Please help - advice on building new cheap computer


Jul 21, 2009
Hello one and all,

I have a got a really old computer and have started to notice a few problems in terms of speed.

I would like to buy a really high spec computer but, in light of the new i5 coming out, I shall be waiting until next year now for

reviews on the CPU and the new mobos.

I have decided to build a budget computer for the time being and then plug it up to my 40" LCD in my living room once I buy my

top spec computer.

Having scanned the internet and magazines, it seems that AMD offer the best value and have come up with
the following:

Athlon 64 X2 4200+
Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H
Gigabyte GZ-X1
Hard drive for Windows and my progs
DVD-RW - taken from my old computer
1TB Spinpoint (which I keep my music, camcorder footage etc) - taken from old computer
500GB IDE Hitachi Drive for Back up - taken from old computer
Antec Basiq Power 350w ATX

Using the above bits and canabilising bits from old computer, I reckon I can build a fairly good computer to keep me going that

is cheap as chips.

Just a few bits advice would be appreciated:

Q1. Will the power supply be good enough for all this? and some upgrading in the future?
Q2. The CPU is the lowest spec dual core - would it be cost effective to get something a little better?
Q3. I would like the ability to upgrade bits as time goes one. I really do not understand how the AMD chips are named. I know

that the MOBO supports AMD2+ - what CPUs could I upgrade to in the future?
Q4. What speed of RAM should I get - noted that they range from DDR2-400 to DDR2-1066. Obviously, the fast it gets, the

more expensive, but what is the recommended speed, without being a waste on my board, and would be good for my situation
Q5. Have no idea which HDD to use for windows and my programmes. Not only do you have to consider brands, but also cache

size and size. Would anyone recommend anything in particular? One thing that concerns me that only the biggest drives have

the big cache, but then would a big cache necessarily help with a modest build? Also, would a huge drive then be wasteful as I

am unlikely to stick masses of programmes on it and I read that system drives should be kept small
Q6. As my back up drive and RW are ide, I was thinking of using round shielded cables instead of the usual ribbon ones - is this

a good idea?

As you can probably tell, this is the first computer for which I have had to choose the bits for myself and your help would be

great. Hopefully I can learn some stuff before I have to build a fast one next year.



Feb 9, 2009
wouldn't it make more sense to put that money towards an LGA1156 build since they come out in September and the i5 750 is one CPU out of three that come out for that socket in September, the other two are i7's.


Jul 13, 2009
The AMD Chips are all backward compatible so you could upgrade as high as you want for the time being. The AM3 just gives you DDR3 ram. Since there is only a 20$ difference between a 4200 and a 7850 i would go with the 7850.

Power supplies are something that you really dont want to cheap out on considering if they fail they can destroy your whole rig. If you plan on keeping this computer for any amount of time i would go with at lease a 80 plus certified name brand psu and i wouldn't go less than 500w no matter what you are putting in it for a little upgrading room. This would probably do it but if you put in a modern graphics card you will want more power.

Ram is easy for a low budget, but if you are using a 32-bit system you are only going to use 3.5 anyway so i would just get a cheap set of 2 gigs of 800 DDR2.

Hard drives really have very little to do with performance, but as with psu's you should get a good brand for reliability. I like western digital but seagate and others are fine. Hitachi seems to have some problems but it just depends on who you talk to. Hard drive cache isn't really that important when considering price but the digger the better just like anything but it's just what you intend to use it for. If it is just for programs and windows a 320gb will be more than enough but if you get into moves and music you should look at 1tb. They are pretty cheap now so you can always use more space.

Cables don't really matter but shielded are a good idea for audio. Just keep data and power cable separate in the case. Wrapping your cables is always a good idea.

If you plan on using this on your tv then you will still want a low level graphics card. The on board are really only good for youtube. If your going to watch movies on this then a fanless solution is the only way to go. ATI is really the only choice if it is cheap your going for. This is a 4550 and will play blueray pretty good but if you are going to do any gaming you will need a 4670 at least but the 3870 is a similar price and does a little better in a few games but it has had a few driver issues with OpenGL specific games. You might have to read some reviews on what you play.

Hope that helps.


Jul 21, 2009
Thanks v much for the advice. This machine is going to go in the living room eventually, so it doesn't have to be super fast. Budget, I suppose £350 absolute maximum.

I have had a look round and come up with Antec 300, AMD 7850 Black edition and perhaps an Antec - 450VX (I have heard that PSUs are the one thing that you do not want to scrimp on!) any comments would be much appreciated.