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  • HangFire - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    With access to MicroCenter, I was able to build an A10-7850K system for about the same price as yours. I chose that processor because of the onboard graphics performance and the fact that the owner would be unlikely to add in a graphics card later. That upgrade is still on the table but I could have chosen a higher clocked, lower GPU AMD chip if add-in graphics was likely. There is currently more than one good choice, unless you can afford a better i5, in which case just go Intel. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Even with Microcenter currently discounting the chip by $40 to $129; it's still double the price of the A6-6400K; did you drop the 2nd drive to hit the $400 price point or find several other items on sale?

    As a general comment/observation; unless they're updated ~weekly; short term sale prices don't belong in build guides since it's unlikely that someone following it will be able to match them.
    Reply
  • tarheel91 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    You can get a motherboard free with it. So it's $129 for APU + MB.

    http://www.microcenter.com/site/products/amd_bundl...
    Reply
  • HangFire - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Several other items on sale like the M/B was a package deal with the CPU (GA-F2A88XM-D3H a different deal than tarheel91 lists but same idea), and so on. And I agree I didn't list all my components/prices because most of those bargains are gone now... but others take their place. Being near a MicroCenter can change the whole price/performance value equation. Reply
  • f0d - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    the problem is anandtech is website that is viewed worldwide and only people from USA have a microcentre

    this way people wont be annoyed at the guide for recommending parts that are only good prices from microcentre
    Reply
  • Morawka - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    and a very small amount of people in the US have access to microcenter. Reply
  • HangFire - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    ...which is why I didn't bother to list all my prices. Reply
  • otherwise - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    I'm a bit conflicted by this advice because while it's true in the abstract sense, if your budget is $500 chasing these weekly deals is pretty essential to getting the best value. Unfortunately, if you're knowledgeable enough to evaluate the current weekly special in relation to market prices -- you don't need a guide like this.

    MicroCenter has been selling a Pentium Anniversary Edition + MSI Z89 bundle for $99 for the last couple of weeks. If you include that special you can do so much better than the current build.
    Reply
  • HangFire - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Every system builder has to start somewhere. Many people have learned to be comfortable evaluating and upgrading their video card, then move on to the power supply and HDD and then are ready to build from scratch. Consider this a baseline for comparison. Many people start with a guide like this and their previous upgrade experience, that forms the basis of learning they use to evaluate those weekly specials and move into builder mode. Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Strangely, if you used the case from the AMD build in the Intel build it would be $9 less than the AMD build.

    Also, if you ever plan on upgrading this thing, the Intel system has a lot more potential for upgrades. So, same as normal. If you never plan on upgrading ever, AMD. Otherwise Intel.
    Reply
  • bah12 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Agreed. Maybe it was done to make AMD look viable? I don't know but for $13 more you can get into the Pentium class chip over the Celeron. Why they chose to prioritize cosmetics over power is questionable. Be different if it was just a higher model Celeron, but that money gets you up a whole tier of models. Reply
  • Dribble - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Title is incorrect - it should read "Best PC you Can build for $400", or if mouse/keyboard/monitor is included it's "Best PC you can Build for under $650".
    Assuming the $400 totals you came up with are what you meant then you can build a significantly better PC then either of your suggestions with that extra $100 which for some reason you haven't spent.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    I used $500 because, let's be honest: unless you're pirating Windows, you need to buy the OS and that's $100. I could add it to the tables to hit the $500 mark instead of $400, but I figure it's just splitting hairs. If I said "$400", I'd get a bunch of people complaining about me skipping the OS. Can't please all the people all the time, right? Hahaha.... Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    You'd need to say "Best PC you can build for $400/$500/$650, depending on interpretation", which doesn't have the same ring to it... Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link


    No need to spend $100 on Windows, just get an orig legit unused OEM pack off eBay BIN
    for about $60. I bought 10 of them (Win7 Pro 64bit I mean), all Dell. They come from unsold
    business desktops, complete with COA, etc. That's $40 available for something else.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • ozzuneoj86 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Pretty sure that this is in violation of Microsoft's OEM licensing conditions, since they cannot be transferred. You're basically just exploiting flaws in Microsoft's activation system to not be pestered about having a "non genuine" copy of Windows. It doesn't mean you are doing it the legal way... it just means it works.

