A $350 quad-core desktop with AMD A8-6600K

In this article I explain a choice of parts for building a quad-core desktop PC using the AMD A8-6600K APU. If you are here just for the part list see Review.

AMD APUs offer great benefit at low cost by integrating CPU and GPU on a single chip. It's a great deal for those who want a budget PC for everyday tasks and even capable of some discrete gaming. The third (latest) generation AMD A8-6600K Processor is a 4.3GHz quad core processor that costs $105. It integrates a GPU marketed as Radeon HD8570D though it's not comparable to "real" HD8000 GPUs. The socket is FM2, for which there are plenty of motherboards, most at low cost.

AMD A8-6600K APU

This article presents a nice choice of parts around the A8-6600K to build your own PC for $350, roughly the price of a just a high end processor. It's in no way a gaming PC but this APU does offer enough power for playing new games at low-medium settings. To get an idea of what the integrated GPU is capable of see Can AMD's Newest APU Play Your Favorite Games Without A Dedicated Graphics Card? .

The motherboard

Many FM2 motherboards out there are Micro ATX. I chose this form-factor because, being a general use PC, I'm sure I won't need to add a graphics card (there is no room for a long graphics card in a MicroATX case). If you are planning on adding a graphics card buying a dedicated processor instead of an APU might be a better choice anyway. If you prefer a more common ATX board, there are plenty of options too.

The chipset selection is very important. There are three AMD FM2 chipsets: A55, A75 and A85X, all compatible with A4, A6, A8 and A10. However each one targets different users. The A55 is the cheapest. It has SATA 3 Gb/s support. Targets signage boxes and light office clients. It is meant to be used with both the A6 and A4 APU products. The AMD A75 offers SATA 6Gb/s support and has native USB 3.0 support. Targets mainstream users. The AMD A85X supports two more SATA 6 Gb/s ports and adds in CrossfireX support. I chose to go with A75 as there is little difference in price compared to A55 and SATA 6 Gb/s could be important if using an SSD. CrossfireX support is by no means important for this build.
MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 motherboard

I went with MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 motherboard. For $56 you get an A75 chipset MicroATX motherboard with 2 memory slots, 1 PCIe x16, 1 PCIe x1, 1 PCI, 6 SATA ports, 6 USB ports, Gigabit LAN, 8 channel audio, HDMI, DVI and VGA outs. Having just two memory slots could be a bit limiting. However, it is common for MicroATX boards. Buying enough memory for the long run is therefore important.


The memory

Chosing memory is not as hard. A standard DDR3 1600MHz kit will do the job. Just be sure to buy modules with enough capacity because there are only two slots available. I found 8GB to be more than enough. Corsair Vengeance 1x8GB kit is a high quality module for just $80. We also have one slot available for future upgrade.

The storage

The tough decition here is whether to go with a lightning fast low capacity SSD or with a slow high capacity hard drive, or both. It all depends on what you want to do. SSD do produce a huge improvemente in boot and load times at the expense of drive capacity. For my build I decided to use a $60 hard drive (Western Digital Blue 1TB) to keep costs low. This is probably the cheapest 1TB drive on Amazon and has 4.5/5 stars, a great deal. With 1TB I hope to never need an upgrade.

Case and PSU

There are lots of MicroATX cases at Amazon but few include a power supply. If you don't want to worry about buying a separate PSU, which would also be more expensive, the Rosewill Ultra High Gloss Finished MicroATX Case is a good option. For $50 you get a nice MicroATX case with a 400W PSU. This wattage is good enough for our build. The case even has a very convenient removable HDD cage for two hard drives. The big front ON button has a nice blue light.

Rosewill Ultra High Gloss Finished MicroATX Case


The complete build is:

Total: $355


Leave a Reply

Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>