so and get Sandy Bridge -- which has an IGP as well. Reply
  • geniekid - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    In general, I think AT is second to none as far as tech websites go. But, for system building, I think I still have to give the nod to Tom's Hardware and it's System Builder Marathons because they actually assemble their machines and bench them. Don't get me wrong. AT's bench is an invaluable resource, but if I'm dropping that much money to build a new machine based on the recommendations of an online article, I feel a lot more confident if the article writers actually built the thing. Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Hi geniekid - Zach here, thank you for your feedback. I agree that giving actual numbers from actual benchmarks, and probably also pictures of the finished systems as well, would be more effective than simply assuring you that I've built all of these systems for friends and know what they can do, and that they can do it well. ;) I'll keep that in mind if I'm asked to write more guides in the future. Reply
  • trogthefirst - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Right on! Reply
  • Vincent - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I was surprised to see the article recommend OCZ Vertex 2 SSDs in light of the recent controversy over the switch to slower 25nm NAND flash. Basically they switched the type of chips they used and now the drives are slower. This thread has more details

    Clearly, the new drives' slower speeds will still blow away a mechanical drive, but this move by OCZ and their response to customer complaints hurts their reputation.

    I know that Anand has been very complimentary toward OCZ when at the same time he has had very strong pro-consumer words about Intel's handling of their chipset issues. It would be nice to see Anand's take on the OCZ issue and to see him encourage OCZ to respond better to consumers.
  • Gigantopithecus - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Hi Vincent - Zach here, thanks for your feedback. I wanted to give readers an idea of how wide the SSD field has become by mentioning the main players. I think that's an important consideration given how much SSD prices fluctuate (one of Newegg's shell shocker deals today is a $120 (after rebate) 128gb SSD). While many of Intel's competitor's (like OCZ) often offer better price/capacity SSDs, I recommended Intel's G2 40gb in the upgraded build for reasons including the one you highlight. The guide even explicitly states the Intel SSDs are perceived as more reliable/issue-free. Of course, objective, thorough studies on the reliability of any PC component are essentially non-existent, unfortunately. Reply
  • benrico - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I thought these were coming out much sooner.... what gives? Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    By "The next year will bring us Intel’s third generation SSDs, and second generation parts from SandForce, Crucial, and Indilinx," I meant that these drives will all be coming out over the course of the next year. (Not that they will arrive next year, in 2012.) Reply
  • kevith - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Zach, nice roundup, nice, straightforward language, good job. It's nice to have someone else to sum up all the articles, so that I don't need to open them in four tabs in three browser-windows when planning a build.

    Only thing, maybe it's me, but you write, that: "... smaller SSD's doesn't have high write-speeds, but write-speed are not nearly as important [as read-speeds] for an OS/app-drive...", something like that.

    I thought that was just opposite: That you should go for a drive with fast write-speed for the OS-drive...? I understood, that when the OS is writing to the disk in the background, the system can freeze until the writing is done? Or was that only on early SSD's, and doesn't count anymore? Would love it if I'm wrong...:-)