    ... though I'd say its far less shady than just plain pirating windows and cracking it, so whatever.
    Reply
  • tarheel91 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Best $420 computer with an OS from /r/softwareswap. Reply
  • bah12 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Well to be fair if you are using an OEM copy for yourself you are technically "pirating" windows. The only windows version allowed to be installed on a built computer is a full retail license. Now they've never enforced that, and it likely never will.

    "...you must install the software using the OEM Preinstallation Kit and then resell the PC to a third party. If you install that software on your own PC, you don't have a "genuine" copy of Windows...."

    For a more in depth look at the conflicting/confusing process.
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/is-it-ok-to-use-oem...

    Honestly I'd love you guys to get someone from MS interviewed and on record that this practices is allowed, because the legal language certainly says otherwise.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    I'm pretty sure that is not the case at least in some countries. I know MS is oblilgated to sell the OEM/System Builder edition here in Germany via court order. And violating the TOS is different than doing something illegal. In some cases certain parts of a TOS are in violation of law and can be overturned if someone decides to go to court over them. Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    Doesn't really matter, and the only country where it seems like OEM is meant for consumers is Japan (with components/peripherals).

    Nothing stops retailers from selling systembuilder packs, there is no need to bundle the pack with computers or anything, but that doesn't mean and end user is licensed. It's meant to come preinstalled by a third party. The end user doesn't get it's rights directly from the software-pack. Though nothing stops you using that key and media however you wish.

    A full Windows license is about the same as the OEM nowadays. It's like 99 USD on Amazon. Plus the Windows 8 (not 8.1) OEM had the personal use clause, which you can move if you have bought it for a previous build. But it's more a hint at unlicensed and pirated OS I guess. I'm pretty sure you violate the copyright too if you have not gained a proper license. Though that is a mix of criminal and civil case for the most part. Unless you distribute copies there won't be much they can or will do any way.
    Reply
  • cpy - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    You fail Walton! I can get Windows 8.1 PRO for 17EUR! G2A ftw! I don't even have to pirate this crap! Yeah well steam os gaming ftw and you're free. Reply
  • bountygiver - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Should be titled "Upgrade your decade old PC with a more updated hardware for just $400", so you can use your old kb/mouse/monitor. Reply
  • jjj - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    It's crazy to include a 1TB drive, you got to look at price per TB and 1TB drives are not efficient when it comes to that because of the platter size (hen it comes to hybrid or notebook drives ofc ideal sizes are different). Paying 55$ for 1TB really doesn't make any sense when you can get far better value with bigger drives. Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    But why get 2TB if you're never even gonna fill it with 500GB of data. While shaving 20$ may not make the hdd price/gb king anymore but the money can be better spent elswere (better mobo, psu, cpu etc..) Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    If this was a $750/1000 build I'd agree; but this is a how low can you go build. The HDD isn't the only place where $20 or $30 more would give a significant benefit to one cost/benefit stat; but if you did that everywhere the entire build would cost half again as much. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Dude, it's a $400 build. It's well below the optimum performance/capacity per dollar system budget. Every $ counts here, so even though a 1 TB drive might not be worth it from a price per GB standpoint, the absolute price still makes it better for this budget. If you're doing a something like a $400 build you're not going to be getting to best bang for your buck, this has been shown time and again. Reply
  • Da W - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    If i just want a decent HTPC with low power, low noise and decent integrated graphic - gaming by streaming from my big PC, A10 is the way to go. Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Why would anyone buy 2 core APU/Athlon (especially on a 500$ or less budget) is beyond me. Shave a couple of bucks on PSU, a cheaper board (A88X really isn't needed), 4GB of ram (can always be added at a later time and ram is overly expensive nowdays anway) and with all that money saved one can get easily a better CPU (Athloh x4 is a pretty good choice nowdays) and a lowend gpu (250X or 260X for example).

    Again with intel build. H97 board really isn't needed, let alone 8GB of ram. With money saved, one could easily fit a pentium or even i3 in the build.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link


    I bought a G3258 PentiumK, it was on offer. Dual-use HTPC that can handle
    moderate gaming though, and general 3D like Google Earth at 4K, so it'll
    likely have a GTX 750 Ti. Mbd is an ASUS Z97I-Plus, very nice board. PSU
    is a BeQuiet 350W SFX, black Silverstone Sugo SG05BB-Lite case. Same
    stuff but with an H97 would be quite decent for most users.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • feeblegoat - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/fgBwyc
    Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/fgBwyc/by_merchant/

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($69.99 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: MSI H81M-P33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($48.38 @ Newegg)
    Memory: A-Data XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($72.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($58.00 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 1GB Video Card ($89.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: NZXT Source 210 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.78 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $399.12
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-01 15:59 EDT-040

    I know gaming isn't the only criterion, but... I still like to push the performance envelope.
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    What's the use case?

