$800 system - lean, mean, and cheap


Apr 17, 2006
Hey guys, I'm making a new build, I'd appreciate any advice about improving it before I buy any parts. All from Newegg except speakers.

CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail - $160
Cooler - ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - Retail - $32
Thermal Paste - Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - $6
Video Card - SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail - $160
Hard Drive - Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM - $65
Ram - Patriot Viper 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PVS24G6400LLKN - Retail - $32
Sound Card - On-board
Speakers - Logitech Z-4 40 watts 2.1 Speaker - Retail - $58 (Amazon)
Lan - Onboard
CD/DVD - Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD Rewritable Drive Black SATA Model AD-7240S-0B - OEM - $30
Power Supply - APEVIA ATX-CW500WP4 500W ATX Power Supply - Retail - $25
Mobo - ASUS P5Q SE PLUS LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $86
Case - COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $50

Mouse - Logitech MX310 6 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB or PS/2 Wired Optical Mouse - Retail - $25
Keyboard - Logitech 967740-0403 Black USB Standard Internet 350 USB Keyboard - OEM - $10

OS = Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM - $100

TOTAL = $839

I'm using it for everything - games, encoding, watching HD videos, music, web, work, whatever. I will OC the cpu to maybe 3.6ghz. I don't really plan to upgrade it and I just want something for about 2 years before I build a new one of similar price at that point. I think the video card and cpu are a good match for most current games where neither will really bottleneck the other, and upgrading either one without the other also wouldn't make much sense (core i7 is only really unleashed with the $300+ cards).

The mobo is my biggest question mark - I need something that is the mobo equivalent of the E8400 - good bang for the buck, nothing too fancy, but nothing that will slow me down either.

Appreciate any advice, thanks
The only part that is really bad is the PSU, which will need to be changed. You can take my word on it or see the section on PSUs in my guide, stickied at the top of the forum.

However, at this price point and given your usage, you will do better with an AMD X3 720 or X4 940 build.

So let's start with the case/PSU:
Antec 300 and EA500
That's a better cooled case and a quality PSU, together for $110, about as good as you will do.

X3 720 and 790GX board
Quite a deal at $200. The extra core will be great for you and you can overclock easily.

DDR3 4GB 1600
This is a bit faster than you can use on this build, but DDR3 is going to be around for a while so why not buy something that may be useful for longer than DDR2, which is going away.

I should also add that this platform will give you upgrades in the future, where the LGA 775 platform is going away. Very soon now Intel will release i5, the new mainstream CPU/platform.