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Fast stable future proof workhorse

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May 20, 2009 4:34:56 AM

I want to preface this by saying I am not in a hurry and plan to pick up peripherals like optical drives and hard drives along the way until I am ready to pull the trigger on the CPU, MB, GPU, and memory. Please don’t spend a lot of time giving me specifics right now, I am more looking for some general advice as the prices fluctuate and more products hit the market. If I had to buy today it would likely be a P2 X3 720 with an ASUS M4A78T-E because for $300 I could have the system pretty close to running. The longer I put it off the more likely an i7 will be in my future but something faster will be out then so maybe the trick is to never buy one. I could always just wait until the next faster thing comes down in price. It’s a little like an endless cycle. Just think about buying a computer, never actually buy one.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: sometime in the next couple of months
BUDGET RANGE: Around $1000 the sooner the cheaper the longer I wait might increase budget

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: photo editing, web surfing, general Office apps,

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I just got a Thermaltake Element S case for $109 and Windows XP SP3 OEM because it went on sale for $69 and want as simple a build as possible and my current computers have XP so I am more familiar with it. It was my birthday and the wife asked. She could swing a whole system so she gave me a budget of $200. I also have a new 500w Coolmax PS that was a warrantee replacement after a power surge took out the kids computer’s PS. I bought a replacement so I wouldn’t have to deal with them using our computer for 3-4 weeks. I know the PS is of low quality so I may not use it on the build but it was free and new in box so I might give it a try for a while.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Purchased previously from Newegg and was satisfied

PARTS PREFERENCES: No real preferences looking more at stability, value, longevity and future upgradability

OVERCLOCKING: Yes

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes

MONITOR RESOLUTION: open but higher is better due to photo editing

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Our computers are HPs but I will not buy another mass built computer. You get crap and they treat you like crap. The free trial bundle software drives me crazy and I hate that they wont give me the XP discs. That’s all I have to say about that.

Our main computer is about 4 1/2 years old and the kids computer is about 7 1/2 years old both are Pentium 4s. I have replaced and added hdds in both and replaced the graphics card in the kids. We plan to leave the kids with the older current computer because surprisingly the older computer does better with the games because of the upgraded graphics card while the newer one has OB graphics.

Our current computer will be relegated to wife’s scrapbook to run assorted paper cutting things and allow an extra internet access point. I want to build something that we can keep a long time but ultimately will be destined to be my kid’s gaming computer in a couple of years. They are currently 8 and 10 and they will only get our hand me downs until the are able to buy their own. I do need to consider that I will likely upgrade video cards in 2 to 3 years when it is handed off to the kids. They will likely try to OC the thing and do all the typical gamer stuff.

I am open to any brands but value is key and it must be something that will allow future upgradability and still be usable in 5-7 years.

Thanks

More about : fast stable future proof workhorse

May 20, 2009 5:56:55 AM

Here's an i7 build that includes two 4770's in Crossfire. This build also includes good after market cooling (heat sink / thermal compound) which makes it a big plus for over clocking. :) 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $79.99 ($69.99 after $10.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
OCZ StealthXStream OCZ600SXS 600W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U3R $179.99 | $164.99 after rebate
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R Core i7/ Intel X58/ DDR3/ CrossFireX/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=I7-920 $264.99 Free Ground Shipping
Intel Core i7 Processor i7-920 2.66GHz 8MB LGA1366 CPU, OEM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $39.99 Free Shipping*
XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $4.99
Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $104.99
SAPPHIRE 100277L Radeon HD 4770 512MB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $104.99
SAPPHIRE 100277L Radeon HD 4770 512MB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$5.00 Combo Price: $164.98 $20.00 Mail-In Rebate
OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK - Retail
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $24.99 Free Shipping*
SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner - OEM

Total: $969.90 | $924.90 w/mail in rebates

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-4770-crossfi... <--- Benchmarks for ATI Radeon HD 4770 In CrossFire

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/gigabyte-nvidia-sli-mo... <--- Gigabyte: Enable SLI On X58 Boards

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dd353205.... <---64 bit version of Windows 7
May 20, 2009 6:24:23 AM

If you look back 5 years at high end PCs you'll find them mostly obsolete today.

