The sub-€1000 Core i3 Build

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So, with the recent release of Intel’s latest line of processors, the Core i3 line, we’ve had an awful lot of requests from people hoping we’d put together a solid Core i3 build on a reasonable budget. I was going to ask Ryan from our RMA department about this, but then I remembered that every time I say the word “budget” he tries to fit as much as humanly possible into the build.

Instead, myself and the entirely more reasonably minded and generally stable Shelton sat down and went over the various bits and pieces we’d like to see in a Core i3 build with a vague budget of €1,000. We initially agreed to be a little loose with the budget, but Shelton decided to get strict when we were over by three cent…

Anyway, without any further delay, here’s the build we’ve come up with 🙂

CPU:

The CPU is what’s prompted this whole build, so we figured it might be best to make sure we got it out of the way as early as possible. It’s an Intel Core i3-540, which will probably say enough to those of you who’ve been keeping a close eye on it, but for those who haven’t bear with us.

Click through to check out our page on Intel's Core i3 🙂

The Core i3-540 is a dual core, socket 1156 processor with a 4MB L3 cache. It’s a solid arrangement, but for those who are interested in getting as much detail as possible, you’d do well to check out this (quite long winded) but very in-depth piece from XbitLabs, which goes into a tremendous amount of detail about Intel’s current processor line up.

Aside from all that, the Core i3-540 weighs in at €135.

Motherboard:

The motherboard we’ve chosen for this build is Gigabyte’s GA-H55M-UD2H. It’s a solid board and one that’ll take all of the various bits and pieces we’ll be throwing into the machine. Not much more to say than that. Moreover, Gigabyte tends to be a reliable brand, and if Shelton and Ryan can agree on something between them then we can rest assured that it’ll do the job neatly.

The Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H isn’t too expensive either, all things considered. It weighs in at €89.62, so there’s no wallet-busting going on yet.

RAM:

When it comes to RAM, there’s never an awful lot to saw. For this build we’ve chosen two sticks of Corsair Value S RAM. It’s clocked at 1333MHz and, as well you’d expect from any sane person’s Core i3 build, is DDR3.

Cliclk through to see our page for the Corsair RAM used in this build 🙂

We’ve got a lot of respect for Corsair, it makes quality memory that’s dependable, so where possible we’re happy to go with a Corsair option on the RAM in a build. The only issue is that this is only a single 2GB stick, but most of you will probably opt for 4GB. Don’t worry, there’s space in the budget for that.

Corsair’s Value S DDR3 RAM will set you back €46.80 for each 2GB stick. Shelton heftily recommends picking up two 2GB sticks. It’ll set you back €93.60 overall, which isn’t bad for 4GB of memory at that speed.

DVD Drive:

When it comes to optical drive’s in builds, we almost invariably recommend Sony’s NEC Optiarc. It’s a solid drive and it’s fantastically cheap for what it does. It’s never going to be one of the parts you’ll consider cheaping out on if you’re trying to keep under budget.

Click through to see our page for Sony's NEC Optiarc 🙂

That said, there are people out there whose idea of a budget PC doesn’t have a DVD drive. If you’re happy installing Windows from a USB stick then by all means, go wild… but frankly, the idea of having a machine without an optical drive to fall back on is a little worrying, and since it’s under €20, we’d be happier with it in there.

Sony’s NEC Optiarc is a DVD +/- burner, connects through SATA as you’d expect and isn’t a slow drive, either. Not bad for €19.82

Hard Drive:

When it comes to hard drives it’s really up to you guys. If you’d like to shoot over budget and pack in a few 1TB or even 1.5TB drives and really push the envelope with the amount of capacity you can fit into the box, then go for it, but for now (and for the sake of keeping costs down) we’ve opted to go with Western Digital’s Caviar SE16.

Click through to see our page for the Western Digital Caviar 500GB 🙂

The Caviar SE16 is a relatively simple affair, it’s 500GB of space with a 16MB cache and spins at 7200RPM. The comments that we’ve got from users who’ve bought it have all been five out of five, which is excellent stuff indeed, especially when you consider that five people have been impressed enough to leave a review of it.

They all report the same thing too; the drive is cheap, fast and quiet. Not much more to be said about it than that.

Western Digital’s Caviar SE16 is €43.81 for 500GB.

Graphics Cards:

Alright, now this is where things get really interesting. Shelton insisted here that there were two different directions this build could take. The first was a graphics heavy option, with more money sunk into the GPU and most likely for people with an existing system they’re replacing.

Click through to see our page for the Radeon HD 5870 🙂

That build would make use of a Sapphire Radeon HD 5870. It boasts 1GB of its own memory, and a clock speed of 850MHz. As you’d expect, it’s a PCI Express 2.0 card, and it’s won an absolute raft of awards, so it has all of that to recommend it. It has a maximum output of 2560 x 1600.

The Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 also quite expensive, weighing in at €395.37, but for the faint of heart, there’s always the option below.

