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PC for Office/Adobe PShop & watching movies

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February 19, 2009 3:16:32 PM

Hi,
This will be my first build. I'm a definite newbie. I presently use a Toshiba Portege laptop (Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5ghz w/ 4gb ram), but have decided to go desktop.

I was originally going to by a Dell, but its current lot are all rated by customers to be extremely noisy.

I primarily write for work (using Microsoft Word), so I want a fairly quiet machine. I'm a moderate downloader. I also use Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and Photoshop, but am not a power user. I do want these programs to be snappy. I want apps to load quickly, especially Word. I think anything faster than my laptop will suit me fine, though I do want to purchase a 23-24" lcd for side-by-side documents and movie watching. So, I think I need a graphic card with HDMI... and the possibility for a second monitor if I ever want one. I'm still considering Dell for the monitor.

I want decent sound for music, but I don't think that will be a problem. I occasionally play games like the latest Chessmaster, so moderate 3D graphics will be helpful. Lastly, I'm considering switching to Vista 64, but not sure if I need it. I know 32bit doesn't utilize all of my ram in my laptop.

Ideally, around $1000 or under for the PC. The most recent mid-range in System Builder Marathon appeals to me ($1200 or so), but I don't know if it's just right.

I do prefer a nice case with front, exposed usb ports. Antec 300 is nice. If I can pull off a small case, that would be great too.

Almost forgot! I have a 500GB external, which I'd prefer to keep using. If that's the case, do I need a much smaller internal HD? I've also considered having two internal HDs with one for backing up, but I don't know if this is complicated. I'll clearly need a decent sized case if I go this route.

Hope you can help!
February 19, 2009 6:26:44 PM

If you want quiet, I suggest you go with the P182. The Antec 300 is very nice, but its not built to be quiet, its built to have good airflow. It also comes in a combo with the Q9400, which looks like a good fit for you. Or you could just get the case and then go for the Q 9550 which would probably fit in your budget.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Q9550:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The P182 is largish, if you wanted something smaller and quiet, then the NZXT Hush would be good:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since it doesn't sound like graphics are a big concern and you definitely won't need 2 video cards, I suggest this motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mushkin Ram, you might get 2 of these to help with your photo editing:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Earthwatts 430w-solid PSU and plenty for your needs:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU-something cheap since you don't really play intense games, this one is probably more than you need but still good, you can use HDMI with the included adapter:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Drive:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD-this one is very quiet, if you wanted more speed you could go with the caviar black version:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So with the P182, the Q9550, 8gb of ram, and all those other components I suggested you get a total of $906. The caviar black drive is $20 more, the NZXT hush is $30 less, and if you go for the Q9400/P182 combo its $80 less.

I hope this is helpful
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February 19, 2009 9:06:45 PM

xthekidx said:

Mushkin Ram, you might get 2 of these to help with your photo editing:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Do you mean get 2 X 2gB, being one order from Newegg and not two orders, being 8GB of ram? I assume you do... unless 8gb will really help with Pshop. It's not too expensive....

Thanks so much for your help with everything!
February 19, 2009 9:22:06 PM

I meant 8gb of ram total. It will help with your editing and DDR2 ram is so cheap right now that I would do it.
February 19, 2009 9:35:25 PM

Yes the Cosmos is very nice. Its quiet, and its huge, which most people like because there is lots of space to work with. But if you are looking for a small form factor then this will be too much I think. Its also pricey, which is why I didn't recommend it.
February 19, 2009 9:50:44 PM

I think I will go with the P182. The Hush may be too small, and the blue light on the front is supposed to be bright. There do seem to be more than a few complaints with the P182 about cable-cramping. Also, the power supply unit is installed far from the mother board and some cables provided end up being too short.

Another thought: I'll need a network card too, no?

February 19, 2009 9:55:28 PM

All modern motherboards come with onboard LAN ports.
February 20, 2009 12:35:14 AM

For quiet computing, go to www.silentpcreview.com . They have good reviews and discussions.

