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Advice on New General/Video Editing System (price/performance)

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December 29, 2009 3:40:46 PM

This would be my first home-built PC, although I built the last one from a barebones system and have replaced every part on a computer at one time or another. In general I'm looking for a desktop that will be used for most everything, but trending more into video editing of HD video. I currently have a 6 yr old computer that is fairly maxed out on the 500 Gb hard drive. I'm hoping for some general-specific recommendations for a 3-5 yr machine.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week or next week

BUDGET RANGE: This is a little tricky as I might be using Hurricane Ike damage money (from a laptop that was destroyed) for this. I'm waiting on an insurance ruling. If it comes back positive, then I should probably max out the $900. If not, then I simply want a good value/performance (maybe ~$600 after rebates for what I'm using it for...again I'm seeking forum advice). If the forum members feel there isn't much gain from $600 to $900, then I'll skip the whole insurance process.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Video/picture editing, watching movies, surfing the internet, general workhorse (wife is obsessive multi-tasker), may eventually get into gaming, but don't want to design around gaming.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, maybe 1 video card for dual monitor.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Seeking advice from forum, although I can pick up locally in Houston at Microcenter, Frys, etc. Also, if I go the insurance route, it might be advantageous to get everything on one invoice to make it seem like a single computer to insurance guys.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Full tower case, Windows 7 Home premium or pro (again seeking some recommendations...I like the idea of XP mode for the old programs and drivers for a while, but the price seems a little high).

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe - don't know much about this yet

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Dual monitors 1680x1050 now eventually 1920x1080 or higher (maybe even triple monitors).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A quiet PC would be nice. Also, it will be located inside a totally enclosed desk ("made" for this purpose), but there is no ventilation. In general I leave the front door open to give it ventilation from one direction of the cube, but it is still a heat concern. That said, the old computer has been in it for 6 years with only RAM failures a few times, so any special concerns or comments there would be nice.

Also, are barebones systems pretty much gone now? I looked around a little and they don't seem to be a great deal now. Along those lines, how much % is saved building it vs. just buying a full system (especially when considering I need an OS)?

Finally, I generally use up a lot of storage space and want to make sure I have good backups. I'm using about 0.75 terabytes in total right now (~400 Gb of videos). I'm manually backing up to 3 different USB external hard drives. One that has the most important docs is rotated out to a safe deposit box a few times a year. Everything is IDE. I really want to make this system more automatic and modern. I have been researching a little on RAID, SATA, Hot swapping, etc and still don't know what I want to do. RAID sounds the best, but it might be a little dated and there is the restriction on all hard drives being the same size and manufacturer. I like to take advanatage of price deals that come up and I can't take one out to the manufacturer. The hot swapping bays sound like a lot of PR and I'm not clear on how this all works with SATA. Now while designing the maching seems like the time to work this out.
December 30, 2009 2:01:48 PM

Bad idea about the fully enclosed desk for pc. It WILL overheat eventually, especially in the summer. If it's by the window/door, open the window/door and the desk front door while computing.

Barebones are still around, but they usually have crap or old parts. Tigerdirect.com has sh~tload of 'em. newegg.com as well.

Offsite storage is better than onsite RAID storage any days. In the event of a fire/disaster, your offsite storage is safe. Your current idea is excellent. Very few people do that. Or very important businesses do that. Or they outsource the storage to a foreign country which is still safer than onsite backup, if they can trust the guys. For the majority of us, we just unplug the USB drive that stores unencrypted personal files.

Nope, RAID uses only same size, not manufacturer. The only caveat is that software RAID on motherboards are not as reliable as hardware RAID on add-on cards. If you must raid, the best software RAID is RAID 5.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID#Standard_levels

I think you should stick with your current offsite storage solution.

