By Mike Clements posted Nov 28th 2011
As much as it pains me to admit it, not every person wants or needs a fire breathing dragon type PC. Quite a few people in the world will never use or want discrete PCI-e graphics processing, a personalized modded case with bells and whistles, multiple drives, and all of those other goodies that constitute a high end PC. A lot of people are going "green" with their PCs and making choices that consume less power.
Fortunately, the computer industry is aware of this and that's why you get great products like AMD's Llano. Llano is AMDs second Fusion APU or Accelerated Processing Unit. I chose the A8 3850 for this build.
After reading Gigabyte's Dino Strkljevic's Llano OCing Guide, I was actually excited about building a rig based on this newest AMD APU. After speaking with Dino, I decided to use the Gigabyte A75-UD4H motherboard. This board is feature rich and has all the BIOS capability needed to best couple a Fusion APU to the AMD A75 chipset.
Of course at Corsair we must keep pace with the industry, and quite a few of our newer products are perfect compliments to this sort of build. We love our dragons but we also make great components just for systems like this. Computer parts always need a home so I decided that the best Corsair case for this build is the Carbide Series™ 400R Mid-Tower case.
The tag line for the Carbide Series sums this case up perfectly — Everything you need, nothing you don't.
As with any CPU, GPU, or APU, you need to keep it cool. Our new Hydro Series™ H70 Core CPU Cooler is a perfect fit for this system for both price point and performance. And of course, it's an easy job to mount any of our Hydro Series coolers into one of our cases. This unit is certainly no exception.
Both the Corsair XMS and Vengeance® DDR3 memory are excellent choices in a build that will not need the maximum memory cooling expandability or performance found in our Dominator® memory. So, I chose the1600 Mhz Vengeance Low Profile DDR3 memory kit (CML8GX3M2A1600C9). Memory is just dirt cheap right now and these great performers can be found at a great price at retailers all around the world.
Even though this is a relatively low power build, I'm an overkill type guy when it comes to power supply units. The Corsair Gaming Series GS600 PSU is more than enough power for this rig as we are building it today. However, the GS600 is also robust enough to add a PCI-e GPU into the system. AMD has built in the capability to add a discrete 6XXX series graphics card for a big boost in graphics performance for those users that want to expand the graphics processing power beyond that of the on-chip Fusion graphics.
Until the recent tragic flooding in parts of Asia where the bulk of the world's hard disk drives are produced, rotating HDDs with massive capacities could be had at amazingly low prices. Of course, they do not nearly match the performance of an SSD but, they do make up for it in sheer capacity and fit well in a system like we have here. HDD prices are on the rise but, at the beginning of this project, I picked up a Hitachi 2TB HDD for $99 after MIR.
Just for additional congruency in the build, I went with a simple $25 DVD-ROM unit. Of course, a better and faster drive could be inserted if desired but I am aiming for a lower price point in this system.
Just for fun, I put myself on the clock for this build. Armed with my tools, the components, and a fresh mug of coffee, I started the build as seen above with everything still in the packaging. This is a simple build and even after a bit of cable management, I was completely finished at just 38 minutes.
Of course I am familiar with the components I used for the build but, all of the items I chose are well made and easy to install. The 400R has several of the best features of our other cases including the tool-less HDD trays and the all important grommet system for cable management. For a DIY person or for a systems integrator this is very important.
Microsoft Windows 7 installed without a hitch, and I was soon benchmarking the machine. Obviously this system is not going to compete with some of the higher end builds we have featured, but on a bang per buck basis this system is very capable. It is is an excellent example of a sensible machine for a majority of non-fire breathing dragon PC users.
Here are the obligatory CPU-Z shots:
I've always enjoyed using Futuremark's PC Mark series of benchmarks. Here is the bench mark description straight from Futuremark:
"A PCMark score is a measure of your computer's performance across a variety of common tasks such as viewing and editing photos, video, music and other media, gaming, communications, productivity and security."
I ran PCMark Vantage on this machine so that users could see how it compares to other machines that we have featured. The combination of the AMD APU, the Corsair memory, and the HDD put up a respectable score.
For light gamers or people that do not game and will have other graphics needs such as multimedia and photo or video editing, the on-chip graphics power of the AMD APU is more than sufficient. The Futuremark 3DMark 11 score is not a world beater but keep in mind that users that need more performance can add a discrete PCI-e GPU if desired.
For those of you out there that would like to build a nice little email plus web surfing machine, an HTPC, or light duty multimedia machine, a system like what we have here is a very sensible choice. It's even better when you take a look at the budget for this system.
These are USD prices I found in a quick search of several price engines and popular websites:
- Corsair Carbide Series 400R Mid-Tower Case: $109.99 (After MIR)
- AMD A8 3850 APU: $139.99
- Gigabyte A75-UD4H motherboard: $104.99 (After MIR)
- Hydro Series H70 CORE CPU Cooler: $79.99
- Corsair Vengeance Low Profile DDR3 Memory CML8GX3M2A1600C9: $49.99
- Corsair GS600 Gaming Series Power Supply: $69.99
- Hitachi 2TB HDD: $99 (After MIR)
- DVD ROM: $25
- Total: $678.94
This machine has proven itself to be very capable in the time I spent with it. At some point, I'm sure I'll grab a 6XXX series GPU and see how the hybrid CrossfireX combination works. So far, the system is rock solid as is and is a great example of building a very capable and expandable system with a small budget these days.