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Laptop need a new PC - 1st build help appreciated

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December 16, 2006 7:30:47 PM

Hi,

I’ve been reading Tomshardware for a number of years now, but this is the first time I’ve really visted the forum.

A few weeks ago my laptop’s motherboard failed and now I am in the position of having to replace it.

I had thought about getting another laptop but having thought about it a desktop would be far more cost effective for my budget.

I have ~£1200 to spend but could go up to ~£1300/1400 if absolutely necessary. This would need to pay for everything: hardware, OS, keyboard and monitor.

I am a very keen photographer so the machine would be used predominantly for image editing and RAW file conversion. I also like to play games, although I am not a big FPS fan so a topline graphics card isn’t totally necessary (but see below).

I had thought about the following headline specifications:
- C2D @ 2.4Ghz (could possibley get away with 2.13 as I guess RAM speed is more important for my use?)
- 2Gb of RAM (667?)
- ~250 - 400 Gb HDD (Fast if possible) - to be honest I don’t require vast amounts of room at the moment but I want space to grow.

I am not too concerned about rip-roaring-must-be-ultra-fast speed and have no need for overclocking potential, but I want something that can handle multiple RAW files (roughly 10Mb each) and deal with effects and processing quickly - and I often use iTunes at the same time.

I am stuck on three major components - the motherboard, the graphics, and the screen.

Motherboards baffle me somewhat, and its pretty much the most important part for me to start with. RAID support might be nice (the version that mirrors) for backup purposes, the other type (speed) might be nice but I think on balance I’d trade back-up for speed. But I am not sure what makes a good board vs. a not so good one! Having owned a laptop the only thing that concerns me about a move to a desktop is potential noise, and to this end I’d like to fit something like a Zalman cooler and have a fairly quiet PSU (and a moderately good loooking case! - I don’t ask for much!!)

Graphics wise I am torn between an 8800 GTS and something else (possibly a Saphire X1900 variant). BUT I don’t want to end up with a graphics subsystem with limited lifespan due to DX10, although at the same time I am apprehensive as to whether I can really justify £300+ on a graphics card. When are ATI releasing their new core? I ask because I could delay the build until the New Year (and might have to because of Christmas anyway).

Monitor wise I need very good image quality and as a high a resolution as possible, but my budget is limited and comprimises have to be made somewhere but ultimately I know this is one area where I’d rather not! My laptop was 15inch and 1600 x 1200 and so I’ve been rather spoilt in terms of pixel density.

I’ve read through the recent how to build advice and found it a great help but if anyone has any advice or suggestions for me I’d be extremely grateful.

Thanks very much in advance.
December 16, 2006 7:40:47 PM

For a motherboard take a look at a P965 board. Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI make good boards, Intel boards don't usually have as many features, but they are pretty stable for the most part. Most motherboards also support at least RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) now so that shouldn't be too hard to find.

If you don't care much about FPS/image quality then an 8800GTS is probably overkill for you... It's the second most powerful card on the market at the moment. It supports DX10, and would last you for quite a while though.

For 1600x1200 on an LCD monitor you'll have to go 20" or higher. (Samsung, BenQ, NEC...) The cost increase for LCD monitors is pretty sharp when the size starts going up.
December 16, 2006 8:17:55 PM

Quote:
For a motherboard take a look at a P965 board. Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI make good boards, Intel boards don't usually have as many features, but they are pretty stable for the most part. Most motherboards also support at least RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) now so that shouldn't be too hard to find.


Thanks, I'll have a look at P965 boards.

Quote:
If you don't care much about FPS/image quality then an 8800GTS is probably overkill for you... It's the second most powerful card on the market at the moment. It supports DX10, and would last you for quite a while though.


This is the debate I'm having with myself. I am wondering if prices will drop slightly when ATI release their DX10 models or whether nVidia will release 8600s early next year. As I say I'm most likely going to have to wait anyway...its a question how long I guess. I presume that this is something that has been discussed a lot of late (will do a search).

Quote:
For 1600x1200 on an LCD monitor you'll have to go 20" or higher. (Samsung, BenQ, NEC...) The cost increase for LCD monitors is pretty sharp when the size starts going up.


This is the big difference I've noticed between Laptops and Monitors - laptop screens are higher resolution for the size. And to be honest a 20inch would be nice but I am after the resolution rather than the size, but there are very few options out there as far as I can see of a 19inch screen with anything more than 1208 x 1024.

Thanks for your help.
!