Help me help a friend, homebuilt

Hey guys,

I would say I am relatively savvy when it comes to building normal every day use or gaming computers, but my friend is asking me on build advise for something a little different.........


BUDGET RANGE: No more than $850

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: This is where it gets tricky. He wants to game, but most importantly it has to do work. CADD, Rhino, programs i don't know about..THEN gaming/general use.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I am a big fan of Newegg though have used Tigerdirect and CompUsa in the past if the price is right. All U.S. sites though. (sadly no neither of us are near a Microcenter)

PARTS PREFERENCES: He doesn't care as long as it works. I just want it to perform good for the price and have a decent warranty (so XFX for the GPU is a good pick).

OVERCLOCKING: Not now, possibly in the future though probably not.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not for at least a year.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Multiple monitors. 1680x1050 and a 1280x1024, also possibly a tv

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Given some of the programs he uses for engineering utilize 2 core and some use 4 core, I am swayed toward the i5 because of it's turbo ability. I have long been an AMD buyer because of the performance vs price but when comparing the PII to the i5, the i5 seems like the smarter buy.

This is the list of components I have come up with, please feel free to pick it apart. If you have something against the i5 and you think the PII would perform better, then by all means please post it and your evidence.



CPU: Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 - Retail

MoBo: GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $354.98


Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified ... - Retail $124.98

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBRL - Retail $79.99

GPU: XFX HD-487A-ZWFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $144.99

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM $64.99

DVD Burner: SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support - OEM 32.99

Total Before MIR: $802.88
Total After MIR: $782.88
6 answers Last reply
More about help friend homebuilt
  1. I would check if his production apps utilize Hypertherading, which they should. If so, bump up to the cheapest i7 for the p55 chipset. For GPU, generally workstation class cards will render projects much better in real time, but don't come cheap for the latest and greatest, on top of that, gaming is no better, and often measurably worse than the consumer grade graphics cards. If he's okay with better gaming experience over workstation ability, the 4870 is the best choice for budget options. Going with a newer 5870 card might be a good idea as it has twice the number of stream processors to throw at rendering tasks, so regardless of being unoptimized for realtime rendering, it should still do a pretty fair job.

    For hard drives, Samsung F3 or Seagate 7200.12. Caviar Blacks are good drives, but they need to revise the platter densities on them. Because of this, Samsung and Seagate have better drives currently.
  2. The build is looking pretty good. You could save some money by going with the GA-P55-UD3R motherboard instead. Are you forgetting an OS? You can currently get 64-bit Vista with a free upgrade to Windows 7 for $80 if you use this combo:

    You can also upgrade to DDR3 1600 RAM and use this combo:
  3. these are good suggestions, but I would disagree with the WD Black comments. WD black drives are great performers, and come with 5 year warranties.

    With that budget it seems that workstation cards are out of the questions. I like the 4870 choice for ddr5 ram and 1 Gb.
  4. Wow quick replies, thanks guys!

    Yeah, he knows that a workstation GPU is out of the question and he is ok with that, he is more concerned with the CPU power.

    As far as the GPU goes, i figured the 4870 was within budget and the step up (4890) wasn't worth the small increase in performance and yeah, at these prices, no way i was going to skimp out on GPU ram. =P

    Thank you for posting those combos shortstuff, though he isn't concerned with the OS (i should have put that in things to not be included, my fault). With the RAM, would there be a noticeable difference between what i had up there and what you linked? Also, the one i posted said "special with i5 i7" is that just B-S? I didn't know the i7 or i5 needed special ram.. (aside from the i7 can handle triple channel, assuming the mobo can too).

    I will look into the other HDD options you listed wathman, but i've become rather fond of the WD Caviar blacks for their time proven performance and the 5 year warranty.
  5. I didn't say the WD Black drives are bad, but the 640 GB Caviar Black does use a 2x 320 GB platter design, and the 500 GB Caviar Black uses a 2x 250 GB platter design. 1x 500 GB is preferable in my opinion which is why there will most likely be new Caviar Blacks out when they release the new 2 TB Caviar Black that will use 4x 500 GB platters. It will probably be the best mechanical drive, though Seagate also announced their SATA III compatible 2 TB that will compete directly with it. Should be interesting to see how the high-performance high capacity market shapes up.
  6. The only requirement for RAM with i5/i7 chips is that the voltage doesn't exceed 1.65v. That's the only reason your RAM specifically lists i5/i7 compatibility. I would choose 1600MHz ram over 1333MHz ram for an extra $5 if it was me. The 1600MHz kit even keeps the same tight CAS 7 timings. The faster RAM actually wouldn't really cost any more since the motherboard/RAM combo discount is $20 as compared to the $15 discount with the CPU/motherboard combo. :)
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