For those looking to pick up a cheaper card, and include a nice disaply in with the build without going over budget, you’d do well to check out the Radeon HD 5770. Like the 5870 above, it boasts 1GB of memory and a maximum output resolution of 2560 x 1600. Of course, being that bit older it’ll set you back considerably less, and you won’t be able to eke out the same kind of performance from it,though that’s all to be expected.

The real bonuis here is that the PowerColor Radeon HD 5770 is only €178.27. That leaves us with enough extra money in the budget to pick up…

Display:

We generally don’t include peripherals in a build, but sometimes, when there’s a little room to play in the budget, it’s hard to keep Shelton and Ryan from competing about getting some really nice kit in there without going over the budget. This time, it’s a 24” LCD display.

Click through to see our page doe the Samsung Syncmaster 24-inch LCD 🙂

Indeed, it’s not just any old 24” display, but a genuinely nice looking Samsung Syncmaster. Admittedly, it’s not got the same smooth, flowing lines and transparent edging as some of the more expensive Samsungs, but it does look well and display equally well.

Samsung’s 24” Syncmaster LCD is simple, elegant and to the point. Moreover, it’s excellent to be able to fit a monitor worth €228 into a €1000 build, so we can’t really fault Shelton for flexing the build a little to include it. From here on though, the two builds should be mostly identical, apart from…

Power Supply:

This is one of the areas where the use of a Radeon HD 5870 is going to set you back that little bit more, since it’s going to want a little more punch from your power supply. It’s not a tragic expense, but it is one that you’d like to keep an eye on and make sure you’re sorted completely.

Click through to see our page for the Corsair 750W PSU 🙂

With that in mind, we’ve opted to go with Corsair’s HX 750W. It’s a solid device, and since it’s a Corsair power supply, it’s reliable enough that they don’t mind adding on a five month warranty; even if something does go wrong, you’ll be covered for the next five years.

The Corsair HX 750W weighs in at €128.47.

By contrast, if you’ve opted to go with the build that includes the cheaper GPU and a monitor, then you can afford to spend a little less on your power supply, since you won’t need to push the same amount of power through your machine. Instead, you’ll be able to pick up a Corsair 650W. It’s got the same five year guarantee, so don’t worry on that side for this one either.

Corsair’s HX 650W will set you back €114.53 and should see you fine for a long time to come.

Case:

Now we’re completely out of the territory where we have to talk about two different builds at once. The case we’ll see all of this settled into (regardless of which build you’ve decided to go with) is Antec’s Nine Hundred.

Click through to see our page for the Antec Nine Hundred 🙂

The Antec Nine Hundred is a simple enough case, with plenty of room to manoeuvre on the inside and good airflow. It makes it a bit of a favorite when we’re considering any build really, just because it’s as versatile as it is. Moreover, it’s not quite the maximum amount of gaudy, so you can push it in under your desk without it attracting too much undue attention, unless that’s your thing.

Antec’s Nine Hundred will set you back €89.62m which rounds out the build nicely.

Total Costs:

For the build that includes the higher-end GPU, no monitor and power supply, you’ll be looking at €995.31, all told. Not bad, when you consider the various bits and pieces that have gone into it.

By contrast, if you’ve opted to go a little more middle-of-the-road when it comes to the graphics card, you’ll have saved enough between GPU and the power supply to make up enough to pick up that Samsung monitor. In that case, you’ll be paying something closer to €992.33.

Closing:

Alright, there you have it guys, two slightly different variations on the theme of a Core i3 build, and hopefully even for those of you who don’t agree with the hardware choices we’ve made, they’re at least enough of a starting point for you to sink your teeth into the idea of a Core i3 build and start planning out one of your own.

If you have any suggestions for another build, or even if you’d like to send us in your own budget build then we’re always happy to have a read over them. If there are any that seriously impress us we’ll post them here as an example 🙂

If you already have computer components that you would like to add to your PC, why not register for and bring them along with you to one of our Build your own PC classes and we’d be happy to show you how to do it! Visit http://www.komplettblog.ie/events/ for location and dates.

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3 Responses to “The sub-€1000 Core i3 Build”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Interesting.
    Few questions as someone who’s taken PC’s (and laptops) apart, fixed them and changed/upgraded components, but not built from scratch.
    Is this complete? Anything else required/advisable?
    Can you recommend good website/guide for someone experienced (as above) for planning & chosing options for this? Really want to ensure can make “optimal” choices, so are there other options I should consider (I know I want/need 1-2tb HD for starters, or two; but things like fans, graphics card etc).

    • komplettie Says:

      One of the best places to ask about these builds are on our forum over at Boards.ie. It’s a nice place, and myself and Ryan will talk to you about the build there, hopefully along with some of the other guys on the forum, who can offer their own advice as well 🙂

  2. Nollog Says:

    “Antec’s Nine Hundred will set you back €89.62m which rounds out the build nicely.”
    89.62 million euro?! :p

    Nitpicking aside, that’s a nice build.

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