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"Snappy" Home/Business PC, $1000-$1500

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Last response: in Systems
April 15, 2010 9:49:42 PM


I'm looking to get a new machine for home and home-office use, but specifically somewhat beefy home and home-office use. I'm not a gamer anymore (I'm old now :( ), but I'm pretty hardcore about performance in everything but graphics.

My top priority for the build is "snappy" everyday performance.

I'm not out to turn a 10-minute encoding process into a 5-minute one, but I /am/ out to turn all the little 1- or 2-second chugs into 0.1-second blinks. See, I'm just sick of waiting for little things, like opening an explorer window, or right-clicking on a file, or client side javascript in browsers. I work quickly, my work is made up of doing lots of little things, so all those little things need to happen really quickly.

Yes, I keep my PC clean, with CCleaner and defrags and other such things, and I usually reformat once or twice a year just to get that new-PC smell again. It still doesn't help much, though I suppose having a 2.8GHz P4 isn't doing me much good to begin with. :sarcastic: 

Anyway, a few specific questions before we get to the template:

1) Hard drive: 7200rpm or SSD? My "snappy" desires make me wonder if the SSD might be worth the cost, but I haven't researched the technology enough yet, and most benchmarks don't really give a feel for "real world" usage as I describe above.

2) Intel or AMD? My gut says to go Intel i7-930 and overclock, but I've read some articles indicating that maybe AMD motherboards have less bottlenecks for the everyday stuff? I would appreciate any insights.

3) High speed it worth it? What kinds of things will it speed up?

4) Liquid cooling...are there maintenance issues? Is it worth the cost for the cooling and the quiet? What about risk of leaks?

And the template:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Flexible. As early as next week or as late as a couple of months from now. But I am getting very tired of the sluggishness of my current PC.

BUDGET RANGE: $1000-$1500, after rebates. I'd like to keep it closer to $1000 unless there are compelling reasons to spend more (see below).

1) Snappiness - see above
2) Financial/trading apps. While I don't use these as much as I surf the web, these are the apps that are the most sluggish for me currently.
3) Web browsing, email, etc - but with extreme multitasking going on, like 30 pages in tabs loaded - on an easy day
4) MS Office - with significant multitasking; a dozen or so spreadsheets open at once, etc
5) Videos/music (from disk or from the web) - typically while multitasking with other apps
6) Copying large numbers of small(ish) files
7) Occasional photo editing with GIMP, occasional video editing with windows movie maker
8) Very rare gaming? Usually strategy type stuff; I think Civilization III was the last game I played seriously.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: for individual parts; for pre-built (which is preferred, but not necessarily required)

1) Graphics...I want /very/ snappy 2D graphics, but 3D not a big concern.
2) Mid-tower case
3) USB3.0 and SATA-III on the motherboard (for future-proofing)
4) 1394a and eSATA are very nice to have but not dealbreakers


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No (not now, but maybe someday?)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: two monitors: 1920x1200 and 1600x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would like the box to be cool, quiet, and dark, with minimal flash, and minimal maintenance required.

And a potential ~$1200 build that I cooked up on cyberpower that "sounds" like it addresses my issues, I'd appreciate any educated opinions on that:

# CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-930 2.80 GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
# CS_FAN: Maximum Enemax 120MM Case Cooling Fans for selected case (Maximum Silent Operation) (1,000 RPM Black Color with No LED Enlobal Magnetic Barometric Bearing 17 dBA)
# FAN: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V Gaming CPU Cooling Fan (Double layer H.D.T. technology for maximum cooling)
# HDD: Single Hard Drive (320GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD)
# MOTHERBOARD: (3-Way SLI Support) GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Chipset SLI/CrossFireX Ultra Durable™3 Mainboard Triple-Channel DDR3/1600 ATX Mainboard w/ 7.1 Dobly Audio, eSATA, GbLAN, USB3.0, 2 x SATA-III RAID, IEEE1394a, 4 Gen2 PCIe, 2 PCIe X1 & 1 PCI [+56]
# MEMORY: 6GB (2GBx3) DDR3/1600MHz Triple Channel Memory Module [+29] (A-Data Gaming Series with Heat Spreader [+29])
# POWERSUPPLY: 600 Watts Power Supplies (XtremeGear SLI/CrossFireX Ready Power Supply)
# VIDEO: ATI Radeon HD 5450 512MB DDR2 16X PCIe Video Card [DirectX 11 Support]

Thanks in advance!


