Building A PC January 2010 Edition

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 10, 2010
Updated • Dec 2, 2012

I made the decision last year to postpone the purchase of a new PC to this year. I'm in no hurry to buy the components and build the PC by myself but I figured it would be interesting for everyone if I would write a monthly post that contains a suggested build for the PC. Maybe it can be helpful for other users who want to build a PC as well instead of buying a complete PC.

The benefit of building a PC instead of buying one is that the builder can customize the hardware configuration. There are usually some shops in the vicinity that offer to build the computer from the components picked by the user for a small fee. That might be an interesting option for users who are not confident to build the PC themselves but still want to have the control over the hardware selection process:

The following computer is not an ulta-high-end computer. It instead offers great performance for its price which is everything that I care about. It should also be relatively quiet thanks to the selection of specific hardware that is quieter than the usual solutions found in pre-build PCs.

There have been some changes since the last build. Ati has released the DirectX 11 compatible Ati Radeon 5000 series of video cards. Another thing to consider is that USB 3.0 devices will be more common in this year and that the computer should be have USB 3.0 if such devices will be or might be bought in the future.

Main PC build:

CPU: Intel Core i7-860 [$280]
CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B CPU Cooler [$60], requires a 120mm fan to be bought separately for about [$20]
Computer Memory: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) [$300]
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 (comes with USB 3.0) [$135]
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon 5770 Vapor-X [$180]
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer 7.1 [$90] or any other sound card for that matter depending on your sound system setup. Onboard sound might be fine to for some users.
Hard Drives: 2x SAMSUNG EcoGreen F2 HD154UI 1.5TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive [$200] ; OCZ Vertex Turbo OCZSSD2-1VTXT60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) [$269] for operating system, applications and games.
Power Supply: Seasonic X-650 [$170]
Case: SILVERSTONE Fortress Series FT02B-W Black Aluminum / Steel Computer Case - Retail [$239]
Computer Keyboard: Logitech G110 [$80]
Computer Mouse: Logitech G500 [$60]

Alternative build:

The alternative build replaces some components to reduce the price of the PC system.

CPU: Intel Core i7-860 [$280]
CPU Cooler: boxed cooler that ships with the cpu [$0]
Computer Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) [$95]
Motherboard: MSI P55M-GD45 (comes without USB 3.0) [$120]
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon 5770 Vapor-X [$180]
Sound Card: none, onboard sound used instead [$0]
Hard Drives: Western Digital Caviar Black WD10000LSRTL 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive [$105]
Power Supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V [$100]
Case: NZXT GAMMA Classic Series GAMA-001BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail [$30]
Computer Keyboard: Generic keyboard [$20]
Computer Mouse: Generic mouse [$20]

The alternative build is more than $1000 cheaper than the initial build. It is not as fast and quit as the original PC but it is still a great computer system.

What are your thoughts on the two builds? Would you replace hardware or add other hardware? Let us know in the comments.


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  1. Dennis said on January 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Honestly, I’d recommend any sound card *but* a Sound Blaster. Their cards are decent enough but their drivers always are bloated, buggy and have issues. If you want a dedicated sound card I’d highly recommend HT Omega’s cards (, I use the Claro Halo myself) or Asus’s Xonar line of sound cards. They’re both high quality, affordable, and with drivers that are light on resources and work well. Plus NewEgg stocks them both!

  2. Dave said on January 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    If you want good processing power for $100 less than the i7, look into the i5-750. The only difference that I know of is a lack of Hyper-threading on the i5, but it still has Intel Turbo Boost like the i7 (built-in overclocking that shuts down the unused cores to ramp up almost 600 MHz more.

    For a case priced between the two that you choose, look into the Cooler Master HAF922 at $100-120. You do not necessarily need USB 3.0 right now because there are PCI cards at Newegg, but it would be nice to have it onboard.

    The UD3 also comes with SATA3 (6Gbps), another upcoming technology, but you could probably get a similiar speed with a RAID0 setup. PCI Express 3.0 should be standardized this summer, but motherboards with it will probably not be available until at least 2011, whereas USB 3.0 external hard drives are already available.

  3. Markus said on January 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Martin wrote “what are your thoughts on the two builds? Would you replace hardware or add other hardware?”
    Start by rejecting the O.S. -Windoze.

  4. VirtualGuy said on January 11, 2010 at 7:33 am

    I just built (2 weeks ago) a new system with the GA P55A-UD4P (basically, a UD3 with Firewire ports). Excellent choice for a mobo. They overclock beautifully with the i7 860. The i7 860 *is* a good value for the $ when compared to price/performance of other options, if you multi-task and do more than gaming with your PC. The Corsair memory is a safe choice. I went with the G.SKILL (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit (F3-12800CL8TU) and all is working well together.

    If you don’t overclock the i7 860, you are leaving a lot of horsepower in the back seat that should be that should be up front in the engine compartment, ready to kick butt.

    With a Thermalright Ultima 90 and 120mm push/pull fans mounted on the i7, the system is very stable overclocked at 3.9Ghz (21 x 178 + Tubo). That’s 1,100 Mhz of free performance. To get this, I upped the CPU voltage (vcore) to 1.26v, all CPU features enabled. I have never been more pleased with a build than I am with this one.

    The G.Skill memory is running at 1464Mhz, but with very tight timings of 7-7-7-21-T1 (QPI @ 1.29v, DRAM @ 1.6v). I prefer tighter timings, lower Mhz, less heat, longer life, par performance.

    Good luck with your build. I look forward to reading your progress reports.

  5. brie987 said on January 11, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Thank you Womble. I am very much a noob but I really want to build my own PC this year. I have repaired and upgraded friends PC and learned enough to feel confidant in building my own from scratch. This article really got the juices flowing and got me very excited to begin. Although this is a great article it is very 2D by doing what Womble suggested it would definitely become a 3D article that would keep the interests of pros and educate/inform the noobs (me). Still thanks for the write up on this.

  6. Womble said on January 11, 2010 at 12:55 am

    I would agree with Rarst, the i7 is a great CPU but value for money is not what it’s good at.

    I wouldn’t choose a 5770 with DX11 in mind it won’t be up to it with full detail on at todays resolutions. With that graphics budget I would stick with DX10 and look at something from the reduced Nvidia range, GTX260’s for eg out performs the 5770 and are cheaper in some places. The only downside is the extra power consumption.

    Hope you don’t mind me saying but i’m not sure there is enough room on a single page to make this feature interesting, it’s just a list!

    I would rather you featured the individual components on different days or weeks then you can flesh it out a little, tell us why the component is a good choice, what are the trade-off’s etc. It would be easy content for you to produce and a much more interesting read.

  7. Rarst said on January 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    CPU seems like overkill for my taste. Core Duo lineup ended up so capable (and cheap by now) that i7 adoption is extremely slow.

    And if you are not playing games then there is no need for video card at all. I use Intel’s integrated 4500MHD and it is enough for whatever I do.

    Anyway it’s all about how much you are willing to spend and what you need to do. Former is often largest factor but latter shouldn’t be forgotten either.

    My personal PC project is to rebuild my desktop into small and silent mini-itx form-factor… Waiting for recently announced Chieftec BT-02 case to reach market here, no decent alternatives available.

  8. blr419 said on January 10, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    It all sounds sweet except for the RAM. I think you’d do a lot better with the Kingston HyperX 3ch DDR3 1600

    1. Martin said on January 11, 2010 at 12:02 am

      I cannot use triple-channel ram

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