For ~$150-200 I would do the following:
AMD discrete:CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103886
That's $60 with $10 off promo code.GPU: http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=GT440-PCIE-15DDR3-CO&cat=VCD
This will be ~$65 with shipping. This is not the regular retail version of the GT440, this is the higher end version of the various OEM versions out there with 24 ROPs and an ~800MHZ core clock. Use an overclocking utility to bump up the GDDR3 speed on this as high as it will run stable to help unleash some of the available grunt from all of those ROPs.MOBO: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131795R
Open box, should be fine since this is going into a machine that should already have SATA cables so even if it's missing accessories it won't matter.RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820313086
Use 20% off promo code. No need for high performance memory here since it will just be the CPU using it.
That's $195 shipped
give or take. I like this build because it comes with 8GB of RAM right off the bat, and I am confident it would eek out a better gaming performance than similar priced APU options in DX9/10 games due to the more robust discrete GPU. The downside to this build, is that the MOBO and GPU may have fairly limited warranties for various reasons.
: Same as suggested above.MOBO/RAM
: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1085450$198 shipped
. I like this build because the G850 provides very good per-core performance, which in most games is preferable. The downside here, is that the mobo is made by ECS (bleh), and it only starts off with a single channel 4GB RAM configuration.
AMD Trinity APU:CPU/GPU
On sale for $120
$50 board, free shipping, makes this the lowest cost FM2 board I am aware of. The updated VRMs on this board from MSI should make for an acceptable platform for future mild overclocking if heatsinks are added.RAM
This build (IMO) requires both 8GB of RAM, and modules that you can get to 1866 speeds or better. These low voltage modules should have the OCing headroom to run at 1866 speeds and tighter timings than they are listed at. Experiment in the 1.5-1.6V range to get the speeds up.$185 or $205 shipped.
(depending on CPU selection). The A8 is the better value for playing older DX9 games as the extra shader cores of the A10 will go mostly un-used except in more modern titles.
I would suggest working on finding a stable under-volted setting for the CPU, which will help free up some watts for the iGPU, which should be overclocked a bit. Work on those RAM speeds as well and hope for the best.
AMD llano APU build:MOBO: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138333
This MOBO comes with a free 2x4GB memory kit. The motherboard here has the VRM capability to do some overclocking of both the CPU and iGPU here. Pick one of the K edition A6 or A8 combo specials to go with this MOBO. (example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1068228
Price: $165 or $185 shipped
depending on whether the A6 or A8 CPU is selected in the combo. Either way is good here since the iGPUs should have similar enough performance once overclocked.
Alternate llano APU:
This MOBO comes with a free 2x4GB memory kit. This motherboard would be best
paired with non-K edition chips and is available in combo specials like the board above with the various llano chips. Pick a non-K A6 or A8 chip to pair with this. (Example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1068040
Prices range from $130 to $152
depending on the chip chosen and I would absolutely suggest the A8-3850 here in order to get the 6550D iGPU since these iGPUs can not be OCed. You can technically pair this MOBO with the "K" option CPUs, just have to be responsible about how you go about OCing. I would suggest a similar approach as what I suggested with the trinity build: leave the CPU clock alone for the most part, just find a stable under-volt, then work on cranking only the iGPU speeds instead.
These llano builds with the free memory are easily the best value option right now. In either llano build option, I highly suggest tweaking the memory. Crank it to ~1.6V - 1.7V and try to run it at 1866 speeds or higher. The fact that a full (and respectable) CPU/GPU/MOBO/RAM combo can be bought for around or under $150 on the FM1 platform right now is absolutely awesome. If you need to keep the budget down around here, these llano build options are absolutely the ticket right now with that free memory special. (not sure how long that will last so hurry!).Edited by mdocod - 10/17/12 at 12:03am