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Is it the best time to build a new computer?

Last response: in Systems
February 9, 2010 1:57:17 PM

So I'm milking the last bit I can from my old AMD Athlon XP 3500+ system I've had over the past 3 or so years. After doing my taxes it turns out I would have about $1500 free to do what I want with. So my question is this, Should I build a new system now, or milk some more out of my aging comp and wait for new products to come out?

I have been looking into a new computer for a wile and I still havent been ble to decide on a processer type to build a system around. I like AMD but lets be honest they really havent shown us anything worth getting excited about. The i7 is interesting to me but really only because of where tripple channel memory could go in the future (I know there are minimal gains to having it right now). I have been looking at the i5 sytems but it just seems to me that the future life of a system like that might be limited. The only thing I've seen lately that excites me is the 32nm technology that Intel put out on some i3 and i5 processers. Some of the overclocks I've seen on air cooling alone were really impressive.

So, sould I wait? Is there something coming out soon that I've missed, or are the way things are now the way they will keep them for the next few rounds of the "new latest and greatest processor" game?

Oh and I use my computer for a little bit of everything.

More about : time build computer

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
February 9, 2010 2:21:35 PM

The only system with a long upgrade life (past the next new CPU) is the AMD AM3 builds. The LGA1156 socket (i5) isn't going to see 6 core CPUs, and the LGA1366 socket (i7-920+) will likely only see the first one, and it will be a $1,000 CPU.

With Fermi due out sometime soon, the GPU future is also a bit unknown.

I would wait as long as you can. The reason for this is not necessarily to buy the new tech, but to see what they do to the prices.

However, if I were to build right now, and trying to future proof, here's what I'd build:

CPU: X4 955 $166
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD3R $135
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $20
GPU: HD 5970 $650
Case: HAF 922 $90
PSU: Silverstone 850W 80+ Silver Modular $150
OS: Windows 7 $105

Total: $1,521. Obviously, prices can change...
a b B Homebuilt system
February 9, 2010 2:28:23 PM

Here's a sledgehammer. You know what to do.

Wait? Maybe wait until your next life? That explains your ancient pc.

No point in learning bits & pieces of everything. Just like your usage as detailed as can be. If you list the software you run, it's better.
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February 10, 2010 12:18:30 AM

Hey thanks for the response MadAdmiral. What you said is along the same lines I've been thinking for the past month or so. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything big. I would hate to make a decision on what to do with my moneys and find out I just shot myself in the foot.

However p55, really bud ,your response sucks. You get -1.

If you really must know a list of software ran on my computer and are not able to come to your own conclusion from "a little bit of everything" then fine.

most of these are now ran on my MacBook Pro but I still use the desktop from time to time.

games (when I have time)
programing apps (mainly Eclipse but some VS too)
picture/video editing (adobe will most likely continue to so the mac though)

Thats all I can think of off the top of my head.

Anyone else have any opinions on said topic?
February 10, 2010 1:01:33 AM

I hate to answer a question with a question, but, when isn't a good time to build a new computer? I'm worse off than you, Brizz. I'm still trying to keep an Athlon XP2100+ alive! The great thing about the i7 920 is not so much that it needs triple channel ( your right in that there isn't much in the way of performance gain ) but rather, it's how robust it is. This thing can be OC'ed to approach i7 975 performance....on air! I see this chip as having some "staying" power, something that 10 years from now would still be considered a very decent and affordable CPU. Since the " i " series Intel chips were realeased, AMD has fired several shots in return, NONE of them even come close to the 920, much less the 975. And, unless the finger of God Himself comes down and touches some silicon wafers at AMD, I don't foresee that changing within the next 5 years. I've heard of many problems with the 1156 platform, not so much with the CPU's but more about the aftermarket mobo's that have come out for them. The i9 is surely going to command a $2000+ price tag when and if it is ever released and preliminary reports say the performance gains aren't all that impressive. And by the way, the rumour is that it will actually be called the i7 980. There is also a rumour that Intel is working on a new chip for a Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Version 2.4.......but y'all aren't suppose to know that.
Good luck in the future,
John Conner
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2010 1:10:03 AM

The problem with buying the i7 right now is that in a few months they'll release the 6 core CPUs (both AMD and Intel by the way), making the i7-920 obsolete. The first one is likely to be on the LGA1366 socket, but the rest won't. AMD has stated they will continue to use their AM3 socket for a few years. Besides, who wants to shell out $300 for a CPU only to need to shell out $1,000 in a few months to stay current?

