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I7 budget build for programming and light gaming

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January 10, 2010 4:23:24 PM

Hey all,

I'm still looking to build a new pc but need some advice. I posted previously where a few key individuals stated an AMD x4 build would be a good option, but I've learned a bit more about the processors (tech newb here :hello:  ) so I'd like to get some advice again.

I'll be using this pc for home use, I do work on it (financial spreadsheets and such) and I'm taking computer programming courses. I want to run two 24 inch monitors (need input here too if you know of a good deal). I will mainly use this computer for an all around use (programming, visual studio, internet, movies, light gaming). I say light gaming because I game for fun so a 1 milisecond advantage is not that important to me.

What I've learned:

I was considering a laptop but the technology seems to be 3 generations behind in my price point. I have a work laptop that i can use for school so I think a desktop is the way to go.

The AMD x4 build is ideal, but someone mentioned to me that the i7 chips are essentially 8 cores vs. 4 because of the hyperthreading. How important is this, what exactly does 8 cores do over 4 cores?

Processors: X4 vs i5 vs i7 ... and whats the difference between all the numbers in the i7 family? 800's vs 900's, etc.

Memory: What do I need for memory? Is 4 gb sufficient or should i be looking at 8 gb?

Motherboards: I have no clue, please educate me! I've been told to go with Asus, but other than that, I don't know anything about them, and it seems like selection is dependant upon processor and memory selections.

Graphics card: Help...

I want to build this computer to have around for the next 3 years or so, it would be nice to keep it in the $800 - $1000 range as well.

Thanks for your input in advance, I'm trying to build a solid machine without spending a fortune as I work from home so I'm outfitting my office with new paint, a new custom build desk, new chair, new monitors, new pc, new keyboard and mouse etc etc. .. I spend about 12 hours a day x 6 days a week in my home office so I'm going for comfort, speed, clarity, and inspirational.

More about : budget build programming light gaming

January 10, 2010 5:29:59 PM

15 reviews and no love?

Here's my non i7 build, what would i gain by going to an i7 build over this?

30 CD/DVD Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R
90 CASE COOLER MASTER Storm Scout
165 CPU AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz
30 CPU Fan COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7
70 Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P
NETWORK: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
SOUND: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
55 HD SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB
95 Memory CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
40 PSU CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W
63 Video Card GIGABYTE GV-R467ZL-1GI Radeon HD 4670
$638.00
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January 10, 2010 5:54:43 PM

If your compiler supports Hyperthreading it makes for an easy choice. Intel all the way. With the budget you're looking at going with the 1156 chipset only makes sense.

Forget i5 vs i7. You need to research p55 vs x58. Those are the chipsets for the 1156 socket and 1366 socket respectively.

The confusion sets in here because i7 spans across both. i5 is strictly 1156, but for your purposes I'd rule it out.

You should also be looking at the Xeon versions of these processors so that you get ECC memory, better virtualization, and just a little better binning.

Your options look a little like this:

1156 -
Xeon X3450
269.99 Newegg
Asus P7F-X
174.99 Newegg
2x2gb Kingston ECC memory
119.99

From there you can find a storage solution that works for you. An SSD would be nice and would really enhance the time it takes to compile. You *might* be able to slide by with a 40gb Intel x25-v (129.99) if you just put Win7 and your compiler in there.

Unless you plan on rendering or doing heavy SQL hits 4gb is fine.

Video card.. hmm 2x 24" 1920x1200's.... no gaming... let's go with:
XFX 4650
64.99 Newegg

Dual DVI support, plenty enough kick to run spreadsheets and coding guis. Don't let someone talk you into more than this if you're not planning on gaming. You just need an inexpensive solution that supports dual-dvi.

Monitors:
HP LP2465
184.99 Newegg Recertified
Easy Easy Easy Pick. PVA screen 24" 1920x1200. These were 900$ brand new. By far the best deal Newegg has on ANY product.
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January 10, 2010 6:34:14 PM

a4mula said:
If your compiler supports Hyperthreading it makes for an easy choice. Intel all the way. With the budget you're looking at going with the 1156 chipset only makes sense.

Forget i5 vs i7. You need to research p55 vs x58. Those are the chipsets for the 1156 socket and 1366 socket respectively.

The confusion sets in here because i7 spans across both. i5 is strictly 1156, but for your purposes I'd rule it out.

You should also be looking at the Xeon versions of these processors so that you get ECC memory, better virtualization, and just a little better binning.

Your options look a little like this:

1156 -
Xeon X3450
269.99 Newegg
Asus P7F-X
174.99 Newegg
2x2gb Kingston ECC memory
119.99

From there you can find a storage solution that works for you. An SSD would be nice and would really enhance the time it takes to compile. You *might* be able to slide by with a 40gb Intel x25-v (129.99) if you just put Win7 and your compiler in there.

Unless you plan on rendering or doing heavy SQL hits 4gb is fine.

Video card.. hmm 2x 24" 1920x1200's.... no gaming... let's go with:
XFX 4650
64.99 Newegg

Dual DVI support, plenty enough kick to run spreadsheets and coding guis. Don't let someone talk you into more than this if you're not planning on gaming. You just need an inexpensive solution that supports dual-dvi.

Monitors:
HP LP2465
184.99 Newegg Recertified
Easy Easy Easy Pick. PVA screen 24" 1920x1200. These were 900$ brand new. By far the best deal Newegg has on ANY product.



