Ultimate 500 Euro Budget Build

The time of crappy budget computers is over. How to pick the best bang for the buck components? You'll soon know.

Let's Talk Components

CPU

Let's start with the heart. I chose the AMD Athlon X4 860K*, a quad-core from AMD, because of the price. It has decent performance while keeping the price low. Only thing that sucks is the integrated cooler which can get really loud while heavy usage, so you probably want to get a better one very soon.

Up- and Downgrades:

Obviously, a better CPU makes your computer faster, so if you have a bigger budget, you can invest a little bit more. If you have a smaller budget, I'd recommend saving a little bit longer, because below this pricetag you pretty much only get something bad.

GPU

I've went with the AMD RX 470* from PowerColor (RedDragon model) for this. It's bigger brother, the RX 480*, you might know as the 1080p king. As for the RX 470, the performance is also pretty good. Also (in silent mode) the fans don't spin while normal operation and also stay really quiet under load.

Up- and Downgrades:

If you want to spend a little bit more, I'd recommend either to take a RX 480* from AMD or a GTX 1060* from Nvidia. For a bit less, you could also take a RX 460* or a GTX 1050 Ti*, but I'd go for the GTX 1050 Ti, because of the better graphics. But if you choose one of these, make sure you don't get a 2GB model.

Memory (RAM)

For memory, just go to your store of choice and get the cheapest one with the capacity and type you need. Don't worry too much about clock speeds and things like that. Just get the correct DIMM and DDR type and you're good to go. A solid choice are often Kingston's Value and Crucial's RAM. I went with eight gigs of Kingston Value RAM. One thing you may pay attention to is how many RAM slots your motherboard has. If it has only two, then better only get one memory stick, so you can upgrade later on.

Up- and Downgrades:

I really would not downgrade below 8GB of RAM. If there's no other way, then okay, but you probably want to upgrade it in the future. Upgrading to 16GB is fine if you play games or do stuff that can use this capacity, but everything above 16GB is probably overkill and only for specific usecases like video editing.

Power supply

I took the very cheap 420 watt power supply from LC Power for 20€, but while it does it's job pretty good (also very silent), it was a total mess to install. The wires were so short that I was not able to plug the CPU power cable in without having crappy cable management. In my case, it wasn't a that huge problem, as I'm using a Mini-ITX case, where everything is very tight together anyway. So do a better job and get a proper PSU.

Motherboard

While motherboards don't affect functionality and speed of your computer (at least mostly), they affect features. So grab a motherboard with all the ports you need. Pay attention to get the correct socket and size for your case. I chose the Biostar Hi-Fi A70U3P*, as it was the cheapest one I've found that has everything I need.

Storage

This was something really difficult. I really wasn't sure if I should go with a better GPU but a HDD or a slightly slower GPU but a SSD. The general question is: do you want a better gaming experience or a snappier everyday computer? I went with the second option and opted for a Crucial MX300 525GB* SSD, and it was totally worth it. Windows 7 boots up just as fast as it's newer brothers, programs opens as you click on them and copying and unzipping files is blazingly fast.

Up- and downgrades:

If you are a gamer, then you probably want to spend more on the GPU. You can get a 1TB HDD* for about 45€, which is a very low price compared to an SSD. If you need more storage, you could get a bigger SSD, or also opt for a hard drive as a second storage device.

Case

This sounds very easy, but it actually is pretty tough. There are some things to consider, like ports and size. I wanted a very small case, that isn't too noticeable. So I chose a case from a German manufacturer called the Jonsbo C3* which sadly is only available in Amazon Germany. It is made only out of aluminium and has microphone, headphones and two USB 3.0 ports on the front.

Build it.

There are tons of tutorials out there on how to build your computer, so I'm not going to write you a step-by-step article. If you don't want to assemble your computer on your own, there are many shops that can do it for you.

If you build your computer in a mini ITX case just like I did, you should know that it is very tight and cable management can be very frustrating. But if you assembled it, you're very happy with your small but powerful computer.