One case I use and can recommend is the Antec Solo. It has deadened side panels and other quiet features.
There is no "bling", and no fussy front panels. It is mid-size, but will hold 4 hard drives, and 4 front devices like dvd burners or mecia readers.
Only large vga cards like the GTX260 and higher will be a fit problem. (doable with a case mod)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can also get the same case in white with an included Earthwatts 500 PSU . It is the Antec sonata designer 500.
I have built using it's predecessor the P150 and the white color is very attractive.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since your graphics needs are not of the gamer level, I would suggest a fanless card for absolute silence. How about the XFX 8500GT.
It will support 2560x1600 monitors.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I found the samsung 203b to be a quiet dvd burner. I would think the successor the s223f would be just as good:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If your hard drive requirements are <300gb, then look at the WD velociraptor. It is currently thebest performing conventional drive around, and it can be very quiet.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you need more, look at the WD caviar black 1tb.
The fastest 10% will be close to velociraptor performance.

Keep on using your external drive for backup. That way, you are protected from viruses and operator errors on the active PC.

I would get an oem cpu cooler with a large, slow turning 120mm fan. It will cool better than the stock, and be much quieter.
The Xigmatek s1283 is a popular low cost pick. I also suggest the optional backplate mount which is more secure than those pesky push pins.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It is not clear to me that you applications can use more than two cores. If not, the E8500 will be a better and lower cost performer.



February 20, 2009 1:16:48 AM

geofelt said:
Since your graphics needs are not of the gamer level, I would suggest a fanless card for absolute silence. How about the XFX 8500GT.
It will support 2560x1600 monitors.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

+1 to the fanless video card.

However, what would be most ideal for you is a fanless card with 2 DVI connectors and 1 HDMI connector, which is pretty hard to find.

The GTX 295 comes with the right connectors, though... ;) 
February 20, 2009 2:02:08 AM

Now, I'm wondering if I'll need a HDMI connection. I'll have speakers separate from my monitor (a Dell s2409). Won't this defeat the purpose of HDMI? I think I only require DVI. Is that the main advantage of the Sapphire, its HDMI out? I don't mind a little background noise from the GPU if I get good movie quality... and able to play High Definition shows like Lost from NBC's website. Also, I may play the occasional videogame. So, I want some quality there. The Sapphire doesn't have many reviews on Newegg. 6 or so. I wish it had more, so I can get a better sense of it.
February 20, 2009 2:13:49 AM

How about this HIS? It's only $10 more than the ones recommended so far, has excellent ratings, and is frequently commented on as being very quiet and using little power despite a big fan. I must note, it's overclocked... I don't know if that takes away from its longevity.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Once again, I'm a newbie. So, maybe this won't even work with the other components previously suggested.
February 20, 2009 3:34:23 AM

That would be fine, but the fanless cards would be quieter. Silent actually. All depends on how important quiet is to you.
February 20, 2009 5:39:34 AM

You really only need the HDMI connection if you want to output HD signals to a big screen TV. If you're outputting digital signals to a "computer monitor", then DVI connectors are fine (just make sure everything in the chain is HDCP compliant).

With HDMI, you have the choice of joining the audio signal into the HDMI connector, or outputting it separately to your home theatre, etc. (e.g. through a soundcard output). If there is no audio in the HDMI, it just acts as a digital video signal output.

Nothing wrong with the HIS card--dual slot cooling is great. But since your primary app is writing for work and you want a quiet rig, I'd go with silent passive cooling. I suspect that your machine will spend most of its life at idle, so cooling is less of an issue here. I just want to hear the clicking of my keyboard...


@xthekidx: Can you FIND a bigger passive cooler on a 4650??? :lol: 
February 20, 2009 2:40:56 PM

HDMI carries both the video and audio signals on one cable. It is very useful if you have a reciever that switches HDMI. In your case, where the audio is separate, a regular dvi connection is sufficient. Only if your monitor or tv has only HDMI input would you need a HDMI capability.

Also, that dell 24" monitor is 1080P which is 1920 x1080. It seems to me that a regular 24" monitor might be better which is 1920x1200.
February 20, 2009 2:49:59 PM

geofelt said:

Also, that dell 24" monitor is 1080P which is 1920 x1080. It seems to me that a regular 24" monitor might be better which is 1920x1200.

I keep getting mixed reviews about resolutions. 1080 works best for HDef videos apparently. Plus, Dell seems to be rated highly. I was also interested in their 23" (I hear it works better with documents and webpages open side-by-side, which I do a lot), but they have a special on the 24" for $270... making it $30 cheaper than the 23". I'm open to suggestions. I want very legible text, little to no screen-gloss, and ideally positional for ergonomics. The s2409 is not very positional.
February 20, 2009 7:14:21 PM

Daedalus Fly said:
I keep getting mixed reviews about resolutions. 1080 works best for HDef videos apparently. Plus, Dell seems to be rated highly. I was also interested in their 23" (I hear it works better with documents and webpages open side-by-side, which I do a lot), but they have a special on the 24" for $270... making it $30 cheaper than the 23". I'm open to suggestions. I want very legible text, little to no screen-gloss, and ideally positional for ergonomics. The s2409 is not very positional.

