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Upgrade/New Build Audio/Video Workhorse for under $700

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December 17, 2009 11:18:29 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 0-2 weeks

BUDGET RANGE: 500-700 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Audio/Video Capture, Video Editing and encoding, Video Jukebox (storage server), light 3D solid-modeling (SolidWorks), light gaming, play hi-def movies (mostly MPEG-2).

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, Antec Sonata case with 380W TruePower P/S (if re-useable)

PREFERRED WEBSITE FOR PARTS: newegg.com, zipzoomfly.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU, ASUS mobo

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've never bought a pre-built PC in 25 yrs of using them, but the last two I built were way back in late 2004/early 2005. DW is going thru chemo for Lymphoma and family has 3 PC's that need upgrading, so funds are tight. In fact, I just caved and ordered a Lenovo K203 from newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) for her because she only uses MS Office software, Quicken, Outlook e-mail, and internet and it seemed like the least expensive, least hassle upgrade for her.

My PC has to be next, though, as it's getting really long in the tooth and I use it for just about everything imaginable (Audio/Video Capture, editing, encoding, jukebox (in conjunction with our TiVoHDs), and light 3D solid-modeling (SolidWorks)) and I've done nothing but add bigger hard drives for 5 years. My current PC is as follows, and I'd like to continue using whatever makes sense.

Antec Sonata case
Antec 380W TruePower Power Supply
ASUS P4P800-E mobo
Intel P4 3.0GHz Northwood CPU
3 GB GeIL PC3200
ATi Radeon x1650 (one DVI to 20" monitor (Dell 2007FP), one DVI to Mitsubishi 46" 1080p LCD TV)
NEC ND-3520A DVD burner
Hauppauge HVR-1600 TV Tuner
120 GB IDE Hard Drive w/ WinXP SP3 O/S
250 GB IDE Data Drive
1 TB SATA Drive (A/V Jukebox)
1 TB SATA Drive (A/V work in progress)

I'd like to at least re-use my case and power supply (fantastic combo) unless it doesn't make sense. I don't think I need to go crazy on the CPU or video, but I want them to be capable and have a little longevity. I need at least two firewire ports on the mainboard (3 or 4 would be even better) and need to support at least 4 SATA HDDs. Onboard audio is sufficient.

Thank you for any/all suggestions!
December 17, 2009 11:38:06 PM
December 18, 2009 7:29:37 AM

Thanks for the suggestion!

I do a lot of hi-def video, but so far I haven't had a huge desire to work with Blu-Ray. I'm wondering if it might make sense to forego the BD-ROM drive and put that money toward more processing power? Can I get more bang-for-the-buck with a Q8200 CPU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115055) or something?

Is a socket 775 mobo the way to go for my needs in regards to longevity for the price? One practice I've followed in most of my builds is to buy the CPU that was currently at about the $200 price point. In this case, my tendency would've been to start looking at something like the i5-750 in the LGA 1156 socket (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215) and maybe put it on the GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 mobo (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128405).

I take it I'm going to have to step it up in the power supply department, so what do you think about the Rosewill RG700-S12 700W (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182191) to save a little compared to the OCX?

Come to think of it, that looks very much like this combo deal at Newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.306543 except I don't need the case and I'd need to add a video card.
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December 18, 2009 6:36:41 PM

I'm more than happy to compromise a little on video speed for video quality. In other words, I'm looking for accurate shades of color more than a number of frames per second.

That being the case, are there "good" dual-DVI (or maybe one with an HDMI output) video cards that could save me some money to help fund the CPU/Mobo/RAM combo that'll give me better processing horsepower (I'm thinking I need a quad core for carrying capacity as opposed to going for blazing clock speeds)?

I'm kinda liking that Newegg i5-750 combo (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.306543), but want to make sure it's really going to give me better bang for the buck than say an E7500-based system - considering the kind of service I need it for.

THG used to have some good benchmarking tables that showed how different platform configurations performed in various tasks but I can't seem to find it. Do you know of any?

Thanks!
December 18, 2009 8:11:35 PM

the 5000 series has excellent quality, but quality of color more depends on your monitor that you vid card. and yes, the i5 will give you way more bang for buck than the e7500 system.this system would be perfectly balanced and highly recommended
December 18, 2009 8:25:41 PM

Sorry for so many questions, but I want to be careful before jumping to a new platform in case it proves to be just a temporary stepping stone (LGA 1156) on the way to the LGA 1366 becoming a more established standard. If that's the case, maybe it's a safer bet to stick with the 775 platform even though it's quickly going EOL. After all, the 775 platform gives me a lot of options and it's well proven.

