CPU/memory/motherboard deals guide from £48.22 @ Amazon
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CPU/memory/motherboard deals guide from £48.22 @ Amazon

126
Found 21st Nov 2014
This is a guide/deals on CPUs, motherboards and RAM. Mainly if you are building a new computer. Bear in mind that CPUs aren't improving as fast as they used to be. I bought a Q9550 CPU for £200 in 2008. Today it's by no means junk, probably equivalent to a £60 CPU. So if you have a PC that's running slow, purchased in the last few years, it might not be worth upgrading, instead:

(a) reinstall Windows
(b) replace the system hard drive with an SSD
(c) if the RAM is less than 4GB then upgrade it
(d) for games, generally your graphics card should be worth more than your CPU

First things first, motherboards:

Motherboards come in basically three sizes - ATX (74 square centimetres), for big tower cases, Micro-Atx (39 square centi metres), and Mini-ITX (29 square centimetres).

Generally any motherboard fits in the same size, or larger case. So mini-itx into micro-atx.

For the most flexibility in upgrading and adding more drives, ATX is the way to go. But it will take up more space.

For living room/home theatre PCs, you will usually want to use mini-ITX.

Motherboard features:

* ethernet - for plugging in a network cable - standard, and it's pretty much always gigabit ethernet now
* wifi - useful on a small PC, 802.11ac is the best for streaming video. But you'll still get best performance (e.g., if you are streaming 3d blu-ray) using a separate wireless router connected by ethernet
* onboard graphics slots - nowadays many CPUs are in fact APUs - accelerated processing unit, and they have entry-level graphics capabilities. If you don't want games, just want an entry-level experience, or are running an HTPC, a motherboard with DVI and/or HDMI ports is essential, to avoid having to buy a separate graphics card. For high-end gaming, however, it's irrelevant.
* bluetooth - again, most useful on home theatre PCs, you could also use it to connect to your mobile phone
* onboard sound - nearly all motherboards have it. If you have expensive speakers/headphones you will be better off using a separate soundcard as it will give better sound.
* SATA ports - for connecting hard drives/ssds, and DVD/blu-ray drives. One port per device, so a hard drive and a dvd drive is two.
* RAM slots - typically two or four, unless you have very specialist requirements either is fine.
* Dual channel memory - motherboards with four RAM slots generally have two memory channels, those with two have one channel. Putting two 4GB memory sticks in two slots of the same channel (colour-coded on the board) gives slight performance improvements over using one single 8GB. In the real world not noticeable improvements, but they are there.
* PCI-Express slots - either 16x or 1x/2x/4x. Generally graphics cards are 16x, everything else (e.g., soundcards) is 1x. If you are going to use integrated graphics/sound you don't need any at all, but it's useful to have a 16x slot just in case, and likewise 1x and 2x slots
* USB slots - pretty much essential these days, as keyboards, mice, mobile phones, and other things connect. You technically only need one, as you can add a separate USB hub. Motherboards will either have USB2 or USB3 support. For copying files from external hard disks/flash drives USB3 is much faster. But it's not necessary.
* chipsets/pricing - more expensive motherboards uses a more expensive, feature-filled chipset. They also tend to use better quality capacitors and heat sinks. These make the motherboard more reliable, particularly if you are overclocking. They may also have PCI-Express 3.0 and SATA 3.0 support, neither of which are important except on expensive computer builds.

Motherboard sockets - different motherboards use a different size socket for the CPU. You must match your CPU and motherboard's socket. You also need to check that your motherboard supports the CPU you have chosen. This will be listed on your manufacturers website. Sometimes a BIOS update is required to make the CPU work. Depending on how recent the update was, your shipped motherboard might not have support for your CPU. It is also a good idea to check for RAM support, as not all RAM works with all motherboards.

Currently you've got:
AMD:
* Socket AM1 - used for HTPCs/office PCs with low power consumption, it's AMD's new budget solution for small PCs using integrated graphics
* Socket FM2+ - these takes FM2 or FM2+ CPUs, and these are AMDs mainstream - CPUS from £20 up to £120 - both integrated and discrete graphics
* Socket AM3+ - this is AMD's performance socket, from £75 to £175, all with discrete graphics. There might not be any faster CPUs released for this in the future - which probably isn't a problem, as performance improvements in computing aren't as fast as they used to be, so best buy once now.

Intel:
* Socket 1155 - this is Intel's older socket, and they sell CPUs for this socket with prices from £30 up to £300
* LGA 1150 - this is the replacement for 1155, prices also ranging from £30 to £300. This leaves you the option to upgrade in the future.
* Socket 2011 - this is a performance socket for CPUs costing £250 to £800. So expect expensive CPUs and expensive motherboards.