Of course the i7-920 can be overclocked to match the i7-975. They're the same chip.

And I don't buy into rumors. Until they announce it, it doesn't exist.

I would just wait until you have to buy a new computer and then build the best you can afford at that point. Waiting for something to come out will lead you to never get a new computer and guessing about what's to come will only make the decision worse.
February 10, 2010 1:29:22 AM

The best time to build a new computer is when you need a new computer. If you wait you just prolong the agony of using your present computer.

I don't worry about the life of a particular socket because my practice is to upgrade cpu and motherboard at the same time.

I'm not an expert on AMD but the Intel i5-750 seems to offer very good performance at a reasonable price. I built a new computer for myself a year ago using a Q9400 and it is very fast. An i5 would be 15% faster for almost the same price as what I have now. I probably couldn't tell that much difference.
February 10, 2010 1:38:21 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Waiting for something to come out will lead you to never get a new computer and guessing about what's to come will only make the decision worse.

That kind of sums up why I still have the same computer. That and I don't NEED a new one and I'm a poor college student. :cry: 
February 10, 2010 1:51:28 AM

Admiral, I got the impression from Brizz's question, that he was not looking for the "latest and greatest" ( read most expensive ) , but rather, the i7's currently available. Brizz, do you have $1000 - $2000 for a CPU? If you do, congradulations and wait for an i9 that hasn't been proven in the real world with actual users on newly developed hardware. But, for less than $300, the i7 920 makes sense for something that will remain competitive for many years to come, has been benchmarked six ways to Sunday and has proven to be rock solid by all accounts.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2010 1:58:00 AM

Obviously, you didn't look at the build I posted. Or the $1500 budget...
February 10, 2010 2:02:19 AM

6 core will come out soon but that wlll be a $1000+ cpu , i doubt that you would need that much power

what would be best is to just build a rig now and upgrade parts later if you decide you need to, here is a better rig than you have chosen now rig

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 $288.99
Mobo: Asrock X58 Extreme $159.99
RAM: OCZ 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 8 $159.99 ($20 MIR)
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB x2 $109.98
Optical: Samsung DVD LIghtscribe SATA $25.99
GPU: HD 5870 $399.99
Case: HAF 922 $109.98 ($20 MIR)
PSU: OCZ 700 W Modular PSU 80+ Certified $89.99 ($30 MIR)
OS: Windows 7 $105

TOTAL- $1449.89 without shipping +tax (newegg)

February 10, 2010 2:06:23 AM

Admiral, yes I did look that your build and the budget. My point was mearly to consider the 920 as a viable alternative within your realistic and practical price point. I certainly don't plan on spending much more than that on my next build.
February 10, 2010 2:09:05 AM

Dan4, your thinking almost excactly like me, kinda scary, huh? :D 
February 10, 2010 2:11:00 AM

mrmazo said:
Dan4, your thinking almost excactly like me, kinda scary, huh? :D 

yeah i guess so :sol: 
February 10, 2010 10:56:37 AM

I think it's a great time to build a PC. It's also a great time to wait a bit.

But I think a lot of people are focused on the wrong issues. The important issue is not the CPU, the i5 and i7s are both great. The i5 lets you build a fast, cost and power efficient system for under $900. For gaming today it's all you need.

For $150-$250 more (about $50 to $100 more for a good x58 MOBO, about $80 more for the CPU, and about $50 more to go from 2x2gb to 3x2gb ram) you can move up to an i7 build. Not much more gaming performance relative to the CPU/MOBO but better application processing.