    I'm sure you'll be asked to write more.
  • Gigantopithecus - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Hi kevith - Thank you for your feedback. I could have been more clear in the article. The only metric where SSDs don't handily best mechanical HDDs is sequential writes. In fact, fast HDDs like WD's VelociRaptors have higher sequential write performance than many SSDs. However, once the initial OS and app installation is done, your OS will rarely hit the SSD with sustained writes. Random reads and writes (which are MUCH faster on SSDs than HDDS) are far, far more common for a boot drive than sequential writes. Anand's article from almost two years ago sums this up well, see and - while the SSDs in that article are mostly outdated at this point, the take-home message stands. Reply
  • kevith - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Great, thanks for the clarification and hint to the article, good for background knowledge. Reply
  • lestr - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Good work on the GUIDE. That's what it is, a GUIDE, right? FIRST word is BUDGET.
    I find it interesting and somewhat disconcerting that so much time was spent by so many arguing over and trying to second guess you and Jerrod on the use of the Antec 380 with respect to an SLI or CF configuration. I am curious as to how those people intend to install 2x PCIex16 cards on uATX boards with only one slot. That one has me really bumfuzzled and bewildered... is there an adapter for it? I'll buy 3! And they can't MENTALLY add or subtract $100 for an OS... Kinda like reading a review on the Egg where the author complains that an OEM processor doesn't come with a fan... Their only point appears to be trying to impress you and other readers of their intelligence? Big dog on the porch syndrome.. Oh well.
    My only question involves the SSD. I don't claim to be an expert, but it seems that a Crucial SSD C300 64GB would be a better choice all around as it's ~$130 and is also SATA 3 which would future proof at least the AMD and the Intel if it is backward compatible to 3gb/s and would be useful on the new 1155 fiasco.
    I only wish people would realize this is only a guide and to accept the parts they like and change the parts they don't by doing more research instead of commenting on irrelevant issues. The one HUGE FACT is that next gen - what ever part - is going to require LESS power than what we have today. I can see needing 500W or more on a full ATX with multiple x16's but then, would such a build be listed under BUDGET? Some people always have to pick things apart and complain, don't they?
    Thanks for your time, energy and effort on our behalf.
  • rwei - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Great article - having just upgraded an old P4 2.4C Northwood (may it rest in peace) for my parents, I'm glad to see many of my choices were in line with your well-made part suggestions.

    I'm just a little curious as to why you didn't mention core unlocking, which is potentially a significant boon for a budget builder.

    The system I got my parents uses a $50 MSI motherboard (the 880GM) with a Phenom II X2 555 ($85 - both USD prices converted from what I saw in Hong Kong). With little effort, I have the new system running with 3 cores (the 4th is unstable) at 3.8 GHz with just a slight increase in voltage. At that level, it can start to play with the big boys like the 955BE, but the cpu/mobo combo cost me less than the 955 CPU alone.
  • stmok - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    "I'm just a little curious as to why you didn't mention core unlocking, which is potentially a significant boon for a budget builder."

    => Because core unlocking isn't 100% guaranteed. Its luck of the draw...The goal is a guide for budget buyers. Most computer users on the planet aren't overclockers, tweakers, or enthusiasts. Guides like this will help them the most.

    I have to agree though, Zach Throckmorton did do a good guide here. Its sensible and realistic for the current situation.
  • HangFire - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Most computer users are not system builders, either. At least mentioning core unlocking, if not recommending it, would be worthwhile. Reply
  • DLimmer - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Very good guide. I feel that my thoughts aligned closely with Zach's.

    I agree, Core unlocking isn't a sure thing, but the opportunity to unlock to 3 or 4 cores is very attractive and probably should be mentioned.

    Recently created my own system for storage and video transcoding using the following:

    AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition (unlocked to 4 cores) = 955
    ASUS M4A87TD EVO AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Motherboard
    Antec TruePower New TP-650 650W 80+ Bronze
    Antec Two Hundred(v2) Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    I spent a little extra on Memory and Hard drives:
    Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 ECC Unbuffered Memory
    WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s
    4x SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 2TB 5400 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

    I considered the ASUS 380 Earthwatts and the 500 Earthwatts, but chose the TruePower due to its modular design. The 500W would be a little low if I upgraded to a more powerful video card than an old one I had from a retired system.
  • trogthefirst - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    As a long time Intel user (E2140) and after the whole SB mess i decided to go with my wallet and hit this awesome $190 965BE + MSI 870A-G54
    paired with my just arrived HD 6950 i cannot believe how a nicely priced machine from 'the other' chip maker makes way much sense! Good article but i have to go with the other dude about Toms SBM - particularly their Dec 2010 $500 SBM : now thats a killer price/performance little monster if i ever saw one!
  • HangFire - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Good article. Like the Delta-built P/S recommendation. I made something very similar a few months ago, but I went for a Seasonic-built Corsair 400CX (no longer available) and a closeout 550BE, that both unlocks and overclocks like a dream. I got all components on sale or at MicroCenter. This month I just added a TD/EVGA/Smith 9800GT for $49.99 delivered, a little dated for gaming but overkill for my Linux needs. The final result makes the Intel tax, well, very taxing indeed.