Plus there are ball-grid array motherboards, which feature a permanent non-upgradeable CPU, and are designed for very low power usage, and don't need a fan for cooling. There are currently three choices, either Celeron J1800 (dual-core), J1900 (quad-core) or Pentium Q2900 (quad-core slightly faster), only available on mini-ITX motherboard with onboard graphics. They are intended for simple productivity use, or for home theatre PCs. They don't use a fan, because they consume so little power (10W max). The J1900 is the best value, as it costs half the only slightly better Q2900.

RAM:
* Currently DDR3 is the standard. This replaced DDR2 and DDR before it. DDR4 is also available, and it's faster than DDR3, but it's only supported by high-end Intel CPUs/motherboards.
* RAM speeds - DDR3 is sold in 1066MHz, 1333MHz, 1600MHz, 1866MHz, 2133MHz, and even faster speeds. Any speed will work with any DDR3 motherboard/CPU, but CPUs are rated for different maximum speeds. Currently the very cheapest CPUs run at DDR3-1333MHz, but DDR3-1600 is more common. AMD support up to DDR3-2133 in their fastest CPUs. Currently there is no difference in price between DDR3-1600 and slower speeds, and hence there is no reason to go slower. Faster memory speeds typically need to be specially configured in your BIOS, so even if you buy DDR3-2400, it will still run at 1333 or 1600 by default. And the performance improvements are slight. However, going to 1866 over 1600 might not increase cost, but it's not really worth worrying about. RAM chips also quote a CL number, with lower better - ie.. CL9 is better than CL10. This is a real performance improvment, but it's smaller than the difference in memory speeds (also smaller). For overclocking, higher memory speeds are also important.
* RAM GB - currently RAM costs more-or-less £7.50/GB. And RAM sticks are available in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB or 8GB sizes (larger ones are very expensive). 4GB is the entry/mainstream-level for RAM in a PC. It's a budget choice, perfectly ok for a basic PC. For a performance PC, 8GB is enough. So basically either 4GB of RAM for around £30 or 8GB for around £60. If you are going for 4GB then buy one 4GB stick. If you are going for 8GB then on a dual-channel motherboard you could use 2*4GB sticks, which gives slightly better performance than 1*8GB, and still you can upgrade in the future if need be. On a motherboard with only one channel, it's better to go for 1 8GB stick as it leaves room to upgrade.

Integrated graphics:

AMD's A4, A6, A8, and A10 CPUs, plus their AM1 CPUs, feature integrated graphics. Performance is equivalent to that of a separate graphics card costing £30-£40. Which is not great. But it will play modern games on low-resolution, low-detail settings, and they are fine for things like High-Def video playback. And they are 100% perfect for general productivity usage.

For gaming (and hence going for a separate graphics card), if you are looking to spend around £100 on a CPU, then you can save £20 by opting for an FX CPU instead of an A-series. Same CPU performance, but no integrated graphics.

Intel's CPUs nearly all have integrated graphics, except on the most expensive model. Here again, graphics capabilities are entry level, equivalent to a £20-£30 graphics card.

Power/noise:

CPUs are rated for TDP - Thermal Design Power - basically the amount of heat produced and hence power consumed. Figures range between 25W and 140W maximum. These do NOT translate directly into electricity bills, as those are maximums under load. If sitting idle 24/7 most CPUs will use pretty much nothing. However it does vary between motherboards and CPUs. But it's not directly linked to the TDP number. For a compact and quiet living room PC you will generally want to avoid the higher TDP CPUs (though you can clock down a high TDP CPU, generally a modern, lowers TDP CPU will run cooler than older designer)

For very low-power/noise there's currently a choice of the J1900 motherboard/CPU combo (10W, fanless), or one of AMD AM1 CPUs with motherboard (25W). The AM1 CPUs are: Sempron 2650, Sempron 3850, Athlon 5150 and Athlon 5350. All but the 2650 are quad core. The others differ by clock speed, with the 5350 the fastest. Pricing: £20, £27, £31, £40. The 5150 has the best price/performance ratio, but overall spending the extra £9 on the 5350 is worth it for 20% more performance. With this you also get VERY basic gaming support with the integrated graphics. The Intel graphics solution won't do gaming, it will just do productivity/movies.

Beyond this, you can put 65W CPUs into home-theatre PCs, they definitely will need a fan, but here you get real gaming possibilities, as well as better performance.