When shopping for monitors, I think an important spec is the viewing angle. Cheaper monitors will have a 160/160 degree H/V viewing angle. You need to keep your head directly in front of the monitor to avoid a washed out look. Better and more expensive versions have a 178/178 angle. I suggest that you go to a store and compare some models side by side for yourself.

I think Samsung makes the panels for many vendors, including Dell. I think they keep the best samples for themselves. Check them out also.
In general, though, all the lcd's that I have seen look great.

You might also consider two monitors, perhaps each of a smaller size. Short of a 30" monitor which is very expensive, I think it is the only way to see two full web pages side by side. I use two monitors that way and find it very useful. With a tv tuner I can watch a football game on one, and surf the web on the other during commercials.
February 20, 2009 10:00:45 PM

+1 to geofelt

The thing about Vista versions is that you don't want to pay extra here. If anything, pay extra for Windows 7 instead, because that's the OS that you really want.

Regarding hi-res 24 inchers, 1920x1200 would be best because you get slightly more vertical resolution, which is useful for reading text (you get more on a page). However, the 1920x1080 resolution is matched to true 1080p, which is ideal for watching HD at full screen--the purists will complain that 1920x1200 is off by a little. But don't you really want to watch HD on a 52 incher???

I like Samsung as well.
February 20, 2009 11:10:06 PM

Akebono 98 said:
+1 to geofelt

The thing about Vista versions is that you don't want to pay extra here. If anything, pay extra for Windows 7 instead, because that's the OS that you really want.

Regarding hi-res 24 inchers, 1920x1200 would be best because you get slightly more vertical resolution, which is useful for reading text (you get more on a page). However, the 1920x1080 resolution is matched to true 1080p, which is ideal for watching HD at full screen--the purists will complain that 1920x1200 is off by a little. But don't you really want to watch HD on a 52 incher???

I like Samsung as well.


Good point regarding screen space for reading.

Is Windows 7 even stable? It looks great... but it sounds like many apps still crash in it a lot at this stage.
February 21, 2009 1:25:09 AM

Windows 7 isn't officially out yet and I wouldn't use the public beta without another OS in the background.

To clarify, what I meant was that there isn't really a compelling reason to pay extra for the retail version of Vista right now. I suspect that when Windows 7 is officially launched, all the Vista users will switch over. So just save your money and buy the OEM version now because given the current landscape, Vista is just a stand-in for Win7. Then buy Win7 when it comes out (or wait until it hits SP1 if you're conservative). If you have a reason for wanting the retail version over the OEM version, then buy the full retail version of Win7.

However, what I'm going to suggest for you will likely be controversial. I don't know what the others think, but given the needs mentioned in your OP, I actually think that you'd be better off staying with XP until Win7 is out. Skip Vista altogether.

And if you don't think you need a quad core processor, just get a fast dual core.
February 21, 2009 1:40:24 AM

Akebono 98 said:
Windows 7 isn't officially out yet and I wouldn't use the public beta without another OS in the background.

To clarify, what I meant was that there isn't really a compelling reason to pay extra for the retail version of Vista right now. I suspect that when Windows 7 is officially launched, all the Vista users will switch over. So just save your money and buy the OEM version now because given the current landscape, Vista is just a stand-in for Win7. Then buy Win7 when it comes out (or wait until it hits SP1 if you're conservative). If you have a reason for wanting the retail version over the OEM version, then buy the full retail version of Win7.

However, what I'm going to suggest for you will likely be controversial. I don't know what the others think, but given the needs mentioned in your OP, I actually think that you'd be better off staying with XP until Win7 is out. Skip Vista altogether.

And if you don't think you need a quad core processor, just get a fast dual core.


