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Build a Usable Computer from Newegg for $375

August 15th, 2006

Creating a system guide appears to be popular these days, with my favorite guides coming from Ars Technica, The Tech Report, and Anandtech. I thought I’d throw another guide on the net with the main focus being price, with usability and upgradability coming in a close second. Several notes about this guide, everything is from Newegg, because they have a great reputation and ship quickly. No refurbished/open box items are considered, and I have not actually build this machine, these are just parts which look like they would work well together.

  • Motherboard/Video/Sound/Network: ECS C51GM-M Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard – $60
  • Processor/Heatsink/Fan: AMD Sempron 64 2800+ Manila 1600MHz HT Socket AM2 Processor Model SDA2800CNBOX – Retail – $50
  • Memory: OCZ Value Series 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5400) Unbuffered System Memory Model OCZ26671024V – $69 (after $8 MIR)
  • Hard Drive: HITACHI Deskstar T7K250 HDT722516DLA380 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 8 MB Cache Hard Drive (3 Year Warranty) – $54
  • Optical Drive: NEC 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model ND-3550A – Retail – $36 (same price as OEM w/shipping)
  • Case/Power Supply: Antec NSK 4400 Black/Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel construction ATX Mini Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply – $72

Total: $349 + $26 Shipping = $375 ( -$8 mail in rebate)

(read more below the fold to see the reasoning behind my choices)

Motherboard

This is the rug which really ties the system together. With integrated video, sound, and networking the system is ready to go. With 1x PCIe x16 and 2 PCI slots, these can all be upgraded at a future time. The AM2 socket and DDR2 memory is the latest AMD has to offer and will be around a while, unlike Socket A, 754, and 939, which has already been announced as discontinued. The AM2 socket is also nice in that it will accept processors from AMD’s lowest priced single core Sempron to high end dual core Althlon FX. This kind of flexibility is new with the new socket, and should be exploited. Several years from now, drop in a reasonably price Athlon X2 5200+ and have a whole new class of system.This

motherboard represents the lowest price AM2 socket of an NVIDIA chipset available at Newegg. For around $20 more, there are nicer motherboards to choose from, which offer the 6150 chipset, gigabit ethernet, and 4 dimm slots instead of two.

Processor

The Sempron 64 2800+ represents the lowest priced socket AM2 processor available. If there is extra money available for your system, upgrade this first. While it is an adequate processor, another $100 will get you a dual core Athlon X2 3600+, which is in an entirely different league of speed. Watch for dual core processor to continue dropping in price as they compete against Intel.

Memory

Memory choice here is flexible. I picked 1 GB of DDR2 667 for price and upgradablitiy . It is slighly less expensive than DDR2 800, and leaves one DIMM slot open, allowing for a future upgrade of a DIMM without needing to discard any current memory. Two DIMMs can substituted for slightly faster system speed at the same price, but there will be no free slots afterwards.

Hard Drive

Newegg has a nicely spec’d 160 GB SATA drive for a mere $54 (plus $6 shipping). For a few dollars more, pick your favorite brand of hard drive. Just remember to backup, because they all die eventually. While it is running, however, you’ll get SATA 3.0 Gbps transfers and 8 MB Cache, which make this a speedy economy drive. For less than double the price, the Seagate 7200.10 320 GB drive can be found on Newegg, which doubles the space, cache, and add the “perpendicular recording” buzzword to your system.

Optical Drive

I have several NEC 35xx series DVD burners, and they work well. It would be a great drive at twice the price.

Case/Power Supply

The power supply is a crucial part of any system, and is often overlooked. Lockups caused by bad power supplies are more than annoying, they’re almost impossible to troubleshoot. This is especially true if the system locks only once a week or month. At the worst, a bad power supply could permanently damage components. Antec has a great reputation for power supplies and cases, and this combination gives two great pieces at a price difficult to match for the same quality.

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