    A dirt cheap gaming build could skip the ssd, get less expensive motherboards and cases, and get a better processor/gpu.

    An office pc may not need the hard disk (ssd only) and probably could have a much smaller case.

    A cheap nas pc wouldn't need the SSD but would want multiple WD Red's (or similiar) and a case with good drive cooling and accessibility.

    An HTPC would be quiet, small, low power, and depending where the media files are stored, would either want way more storage or could just use the ssd or a small disk. Might need good wifi.

    It just seems to me you can buy a basic 'all around' pc cheaper, from dell or asus or hp, including windows. If you're on a tight budget and have a specific need, then you cater to that need as I outlined above.

    I generally like your articles, I'm hoping this can be seen as constructive feedback.
    Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    I agree. I just bought an Inspiron 2 weeks ago from Dell, with G3220, 1 TB HDD, Win 8, Mouse + Keyboard, WLAN + BT and DVD Burner for $309 which is even more budget and has more features and a Windows license. Heck, I could even take the difference, add the SSD and a discrete GPU and end up with a much better system with warranty, OS and less hassle at the same price. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    At this price point an oem box is almost always a better buy for general computing use (IIRC Arstechnica's cheapest build guides explicitly note this); but there're always people who'd rather build anyway. Build vs buy for office/web/gaming PC generally doesn't swing strongly in favor of build in cost terms until you get upward of $1k because you've moved far enough up the feature scale that you're moving into configurations with upgrades that are marked up significantly to cover the R&D/marketing/etc costs that race to the bottom boxes have no margin to fund. Reply
  • Beany2013 - Sunday, August 03, 2014 - link

    Working in the retail space, I can confirm that there is no margin in building anything other than serious, serious workstations - and we're talking dual CPU stuff here in chassis that can handle a dozen drives for video production at 4k here, rather than just something with an i7 in it.

    Even gaming builds are contentious thanks to warranty claims being a PITA, unless you exclusively do nothing but that class of build and so can afford to swap the part out with existing stock (As you'll have a dozen GTX 760s floating around - most retail shops don't) and worry about getting the stock back later.

    That said, even though I can get these OEM systems cheap (as I say, I work in retail and know the margins ;-) ) I still build my own. There is a certain satisfaction in having a machine that's near silent at full load because you put a *proper* air cooler on it, etc.
    Reply
  • Evil_Sheep - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    "What's the use case?"

    This is the main question on my mind too. Let's be honest, if you]re reading Anandtech you're almost surely in the market for something more powerful. And if you're building a PC for basic usage, as others have pointed out, you'd almost surely obtain better value from an OEM. Like you're spending $100 on a Windows license which is 20% of the budget, whereas you can't compete with the OEM's who are buying bulk MS licenses at discount. Not to mention the warranty which would surely be useful for the basic user.

    The real question is who is in the market for this kind of basic desktop these days? The concept is almost as obsolete as floppy drives. For a lot of basic users, these days frankly I'd just point them to an iPad.
    Reply
  • Bobsy - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Great article, thank you. I have many friends and relatives in need of a cheap PC upgrade and your suggestions come at the right time. Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    If they have specific budget and needs (gaming, office, editing) you can get a far better build if you look around reddit.com/r/buildapc

    this build really don't make much sense to be honest
    Reply
  • gicetifaf - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Huh. The Intel build doesn't make much sense. Why 8GB? You'll be bottlenecked like heck with that CPU, and the total amount of RAM is going to be your last concern using the Celeron.

    I'd change the Celeron for a Pentium G3258 along with a H81M-P33 ($45). You get a more powerful CPU which is overclockable, a microITX (always a plus) motherboard and the MB itself is half the price of the one you've got there... while making for a more sensible build overall.

    Also why get a costlier case for the Intel? Is that just to make the Intel build cost as much as the AMD?

