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New core (Mobo+CPU) - Any good low-end options?

Hey all! The TL;DR - any decent 6+ core budget-but-quality Motherboard/CPU combos available for a medium workload build, with a $300-$400 budget?

Recently my sister-in-law experienced some stability issues with her old Bulldozer rig, I think it’s an AMD FX 3850 hand-me-down frankenmonster with 16 GB of RAM and odd bits and parts here and there. It does have a 1050 Ti that could be repurposed to a new rig, and we did switch her from a 1TB HDD to a 1TB NVMe on it making that CPU quite snappy. Still, the stability issues has me a bit concerned and so I figure it is time to get an upgrade. I strongly suspect a failing motherboard.

So, as a combined Birthday / X-mas gift (she has her birthday this spring) I was thinking about helping her upgrade to a current-gen system.

Use case and features

The idea is to build something good enough to last for a few years with an extra low- end to mid-range GPU for $200-$300 in a couple of years time. Currently the system will be used for school work (computer science) and [email protected] gaming. The system does not have to be the best gaming monster ever, but at least some medium settings would be nice.

As for other workloads, for now it’s some light CompSci work and CAD, which the 1050 Ti should be able to fit perfectly. Bluetooth and Wifi would be a really good nice-to-have but is not a must have.

Once chosen, the Motherboard + CPU + RAM will not change until computer end of life, most probably. Overclocking will not be a thing.

Budget

Budget wise, she’s still studying so money is tight. Budget is $350, but can be stretched $50 or so if it gives significant advantages.

RAM

Already figured it out, me and wife will both upgrade RAM from 2x8 to 2x16 sticks, so she’ll get our 4x8 3200 MHz RAM and we’ll share our 4x16 sticks.

CPU

Price wise, bang for the buck is pretty much between the 5600X or +$40 more for a 5700G. These are the current prices in my market, converted to USD:

AMD Price Price Intel
Ryzen 5 3400G $154.99 $134.99 Core i5 10400F
Ryzen 5 3600 $198.99 $214.99 Core i5 10600
Ryzen 7 3700X $279.99 $279.99 Core i7 10700F
Ryzen 9 3900X $464.99 $369.99 Core i9 10900
Ryzen 5 5600G $229.99 $149.99 Core i5 11400F
Ryzen 5 5600X $294.99 $229.99 Core i5 11600
Ryzen 7 5700G $329.99 $304.99 Core i7 11700F
Ryzen 7 5800X $374.99 $384.99 Core i9 11900F

Motherboards

Unfortunately, since the 5700G, which would be a really nice option, is $329, that leaves… $20 for a motherboard. Most good motherboards go for $120 or more, these days.

So, do I go for a $50-$70 motherboard, do I break the bank and make something that will really last, or should I go for a cheaper six core option? I feel that the more cores I can cram into this, the better for longevity - at the same time, $100 more than planned for is really squeezing it…

i think a intel core i5 is going to be your best option.
But you might also wanne look into some left over 10th series stock.
Because those might be cheaper.

If you count like around $200,- for the cpu that leaves you like $150,- to $200,- for a board.
For that amount of money there are decent board options available.
Only downside of the 11400F is that it is a little bit low on base clock.

But of course the R5-3600 with a B550 board like the Msi B550 Tomahawk could also be an option.
The Ryzen 5000 series cpu’s are a bit expensive unfortunately.

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I too would suggest looking at older platforms and leave current gen CPU/GPU/APU well alone, purely for (over) pricing.

Earlier this year I upgraded my dektop (also Bulldozer based) to an R7 1700 (non-X), CPU cooler, 2x 8GB RAM and an Asus Prime B450M-A mainboard, for about your budget. Admittedly, the CPU was just 100 euro (~120-ish USD), the RAM was discounted down to 30 euro per stick and the mainboard was a outlet model from the retailer. Cooler and CPU came from Aliexpress, RAM and mainboard from a local(-ish) retailer. The old GT710 GPU was repurposed, my graphical needs are even less then your sisters :wink:

Just had a look at the webstore of the shop I purchased my R7 1700 from, if you’re quick, look at this option:

R5 3500X, tray CPU (no boxed cooler!). You can repurpose the old cooler from the Bulldozer system on an AM4 system!

HTH!

