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Mid-range component pricing, buy now or wait?

Last response: in Systems
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December 31, 2006 6:24:44 AM

If you guys were getting ready to put together a basic business PC would you buy components now or maybe give it a little time? This PC will be used mostly for MS Office apps, browsing, and maybe some TV recording via tuner card. I have no plans to overclock but would like a good performing PC. Money is not the most important factor but I don't care to needlessly overspend.

With that said I’d like to hear opinions regarding the outlook for mid-range component pricing. Are there any upcoming product arrivals or other things that will put pressure on pricing in the near term (say 3 months)? Also, regarding Vista, what is the recommended upgrade path? I do not own XP (I am retiring Win 98, lol). I want to end up with Vista Business. Is the best way to go to purchase an upgrade version of XP Pro (about $139), which includes a free upgrade to Vista Business? Might there be a more economical path? If I start with the upgrade version of XP I assume I would be able to do a fresh install of Vista when the upgrade arrives.

For some more details here’s what I’m thinking of building, with approx. prices. I might as well ask a couple of questions too.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6300, $184
Gigabyte GA-965GM-S2 Micro ATX, $110
Kingston 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Model KVR667D2K2/2GR, $215
Seagate Barracuda 7200 rpm, 160GB, SATA 3.0Gb/s, $58
Pioneer 16x DVD burner, DVR-111D, $32
Samsung 940N, 19” LCD monitor, $220 (before $20 rebate)
Antec NSK 4400 w/380W PSU, $72 (Amazon)

RAM – Is 2GB overkill? Would there be any noticeable performance difference with 1 GB? As far as speed I selected 667 cause it was cheaper or equal the price of 533, although it seems 533 is matched to the MB. I’m not certain the above RAM is compatible with the MB but will confirm before ordering. It happened to be the Kingston that looked like it would fit the bill. I’ve had good luck with Kingston so think I’ll stick with that brand.

Case – I never found a case I really liked. I’m using a full tower now which I like at least for one reason - I can set papers on top of it within easy reach. But, it needs to go. The Antec case seemed like a good compromise, and met basic requirements - single 120mm fan, front input connections not at bottom, no vent on top. Is the PSU that comes with this case ok? If the PSU is crap (but doesn’t seem so from reviews) I’d probably look at different case options again.

Thanks for any feedback. Thanks to all of the posters, this is an excellent resource even for building a lower level PC.
December 31, 2006 2:49:23 PM

First let me say you obviously have done some homework, and it's a nice configuration, IMO. I can answer the 2Gig memory vs 1Gig for a non gamer from a lot of direct experience. I don't usually play games. I usually do massive, very heavy multitasking, often with more than 1 media window open, and 15-20 IE windows, 5-10 active streaming Java stock charts, etc., and importantly 4 types of security softeware in the background. It's a lot.

And I ran all that with 1 Gig for months, and as I gradually got to this level of extreme multitasking finally I noticed at times WinXP just kinda stopped. Now WinXP can stop for all sorts of reasons, many of them subtle. But this particular one was memory related, because it did go away when I put in an additional 1 Gig to have 2 Gigs.

But, that was awfully heavy multitasking. It's prefectly fine for moderate multitasking on WinXP to start with 1 Gig and add the 2nd Gig later. Vista is expected to need 2 Gigs. But you might wait on Vista a while. Memory prices are higher at the moment than I expect them to be in a year. Just my guess having to do with the Vista effect.

btw, with all this heavy load, I never had a slowdown from my AMD X2 4200. This tells you how well dual cores outperform other system components now.

About the deeper question: now or later..... There is no answer, except what do you want and when do you want it? I can practically garantee that whenever you buy, the next great upgrades are only a matter of months. BUT....you can do a lot of upgrades before you have to buy a new motherboard....! This is true of AMD's AM2 as well as the Intel choice.
December 31, 2006 5:37:56 PM

Thanks Hal and Logain for the replies. When I think back to old system costs and specs I'm amazed at where things are today, and the long term price/performance relationship will always grow. What I was really interested in though was whether folks expected there to be any near-term events (or holiday effect) that could cause a sudden drop.

Logain, you push your PC more than I likely ever will, but the insight was helpful. I'll go with 2GB just to avoid getting back inside the machine and give Vista what it would like. I want to set this up and use it as is for several years, which is easy on a business PC.

Regarding Vista, my sense is it's a more secure OS, and that's really the only reason I'm thinking upgrade. I could always just get the CDs and do it later, but I figured the sooner I upgrade the easier it would be for a fresh install.

I think I'll follow-up on some things in other forums.
!