    I love AnandTech (been a lurker for years), but these builds don't make much sense, really.
    Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Sadly, you'll have a bad time overclocking with that mobo. Reply
  • gicetifaf - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    That's true, you won't reach the CPU's max potential, but you can still squeeze a bit of free performance out of your CPU and the mobo is cheap as dirt, which I guess is the point of the entire article here? Reply
  • jaydee - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    He was trying to point out nicely, that you cannot overclock at all without a Z-series mobo. H81 chipset won't overclock you at all. Reply
  • Dirk_Funk - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pentium-g3258-...

    Actually, with a BIOS update, you definitely can. And with a stock cooler, at that!

    And just because I'm sure everyone who read this immedietely went and tried to beat this build like I did: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/NhDGbv DAT FPS/DOLLAR
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    If that's typical of THG's current writing, they've really gone to hell since I last visited. Both in the garish buy links making the whole page look like an ad; and in not going into any detail about the H81 OCing. From reading the p1 text, I got the impression that MSI was selling boards that did something Intel's market segmenting said wasn't allowed out of the box. (At which point, my question was "how sure are they that Intel won't cut them off in punishment?"). Your comment here about needing a BIOS update puts a somewhat different spin on it: Is this an official bios update for the board? A bios hacked by a 3rd party? A bios for a similar z87 board that just happens to work? Something else entirely? Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    MSI never posted those bioses officially (i believe those bioses were"leaked"). And even then you're with an unofficial bios, that those extra features can be axed at any time with a future update, not to mention very poor power delivery (2+1 phase is really just good enough for stock and not for a overclocked cpu). It may work, but without heasinks, stability is questionable. Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link


    Not necessarily, one doesn't need a top-end board to run the G3258 at a decent speed
    even with the stock cooler. Indeed, toms used that very combination (G3258, H81M-P33,
    stock cooler) to reach 4.4GHz @ 1.275V, at which it consistently beats an oc'd 750K.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • hojnikb - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    In heavily threaded games, you're gonna have a much nicer experience with an overclocked 750K vs pentiumK overclocked. Reply
  • iLovefloss - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Really depends on your build. If you get a graphics card, then the Pentium-K will outperform any Kavari APU 10 times out of 10. If you're limiting yourself to iGPU, the opposite is true. Reply
  • hojnikb - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    750K will outperform pentiumK when thing get CPU limited. I wans't talking about apu, since athlon is gpuless Reply
  • iLovefloss - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    A Celeron is plenty powerful for a low-end budget build. Bottlenecked my ass. A Haswell Celeron should be at least as powerful as a Richland A8 APU, and even a Trinity A6 is perfectly fine for desktop usage. Even in gaming, you'll need a midrange card to bottleneck a Ivy-Bridge or Haswell desktop Celeron.

    I feel you're seriously overestimating you'd be doing with this type of build or underestimating what you can do with a Celeron. The only thing wrong with a Celeron is that it comes with a Pentium-grade iGPU, so it'll be worse than a similarly priced APU at gaming.

    I, of course, agree with you that the motherboard selections (for both builds) are a bit extravagant for the purposes of these builds. B85 and H81 motherboards would be better for the Intel build, and AMD could go with something cheaper, too. I guess they wanted decent overall motherboards for upgrade purposes? I do want to point out that the H81M-P33 is closer to $50 and is a mATX board instead of microITX.

    I guess you could give up the 8GB of RAM for 4GB (though 8GB would still be useful for a Celeron) since you have a SSD. However, I can see the logic behind that extra 4GB: iGPUs benefit from dual channel, and 8GB of RAM will deal nicely with memory hungry programs.
    Reply
  • gicetifaf - Monday, August 04, 2014 - link

    We're obviously not talking about doing just Facebook and Office here. Otherwise we would not have seen SSDs an H97 in the original article. They were probably thinking of a super-cheap mid-range PC on which you can do some gaming too. Reply
  • drzzz - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    And a little research gets you this system from Tigerdirect for only 16 more than the intel build.

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTool...