Here's a thought. My work PC is using the Xeon 5130 (socket 771), which seems to be a real good performer with just about anything I've thrown at it. I wonder if would make any sense to go with something like the Xeon E5504 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117187) to get on the newer LGA 1366 platform? If the performance is as good as anything I could get on the 775 platform (for my intended purpose), I'm considering that it might be worth a couple hundred more for me to get the greater longevity of the newer platform. That is, of course, unless the LGA 1366 is destined to be little more than a temporary stepping stone as well. Since the Xeon is considered a server processor, can anyone confirm that it will work on any standard LGA 1366 mobo? Or does it require a dual LGA 1366 socket mobo made specially for the Xeon?

Finally, wiith the i7-920 now under $300 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115202), is that a better option than a Xeon? I can't seem to find any comparison benchmarks.
December 18, 2009 8:31:08 PM

ok, you have lots of questions. that 1366 socket is a bit sluggish, so i wouldnt go with that. the i3 ans possibly i9 are going to be 1156, so it definitely makes sense to go that path. 775 is dead, and not much of a better value, so there ya go :D 
December 18, 2009 11:35:33 PM

ares1214 said:
the 5000 series has excellent quality, but quality of color more depends on your monitor that you vid card. and yes, the i5 will give you way more bang for buck than the e7500 system.this system would be perfectly balanced and highly recommended
I'm diggin' that combo deal, but it includes a case I don't really need and I have more than enough hard drives already for now (500GB x 2, 1TB x 2). So here's what I'm considering after all that:

Antec 520W Power Supply $65 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371030

GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 LGA 1156 mobo $105 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128405

Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz CPU $200 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 SDRAM $94 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231277
($5 off w/ promo code EMCMNMS45, ends 12/21)

Now for the video...

I've always bought ASUS motherboards, so I looked at what they had for LGA 1156 that would have front and back firewire and came across this combo for $245 (after $25 rebate).

ASUS ENGTS250 DK/DI/1G GeForce GTS 250 1GB Video - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121333

ASUS P7P55D LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131404

ASUS Power of 3 Game Coupon - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16800998144

So, if I replace the GIGABYTE mobo above with this combo, I believe that gets me everything I need for a tad over $600 (after $25 mail-in rebate).

Any thoughts? Any concern about the Antec 520W power supply being enough?
December 18, 2009 11:49:18 PM

The Quadro FX cards seem to be the best for using with SolidWorks, so I'm curious about how this PNY VCQFX580-PCIE-PB Quadro FX 580 512MB (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133273) might be for everything else I'm doing. I'm thinking since gaming isn't as high a priority to me, it might be a good compromise to ensure SolidWorks won't have problems with compatibility.
December 18, 2009 11:52:48 PM

ares1214 said:
that is good, but look at this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

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

a bit over your budget, but also more futureproof, and higher performance (over you budget by 20$ after mir)
That looks good - only $625 after $50 mail-in rebates - but does that mobo have firewire on it?

Video card looks better, but what do you think of my comment above about the Quadro FX 580?
December 19, 2009 12:09:48 AM

o and dont get a workstation card, they are normally quantity over quality.
December 19, 2009 5:05:07 AM

Thanks for all your input. I see the ASUS you suggested was the P7P55D-E, which supports two 6GB/s SATA devices and is $10 more than the P7P55D in the combo I linked above that has the GeForce GTS 250 1GB video card.

Is there a lot of benefit to the 6GB/s SATA's? And do you think I'll notice a huge difference in going with the Radeon HD 5770 1GB instead of that GeForce GTS 250 1GB in the combo?

I was concerned about going with a workstation card. I know they compromise a lot in the "typical use" category in order to meet the unique demands of OpenGL.

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December 19, 2009 10:24:59 AM
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well, not only does it have sata 6, it also has usb 3. both od those make you extremely future proof, and both of those can double the speed of things when newer hardware come out. also, the 5770 is dx11 where as the 250 is dx 10, so much more future proof as well, also newer, cheaper (about the same), and takes up less energy, and cooler, and yes it does outperfrom it fairly nicely:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5770,2446...

and yes you are right about the workstation cards.
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