I actually use Vista on my laptop and have never had problems with it. I don't know why it was chastised so much. I'll admit that giving constant permissions is annoying... but I do see the benefit of it against malware. Boot and shutdown times were speedy with the laptop. So, I'll stick with it and hope for even better performance. If I didn't do a clean install when I first got it, then it would have been awful from bloat. I really look forward to Win7 though. I see your point, get the cheapest OS then wait. But, I'm actually not to familiar with XP. I switched from OS X a few years back for a Tablet PC w/ Vista. I guess I'm one of those rare Mac to PC switchers.
February 21, 2009 2:20:01 AM

I have been quite satisfied with vista home premium-64. I am trying the windows-7 beta, but I really don't see much difference except for some superficial things.
It will be withdrawn in august, so I don't think it is a great idea to use it now for something you care about. There are some anti-virus programs that need to be fixed for it, adding another complication. I don't see investing in XP either, it costs the same or more and is scheduled to lose support.


Shopping tips for Vista:
1) Do you qualify for an academic license?
If so, you can get Vista at a discounted price.
2) Look for an upgrade version of home premium instead of OEM.
Upgrade is a retail version which gives you support from microsoft, unlike OEM(AKA system builder),
and allows a more hassel-free ability to transfer the os to a different pc(motherboard).
For $10, microsoft will send you the 64 bit DVD.
I saw Vista home premium upgrade recently at Costco for $85, amazon for $89.
There is a legitimate two step instalation process to install an upgrade version
You install vista from the cd, but do not initially enter the product code.

Just tell the install which version you bought, and do not activate.
After it installs, you have a fully functional vista for 30 days.
Step 2 is to insert the cd again, while running vista and then do an upgrade.
This time, enter your product code, and activate.
After activation. you may delete the initial version which is named windows.old.

3) Do you possibly need Ultimate? There are very few features that the home user would want.
Check out the differences on the microsoft Vista web site.
If you get a retail or upgrade version, you will still be able to upgrade to ultimate later.
February 21, 2009 2:32:17 AM

Aha...

Well another angle if you're not in a big rush and the cost matters to you: there was also a recent report saying that MS would offer free upgrades to Win7 if you bought a Vista machine after July 1.

I'll have to admit my XP preference here, but maybe I'm not too fussed about it because I also use a Mac... :na: 
March 13, 2009 5:00:47 PM

Thanks for everyone's responses. I went primarily for xthekidx's build, but with a HIS Hightech H467QT512P Radeon HD 4670 IceQ Turbo graphic card. It's probably a touch noisier with its big fan than the one originally recommended, but it's still extremely quiet, especially as a whole with the Antec P182.

I also went with Vista Home Premium 64 OEM. I'm using Vista Business 32 on my laptop, and the one thing I'm missing is the Image Backup and Restore. What's a good substitute? Also, my backup drive is only 500GB, but I have a 1TB HD. Does this matter if I don't have 500GB of info on it? Should I partition it?

Lastly, do I need to register all of these purchased parts for the sake of warranties?

I can't believe how much more , flexibility, power, and quality I acquired for under the price of an iMac 24", which is what I was considering originally purchasing. I was able to purchase a 24" Dell 2408 wfp S-PVA and M Audio Studiophile AV 40 speakers. Granted, everything takes up more space. Anyway, this was my first build, and it was fun and rather easy to assemble.
March 13, 2009 7:14:25 PM

Daedalus Fly said:
Thanks for everyone's responses. I went primarily for xthekidx's build, but with a HIS Hightech H467QT512P Radeon HD 4670 IceQ Turbo graphic card. It's probably a touch noisier with its big fan than the one originally recommended, but it's still extremely quiet, especially as a whole with the Antec P182.

I also went with Vista Home Premium 64 OEM. I'm using Vista Business 32 on my laptop, and the one thing I'm missing is the Image Backup and Restore. What's a good substitute? Also, my backup drive is only 500GB, but I have a 1TB HD. Does this matter if I don't have 500GB of info on it? Should I partition it?

Lastly, do I need to register all of these purchased parts for the sake of warranties?

I can't believe how much more , flexibility, power, and quality I acquired for under the price of an iMac 24", which is what I was considering originally purchasing. I was able to purchase a 24" Dell 2408 wfp S-PVA and M Audio Studiophile AV 40 speakers. Granted, everything takes up more space. Anyway, this was my first build, and it was fun and rather easy to assemble.


You might want to look at acronis true image software. It can create a image of your hard drive that can be restored. Subsequent backups will back up only the changed data. 500gb for backup is ok, because the backed up data will be compressed to less than it's original size.

I would not bother with partitioning unless you had a specific reason. You are more flexible if you have just one big partition. You might win some or lose some minor performance by partitioning, but in my opinion, it is not worth the hassle.

Go ahead and register your parts; some like vga cards require it for the lifetime warranty.
!