    So I don't see these builds as reasonable at all. Can get a much better system from equal pricing.
    Reply
  • HangFire - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    That system has a crap power supply and a uATX M/B, and no SSD. This build has a Seasonic, an SSD and a full sized ATX board. So "better" is a matter of opinion. I'd rather have the build in the article. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    For low end budget builds full ATX is pointless. Unless you're going to go SLI/xFire or need a lot of expansion cards you lose nothing except a few inches with mATX. (You can do 2 GPUs on mATX; but it's easier to keep them cool if more widely spaced). If the price target was a bit higher I'd recommend mITX for any IGP only build (and recommend considering it for non high end dGPU builds as well); but mITX still sells at a slight price premium (sadly) and doesn't really belong in a how low can you go build. Reply
  • drzzz - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Not sure I would call Thermaltake power supplies crap. A 128GB ssd is small and an ssd can be added later if you really want one. Getting the system loaded with everything is important. If you fill up the ssd was it really the best option for the cost. Point was that a decent system with more CPU power and storage was available at roughly the same price point. I personally don't buy Celeron CPU's when i3 CPU's are not that much more expensive. Reply
  • wpcoe - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    The GIGABYTE GA-H97M-D3H in the article is a uATX motherboard. Reply
  • HangFire - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    ... and the board used to build the as-priced system is an ATX, the MSI A88X-G41. Reply
  • iLovefloss - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    I wouldn't consider that system if not only because of that PSU. Anything that can't even obtain 80 Plus efficiency is pretty bad and liable to destroy your system.

    Your system also comes with i3 instead of APU and does not include a SSD. A Kaveri or Richland APU can do light gaming better than any Intel CPU at this price range.

    But even still, if you drop the SSD from the build, the build prices drop to around ~$350. That's not bad. You can also get a slightly cheaper motherboard for both and cut the price down by maybe $10. So, for accurate comparison, you can pay $90 ($70 after rebate) more for what is possibly a worse build.
    Reply
  • iLovefloss - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    You can probably find a decent barebones computer for around this price, but you're not going to get much better than this or get optimal components.

    If you want a gaming computer, your best bet would be to buy a refurbished computer from an outlet store and drop in a R7 240, R7 250, or GTX 750 in it. It'll do fine as long as it has an Ivy Bridge processor (Pentium and Up) or newer in it.

    Of course, you may not be able to get a decent a setup that way.
    Reply
  • jardows2 - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    Your statement "Anything that can't even obtain 80 Plus efficiency is pretty bad and liable to destroy your system" is way off. There are plenty of quality power supplies that do not reach the efficiency of 80 plus, but they certainly won't destroy the system.

    Otherwise, I guess I'm just lucky with the 100's of computers I built before 80 plus was around that have never once had a PS failure, or the dozens of computers I've built since that have been running for 3+ years without issue on non-80 Plus power supplies.
    Reply
  • iLovefloss - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    Yes, at this point in time, you do not want something that can't hit 80% efficiency. It speaks to bad design. Especially since even a decent PSU can be found for around $25 USD . I wouldn't trust anything that couldn't hit that 80 Plus efficiency standard without an extensive review telling me it is otherwise safe. I've known too many computers killed by cheapass PSUs that skipped some vital components.

    If I'm building a budget system, I wouldn't want to take that gamble. Shit, there's a reason why my system is on a budget in the first place, no?
    Reply
  • HangFire - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    I avoid Thermaltake because I had one and after 3 years it blew and took out my 1 year old motherboard. I'm sure it's possible to make a good power supply that's not 80+ rated; but it's much harder to make one that is rated and is bad. Reply
  • FITCamaro - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Drop the SSD and get a better CPU. In a budget system you can wait a few extra seconds for things to load. I'd rather have more processing power or a dedicated GPU. Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    I have to disagree. The SSD is going to make a bigger difference in general usage than a slightly better CPU. If you want to game somewhat seriously then of course a dedicated GPU would make sense, but then this isn't specifically about gaming. And I still wouldn't recommend even a budget gaming build that depends on a spinning disk nowadays when you can get a 128GB SSD for 60 bucks. Reply
  • Beany2013 - Sunday, August 03, 2014 - link

    Kyuu is correct.

    A Core2Duo at 2ghz with an SSD will walk all over a midrange i3/low end i5 with a normal HDD in all the metrics that matter - boot time, application load, OS response, application switching, etc. The only place it slows down is CPU intensive stuff, but you've saved that time *everywhere else*.

