First Build - Graphic Design/Minor Gaming


Nov 30, 2012
I'm trying to put together a graphic design/digital art/minor gaming system for under $500. (I know, I'm asking a lot for a small budget =/ ) This will be my first ever build, I have no prior experience.

Replacing a very obsolete system (1 gig of ram, a cd doesn't even burn cds only reads...has a floppy drive..., AMD Athlon XP 2800+ 2.08 GHz, not enough hard drive space. S L O W and growls like Chewbacca......)

I'm a HEAVY multi-tasker. It's not uncommon for me to have multiple BIG (sometimes 600+ mb) documents open on photoshop, paint tool sai, 20 something tabs open on chrome, music going, etc. I would like it to run the Sims 3 and all its expansion packs at full settings. :p

ADOBE Creative Suite System Requirements:

Approximate Purchase Date: Before end of year.
Budget Range: $400-500,
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Graphic Design Work (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc), Heavy internet multitasking (20+ tabs), minor gaming (The Sims 3, emulation,), small video editing projects (Sony Vegas), small 3D studio max projects

Parts to Upgrade: Everything except video card, PSU, and monitor. I have a gently used 4 yr old Sapphire ATI Radeon 4830, and a

Antec True Power Trip 650 Watt PSU Model #: TP3-650 Copyright dated 2006

Trying to save money by using these hand-me-downs. Will consider new parts if within budget though.
Do you need to buy OS: Maybe. Undecided between Win 7 or 8
Your Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024
SLI or Crossfire: What's this?
Overclocking: Don't know how lol...

Current Build

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ965FBGMBOX - $84.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL -$39.99

GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 AM3+ AMD 990FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - $144.99 (This used to be $109.99 =/ I might have to find something cheaper... )

(2 of these) Western Digital WD Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $109.99 each x 2 = $219.98

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $59.99

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk – OEM $19.99

Current total cost on newegg: $569.93


I'm over budget. The 2 hard drives and mobo are $$$$. I know there's cheaper drives, but I can't afford to lose artwork. Are these good drives? Can I go cheaper on anything? Are these parts all compatible? Am I missing anything? Any better builds?

The 2006 PSU + 4 yr old Video/Graphics Card. PSU's old, wires look like medusa's head. I'm worried about it not fitting well and causing issues. Will the Sapphire ATI Radeon 4830 be enough for my needs?

Longevity. With adobe updating its creative suite every year or so, I want my computer be able to handle future versions.

Noise: This computer will be in my room and I will most likely leave it on even at night.

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at this, I truly appreciate any input.

Azn Cracker

I think you should consider amd's new cpus
Cpu its much better than the phenom you chose. No point in buying outdated technology.


good enough unless you need those extra pci-e ports (you don't)


Your main killer on budget is those 2 WD black drives. Do you really need those? Why dont you get 2 regular hard drives and put them into raid? The blacks are not that much faster. Not worth it imo.
(I just reread your post and just wanted to let you know, the WD blacks are not more reliable, they are just faster)
Try 2 of these instead:


If you can keep that psu because your new build will not be power hungry. if not any budget one is fine like this corsair one. But if you plug you old card back in, i think it will still work.

GPU: I would recommend a new graphics card, but it would be over your budget.
But here one if you change your mind

Good lux!

EDIT: I edited this post many times. hopefully you didnt get confused as i added more stuff. or maybe you haven't read it yet lol


Nov 2, 2012
Azn's right on the money here. Don't go with the Phenom. I thought of it myself, for gaming, but especially for multi-tasking and heavily-threaded applications (as your photo editing+music+3D projects). You won't save much money and it's not even as fast as a dual-core i3 (Ivy or Sandy bridge). To make it simple, the communication between the cores themselves and between the cores and the rest of the system isn't fast enough with a Phenom.

I never repeat what's previously said if I agree, but I think that you can't stress enough on that, you might've spent most of your researches on that CPU...

Oh and if you read between the lines, then you'll see that I agree with Azn Cracker on everything ;-) (bought an i3-3220 and an H77 mobo, though, and wouldn't go back to AMD, but that's just my opinion, not a real advice!)


Nov 30, 2012
Thanks AZN & darkmonk for your input! Yeah I guess I should consider a different CPU. I just saw AMD Phenom on Adobe creative suite's system requirements and also saw lots of positive reviews for it on newegg so that's what drew me to it XD.

As for the hard drives, I did neglect to mention that space is also pretty important to me. I'll already be carting over maybe 500 gb of data from my old computer to these new drives, some of which I'll want backed up on my second drive. Plus knowing me, I could easily consume 2 tb especially if over the say 4-5 years that I'll probably have this computer.

Phew that's quite a big lookin GPU XD I'll keep it in mind! Thanks again for all the recommendations. I'm going to read into these a little more :D

If anyone has anything else to add, go for it, keep it coming! I could use all the advice I can get XD


Dec 4, 2012
the new series of Adobe's Creative Suite allows you to turn on GPU acceleration, increasing the performance using your graphics card to display the pixels instead of only your CPU.. so dropping for a new GPU as stated might be a good idea..

Also, if you don't mind slower boot times and slower file read/writes and really need a 2TB HDD, then opting for one 2TB HDD would be a bit cheaper.

$98 Seagate 2TB 7200RPM (have a version of this for 4 years now, still gets average read/writes of 85MB/s and 130MB/s brand new)

This would let you buy a 30% faster AMD Piledriver processor that according to CPU Benchmarks are on par with a new Sandy Bridge i7-2600

$165 AMD FX-8320

Do you need to buy OS: if you want to be legal, and don't want to re-use your current HDD and the OS on there, 7 or 8 is just preference. I myself prefer 8 because its new UI works well with my touchscreen and multi-displays
Your Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024 -> should now run 1920x1080 (1080p) no problem
SLI or Crossfire: What's this? run two cards of the same type for up to double the performance (usually for gaming) also requires GOOD COOLING!!
Overclocking: Don't know how lol... Overclocking voids your warranty so be wary, I wouldn't overclock until at least 1 month to make sure that all the parts are functioning properly! The motherboard should have software inside of Windows that automatically tests how fast your CPU is able to go and still be stable. then depending on your GPU, software could be from the brand or NVIDIA/AMD to overclock

PS: If you add your parts to it will automatically find the cheapest vendor from multiple sites :D and subtract rebates and add shipping costs to get you the cheapest possible build. It also lets you save the build so when you buy it, its all in one spot. Also, it shows you the price of your build and if its increasing or decreasing and how its inc/dec over the months!