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Desktop Build for CS program - Need help

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December 12, 2009 10:13:09 PM

Hey all,

Glad I happened to stumble across this site while searching for part comparison reviews as I need some advise. I'm returning to college to study programming here in January and considering on building a new desktop for a fast and fresh up to date environment to work on projects within. I've been considering a laptop, but it seems that desktops have more computing power for less money, and I'm not impressed with heating issues nor do I need the mobility as I have a laptop for work that I can use if need be.

So that being said, I think I'd like to focus this post in on an appropriate desktop build but open it up to having a laptop suggestion as well.

My gf is a computer programmer and her company purchases dell certified refurbished products as they are restored to basically brand new machine's at a fraction of the retail price tag. Considering this, I've found some pretty nice builds for around $600 - $750.

From the recent posts I've read, the new i5 chip is ideal for a budget build, and the entry level i7 chip is not really all that much better but more costly. I'm looking at 6 - 8gb of RAM, a 500gb - 1 tb harddrive, integrated sound card and a decent video card. One dvd player is suffice for now, but I would like to have a case that is sleek and mid sized but prefer it to run quiet and cool so if a larger case is need, that's fine too.

My needs are suited towards the need to quickly multi task between multiple programs with the option to run dual 24" monitors. I don't really game much but wouldn't mind picking up an old new favorite when it's released here shortly with the latest version (starcraft 2). I will probably be working with some sort of graphics art program like adobe or visual studio.

Summary: cool quiet running machine that can handle major multi tasking quickly.

Can this be hand built in the $600 range or should I pick up one of dells scratch and dents? Here's a build that I found, if this is too little or too much power for what I need, please feel free to educate me as I am not up to date on the latest stuff nor do I know what fluff to rule out.

Memory
6 GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz (4 DIMMs)
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Hard Disk Drive
750 GB SATA II Hard Drive (7200RPM)
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Video
1024MB nVidia GeForce GT 220
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Software
Windows Vista Home
Windows Live
64BIT Operating System DVD
Microsoft Works 9.0
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Hardware Upgrade
USB Multimedia Keyboard
Heat Sink, Mainstream, Desktop
USB Optical mouse
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Base
Studio XPS 8000 Desktop
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Media Bay
16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Processor
Processor: Intel Core i5-750 Processor (8MB Cache, 2.66GHz)

More about : desktop build program

December 12, 2009 10:29:05 PM

Since you aren't gaming this is what I would build:

AMD X4 (Athalon II vs Phenom II doesn't really matter)

ATI 4650 or 4670 (make sure it has 2x DVI ports)

4GB DDR3 (6GB is usually used in the much more expensive LGA1366 platform)
4GB is for AM3 and LGA1156.

500GB (or 1TB) Samsung F3 (one of the fastest HDDs out right now)

Antec 300

Corsair 400CX

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P
See: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 x64
(If this is dedicated for programming and web surfing (and NO gaming what so ever), I highly recommend you running a Linux distro. For my java programming, I use Fedora with NetBeans as the IDE )

Over all, that should be about $600-650.

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December 12, 2009 10:49:22 PM

Hey Shadow,

Thanks for the input, can you educate me a bit on your build suggestion? Also, although building a computer isn't rocket science, do you know of any good articles for asuring I do everything correctly and can get it up and running from a novice perspective?

Shadow703793 said:
Since you aren't gaming this is what I would build:

AMD X4 (Athalon II vs Phenom II doesn't really matter)

ATI 4650 or 4670 (make sure it has 2x DVI ports)

4GB DDR3 (6GB is usually used in the much more expensive LGA1366 platform)
4GB is for AM3 and LGA1156.

500GB (or 1TB) Samsung F3 (one of the fastest HDDs out right now)

Antec 300

Corsair 400CX

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P
See: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 x64
(If this is dedicated for programming and web surfing (and NO gaming what so ever), I highly recommend you running a Linux distro. For my java programming, I use Fedora with NetBeans as the IDE )

Over all, that should be about $600-650.