CPU Cores

All CPUs are now basically multiple CPUs on one chip. Most common is two or four, but you can find ones with more. Two cores is considered limiting for gaming, as modern games consoles use multiple cores so the PC games do too.

Cooling

A 'retail' CPU should come with a fan and heatsink, which is required for the CPU to power on. So you don't need to buy those unless you want a better one, typically for overclocking, or for reducing noise. An OEM one has no fan/heatsink and might be cheaper, but add on the heatsink and it can cost more.

Overclocking:

You can improve CPU performance sometimes substantially by overclocking. Intel's Pentium G3258 is specifically sold for overclocking. It is a 3GHz dual-core processor sold at £48. Which means it's a budget CPU. You can overclock to 4GHz+ using the stock cooler, higher using expensive aftermarket cooling - but it might be better not to buy extra cooling, and just go for a better CPU in the first place.

AMD vs. Intel

You can choose either. Currently the fastest PCs possible are Intel. At the bottom of the market, there's little to choose between them, for low-end integrated graphics AMD generally offer better value, and for mainstream gaming Intel is better.

Details below:

CPUs:

* fanless, mini-iTX - MSI Intel Celeron J1900 - mini-itx 2 * dual channel RAM slots, 2 SATA slots, gigabit ethernet, dvi, vga, hdmi (no wifi), soldered in fanless Celeron J1900 chip £48.22 amazon.co.uk/MSI…AS/

* mini-ITX with fan - AMD Athlon 5350 £40 amazon.co.uk/AMD…Q0/ Motherboard amazon.co.uk/MSI…DN2 £23 Total £63 2 SATA slots. This is for a simple PC or HTPC that's not going to be tinkered with.

* basic - If you want a basic Intel build, the £32 Celeron G1840 provides a good performance/price ratio. It will beat the Athlon 5350 above in most things. ebuyer.com/629…840 At this price point you are looking at a micro-ATX motherboard, and for £29.50 delivered you can't go wrong with this one - designated for 'bitcoin mining' but perfectly good for anyone amazon.co.uk/ASR…2G/ - Total £61.50 It has an HDMI and VGA connector. Integrated graphics this will do HD video and so on, but games would be very slow.

* basic overclocking (or just faster at stock) - The Pentium Dual-Core G3258 at £48 amazon.co.uk/Int…KW/ You can use the same motherboard as above - cheap CPU so don't buy an expensive PSU. The BTC Pro supprots overclocking.
Total £77.50

* Integrated graphics midrange. The A8-7600 at £66 delivered offers a quad-core CPU that can run at 65W/3.8GHz in a desktop PC, or at 45W/3.1GHz if you want something cooler. It will be fast for productivity/web browsing, and it has ok integrated graphics (R7) for basic 3d gaming. You can start with this CPU and then add a separate graphics card later. ebuyer.com/657…box You need an FM2+ motherboard, these are generally good, modern boards, and start just over £30 for a basic micro-ATX A58 board with no/limited overclocking and USB2. Mini-ITX FM2+ motherboards (with integrated wifi) are rather more pricey at around £70, but are full-featured. amazon.co.uk/MSI…E8/ The A78M-35 for £35 has is micro-atx, so limited room for expansion, but the board itself is solid. ebuyer.com/624…e35 For a larger board, try the Asrock FM2A88X at £50.20 ebuyer.com/662…ro-
Total prices: £101 - micro-ATX, £116 ATX, £136 mini-ITX.

* discrete graphics/overclocking gaming entry-level - The AMD FX-6300 at £74 is a six core up to 4.1 GHz CPU, and hence good value, but it's old and running on a dying platform. Instead look at the new X4-860K. It's a faster (and cheaper!) version of the A8-7600 above, with four cores but without the integrated graphics. The 'k' means it is unlocked for overclocking. Choose one of the motherboards above. Price: £60 amazon.co.uk/dp/…OQ/ Total cost: £95 micro-ATX, £110 ATX, £130 mini-ITX. IF you overclock, this chip will deliver superb performance.

* Intel gaming basic - The Intel Core i3 4150 3.5GHz is a dual-core CPU just one-step above the cheapest i3 4130 entry level for Intel. It costs £88.08 - worth the extra £2 over the 4130 amazon.co.uk/dp/…8W/ Cheaper from Aria without shipping if you can buy other stuff there. The i3 4160 adds another 0.1GHz again, so 3.6GHz £91 shipped from Scan. scan.co.uk/pro…ail The i3 43xx series are little better, but probably not satisfying the price/performance ratio. You can use the same Asrock motherboard above - total from £117.

