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Hardware / Recommended

Well Balanced Computer - Components

Updated: June 2020

The computer system configuration given below is based on AM3 socket, DDR3 RAM, and AMD K10 CPU models.

Radeon RX 550 with black vignetting.jpg
  • The given configuration makes a very versatile computer. It can be used for: gaming (for less demanding games only), retro gaming, web browsing, writing, programming, video and audio playing, video editing, audio editing. For video transcoding acceptable performance is expected.
  • Not intended for: architectural 3D rendering or other offline 3D rendering.
  • ECC capable memory is provided to attain the professional level of reliability, data integrity and computational correctness.
  • Additional benefits: smaller form factor (micro ATX, 25 liters), 45 W CPU for extremely quiet operation and reduced energy consumption, easily upgradable RAM, fast storage, fast startup.
  • The notes on availability of various components, especially the CPU and the motherboard, are given below the components table.
  • Notes on other options for the GPU board are given below the the components table.
  • Some people prefer a bigger chassis (computer enclosure); some people prefer a different enclosure. You can substitute the recommended enclosure with some other ATX or micro ATX enclosure.

Components Table

Name and Description

Price, New

Price, Used


Athlon II X3 420e

2.6 GHz, 3 cores, 45 W, socket AM3, K10



CPU Cooler

Used CPU: Arctic Cooling Alpine AM4 (it is AM3-compatible), ACALP00025A




Asus M4A88T-M/USB3

mATX, socket AM3, AMD 880G + SB710, 4x DDR3, USB 3.0



Main Memory

2x 4 GB Kingston, Part No.: KVR13E9/4

DDR3 DIMM unbuffered ECC 1333 MHz 1.5V

Alternative Part No.: KVR13E9/4 +(HC or I), KVR1333D3E9S/4G, KVR1333D3E9S/4G +(EC or HB or HC or I), KVR16E11S8/4, KVR16E11S8/4 +(EF or KF or HB or I)



GPU Board

Radeon RX 550, 4 GB



Startup Drive

Crucial MX500, 250 GB




Zalman ZM-T5

Micro ATX / Mini ITX, Mini Tower, black, 2.94 kg, 25 liters, 348(D) x 170(W) x 427(H)mm



Power Supply

Be quiet! Pure Power 11 400 W 80 PLUS Gold



Data Backup

2 x SanDisk Cruzer Ultra 16 GB USB 3.0



Total Cost

$364 - $374

Components Availability and Upgrade Suggestions

  • This CPU cannot be purchased in retail stores. Only used parts are available.
  • If you cannot find this specific CPU model, try some of the other K10 models listed on recommended CPUs page.
  • Second-hand K10 CPUs can be purchased on eBay, and the availability is good. K10 CPUs are also commonly available through local used-good markets. Second-hand CPUs are rarely malfunctioning, because CPUs have long working lifespans.
  • Availability of the recommended motherboard is similar to availability of the CPU; therefore all the given advice also applies to the motherboard.
  • Recommended main memory DIMMs are available as used parts on eBay.
  • To search for main memory DIMMs, use the part number (model code) as specified in the components table above. Searching by the part number is the only reliable way to get the correct DIMMs (DDR3, unbuffered and ECC), especially on eBay.
  • To get additional main memory capacity, just purchase more of the same DIMMs. But you can't use 3 DIMMs, only 1, 2 or 4.
  • In order to get a more powerful gaming machine, a better and more expensive GPU should be purchased (the recommended GPU should be sufficient only for less demanding 3D games). Some of the more popular choices are given below in the GPU models table.
  • The simplest way to reduce the price of this computer is to not purchase a discrete GPU board at all. In that case, the GPU integrated on the motherboard can be used.

Alternative GPU Boards

If you would like to substitute the recommended GPU board, use the table below to calculate the price difference.

Discrete (i.e. non-integrated) GPUs are quite expensive. Their main purpose is to provide better quality graphics in 3D graphics games.

The column "Perf." gives an approximate performance of each GPU.

The electric power requirements are given in the table below so that yearly electricity consumption of each GPU can be estimated (and therefore, the cost of electric energy). A GPU that consumes less power needs less cooling, therefore the cooling fans might generate less noise.

Name and Description


Gaming Power Consumption

Idle Power Consumption

Dual Display Power Consumption


Price, New

Price, Used

Radeon R7 240


30 W

5 W


40 W



Radeon RX 550 2GB/4GB


50 W

7 W

13 W

50 W

$90 / $100

$80 / $90

Radeon RX 560 4GB


80 W

9 W

15 W

70 W



Radeon RX 570 4GB/8GB


155 W

11 W

25 W

120 W

$165 / $185

$90 / $115

Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB/8GB


125 W

5 W

18 W

130 W

$220 / $250

$190 / $220

Radeon RX 5600 XT 6GB


155 W

7 W

28 W

160 W



Here is a list of recommended output image resolutions with explanations:

  • 900p -- approx. 1.44 Mpixels - unnecessarily more detailed than the resolution of average human eyesight when playing 3D games (fast motion of photorealistic images).

  • 800p -- approx. 1.14 Mpixels - matches well with average human eyesight when playing 3D games (fast motion of photorealistic images).

  • 720p -- approx. 0.92 Mpixels - good compromise between image sharpness and required GPU speed. Sharp, but slightly imperfect.

  • 600p -- approx. 0.64 Mpixels - somewhat blurry image but still acceptable quality, for low-speed GPUs; for example, this is better than output image of the GPU on Nintendo Switch.

Here is a description of performance of each GPU model:

  • Radeon RX 550 -- Able to run most AAA 3D games in 600p resolution at 30 FPS. It is sufficiently powerful to run a few years old games in better quality. User might be forced to reduce output image quality to get an acceptable performance in more demanding games.
  • Radeon RX 560 -- Able to run newest AAA 3D games in 720p resolution at 30 FPS. It should produce a sharp image, but with imperfect fluidity. You might be forced to reduce 3D image quality in some games. Older games should not present a performance problem.
  • Radeon RX 570 -- Able to run newest AAA 3D games in 720p resolution at 60 FPS. It should produce a sharp, pleasant and fluid image.
  • Radeon RX 5500 XT -- Able to run newest AAA 3D games in 800p resolution at 60 FPS. It should produce a very sharp, pleasant and fluid image.
  • Radeon RX 5600 XT -- Able to run newest AAA 3D games and future AAA 3D games in 800p resolution at 60 FPS, and to simultaneously enable higher image quality than recommeded by the game producer. It should produce a very sharp, extremely pleasant and fluid image.