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Minimal complete cost for a development machine

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February 4, 2010 4:51:54 PM

I need to keep costs low, so my budget is whatever is the least possible (without however going waaaay too cheap, as I'm aware of the law of diminishing returns also has application to the first few rungs of costs where the jumps are biggest. Plus I'd like to have a decent).

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this month, hopefully even next week BUDGET RANGE: as far under NZ$1k as possible.... (for you Americans NZ$1k is about US$700, all future references to dollars here are NZ$)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: web design/development, browsing the net, movie watching, a light bit of gaming of previous generation games

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: won't need an OS, speakers, or a mouse. Maybe not a keyboard either

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: PriceSpy.co.nz COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: New Zealand

PARTS PREFERENCES: I've got a preference for AMD and uATX form factor, but I can be swayed on these issues as they are not deal breakers

OVERCLOCKING: No / Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, won't have a graphics card just yet. I'll make do with IG for now

MONITOR RESOLUTION: dunno? higher the better I suppose, but really I just want to keep costs down


What I've decided on so far (criticism welcome!):
CPU: $90 AMD Athlon II X2 240 2.80GHz AM3
Mobo: $150 Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H
RAM: $100 2GB DDR3 (recommendations?)
Case: $100?? ?? I'd prefer a small form factor as I live in a small apartment in the central city
DVD: $45.00 Samsung/Asus/LG/LiteOn 22X SATA Dual Layer DVDRW (haven't decided on a specific one yet)
HDD: $80 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE SATA II 7200RPM 16MB Cache
= ~$565.00 Total inc gst, ex shipping (and no screen yet)


My preference tends towards going with the AMD option if all arguments for/against more or less cancel themselves out, but if Intel is a greatly better idea it won't be hard to convince me.


What I have now: An IMB Laptop, the X30 (many years old and is on the fritz).

So basically I don't have any parts I can reuse in a new computer, although I've got a mouse and might be able to rustle up a keyboard.

Planning to assemble it myself, done it a couple of times before & isn't that hard. No intentions at this point in time to overclock.

Living in auckland, and intending to pick up the parts in person from the stores around here in the central city.

Going to use it for web development work, tinkering on open source projects, etc...

Won't do any gaming other than quite light stuff like Civilization III, Unreal Tournament 2004, Quake III etc... thus won't spend the money on a graphics card, I expect a decent bit of integrated graphics can cope with that these days? Although maybe when Christmas rolls around this year I'll get myself a mid range graphics card for a couple of hundred if I can.

Which leads me on to the next point... if we can look to the future for potential upgradability that would be handy, as this would be my main machine for the next few years & I'd expect a secondary one for several years after that.

As I'm clueless as to what monitor to get I'll just go with pab's monitor guide? I'd get the cheapest 20 inch which is recommended in the guide (LG W2043 for about $220, 20" 1600x900 16:9 5ms DVI) or maybe the 23 inch that is recommend (Asus VH232T at about $280 23" 1920x1080 16:9 5ms DVI). Perhaps in a Christmas or two from now I'll get a bigger screen and use whatever one I get now as the secondary monitor (for email, newsgroups, forums, news sites, etc..), but for now I have to be conscious of cost.

I really miss the old pricespy a lot, was heaps easier to look and see where the price jumps are as you go from one monitor/harddrive/ram/etc size to another.
February 4, 2010 6:22:21 PM

Hey there,

When you say "web development," what exactly do you mean? Like, heavy Java or .NET type stuff, or more like JavaScript and HTML? If the former, you'll want to get the most powerful CPU (compiling takes a long time) you can, and in either case, lots of RAM (modern IDEs are big).

If you're doing heavy development, try to scrape up the cash for a quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 system (1156-based). I'm guessing the i5-750 will be more your speed. (EDIT: although apparently 1156 systems don't have integrated graphics ever. So either you'll need a cheapo video card, or AMD it is!) If that's out of reach, try an Athlon II x4 of some sort. Also, get at least 4 GB of DDR3 RAM (doesn't really matter what brand or speed).