When you install Windows, you better want to do it via USB, even if you have an optical drive. It is so much faster, it took only 10 minutes for me. But don't use USB 3.0, because apparently the Windows Installer does not support this... Weird.

Performance

All I can say is that the performance is pretty decent. I was able to play Minecraft on 60FPS - just kidding. Overwatch runs pretty smooth on high settings and 1080p. Emulation gaming with Dolphin for Wii is also solid. I also tried editing 1080p-footage with Premiere which was no problem at all, as well as doing Photoshop work.

As a conclusion, I'm very happy with the result. The only upgrade I'm going to make is a new cooler, because the stock AMD ones suck so bad.

I hope I could help you with choosing your parts for your new epic computer rig. If you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section.


*These links are Amazon Affiliate Links. If you shop over these links, I get a small commission, without you having to pay more. It is fully anonymous, and I'd really appreciate it if you'd use these links. Thanks!



Tech


With Prime, Amazon has made a very weird product. It's very cheap but seems to offer a lot: free premium shipping, Prime Video and Music and a lot of other benefits. But can this service be better than Netflix, Spotify, Google Play and Co. alltogether?

Prime Shipping

Starting with the probably best done thing about Amazon Prime - the premium shipping. The idea is great in theory, but in praxis it's very limited. You have to order before a specific time, it only works with products shipped by Amazon and it's not always there on the next day. I mean, don't get me wrong. This sucks. But at least they make a little bit of sense - something that Amazon Prime does not do often.

Amazon Prime Music

Oh boy... now it starts. Spotify revolutioned the music industry just like Apple did with iTunes way back in the years, and other brands like to jump on the streaming train as well. There's Deezer, Google Play Music, Apple Music and - sadly - Amazon Prime Music. Now I've tried a lot of music streaming services. I had Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Google Play Music and now Amazon Prime Music (currently, my favorites are Spotify and Google Play Music). So, as I just wanted to test my new driver of music , I only neededa few searches to make me go jump.

I searched for ten songs - all very popular, and only four - yes four! - songs were found, while all the other streaming services have got all. But not only that. The website sucks and the apps as well. But I'll talk about apps a bit more when it comes to Prime Video.

Amazon Prime Video

I get it now. You had to jump on the hype train. But is it really so hard to make a at least acceptable streaming service? Starting things off with the apps. Oh boy, the apps. I have a Nexus Player (Android TV) and a Chromecast; and of course a phone and computer. On my computer, it works quite fine, no complains there, except for the very ugly UI and horrible search. On my other devices on the other hand, it's terrible. You can already put the Chromecast in the trash bin, because there's no support at all - better get a Fire TV stick. For my Nexus Player, I had a bit of hope, because of many promising XDA posts and even a custom, material designed leanback launcher just for Prime Video. Awesome - I thought. Even after hours of installations, sideloading and searching the XDA forums, it didn't worked. And yes, you have to sideload all apps because Amazon did not publish any of the Prime apps to the Play Store.

Season 9 is not included.

And if this isn't enough, there aren't many popular movies or even blockbusters on Prime Video, and many aren't even included in your Prime subscription. Awesome! But series are even worse. For example on Netflix, you've got pretty much everything you want - accounts, recommendations, autoplay, a nice UI and so on. But on Prime Video, this stuff does not exist. Also, you have to hope that your favorite shows are there - while there are the most popular ones like Breaking Bad or The Big Bang Theory, other ones like Sherlock are completely missing. But don't think you can watch all seasons of your favorite show just like you're used to. Nope, the latest seasons are mostly not included. That also explains the low price...

You see, Netflix also has these little things that make it a pleasure to use. It's easily available on all platforms, it has individual plans and profiles so you can share your account with others. Amazon has none of that.

Conclusion

If you want just a little bit of everything, then use it! But if you want everything, in good quality, easy to use and with many nice features, then better get the real boys. It's that sad, yes.