    I've got a 2008 Macbook with an SSD and it's quicker than pretty much anything with a HDD in it - and it's six years old. It regularly runs three or four browsers (all for different tasks), two Mail accounts, each with 1000's of emails each, a database client, a few terminals, and a freaking Windows 7 VM without a hiccup. With the old HDD in it that was an exercise in patience. That workload is never going to be super-zippy on a Core2, but the performance is perfectly adequate in every respect when you give it an SSD to run on.

    SSDs are so cheap now that if you have a system based around Core architecture (anything from Core2 or it's AMD equivalent) then swapping out the boot drive for an SSD will make it feel like a new machine, and will give you more of a difference than swapping the guts out for something quicker/newer in most cases (unless you only chase benchmark results, natch). And even if it makes little difference (highly unlikely) you can add the SSD to your new mobo/cpu/RAM and have something stonkingly quick.

    It's not just waiting a few seconds for something to load - it's a few hundredths of a second for *everything* to respond, every time you have a disk hit. And if you look at how many disk hits a modern OS has over the course of it's working day, you'll quickly work out why that matters.
    Reply
  • Peroxyde - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Dear experts,

    Can you please advise me the CPU to build a NAS server? I have already most of the parts, the only thing missing is CPU (must be x86 64 bits) & Mobo (must have SATAs, non-ECC DDR3). The most important criteria for me is low consumption, low noise, good quality parts.

    The goal is mainly to have fun and learn to build myself a NAS server. Thinking of NAS4Free or OpenMediaVault. But have no idea. If you have experience building your own linux NAS server, I would also appreciate some guidances too.

    Thanks in advance.
    Reply
  • britjh22 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    I have a very basic FreeNas build I am currently running on an old AM3 Athlon X3 setup, seems to be plenty. Are you just using it for storage/remote access, or are you using Plex or the like, that seems to be the biggest determinant for how much CPU power you need. Reply
  • Peroxyde - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Hi,

    Main goal is a file server. Occasionally browsing the web and playing some videos as the server sits in front of the TV. Never used Plex Server, I probably don't need it. It would be easy for me to buy an i3 or i5, but for the challenge, I'd like something low energy and yet still fulfill the job.
    Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    You will definitely want something *with* ECC for your NAS. There're several options but if you want to have lowest possible power consumption there's something like the Intel Xeon E3-1230L v3 and of course Intel C chipset.

    If you really don't care then just get whatever flies of the shelf cheapest in terms of consumer technologies and get some RAID controller instead, however that takes the possibility of running a BSD based NAS with ZFS because then the RAID controller will be mostly useless...
    Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    That's a pretty far cry from "the best you can do under $500. This leaves so many more upgrade options, you could put in an R7 265 or 270x with this PSU and case. Which wouldn't be bottlenecked by the CPU since I didn't use a fucking Celeron. If you own an external hdd or use a NAS you can ditch the internal mechanical disk and save money or upgrade something else.

    Your choice of CPU, memory, PSU and especially SSD are truly troubling. For $40 more I doubled your SSD capacity, gave you something twice as fast with twice as high an MTBF. Seriously, did you even try?

    [PCPartPicker part list](http://pcpartpicker.com/p/QxxXJx) / [Price breakdown by merchant](http://pcpartpicker.com/p/QxxXJx/by_merchant/)

    Type|Item|Price
    :----|:----|:----
    **CPU** | [Intel Core i3-4150 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80646i341... | $117.00 @ Newegg
    **Motherboard** | [MSI H81M-E33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/msi-motherboard-h81me... | $44.99 @ Micro Center
    **Memory** | [Crucial Ballistix 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/crucial-memory-blt8g3... | $79.99 @ Newegg
    **Storage** | [Mushkin Chronos 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/mushkin-internal-hard... | $99.99 @ Newegg
    **Storage** | [Western Digital WD Green 2TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/western-digital-inter... | $81.69 @ Amazon
    **Case** | [Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 MicroATX Mid Tower Case](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/fractal-design-case-f... | $19.99 @ Newegg
    **Power Supply** | [Corsair CX 430W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-power-supply-... | $24.99 @ Newegg
    | | **Total**
    | Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available | $468.64
    | Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-01 17:48 EDT-0400 |
    Reply
  • iLovefloss - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    One thing you got to remember is that AnandTech only use NewEgg for prices, and they specifically choose not to include prices after rebate (except for the Carbide which they did to artificially inflate the price of the Intel build/a Pentium would've been a better choice).

