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Core i5 Photo/Video/WebDev PC $500-$700 for 1st-time builder

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October 2, 2009 5:11:00 PM

BUDGET RANGE: $500-$700 APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next 30 days

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Photo/video editing, Web development (Dreamweaver), iTunes, MS Office, Gaming (just looking for adequate support)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Windows 7 Professional OS, DVD burner (Sony DRU-810a), LCD monitor (Samsung SyncMaster 2232BW), keyboard/mouse

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, ZipZoomFly, TigerDirect, Fry's COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: NC, USA

PARTS PREFERENCES:

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

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe - considering because that seems to be the prevailing recommendation, but will need help since I've never done it before

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 (existing Samsung 2232BW)

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:

- Mid-tower case (no fancy windows or LEDs) that keeps things relatively cool and quiet, has front USB and Firewire (nice to have), fits 19x9x19 space
- at least 4GB RAM
- at least 500GB SATA II primary hard drive
- video card that will support HD video editing, playback and moderate gaming - have been looking at Radeon HD 4870
- reliable, well-supported motherboard - have been looking at Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2
- reliable, efficient power supply

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

- Will be adding 2 existing Seagate Barracuda PATA/100 drives (ST306504N1A0A-RK 650GB 7200RPM 16MB and ST3500641A-RK 500GB 7200RPM 16MB) for video / photo storage.

This will be my first build in over 5 years. So consider me a newbie. Looking for recommendations and appreciate any feedback.
October 2, 2009 5:29:02 PM

This Newegg combo is probably your best bet at meeting your budget and not skimping on parts quality.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
That puts you right around $500, you will have to shrink down your graphics card budget to $100 or so unless you're fine with a cheap Rosewill case that prices around $50. DO NOT go generic for a PSU, I'd go with a Corsair 650TX that prices at $99.
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October 2, 2009 9:51:41 PM
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Best solution

October 2, 2009 10:14:12 PM

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This HD is supposedly one of the best performing out there. Only 49.99 FS on the Egg. I'd replace the Barracuda with it.

Also, I would pick a different PSU. Corsair, PCP&C, Seasonic, or Silverstone are the brands I would gravitate more towards. I'm sure the OCZ would be just fine, but I've not heard much about it. I'll recommend this PSU:

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

99.99 w/ FS

If you don't mind me asking, what kind of webdev do you do? I am a webdev myself, so I can probably help you choose the right hardware based on your tools. Although, a good webdev doesn't need great hardware to make good sites :) .
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October 2, 2009 10:30:38 PM

Thanks for the recommendation on the hard drive.

As for the PSU, my question is whether the Corsair is worth $65 more than the OCZ. I realize Corsair gets some of the best reviews, but that's a big jump.

I do LAMP work, so PHP and MySQL stuff. I work in Dreamweaver but handcode everything. I usually have it open for code editing, Photoshop for images, FTP, SSH, IE/Firefox and maybe iTunes while I'm working. I have a dev server. So I typically don't need to run MySQL or PHP on my PC.
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October 2, 2009 10:45:56 PM

The_Bman said:
Thanks for the recommendation on the hard drive.

As for the PSU, my question is whether the Corsair is worth $65 more than the OCZ. I realize Corsair gets some of the best reviews, but that's a big jump.

I do LAMP work, so PHP and MySQL stuff. I work in Dreamweaver but handcode everything. I usually have it open for code editing, Photoshop for images, FTP, SSH, IE/Firefox and maybe iTunes while I'm working. I have a dev server. So I typically don't need to run MySQL or PHP on my PC.


For the PSU, I just went with a reliable brand with great reviews. Take my suggestions lightly as I have little or no experience with OCZ PSUs, but some experience with Corsair. I don't play around when choosing a quality PSU because (and I tell this story everytime) I skimped on the PSU on my first build and killed my entire $500 system on a shortage.

With the kind of work you do, this system will handle it all very well. If you have room to play, I'd upgrade to the I7 860 for its turbo, higher clock, and especially HyperThreading. Since you don't develop locally on the machine, this may not be an issue with you, but I know having 8 threads and hosting a local test server really speeds things up!

I do development with Java and Apache through the OfBiz framework. I also do some development with Django Python framework. Do you do any work with Linux? If so, an Nvidia card might be better for you since their drivers are known to play well (though I've had no problem with AMD/ATI drivers in Debian Sarge).
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October 2, 2009 11:48:39 PM

I definitely didn't want to skimp on PSU, but from what I can tell, that OCZ one should be solid.

I'm sure the system is more than I need right now, but that's sort of the point too. I'm replacing a 5-yr old XP system and so I'm not in the market very often. And I'm going to be running Windows 7. I also have a 9-yr old son who may get interested in gaming (for now, a Wii and DS have been enough).

I just wish I were more up on overclocking and getting the BIOS/power settings right for the RAM. I also wasn't sure if I needed an after market CPU cooler.

My Linux experience is new but frequent now -- I'm running my sites on Fedora 10, PHP 5 and MySQL 5. I migrated from a Windows server and love the performance/security of Linux so far.
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October 2, 2009 11:53:53 PM

It is always a good idea to get an aftermarket HSF, especially for these new 1156 chips. The stock ones are really, really bad. Even if you weren't going to overclock, I would invest in one to make the chip last a bit longer since you look to use this for another 5 years like your older system!