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Okay, did some digging on some motherboards that might fit the bill here and equivalent USD pricing in my area (rounded to nearest $5 for easier comparison);

AMD Price Price Intel
Gigabyte A520M Aorus Elite $54.99 $69.99 Gigabyte H510M S2H V2
Gigabyte B550M DS3H $74.99 $84.99 Gigabyte B560M DS3H
Gigabyte B550 Gaming X $74.99 $94.99 Asus B560M-A Prime
Asus A520M TUF Gaming Plus Wifi $104.99 $94.99 Asus H510M-A Prime Wifi
Gigabyte A520I AC $109.99 $134.99 MSI B560M Pro Wifi
Gigabyte B550M Aorus Pro $124.99 $124.99 Gigabyte B560M Aorus Pro
Gigabyte B550I Aorus Pro AX $174.99 $149.99 Gigabyte B560I Aorus Pro AX
MSI B550M MAG Mortar Wifi $144.99 $149.99 MSI B560M MAG Mortar Wifi
MSI B550 MAG Tomahawk $149.99 $159.99 MSI B560 MAG Tomahawk Wifi
Asus B550I ROG Strix Wifi $184.99 $169.99 Asus B560I ROG Strix Wifi

No, not really serious with the A520 and H510 options; just wanted to see if that could squeeze price down somewhat. Anything from that bunch that sticks out other than the Tomahawks? Got a better B550 / B560 to recommend? X570 and Z590 seems to be out of target range unfortunately.

Right now, as it looks the 11400F paired with the Gigabyte B560 DS3H seems like an enticing budget option ($235), a step up from that would be the 5600G paired with B550M Aorus Pro perhaps ($355), or maybe even stretch to the Mortar WiFi ($375).

i5 or R3 cpu paired with a cheap motherboard based on budget line of either intel or amd.

Gaming favors Intel optimizations on the low to mid-end, unfortunately if it didn’t the bank-for-buck on the amd side would be a no-brainer. Anway :+1:

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Thanks everyone for your input, it is greatly appreciated!

So, the way I’m thinking here - I want to build something that will last with minimal upgrades for 4-5 years, something that can drive a 4k desktop screen with o.k. 1080p gaming, ideally it would only need a new GPU in two years or so. That is at least 2, maybe 3 generations of GPUs and 3+ generations of CPUs.

I am not expecting this to be a killer computer once 2026-2027 rolls around, but it should still be able to run the track with decent times. That’s why I’m looking at 8 core systems, because I have a feeling cores will matter a lot more going forward. The 5950X would be awesome to put in there but I simply do not have the budget for it. :slight_smile:

To reiterate, these are the parts I already have:

Part Model
Memory 4x8 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz CL16
Storage Kingston A2000 1 TB NVMe
GPU MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4 GB
PSU 750W Bronze no-name (will probably get replaced soon)
Case MSI MAG Forge 100R

Meet the finalists

I have narrowed it down to five motherboards and four CPUs of interest. From least expensive to most expensive:

CPU Price Comment
Core i5 11400F $149.99 The price for a six core is awesome, even though it is a weak six core
Ryzen 5 5600G $229.99 The extra increase in IPC over the 3600 makes this worth the extra $30. Six cores still feel weak though.
Core i7 11700F $304.99 Feels like the sweet spot for PCIe 4.0 capability, and 8 cores makes me happy
Ryzen 7 5700G $329.99 $25 more than the 11700F, but the platform is better and TDP low enough to be put in a cheaper motherboard
Motherboard Price VRM Flashback PCIe Wifi
Gigabyte B560M DS3H $84.99 Adequate Yes 4.0 -
Asus A520M TUF Gaming Plus Wifi $104.99 Good Yes 3.0 Realtek
MSI B560M PRO-VDH WIFI $114.99 Great No 4.0 Intel 6E
Gigabyte B550M Aorus Pro $124.99 Excellent Yes 4.0 -
MSI B560 MAG Tomahawk Wifi $159.99 Excellent No 4.0 Intel 6E

Current conclusions

From the above, I think the Asus A520 TUF WiFi actually checks all the boxes here for the AMD side; 5600G or 5700G does not have PCIe 3.0, so that is moot, and Flashback / WiFi are both really nice to have features. That would give a total cost of $334.99 or $439.99, which is either barely within budget or breaks the bank by $90.

On the intel side, the MSI B560M PRO-VDH Wifi seems to fit the bill the best, so that would be either $264.99 or $419.99 which is either $85 left or breaks the bank by $70.

Market is what it is, would love a Flashback + Wifi + Awesome VRMs combo but I’m pretty satisfied with finding four decent options. Now I just gotta choose whether or not to go 6 cores and should I go AMD or Intel. Am I even completely crazy for going A520 here? :slight_smile:

Pulled the trigger, thanks for the assistance and letting me vent my thoughts here everyone!

In the end I opted for a 5700G and managed to get a sweet, sweet deal on the MSI B550 PRO-VDH WiFi, landing everything at just under $400. Over budget, but ticked all boxes and will provide an extra year or so with those extra cores.

I didn’t opt for the 11700F for the simple reason that I could not find a decent cooler under $35. While the 5700G Wraith Stealth cooler is only adequate, it’s good enough to not impact performance too much. The same can unfortunately not be said of the 11700F cooler. Those extra $35 made the i7 a much tougher sell, and the MSI board offer sealed the deal so the 5700G it is! :slight_smile:

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