My cart:
--
quantity of item 1


SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C

SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C - OEM
Item #: N82E16827151192
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



$26.99

select item 2 quantity of item 2


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

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16811129024
Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy

-$50.00 Instant


$149.99
$99.99

select item 3 quantity of item 3


SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822152102
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



$84.99

select item 4 quantity of item 4


OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK

OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820227346
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

-$12.00 Instant


$89.99
$77.99

select item 5 quantity of item 5


GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813128412
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

Protect Your Investment (expand for options13-128-412|hide options13-128-412)

Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan

The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info13-128-412.0.18)

* 1 year: $16.99
* 2 year: $25.99

-$5.00 Instant


$139.99
$134.99

select item 6 quantity of item 6


Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750

Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 - Retail
Item #: N82E16819115215
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy

-$5.00 Instant


$199.99
$194.99

Subtotal: $619.94
--

All parts from newegg.com. If you get the i5 720 from microcenter, it's $150. The total would be $574.95 plus tax & shipping.

I'm recommending these setup because the mobo supports new standard USB 3.0 & SATA 6 Gpbs. You won't need to upgrade until the next hurricane. :D  The i5 is more than capable for multitasking and all the uses you listed. The only missing part is the GPU. I assume you have a PCI or PCI-E video card. Drop it in this brand spanking new pc.

If the insurance money is a go, come back & we'll adjust the specs. If not, you can lower the specs to:

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
$99.00

MSI 785GM-E51 AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
125W, HDMI DVI w/ ATI Radeon HD 4200, DX10.1, OC Switch(limit 5 per customer) what's this?
$79.99

The X4 is neither Phenom nor i5. It won't be as fast as either, but it will still suffice. The MSI mobo has built-in video & 3 ouputs. You can hook up to 3 monitors to this mobo. In case you want the AMD build:

--
Qty. Product Description Savings Total Price
select item 1 quantity of item 1


SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C

SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C - OEM
Item #: N82E16827151192
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



$26.99

select item 2 quantity of item 2


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

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16811129024
Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy

-$50.00 Instant


$149.99
$99.99

select item 3 quantity of item 3


SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822152102
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



$84.99

select item 4 quantity of item 4


MSI 785GM-E51 AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

MSI 785GM-E51 AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813130247
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

Protect Your Investment (expand for options13-130-247|hide options13-130-247)

Service Net Replacement Extended Warranty Plan

The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge(more info13-130-247.0.18)

* 1 year: $9.99
* 2 year: $16.99



$79.99

select item 5 quantity of item 5


OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK

OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820227346
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

-$12.00 Instant


$89.99
$77.99

select item 6 quantity of item 6


AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103706
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy



$99.00

Subtotal: $468.95
--

I'm not adding a video card cuz you're not gaming right now, but this option is as easy as drop-in. Both AMD/Intel mobos support PCI & PCI-e (preferred) expansion.
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December 31, 2009 2:52:56 AM

p55ibexpeak,
Thank you very much for the very nice detailed reply. I really like your suggestions about USB3 and Sata 6. I will take your advice on the RAID and stay away from it. Any thoughts on enclosures that allow hot swapping of the hard drives (instead of USB external)?

Also, I looked over your recommended setup and had a few questions:
1) Is there any major advantage to going with an i7 instead of an i5? I believe the main difference is hyperthreading, which is mainly for gaming. But is this likely to be taken advantage of by more apps in the coming years? Would there be any major difference in video editing? If I went with the case you recommended, I would have to go with an i7-860 (due to the socket support). At Microcenter, this is available for $230 right now, so would be a $80 upgrade.
2) I noticed you went with 4 Gb of RAM (2 sticks), not 6 or 8. Many of the retail machines use 8. Is that just because 4 is enough now and the 2 sticks allow for a relatively cheap upgrade when needed later?
3) I've never used a Samsung Hard Drive. Are they reliable?
4) I think you forgot to include the OS. I'm leaning toward Windows 7, which would be $120 or $190 depending on whether I can find a copy of XP around here to upgrade.
5) I was in a store earlier today looking at cases and noticed the great variety of fans. As I said, I can leave the front door of the desk open at all times, so should I get a case with a front fan? Also, there is a 2x12 opening on the back side of the desk enclosure that would allow air to be forced out under the desk as well. Would a side rear fan help or am I putting too much thought into this. My other option is to locate the unit under one side of the L-shaped desk, but I guess I'd rather use the enclosure since I haven't had problems so far. Along those lines, I guess I shoud avoid overclocking to minimize overheating?