However, if the rig doesn't have to handle games, it might stretch that far. You would have to use a very nice power supply. using a Coolmax PSU and expecting your hardware to last 5 years is a dream.

Combo i7 920 and Gigabyte board - 455
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM 6GB OCZ 1600 - 72
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PC P&C 610W -80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4670 video card -65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

WD 750GB Caviar Black: -80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD burner -24
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor -
Buy this locally to avoid shipping charges. Make sure the store has a dead pixel policy that is acceptable to you, as in zero dead pixels.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I think that leaves some room for whatever else you need. I suggest upgrading to Windows 7. You will be way too limited with the 3+GB RAM XP 32-bit allows.



Related resources
May 20, 2009 6:32:09 AM

EDIT: ^ +1 for both :p 
And NeilCar as you are not gaming, you wouldn't need 2 graphic cards...
A single 4770 or even better a 4670 would be suffice for your requirements...
So with the money saved on the graphics card, get a mobo with 6 RAM slots, that would allow you to upgrade RAM and still be running in tri-channel...
http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P
May 20, 2009 8:10:53 AM

Good point. I was actually thinking 6-slot board but got sidetracked. Damn flu :p 
May 20, 2009 11:56:19 AM

You guys are great. I havent heard of this Superwiz/ewiz place, are they reputable? Has anyone had any bad experiences? This will be my first build but I do have a brother that likely can give me a hand if I have any problems. He has already warned me that whenever I get all the stuff together be prepared to have something not work and RMA it. It all goes well then great but just be prepared.

All of you seem to think get the i7. And you are correct, neither myself or my wife game. Infact the biggest factor that had me considering the AMD3 line was that some of the 790GX boards have decent onboard graphics with the ability to go Crossfire later. Some of the combos were about the same as the i7 chip alone.

There is no doubt I want to go i7. I was just wondering if it were overkill and I was getting caught up in the best and fastest trap. I bought the 7 year old computer at the top of the line and I bought the 4 year old computer at the bottom/mid to bottom. There is no doubt I got more computer at the time with the 7 yo computer because it is still very usable and is likely faster than the newer computer. Inside the quality is definitely better.

And Proximon is that flu swine or normal. I will have to wear my mask while I surf if it is swine.
May 20, 2009 12:09:04 PM

Well if you want to keep the budget low, then the Phenom is the way to go...
Actually you can get a powerful AMD rig and still save about $200 or $300...
If you are looking forward to that, then we can give some suggestions on that...
May 20, 2009 4:31:15 PM

NeilCar said:

And Proximon is that flu swine or normal. I will have to wear my mask while I surf if it is swine.


Bah I don't know :)  I'm not dying or anything.


Yes I thought about both builds, but i7 makes more sense for you, especially when you add in a 64-bit OS.

I think it will be a while yet before we see the new "mainstream" CPUs from Intel, or I would suggest waiting for them.
May 20, 2009 5:54:20 PM

If I go with the i7 I had been considering the Asus P6T or actually the Rampage GENE micro ATX board. I like the idea of the Post LCD on the Rampage but what would be the disadvantages of the Rampage Gene? Seems like a lot of features for the money.
May 20, 2009 5:57:37 PM

the Gene is micro ATX so it is a smaller board, but for your needs you could get away with a GA-EX58-UD3R, currently the cheapest i7 board on the market because it only has 2 PCIe slots and 4 dimm slots.
May 20, 2009 6:01:42 PM

How does triple channel ram work with 4 slots?
May 20, 2009 9:47:19 PM

It doesn't :p  That's why gkay spoke up and pointed out the better board.

Get a 6-slot board so you have upgrade room. Likewise, get a full ATX board so you have room to add that card you don't know about today.
May 20, 2009 10:54:48 PM

The GA-EX58-UD3R will run in triple channel mode if you use the 3 white slots, but it doesn't allow you to just add more RAM later if needed.
May 20, 2009 11:01:08 PM

This board down below is a steal at this price.

