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New Build i7 860 Computer Must Last Four Years

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a b V Motherboard
September 28, 2009 12:51:07 PM

I purchase a new computer about once every 4 years, and in the interim I do not upgrade the CPU or motherboard. My budget is between $1,000 and $1,200. I am willing to pay a little more (25%) for components that have a good track record or lineage for being reliable and durable. I originally started looking at P45 motherboards and Core 2 Quad processors (Q9550: $170), but quickly realized that I could get a P55 motherboard with an i7 860 processor (Microcenter: $230) for less than a $100 price difference. Here is the current system I am thinking about:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: First week in November 2009. This gives me a few weeks to think things over, and by then Windows 7 should be readily available.

BUDGET RANGE: For the new items listed below, I have a budget of $1,000 to $1,200. I am not willing to waste my time with rebates from any company that have contracted with a processing company that has a bad reputation for delays and denying payouts. So don’t include rebates unless your 99% certain that they will be fairly processed and promptly paid.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: The system will be used for 1. Home photo editing (Photoshop CS4 Actions, Batch Proccessing, Stitching, and HDR processing), 2. Editing home use high definition video (H264 encoded .MOV files) for playback at (1920x1080), 3. Home music studio recording using a M-Audio Delta 1010 / Mixer with Cubase / Wavelab software, 4. Work related Visual Studio software development, and 5. Having my son explore gaming, although he would build his own gaming computer if he decides to pursue this interest.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I have already purchased an Antec 902 Computer Case (mid-tower), and Antec EA750 Power Supply (750 Watts Modular PSU) because I got a good price ($195 with free shipping) for both through Newegg combo deals. This purchase is in line with my philosophy of getting good quality, reliable parts at a reasonable cost. I also figured that if I don’t like the case (blue LEDs are not my thing, although I liked the case cooling capabilities), I would give it to my son for his future gaming build. In addition, I do not need a keyboard, mouse, monitor, or speakers.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, Microcenter, Amazon, B&H Photo, or other stores with good business practice reputations, and reasonable shipping charges. I actual prefer stores with strict return policies and restocking fees, because it keeps costs down and reduces the likelihood of getting previously tried and returned parts.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: I am only interested in Intel Processors. For all other parts, I am only interested in suppliers that have a reputation for producing reliable and durable products. For instance, I am not interested in having to deal with warranty claims for a faulty video card that was used less than a year.

OVERCLOCKING: Overclocking is not a high priority. I will likely settle on a very modest overclocking profile because heat can impact the longevity of the system and I want this system to last at least 4 years.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: This new build will have only one video card because gaming is low on my usage list. My power supply (Antec EA750) has a modular cable with a PCI-E plug for use with a video card.


MONITOR RESOLUTION: I will be upgrading to a 24 inch, high quality, widescreen, high definition monitor capable of 1920x1200 resolution, primarily for photo editing, but this component is not part of my initial build.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: If you haven’t already figured it out from my comments above, I am willing to pay a little more for a component if it comes from a manufacturer with a good reputation, and the component has a proven reliability and durability track record or lineage.

Alright, now comes the fun part. I have $1000 to $1200 to spend. Here is my first iteration on components for my new computer:

Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD3R LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard – Retail ~$140. Newegg

CPU
Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail ~$230. Microcenter

CPU Heat Sink and Fan
Thermaltake Silent 1156 CLP0552 92mm CPU Cooler For Intel Socket LGA1156 - Retail $30.
[/http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...]
There are very few heat sinks and fans for the 1156 socket. I am hoping that by the time I start assembling the computer more options will be available. Any thoughts?

Memory
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail ~$95 Newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card
EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX+ 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card – Retail $135 Newegg

Hard Drives (Four = One for OS, Two for Data in RAID 1, One Spare)
Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM Retail $60 each X 4 = $240. Newegg
For my photo and video work, I need multiple backups of my data. Recently, Newegg ran a special on these drives at $10 off plus free shipping so I bought four. However, I would like to hear comments about my four hard drive setup --one for the operating system, two for data in RAID 1, and one spare for backup and storage outside of the computer. Any feed from users who have done something similar would be greatly appreciated.

Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee – OEM; Includes free Windows 7 upgrade coupon Retail $190. Newegg
I am intrigued by Windows Vista Complete PC Backup and Restore capability only available on the Business or Ultimate editions. My impression is that this utility allows one to make an image of your hard disk similar to what Norton Ghost provides. Any comments from people who have tried this would be appreciated. Otherwise, I would consider the Home Premium edition.


DVD Drive
SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner – OEM $32. Newegg


This totals $1135, which fits within my budget of $1000 to $1200. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and feedback.

This is my first post, and although I tried to create hyperlinks to the hardware specified above, I am not sure I did it correctly. My appologies if the links don't work.

Best solution

September 28, 2009 1:15:44 PM

It's a pretty good start, the only big change I'd make is switching around your hard drive config a little bit, depending on what you prefer. The caviar black product line is overdue for a product refresh. the 500GB drives you are looking at are based on a 2x 250GB platter design. the Seagate 7200.12 and Samsung F3 drives use a 500GB x1 platter design, so they are higher data density, and overall faster than the WD Blacks. I would also consider just using a single 1TB Seagate or Samsung, and then consider buying or building a NAS system for centralized storage and as a backup location. Keeping data in a RAID 1 array locally becomes redundant if you start looking at backup and restore options.