I'm sure your Linux experience with ATI will be fine, I've just heard so many people have issues with it so I always bring it up in case you want to avoid the headache. I personally have never had problems.
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October 2, 2009 11:57:55 PM

Suggestions on the HSF?

I think we got our conversation topics crossed. This box I'm building is going to be running Windows 7. I have 2 servers already running Fedora. So no worries about ATI compatibility on Windows, I assume.
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October 3, 2009 12:52:39 AM

the OCZ PSU is decent quality, not top of the line stuff, but worth its price at least. OCZ bought out PCpowerandcooling a while back so their PSUs are fairly similar. For 1156 coolers, there isn't a whole lot out there right now. the Scythe Mugen 2 is probably the best "budget" bet, but if you have to buy a 120mm fan and then bracket adapter, that might get close to $60 at some stores. For my p55 i7 build I just did, I got around the HSF problem by buying an EVGA board, they are one of the few p55 boards that have a second set of mounting holes that fit LGA 775 coolers. The mounting holes are rotated about 2 degrees so they don't interfere with the 1156 mount holes, so the HSF looks a bit ****-eyed on the motherboard, but it cools just the same. Not sure if you're willing to change your mobo to an EVGA though so the LGA 775 coolers probably won't be an option for you.

I know Noctua released a bracket adapter for their very nice coolers. The next best option might be the Xigmatek Dark Knight, some people have said there's a bracket adapter for that one now.
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October 3, 2009 12:59:04 AM

This appears to be the popular 1156 HSF:

COOLER MASTER Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-GP 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail - $30

Just wondering if there are any space or fitting issues with the Gigabyte UD2 mobo or the mid-tower case. I was wondering that about the GPU too.

I've never overclocked before and with the built-in Turbo boost, I'm not sure if I'll bother, but it sounds like the HSF would be a good idea no matter what. So I think I'll add this to the build.
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October 3, 2009 1:12:06 AM

yeah, it's popular because it's pretty much the only option out there that doesn't cost well over $50. It is better than the stock Intel cooler, but it's hard to say how it will truly stack up to the competition when they have products that work with socket 1156.
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October 3, 2009 1:18:41 AM

wathman said:
the OCZ PSU is decent quality, not top of the line stuff, but worth its price at least. OCZ bought out PCpowerandcooling a while back so their PSUs are fairly similar. For 1156 coolers, there isn't a whole lot out there right now. the Scythe Mugen 2 is probably the best "budget" bet, but if you have to buy a 120mm fan and then bracket adapter, that might get close to $60 at some stores. For my p55 i7 build I just did, I got around the HSF problem by buying an EVGA board, they are one of the few p55 boards that have a second set of mounting holes that fit LGA 775 coolers. The mounting holes are rotated about 2 degrees so they don't interfere with the 1156 mount holes, so the HSF looks a bit ****-eyed on the motherboard, but it cools just the same. Not sure if you're willing to change your mobo to an EVGA though so the LGA 775 coolers probably won't be an option for you.

I know Noctua released a bracket adapter for their very nice coolers. The next best option might be the Xigmatek Dark Knight, some people have said there's a bracket adapter for that one now.


I'm using a CoolerMaster hyper212 plus that fits 775/1156/1366. It's quiet and works well. For $29 at Fry's, it's not a bad deal.

Also, $35 is a good price for a name brand PSU but do you really need 650 or 700 watts to build an economical computer these days? Seems like a total waste of money and power consumption over a decent 430 or 500 watt PSU with 80 PLUS unless you can justify the need (i.e. running a hungry video card)
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October 3, 2009 2:09:27 AM

I was looking at PSU's with less total wattage, but they are much more expensive for the same feature set. So how can you say $35 for a 700W PSU that's >85% efficient and active PFC is a waste of money? This OCZ one is regularly $85.

If you have a suggestion for a 430 or 500W in the $35 range, let me know.
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October 3, 2009 3:01:43 AM

if you look at the power efficiency curves, PSU's are most efficient when they are around 50% load, Corsair does a good job of illustrating this on their website. the 80 plus rating means at worst case, which is at max or minimal load, the the PSU will be no worse than 80% efficiency, though most quality PSU units are more like 95-97% efficient at 50% load.
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October 3, 2009 1:57:40 PM

If you stay with the 4600 series graphics card, the 400W Corsair should be sufficient. If you plan on upgrading to anything better throughout the life of the system, you're going to need something bigger. On ATI's website, they recommend at least 500W for a 4870 or above.
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October 3, 2009 6:13:58 PM

I just built a similar system, i7 860, GA-P55M-UD2, the same Radeon HD 4670 you picked out. I opted for the Corsair 450VX based on reputation and this hardwaresecrets review:
http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/540

I find that a lot people recommend overkill PSUs and shot for something in the 400-550W range. But then I don't plan on much overclock or SLI/CrossFire. I had initially picked out an OCZ 500W but then found a bad review of it on the same site. But they also had a very good review of the OCZ 400SXS. In the end I felt more comfortable with the Corsair given the brand reputation and the specific review on the model I got.

As wathman points out if you have plans to upgrade you may want slightly more in a PSU. Although most parts in general are getting more power efficient, AMD lists the requirements for their new 5850 as "500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express® power connectors recommended".
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