* Intel gaming moderate - The Intel Core i5 range gives four cores for better gaming performance. Your entry point is the i5-4460, at £132 shipped amazon.co.uk/dp/…306, running at 3.2 GHz or 3.4 GHz boost. It has integrated graphics, but a separate card would be needed for all but basic gaming. You can use the same BTC Pro card here, too. Faster chips are: i5-4570 @ 3.2/3.6GHz (around £143 + shipping), the 4590 @ 3.3/3.7 GHz (£149 + shiping), the 4670 at 3.4GHz/3.8GHz (£162 plus shipping, but then the 4670k is cheaper) and then the k chips below. Generally speaking the cheapest 4460 has the best price/performance ratio, the next step up is below:

* Intel gaming faster/overclocking - There are two i5 'k' chips', unlocked for overclocking, the 4670k, and the 4690k. The 4690k is the newer, cooler running chip, and it costs around £5 more than the 4670k. It runs at 3.5 GHz or 3.9 GHz boost. £167.50 for this CPU. amazon.co.uk/dp/…9G/ You can still run this on the £30 BTC Pro above, but as you've paid for a premium chip with overclocking, you'd best get a better card. ebuyer.com/642…-d3 £60 It should overclock to around 4.5 GHz.

* Intel gaming higher-end - The next step above the i5 is the Xeon E3 12xx V3 chips. These are quad core, and add hyperthreading (so 8 threads processed more-or-less simultaneously instead of four in the i5 - helpful for the latest games developed for the 8-core PS4 and XBone) but no integrated graphics (not a problem for gaming). They won't overclock, but you get 3.3GHz/3.7Ghz on the base 1230 V3 chip. aria.co.uk/Pro…il+ £192 The 1231 V3 adds 0.1 GHz for another £10, and the 1241 v3 another 0.1GHz for a further £40.

* Intel gaming high end with (slight possible) overclocking. The Core i7 4790k is in the same family of as the Xeon E3 1230 V3 above (so 4 cores, 8 threads). Like the 4690k, it's an update to an earlier chip, the 4770K, giving better overclocking. Compared with the £192 1230 V3 3.3/3.7GHz you instead get 4.0/4.4 GHz. The price is £245 aria.co.uk/Sup…or+ It's the fastest chip in the line, BUT the overclocking is not great, you might get an extra 10% out of it.

* Intel extreme money spending. Here you can buy the i7 5820k or 5930k, both of which have 6 instead of 4 cores, or the 5960x, which has 8. The 5820k is barely slower than the 5930k, but it's much cheaper, at £295. scan.co.uk/pro…e-r The 5960x, definitely offers poor price/performance, at £780. You will need a matching motherboard, costing at least £150. Oh, and DDR4 RAM.

RAM:

Simple choices here - basically 4GB or 8GB DDR3 modules, unless you went for the extreme money spending money options and DDR4. And it's best to cross-check the memory compatibility list on your motherboard's webpage before buying! These are just examples really - loosely speaking CL9 better than CL10 (but not by much) etc., and then memory will run at DDR3-1600 (or DDR3-1333 at the low end) unless overclocked, so higher speeds not better.

* DDR3-1600 Patriot CL9 4GB £29.20 - ebuyer.com/480…002 Good RAM, buy one or two sticks, if you are not overclocking you don't need to go any higher than DD3-1600.

* DDR3-1600 Crucial CL9 8GB £57.47 - amazon.co.uk/Cru…7O/ If you prefer an 8GB stick, for whatever reason

* DDR3-2400 G-Skill CL10 DDR3-2400 £63.75 Two 4GB modules, these RAM won't be faster than the DDR3-1600, but they might help you overclock more ebuyer.com/386…gtx

126 Comments

thanks

Thanks for the information..
Edited by: "Forgottenshopper" 21st Nov 2014

Informative post.

thanks

Very good guide. Thanks.

thank you!! most helpful.

Heat for effort. Good job

Well done this will help lots of people

Yep, credit where credits due sir. Brilliant job, well done.

Fantastic information - obviously the result of many hours of research - many thanks!!

Quality post. I'm istarting a first build, and you've helped greatly.

Just one thing,not all AM3+ sockets have discrete graphics.

Banned

rikkif1990

Just one thing,not all AM3+ sockets have discrete graphics.



Good point, only the very cheap 760 chipset boards do. Everything else requires a graphics card.

OptimusPrimeval

Informative post.



(d) for games, generally your graphics card should cost more than your PC.



