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~$800 quiet build for a fella on information overload!

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December 7, 2009 2:57:28 AM

Folks, I'm lost. I decided to investigate building my own system and spent the past couple weeks reading reviews etc. I'm on information overload and an turning to you for advice.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week

BUDGET RANGE: around $800, After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
1) multi-tasking with word, acrobat pro, multiple browsing windows, equation editor, equation graphing utilities, gimp (to manipulate basic images for worksheets/handouts)
2) games - LOTRO MMO. I don't play anything else at the moment but would consider it in the future if the system permitted.
3) Recently got a hd camcorder as a result of becoming a father. I'm going to have to learn to deal with the loads of raw video and digital pics I am now amassing.
4) digital music storage/playback/cd buring
5) The wife is learning photoshop.


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor 1680x1050 westinghouse L2210NW LCD, Mouse

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, but willing to purchase elsewhere if it means considerable savings (USA)

PARTS PREFERENCES: I would like to stick with Intel. I was thinking of a i5 build. I was also thinking that a XFX Radeon HD 4870 Video Card would be good choice since I'm not playing any of those games benchmark makers tend to use. I'm certainly open to suggestions.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (never done it, looks fun, but not sure if I will ever get around to it) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, I don't think I can justify the purchase of an extra card just for LOTRO (When is that StarWars MMO comming out?)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A concern of mine is noise. I was first inspired to build instead of purchasing a system when I read a 'building a quiet pc' article online. This system does not need to be silent, nor does it have to be a kick a** gaming system. However, I am hoping for a solid build that will perform well, not drive me crazy with fan noise (I switched to a laptop due to fan noise a few years back), allow me to play LOTRO without having to dumb down all the settings, as well as offer me the ability to do something with those digi pics and video. Perhaps my hopes are too high?

Thanks in advance for any tips you folks may be able to offer.
December 7, 2009 1:52:31 PM

CPU: i5 750. Like there are any other choices. :) 

MOBO: Depends. If you won't upgrade the mobo, your best bet is the get the latest tech available. That'd be USB 3.0 & SATA III. No, there aren't any parts that take full advantage of them, but there WILL be. So back to the question of how often you upgrade. These are good starts:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

RAM: This seems like a very popular item around here, and I wouldn't hesitate to get one:

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM - Retail

* Free Shipping
* Your Price:$91.99

Now again, how often do you upgrade? If you can afford it right now and won't upgrade ram, you might want 8GB. Just one more ram ripjaws kit. That'd be 4 x 2GB. 2 x 4GB is not worth the money. $400+. Any modern ATX mobo will have 4 slots for memory. More ram will speed up video/photo editing and multitasking. Regardless, if you can, get Windows 7 64bit.

GPU: LOTRO sys. req. are kind of low. You should aim to meet or exceed the RECOMMENDED.

http://www.lotro.com/component/content/article/369-syst...

The HD 4870 is a good choice. If the HD 4890 isn't too much more expensive, get that. However, they and along with most cards are last generation. If you're getting Windows 7, get the HD 5770 for about the same price.

NOISE: There are many things you can do to cut down the noise from a pc. Like turning on Speedstep or Enhanced Intel® Speedstep Technology. It will slow down the cpu when idle. Then your cpu fan will throttle down as well.

http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=42915

Also, you can buy a fan speed controller for $20 that controls 4+ fans in the case. Turn the knobs to the middle when you're working and max 'em out when you're gaming. Or even daisy-chain the fans to one knob.

Most important would be the case. Look at Antec mid to full tower cases with doors. They're very quiet. Some of them have sound-proofing. Like the Sonata with PSU:

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail $109.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Yes, it's sufficient for HD 4870/90 & 5770.

http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/ati-rad...

http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/ati-rad...

http://www.amd.com/us/products/desktop/graphics/ati-rad...

Q's: How does the camcorder connect to PC? Firewire/USB? Also, the digital camera if any.
December 8, 2009 3:15:09 AM

Thanks for the reply.
I appreciate your help.

I was leaning towards and Antec case and feel more confident in going that route now.