The real 'future' issues in my opinion concern the intersection between the new Sata standards and the PCIe capacity of the chipsets. This is where the focus of the discussion should be.

The p55 1156 chip set (and all the MOBOs based on them) have inherent limits with regard to their PCIe lanes. This is not such a big deal at the moment as you can easily get a MOBO which can run a single GPU running at 16x or two at 8x.

But the game changer will be SATA 3.0 (6gb.) Within the next year we'll start to see a lot of SSDs and HDs using this interface and they will have a big impact on overall system performance. With a Sata 3.0 ssd for booting and applications and a hd or hd raid set up also running at 6gb, disk operations will be in a new league. Once these devices are generally available, you and everyone else will want them, really want them, want them bad.

Similarly USB 3.0 will have a huge impact on external devices (ten times the speed and extra power will make for some great devices.) Anyone who uses an external HD for data backup will see a mind blowing improvement. Again, you will want the new usb.

I think anyone who is building a system now without the new sata and usb capabilities is going to be grinding their teeth over the next few years as everyone else starts crowing about their 5 second (who knows?) boot times and killer fast hd setups.

Now the problem is not finding new MOBOs with the new sata and usb, it's that these capabilities run smack into the limitations of the p55 platform. The bottom line is you can't have two PCIe boards to run at x16 and have the new sata and usb running at full speed. Even worse (and some might argue with this i.e ASUS), but it appears you can't even run two PCIe boards at x8 each and have the new sata and usb at full speed. Gigabyte and ASUS take different approaches here, but both run into the 1156 limitations. Gigabyte used the PCIe lanes directly for the new sata/usb and ASUS uses a bridge chip, but both approaches are sub opitmal.

So with p55/1156 and it's 16 PCIe lanes, once you want to run your new ssd/hds at 6 gbs, the best config will be one GPU running at 8x and new sata/usb enabled. Not bad, but you'll give up CF/SLI and even the single slot GPUs of the future might really start to need the full 16 lanes.

In other words, therefore the p55 boards with the new sata and usb are nice, but you can't effectively have both the new stuff and CF/SLI at the same time. With the new sata and usb enabled, CF/SLI will run at x8 x4 or even x4 x4. Asus's solution does not solve this, it just moves the problem around. This is not anywhere near future proof in my book.

So that pushes us to the x58 platform. Here you can have you cake and eat it too. You can buy boards today which will allow you to run two (and maybe three) full 16x PCIe cards AND have full speed sata 3.0 and usb 3. The Gigabyte x58a ud3r does this for around $200. I don't know of any other boards which can run 2 16x GPUs and have the new sata and usb for this price, but I'm sure they are on their way.

So the bottom line, for me at least, is that although there's not a huge difference between the i5/i7 CPU chips per se for most people (especially gamers) there is and will be a big difference in the capabilities of the chip sets. For me, if you want to have any 'future profooing' I think you need the capability to run two GPUs, maybe not right now, but you want to have that option going forward. And you want to be able to run them at x16.

You'll also want the new sata and usb capabilities AND be able to run then without impacting the capability to run two PCIe boards at x16 (or at the very least at 2 x 8x.)

That means if you want a reasonably future proof system and you are building it now, go with the x58 platform, not for the i7 chip, but for the ability to run two x8 or even better two x16 PCIe cards and have full sata 6 and usb 3.

On the other hand, if you don't care so much about future proofing, AND if one GPU is fine, AND if you won't care when everyone moves to 6gb ssd boot drives, then the system rec by mad admiral or any of the numerous i5 system recommended builds around here are all fine.

Lastly, what's the rational for waiting? Well even the x58 platform wasn't designed explicitly for the new sata and usb standards. So again, the CPU is not the issue. Don't wait for the new CPUs (8 core, i9, whatever.) Instead, the real reason to wait is for the new chip sets with the new sata and usb integrated fully into the chips. The replacements for both the p55 and x58 sets will include this. So the replacement for the p55 will almost certainly not force you to choose between two PCIe running at least at x8 and the new sata and usb. You'll get both for a sub $1000 system, but this is a year or more out.