But not !00% correct as the above comment is just wrong.

Orcinus_orca

BORING



Why visit the thread then?

Solid informative post for those who want to build something more bespoke than an off the shelf desktop. As someone who has built many PCs, but not for a few years now, this has brought my knowledge more or less up to date on sockets / processor configs. Heat added

Great effort OP. Thanks for posting, definitely deserves some heat but if you make the format a bit more like the SIM Deals thread - listing the latest best deals of say top 5 most popular / common parts for each of the main ones - e.g. top 5 deals on processors.

Ermm, so where is the actual deal?

Or is this now, Hot Uk Spam?

Banned

Ony do (c) if you're running above XP and change the remap in BIOS

You may not be able to upgrade RAM as it's possibly now obsolete or massively overpriced.

Banned

abaxas

Ermm, so where is the actual deal?Or is this now, Hot Uk Spam?



It's a free (if technically incorrect at some points) guide to PCs!

Sorry, voting cold. A lot of work went into the post but it is not a deal. You should have saved it for a blog entry or forum post, not HUKD.

Nice post. IMO, if you're going to spend £500 on a GPU, you're going to need high end components to go with it.

I have been there before, you end up with constant framerate spikes and lag when the CPU can't keep up.




Edited by: "stsonic" 21st Nov 2014

"Links in first post"

I think OP forgot to do the links bit. Good guide though.

Tons of heat, brilliant!

Useful summary of current sockets, CPUs etc.

Thanks OP

ball-grid array motherboards



There is also the Intel Celeron 1037U, 1007U and 847 out there. Possibly faster than the J1800/1900 depending on the purpose.

For my low power application an AM1-5350 works better than a 1037U because it has more cores to run several programs at once.

Is it possible to get a cheap Z68 mobo or are they not made anymore?

excellent guide, heat

(i will be pointing many people in this direction...)

thanks

Good guide, been a few years since I've built myself

Heat added just for the info.....so true about the graphics costing more than your pc lol.....well nearly... Just over £700 here on SLI.

Informative thread but no idea what the deal is meant to be.

A+ for effort. But no deal so not sure what people are voting on !

The most important tips: Dont buy from pc world. If you game: gphx card should cost more than pc as stated for 2 years+ gaming. If you dont game - go tablet.

Great Information thanks.

While there are a lot of techie people on here would anyone care to comment on this build I have started to put together?

uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/p…njX

I would ideally like to bring the costs down. Where do you think I could make some savings ? Is there anything here that is extreme overkill ?? Would these components work well together?


Thanks


Edited by: "doivey" 21st Nov 2014

There are a fair few errors in this;

A GPU shouldn't always cost more than the PC for gaming. Its entirely resolution dependant as well as causing CPU bottlenecks of you have a low powered CPU.

Wireless AC is not always the best for streaming video. 5Ghz has worse penetration of solid objects which may result in actually lower speeds than 2.4ghz N so this is entirely situational. Additionally 1.3Gbps is the 2 way speed. You'll only get half that in or out. For most "home video" scenarios N will be just fine. Wired is always better of course. Wmm etc will also affect your wireless throughput and you will also need a compatible spec router/Access Point.

TDP is thermal design power, not thermal dissipation watts. Its heat generated by the CPU that will require dissipation by the cooling system.

A living room PC does not strictly require low TDP CPUs buts its dependant on what you are doing with it. I have a 125W x6 in mine and its fine. What you need is to correctly match the CPU to YOUR requirements as well as match cooling / noise requirements.

Sorry if this comes across as pedantic but being a tech I am a little ocd about details.

Thanks - Useful info. My current rig is:

CPU: Q6600 (Fan Artic Cooler)
Ram: 8GB
GPU 2x GTX 260 in SLI
Mobo: Asus Striker II Formula
HDD: 2.5TB (2x 1TB and 1x 500GB)

So far it's still running well, but I would like to sell and buy a new one soon for more intense gaming

Mother222

Heat added just for the info.....so true about the graphics costing more … Heat added just for the info.....so true about the graphics costing more than your pc lol.....well nearly... Just over £700 here on SLI.



Cool story bro.

OptimusPrimeval

Informative post.

(d) for games, generally your graphics card should cost more than your … (d) for games, generally your graphics card should cost more than your PC.



Yeah I agreed with most of the guide, just that one comment I didnt, don't think there is a graphics card that costs more than the rest of my PC. Which would probably be the case for most too.
Good guide for people who don't know much about building PC's so heat for that.

Very good guide. Thanks.(_;)

Excellent summary - thanks for your efforts!
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