My computer recently died (motherboard) and I have been shopping for a new one. I use to be an enthusiast back in 2000-2002 and am well aware of the value of a home built PC over name-brand junk. Over the years I have lost touch with current hardware specs so I need a little help in deciding if I am getting a good value on the computer I am thinking of getting.
A local store called Giga-Parts (Huntsville, AL) put together a machine which I am pretty sure suites my purposes. The following are the specs:
Processor: AMD Athlon II X3-425 (2.7GH)
RAM: 4GB DDR3
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA- MA770TA-UD3
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon 5670
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB
Optical Drive: Samsung DVD-RW with LightScribe
Power Supply: Corsair 550W
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (OEM disc included)
Warranty: 3 Year Labor, 3 Year Parts
Other information: The system has been on the display shelf for about 2 weeks. It is decked out with intake and exhaust fans about the size of a human hand which include a washable air filter on the intake. Not sure what kind of heat sink is on the processor but its big with lots of tubes running out of it so I take it to be a good one. Right side of case is clear glass and wires on inside seemed to be neat a tidy.
System price: $899.00+8% tax+$35 universal card reader = $1,020.00 ish.
About the sellers: The store has been in business for several years in our town and has moved to a custom job location which indicates that business for them is good. Good business = reliable warranty service. (I really don’t want to have to deal with hardware replacement or upgrades myself.) The salesmen seemed to know what they are talking about and are on Tom’s Hardware all the time. Granted the price of this system seems a bit higher than it would be if you built it yourself but they got to stay in business right? I am willing to pay to avoid putting it together myself- especially since I am home probably a grand total of 20 hours per week- just no time.
What I need: My wife and I own a photography business and need something that can run several Adobe programs opened at once while editing 200 or 300 opened photos. Most of this will be done by her but I want something I can play some good games on. I like MMORPGs and a few first person shooters but am not insanely competitive online. I plan to minimize internet usage on this machine since my wife seems to be a virus magnet. Will probably only use it to update our business website, play online games and download software updates. We have an internet box for emails and browsing.
I think this may be the machine for me but anny advice, assistance or warnings anything thinks I should know about would be greatly appreciated as buying a new computer is quite a commitment.
Maybe I wasn't clear in telling what I need- I need a computer but I cant (wont) build it myself. I understand that its going to seem a little higher price than the sum of its components but remember that labor is included. As it stands, I don't have a computer geek friend I know (or trust) to put together a machine for me for free. Basically what I want to know is:
1. Is this a good build for what I will be using it for as described above or is there a simple tweak(s) that would have a big performance impact?
2. What would this machine be appraised at with no other factors such as labor included?
3. Is there a better deal online or somewhere else that would suite my needs?
4. Is there anything I should be considering that I am not?
As far as the RAM goes, I was considering putting 2 more GIG in but my wife is running Adobe CS 2 on a 6-year old HP with integrated video and 1 gig of DDR ram. It works but gets slow sometimes. I have no doubt that the above machine would do the job fine and adding any more RAM would just be overkill. On the other hand you never know what Adobe is going to come up with next that requires an insane build but I don't have to be completely up-to-date to produce good photos. They say anyone who needs to Photoshop all the pictures they take probably shouldn't be in photography anyway.
It's a solid system, but as Timop said, Photoshop would probably benefit more from a quad core CPU and more RAM. It will be a huge improvement on your current system as it is but if you just wanted that little bit extra for the future than an Athlon II X4 would be recommended and probably more RAM depending on the size of the photos you are working with and the functions you will be performing on them. Hope this helps!
Ok, this helps. As far as monitors I am currently using a 27" LCD TV as my primary monitor and have a 19" Sceptre flat screen as my dual-secondary monitor. Both are running at a resolution of 1280x1024 (actually the TV is widescreen so whatever the width difference on that is). Dual monitor is a must for me and a potential tri-monitor option for the future would be good too.
High resolution is good and all but I honestly don't care as long as games run smooth and photos process quickly. I'll take performance over graphics any day. However, not long ago 800x600 was the norm for computers (in Widows 2000 days). Now its almost not an option. With that in mind I would prefer for my hardware to last a good long while without needing to upgrade.
As far as what was said about quad-core and better video card:
"You should consider maybe a quad-core and a better video card. Though Photoshop would gain no performance with a better GPU, you games would, an simple $20 jump to a 5750 would provide much better performance."
My priorities on this is about 75% of this machine would be for photo processing and the other 25% for gaming. I'll sacrifice some gaming to save money or improve photo-processing. I am kind of old-school and still play games like Unreal-Tournament and Starcraft though I would like to play some newer games like Starcraft 2 and some more recent MMORPGs. I know this upgrade wont affect the older games and I'm not really planning to play a lot of online games that require split second reflexes and system to match. Is this still the recommendation?
I forgot to ask about hard drives- Is there any particular type I should be leaning toward or away from? 500GB capacity would be fine for me as most photos and stuff would be stored on external drives and DVDs.
I got off the phone with a sales rep of another computer store. They sell only Intel and the guy swore by them. Said something about Intel being ahead of AMD in the CPU race at the moment and "i5" processors are much better than AMD quad-cores because of something to do with core usage and over clocking and blah blah blah blah. It was just one of those 'smile and nod' situations for me. Any of this true? If so, which i5 would be the best for me and what kind of cost difference would I be looking at?
Thanks Timop, you have been a big help and I think saved me a big mistake! I have been looking around all afternoon and found this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It looks like it has all the specs I mentioned above but for $400 less. I dont know much about Newegg but I have heard they are ok. Anything I should know about this deal or did I just find my new computer?
No, the PSU is Azza, and the only online references to it I found (no technical reviews) suggest that it is not good. However, that PC likely only pulls 250W-270W running flat out, so it won't be stressed.
Follow Timop's suggestions. Good advice, all of it.
So would it be a good idea to replace the power supply when I get it? I know how bad cheap PSUs can be- I have replaced the PSU in my computer that just died probably 4 times- each time the previous ended its life in smoke and sparks. The motherboard and everything else were ok each time. Ironically the motherboard finally died for what seemed like no reason at all. I am not as concerned about running super high wattage as I am with having it run stable, consistently and not exploding on me after 2 years like the rest have. Besides, I just saved $400 on a great (for me) system and can afford a few tweaks now. Any other suggestions?
This is the system build I am planning so far, though I'm going to wait till late this year to buy it bec. of the giant leap in NAND memory technology for the SSD and simultaneous drop in price. It's probably going to cost around 4 times as much as what your looking for though.
Intel Core i7-930 2.88GHz 4 Core x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366
Thermalright Venomous X CPU Cooler (with two Noctua NF-P12 fans)
The included PSU isn't great, but since a) it won't be stressed at all, and b) you've got a warranty to cover quick failures, you probably don't need to feel compelled to replace it. If the money's there, it isn't a bad idea, but you should be ok. Consider it an extra excuse to be diligent about backing up important data.