    If you ignore rebates (since you can't be sure you'd get them) and promos (which may be over when you decide to buy) while only using NewEgg, your build would be around $535 USD. If you keep the rebates, your build would be $500. Now, your build is definitely better, but you'd be paying almost $100 more for it. That's a huge increase that won't matter to someone just looking for a budget computer that can do all kinds of things (and maybe game on the side).

    You could still get around to AnandTech's build's price if you drop the SSD and HDD down to ~120GB and 1TB respectively if you include rebates. If you're not including rebates, you could opt for a Pentium-K instead or buy an equivalent AMD APU/motherboard setup.
    Reply
  • Hector2 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    After my Apple II in 1980, I switched to IBM-compatibles because I'm an engineer and PCs were much cheaper and much more widely used in the tech industry. I started building my own in the early '90s for myself & family and friends because the OS was basically free then (by copying) and the markups were so big. Once desktops got under $800 and I couldn't just use a Windows copy, it's always been cheaper to buy than to build your own. It hasn't changed. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    At this price point, you would be better off to just get a prebuilt unless you have a copy of windows that you can use. For around 450.00 you can get a Haswell i3 system that would be superior by far in cpu performance to either of these, and if you want to game you could still add a 100.00 card and be close to the budget. Reply
  • Computer Bottleneck - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Nice Article! Thank you! Reply
  • hiitsroby - Friday, August 01, 2014 - link

    Really? was someone actually paid to write this sub-par article?

    [PCPartPicker part list](http://pcpartpicker.com/p/6mLzhM) / [Price breakdown by merchant](http://pcpartpicker.com/p/6mLzhM/by_merchant/)

    Type|Item|Price
    :----|:----|:----
    **CPU** | [Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80646g325... | $69.99 @ Newegg
    **Motherboard** | [MSI Z97 PC MATE ATX LGA1150 Motherboard](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/msi-motherboard-z97pc... | $99.99 @ Newegg
    **Memory** | [Crucial 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/crucial-memory-ct5126... | $37.99 @ Amazon
    **Storage** | [Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB 2.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/seagate-internal-hard... | $39.95 @ Mwave
    **Video Card** | [MSI Radeon R7 260X 2GB Video Card](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/msi-video-card-r7260x... | $119.99 @ Newegg
    **Case** | [Logisys CS369BK ATX Mid Tower Case w/480W Power Supply](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/logisys-case-cs369bk) | $40.16 @ NCIX US
    **Operating System** | [Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Full (32/64-bit)](http://pcpartpicker.com/part/microsoft-os-glc00182... | $15.00
    | | **Total**
    | Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available | $403.07
    | Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-31 23:34 EDT-0400 |

    [4gb vs 8GB ram for gaming benchmark](http://www.techbuyersguru.com/RAMgaming.php)

    [pentium G3258 gaming benchmarks](http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pentium-g3258-...])

    [r7 260x DX11 Ultra benchmarks](http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/radeon_r7_260...

    [second set of bechmarks for r7 260x](http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/5917/visiontek-ra...
    ~~to purchase windows OS keys for 15$ used in build~~ reddit.com/r/softwareswap
    Reply
  • buffhr - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    Not sure where you found the os for 15$ cheapest I can find on pcpartpicker is $89.98 Reply
  • iLovefloss - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    These build aren't specifically for gaming. No one would switch out a SSD and 1TB drive for a single 500GB Seagate if they weren't trying to squeeze every ounce of gaming performance out of their budget.

    The RAM thing is a quality of life, and yes, you could get away with a more expensive CPU and a dedicated graphics card (especially if you were willing to forgo a decent case with a decent PSU).

    Another thing you forgot was that AnandTech limited themselves to NewEgg for their pricing. Your specific build (including combos and your $15 Windows key) would be $500. But even if we adjust your build for NewEgg prices, there would still be a couple of problems!

    For one, all it would take for an extra 500GB of storage is $3.

    Your case and its PSU are still questionable. I would personally recommend someone a cheap Seasonic or Corsair PSU paired with a decent case like the ones featured in the article (or a Fractal Design Core 1000 if you want to be super cheap). If you get the Corsair CX and the Fractal Design Core 1000 (as shown in Hrel's build), you can get an infinitely better case/psu combo for only $5 more (including rebates and promos).

