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Confused with tech. - need a good mainstream system for 5 years

Last response: in Systems
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December 7, 2009 12:41:09 PM

Hi everyone,

The last few weeks I’ve been reading extensively about all the pros and cons between the platforms, technologies, i7 vs i5 vs quad vs etc… and quite frankly I feel a bit lost.

All I want is the best bang for the buck, system that I will not have to bother upgrading for the next 4-5 years.

I don1t play games and I am definitely not a PC enthusiast. I most certainly am not prepared to spend 30% to get 5-10% more performance, as 90% of the time it’s MS Office and IE. I might want to encode a video here and there and edit some family photos from time to time, say once a month perhaps… my OS will be W7 64.

The question is – what is the best system I can build today for the least money to spend?

My primary concern is durability/reliability, but not because I want to OC or any of that stuff, but because I want to buy the machine, have it assembled and not bother opening it for 4-5 years from now.



December 7, 2009 1:30:15 PM

Indeed :) 

Let say that I am comfortabe spending up to 1,000$ and more only with a very, VERY good reason (hard to think of 1 now).

I again want to stress the fact that as far as I undestand for runinng MS Office apps. and surfing the web, I probably wouldn't see performance diference between i7 Extreme and 15 year old Pentium III...

Seriuosly, I wonder is there any valid reason why not to go with something like Q8300 on a solid mid-range PQ5 board... for what I do. I can get these 2 for 150$, opposed to say P6T with 920 for 500$... when pushed to the limits in say video encoding I'd see about 30% increase in performance. For me that is not compelling enough to pay 300% more for something I would do once a month or so...

Any suggestions here...?
December 7, 2009 1:32:49 PM

Your question is so broad, it's almost impossible to answer. I can only offer a few thoughts:

a. The most important question in my view is "Why do you want to build rather than buy?" Building is rarely significantly cheaper, and there is always a risk of something failing in a PC, no matter how good the components. Unless you have the knowledge to fix it yourself (which you don't seem to have, since you're saying you'll "have it assembled"), why not buy from HP or Dell and have their service assurance in case something breaks?

b. Given how fast technology progresses, you won't find any platform that won't be very dated three years from now. That doesn't mean your new PC won't last you five years (unless your needs change, you may be happy with it for that long and even longer), but what I'm saying is whether you'll be tempted to upgrade or not will depend more on whether your needs change than on what you chose today, as long as you made the right choice.

c. From what you describe, you don't need high performance graphics (encoding isn't done on the graphics card). As far as the CPU goes, any i7/i5 or Phenom II should do fine. Get 4GB of RAM to be on the safe side and an HDD large enough for what you think you may need (depends mostly on how much video you plan to store, I guess). That still makes for a fairly cheap box - I wouldn't spend more than $800-900 (or even less)

d. Where the "not upgrading" part may be the hardest is in peripheral connections. HDMI is not a must right now but may soon be. Starting next year, you may want USB 3.0, but it's hard to get right now. I'm certain many new standards will pop up over the next five years, some of which may become ubiquitous. Depending on what new camera/monitor/... you'll want to buy, you may have to open that box at some point to add an interface card or two.
December 7, 2009 1:46:39 PM

Thanks for reply,

I prefer custom-build over any "brand" configuration, as they always put some crappy part in it that they just happen to have sitting on stock...

I basically want a mainstream mid-range system that will serve me for at least 3-years, preferably 5 from now on.

I read a lot about how C2D/C2Q is outdated tech. and how not to buy it. I think it's b/s and think i5/i7 systems are not V4$ in my case over C2D/C2Q... as said above why pay 3 times more for a fraction more of performance...?

In principle I want to build a nice C2Q-based system, with 4GB DDR2 and mid-range VGA (ATI 4670), as I believe this would suit my needs perfectly.

So, I am trying to get some re-assurance I am making the right decision

lok said:
Your question is so broad, it's almost impossible to answer. I can only offer a few thoughts:
a. The most important question in my view is "Why do you want to build rather than buy?" Building is rarely significantly cheaper, and there is always a risk of something failing in a PC, no matter how good the components. Unless you have the knowledge to fix it yourself (which you don't seem to have, since you're saying you'll "have it assembled"), why not buy from HP or Dell and have their service assurance in case something breaks?

b. Given how fast technology progresses, you won't find any platform that won't be very dated three years from now. That doesn't mean your new PC won't last you five years (unless your needs change, you may be happy with it for that long and even longer), but what I'm saying is whether you'll be tempted to upgrade or not will depend more on whether your needs change than on what you chose today, as long as you made the right choice.

c. From what you describe, you don't need high performance graphics (encoding isn't done on the graphics card). As far as the CPU goes, any i7/i5 or Phenom II should do fine. Get 4GB of RAM to be on the safe side and an HDD large enough for what you think you may need (depends mostly on how much video you plan to store, I guess). That still makes for a fairly cheap box - I wouldn't spend more than $800-900 (or even less)

d. Where the "not upgrading" part may be the hardest is in peripheral connections. HDMI is not a must right now but may soon be. Starting next year, you may want USB 3.0, but it's hard to get right now. I'm certain many new standards will pop up over the next five years, some of which may become ubiquitous. Depending on what new camera/monitor/... you'll want to buy, you may have to open that box at some point to add an interface card or two.

!