Non-Gamer Needs New Freelance Box

Hello, all.

I've been away from system building for the better part of a decade. Now that I'm looking into building a new machine, I've come to find myself completely out of touch, if not altogether lost. This will primarily perform as a home office box for freelance web development work.

The biggest draw on the machine's capabilities will be for graphics packages (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), but will not be used for video encoding. Top-of-the-line systems and high-end graphics cards don't seem necessary. The computer will perform the following tasks:
- heavy web development (includes running IIS and/or Apache, as well as MySQL for in-house testing)
- graphics work (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign)
- podcast viewing (HD would be nice, but not a necessity)
- music listening
- significant multitasking

I already own a 19" LCD that I plan to continue running at 1440x900. It only has analog capabilities. I would like to add another display in the future, and was thinking that use of a combination card that will push one analog and one digital display would be ideal. Even if there are two DVI ports, I'm guessing that there are still DVI-to-VGA adapters/converters still around.

I'd like to keep the budget around $650, but I'm willing to spend a little more if it's going to have a significant impact.

In summary: I'm not a gamer, but need a little bit of power, and have $650 to spend.

I suppose my final question is whether all of this is for nought. Should I just be looking for deals on prebuilt systems from sites such as Newegg or TigerDirect?

Thank you so much for any advice you can give.
8 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Might want to put it in the format according to the guidelines in my signature. Do you need an OS with that budget? Or is it for the hardware alone?

    Here's what I've got:

    CPU: Phenom II X4 955 $166
    Mobo:GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H $90
    RAM: Corsair XMS3 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $110
    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB $55
    Case: Antec 300 $52 w/ promo code
    PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green 430W $55
    OS: Windows 7 $105
    Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $24

    Total: $647. This is using integrated graphics. If you need more than that, drop the CPU to an X4 620 ($96) and spend what's left on a cheap GPU.
  2. Man, you guys are quick. This is a HUGE help.

    'Sorry about the format. I just happened to see it before I read your reply.

    I suppose I should have been a bit more specific. I definitely don't need the OS (my employer provides a full MSDN subscription which includes all versions of MS products), and I already have a DVD burner as well. I'm currently good on storage space, so a HDD isn't necessary. That said, I do have a few more questions.

    Is there any performance advantage to spending another $25 on the Phenom II X4 965 over the 955? CPUBenchmark lists a 10% performance improvement. Do you think it's worth it?

    I know (and have witnessed) that SSDs perform amazingly well. Obviously there is an advantage, but enough of one to warrant dropping $130 on Intel's X25-V (for use solely as an OS partition) given the other hardware I'm looking at? Additionally, does it connect via standard SATA or do I need a cable adapter of some sort?

    From what I'm reading, it appears that SSDs consume more energy (mAh) than standard HDDs, but do they consume more power (W)? As in, should I be looking into a higher-powered PSU?

    Again, thanks so much for your help!
  3. Best answer
    I don't think the extra $25 is worth it, especially if you're overclocking. The reason is that at that price, the 965's price is too close to the i5 and the i5 is much better. For the extra $25 saved, there is actually value to not upgrading.

    I don't particularly like recommend SSDs. They extremely expensive and are still having the kinks worked out. That said, it would be the most noticeable upgrade that you will notice every time you do anything. It does connect via SATA. All that said, you would probably be better fof upgrading to 8 GB of RAM or the i5.

    The number one draw of power in a build is the GPU. And you don't have one. That PSU is big enough to support a single GPU, so you've got a lot of headroom.

    If you don't get a SSD, I would still get an F3 as the boot drive, depending on how old the drives you have are. There is a huge difference in performance from the newer drives. It's also fairly cheap.

    To be honest, about the only thing I would change with the extra money is get more RAM. That will help with some of the programs you're running.
  4. Do you think the integrated graphics can handle HD video from time to time?

    Thanks a lot for all of the help. I feel much more informed.
  5. Yes. Integrated will handle HD video. It just won't handle many games.
  6. Not a problem...I can always pop one in later if I need to.

    Is the stock cooler with the Phenom II x4 955 sufficient? I'm really not interested in overclocking.
  7. Yes. Stock cooling is alway sufficient if you're not overclocking.
  8. Best answer selected by sshepski.
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