So if you can afford a system built around it, go with the GA x58a ud3r. You can easily build a single GPU system around it for around $1100 today which will handle anything you can throw at it. Future wise, you can add the 6gb ssd in six months or so, and another GPU if you need it.

February 10, 2010 7:48:36 PM

I thought there were already SATA 3 SSD's, maybe I'm wrong. That was one thing I was wanting for my new build was a SSD as the boot drive. Oh well, thanks for the reply anyway srbarry, very helpful.
a b B Homebuilt system
February 11, 2010 12:27:45 AM

Plenty of AM3 mobos allow for this stuff you're talking about. Probably even the one MadAdmiral was talking about. Sooooo....

But yeah, waiting to buy is a fool's errand. There will always be something on the horizon, and something about to come out. You've managed to skip a crapton of stuff. (which makes sense for the 754 and the 939 stuff, since those were just 64-bit capable single cores mostly, not really worth to upgrade to from what you have)
February 13, 2010 3:27:01 PM

brizzelsprout said:
I thought there were already SATA 3 SSD's, maybe I'm wrong. That was one thing I was wanting for my new build was a SSD as the boot drive. Oh well, thanks for the reply anyway srbarry, very helpful.

Take a step back for a moment...

Consider "what" you want to do with this computer, then the answers are easier to come up with. Its like buying a car. Do you need a car or a semi...

Is your goal to have the bigest, badest, beefiest machine on the planet that will get folks on here to drool over your rig? If the answer is "no", then you don't need to blow all $1500 on this build---and you didn't budget enough to make the answer "yes" anyway ;) 

Microcenter has the i7-860 for $199 this weekend. This chip will keep up in almost all general aspects to the i7-920 (charts over at anandtech show this). You only need to buy memory for it in pairs, not tripples so that helps $ wise. If you have two huge monitors that you are driving from a pair of massive video cards... then go for the i7-920 (or wait for the i7-930 which is rumored to be coming at the end of the month)

A board like the ga-p55-ud3r is plenty for the i7-860, there is a ga-x58-ud3r for the i7-920/930 as well.

SATA 3 or USB 3? Let the technology mature a little... save it for your next build in 2-3 years. Seems like Intel isn't getting into the SATA3/USB3 game for a while. Not even much out there that can do SATA3/USB3.

SSD Boot drive...a single SSD drive will not blow the 300Gb/s capacity of SATA2... its actual read or write throughput. I grabbed this at random off NewEgg:
Sequential Access - Read Up to 185 MB/s = 1.5 Gb/s
Sequential Access - Write Up to 100 MB/s = 0.8Gb/s
Reading is half of SATA 2 bandwidth, writing even less. If you use RAID, then these numbers multiply up, and you would start seeing bottlenecks with anything over a 2 drive RAID configuration.

The Western Digital 1TB Black drive is 126 MB/s. Get the SSD for your boot, then a regular drive like this for your data. In any event, SATA3... too early.

All said, don't go nuts. Go decent, get nice stuff, and have plenty of money left over for Diet Mountain Dew and an X-Box or Wii :) 
February 13, 2010 9:21:28 PM

Yes it's time for a new build.
I just finish on a new Build last night.

Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156
AZZA Solano 1000 Black/Japanese Full Tower Case
NZXT Sentry LX Aluminum dual bay fan controller
Zalman CNPS9700 Heatsink 110mm
GIGABYTE GA-P55-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 USB 3.0
250GB HD SATA (Primary)
500GB HD SATA (Secondary)
LG Super Multi DVD Writer (SATA)
Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB x 2 = 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) w/LED
Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 256Bit
Xigmatek 650 Modular PSU

$1500.00 dollar Build

Check out my Youtube Videos.. Picture Video Live Video In Action
February 16, 2010 8:43:45 PM

