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Thread: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

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    Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    Hi guys

    Its been a while since my last build (2005!!) and I've not been following developments in hardware, due to lack of funds and lack of time

    But having received a rather tasty Dell u2311h monitor for Christmas, I've decided its time to finally upgrade from my Shuttle ST20G5, running an Athlon 3000 (yes it most definitely is long overdue!)


    Shuttle have always suited me well because of their size and general versatility. My current needs are for a system of roughly shuttle size, that is quiet, and can cope well with watching HD movies and the occasional bit of gaming.

    However Having a browse around it seems the only shuttle within my price range is the SH55J2 which doesnt sound terribly inspiring.

    Sooooo can any of you lovely people in the know give me advice as to what sort of setup I can get for my money that will fit my needs?

    I'll be needing:
    Case + mobo
    CPU (I wont be doing any hardcore overclocking)
    RAM (6gb+)
    Graphics card with passive cooling
    Possibly a bluray drive depending on what the above costs

    Thanks in advance!

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    Poor graduate. Ulti's Avatar
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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    Seeing as you like Shuttles, you can get the SH55J2 barebones for £160 on Ebuyer or £150 at eXpansys.

    This would mean you have around £250 left to play with.

    I'm not sure why you want over 6GB RAM (let alone 4GB) but this means you'd most likely want to get 8GB RAM so that it can run in dual channel, Scan have Corsair 1600Mhz CL9 4GB (2x2GB) memory kits for ~£39 so if you got two of those it'd be ~£80 on Scan's Today Only, leaving you with £170. You can spend a bit more and get a 2x4GB memory kit for ~£87 on Scan's Today Only too. It won't be updated till 4th Jan so you have quite a while to grab them.

    For the CPU you can't really go wrong with an i3 540 unless you do a lot of rendering, encoding work which needs more cores. This is £80 on Scan's Today Only again, leaving you with £90.

    I'm not sure what type of graphics card you'd want but I've got to say that graphics cards aren't very loud now at all if they're low powered so I'd suggest you forget the passive cooling as you'll most likely get something better value for your money. All the 5450's seem to be passive though but I'm not sure if it's enough power for what you need. If you want a more powerful passive graphics card then the Asus GT240 will be better but it's ~£67. Next step up would be the Sapphire 5670 Ultimate for £80.

    Basically:
    Case + Mobo + PSU = SH55J2 £160 at Ebuyer or £150 at eXpansys
    CPU = i3 540 ~£80 on Scan's Today Only
    RAM = 4x 2GB Corsair 1600Mhz CL9 ~£80 on Scan's Today Only

    Total = Around £310, leaving £90 for CD drive and graphics card.

    Don't you need a HDD though? I'd suggest for you to pull a little bit more money together and get a small SSD as the OS drive so your system will seem very responsive. The Intel X25-V 40GB was very good for it's time at around £70 on Scan's Today Only but I'm not sure how it stacks up to the newer SSDs though, maybe a G.Skill Phoenix 40GB for around £70 (with del). You could then choose to get your BD drive at a later date too and if you cannot even afford a graphics card, the Shuttle motherboard has half decent integrated graphics.

    Hope this helps!

    EDIT: Just realised you don't have free delivery with Scan :S I'd suggest you to do some more price hunting (google shopping is pretty good for prices inc delivery) to make sure you don't spend a lot on delivery!
    Last edited by Ulti; 27-12-2010 at 05:06 PM.

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    Thanks for the useful reply Ulti, the setup you've suggested seems pretty good

    Few questions:

    Is it worth spending the extra £50 to get a core i5 rather than i3?

    Would it be wiser to get 4gb or ram instead of 8gb and spend the money on better quality rather than quantity?

    I hadn't really considered SSD's because of my price range but it seems there are some bargains to be had. Do most people have SSD just for their OS then data in an external enclosure, or internally? I only ask because I've currently got a 1.5tb hdd in a dual hdd enclosure (1 bay free) and another 1tb as my primary drive, so I could keep all my storage outside of the build if this is better

    Finally, I was thinking of spending less money on graphics card to free up funds for other components, maybe something like this at a push. Would this adversely affect my build, apart from when gaming? I cant imagine I'll be gaming much, my new job has me pretty busy!

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    Quote Originally Posted by siblackburn View Post
    Is it worth spending the extra £50 to get a core i5 rather than i3?

    Would it be wiser to get 4gb or ram instead of 8gb and spend the money on better quality rather than quantity?

    I hadn't really considered SSD's because of my price range but it seems there are some bargains to be had. Do most people have SSD just for their OS then data in an external enclosure, or internally? I only ask because I've currently got a 1.5tb hdd in a dual hdd enclosure (1 bay free) and another 1tb as my primary drive, so I could keep all my storage outside of the build if this is better

    Finally, I was thinking of spending less money on graphics card to free up funds for other components, maybe something like this at a push. Would this adversely affect my build, apart from when gaming? I cant imagine I'll be gaming much, my new job has me pretty busy!
    In regards to i3 vs i5, it depends on which i5 you're looking at, the i5 7x0 and 8x0 series are quad cores but the 6x0 series are just dual cores with turbo boost which IMO isn't really worth it, especially when it costs £50.

