System Builder Marathon, Q3 2013: $350 Bonus Entry-Level PC

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slomo4sho

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Nice choice in parts (unlike their mid/high end counterparts, the low end MSI boards continue to disappoint. Maybe consider Biostar, ECS, or ASRock in future low end builds) . However, those wanting to cheat can pickup a 750K with 7770 within $20-30 of the price of the APU for overall improved gaming performance. It is interesting what $40-50 can accomplish in these low budget builds :)
 

internetlad

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Have to admit, I like where this went. This is a little higher than a similarly priced build I was looking at for my brother in law about a year ago
 

pauldh

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The promo is now back, so the A10-5800K was (for us) and is once again $110 from Newegg no rebates. We can't match that price too easy with HD7750/7770. Although as rolli said $50 after $30 mail-in rebate + a Pentium gets close (AR).


EDIT: My mistake! Actually this is a different promo. A $20 gift card. When we chose this part, the savings instantly removed $20 from the shopping cart total.
 

sicom

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So a $350 PC has better performance than an Xbox 360, and a $400 PC blows it clear out of the water. Cost of operating system not withstanding. I realize this console generation is nearly ancient history by now, but I still find that interesting, and perhaps because it's not ancient history yet.

Note of reference: BF3 plays at 720p @ 30 FPS at about medium'ish settings on 360/PS3.
 

pauldh

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That must be a pretty big cheat. ;) But that pairing sure stymies the 6800K's appeal doesn't it.

You are so right, $40-50 more does wonders. We could make a fun poor man's marathon out of exploring that alone.$400/450/500 gaming faceoff? :D
 

aggroboy

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You're using 2012-2013 components to compare against a 2005 console.
 

itzsnypah

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750K HD7750 4GB RAM and you have much better computer (overall and gaming) for the same price.

750K vs A10-5800K (CPU wise)
The same (except 750K no graphics to cool)

7750 vs 7660D
512 vs 384 shaders
GDDR5 vs DDR3
800Mhz vs 800Mhz

Did you even consider this or did you go into this budget with your heart set on an APU?
 

pauldh

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That's an easy answer. The math simply didn't (and still doesn't) add up.

The cheapest 7750 was $85, the 750K was also $85. That's $170 when the 5800K was $110 with a promo code anyone buying one would have used to save instantly before checking out. The goal was $325 factoring that promotional instant savings.

And as mentioned in the text on page one, a 4GB mem kit saved only $10, meaning 750K+7750 was still $50 over, which is huge on a $325 budget.

Although, I knew before order time playing by the rules we'd call this a $350 PC. Hope that all makes sense.
 

Memnarchon

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The current APU costs $130. And the memory costs $50. Total: $180.
Now if you place an Athlon X4 750K 3,4Ghz for $80 or an Ivybridge Pentium G2120 3,1Ghz $70, using a HD 7770 for $90 and for memory 4GB (2 x 2GB) for $35 it will be total: Intel: $195 ($15 more) and AMD:$205 ($25 more).

Now for $15/$25 you can have double or more performance on games. Why to go with an APU???

edit: I actually read the article and didn't read all the comments.
But even if you choose not to go with 7750, according to Tom's hierrarchy chart the 6670 (even the DDR3 version) is still two tiers faster. And I can't remember even prvious month the 6670DDR3 to cost more than $60 (maybe less with some AR) So a 750K or a G2120 (or a bit lower) will still offer better performance at almost same price (the pentium will be the same price) with 4GB RAM.
 

pauldh

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Memnarchon - read the comment right above yours. The APU fit in budget. None of these other suggestions even came close.

We don't control pricing changes that occur way after ordering parts. BY all means, the story shows a G2120 + HD7750 would deliver twice the fps.

Put it this way. This is similar to us later wondering why you'd chose a certain 750K+7770 configuration today rather than grabbing a Black Friday deal that buys i3+HD 7850 for $10 more. The answer is simple right, that's not the prices/bargains we are dealing with today when trying to place an order.

 

pauldh

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@ Memnarchon :) no problem.

I don't really like the 6670 GDDR3 when priced so similar to HD 7750 ($15 difference iirc). But had this been a gaming build, yes we'd try to fit in discrete. And G2120+ 7750 would get my vote any day at the same cost as 750K+ 6670. edit: looking at slightly older notes from another story tell me it was $70 for a 6670 and the cheapest 7750 had just dropped to $85 for this story. $100 was more common prior to this and could change daily though. It may have been $60-65 for a 6670 GDDR3 when we ordered this rig.

Anyway... It wasn't a gaming PC, and budget was key! ($325 / $350 less the discount)

BTW, I edited my above comment. I see the current APU promo code is not an instant savings like it was when we picked it out, its now a gift card.
 

pauldh

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If you are referring to this build. It was a 5800K, and the ram was tested overclocked to 1866 and 2133 also.