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P $219.99 | $204.99 after rebate | Free Ground Shipping
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P Core i7/ Intel X58/ DDR3/ CorssFireX & 3-Way SLI/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard

Specification
Mfr Part Number: GA-EX58-UD4P
CPU: Socket 1366 Support Intel Core i7/ 45nm Processors; QPI upto 6.4 GT/s
Chipset: Intel X58 & ICH10R
Memory: 6x DDR3-2100+/1333/1066/800 DIMMs, Dual/3 Channel, Max capacity 24GB
Slots: 2x PCI-Express x16 Slots (Support CrossFireX and 3-way SLI; Support PCI-Express 2.0); 1x PCI-Express x8 Slot; 1x PCI-Express x4 Slot; 1x PCI-Express x1 Slot; 2x PCI Slots
IDE/SATA: 1x ATA-133 Channel; 6x SATA2 Ports, Support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10(by ICH10R); 2x SATA2 Ports, Support RAID 0, 1 and JBOD(by GIGABYTE SATA2 chip)
Audio: Realtek ALC889A 7.1-channel HD Audio Codec
LAN: Realtek 8111D Gigabit Ethernet Controllers
Ports: 12x USB 2.0 Ports(8 by rear, 4 by headers); 3x IEEE 1394a Ports (1 by rear, 2 by header); 2x PS/2 Ports; 1x RJ45 LAN Ports; 1x Coaxial S/PDIF Out connector; 1x Optical S/PDIF Out connector; Audio I/O Jacks
Power Connector: 1x 24pin Main Power; 1x 8pin CPU Power
Form Factor: ATX, 30.5 x 24.4 cm
Package: Retail
May 20, 2009 11:54:19 PM

On the subject of obsolesence, depending on how you define obsolete, I consider both of our computers to be still be useful and run everything we need to run. Both do well on the internet. One definition is no longer in general use. How long ago did manufacturers stop selling Celerons and such that aren't any better than 3.0 Pentium 4? Some of the new lap tops don't seem faster than either of our computers.
May 21, 2009 4:05:14 AM

Why_Me I had suggested that board before itself...
And Neil saying obsolete, we refer it comparing with the current apps...
And yes netbooks wont offer better performance than your computers as it has the Atom processor, which is weaker than the P4 but consumes very less power...
But am sure laptops, which would cost above $400 would perform better than the P4 as they generally contain dual core CPUs...
May 21, 2009 11:14:55 AM

gkay09 said:
Why_Me I had suggested that board before itself...
And Neil saying obsolete, we refer it comparing with the current apps...
And yes netbooks wont offer better performance than your computers as it has the Atom processor, which is weaker than the P4 but consumes very less power...
But am sure laptops, which would cost above $400 would perform better than the P4 as they generally contain dual core CPUs...


One thing I learned, well, the only thing I learned was how much all of the bundled software slows a machine down. I did a clean XP install on my kids computer because they kept crashing it with a lot of spyware and such. I was shocked at how much faster it became with only the OS and 2 to 3 games on it. I loaded it up with 2 Gigs, a merely decent AGP GPU, and they haven't complained until I gave one of them a new monitor for his birthday. When we cranked up the resolution of one of the games they play called Supreme Commander it started freezing alot more. That was when I started considering building a system. How much does Vista slow down a machine compared to XP?
May 21, 2009 11:17:33 AM

^ IMHO you should not try Vista on that PC...It would be punishing it...
Stick with XP and when you change the PC, then load Vista...
May 21, 2009 11:22:08 AM

I would never put Vista on either of the old computers. I was merely wondering how much of the newer computer's greater resources are eaten up by the newer OS.
May 21, 2009 11:35:03 AM

The newer computers with 4GB RAM would perform some what good with Vista...But it would require a discrete graphics card to turn ON the Aero interface in Vista...
Have you heard of Window 7...Microsoft's latest OS, and it has released RC1 of that OS to general public...Its free licence is valid till Jul 2010 I guess...And many are saying that it is as good as the Vista or actually better than vista in its early stage itself...So you might want to try that out before you buy Vista...
May 21, 2009 9:50:29 PM

I would like to run this by you. If I were to go with an AMD P2 720 and an Asus M478T-E combo for $253 at newegg, I could pretty much purchase now because I could use the on board graphics and add GPUs later. What does the future for AMD AM3 processors look like? Will the 955 be it or will there be faster ones out in the future? I am questioning the whole i7 upgrade because either system will be light years ahead of what we have now. With the onboard graphics I could also use it as a HTPC fairly easily. How is the stability and longevity of the AMD P2s compared to the i7s? Also is there any difference in the complexity of the build?
May 21, 2009 10:20:40 PM

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2334666,00.a...