Finally, I talked to a buddy that works for Dell today and he's sending me his employee discount coupon (15-17%). I did a little checking and I can get in about the same price range on an XPS 8000 (add $90 for 4 Gb ram and $190 for OS to $575 = ~$850 vs. ~$800 for XPS with 8 Gb ram, 1 Tb hard drive, i5). The little research I've done so far talks about lack of room for expansion, so that probably means no support for USB 3.0 and Sata 6. Any thoughts on this or something else I'm missing?

Thanks again for your help.
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Related resources
December 31, 2009 12:46:47 PM

0) I don't use 'em myself cuz I have a home server. :)  If you want, look at these E-SATA docks. It's as fast as SATA II 3Gbps with power supplies. Just plug in a SATA HDD and plug the dock in E-SATA on the back of the pc. After backup, you can remove the bare HDD and put it in an offsite location.

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

1) The i7 860 is $280 regular. $230 is great price. However, you won't see a difference between i5 750 & i7 860 in multitasking and general apps. Gen-speak, a faster cpu with larger cache will only make a difference in time-consuming tasks like audio/video encoding/converting, file decompression/compression, etc. i5 750 is $200. If you get the 860 for $30 more, get it. I'm not a crystal ball so I don't know if hyperthreading will be fully taken advantage of. Most games still struggle to make use of multi cores, let alone hyperthreading. Multimedia apps like video conversion do make use of more cores.

2) Correct. I always aim for the best bang for my pcs & new buyers. Fastest means nothing if it costs an arm & a leg. Also, fewer sticks can mean fewer problems. If you have 8 sticks, there's memory corruption. It takes time to diagnose the problem stick. It needs more voltage as well. More money wasted.

3) Yep. I have bought a few Samsung from 500GB to 1TB. None of 'em failed on me. On the contrary, both WD & Seagate (being the worst offender) failed me a few times which required RMA - 4-8 weeks wait.

4) Sorry. I did forget OS. XP mode is cash grab. MS is very good at it. The proper way to sell an OS is to sell one version so there's no confusion. i.e. Mac OS X. These are the features:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/compare/defa...

The compatibility mode ALREADY exists in all Windows editions.

http://www.theeldergeek.com/use_compatibility_mode.htm

5) The best way to locate a pc is to leave it on a hard flat surface or table top. Don't worry about the case fans. The Sonata III has a 120mm rear fan with 3-speed control.

6) Nope, I wouldn't recommend Dell. The reason is upgradability. Dell uses proprietary parts. I'd be shocked if they have USB 3.0 & SATA 6 gbps. Maybe next year. The other reason is quality of parts. People build their pcs so that they can pick out the quality parts. However, I'd recommend Dell to grandparents or parents who would ring you 3 in the morning cuz they don't know to change the wallpaper.
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December 31, 2009 4:25:26 PM

p55ibexpeak,
Thanks again for the detailed reply. A few more questions.

-1) :wahoo:  Including the eSATA external drive, My cart now has $84 of rebates and credits, the $50 on the case being the largest. I see the rebate expires today, but can't tell when the rest do. I'm not very familiar with NewEgg. Do they usually last a while and recycle again? I'll call insurance again on Monday, but I probably won't decide until then, so I'm wondering if the prices (mainly the case will hold), especially since today is the last day of the year.