    However you forgot the cost of the power supply cable. It's not included with the EarthWatts. Since this is a new build, it might be too much to assume that one is lying around- just like other sites forget in their builder's guides that Windows 7 actually costs money.

    OK, that's a small niggle. Welcome aboard, Zach.
  • HangFire - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Web update issues? Reply
  • shamans33 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    You can save $15 by going with a 760G chipset motherboard. The integrated graphics won't be as powerful but maybe it's just for everyday task use.

    Also, the PSU can even be more budget as well...I doubt that most people would break the 200W barrier.

    Additionally, a budget build often benefits from going with a SFF case/mobo/psu. Less demanding users tend to place a larger premium on the footprint occupied by the system (and/or noise from it).

    I think there needs to be recommendations for a budget build aimed at the Mini-ITX size. A bonus is that many Mini-itx motherboards come with wifi features.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 18, 2011 - link

    We're hoping to have a guide for the mATX and mini ITX crowd in the near future. We'll look at other options for cutting down costs and power, but you'll probably lose performance on some of the builds (i.e. Brazos E-350). Reply
  • infoilrator - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    The problem with smaller form factors is you lose performance per dollar and easy upgrades. Quality parts made smaller often cost more. And more to replace.
    The Sandy Bridge I3 may change that but it seems unlikely. If you know of an $500 build as good as those listed please list it here. Including wifi is an easy option.
    SOmetimes small is better and all you need is all you need. For me I like the advantages of a mid tower build. Including wifi makes sense since mostly there are only two expansion slots. Put a video card in one, and you have ONE choice.
  • L. - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    Just sayin', but if you're going for a cheap system and you're ready to shell out 100 bucks for an SSD, you need to forget the SSD and get a real Graphics board instead, which in turn will make you buy a Corsair PSU, then to justify it all you trash the CPU, get a real phenom II, some decent RAM and hey .. you're still below 800 and you've got 50% more 3dmarks.

    Also, geez cut the crap with this ugly screen, there are 22" full Hd pannels for around 200, get a real screen, watch x264 1080p and be happy (yes this is a much more important upgrade than SSD or even the better Graphics board).

    Really, considering the usual value of information on Anandtech this builder's guide is surprisingly bad.
    Also, you may contact me if you want me to write the next one, I'm kind of interested in that stuff anyway.

    So, without optimizing and not including a windows license (we all have one already anyways, don't we ?), here's a little joke to show how much more you can get for 800 bucks.

    All on the egg:

    Antec 300 (i hate it but hey .. I don't have time to find a better alternative - and there are many) (55)
    WD Caviar Green 1 TB (yes that's much better than a samsung hdd and you don't get an ssd if you go cheap computer) (59.99)
    AOC E2243FW (they make monitors really ? anyway that's a led backlit full had 21.5" monitor) (154.99)
    Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H (yay USB3, SATA6 and some decent pcie action) (89.99)
    Gigabyte GV-R6870OC (yes, I like Gigabyte and there's a reason for that, it works) (229.99)
    Corsair Builder (cheap) series CX430 (more than enough for this build although It's really cheap) (44.99)
    G.Skill 4GB ddr3-1600 (cheap choice but hey.) (47.99) - i'd definitely look further to choose a nice overclockable model rather than the first cheapest on newegg .. but hey this is just to demonstrate
    AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE (3.2ghz, 125W I don't like it that much but it's cheap and OC-able) (139.99)

    Total : 822.88
    After Mail-in rebates (as counted in your example cuz Antec300 comes @ 45) : 782.88

    And I'd bet my shirt this setup fares so much better in every situation, including movie viewing and gaming.

    Of course if you're going to overclock (which is the main interest in a cheap system) I would suggest getting a decent Corsair PSU like mine (something along the lines of HX750 - can't remember precisely).

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