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Related resources
December 13, 2009 1:50:41 AM

AMD X4 (Athalon II vs Phenom II doesn't really matter)
* I picked the AMD X4 over the Intel i5/i7 because it's cheaper and about similar performace at stock speeds.

ATI 4650 or 4670 (make sure it has 2x DVI ports)
* Since you are not gaming you'll be fine with above graphics cards

4GB DDR3 (6GB is usually used in the much more expensive LGA1366 platform)
4GB is for AM3 and LGA1156.
*You could get 8GB, but it's not really needed for a programming PC.

500GB (or 1TB) Samsung F3 (one of the fastest HDDs out right now)
* Like said, 500GB is usually enough for a programming PC. The F3s one of the fastest drives out there. Only a few other drives like the Velociraptor beat it.

Antec 300
* Basic case for a good price and airflow.

Corsair 400CX
* Again, good basic PSU that's enough to power this rig.

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P
* One of the best AM3 motherboards under $100. If you ever need to overclock down the road, the board will offer that too.

Windows 7 x64
(If this is dedicated for programming and web surfing (and NO gaming what so ever), I highly recommend you running a Linux distro. For my java programming, I use Fedora with NetBeans as the IDE )
* I recommended Linux because:
1. It's free
2. Linux supports ALL the programing languages you'll ever need. Linux has support for C/C++, Pascal,Perl,Python, Basic,Java and many others.

As far as assembling a PC:
Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_E3ULURHkE
Read this: http://www.buildeasypc.com/hw/howto/assemblepc.htm
and this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/building-pc,518.htm...
and: http://www.pcmech.com/byopc/


The main advantage of building a PC is that once you learn to, you can do it forever. You also get a very upgradable system along with some quality parts (assuming you pick quality parts)
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December 13, 2009 2:13:23 AM


Wow...sure glad I came across you and this site! Thanks for the info, I'm going to read/watch the links you provided.


Shadow703793 said:
AMD X4 (Athalon II vs Phenom II doesn't really matter)
* I picked the AMD X4 over the Intel i5/i7 because it's cheaper and about similar performace at stock speeds.

ATI 4650 or 4670 (make sure it has 2x DVI ports)
* Since you are not gaming you'll be fine with above graphics cards

4GB DDR3 (6GB is usually used in the much more expensive LGA1366 platform)
4GB is for AM3 and LGA1156.
*You could get 8GB, but it's not really needed for a programming PC.

500GB (or 1TB) Samsung F3 (one of the fastest HDDs out right now)
* Like said, 500GB is usually enough for a programming PC. The F3s one of the fastest drives out there. Only a few other drives like the Velociraptor beat it.

Antec 300
* Basic case for a good price and airflow.

Corsair 400CX
* Again, good basic PSU that's enough to power this rig.

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P
* One of the best AM3 motherboards under $100. If you ever need to overclock down the road, the board will offer that too.

Windows 7 x64
(If this is dedicated for programming and web surfing (and NO gaming what so ever), I highly recommend you running a Linux distro. For my java programming, I use Fedora with NetBeans as the IDE )
* I recommended Linux because:
1. It's free
2. Linux supports ALL the programing languages you'll ever need. Linux has support for C/C++, Pascal,Perl,Python, Basic,Java and many others.

As far as assembling a PC:
Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_E3ULURHkE
Read this: http://www.buildeasypc.com/hw/howto/assemblepc.htm
and this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/building-pc,518.htm...
and: http://www.pcmech.com/byopc/


The main advantage of building a PC is that once you learn to, you can do it forever. You also get a very upgradable system along with some quality parts (assuming you pick quality parts)

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December 13, 2009 3:15:48 PM

I'm looking for other build suggestions as well! It appears that Shadow know's his stuff, but his suggestion is for AMD. Do others on here like AMD setups? If not, why not? What do you suggest as far as an intel build for my needs outllined above?
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December 13, 2009 5:00:37 PM

^ Well, you could PM some one like overshocked, or randomizer and ask what they think ;) . But imo, you really can't beat the AM3 build from a price vs performance stand point.

