Need Advice on Super-Tight Budget Build


Dec 15, 2012
My P4 is done. Freezes up all the time, CPU is at 100% use most of the time.

I tried a build before, and had a lot of compatibility issues, so I've done a lot of research, watched the "how to build a computer" videos, etc.

I just do basic computing, no gaming or heavy spreadsheeting. I do email, play online poker, watch some shows online.

I do run a 2 monitor desktop, so I need either 2 DVI outputs, or a DVI and an HDMI.

I have to bring this in for under 400.00

My current computer is an HP DC7100 CMT, with an HP 0968H motherboard. I like the case, and would like to reuse it, if possible, both for savings, and because it is a quality, sturdy case, but I cannot find out if the motherboard and power supply are ATX, or not. I guess I could buy the parts, and if the motherboard and/or power supply don't fit, order a case, but I'd be a lot happier if I knew up front whether I could reuse the case, or not. Can anyone help?

Case And Power Supply: If I can't reuse the case, I'm looking at this case/power supply combo: HEC 6C28BB585 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case w/ ORION XPOWER585 PSU 59.99 + 18.91 shipping. Both the case and the power supply are highly rated. I run two hard drives, and may add a video card at a later date, so I need at least 500 watts, right? Is there a better/less expensive way to go?

Processor: I want to go with an Intel i3, so a few years down the road, I can upgrade to an i7 (or whatever the best processor they develop for the 1155 socket is before it becomes obsolete) when the prices on those fall. Intel Core i-3-3220 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz 119.99 w/ free shipping

Motherboard And Memory: I need both DVI and HDMI outputs, as I want to try the onboard video to run my 2-monitor desktop. I figure if it doesn't work, or doesn't work well, I can always add a video card later. I found this combo with good reviews on both the board and the memory: BIOSTAR TZ77B w/ 8GB (2 x 4 GB) G.SKILL Sniper Memory 109.99 + 7.56 shipping

Optical Drive: LG CD/DVD Burner 24x

Memory Card Reader And 3.5" Floppy: Koutech IO-FPM220 3.5" Floppy Drive & Multi Card Reader

Ethernet Card: I'm not networking my computer, do I even need this? TRENDnet TEG-PCITXR Gigabit Network Adapter 10/100/1000Mbps PCI 1 x RJ45 13.99 w/ free shipping

Hard Drive(s): I'm currently running two Hitachi 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drives: My original plan was to mirror them with RAID, but I run XP, and could never get it right, so I just use one for backups. I still have plenty of space on these drives, so I want to reuse them, mirroring them with RAID. That way, if one dies, all I'll have to do is switch over to the mirrored drive.

OS: I've looked at Windows 8, and really don't like it. However, since I own XP, I can get Windows 8 for 40 bucks, and in searching it, it looks like it's not that hard to make Windows 8 look like Windows 7. I figure I can try 8 for awhile, and if I still hate it, I can make it look/work like 7,

This configuration brings me in at 383.40 (including shipping). If I don't have to buy a case, it would save me 40-50 bucks, depending on the power supply I choose.

Also are the extended warranties on the motherboard (1 year for 14.99), the processor (1 year for 14.99), and the optical drive (1 year for 6.99) worht it?

What I'm looking for is advice on my plan in general, have possible incompatibilities pointed out, and possibly have better (and/or cheaper) choices pointed out.


Looks like a standard ATX mid tower as far as I can tell. Just check to make sure the I/O shield actually comes off and isn't part of the case.

Even if you did want to network your PC, every motherboard nowadays have a NIC built in. Only a wired one though. Not many have wireless ones.

I sincerely doubt you will need a floppy disk drive nowadays, a lot of people don't even use DVD drives anymore.

The Z77 chipset is designed for overclocking which you can't do on the newer i3's, I'd go for the H77 chipset to save money.

If you're going to use integrated graphics, you might as well get the i3-3225. The integrated graphics are a lot better on that version.

Just a few suggestions :)


Dec 15, 2012
Thanks, that's very helpful. Can you advise me on how I can find out id the case on my current HP HP DC7100 CMT, with an HP 0968H motherboard (XU1 processor) is an ATX case, or not?
It looks like one, companies like HP and Dell sometimes make a few minor adjustments though. It's not the sort of thing they would tell you about on the spec sheet so there's not really any way to know. All you can do it look at it/try it.

One other thing, I'd make sure to get a quality PSU. PSU's can cause all kinds of strange issues if you get a cheap one. This one is really solid and unless you plan to add a $300+ graphics card, it has plenty of juice.

(It could easily handle something like a GTX 660/HD 7850 or less. It could technically handle more than that but obviously it's smart to leave a bit of headroom.)