That's just my opinion. Luckily, you can try pretty much every service free for at least 30 days. So just go test Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play Music, Deezer, Apple Music, Napster and all the other crap.

Useful links



Tech

These are my favorite wallpapers of the week! All of them are from Unsplash, the most awesome "stock" photo platform on the web. Enjoy!

Download in high resolution



Mobile Photography

Android's little problem
There's just one thing that bothers me about Android and where I think Apple and Microsoft have clear advantages: system updates.

Android has many advantages over iOS and Windows Phone. One of them is that there are so many devices running Android, and you can choose the perfect one for you. But this brings also one huge disadvantage: updates.

How do updates get rolled out currently?

Every manufacture who uses Android is responsible for their device's updates. No big deal if you have only a few of them and use (almost) the stock version of Google (like Motorola does), but other companies like Samsung or LG have so many phones which run a customized version of Android, which makes updating them very time-consuming.

This is very bad in many cases, the worst one is that it takes so long until updates come out to the users.

Before Android Nougat 7.0 came out, there were numerous rumors that the update principe will change to something that is way faster and easier for manufactures, but as I guessed, there was so new update eco system. Still the same old slow crap.

How could all this be solved?

After putting a bit of thought in a system, I came to a very simple solution:

Solution

Drivers don't change often, even on higher versions, so this would be quite easy for manufactures. System apps can be updated via the Google Play Store, so this would be easy as well. Just the custom skin that many companies like Samsung with their TouchWiz (or Grace UX) apply has to be re-created and updated after the Android core update.

So, this system would have clearly many advantages over the old one. It can get rolled out faster and is way easier to make for the manufactures.



Mobile

Structure your code!

In the past, I've seen many cool project but their management of files were horrible. Whenever you needed a file, you had to search hours to find them. Also, many of them had just one huge file with thousands of lines of code in it. So here's my very easy structure way!

Directory management

I keep my folders always the same way. In the development phase, it looks like this:

-/root
 -/assets
   -image.png
   -image2.png
 -/css
   -framework.css
 -/js
   -/libs
     -framework.js
     -jquery.js
   -/core
     -init.js
     -functions.js
   -/home
     -moreinfo.js
     -imagegallery.js
   -/contact
     -ajaxsend.js
     -formcheck.js
 -/less
  -base.less
  -home.less
  -contact.less
 -index.html
 -contact.html

But after I compiled everything and it's ready for distribution, it looks like this:

-/root
 -/assets
   -image.png
   -image2.png
 -/css
   -style.min.css (compiled less files)
   -framework.min.css
 -/js
   -framework.min.js
   -jquery.min.js
   -scripts.min.js (compiled JS files)
 -index.html
 -contact.html

The code management

Like you have seen above, I don't have one huge JavaScript file where all code gets put in, I have multiple files. To prevent the code getting messy with dozens of functions, I code like this:

init.js:

  1. var defines = { // Important variables that never change
  2. max_animation_time: "1s",
  3. ajax_form_url: "ajax.php"
  4. };
  5.  
  6. var vars = { // Variables that get used everywhere and may change
  7. current_user_id: 4572,
  8. current_user_name: "Joe"
  9. };
  10.  
  11. // Prepare all objects
  12. var home = {};
  13. var contact = {};

The last two objects (home and contact) will be used in the corresponding files, like home/moreinfo.js:

  1. home.moreinfo = function() {
  2. alert("This is a bit more information");
  3. };

They can go even deeper, like in home/imagegallery.js:

  1. home.imagegallery = {}; // prepare object
  2.  
  3. home.imagegallery.init = function(images) {
  4. $(images).each(function(i){
  5. $("#images .container").append("</img>").attr("src", images[i].file);
  6. });
  7. };

Some small tips

These things are also important.

  • Use comments, especially in bigger projects or in team projects
  • Write readable code
  • Don't delete source files (like less files or unminified JS files)
  • Make backups

I think you should be good-to-go now and be able to write nice, organized code!



Code

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