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$800-$1000 Home PC for Media and Everything Else

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March 1, 2010 3:11:23 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP
BUDGET RANGE: $800-$1000
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Music (listening/ripping/transcoding), movies (viewing, transcoding), graphic design, some video editing
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, keyboard, mouse
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: SuperBiiz
PARTS PREFERENCES: Conflicted
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I want something quiet and not too power-intensive when it doesn't need to be, because this thing will be used around the clock by wife/child when I'm not messing around with it.

So I recently purchased a MacBook Pro to replace a dying Apple G4 tower. It was good timing, because I'm just starting to get into multimedia work for the web, including some video editing.

I went low-end on the MBP, however, with the idea of getting a real workhorse desktop, originally an iMac. The problems with those units and the Apple tax were finally enough to bring me back to PCs after a long absence, especially for the fun of designing my own system.

And crunched for time, I'm enticed by the custom builds offered at ewiz.com (known as SuperBiiz). And I'm torn between two builds I've created.

CPU : Intel Core i7 Processor i7-860 2.80GHz 8MB LGA1156 CPU, Retail
Motherboard : GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 Socket 1156/ Intel P55/ CrossFireX / SATA3&USB3.0/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard
Memory : Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/4G DDR3-1600 4GB(2x2GB) CL9 Memory Kit
Videocard : Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4850 512MB DDR3 VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card, Retail
Hard Drive : Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB SATA2 7200rpm 32MB Hard Drive
Optical Drive : Asus DRW-24B1ST 24X Internal DVD+/-RW Drive (Black), Bulk
Case : Antec Sonata Elite Silent Tower Case (Black/Silver)
Power Supply : Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Power Supply
Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit(1-Pack), OEM

Or...

CPU : AMD Phenom II X4 Processor 965 (3.4GHz) AM3, Retail
Motherboard : Asus M4A785T-M/CSM Socket AM3/ AMD 785G/ DDR3/ HDMI/ A&V&GbE/ ATX Motherboard
Memory : Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/4G DDR3-1600 4GB(2x2GB) CL9 Memory Kit
Videocard : Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4850 512MB DDR3 VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card, Retail
Hard Drive : Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB SATA2 7200rpm 32MB Hard Drive
Optical Drive : Asus DRW-24B1ST 24X Internal DVD+/-RW Drive (Black), Bulk
Case : Antec Sonata Elite Silent Tower Case (Black/Silver)
Power Supply : Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Power Supply
Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit(1-Pack), OEM

Naturally, there is a $200 difference between the two systems, hitting both the low and high end of my price range. I want to keep whatever motherboard and/or CPU I get around as long as possible. I know enthusiasts love the i7 (and might encourage I go for the 920 or 930 i7 - but it brings any build too far out of my budget, and I'm not that much of a speed freak).

A wise value trade-off? The spare $200 could go into the bank, toward a nice sound system, even an SSD for Windows. But I know the i7 is a great processor. A decision I'll have to make myself, but any input would be welcome - even if you think SuperBiiz is a bad idea, or that I would be better off with something even more modest.

The desktop will be the media epicenter of our household as well as my powerhouse when I need it.

Thank you for reading my first novel!

More about : 800 1000 home media

March 1, 2010 3:21:35 PM

Some improvemetns:

First thing to change in both of those is the HDD. Grab a Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB. It's faster, cheaper/GB and operates cooler and quieter.

Second thing to change is the PSU. Drop down to a 550W PSU. 650W is overkill for what you're doing.

Second build only: Switch the CPU to a X4 955 (the MBOX version). It's the same actual chip as the 965, but cheaper and without the very slight factory overclock. Then switch the board to a Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 for the USB 3/SATA III ports.

I would also check out the prices on Neweg, as the prices will likely be cheaper. Don't forget to check for combos as well.

I would go with the i7-860 build if you do a lot of transcoding. It's hyperthreading will speed up the processes. SSDs are also over priced right now. I would grab one later when they come down in price.
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March 1, 2010 3:28:06 PM

I should mention that SuperBiiz actually builds these things for you, and they narrow the options a bit. It would be my first build, but I am leaning toward just going to Newegg, grabbing the parts and building it myself - could probably save a penny, and feel like more of a man. But I was impressed by SuperBiiz's prices, where the labor is practically free.
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March 1, 2010 3:33:12 PM

I will say that building it yourself is very informative. It's not hard to do, and there is no wrong way to put it together. If you do some research into building (reading guides, etc.), it will only take you a few hours (my first one took 2-3 hours) to put it all together.

I would still go compare prices. At least that way, you'd know what you're really paying for labor.
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March 8, 2010 4:35:42 PM

Best answer selected by jodr.
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March 19, 2010 4:10:18 PM

did you ever have to configure the memory speed of your bios when you installed the kingston memory?
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