Need MB, CPU, RAM.
November 4, 2007 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Best bang for $300 total: Motherboard, CPU and Memory.

I don't care if it is AMD, INTEL... whatever. C2D looks like a stretch... so what is the next best option that stays within my budget?
posted by |n$eCur3 to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by pompomtom at 7:34 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: USD, sorry.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 7:36 PM on November 4, 2007

Check this out.
posted by oddman at 7:46 PM on November 4, 2007

You can get a Core 2 Duo setup for $300 for motherboard, CPU and memory. It won't be the fastest CPU, but it would be more than enough for any non-gaming purposes.
posted by demiurge at 7:51 PM on November 4, 2007

I would strongly advise against AMD at this point if price/performance is your goal (hell, whatever your goal might be), despite the last box I built being an AMD one (and a cracker for the money). Intel owns the field right now in terms of value for CPU money, and your upgrade path is going to be a lot clearer for the future. trim17 has the right idea.

Anandtech has become my canonical first resource for these things over the past couple of years, but the other resources linked upthread are good too. Ars Technica's example God Box/Hot Rod/Mid Range/Econ builds are instructive, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:32 PM on November 4, 2007

Wow ... I just ordered something like this a few days ago from Here is what I got:

ABIT IP35-E for $86 (now up to 92, you can get a different P35 motherboard)

E2180 Intel processor 82.50

OCZ OCZ2P800R22GK 2GB DDR2 ( 4-4-4-16 ) (85.50 - $30 MIR).

In this setup, the motherboard is quite good as is the memory, and the CPU is fairly low-end. However, they are supposed to overclock very well (up to 3ghz without any effort), which is why I got a good mobo and memory. If you don't want to touch overclocking (and these days, all that simple overclocking really is is just going into your bios and turning up the speed), you could get a E2xxx processor, and still be within budget.

I like mwave's prices, but this is my first order with them, so I can't really vouch for anything. Other vendors probably work just as well.

Good luck!
posted by bsdfish at 8:49 PM on November 4, 2007

Even if you don't get a "real" C2D, you can get a Pentium Dual Core 2140, the same thing except less cache, for less cash ($75 or less).

I would go with the cheap CPU and a motherboard that will support super duper quad cores coming soon (or already here, but too much $$$), and then invest in a better CPU in a year or two. The 2140 should be a super overclocker with a good OCing motherboard.
posted by Chuckles at 8:51 PM on November 4, 2007

Don't get a mini ATX board unless you really, really want small form factor - you will miss the extra expansion slots. Also, I'd look for an SLI board, just for the extra graphics card slot.
posted by Chuckles at 8:55 PM on November 4, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all for your input--the responses have been informative. The $300 dollar budget seems to be somewhat of an in between price point.

If I go with the trim17 system, I sacrifice on the RAM, however with the ars budget system, I'm stuck with an end-of-the-line processor.

Based on this thread, I think I'll break my budget by $50 and get a somewhat more upgradeable system.

So, RAM, Motherboard, and processor. This will keep me in line with an upgrade path that may include a quad core chip. The only drawback is that DDR3 will require a new MB.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 8:58 PM on November 4, 2007

Intel owns the field right now in terms of value for CPU money

I respectfully disagree. I think Intel has got a lot better in the mid-range and low-power/heat stakes, but this question concerns a budget machine where an Athlon X2 is pretty good and there's more choice of fairly good integrated motherboards. The next-generation AMD Phenom line will (mostly) drop into an existing AM2+/AM3 boards, so that provides a pretty cheap and painless upgrade option after 12-18 months.
posted by meehawl at 11:17 PM on November 4, 2007

2GB of PC-6400 goes for about $60 now (maybe after a rebate).

I bought an X2 4200+ and motherboard for under $90 at Fry's a couple months ago: At that end of the price range, the Intel options are rather limited and unimpressive. And as meehawl indicated, it's upgradeable to coming triple and quad core processors.
posted by unmake at 11:49 PM on November 4, 2007

Fair enough, but I agree with the conclusions reached (linking to the last page) of this recent 15-page analysis of the field at Anandtech.
Although AMD remains very competitive in the vast majority of benchmarks, given the virtual price parity Intel's performance advantages in some tests make the Core 2 or Pentium Dual-Core a more sensible buy. Both the Core 2 Duo E4500 and Pentium E2160 are great choices, as are their lower clocked variants; it really boils down to price point.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:54 PM on November 4, 2007

Just on a side note, one of the first AM2+ boards has just been released and I saw something in the report I hadn't heard before: 3-way graphics card coprocessing. That's hot.
posted by meehawl at 6:39 AM on November 5, 2007

You can save half of the cost of this $500 gaming upgrade (from FiringSquad, via) if you don't need the graphics card.
posted by wzcx at 9:12 AM on November 5, 2007

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