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low budget high performance home build advice

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  • Performance
  • Systems
  • Homebuilt
Last response: in Systems
April 3, 2013 1:02:58 PM

I've been reading lots of threads and am totally overwhelmed by all the nitty-gritty of CPU/Graphics/MoBo/DDR3/voltage/load/overclocking/pheeeew...

I'm a geek/nerd and I've built computers before. But I'm no expert. So far it's been: go online, place a barebones bundle in cart, plug stuff together, power on, install Windows, and done.

But my needs have changed and the options are myriad and I'm hoping for some sage advice here.

Purpose of my build:
- HTPC/DVR: I want to record component video input from my PS3 and TV. Right now I have an elgato, but I hope there might be a video card that I can possibly plug HDMI in (yes I'm aware of the CRM, but I understand there are legitimate ways to get around it)
- video editing: I want to use Vegas 9 to edit video and compress it to H.264 for delivery to my iPad and TV
- DVD ripping: I'd like to be able to view my $20.00 DVD of Space Odyssey 2001 in bed using my iPad 3 retina in full-glory 1080p, and I don't care what the MPAA says, it's legitimate use and I'm going to do it. I don't care about DRM, I want to make personal-use video files in H.264 and place them on this computer's HDD, which I consider perfectly legitimate. I gather that can be CPU intensive, no?
- video gaming: maybe I will play on a PS4, but maybe I'll just go PC now and play high-res video games like Skyrim/GTA V/Crysis 3 etc... with that. I think that's mostly about the graphics card, isn't it?
- Photoshop: I am a highly enthusiastic digital photographer and expect to be doing lots of post-processing of 200MB RAW files in Bridge/Lightroom/Photoshop, not to mention managing folders with several thousands of JPG files using Bridge CS6, which seems to be taking a very long time on my current PC.

What I hope to get advice on:
- I'm a cheapskate. Especially with computer parts I operate under the assumption that I'll need to upgrade within 2 years and so I'm usually not going to buy the latest technology.
- I'm not keen on stats and benchmarks. What matters to me is not waiting for my computer to complete a task forever.
- I have preconceived notions that may not be accurate: CPU and HDD speed for photoshop, right? CPU for video editing and encoding, right? Graphics card for gaming, right?
- AMD is usually cheaper but I know lots of people swear by Intel. I don't care what platform it is, but I do care about shaving off $50.- off my build
- Upgradability is not that important.

What I think I know I need, but am I right?
- Windows 7. I hear Windows 8 isn't as easily optimized. True or not?
- No idea what I need in my MoBo, they all look the same to me
- Lots of RAM, the more the better. What's the right balance between RAM performance and price?
- CPU, the faster the better, right? But what does "fast" really mean? it used to be GHz, now I also have to think about cores! (exasperated sigh)
- Graphics Card with max RAM, right? I have to think about gaming (3D processing) and TV use (decoding H.264 to my plasma TV via HTPC software) but not sure what's truly important there.

Trust me, I did read many of the related threads. i'm trying to learn so I can make a good decision on what to buy. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

More about : low budget high performance home build advice

April 3, 2013 1:11:43 PM

Hi :) 

Budget ?

All the best Brett :) 
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April 3, 2013 1:45:24 PM

As Brett said, budget would certainly help.

In the meantime...

I'd probably lean towards an AMD FX-8320. It'll do pretty well gaming, but it will really shine when you do Photoshop and a lot of the non gaming tasks you listed. All that multi threading power will come in handy. Sure, if you can afford the FX-8350 then go for it, otherwise the 8320 would be awesome as well.

At least 8 GB of memory, 16 GB if you can afford it. For gaming you really only need 8 GB but when using Photoshop you may appreciate the extra RAM. Memory is relatively cheap right now too, but it is going up in price. RAM manufacturers are switching over to making more mobile RAM, therefore causing supply of desktop memory to drop. Which of course raises the prices.

Not sure how you're doing on storage and if you have backups and what not. Ideally, I would suggest a nice big 4 TB hard drive on your computer (possibly more then 1 depending on how much stuff you have), and having a NAS box to back stuff up too.

Anyways, that's a start. I hope that helps and good luck!
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April 4, 2013 1:35:16 PM

Kindredsouls said:
As Brett said, budget would certainly help.


Well, I'm not entirely sure how much I have to spend to get what i want. I know I can get an awesome set of gear for $1,500 but that's not my goal. I'm secretly hoping I can get away with $600.- but how much do I have to give up in terms of performance?

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April 4, 2013 1:42:26 PM

Kindredsouls said:
Memory is relatively cheap right now too, but it is going up in price. RAM manufacturers are switching over to making more mobile RAM, therefore causing supply of desktop memory to drop. Which of course raises the prices.


That's super helpful info to be aware of, thanks.

What about MoBo? I'm inclined to just go for the cheapest one with HDMI audio pass-through support and probably a southbridge, but beyond that I'm just not getting why the more expensive ones really make a difference.
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April 4, 2013 4:37:50 PM

Timstertimster-1294585 said:
Kindredsouls said:
Memory is relatively cheap right now too, but it is going up in price. RAM manufacturers are switching over to making more mobile RAM, therefore causing supply of desktop memory to drop. Which of course raises the prices.


That's super helpful info to be aware of, thanks.

What about MoBo? I'm inclined to just go for the cheapest one with HDMI audio pass-through support and probably a southbridge, but beyond that I'm just not getting why the more expensive ones really make a difference.


More expensive basically adds more features, such as more SATA 6.0 ports, more USB 3.0 ports, etc. Some only consider the hardware features more expensive motherboards offer. The additional two features many don't consider is a more powerful BIOS; which allows for more control over the motherboard and components attached. The other big feature would be over clocking. A significant factor in how much you can over clock a part (such as the CPU) is the quality of the motherboard.
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April 4, 2013 6:25:50 PM

Kindredsouls said:
A significant factor in how much you can over clock a part (such as the CPU) is the quality of the motherboard.


thanks for the help. i guess more reading for me on BIOS now... although i dont see myself OC'ing - unless its so straightforward nowadays that as a somewhat newbie I can tinker with that?
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April 5, 2013 10:42:06 AM

Timstertimster-1294585 said:
Kindredsouls said:
A significant factor in how much you can over clock a part (such as the CPU) is the quality of the motherboard.


thanks for the help. i guess more reading for me on BIOS now... although i dont see myself OC'ing - unless its so straightforward nowadays that as a somewhat newbie I can tinker with that?


It really depends a lot on the BIOs, as to how easy it is to OC. Also, it depends on what your OC goal is. A simple OC of say 5-10% is pretty easy. When you start dabbling into adjusting voltages it can get more complicated. Here's a link below that goes into some How To's and what you need to research before you OC a CPU.

http://www.techradar.com/us/news/computing-components/p...

Do some Google searching on how to overclock xyz part. One thing I know when attempting to overclock is, you need to know what the voltage range the part can work in, and its maximum temp it can run before shutting down.

Overall, overclocking is not too difficult I think. It can be quite tedious however.
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