$400 dual-core added home pc


Jan 26, 2010
I already have my main machine which is a quad-core, and I have an older P4 2.4ghz running linux for my server apps.


BUDGET RANGE: about $400 +/- plus shipping.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: compiling, synthesizing small FPGAs, some vmware, transcoding video, surfing internet, general tasks, some gaming (but adventure games)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, hard drive

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: don't care? located in US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel dual-core, unless quad-core can be done within budget -- I couldn't do it.

OVERCLOCKING: Not unless it's easy and safe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 or 1600 x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Most mb's should be gig ethernet now, but it's a requirement for machine<------->machine file sharing. Onboard graphics should be good, but want ability to add a video card later if necessary. I like having 6 built-in USB ports. I like the 4 memory slots for 16GB max just in case I want to go 8gb or more. Should I drop the built-in graphics and go with a card? Should I try to get to DDR2 1066? My memory is 5-4-4-15 800mhz now.

Here's my preliminary list from newegg:


Intel Core2 Duo E7500 Wolfdale 2.93GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail


Intel BOXDG43GT LGA 775 Intel G43 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail


OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2P8004GK - Retail


ASUS Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM


Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ,comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, option Fans-2x Side 120mm Fan - Retail


Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

Thanks for any help!!



Aug 15, 2009
Here is an AM3 build from Tecmo34's sticky that seems to meet all your requirements. Since you have the HDD already you could drop the one in this list and switch mobo's to a micro without onboard, and pick up a 4670 or something.

Tecmo34 says:

Non-Gamer: $418.93

* CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX - Retail
* MOBO: ASUS M4A785-M AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
* RAM: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK - Retail
* HSF: None Required
* HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
* PSU: Antec Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ... - Retail
* GPU: None Required - This system will use on the onboard video, since graphic power is not a priority.
* DVD: SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support - OEM
* Case: COOLER MASTER Elite RC-331-KKN1-GP Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
* Thermal Compound: What ever comes with the stock cooler

This build will allow you to play games like On-line Poker or lowend Graphics power games. You shoud be able to play Sims with this PC. Don't plan on running any graphic intensive games with this PC, without upgrades
[Edit] Or stick with the onboard and up the ram to your desired 4gb


Jul 22, 2008
Yeah, some kind of ATI budget card will do you great any of the HD4000 series or HD5000 series should handle all the basics, plus even some gaming and should be great for HD movies.


You shouldn't build around dead-end components (LGA 775 socket and DDR2 RAM). You can easily meet your goals with either an Intel i3 or AMD quad core system. The quad core AMD build would actually be better for video transcoding and other thread optimized tasks.

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103706&cm_re=athlon_ii_x4-_-19-103-706-_-Product $95.99

ASUS M4A785T-M/CSM AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131609&cm_re=asus_785g_am3-_-13-131-609-_-Product $84.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231277&cm_re=g.skill_ddr3_4gb-_-20-231-277-_-Product $93.99

LG Black 24X SATA DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136177&Tpk=lg%2024x%20sata $27.99

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.315685 $99.98 (Case + PSU combo)

Total - $402.94

If you have to have an Intel chip you could swap out the CPU and motherboard for this combo:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.320157 $201.98 (Intel Core i3-530 + Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H combo)

I know the board only has two RAM slots, but 4GB is plenty of RAM for the foreseeable future. If you still think you need four RAM slots, here's a slightly more expensive combo with a motherboard that has four RAM slots:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.320161 $214.98 (Intel i3-530 + Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H combo)

Edit: Here's another combo you could consider if price is the main concern:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.320158 $173.98 (Intel Pentium G6950 + Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H combo)


Jan 26, 2010
Thanks guys for the reply.

I'm leaning towards the Intel i3 solution. I really don't know enough about these processors to make a call between the AMD X4 and the i3's. I know AMD used to rule the roost a few years ago, but then Intel caught back up and overtook them. But I see AMD X4 620 builds everywhere..... Upgrade path from i3 to i7 seems already laid out.

Can I please have a recommendation on an i3 mobo like the GA-H55M-UD2H that doesn't have onboard video? It seems the prices actually go UP when I remove the video. That seems backwards to me?




Jan 26, 2010
I'm worse than a woman --- I keep changing my mind. :)

Do you think the onboard video is comparable to using a cheap video card ? If there is not much difference, then I'll go OBV.

I'm definitely not a game player -- never played any of the 3rd person shooters or have a desire to. However, I do play semi-recent adventure games, and want to make sure I've got enough GPU to handle them.

And obviously, I've got the PCI 2.0 x16 slot if I ever need to upgrade.........


Jan 26, 2010
So I built this machine today, first build from scratch. I've upgraded a bunch of machines and worked w/ them for 20yrs+, so I'm no stranger inside a PC case.

If my previous messages weren't clear, I ended up building the i3-350 machine w/ gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H mb.

Some build notes:

1. Way easier than I thought-- I don't know if all components are like this, but everything was labeled extremely well, the manuals for the products were clear, and to the point, and a lot of thought has gone into product design. The cables are all the right length (maybe a touch long), and everything just fits together nicely.

2. Antec 300 case has a good build quality. It feels nice and sturdy. The 140mm and 130mm fans are large and quiet, and come w/ low, medium, high switch for fan speed. There's room for 3 other 120mm fans, 2 in front of HD bays, one on side of case.

3. This has like 293849238 hard drives bays. Ok, maybe 6? That's awesome.

4. Even though the standoffs are set to the optimum places, the large power connector is on the edge of the board. This causes the motherboard to flex a little further than I would like. I could seriously see someone snapping the PCB. I'm not sure if this is normal for a microatx in a microatx/atx case, but it's uncomfortable.

5. I can't believe that itty bitty tiny lightweight thing is the darn microprocessor. I almost thought that I got jipped and Intel forgot to put the processor in the box. The cpu fan by comparison is much much larger.

6. The LG drive recommended is just plain loud. It sounds horrible when the drive is being accessed. I might RMA it. I'll put the sides back on the case. If it's still noisy, it goes back. Any recommendation for a high quality dvd burner?

7. Is cabling inside the PC an artform or what?

8. PC booted the first time, live centos CD brought me straight to a desktop.

I don't know if anyone maintains compatibility lists, but I'd be happy to add these data points if it helps.

This has got be an FAQ :

Is there some diagnostic software I can run to do basic sanity checks on the machine? Or maybe run benchmarks? I'm looking to find bad ram, DOA hardware, and that type of thing. I guess preferably debian linux based, but windows xp or whatever could work in a pinch.


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