I'm putting together a build for a new PC. It'll be an i7 860 with one WD 640GB Caviar Black HDD (possible expansion to 3 HDDs in future), 2x2GB RAM (possible expansion to 4x2GB in future), one CD/DVD drive. I don't game, but I would like a decent GPU that can output to my Dell 2208WFP 1680x1050 (DVI) and a 32" 1080p TV (HDMI - or DVI->HDMI if it carries sound). I do video editing and would also like to be able to stream Hulu or watch movies without straining the system. I'm considering the HD 4670 but may move up to the 4850.
How much power do I need? Should I get a 550 or 500 W PSU, or can I get away with 450W?
I don't want to be too cheap with my PSU. But I also don't want to get more than I ever need. I will not be putting more than 1 graphics card in this machine. That $35 OCZ was looking really good until I did more research. I don't have a ceiling, but staying under $60 would be great.
With a 4670, the 450W Corsair should be powerful enough. I don't think the OCZ MosXStream Pro is a bad PSU at all and it's a good price if you don't mind mail-in rebates. The Antec Earthwatts EA500 is a very good PSU, but it isn't the best looking unit: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Since you are not a gamer you may want to take a look at the Radeon HD 4770 video card also. It is a good mid-level, energy efficient, general purpose card. Technical reviews have been very favorable. It's becoming popular with the home theater pc crowd.
I bought the XFX model with the fan shroud that exhausts out the rear panel two weeks ago. I replaced my 8600GT. There was a notable improvement with digital photo rendering processes. I don't know about video rendering. The reference chart I have is an older one that does not list newer cards.
Thanks everyone for the advice. I had shied away from the 4770 because most reviews I read said it was experiencing inventory shortages and so its price was higher than it should be. I did a quick check on NewEgg and it looks like all of the 4770's are going for more than $100. There are some 4850's that are less (most with rebate) than the 4770. For example, this 512MB Radeon.
For less money, is the 4850 a better deal than the 4770? Is there a big difference in power consumption?
The 4770 uses about 80 watts, runs cool and quiet, but not quite the performance of the 4850. The 4850 uses over 130 watts, runs hotter and is louder, but gives a bit better performance. The 4670 is an excellent choice if you only do light or no gaming, they run quiet and only use about 60 watts.
I had decided last night to go with the Corsair. But it occurs to me now if I went with the OCZ StealthXStream 400 I might be able to justify putting some extra money into the 4850 or 4770. Decisions, decisions.
You shouldn't buy an OCZ StealthXStream 400W if you buy a 4850 because it doesn't have much power on the 12V rail. A basic system probably shouldn't have a 4850, it should have a 4670. Did you read the Corsair VX450 review http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/540? That one is basically the same as the Antec Earthwatts 500 and it can deliver up to 577 watts (over 100 watts more than the OCZ).
I read that review, it's what's been pushing me towards the Corsair. I'm going to go ahead and get it.
One last question though about PSU and Case compatibility. This is probably a stupid question, but I noticed in the hardwaresecrets review that it mentions the fan is on the bottom - "As you can see, this power supply uses a big 120-mm ball bearing fan on its bottom (the power supply is upside down on Figures 1 and 2) and a big mesh on the rear side where traditionally we have an 80-mm fan."
I hadn't thought about this before - but does this limit my case selection? Or can I put the PSU upside down at the bottom of a case. I would've just assumed it was ok but am doubting myself since the review mentioned it was upside down.
No, case selection is not limited by the location of the power supply fan. You can mount the psu either in the top or bottom of a pc case. The psu fan can be facing either up or down. In fact some of the new large full tower cases such as the Coolermaster HAF 932 have a flexible design which allows for installation in either the top or bottom of the case. Some of the pc cases which have bottom mounted power supplies have an opening directly below the psu location. Users can install the psu with the fan on top or the bottom. With the fan on top, the psu fan pulls in air from the interior of the case and exhausts it out the back. With the fan on the bottom the fan can pull in cool air from the outside and exhaust it out the rear. The idea is that the power supply can cool itself providing there is sufficient other ventilation, air flow, and cooling for components