    In terms of RAM, Corsair RAM is pretty good and their warranty is good too, only disadvantage is you have to send it to the Netherlands so it'll take about 1-2 weeks for an RMA if you're unlucky with your RAM. Performance difference between RAM is neglible in reality though. You will not notice much difference on everyday tasks between 1333mhz CL9 RAM and 1600mhz CL7 RAM if that's what you're asking. There is also no difference between different manufacturers too. Not sure why you need 8GB RAM compared to 4GB but I guess RAM is cheap enough at the moment for you to go for it without regrets in the future!

    SSDs are certainly at a much more affordable price point than they were about a year ago, getting ever so close to the £1 per 1GB mark. Personally on my parent's HTPC they've got a 40GB SSD which has only 14GB or so filled up and mine is 25.4/72.2GB (80GB). They've then got a WD 1TB Green 5400rpm drive for the media files and such (there's not many programs or games on their pc so it's just pretty much Windows 7 and Firefox and some other programs on the SSD). I've got a WD Caviar Black 640GB which I got a while ago, quite a fast HDD but nowhere near as fast as an SSD. I've only got 1 or 2 games on my SSD along with Windows 7 but I have quite a few programs, hence it reaches 25.4GB. I think I've also got pagefile on which takes up some more space on my SSD, similar to my RAM (I think 4GB, too lazy to check). Both our HDDs are internal though. I hear some people run only an SSD and then they run their storage in their own LAN, I'm not too technical so I can't really give you much more info on that but it seems you have an idea.

    I don't think the GT210 is a good card for the money at all, I'd rather go with a 5450. Can't really see much from a quick google with GT210 vs the 5450 but I don't think you need more than a 5450 if you're not going to game then. This thread might be a little helpful: http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtop...?f=6&t=1106865

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    Also worth looking at an AMD build. You could for example grab a Phenom X2 555 BE (3.2 GHz) and with the right mobo unlock it and get yourself a free upgrade in that respect

    I paid approx £70 for mine

    But if you want to stick with Intel the I3 chip is still a fine bit of kit indeed.

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    Ok so I've had a dig around and have come to a few conclusions I'd love to get some opinions on

    1) There are better motherboard/case/psu combos out there than shuttle can offer. The shuttle mentioned above doesnt support 6gb/s SATA so some performance advantage offered by SSDs would be lost.
    2) AMD seem to offer more bang for my buck at my price range
    3) SSD drives definitely seem worth it!

    So bearing the above in mind, and that I'm trying to build a reltively cheap system, that runs as quietly and quickly as I can get for my budget, what do you guys think to the following setup?

    EDIT: As my system sits in a small space underneath my bed, it cant be more than 20cm high!

    A decent sized htpc case for decent money, and can fit normal size psus/gfx cards for £70

    A motherboard that supports 6gb SATA, seems to have everything I need, not a bad price at £63

    This seems to be the best performing ssd for under £100...

    Some cheap memory for under £50, I can always expand to £8gb later on if I really want to

    Wasn't sure what processor would suit my needs best but at least this gives decent price/performance trade-off. What do you think?

    I'll need a low profile cooler to fit the case

    Finally, a passively cooled gfx card, a 5450 as reccommended above

    Total build not including PSU comes to £400ish

    What do you all think to the above setup? Any improvements anyone can reccommend?

    Finally, that leaves me with a PSU. There seem to be quite a few modular, silent (ish) running psus out there and I'm having trouble picking the right one. Can anyone help out? The Antec truepower 650 seems like a safe bet..
    Last edited by siblackburn; 29-12-2010 at 11:47 PM.

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    If you wanted your build a bit smaller you can do an itx size build for your price range.
    http://forums.hexus.net/small-form-f...ray-build.html

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    The problem is that with an AMD based build is that the AM3 mini ITX motherboards are more expensive than their Intel equivalents and the lower TDP of the Intel processors also helps.

    The Shuttle SH55J2 for between £150 to £160 is not that expensive TBH. A socket 1156 mini ITX motherboard is around £80 to £100 alone an a 1U PSU like the Shuttle is around £35 to £50.

    The Shuttle also comes with 4 RAM slots unlike the mini-ITX motherboards and also comes with an aftermarket CPU cooler too.

    Remember,that Shuttle makes decent quality products.

    I use Shuttle SFF PCs and they are still working after 4+ years.

    The system you have listed in post 6 is much bigger too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 13-01-2011 at 01:01 PM.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: Build advice needed - SFF around £400mark

    I went for a similar build to my post above in the end - came in at a tad under £450, including windows 7 professional.

    Unfortunately, the 650W Antec PSU I picked is faulty so I haven't had a chance to test it yet!

    Just as an FYI for anyone - the Silverstone Grandia case mentioned above is a pretty decent compromise between Sff and full size. Whilst it takes mATX motherboards it fits full size PSUs and gfx which is a massive bonus, and is still low profile enough to fit under my desk drawers

    Having said that the internal design leaves a lot to be desired - very fiddly!

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