Hoping to come back here for some more great advice. I will be building my dad a computer when I go to visit over Thanksgiving. He is looking for a fast machine, but will not be playing games. He will use it mostly for office apps, internet/e-mail, various light multi-media applications.
Whenever I think about building a PC, i'm always skewed towards gaming. I'm hoping to get some advice on a good basic system. I'm not afraid to spend money on an i7/i5 (whatever it is nowadays) and a solid amount of memory coupled with windows 7 64-bit. A very basic (but decently powerful) GPU should do.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Will order parts this upcoming week.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Office apps, internet, e-mail, movies music.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Should include everything, keyboard, mouse, OS.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg always...tigerdirect if they have some deals, and occasionally Amazon if they get lucky.
PARTS PREFERENCES: huge intel fanboy. I will want this to be an intel build.
OVERCLOCKING: Possibly...I only have experience overclocking my i7.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600x1200 probably...very nice 22" monitor of some sort.
For his purposes, the most economical thing to do is get an AM3 motherboard with onboard HD 4200 video and something like an AthlonIIx4 CPU. You can do a build like that for $500ish. To go the i5 route its going to be a few hundred more expensive since you have to buy some kind of video card in addition to just being more expensive to begin with.
I am still inclined to go with intel...I would feel comfortable doing a mild overclock of the i5 on stock voltages, assuming it's the same method as the i7.
I understand that AMD might be more economical...but would you disagree that the i5 would offer more speed? Your i5 build is priced out around $600 not including monitor, mouse, keyboard. This seems quite reasonable given what he's looking to spend.
Its also missing hard drive and DVD Burner, I never quite finished. Add $55 for a samsung F3 500GB and $30 for a SATA DVD burner.
If you are going to overlclock I would recommend adding a Coolermaster Hyper 212 plus CPU cooler $30. I5s are supposed to be easy to get up to 3.6-3.8 without voltage increases.
The i5 is faster under load. If he never loads it he will not see a difference. Thats the difference between performance benchmarking and real world usage. If he was going to do heavy video encoding or massive spreadsheet analysis then it would matter. For general internet and office use I doubt he would see any difference.
Graphics card would be a 4670 ($40-50) at the low end to a 5750 ($130) for DX11 and reasonable gaming capability.
4670 would be plenty and I think I would go with a WD Caviar black 640 for $80 instead of the samsung. TBH I don't really know about the i7. I assume it's a similar architecture to the i7, but it's a whole new socket size?
Does it accept both dual channel and triple channel? DDR3 only?
The 1156 socket CPUS (i5, i7 800 series) use dual channel DDR3 RAM.
The 1366 socket CPUs (i7 900 series) are the only ones that use triple channel RAM
The advantage of the 1156 is that there is no northbridge, its all integrated into the CPU so P55 motherboards are cheaper to make and have less components. The disadvantage is there are less PCIE channels so dual crossfire/SLI is x8/x8 instead of x16/x16.
bump...starting to shop around now. He will want to run a 24" monitor...should this change the GPU choice at all? (Again, no gaming...but probably HD movie watching etc.)
dnd, I really appreciate your advice, but i'm going to be stubborn and go with an i5 build. I realize he may not see a noticeable difference in every day browsing between an AM3 build and an i5 build, but I have had nothing but bad experiences with AMD and nothing but good experiences with intel.
That being said, I am open to value-saving suggestions to this initial outline. (Budget is not really an issue at all -- I am just trying to get the most for the money for his purposes). The biggest costs are obviously the monitor and the OS.
I have had great experiences with ASUS in the past and have developed trust issues with gigabyte after some bad boards. (this may be irrational, but I am just going on experience). I know relatively little about P55 boards, but this seemed like a great value.