It seems that quite a number of you Constant Readers are interested in building a PC, or upgrading an existing one, to take advantage of Intel's Core ix line of processors. And why not! Not only is the Core ix (i3, i5 and i7) line an excellent piece of silicon, but your system also gets to take full advantage of the faster DDR3 RAM.
Before we go on, some notes on upgrading. First, the Core ix line needs a different socket to the LGA 775 that Intel has been using for the past few years. Here we're going to be using a socket LGA 1156 processor and motherboard. If you want to use the high-end Core i7 parts then you'll need a socket LGA 1366 motherboard for accommodate those CPUs - but those are pricier and this is a budget build!
Another point to make about upgrading is that chances are that your existing PC makes use of DDR2 RAM, so this will need to be changed for DDR3 ... which leaves you with a motherboard and CPU that can form the basis of a second cheap PC!
With that out of the way, let's start building!
Note: As a price reference I've used Newegg.com, but you are free to use any retailer that takes your fancy. Just do a search using the keywords that I've highlighted in bold for each entry.
As the basis of this build I'm going to start with the cheapest Core ix processor on offer - the INTEL Core i3 530. This is a 2.93GHz dual-core part. It might not sound much when compared to the quad-core behemoths currently available, but at just a shade over $100, it represents excellent value for money!
The trick with buying a motherboard for a budget build is to find a board that's cheap enough so we can save the pennies to invest elsewhere, but not so cheap that you end up with a crappy computer at the end of the build. You want a board that's nice, stable and robust, even when buying on a budget.
Here I've gone for an Intel board - the INTEL BOXDH55PJ LGA 1156 board featuring an H55 north bridge chipset. It's a sub $100 board, but it's a good board. Not only will it work for the Core i3 CPU we've chosen above, but it's good for all LGA 1156 Core ix parts.
Oh, and to make sure you have plenty of power at your disposal, it support 8GB of RAM.
OK, RAM. We need DDR3 RAM here. But there's no need to go nuts on the price, but at the same time we're not going to skimp either. I've gone for 4GB (2 x 2G) of G.SKILL Ripjaws Series memory.
This RAM is rated at DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) so is plenty fast for out build here!
OK, graphics card time. It's easy to go nuts and spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end graphics card, but it's important to note that no machine is faster than the slowest part, so adding a super-high-end GPU to a budget machine won't give you the performance boost you're looking (and paying) for.
Here I've gone for a GPU from ATI's Radeon HD 5670 range - the SAPPHIRE 100289L featuring 1GB of video RAM. Can't find this card? No problem! Pretty much any card from the Radeon HD 5670 range with 1GB of memory will do just fine, and all are pretty much in the same ball-park price range too.
1TB drives are pretty cheap, so there's little point in trying to make-do with a small drive. I've gone for the SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ. It's a nice, reliable drive and for the price represents excellent value for money.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
OK, finally the PSU. A 450W PSU will do us fine here and allow for plenty of upgrade potential. I've gone for the ROSEWILL Stallion Series RD450-2-SB 450W part.
Note: You need to add your own case and optical drive to this, along with peripherals if you need them.
Total price: $530
Component upgrades you might be interested in
This build offers plenty of scope for deviation from the plan to give you more power and performance. Here are a few ideas:
- INTEL Core i5 655K 3.2GHz dual-core part - $210
- INTEL Core i7 860S 2.53GHz quad-core part - $360
- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (4 x 2GB) - $200
- WESTERN DIGITAL RE4-GP WD2002FYPS 2TB - $270
- HIS iCooler V H583FN1GD Radeon HD 5830 1GB - $200
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