0) I think I will go with a hot swappable drive. Do you think it is better to go external like this due to my encloded desk heat-load concerns (the external drive would sit on my desk and therefore not contribute to the heat load) or maybe I should use one of the bays for a hot-swap internal drive. I see the case does have an eSATA connection, but it says it is in the front (I think behind the door?). I don't see anything about eSATA on the motherboard specs. Is that just because if it has SATA, it automatically has eSATA?

1) I'll probably go with an i5 unless I have some left over $$ with the insurance.

2) By memory corruption, do you mean a failed stick or something else? I'll go with 4 Gb RAM to start with..unless I have left over insurance $$, then I might just store the modules. Also, the motherboard says it supports up to 2200 MHz memory speed and this is 1066 MHz. Is this another case of minimizing costs or is there a limitation on what kind of speed the memory would actually run at?

3) I've been very lucky with WD. Not much history with Seagate. It doesn't matter in the context of your answer, but what does "RMA" stand for in return lingo?

4) Great response on compatibility mode. I assumed Windows 7 just discontinuted that when they offered up XP mode, but now I see they didn't. I should have thought about the advertising angle before assuming anything. That pretty much makes up my mind on Home Premium.

5) The desk enclosure does have a hard flat bottom at least...

6) My current desktop has run pretty good for 6 years and I bult it up from a barebones with spec'd parts at the time, so I see the sense in this approach. I'm the computer guy in the family, so I'm used to these calls. At least I can remote connect to my siblings when I help them, but my parents live in the sticks where only 28.8 dial-up is available. Combining this with their knowledge, I resort to describing the way icons look and where they are on the screen :pt1cable: 

7) The motherboard specs show 6 SATA 3 / 2 SATA 6, and 8 USB 2.0 / 2 USB 3.0. Do you know if the higher end ports are backward-compatible? If so, would it be better to go with a motherboard containg all SATA 6 and USB 3.0 or is that again a prohibitive pricing issue?

Sorry for all the questions, but I'm learning a lot. I think I'm just about at the end of them now...

Thanks again for your great responses.
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December 31, 2009 10:36:26 PM

-1) Rebates for newegg are usually the same for major e-retailers. They'll come back, but when and how big the discount are anyone's guess.

0) SATA & E-SATA are the same thing. It's just a connector. Say, you get a case with e-SATA jack, you hook this up to any SATA slot on the mobo. That's why they're the speed. However, your SATA HDD needs a powered enclosure to work cuz the HDD needs power. The Gigabyte mobo doesn't have eSATA. Not a problem.

2) Yes, damaged stick is what I mean. The fewer sticks, the better. By default, DDR3 will run at 1066mhz for i5 750. If you want to save money, get DDR3 2x2GB 1066mhz ram.

3) RMA:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_merchandise_authori...

7) I am not aware of any mobos that uses only SATA 6/USB 3. They have been just out on the market for a month or two. As for compatibility:

Quote:

USB 3.0 Support
The GIGABYTE P55A-series motherboards support the latest generation SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology made possible through an onboard NEC uPD720200 host controller. With superfast transfer rates of up to 5 Gbps, users are able to experience an almost a 10x improvement over USB 2.0. Additionally, backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 assures users of long term use of their legacy USB 2.0 devices. The onboard NEC SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology also provides new power management features that include increased maximum bus power and device current draw to better accommodate power-hungry devices.


http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Product...

Quote:

the new standard is backwards compatible with SATA 3 Gbit/s.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sata#SATA_Revision_3.0_.28...
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January 1, 2010 12:09:23 AM

p55ibexpeak
Thanks again. I'm pretty much sold on everything now. A few minor (potentially dumb) remaining questions:

Can I buy the Windows 7 for System builders and install it on a blank system? It sounds like the only thing might be lack of Microsoft support or are there other restrictions? It's $105 instead of $190 and some reviews sound like personal users.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Microcenter has some 1600 Hz dual channel DDR3 memory on sale for $74 (see link below...price is different in add than on website). It sounds like your saying both the i5 and i7-860 would run it at 1066 MHz. Is there any disadvantage to this memory vs. what you spec'd earlier? Does underclocking hurt anything? It seems like if you can get a higher speed memory from the same manufacturer, it would be a good thing, if nothing else for future reuse, but maybe I'm missing something?
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...