Here is my question!! You have a 3 year old computer and you are worried that the i7 will be outdated soon, why wory?? The 775 Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 is what I put in my computer 6 months ago. I put it in a ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2 R2.0 LGA 775, I am also running a AGP graphics card in this build, HIS H26XQT512ANP Radeon HD 2600XT. Everything else came out of a computer bought in 2002 with a AMD XP CPU. It is in the COOLER MASTER Storm Sniper SGC-6000-KXN1-GP case. Its not that bad. It runs circles around my other builds one of my computers is a AMD from 2 years ago and its slower than the new build. But I only spent $600 on it. It runs Windows XP. It is not used with photo programs but we do a lot of downloading with it, play music and watch movies. You can build nice computers with little money. The case is important because I can upgrade with that and I am happy to know my power supply should work out depending on the CPU power needs. 530 watt Cooler Master.
You can purchase a 30 gig SSD hard drive for $89 today from the internet. You can include your old hard drive to add to the storage space, or you can buy a new one. Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB would be a perfect match for $69.99. Your choice
February 17, 2010 3:05:24 AM

I just ordered a new gaming pc not top of the line nor crappy but I think it will be fine for upgrades in the future.

I got a big full Azza solano case, Phenom IIx4 955 cpu, a gigabyte ud5 790FX AM3 mobo with sata 3.0, usb 3.0, 3 gen2 pcie slots, 1 pcie slot, and 3 pci slots, 750watt corsair tx, an ati 5770, 4gb a data ram, and lastly a 500gb HD not a bunch of space but I dont store music or movies on my pc.

That being said I know the I7 series is a good bit more powerful than the Phenoms and will probably be a lasting choice. I got the AM3 board because amds next processors should be compatible with the mobo.
February 17, 2010 4:24:31 AM

James1503 said:
I just ordered a new gaming pc not top of the line nor crappy but I think it will be fine for upgrades in the future.

I got a big full Azza solano case, Phenom IIx4 955 cpu, a gigabyte ud5 790FX AM3 mobo with sata 3.0, usb 3.0, 3 gen2 pcie slots, 1 pcie slot, and 3 pci slots, 750watt corsair tx, an ati 5770, 4gb a data ram, and lastly a 500gb HD not a bunch of space but I dont store music or movies on my pc.

That being said I know the I7 series is a good bit more powerful than the Phenoms and will probably be a lasting choice. I got the AM3 board because amds next processors should be compatible with the mobo.

The AZZA Solona 1000 Black case I've got as well.
a b B Homebuilt system
February 17, 2010 4:30:46 AM

I'm still rockin' my Xpider II that I got mid-2005
a b B Homebuilt system
February 17, 2010 5:03:41 AM

Just Chiming-in,
didn't even read the thread, 'cause I read your question and I know the best (and only) most correct answer and anybody who does not agree 100% is just plain wrong. shrug.
First ... "YES!" now is *the* time (so long as you are buying only exactly what I recommend).
Second: there are really only two levels of computing that you should care about. Based on applications/usage ... Level 01 (L1) Can do all the following, without limping. *Surf *eMail *WP *(basic)Office *MBA Spreadsheets *Blu-Ray disk content viewing *Optical burning (not Blu-Ray) *HDTV & HD Streaming, etc. ATOM-Optimized games.

(L2) is *CAD *Editing *Graphics *Science MS *Extreme Games *Sims *Trading and process multi-monitor arrays.

So, i am saying that you might want an AMD product that out-performs ATOM (just somewhat) with a lower-main-stream PCIe video card, as a base. A thin client that is "bolstered" (I hate the word "robust").

If you need more than that (more than an L1), then you start with a Core i7-920 and, build up from there.

Ouside the scope of this forum (PDA's and Corporate workstations) are justified on desire (smart-phones) or salary ($12K ws vs. $120k trader or engineer).

Trolling, now ... am I wrong? Feed me!

