I'm replacing my home desktop and need a little help with a few things. I don't do many things that tax the computer, except that I'm starting to run Photoshop Elements a little bit.
After reading a few articles on Tom's, I've picked out a few components to start with. I plan to OC the CPU a little, maybe a lot, just for fun.
Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, or maybe Zalman cnps9700
RAM: Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C5
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R
HDD: WD 500Gb-750Gb (probably supplemented with a NAS)
OS: not sure yet, XP if I end up with a leftover unused license, or Vista
DVD RW: whatever it takes
1. What about case and PSU? I have one system with an Antec 300 and I like that case. Maybe I can find it bundled w/ a PSU, but are there decent choices in cases or PSU's or bundles available for less?
I'm not too far from Fry's and MicroCenter, should I get a case there to save on shipping cost?
2. What about GPU? I read the article "best video cards" on Tom's, and was thinking about the basic card, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4650. I don't do any gaming, and probably just need a card good enough to run all of Vista's features. Should I get this card, or save money and buy something cheaper?
I don't have a hard budget, and I'll get the parts that I want or think I need, but I don't want to spend extra money for no reason. I had thought about saving some time and just buying a box from the Dell outlet. I could get a basic box, E7300, 4Gb, 500Gb, Vista for $450, the build I'm working on up above will have better components and will overclock to higher performance, but will cost a little more too. I would have the satisfaction of building it but I've built lots of computers in the past, and there is probably some aggravation that would go along with the build too.
I don't know about the AC7, but the Zalman is F'N huge.
if you want to save on desk space, you could step down to microATX and a Antec minuet with a half hieght 4550. all you'd loose is some OCing. with the money you save by not buying a huge cooler, you can just get a faster stock chip and OC it less.
I pondered the CPU question for awhile, and did a lot of reading here as well. I even went back and studied the various system builder marathons and found some interesting results. I compared gaming results with media encoding results, thinking that the gaming results reflected the GPU more than the CPU, and media encoding reflected only the CPU power. (I used the itunes encoding numbers for this comparison).
E5200 at 4.0GHz- 52 sec.
E7300 at 3.8GHz- 55 sec.
E8500 at 4.25GHz- 49 sec.
q6600 at 3.5GHz- 62 sec.
q9650 at 4.1GHz- 49 sec.
i7 920 at 3.7GHz- 54 sec.
i7 920 at 4.0GHz- 50 sec.
So the E5200 based on cpu power alone compares very well to just about anything you can get, and costs half as much as the E8500.
I don't need much cpu horsepower today, and couldn't decide if I wanted dual or quad, but I'm afraid oneday I will need more power. I have an E8500 at work, overclocked to 3.8ghz. Even if I bought the E8400 I would still put an aftermarket cooler on it.
Part of my plan was that if I get the E5200 now and later decide I want something else, it wouldn't be a big deal to buy a new CPU and swap it in.
I believe that you were also participating in Vos17's thread (link) where I just made a post regarding the relative value of older LGA 775 socket processors. Just wanted to link it here as well for your reference.
The moral of the story: a good quality, overclockable LGA 775 mobo is still a great value today--especially in your situation. And a good heatsink is also a good investment in the future.