Also, OP I'm assuming you won't be doing some crazy OCing.
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December 13, 2009 6:06:21 PM

PM sent to both of them, hopefully they have time to chime in. Thanks for taking the time to suggest this build, I've done some research and it appears that this build is pretty solid for my needs.

I won't be doing any overclocking that I know of as I don't game much on my PC. (I enjoy the PS3 Socom and COD games) I anticipate picking up the starcraft II game when they finally get around to finishing it. (Been waiting for over a decade for the sequel now... :pfff: 

Mainly I'm just looking to update my ibuypower pc I had built back in 2002. It's held up great and still holds its own today for normal everyday computing.

I'm looking for a quite, fast multi tasking machine that can handle what I will encounter in programming school here over the next year and a half. (I'm a returning BS graduate retraining into the CS field in hopes of landing a better job. Thanks to my first degree, I only have to take the typical programming core to obtain a second BS in CS.) I'm more saavy at this point from an end user standpoint so I have no idea what I need to build to manage programming projects that are coming up. I really would like to build a machine that is close to today's higher end specs so that it lasts me a good 3 years which is why I'm reaching out for reccomendations. I know that some people just buy the best, but my budget is tight so I need to rule out what I don't need, and rule out the fluff in order to just build a solid machine that is suited for everyday use, programming, and heavy multitasking. (I work in finance so I do a lot of excel spreadsheets... yuck!)

Hope this helps paint a better picture, in summary; a fast, quite, cool running machine that is good for fast multitasking, will be good for programming projects, and a bit of gaming (mentioned above) and normal multimedia stuff here and there.

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December 13, 2009 6:33:12 PM

Oh man, he said it...."ibuypower". I knew that was coming.

Most everyone around here hates ibuypower because they put together systems with used parts in them that alot of times dont work.

But back to your OP, if your looking for an intel build than your original idea is about as good as you can get. I would just swap that video card out for an radeon card.


Because this is a $600 build though, i would reccomend amd like shadow said.
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December 13, 2009 6:39:03 PM

overshocked said:
Oh man, he said it...."ibuypower". I knew that was coming.

Most everyone around here hates ibuypower because they put together systems with used parts in them that alot of times dont work.

But back to your OP, if your looking for an intel build than your original idea is about as good as you can get. I would just swap that video card out for an radeon card.


Because this is a $600 build though, i would reccomend amd like shadow said.


Can't speak for ibuypower's recent track record, but this pc has been running strong since 2002 and I've been very pleased.

As far as intel vs. AMD, I've always purchased intel stuff (not saying much as I've only bought 3 computers to date) and have always used intel stuff in work settings.

Is there something I should know about AMD or is it just as good as Intel?
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December 13, 2009 6:56:03 PM

AMD offers the same as intel for a whole bunch less money.
The only difference is that intel has the top chip right now, so they can charge up the wall.

Ive always been an intel guy aswell, but i use intel because in the recent years they have had the best chips and i usually only use the top chips. I guess you could say im a fairweather fanboy. [:jaydeejohn:4]
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December 13, 2009 8:56:23 PM

^Yup. Back in the X2 days I used AMD for my main rigs, but right now for the last 2 gens my main rigs have been Intel (C2Q and i7).
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December 13, 2009 9:54:54 PM

Are you only planning to program with truly cross-platform languages like C++? If you plan on using languages based on .NET you'd be better to get Windows and Visual Studio, as .NET support for Linux isn't quite at the same level. I have a feeling that being a CS student means that .NET would be against the law though ;) 

Do you plan on writing large applications?
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December 14, 2009 12:30:18 AM

^Agreed. .NET right now is not implemented well on Linux yet. But I'd still take Linux over Windows for programming (assuming you arn't programming in a Windows only language)

Imo, colleges should be teaching in C++ (pure, not some C++.NET,VB.NET,etc cr@p) or Java (for multi-platform reasons, and once you learn Java, C++ isn't that hard and vice versa).