    Also, let's go back to that RAM thing. It may not matter a whole bunch if you're just after game performance, but let me tell you, 4GB on a modern Windows OS sucks when you're doing more than light computer use (unless you have a SSD, but you removed that from your build). It feels cramp. Half the time you're fine, but at other times (especially when gaming and doing something else), you'll be wishing you had more RAM.

    Honestly, if we were doing a gaming focused build (and not limiting ourselves to NewEgg), I'd go for a modified version of Hrel's build and not yours. I'd dump myself down to a 128GB SSD like the MX100 or Ultra Plus while downgrading to a 1TB drive, and then I'd spend my money on a R7 260 or similar card. Instantly better system than yours.
    Reply
  • jabber - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    Alternatively buy a five year old Dell dual Xeon workstation for peanuts on Ebay a kit it out for less and still have twice the power. Probably last longer too. Reply
  • hojnikb - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    And have a piece of ancient history.
    And last time i checked, electricity isn't free :)
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, August 04, 2014 - link

    Carry on with your dull little econo-boxes then.

    And you'll be wanting to swap that econo-box out after a 6 months. Makes electricity costs moot really.
    Reply
  • FriendlyUser - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    Well, I use the Richland A6-6400K for my linux backup server/NAS and I'm quite happy with it. It is much faster than what you'd expect for simple tasks and really feels snappy.

    For what it's worth, there is a newer A6-6420K that has a slightly higher base clock at 4.0 GHz, so if the price is comparable, which it really should be, it's probably a better choice before going quad-core or dGPU.
    Reply
  • Peeping Tom - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    I say don't skimp....just save up even a bit more and you can build a way better system.

    I built a Xeon quad-core with 8GB ECC memory on a SuperMicro motherboard (lots of pro features), Kingston HyperX SSD, NVIDIA GPU, and RAIDMAX case w/PSU for about $600. I probably could've chosen a non-server MB and saved some $$$ or gotten even better value.
    Reply
  • WatcherCK - Saturday, August 02, 2014 - link

    One question, would the AMD build be adequate for a Debian distribution to do some steam client gaming on? Or is the kernel support for AMD still inferior? Phoronix posts on the issue don't paint a rosy picture.

    If you used the difference Jarred left for the OS price could you double your RAM (thinking would be, being able to run a VM for windows if it became an issue, ala Office :)) and add a basic gaming Nvidia card to the Intel system? Linux Mint 17 looks like a reasonable Microsoft replacement according to a recent Ars article. And yes I realise if you want to BF4 then the above build wont work for you but hey try new things right?

    Build prices do vary between countries down under I wish we had access to the same hardware at the newegg prices I see posted on anandtech :/ look at some of the prices on pricespy co nz for an eye opener...
    Reply
  • wumpus - Sunday, August 03, 2014 - link

    "unless you're pirating Windows, you need to buy the OS and that's $100."

    By 2014 you would think people would have heard about open source, and that Microsoft's monopoly isn't as absolute as it would like.

    You need windows if you are playing games (extreme fans of kerbal space program and civilization V wonder why), but you also need far more GPU power than these machines have.
    You need windows (or maybe OSX) if you need Office (and far too often you need Office, LibreOffice just doesn't cut it). Cough up another ~$100.
    You need windows if you job requires Internet Explorer. Presumably your IT department wants to hand out their data to everyone, not just NSA & China.
    You need windows if you need that one piece of software that requires windows. Gods help you if you need to run photoshop lightroom on this hardware. Oddly enough, the one job I had where the company used Linux (the engineering side anyway, marketing and contracts ran macs), I was stuck as the only windows user as there wasn't a Linux port of Altium. Wine might help, but *never* trust wine to run any program correctly.

    The amount of time modern users spend in chrome and/or firefox is shocking. I have to admit, I don't think I would be remotely happy having to learn Linux + mostly new apps for want of $100, but it is a far cry from "you need to buy their OS and cough up ~$100".
    Reply
  • jonkimsr - Tuesday, August 05, 2014 - link

    That's $500 total waste of money. Reply
  • jonkimsr - Tuesday, August 05, 2014 - link

    $450 i5 laptop. Take $50 and buy yourself a steak. Do realize how useless this is. Conclusion should have been Desktop is dead. Love live the iPad.. or i5 stinking laptop.. your pick..

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-15-6-laptop-intel...$pcmcat247400050000&cp=1&lp=8
    Reply

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