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1st-time builder...help choosing chipset

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February 8, 2010 8:10:19 PM

I have an aging Dell (9 yrs. old) and was originally going to buy a new Studio XPS 8100/9000, but decided to look into building again (I almost did 4 yrs ago).

I want to build around a MB that gives me enough flexibility to keep for 5 years or more, and upgrade components along the way if necessary to keep it from feeling like a slug. I like the idea of having future capability of USB3/SATA6, but don't understand quite how 1156 MBs are implementing it and whether it "cripples" potential for SLI/Crossfire too much and not worth it at this time. I might also like to set up a RAID 1 config.

OK, my planned uses are the usual Internet stuff, business apps. like Quickbooks, music listening and ripping (and some iTunes), Photoshop (not too heavy, mostly Elements), some graphics/vector drawing, movies, home movie encoding/editing from MiniDV tapes, I may do some website creation, and possible HDTV. While I currently play very few games, I have a 5 1/2 year old and might get into it in the future (not sure which).

My budget is around $800. I would like to keep the whole PC, including Windows 7 Pro, Dell U2410, keyboard/mouse, under $1500 US.

In the interest of keeping this a while (and my budget), is the LGA 1156 MB the best choice, or should I start off with an 1366 board?

I'll post my list of parts ala the *How To Ask For New Build Advice* if I get the guts up to tackle this :D 
February 8, 2010 8:40:56 PM

Under $1000, your best bet is actually to go with AMD. AMD currently offers the best performance for your dollar at lower pricepoints.

AMD currently has the most transparent roadmap, as the AM3 socket should be the main one they build for the foreseeable future. Intel seems to indicate that they are supporting 1156 and 1366 for a couple of years, but there's not a lot that's spelled out, and 1156 could be dead within a year, or it could see 3+ years that it remains mainstream. 1366 should be viable for a little longer, but there are no guarantees, and Intel could move to a new socket within a couple of years.

A starting recommendation would be to go with a quad-core Phenom II, possibly the 955 Black Edition and think about overclocking, but it would definitely help if you put down everything in the How to Ask for New Build Advice thread.

General recommendations by budget (not suitable for everyone, all free predictions guaranteed or your money back, do not taunt super happy fun ball) are:
under $1k - AMD
$1k-1.5k - Intel socket 1156 - i5-750 if gaming, i7-860 if heavy multi-tasking
$1.5k-2k - 1156 if gaming and get i5-750, 1366 if heavy multi-tasking - i7-920
$2k+ - generally go with 1366 i7-920 unless you need a 5970 AND a giant SSD
February 8, 2010 8:58:59 PM

aside from the great recommendations coldsleep gave, it might be a good idea to go i3...they are future proof as they are 32nm, and support usb 3 and sata 6, although idk about where intel is taking 1156. since you dont do gaming much, you can just use the integrated, and since it is quite a capable cpu, and your requirements dont seem too demanding, it should be plenty powerful. also since it is like cpu/graphics/mobo for about 225$ give or take, it is easily at or even lower amd prices. since i kinda doubt your 5.5 year old son plays crysis, you can wait until he games some more and just put in a 7xxx card or whatever else is out. this is just a recommendation, but it actually seems like a pretty logical choice...hope this helped. :D 
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February 9, 2010 6:02:45 AM

For a platform that'll last 5+ years, AM3 looks like best choice in your case. LGA 1156 definitely won't last that long, and LGA 1366 is about $200 outside of your budget. But while I would recommend a PII 955 + 785g build, I really think you should try to stretch your budget and go 1366. Do you really need a H-IPS monitor? Personally I wouldn't spend $500-600 on a monitor to complement a $800 PC.
February 9, 2010 12:31:42 PM

blackjellognomes said:
For a platform that'll last 5+ years, AM3 looks like best choice in your case. LGA 1156 definitely won't last that long, and LGA 1366 is about $200 outside of your budget. But while I would recommend a PII 955 + 785g build, I really think you should try to stretch your budget and go 1366. Do you really need a H-IPS monitor? Personally I wouldn't spend $500-600 on a monitor to complement a $800 PC.

I think I'm going to have to rethink my budget a little as I forgot RAID is two HDs, Doh! I would rather spend a little more to start, and do some upgrading than spending less and having to do a major upgrades. Don't know how realistic that is.

It's so hard to plan for how my needs will change, especially for someone that's at the beginning of understanding what the hell I'm doing (and 46 to boot). Some of what I've planned for this thing to do I've never done (video editing, gaming), so it's hard to say what my needs will really be in two years. I mainly want the option to do some upgrades without replacing the MB and CPU, maybe a little OC and GPU if it seems like it's not cutting it. That's why I wanted to get something with USB3, since in two years it should be commonplace.

When I bought my last computer, it cost me $2500 (yikes!). I opted for a processor one step below the fastest, added RAM until it was maxed (512, woo hoo!). I've never touched the GPU. For the first few years it never really felt slow. Then all the video content started hitting every part of the web, I had a kid and started using a camcorder, bla, bla, bla. Point is go as fast as I can to start (without being stupid) and keep it going as long as I can stand it (even at my age I find myself a bit ADHD).