@OP: Just curious, what collage are you taking the CS program at? I'm applying to GMUs CS program (BS) for next year there.
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December 14, 2009 1:13:05 AM

My university uses Linux exclusively for CS students because they only use cross-platform languages.
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December 16, 2009 5:38:21 AM

Shadow703793 said:
^Agreed. .NET right now is not implemented well on Linux yet. But I'd still take Linux over Windows for programming (assuming you arn't programming in a Windows only language)

Imo, colleges should be teaching in C++ (pure, not some C++.NET,VB.NET,etc cr@p) or Java (for multi-platform reasons, and once you learn Java, C++ isn't that hard and vice versa).

@OP: Just curious, what collage are you taking the CS program at? I'm applying to GMUs CS program (BS) for next year there.


Taking the CIS courses vs the CS, aside from the math vs. business core, the CIS and CS at several colleges I looked into are identical when it comes to the programming sequence. Because I already have a BA degree, my gen ed's and business core is taken care of leaving me with just a programming curriculm :D 

The classes I'm forecasted to take are C++, Java, Systems Analysis, Design & Implementation, Advanced Algorithms and Data Structures, Database Systems, and a bunch of electives such as VB, Computer Architecture, Object-Oriented Analysis Design, Artificial Intelligence, Software Engineering, Data Warehousing, and a few others. .Net is very popular in the area I live in as most business's function in a Window's environment. I hope to learn the .Net platform, but its not apart of my curriculum. I know very little about programming, but I'm very enthusiastic to start. It's a bit intimidating going into the program knowing basically nothing, but as I've learned in the real work force over the past 12 years, almost every job has a learning curve even if it's within the same industry.

Have any suggestions for a green thumb?

BTW, cyberpower has a deal going on right now that puts my total figure close to what I can do building the PC on my own. Here's what I spec'd, can you guys chime in on it and let me know if I selected a good setup? Its the Gamer Dragon 8000 with a few mod's.


Sony 20X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive [+2] (BLACK COLOR)
Thermaltake Element-T Mid-Tower Case (Original Color)
12in (Blue Color) Cold Cathode Neon Light [+10]
Default case fans
CPU AMD Phenom™II X4 965 Black Edition Quad-Core CPU w/ HyperTransport Technology [+56]
Asetek LCLC 120 Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan (Extreme Cooling Performance +
Extreme Silent at 20dBA) [+20]
INTERNAL 12in1 Flash Media Reader/Writer (BLACK COLOR)
Single Hard Drive (500GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [-35])
Non-SLI/Non-CrossFireX Mode Supports Multiple Monitors
Asus M4A78LT-M LE AM3 DDR3 AMD 760G/SB710 Chipset DDR3 mATX w/ Integrated ATI Radeon 3000,
7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, USB2.0, SATA-II RAID, 1 Gen2 PCIe, 1 PCIe X1 & 2 PCI
4GB (2GBx2) PC1333 DDR3 PC3 10666 Dual Channel Memory (Corsair or Major Brand)
Sound Absorbing Foam on Side, Top And Bottom panels [+29]
Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
600 Watts Power Supplies (SLI Ready Power Supply)
HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
Built-in USB 2.0 Ports
ATI Radeon HD 4670 1GB DDR3 PCI-Express DVI-I & TVO [-64] (Major Brand Powered by ATI)
PCI Wireless 802.11g 54Mbps Network Interface Card
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December 16, 2009 5:48:09 AM

Gaming aside, should I look at laptops too or would I be better off just investing in a nice desktop?
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