I will be getting a copy of Windows 7 and am not including it in the build budget. I appreciate the advice regarding the GPU. I was waffling on the 32 vs. 64 bit choice. I've read that web browsing suffers using the 64bit OS due to flash issues or something to that effect. I wish I knew the specific issues but the pages/info has amalgamated into the mush with all the other info I have viewed over the past couple weeks! I use a number of web resources for delivering mathematics curriculum, assignments, and examinations. Certainly most of them require java while I'm not positive how many use flash. I use firefox. Anyone have any knowledge as to whether or not windows 7 provides an opportunity to run old 32 bit programs in some kind of special mode?

Upgrading: I don't plan to upgrade often. Getting 8 gigs of RAM is a great suggestion. I'll certainly see if it fits the budget when I get some time to pick around over the next couple days. The mobo perspective makes great sense in terms of purchasing getting the latest tech.

The camcorder and the digital camera both connect via USB.

Any advice regarding a fan for the I5 that may provide less noise than the OEM?

Thanks again!

Related resources
December 8, 2009 12:30:47 PM

I helped one of my friends install W7 64bit. The good thing about W7 is it includes almost all popular device drivers. The other thing I noticed is the 64bit OS will install 32bit programs in C:\Program Files & 64bit ones in C:\Program Files (x64) automatically. You don't need to know which bit the program is. W7 does it behind the scene.

If you're in doubt, you can right-click a program, click properties, compatibility mode. Set it up to run in a different OS emulation.

Java is run in entirely memory. So the more the merrier. If memory is not enough, Java will cache the code/data on harddisk. You can set up how much Java caches to disk in Control Panel. When you get 8 gigs, minimize the caching.

Cooler Master Intel Core i5 compatible Hyper TX3 Socket 775/1156/AMD 130W 92mm "heatpipe direct contact" CPU Cooler RR-910-HTX3-GP - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is a very versatile cooler, but a bit loud at full throttle. You can set up bios to run the cpu fan at 50% at all time. It'll be quieter than the stock one. In fact, you can do the same thing with the Intel cooler. Watch out for overheating though. The pc will slow down to a crawl and may shut down or restart due to overheating. If that happens, increase the fan speed in bios to 75% or 100%. But I suspect you'll most likely hear the optical/hard drive whirling most of the time. The cpu fan noise will be drowned out.
December 9, 2009 12:32:27 PM

Could you list the build? I don't have an account.
December 9, 2009 12:43:44 PM

The wishlist is empty.

I'd also recommend looking at an AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE build. It's going to be cheaper (the CPU is only $165), and is only slightly lower performance. If you go with it, you will be more likely to fit 8 GB of RAM in the build.

For a motherboard, I like to suggest the ASUS M4A79XTD EVO. At $120 before rebates, it's a very good value for the cost.

Everything else will work with this.

@p55ibexpeak: I don't particularly like recommending the USB 3.0/SATA III yet, mainly because the technology hasn't really been invented yet. They don't know if they've got it right. Future proofing for that now is just increasing the risk that you're getting something that's not going to perform well when the new tech comes out. By the time devices use it, there are going to be many, many other choices that will be better. I'd hold on to the extra $$ now, and see what happens. It could be years before anything takes advantage of it.
December 21, 2009 7:35:01 PM

Got busy and had to postpone the whole figure out a computer thing. Would love if anyone wanted to chime in.

Thanks for the post MadAdmiral. I have already purchased an I5 at microcenter for $150 so I'm gonna stick with it.

MOBO
Still debating this.
GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$104 Anandtech gives this an editor's choice. I don't think the micro part will be an issue as I don't imagine putting much in there. I like the price.
GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$135 This one has USB3.0 Sounds cool, but I don't but tech goodies very often. Not sure if I will purchase a 3.0 item in the next year or so.
GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD3R LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$140 Tom'sH gave this one a thumbs up.

Anyone have any input regard these? Perhaps one of you have used one of the Asus Rock boards and are pleased?
Overclocking is not a priority, but I might dabble with it.
Hoping for something solid and stable, not complicated as I have not built a system in about 7 or 8 years.

OPTICAL DRIVE
Any recommendations?

MEMORY
Planning on the GSkill Ripsaws.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231275

HARD DRIVE
I would really like something that is quiet. I was thinking about the Samsung F3 500GB drive. It is currently out of stock. Anyone have a recommendation for a quiet 500GB drive that is near the same price point?

Video Card
HIS H577FN1GD Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail

CPU Cooler
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail

CASE
Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail

Probably gonna pull the trigger in the next day or two if I can make up my mind. Thanks again folks.
!