You bring up a good point though. 6800K deserves 2133 MT/s. Depending when you buy the RAM, that has at times been a big price difference. When I last checked Newegg doesn't even sell a 4GB kit above 1866. That cost alone can be put towards a discrete solution instead.

 

ojas

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Paul, i'm curious, why the $50 reduction in budget from last time? The other builds had the same price point...

(Or was it simply, as you've written, "let's chop the least expensive rig's budget in half and see what happens"?)
 

pauldh

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That's an interesting question ojas, Basically the short answer is this PC was built in direct response to accumulated reader feedback.

The $400 Spirit of Mini-ITX was so well received we knew there was interest in highly affordable builds. But there were folks less concerned about gaming who felt it deserved an APU. One even said with an APU you could build one for $350.

Admittedly, an APU in an SBM sounds ridiculous at first, as by default our cheapest machines are dubbed gamers. But I've long wanted to build a general purpose machine that's shown steady reader interest going back years. And really, when I thought about it an APU makes perfect sense.

So both of these cheap bonus builds started off with a "how low could we go and still be satisfied with the result" attitude. The $400 budget grew in order to maximize the low-profile graphics possibilities. That tiny gaming PC is no longer attractive with less graphics.

This round we aimed the needs of folks who didn't like big sacrifices in livability just to game. A dual-core, small/slow storage, 4GB RAM, etc. doesn't' cater to everyone's desires. At $109 the 5800K jumped out as a best no compromise bargain to fill the desired need. Intel doesn't have an affordable quad, and the X4 750K loses it's edge when gaming takes a back seat. Also, Richland scared me a bit as budget A55/A75 mobos were just starting to roll out with firmware support. I didn't want a build I'd have to flash just to boot, plus the 6800K done right with high speed RAM was just too costly to scream high-value. We already know how it performs anyway.

Sorry to ramble, I just found this to be such a good question, I wanted to share the thought process behind the build's purpose and budget. It took some tweaking to get there but in the end a $325 build ($350 if we removed discounts) was not only possible, but allowed a highly desirable result outside of serious gaming.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
Hmm and jut to add..... It seems gamers may take over these comments and twist this build into a failure at something it was never meant to be. That's fine and all, I don't mind those discussions. But keep in mind this wasn't supposed to improve gaming, it was meant to improve everything else at the lowest price. It is compared to the $400 PC because we have the data on hand and the two together showcase how, when money is tight, you absolutely must build with a purpose in mind. We may very well drop back down to $500 gaming PC's next round, or if not then soon after. I didn't want to totally miss an opportunity to build a cheap entry level (but still capable) machine for those who are less interested in gaming.
 

pauldh

Illustrious


Awesome, glad to hear it. I like where it went also, and it's a result of readers shining a light this type of build deserves attention, and can serve numerous purposes without wasting unnecessary funds on un-needed muscle.
 

Onus

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Well Paul, you did it; redeemed this SBM cycle.

1. There is just no way around the sad truth that an APU is really not sufficient for demanding modern titles. While my past comments and budget approach should clearly indicate I believe in the concept of "good enough," and do not require anywhere near UltraMaxOhWOW settings, realistically an APU just doesn't cut it; not yet.
2. Nice job of frequently mentioning fitness for purpose, and "bending" the data presentation to support it. The APU does have a place, it just isn't [AA] gaming. It would be fine for Grandma, or for a homework machine also good for kids' games
3. There's got to be a better choice than MSI in the budget segment. While the limitations you encountered may very well protect the board, they also make it a very unsatisfying product. We saw this in your $650 build as well. This is kind of a shame, because I got to review a MSI Z77A GD65 Gaming board, and it is one sweet board.
4. As many scholastic and casual titles as you can pick up at Walmart, Office Depot, or Best Buy, I believe an optical drive must be included in this segment.
 

Traciatim

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I was pretty impressed by what a little work horse machine this was for very little cash. Seems like this would be a pretty great steamOS rig that streams your heavy lifting games off of your main rig but otherwise is independent for all your media and data processing needs.
 

ojas

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@Paul: Thanks for the detailed answer! I had asked because i was wondering about Richland, and had supposed that a similar $400 budget would have allowed you to go with the A10-6800K.

But honestly, was a very interesting comparison, and i think in this budget segment you really have a choice of either/or, between productivity and gaming. Unless of course, you decide to skimp on things like the case, psu, etc.

And hey, for me the main attraction of the SBMs are that they allow real-world combinations of parts and make them interesting. There's always a specific build that "i would build" but it's informative to see other combinations, crazy things and when an editor's build matches your own, how it performs.

As you said, trolls will be trolls, and we're infested with them now, but keep it up! FOR SCIENCE! :D
 

jabliese

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An excellent starter system. Put this together today, and buying a $100 video card in a year or two would be a great upgrade. Love the case for the price.
 
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