IPS monitor is for photo editing. I hate colorshifting off-angle on TN panels. I figure it's the thing I'm looking at, and rather put a little more there.

February 9, 2010 1:56:37 PM

noonin1 said:
I think I'm going to have to rethink my budget a little as I forgot RAID is two HDs, Doh! I would rather spend a little more to start, and do some upgrading than spending less and having to do a major upgrades. Don't know how realistic that is.


As a quick recommendation, I would suggest not going with motherboard-based RAID, even RAID 1, if you're not really sure what you're doing.

For most people, getting 2 hard drives and doing regular backups is superior to RAID.
February 15, 2010 11:14:13 PM

coldsleep said:
As a quick recommendation, I would suggest not going with motherboard-based RAID, even RAID 1, if you're not really sure what you're doing.

For most people, getting 2 hard drives and doing regular backups is superior to RAID.

That's what I've been doing, and suppose I could keep that up. Thought you got a little performance boost, as well as it being automatic (I realize RAID 0 is the better "performance" setup). Is RAID a complicated setup?
February 16, 2010 3:33:24 AM

There is a very minor performance boost when reading data off of a RAID 1 container, since you can read from either drive, whichever drive (mechanically) gets to the data first. This is likely not going to be noticeable to the user in day-to-day usage.

The real problem comes in when people use RAID 1 as their only data protection and don't take backups as well. This can lead to problems if one of the hard drives fails and you're not able to get another in there to replace it before the 2nd drive fails. A rare circumstance to be sure, but RAID 1 isn't totally foolproof is the point. Even if you set up RAID, make sure to continue doing backups.

RAID shouldn't be too complicated to set up with a modern OS, it's not really recommended with early versions of Windows XP.
February 16, 2010 11:01:41 AM

coldsleep said:
There is a very minor performance boost when reading data off of a RAID 1 container, since you can read from either drive, whichever drive (mechanically) gets to the data first. This is likely not going to be noticeable to the user in day-to-day usage.

The real problem comes in when people use RAID 1 as their only data protection and don't take backups as well. This can lead to problems if one of the hard drives fails and you're not able to get another in there to replace it before the 2nd drive fails. A rare circumstance to be sure, but RAID 1 isn't totally foolproof is the point. Even if you set up RAID, make sure to continue doing backups.

RAID shouldn't be too complicated to set up with a modern OS, it's not really recommended with early versions of Windows XP.

Thanks Coldsleep,
Maybe I'll stick with a straight forward, either second internal or external method and just do regularly scheduled backups.
February 16, 2010 12:07:58 PM

coldsleep said:
Under $1000, your best bet is actually to go with AMD. AMD currently offers the best performance for your dollar at lower pricepoints.

AMD currently has the most transparent roadmap, as the AM3 socket should be the main one they build for the foreseeable future. Intel seems to indicate that they are supporting 1156 and 1366 for a couple of years, but there's not a lot that's spelled out, and 1156 could be dead within a year, or it could see 3+ years that it remains mainstream. 1366 should be viable for a little longer, but there are no guarantees, and Intel could move to a new socket within a couple of years.

A starting recommendation would be to go with a quad-core Phenom II, possibly the 955 Black Edition and think about overclocking, but it would definitely help if you put down everything in the How to Ask for New Build Advice thread.

General recommendations by budget (not suitable for everyone, all free predictions guaranteed or your money back, do not taunt super happy fun ball) are:
under $1k - AMD
$1k-1.5k - Intel socket 1156 - i5-750 if gaming, i7-860 if heavy multi-tasking
$1.5k-2k - 1156 if gaming and get i5-750, 1366 if heavy multi-tasking - i7-920
$2k+ - generally go with 1366 i7-920 unless you need a 5970 AND a giant SSD


I don't think anyone really knows what's the future for either of these companies as far as supporting their MBs with new processors. I'm not sure what the heck I'm going to want this thing to do either :heink:  . If I had to take a guess at what I see it would be:

Years 0-2...Keep it stock, then it would probably be ready for USB3 stuff. Mild OC if needed or look at what processors are available that would be worth it for performance gain (I should have a better idea by then of what my needs are). Mainly looking at this to extend MB life since sounds like this may be the last chance to get a new CPU before manufacturers end support for CPUs for existing socket? Maybe I add a sound card and TV tuner if I haven't already. Visit GPU requirements.

Years 3-5 Look at upgrading HD. Who knows if everything will be SSD, or new faster SATA3 disc. We'll see. Probably time to upgrade GPU if not done already. Look at overclocking whatever CPU I ended up with.

Years 6... Who the heck knows. With my first computer (2000) the changes that came years 5-9 are way bigger than the first 4. I know most of you change things a lot more often, and I realize I may not be able to keep what I build now for 9 years like I did with this computer, but I just want to enjoy it as long as possible. Thant's why I want to build beyond my current needs as sensibly as I can.
!