Deneb is scheduled to last through 2010, so I would say it's a safe bet. There should be several updates beyond the 955 yet, and for your needs a less expensive and more frequent upgrade path makes just as much sense to me. Either way works.
May 24, 2009 1:04:36 AM

Still weighing my options and I have a question about GPUs. I have read in the stickies that the AMD 790gx boards have pretty good onboard GPUs but how would they compare to the $50-60 GPUs that I could budget build an i7 system with. I figure I could always upgrade. I am just trying to keep this thing a cash purchase and do not want to charge anything that I cant pay off in a month. Thanks btw for all of your knowledge.
May 24, 2009 1:30:02 AM

So is it safe to say that the difference between the onboard of the 790gx is only worth about 40-50 bucks? Also on video cards that have HDMI output, does the output have audio like the HDMI output on the 790gx boards?
May 24, 2009 1:34:14 AM

Yes about 40 bucks... of course it's also nice to have that backup GPU as well.

Yes on the audio.
May 31, 2009 11:55:42 PM

I am probably going to order an AM3 rig with the P2 720 x3 BE tonight, but I need to decide on the MB, HD, DVD burner, memory, and GPU if I don't go with the 790GX w/OB graphics. I would like to stay with either Asus or Gigabyte or equivalent quality. I am going to use it a year or so and turn it over to the kids to game with. I figure they can load it up with GPUs if they want. I figure I will keep the budget lower than an i7 rig because this is my first build. I will be purchasing at Newegg but the combo deals are making my head hurt. Any help would be appreciated. I have filled out the form above already. I figure I will give until about 10:00 pm and order. I will be trying to pick out the best combos but I am sure you guys or pros at it.
June 1, 2009 12:17:23 AM

That is the exact MB I was considering but I wasn't sure I should go with a seperate GPU now or wait and add them to the 790GX board. I may be wrong but I was thinking an onboard graphics build will be simpler for a first timer. Is this true? One less part to screw up.
June 1, 2009 12:34:34 AM

I am getting a sata DVD burner but I am using XP SP3. Will I have any problems with installing the OS? I read a lot about possibly needing a floppy disk for something.
June 1, 2009 12:44:00 AM

It's not that big a deal to plug in a graphics card, but I'm not clear on why you would need one.

The 790GX will run Blu-ray movies flawlessly and will even play half-life 2 on lowest settings. Would it lag scrolling very large photos in Photoshop? I think not, but I'm not sure. Do you generally edit 500MB photos? Not unless you are a pro.
June 1, 2009 12:45:22 AM

I doubt you will need a floppy.

You should be fine with SP3.
June 1, 2009 12:55:30 AM

Proximon said:
It's not that big a deal to plug in a graphics card, but I'm not clear on why you would need one.

The 790GX will run Blu-ray movies flawlessly and will even play half-life 2 on lowest settings. Would it lag scrolling very large photos in Photoshop? I think not, but I'm not sure. Do you generally edit 500MB photos? Not unless you are a pro.


My wife and I probably don't need it but I was just looking at all options like getting a cheaper board and maybe a 4770 GPU but in a year or so I will probably upgrade the CPU to 955 or faster and stick a pair of Graphics cards to be ready to game. Will the ASUS MB above be a good one to do that with in the future? My wife also does photo editing on photoshop but the onboard graphics of the 790GX boards should handle it.
June 1, 2009 1:06:29 AM

Yep you'll be fine in crossfire with the 790GX. The difference in framerates compared to the 790FX in crossfire are single digit, at very high resolutions that you are unlikely to need.
June 1, 2009 1:15:40 AM

This is what it looks like

Qty. Product Description Savings Total Price
. .
SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S223Q - OEM
Item #: N82E16827151173
Return Policy: 30 Day Return Policy
Protect Your Investment (expand for options27-151-173|hide options27-151-173)
Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan
The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info27-151-173.0.18)