(Second EDIT: what tools do you plan to use for development?)

I'm a little clueless about monitors myself, I'm afraid. :) 

HTH,

-Will

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February 4, 2010 7:20:24 PM

Depends on what you're developing. Personally I use a Pentium E2200 on an ASRock G41 board with 2GB of DDR2 800 and a 200GB HD as my home dev machine. I was gonna go AMD, but someone gave me the CPU and some other parts for free soo.... It runs Adobe CS3, MS Visual Studio 2005, and Net Beans. My goal with that one was to be energy efficient since my main machine was sucking up waaay too much power to edit PHP code when I was working from home.

If you are going to be using Virtual Machines for test environments I advise getting a quad core CPU and at least 4GB of RAM. I also recommend getting at least one external Hard Drive to back up your data. Redundancy of code storage is very important. You don't want to wast time trying to pull lots of data off a hard drive when you could go straight to formatting or replacing it if you had your stuff backed up.
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February 5, 2010 1:00:23 AM

soulbro said:
Hey there,

When you say "web development," what exactly do you mean? Like, heavy Java or .NET type stuff, or more like JavaScript and HTML? If the former, you'll want to get the most powerful CPU (compiling takes a long time) you can, and in either case, lots of RAM (modern IDEs are big).

If you're doing heavy development, try to scrape up the cash for a quad-core Intel Core i5 or i7 system (1156-based). I'm guessing the i5-750 will be more your speed. (EDIT: although apparently 1156 systems don't have integrated graphics ever. So either you'll need a cheapo video card, or AMD it is!) If that's out of reach, try an Athlon II x4 of some sort. Also, get at least 4 GB of DDR3 RAM (doesn't really matter what brand or speed).

(Second EDIT: what tools do you plan to use for development?)

I'm a little clueless about monitors myself, I'm afraid. :) 

HTH,

-Will

sorry, should've made it clearer. I'll only be doing very light weight "development". Scripting languages (PHP/Ruby) and fairly smaller sized sites. So far as application development and other such "heavier" work that would just be side hobby projects that won't matter so much (such as developing games for the mobile phones).

And I think I'm certainly going for the AMD, for several reasons (feel free to argue against!):
0. Better value at the lower end price point I'm going for
1. Better upgrade path from that price point (with the AM3)
2. motherboards for AMD can have *much* better IG than Intel motherboards (which at least allows me to do very basic gaming on an occasional basis without getting a dedicated graphics card).

I'm quite happy with the idea of just getting a minimal computer now to get me buy and later in the year when I have more cash get the other parts one by one (a 2nd & bigger monitor, mid range graphics card, etc...).

Hence I'll ignore your advice to get 4GB of RAM and just get 2GB now, any I'll get another 2GB a few months down the track?


My tools will be stuff like:
Netbeans/Notepad++/Subversion/mysql/GIMP/Inkscape/Blend. And that was in rough order of priority too. Plus of course the various browsers for testing.


megamanx00 said:
Depends on what you're developing. Personally I use a Pentium E2200 on an ASRock G41 board with 2GB of DDR2 800 and a 200GB HD as my home dev machine. I was gonna go AMD, but someone gave me the CPU and some other parts for free soo.... It runs Adobe CS3, MS Visual Studio 2005, and Net Beans. My goal with that one was to be energy efficient since my main machine was sucking up waaay too much power to edit PHP code when I was working from home.

If you are going to be using Virtual Machines for test environments I advise getting a quad core CPU and at least 4GB of RAM. I also recommend getting at least one external Hard Drive to back up your data. Redundancy of code storage is very important. You don't want to wast time trying to pull lots of data off a hard drive when you could go straight to formatting or replacing it if you had your stuff backed up.
Won't be using virtual machines (although on a somewhat irrelevant point: I'll probably dual boot windows/linux).

As for backing up, that is one of my somewhat near future upgrade paths for when I get the cash. A second identical disk for RAID 1.