Thanks again.
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January 1, 2010 12:27:22 AM

ganymede55 said:
Can I buy the Windows 7 for System builders and install it on a blank system?


Pretty sure that you can! Good luck with the build!! :) 

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January 1, 2010 12:30:46 AM

ganymede55 said:
Can I buy the Windows 7 for System builders and install it on a blank system? It sounds like the only thing might be lack of Microsoft support or are there other restrictions? It's $105 instead of $190 and some reviews sound like personal users.


Check this out -

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/1937-63-system-builde...

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January 1, 2010 1:12:00 PM

You missed the keyword - OEM. Which means no packaging, no hardcopy manual, etc. OEM is for system builders. I think OEM OS requires you to buy a few core parts such as cpu/ram/mobo. I don't know newegg tho. They don't say.

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

Both 750 & 860 use the exact same memory. You can get like 1600mhz, but you're wasting money cuz you'll run it at 1066mhz by default, unless you overclock = more heat = more trouble for your enclosed pc.

Memory Types DDR3-1066/1333

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

Memory Types DDR3-1066/1333

http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=41316
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January 1, 2010 2:10:28 PM

p55ibexpeak,
Thanks again. One the memory, I don't think we're talking apples and apples. I understand there is no reason to use 1600 MHz memory since I'm not planning on overclocking and thus the processor is going to downclock it, but I found it for the same price ($74), so I don't believe that I'm throwing my money away. Therefore, it would seem this memory is more future-proof and there are no downsides? That said, I don't know if there are any disadvantages to a memory being run at a downclocked speed? Would it run hotter?...or maybe it would actually run cooler since it's designed to run at a higher speed? Does the memory incur some sort of overhead (latency?) for running at a slower speed than it is designed for?

Also, probably another dumb question, but why show the processor speed as 1066/1333? Why not just go with the higher 1333 value?
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January 1, 2010 2:25:03 PM

$74 for 4gb ddr3?
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January 1, 2010 10:55:52 PM

Nope, the cpu doesn't downclock anything. To be precise, it's the bios. Hence, we overclockers use the bios to overclock/underclock/overvolt/undervolt parts to meet our needs. If the memory is run at stock voltage, it will be as warm as any other DDR3. When we overclock the cpu, we usually overclock & overvolt the ram as well. Hence, the ram will run warmer than stock. Gen-speak, memory at stock runs at the optimal timings/latency. When it's overclocked, it usually runs at higher timings/latency. It's another whole topic. If you want to know more, ask it in overclocking forum. As it is, life has enough problems and I don't think you need to concern yourself with micromanaging your parts.

Hell yeah, get it for $74 if you can find it.
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January 1, 2010 11:11:07 PM

if its $74 just check the voltage on it the newer intel chips dont like anything over 1.65v
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January 2, 2010 1:11:30 PM

I included the wrong link to the Microcenter memory above. The wrong link memory is CAS 8 and the $74 memory is CAS 9. It shows as being 1.65 Volts, which is right at the limit specified. Is there any problem with that. Here is the $74 memory from Microcenter (looks like pickup only).
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Here is the same memory from New Egg if that fomrat is more familiar
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is the memory originally discussed from way up in the thread for $76 (CAS 7 1066 MHz).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As stated above, I want to "future proof" any purchases when possible, so long as it doesn't cost either $$$ or performance. I'm not hearing that it will, but I don't understand all the memory details that well either....
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January 3, 2010 2:07:55 PM

The OCZ Obsidian would be the best choice for future-proofing, but I don't think you'll have money to spend on this pc anymore seeing that you're married and all. The only way to fully utilize the faster ram is to get a cpu that defaults to that ram speed. They're not out yet. Or overclock.
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