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Updated March 20, 2014


$500 Computer Parts List

The is a general use computer.  You can use it to surf the web, send email, IM, word processing, do your taxes, play online games, burn CDs and DVDs, convert mp3s, download movies, etc.  It also has a fairly low end video card so you can use it as a basic 3D gaming machine. It will run most current games smoothly, just with the level of graphics turned down.  Go down to the Video Card section to see our pick for a basic video card.

 

 The Processor (CPU)

make a computerIntel Socket 1150

 alt

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Intel Pentium G3220 3.0GHz Dual-Core

Newegg.com

$69.99

We have chosen a solid performing CPU. This CPU will keep your system speedy for years to come without braking the bank.  It's a dual core which means you can have multiple things going on at once and it will split the load between the 2 CPU cores.  It's like having 2 CPU's in 1 and it's a must going forward. Check out the CPU component lesson for more on CPU features and specifications to look for.


build computersAMD Socket AM3+

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

AMD FX-4300 3.8GHz

Newegg.com

$109.99

For the AMD based system we have also chosen a solid performer.  You may notice the speed in megahertz is faster than the Intel CPU.  3.2GHz vs 2.9GHz for the Intel.  It is also a Triple Core compared to the Intel CPU which is a Dual Core.  This will result in about equal performance to the Intel CPU. Check out the CPU component lesson for an explanation of this performance difference. This CPU is also dual core, like the Intel, so it's a solid performer for you every day tasks.


The Motherboard

Choose your motherboard depending on if you want an Intel or AMD CPU.


build your own pcIntel Socket 1150

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Gigabyte GA-Z87-DS3H SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Motherboard

Newegg.com

 

 

$89.99

This motherboard has a great reputation for being very stable and will allow you to upgrade to a Socket 1150 Core i7 in the future if you need more performance.  Supports a max of 32GB of RAM.  Has on-board video, networking and sound.  It's the perfect platform for building a basic, do pretty much anything very well, computer.


AMD Socket AM3+

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

MSI 970A-G46 AM3+ Motherboard

Newegg.com

 

 

$79.99

For the AMD based system we've chosen a motherboard with very similar features compared to the Intel based motherboard above. It is a Socket AM3+ motherboard so in the future when you need more performance you can upgrade to one of new Zambezi CPUs or even a newer unknown AM3+ CPU. This motherboard supports 32GB of RAM. The on-board video, sound and networking are comparable to the Intel based motherboard.

 
altRAM (Memory)

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB DDR3 1333

 Newegg.com

$44.99 

This is excellent RAM for the price.

 
Video card: Optional for 3D gaming performance

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

See the higher priced parts lists

 

 

The AMD and Intel CPUs and motherboards have very good 3D graphics performance with their built in graphics chips.  If you do want to upgrade to performance beyond that take a look at the $800 and above parts lists. 

 

buiding computersHard Drive

 

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 1TB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s

Newegg.com

$64.99

This hard drive fits our minimum specs.  It's 1TBB capacity is more than most people will need. It's fast, quiet and runs cool. See the hard drive component video lesson for features and specification to look for in a hard drive.

 

build computer videoDVD Burner (Writer)

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Asus 24X DVD Burner

Newegg.com

$19.99

DVD burners are extremely cheap these days.  There really isn't any reason to pay more for a DVD writer.  We recommend this model for all of our customers computers.

 

altCase and Power Supply

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

COOLER MASTER HAF 912

Newegg.com

$59.99

This is the tower case. It cools extremely well and is very quiet.  See the case and power supply video lesson for features and specifications to look for in a custom computer case. This case has room for 4 DVD or Blu-ray drives, 6 hard drives and 2 SSDs.  It comes with 2, 120mm cooling fans.  

CORSAIR Builder Serices 430CX V2 430W Newegg.com $44.99 This is a little more expensive power supply than we would normally put into a $500 system, but it's a good idea to use a quality PSU even for a lower end system.  

 

altCooling Fans

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Antec 761345-75120-9 120mm 3-Speed Case Cooling Fan

Newegg.com

$11.99

The case we recommend above has 1, 120mm fan and space for two more, one at the front of the case, and one on the side.  To keep your hard drives cool and bring in cool air for all of your components we recommend you add at least one of these fans at the front of the case. . This Antec 120mm cooler is very quiet, which will help keep down the noise level of your computer.  It has 3 speed settings and even the fastest is still very quiet at 30dB.

 

Sound and Network - included on the motherboard

The motherboard include sound and network adapters so you don't need to buy a separate add on card.

For a PCI computer sound card comparison see the computer sound card component video lesson

For more on
the Network card component see the Modem and Network card component video lesson.

 

build your own computerMonitor

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Acer S220HQLAbd 22" 5ms Widescreen LED Backlight LCD Monitor

Newegg.com

$119.99

This is a good quality monitor.  It has a TN panel so at an angle colors will shift.  If that doesn't matter to you it is a great buy. 

ASUS VS239H-P Black 23" 5ms (GTG) HDMI Widescreen LED Monitor

Newegg.com

$169.99

This monitor is a little on the pricey side because of its an IPS panel.  If you need excellent quality color it is worth the extra cost.  This is the same monitor we recommend for the $800, $1200 and $1800 Computers. 


build pc videoSpeakers

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Logitech Z313 25 Watts 2.1 

Newegg.com

$44.99

These get very good reviews.  I have the older model and they sound excellent for the price.

 

build a pcMouse and Keyboard

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Logitech Black Wired Desktop Mouse and Keyboard

Newegg.com

$19.99

 

Why we recommend Newegg.com

You will notice that all of the links to the components in the list are pointing to Newegg.com.  We do receive a commission for any purchases made that come from these links.  Our commission is 1%.  This is not very much.  We could direct our customers to other sites where we would receive much higher commissions.  We chose Newegg because we absolutely believe they are the best place to buy online.  They consistently have the lowest prices, best selection, helpful end user reviews and real customer service.  If you have a problem with a part you can call them up and talk to a real person about whether to exchange it or get a refund.

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"I recently finished building my first, from scratch, computer with the help of your video series.  It was a lot of fun and I can't wait for the excuse to build my next computer from scratch."

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Kenneth Boege, Boston MA.

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