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Thread: PC for college

  1. #1
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    PC for college

    So I'm heading off to college this fall! I used to keep up with hardware and frequent PCPer, but haven't really done so for the last 2 years. I remember some names - P35 chipsets, Intel Core 2 Duos, AMD HD 4xxx series, Nvidia GTX275...yeah you get the idea; it's been a while.

    Back on topic; I want to build a mATX system (ATX might be a bit too large for college dorms...if you guys have any experiences with ATX vs mATX in college, let me know. I'm really in the dark here.) I'm not looking for an extreme gaming computer, though I think it's fair to ask that it can run most modern games decently (30-40fps) at full resolution on a 19" monitor, with moderate AA and AF. Maybe I'm asking for too much for a mATX system. Let me know.

    I have a Seagate 1GB hard drive in my current desktop that I can use for my new system. I'm looking to spend about US$650 on the whole package, which includes the CPU, GPU, motherboard, RAM, enclosure, cooling fans/other necessary accessories and a monitor (19"+ is a plus, but keep in mind this is for college).

    I'm aware that I'm asking for a lot here so any general pointers on where to look for individual components of hardware are appreciated. I'm really behind the curve here.

    Thanks a lot guys.

  2. #2
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    Re: PC for college

    Whatever you build, make sure that it is incapable of playing WoW, Starcraft 2, or any other highly addictive game.

  3. #3
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    Re: PC for college

    Have you considered a laptop with an upgraded video card suitable for gaming? Most people in college don't want to be tied to a desktop. I picked up an HP with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 last fall for under $600.
    If you enjoy gaming click here to learn about the Fragging Frogs.





    [Proudly using only AMD desktop CPUs since 1996 and now also GPUs in 2014 - Thanks AMD!!]
    My Rigs - My Upgrade History - My Games

  4. #4
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    Re: PC for college

    Josh, I'm afraid that won't be possible :P

    @Lenny, I have considered buying a laptop, but I find building a desktop to be not only cheaper initially, but cheaper in the long run too, since I can upgrade components individually when they go obsolete. Yes, I'm a cheapass!

    I guess I can use my iPad to fulfill the same role as the laptop? Ehhhh

  5. #5
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    Re: PC for college

    Quote Originally Posted by HellBoy9393 View Post
    @Lenny, I have considered buying a laptop, but I find building a desktop to be not only cheaper initially, but cheaper in the long run too, since I can upgrade components individually when they go obsolete. Yes, I'm a cheapass!

    I guess I can use my iPad to fulfill the same role as the laptop? Ehhhh
    True about the desktop vs laptop. I was just thinking that in the college environment having a laptop is much more desirable from a portability perspective. iPad is nice but it isn't a PC. So my only recommendation would be to be sure to weigh upgrade-ability vs portability, again because of the college environment.
    If you enjoy gaming click here to learn about the Fragging Frogs.





    [Proudly using only AMD desktop CPUs since 1996 and now also GPUs in 2014 - Thanks AMD!!]
    My Rigs - My Upgrade History - My Games

  6. #6
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    Re: PC for college

    If I were to go with a laptop, do you have any specific recommendations or hardware components to look out for? Laptop hardware goes under a different naming system, IIRC. Budget is still $650! Screen size ideally 15.4" and below. Which HP did you buy?

  7. #7
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    Re: PC for college

    I asked my daughter, what the latest computer setup was at her school. The ideal is a small footprint desktop and a netbook for mobility. The desktop does the heavy lifting when needed and the long battery life of the netbook is a real plus when you can't get back to home base.
    Most college students don't really need a high power system the work is writing papers and doing research. There are only a couple of disciplines that have special computer requirements.

    DFI Ultra II-M2, AM2 x2 5200+

  8. #8
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    Re: PC for college

    ^ Thanks for the reply. That sounds like a pretty good plan to me. Now I'm wondering if I can squeeze a small desktop, a monitor and a netbook into my budget of $650...

  9. #9
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    Re: PC for college

    Price out a netbook first, then start looking around for either the bundled specials at Newegg, or pick and choose a build carefully.

    Just quickly looking around, a 1TB HD is $40 to $50, 4 GB of DDR-3 $35 on special... dual core AMD with 1 MB of L2 cache per core and mobo... $100. Optical drive $25. Get a decent power supply for $50 to $60 and a cheap case. Should leave some money for a $120 vid card on special. Nice gaming rig for cheap.

  10. #10
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    Re: PC for college

    As it turns out, my college dorms will be able to fit a full-sized ATX tower. For a ~$650 system, what do you think of this? I'm converting from a local currency, hence the odd prices. Keep in mind that I already have a Seagate 1TB drive and an optical drive which I can recycle for this build.

    HIS HD6870 w/HDMI PCI-E 1GB DDR5 $187
    Intel Core i3 550 (3.2GHz)/LGA 1156/4M Cache CPU BOX $ 125
    GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD3L P55,DDR3,LGA 1156, ATX M/B $ 89
    A-DATA Premier DDR-3 1333MHz 4G Ram AD3U1333C4G9-R $35
    Thermaltake Litepower 500W $49
    Some cheapo ATX case $30
    Viewsonic 21.5" VX2250WM LED Monitor (16:9,50000000:1,2ms) HK$ 151

    That adds up to about $666 (lol). I'm worried that the Core i3 will be a limiting factor, and I'm wondering how necessary a 6870 is.

  11. #11
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    Re: PC for college

    Quote Originally Posted by HellBoy9393 View Post
    If I were to go with a laptop, do you have any specific recommendations or hardware components to look out for? Laptop hardware goes under a different naming system, IIRC. Budget is still $650! Screen size ideally 15.4" and below. Which HP did you buy?
    I bought this one:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-466-_-Product

    But if you are going to buy both a desktop and netbook/laptop then there is no need for the upgraded graphics in the laptop which is an added cost.
    If you enjoy gaming click here to learn about the Fragging Frogs.





    [Proudly using only AMD desktop CPUs since 1996 and now also GPUs in 2014 - Thanks AMD!!]
    My Rigs - My Upgrade History - My Games

  12. #12
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    Re: PC for college

    Core i3 is a good processor, but it is only a dual core unit. For the same money you can get the 3.4 GHz Phenom II X4 combined with a good AMD 870 based board. I think at that price, it really is the best option. Now, if you had more money to spend, that i5 2400 is a pretty amazing processor.

    HD 6870 is a good card, and it likely will last you a long time. That is a good buy. Faster than a GTX 460, but is around $30 more expensive. But going with either would probably keep you happy.

  13. #13
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    Re: PC for college

    Shucks, this might be something to look at: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboB...t=Combo.668121

    Right around your price range, and the HD 6850 is still a good card.

  14. #14
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    Re: PC for college

    ^Hey thanks, Josh. I think I'll go with the 6850. I will have to pass on the newegg combo not only because I don't even live in the States (yet!), but my local prices are even better :P. AMD Quadcore sounds like a plan, too.

    I was thinking of going with the ASUS M4A87T AMD 870 board? It's the same price as the Gigabyte P55 I listed above.

  15. #15
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    Re: PC for college

    Asus makes a good product. As long as it has the features you want (a parallel port? how quaint!) then I doubt you will have any issues with it.

    The only thing I would take a good, long look at would be upgrading to a 890FX board. The MSI 890FXA-GD65 is about $50 more expensive, but it is a better overall board plus it has Bulldozer support when those chips are released. So, the consideration for you would be if in a year or so, you could upgrade to a Bulldozer core if you felt you really needed the extra performance it would offer.

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