For video card, the 9800 GTX+ is more or less the same thing as a 8800GTX, not exactly a new design. If you can wait a few weeks, the Radeon 5850 would be a great choice, though pricing will be above your budget by a little bit.
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September 29, 2009 1:05:22 AM

hmm even if you harshly overclock it should run 4 years easily with adequate cooling
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September 29, 2009 2:06:29 AM

back when electrolyte capacitors were common, getting 4 years out of a highly overclocked system was a gamble. Now that most motherboards worth buying have solid state capacitors and very tight voltage control, 4+ years should be no problem.
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a b V Motherboard
September 29, 2009 12:30:53 PM

wathman said:
back when electrolyte capacitors were common, getting 4 years out of a highly overclocked system was a gamble. Now that most motherboards worth buying have solid state capacitors and very tight voltage control, 4+ years should be no problem.


Yeah, of course you are right. My title was misleading. What I meant by "must last four years" was that I typically keep my primary home computer for four years without doing any upgrades to the CPU or processor, then it gets reassigned for other uses, such as a web-surfing and email machine that anyone in the house can use. I am currently using an old Dell Dimension 4600 Pentium 4 computer that will become a public machine shortly. I am soo ready to upgrade -- in fact this machine might be closer to five years old.

When I first decided it was time to upgrade my old Pentium 4, I thought the sweet spot for price/performance was a P43 mATX motherboard ($90) and E8200 Core 2 Duo ($100 Microcenter) for $190. Then, my thought was that this system needs to last at least 4 years, I should upgrade to a P45 ATX motherboard ($120) and Q9550 Core 2 Quad ($170 Microcenter) for $290. Thats only $100 dollars more!

Then, the new i7 860 processor hit the streets for $230 (Microcenter), and P55 motherboards are about $140, and DDR3 Ram is about $20 more than DDR2, which gives a a total price of $390. Wow, thats only $100 dollars more than the Core 2 Quad system.

Now, I am looking at the i7 920 processor for $200 (Microcenter), and X58 motherboard for about $240 (EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR LGA), and an adder of $20 for DDR3 RAM over DDR2, which brings the total price to $460. Wow, thats only $70 dollars more than the i7 860 system!

This industry does a fantastic job of picking price points for the various system levels. I am now completely confused as to what I should get. I know that the lowly E8200 system would run circles around my current Dell Pentium 4, but would I be happy with this system over the next 4 years? I also know that the i7 920 system has much more horsepower than I will need, but it is such a powerful design for bandwidth and pure processing power that I am beginning to lust after this system. At the same time, I realize that the i7 860 system I specified above is about the perfect match for my needs, and I think I would be happy keeping it around for 4 years as my primary computer before assigning it to other uses.

I now realize that I should have posted the above discription first because this really explains my dilemma and is where I really need the help.

Thanks to everyone who has responded, and sorry about the confusion.
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September 29, 2009 12:51:09 PM

well, I can tell you for sure it's going to be very hard to "future proof" to the point where you'll be happy for the next four years. USB 3.0 is coming very soon, though widespread adoption is at least a year off. SATA III drives and motherboards have made appearances, but at this point they are expensive without a whole lot of substance. If you keep waiting for the next big thing, you are going to always be waiting. At some point you just have to take the leap, and try to remain happy as you watch your system slowly go obsolete
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a b V Motherboard
September 29, 2009 1:03:19 PM

Yes, of course you right again. I am standing on the edge about to take the leap, and just need someone to give me a good swift kick in the butt. My wife is usually the person to do this, but she is not interested. She says, "Just get whatever you think is best." Gotta love that woman!
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September 29, 2009 2:26:38 PM

To 'future proof' a pc would it not be advisable to go for 1366 socket intel such as the i7 920 instead of 1156 models? Especially from a mobo point of view
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a b V Motherboard
September 29, 2009 3:23:09 PM

Since you're near a MicroCenter - the DVD drive you selected has been on sale there for $24.99 fairly regularly recently. I've seen it on, off for a couple days, then back on again a couple times over the last few weeks. Add taxes, but still ~$5 less than NewEgg, especially if you can't get it from NE with free shipping.

Not a big savings on your overall build, but hey it's $5 for another component right!
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a b V Motherboard
September 29, 2009 4:38:20 PM

ekoostik said:
Since you're near a MicroCenter - the DVD drive you selected has been on sale there for $24.99 fairly regularly recently. I've seen it on, off for a couple days, then back on again a couple times over the last few weeks. Add taxes, but still ~$5 less than NewEgg, especially if you can't get it from NE with free shipping.

Not a big savings on your overall build, but hey it's $5 for another component right!


Hey, I appreciate the heads up on the DVD drive from Microcenter. I have been slowly collecting components when I see sales, and I will check on this item.

Thanks!
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a b V Motherboard
September 29, 2009 4:53:35 PM

DariusT said:
To 'future proof' a pc would it not be advisable to go for 1366 socket intel such as the i7 920 instead of 1156 models? Especially from a mobo point of view


From my perspective I just want to lock in a system now, and use it for the next 4 years without thinking about any motherboard or CPU upgrades. I know that whatever system I choose, it will slowly became obsolete with time.

In the next 4 years, am I likely to run into any hardware or software compatibility problems if I were to go with a X58 / i7 920 system?
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a b V Motherboard
January 21, 2010 8:15:15 AM

Best answer selected by dpaul8.
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a b V Motherboard
January 21, 2010 10:46:08 AM

How'd the build go? I've seen you popping up in other forums so it must have gone well. Anything you learned worth sharing? Any regrets in your purchases?
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