More about : snappy home business 1000 1500

April 15, 2010 10:41:16 PM

I think the SSD will be worth it for you to get the "snappy" feel you're looking for. I wouldn't mess with CyberpowerPC. You can get higher quality components for less money if you build it yourself. This is what I'd build for your intended use and budget:

Intel Core i5 750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $319.98 (CPU + motherboard combo)

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM $119.99

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green 500W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $104.94 (Case + PSU combo)

Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2MH080G2R5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $224.99 (System drive)

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $54.99 (Storage drive)

Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD Rewritable Drive Black SATA Model AD-7240S-0B - OEM $21.99

HIS H567Q512 Radeon HD 5670 (Redwood) IceQ 512MB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card $83.99

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler $34.99

Total - $965.86

What OS are you planning on using. I highly recommend 64-bit Windows 7. Whatever you do, don't use a 32-bit OS.

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $99.99
April 16, 2010 12:07:24 AM

For "snappy" get a SSD for the OS and programs. The marketplace is changing daily, and faster/cheaper products are appearing. Be wary of synthetic benchmarks, they do not tell you what typical operations will do. Also, look for tests of fully used drives because fresh drives may perform better than drives that have been in use for some time.
Today, I suggest one of the Intel X25-M G2 drives as a very safe choice. The 160gb version will perform a bit better than the 80gb drive. If you need significantly more storage, then look at the 10k 600gb WD velociraptor.

Neither of these products are price/capacity efficient, but there is nothing faster, and the Hard drive will be the most significant product to affect performance for the single user desktop.

For the cpu, there are two ways to go, depending on how much cpu bound multitasking you will do.
The i7-930 is a safe choice. It is trivial to overclock it to 975 speeds, and perhaps beyond. If you are near a microcenter, you can walk in and get one for $199. This is the choice if you run more than two cpu bound long running tasks at a time.

The other possibility is to use a strong 32nm duo like the i5-660, also a $200 cpu. It is clocked out of the box at 3.33 and will turbo up to 3.6 stock. With a bit of overclocking, performance is out of sight. This is the choice if you are mainly working with one thing at a time.

Get a goodly amount of ram. With many applications open, you do not want any paging. Large amounts of ram has no real negatives as far as performance goes. Opening up previously used applications will be very quick because windows-7 will have kept many things in ram anticipating reuse. I suggest 6gb or 8gb, depending if you go i7-930 or i5-660.

I also value "snappiness", and thought that a high powered graphics card would help. Sadly, a 5870 did not. For action gaming, yes, but for web browsing--no. Just get a mid-range card. I play civ4 a lot, and a midrange card would be OK.

For web browsing, check out the different offerings. It is my perception that Google Chrome feels faster.

I would also suggest that for your use, dual monitors, the larger, the better would be appropriate.

---good luck---

April 16, 2010 4:19:57 AM

Thanks for your thoughts.

You're quite right about buying it and building it, shortstuff; a little tweaking of your spec and a little bargain hunting on Newegg looks like it'll get me a pretty nice i7 system with literally everything I want -- including SSD, for like $1150 -- nice!

Also thanks to geofelt for the tip on Microcenter; apparently I do have one nearby and apparently they still have over 200 i7-930s for the $200 walk-in price. Can't beat that!

I think I'll pick up that CPU tomorrow, and do some more shopping around for the rest this weekend.

Thanks guys!