Hey there a4mula, thanks for the response! I work in finance so right now my knowledge of programming is limited. I'm returning to college to learn to program,(2nd BS degree) so I start my programming sequence here tomorrow. (no bs courses, just strictly programming - very excited to learn!!!) I point this out so that you can help break down what you just said in dummy terms.

Regarding the recertified HP monitor, does this mean its used? Have you had good luck with used monitors?

I will look into the above mentioned, but if I were to go to a AMD X4 build I can keep my budget a bit lower. Do you think this is a bad move? Can I meet the requirements you mentioned above by going this route?

I went onto CyberPowerPC and put together this machine. It's $600 with rebates.

Description
CD: LG 22X DVD±R/±RW + CD-R/RW Dual Layer Drive (BLACK COLOR)
CAS: CoolerMaster Storm Scout Gaming Mid-Tower Case w/ Transparent Side Panel [+30]
CPU: AMD Phenom™II X4 955 Black Edition Quad-Core CPU w/ HyperTransport Technology [+36]
FAN: Asetek LCLC 120 Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan (Extreme Cooling Performance + Extreme Silent at 20dBA)
MOTHERBOARD: 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
NETWORK: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
SOUND: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
HDD: Single Hard Drive (500GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [-35])
MEMORY: 4GB (2GBx2) PC1333 DDR3 PC3 10666 Dual Channel Memory (Corsair or Major Brand)
POWERSUPPLY: 635 Watts Power Supplies [+43] (Sigma Shark SP-635W PSU - SLI Ready)
VIDEO: ATI Radeon HD 4650 1GB DDR2 PCI-Express DVI-I & TVO [-79] (Major Brand Powered by ATI)


Thanks for chiming in, let me know about the recertified monitor, I've never purchased recertified or refurbished before.
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January 10, 2010 7:02:19 PM

Recertified means that Newegg has inspected and tested them to be operational. There might be some aesthetic flaws but that's going to be on a case by case basis. I have ordered recertified items from Newegg before, including a Viewsonic monitor. In my case it shipped with all of its original factory parts and I would have never known it was used.

Newegg's RMA policy is fairly liberal, I can't see you having an issue returning it if it doesn't show up the way you'd like.

I'll be ordering 2x of these very same monitors tommorow, so if you still haven't purchased by the time I get them I'll let you know how they look.

As far as the AMD goes...

Honestly someone else is better suited to answer that. I've done a ton of research in the past month preparing for my new build, but it's all been aimed at Intel.

I would be hesitant to purchase a premade rig. You can usually select higher quality parts for less money if you're willing to build it yourself.
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January 11, 2010 6:13:54 AM

Researched it and your suggestions make total sense, thank you! Although a bit more than I wanted to spend, the build is similar to a nice i7. Do you know if the ASUS server board you suggested has onboard sound? If not, can I use a Xeon processor with a non-server board to avoid having to purchase a sound card? Will the server parts work like home desktop parts, are there any issues I should know about in purchasing server stuff vs. personal computer oriented parts? Looks to be about a $1000 build with shipping, a bit more than the AMD build but if you think that this will be better for programming along with my other needs, then it's probably worth the extra cash.
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January 11, 2010 12:41:04 PM

Nope, no sound on server mobos. You can add something like this Asus MIO Card for about 25 bucks. You could even get away with a cheap 10 dollar PCI card for that matter.

The Xeons will work in normal motherboards but you lose the ECC memory. For the stability and data integrity that you want in this kind of build you really want to stick with the ECC.

As far as consumer grade motherboards that support ECC... there might be a few floating around out there. The only one that comes to mind is the Asus p6t WS. It's a 1366 board however.

Just keep in mind that server motherboards were built for stability. They tend to trim alot of the fluff and extra's out that consumer motherboards get like tons of usb ports.

Otherwise it's a normal build like anything else.



Something to consider...

If you're just starting to learn programming then this is overkill. 95pct of your first 2 years will be design and logic with little actual programming. When you do finally work your way to programming you'll be compiling projects so small that the average calculator could handle it (Hello World!) heh.

What I'm suggesting is really for hardcore compiling, heavy SQL usage, and client-server virtualization. You've got quite a ways to go before you need to worry about any of those things.

Just a heads up
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January 11, 2010 2:08:44 PM

a4mula said:
Nope, no sound on server mobos. You can add something like this Asus MIO Card for about 25 bucks. You could even get away with a cheap 10 dollar PCI card for that matter.

The Xeons will work in normal motherboards but you lose the ECC memory. For the stability and data integrity that you want in this kind of build you really want to stick with the ECC.

As far as consumer grade motherboards that support ECC... there might be a few floating around out there. The only one that comes to mind is the Asus p6t WS. It's a 1366 board however.

Just keep in mind that server motherboards were built for stability. They tend to trim alot of the fluff and extra's out that consumer motherboards get like tons of usb ports.

Otherwise it's a normal build like anything else.



Something to consider...

If you're just starting to learn programming then this is overkill. 95pct of your first 2 years will be design and logic with little actual programming. When you do finally work your way to programming you'll be compiling projects so small that the average calculator could handle it (Hello World!) heh.

What I'm suggesting is really for hardcore compiling, heavy SQL usage, and client-server virtualization. You've got quite a ways to go before you need to worry about any of those things.

Just a heads up


Thanks again! That being said, would sticking to my $600 build for now suffice for my needs, then upgrading to a more professional scenario a few years from now when I know what the heck I'm doing and talking about be a more cost effective solution?
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