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February 5, 2010 3:51:21 AM

This would be my planned upgrade path for the next 18months (hopefully sooner! First upgrade out of the list will only be a few months from now I'm sure) as cash allows and needs require (so in no particular order):
Another (bigger!) monitor to run 2 at once (the 1st monitor I'm getting now will become the secondary one to display email/newsgroups/nzherald/forums/tv/music/etc...)
Another identical 2GB of RAM to bring it to a total of 4GB
A second identical hard drive for RAID 1 (to help with data always being backed up)
SSD hard drive to boot from & to put the most regularly used applications on it.
A mid range graphics card so I can take on more recent games
Some nifty speakers

====

Discovered a neat alternative to pricespy: http://www.gearbot.co.nz
It is just like the "old" pricespy, w00t! :D 

=====

Using this: http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine I estimate usage for the fully upgraded system in the future will only be 200W so getting a typical 300W PSU or whatever should do just fine.

======

would this be such a crazy idea: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=373... ?

About 70% success rate was reported (all the gory details: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=22...). Good idea to unlock the extra two cores on an X2?
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February 8, 2010 11:29:21 AM

I'm thinking I'll just buy a cheap ex-lease 17" monitor for about NZ$100: http://www.gearbot.co.nz/pages/prod/1260/17%22-LCD/

Then later when I get the cash I'll spend the several hundred for a bigger main monitor while that ex-lease becomes the secondary one. It is still going to be a big step up from my little 11" laptop so I'm sure I'll survive.

A cheap case for NZ$55.00 + GST:
Aywun A1-802 Black mid tower ATX case with 320W PSU
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/product-aywun_a1_802_black... (as I've happily used XPComputers before and live near to them, which will make it easy to transport back on my bike)

Or alternatively one of these cases:
http://www.qmb.co.nz/p.aspx?108640
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=CHAPOW14128

If I go for an ATX case would it make sense to instead get the Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H instead of the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H?

I am leaning very heavily towards this one as it is the only one I've listed that is uATX only (i.e. the smallest):
SUPERCASE TX302 Micro Tower Case, Hyena 300W Power Supply
Cash discounted Price: $69.00 +gst ($77.63 incl)
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=CHASUP0302

Which if I then do get the uATX motherboard card it is from Notebook city for $155:
http://www.notebookcity.co.nz/product/gigabyte-ga-ma785...

Or perhaps from PBTech (for $167.63 incl):
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=MBDGBM1171

The memory I'll get from PBTech (just down the road from me on Queen St):
APACER 2G DDR3-1333MHz CL9
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=MEMAPA32048
Cash discounted Price: $79.00 +gst ($88.88 incl)
or if by some chance they don't have it in stock when I'm there, then:
STRONTIUM HYNIX 2GB 1333MHz DDR3
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=MEMHYN52048

AMD Athlon II X2 240 2.8GHz Socket AM3 Box from XPComputers (for $91.13 incl):
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/product-amd_athlon_ii_x2_2...

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 16MB 500GB from XPComputers again (for $81.00 incl):
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/product-western_digital_50...

And now finally to complete the list, a few bits and pieces:

LG GH22NS50 22x DVD Writer from PBTech ($55.13 incl):
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=DVWLGH209
LEXMA KU-6400 Standard USB Keyboard BLACK from PBTech (for $16.88 incl):
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=KEYLEX6400

This makes a grand total of:
100 + 77.63 + 167.63 + 88.88 + 91.13 + 81 + 55.13 + 16.88 = $678.28

The total is a touch over the evil mark of $666... ! But otherwise I'm happy with this, I'll go around over this coming week in picking up the parts. All criticism as always is welcome :p 
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February 22, 2010 12:28:35 PM

just assembled a new pc and it won't turn on, am suspecting the PSU at the moment as even when the computer is switched off the cpu fan keeps on very very slowly (and jerkily) spinning around. Yet when I switch off the PSU at the back the fan then stops completely.

Am I right, or is there another explanation?
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