= Al =
February 17, 2010 12:43:52 PM

MadAdmiral said:
The problem with buying the i7 right now is that in a few months they'll release the 6 core CPUs (both AMD and Intel by the way), making the i7-920 obsolete... Besides, who wants to shell out $300 for a CPU only to need to shell out $1,000 in a few months to stay current?

I'm just learning this stuff, so humor me if this is a stupid question, but if someone built a computer using an i7920, which is now a year or so old, why would they feel the need to jump right and buy the newest CPU and pay the much higher price you always do when something is just released, or are you thinking they will still be getting a grand for them after a year? Besides, you're comparing the lower end i920 to what's more likely their top speed chip, which of course will be a lot more. Apples to oranges, no?
a b B Homebuilt system
February 17, 2010 2:01:21 PM

Yeah ... I am thinkin Aug 15th, will be the perfect time, as far of total "tomographic" confluence, of all the pertinent cycles, releases and pricing ...

SSDs will be cheaper/bigger, USB3.0 will be firmly "out", eSATA3/6Gb will be more ubiquitous (on both ends of the cable), Win7 will have reached "initial stability" and 64 bit multi-thread apps will be available ... Better pro camcorders and codecs ... Blu-Ray burners will be a commodity, nVidia will have DX11 out ... all by August ... August are the dog days, before back-to-college and Fiscal Business Cycles for Q4 pick up demand and pricing ... forget Christmas 2010 !

NOW would be a fine time to purchase a Socket 1366/920 ... Think of it as a scalable platform ... not a crippled i5 ... More pins is more bandwidth going to that video card, tho many ops run data straight from main system memory (3 channel, BTW) to the graphics memory ... All the features are turned on. If you were building an engine, you would want it to breath (to it's usable capacity).

Pins per dollar per year (total system life). "Reduced pin count" is an intentional bottleneck ... So is disabling HT and Extended Instructions and Reduced on-die caches (if that is the case.). More addressable RAM is also a factor. ... for the future.

Gulftown should be out by August (maybe up to 6 weeks later). More multi-core optimized apps will be out, by then, too. Prosumer HD video codecs are currently pressing at 27Mbits (not 25) and a whole new slew of pro cameras are moving to cheaper/larger (much) storage media. That and SATA3 SSDs... August-Sept.

But now is good, if you aren't waiting for superfast hard drives or needing to do CBR/2Pass transcoding at higher bit rates. 920s are grrreat for gaming and CAD and editing HDV (25Mbits/s) ... I don't *need* a 6core but, I am waiting on NAB (2010 broadcaster products) to reach the internet wholesale "street". Waiting for editing apps to utilize more Nehelem Power and adopt the newest codecs and FX.
Waiting for full 64-bit app support, to come along, a bit more, as well.

If you don't need an nVidia DirectX11 workstation card, for you pro system requirements ... now is good. Thanksgiving WILL be too late ... Halloween *might* be too late ... From "2 weeks before Labor day" thru the first half of September will be the best pricing and availability. I am waiting but things are good, right now, too.

= Al =
February 18, 2010 11:06:45 PM

I'm with gary_33. I'm what they call a Budget PC builder. If you need a system now you can build a decent one based on the Socket 775 with an E6300 CPU for under $500. If you pick your parts right you can reuse the power supply, case, optical drive, etc. for next build which you will start on Nov. 24 when you take advantage of the Black Friday sale at Newegg. Actually you'll design your next system now and then buy the pieces as they go on sale. Unless you have some really heavy duty computing to do you can easily build a couple of good systems for the $1,500 by planning and shopping frugally. How about a nice HTPC for the wife. Or maybe spend only $1,000 on computers and $500 for a nice weekend getaway.

Be sure to read the Beginner's Guide to Motherboard article here at Tom's. It will help you make a cost effective selection for a system that will last you another five years.

Here's some free advice. Adjust your withholdings so you aren't loaning Uncle Sam $1,500. And make sure your wife is happy. Unless your wife is a bit of a geek (thankfully mine is) be sure to romance her. Happy computing.