1 year: $7.99
2 year: $12.99
$26.99
. .
OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P16004GK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820227297
Return Policy: Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy -$12.00 Instant
$75.99
$63.99
. .
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
Item #: N82E16822136218
Return Policy: 30 Day Return Policy
Protect Your Investment (expand for options22-136-21810|hide options22-136-21810)
Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan
The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info22-136-2181.0.18)

1 year: $12.99
2 year: $19.99
Nippon Labs 18" (1.5 ft.) SATA II Cable with locking latch Model SATA-L0.5-R - Retail
Item #: N82E16812816027
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy -$10.00 Instant
-$6.99 Combo
$76.98
$59.99
. .
AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor Model HDZ720WFGIBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103649
Return Policy: Processors (CPUs) Return Policy
Protect Your Investment (expand for options19-103-64920|hide options19-103-64920)
Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan
The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info19-103-6492.0.18)

1 year: $16.99
2 year: $25.99
ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813131366
Return Policy: 30 Day Return Policy
Protect Your Investment (expand for options13-131-36620|hide options13-131-36620)
Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan
The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info13-131-3662.0.18)

1 year: $16.99
2 year: $25.99
-$6.00 Instant
-$20.00 Combo
$284.99
$258.99
Subtotal: $409.96
Calculate Shipping
Zip Code: . FedEx 3Day Express Saver -- $33.32FedEx 2Day -- $46.92FedEx Standard Overnight -- $54.33UPS Guaranteed 3 Day Service -- $9.61UPS 2nd Day -- $31.09UPS Next Day Saver -- $38.06 GO Shipping: $9.61

June 1, 2009 2:31:11 AM

If you plan on staying future-proof, an expandable system would be your best bet.
Intel seems to be changing sockets every month, while AMD has developed a spider platform just for expandability.

An AM2+/AM3 board will allow you to upgrade to a good AM3 processor when the current Phenom II's start dying out, who knows what socket Intel will be using by then.

SLI/Crossfire setup will be the best as well, allowing you to shove another GPU in your system after your current one has started losing FPS on newer games.
(This means a higher-end video card now is better than CF'ing 2 cheaper ones now.)
June 1, 2009 10:29:09 PM

The votes have been counted and the winner is...


1 x ($69.99) HD 500G|WD WD5001AALS % - OEM $69.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($26.99) DVD BURN SAMSUNG|SH-S223Q LS % - OEM $26.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($26.99) KB/MS MICROSOFT|QQA-00001S % - OEM $26.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($9.99) CABLE ADICC5E-B100B CAT5E BLUE 100' - OEM $9.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($68.99) MEM 2Gx2|OCZ OCZ3SOU16004GK R - Retail $68.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($139.99) MB ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 790GX/SB750 RT - Retail $139.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($139.00) CPU AMD|PH II X3 720 BK AM3 2.8G RT - Retail $139.00


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($-20.00) DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #190879$-20.00


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Extended Warranty: $0.00
Subtotal: $461.94
Tax: $0.00
Shipping and Handling: $12.50
Total Amount: $474.44

Thnx to everyone. Hopefully I can get this stuff together this weekend.

June 1, 2009 10:55:25 PM

Very nice. HP has a brand new retail DVD burner up. comes with software and is a few bucks less.
June 1, 2009 11:10:15 PM

Proximon said:
Very nice. HP has a brand new retail DVD burner up. comes with software and is a few bucks less.



It seems like all of them were around 25 so I picked the one with the most and highest reviews.
June 1, 2009 11:17:39 PM

Which is fine. HP generally makes very good ones, but it's no big deal.
June 1, 2009 11:25:24 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
The WD6401AALS drive is faster, has 140GB more storage, and only costs $5 more.

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $74.99


I went around and around but I wanted to end up with 4 equal size drives. I figure I will have 2 WD blacks for the OS and data and will back up to 2 and it seemed that there were a lot more 500s than 640s. I did not know that the 640 was faster but oh well. Once I go with Windows 7, I will probably try to go to a SSD or a rapture for the OS.
!