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$1200 General Purpose/Media/Gaming PC

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May 23, 2010 4:34:59 PM

I primarily use my desktop for internet activity (so not much overhead there) and heavy document use, with a tendency to multitask to excess-- 10 or 20 browser windows/tabs, 15 pdfs, a half dozen other programs, etc... I also play the occassional game on the computer (none of the first person shooters that really demand a power build, and more in line with games like Spore, Warcraft, Civilization, and other RPGs) though that is less frequent since I do most of my gaming on consoles. I also watch video on the PC frequently and I would actually like to set it up to better support this going forward, so I'm not using my 24" monitor to watch anime or movies when I want to do it in bed rather than in my home theatre. Hoping to keep my expenses down to around $1200 dollars or so at most (with the exception of the TV, I don't expect to get a 40"-50" TV for under $700-$1000).
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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: (I'm ready to buy this week, but I'm able to wait a few weeks if it will get me a deal.)

BUDGET RANGE: ($800-$1200, After Rebates) [Spent: $945]

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: (surfing the internet, watching movies/anime, gaming, document editing, some image/video editing, web development)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
  • Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
  • Mouse: Logitech Wireless Performance MX (just purchased) - 50 dollars
  • Monitor: Westell 24" + Gateway 19" - considering replacing the Westell with a 27" if it's within my budget range, since this one doesn't have a DVI input (so the autoshut off doesn't work) and I would like to replace my mother's monitor
  • Speakers: Gateway USB speakers
  • OS: Windows 7 (64-bit)
  • Storage Hard Drives: 3 - 500 GB, 1 TB, 1.5 TB; all SATA 7200 RPM I believe
  • DVD Drive: Optiarc DVD RW
  • Video Card: GeForce 9800 GT - will consider replacing, but I don't know that it's necessary and I'm close to my budget with the parts I have already. The only problem I have with my current video card is the lack of HDMI output. The other area where it might not be sufficient is video encoding, but I don't do that very often.
  • Microphone/Camera: Logitech IM/Connect
  • Case: HAF 922 (just purchased) - 90 dollars
  • Power Supply: Antec TP-750 (just purchased) - 85 dollars
  • Solid State Drive: OCZ Agility 60 GB (just purchased) - 120 dollars
  • Processor: Core i7 930 - 215 dollars
  • Motherboard: ASUS P6X58D-E - 230 dollars
  • RAM: 6GB Mushkin Blackline DDR3-1333 GHz - 155 dollars

    PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: (none) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: (United States)

    PARTS PREFERENCES: (No preference on brand, so long as it provides quality. I would like to go with a full tower or large mid-tower to make putting the PC together easier and give room for future expansion-- particularly hard drives, I have three now and am looking to add a solid state drive for the operating system. I am expecting to need another couple terabytes within the year.)

    OVERCLOCKING: (No) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: (Maybe)

    MONITOR RESOLUTION: (1920x1200)

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: (I keep the PC in my bedroom, so I would like it as quiet as possible and preferably with little in the way of LED lighting. In fact, I would prefer to have no light at all when the PC is in stand by, though preferably still displaying when the PC is on. I also prefer solid panels rather than the acrylic side views, but it's not a major issue so long as there isn't active lighting in the case while in standby. If there is lighting, I tend to prefer blue rather than red, though I'm not sure if that is configurable or not.)

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    I've been having some issues with random crashes and blue screens that I believe may be due to hardware failure, which, combined with my current power supply being extremely noisy (it was a laying around the house replacement after the original died) prompted me to actually go forward with replacing the PC. I don't have any hard preferences on what I replace, though the power supply, case, and RAM are definitely going and I'm inclined to replace the motherboard in case some of my problems have been with the L1/L2 cache on that (since memtest86+ didn't reveal any RAM problems). If I'm replacing the motherboard, I figured I might as well upgrade the processor at the same time. :) 

    Key
  • Columns - (Current / New) ~cost
  • Total - (Gateway GT5628 / Custom ) ~$1,005.00 total

    Primary
  • Motherboard - (Intel G33 Express / Asus P6X58D-E) ~$230.00 [purchased]
  • Processor - (Intel Core2 Quad CPU - Q6600 / Core i7 930) ~$215.00 [purchased]
  • Video Card - (GeForce 9800 GT (replacement) / [[keep]]) ~$0.00
  • RAM - (DDR2 667 MHz SDRAM 3GB / Mushkin 6GB DDR3-1333) ~$155.00 [purchased]

    Support
  • Case - (16" x 16" x 7" Gateway / Cooler Master HAF 922) ~$90.00 [purchased]
  • Power Supply - (Orion HP585D (replacement after old died) / Antec TP-650 or 750) ~$100.00 [purchased, TP-750]
  • Network Card - (Integrated / replaced with motherboard) ~$0.00
  • TV Tuner - (none / Hauppauge WinTV-HVR1250 Video Capture Board) ~$60.00

    Storage
  • Hard Drive 1 - (500 GB Serial ATA-300 7200 RPM / [[keep]]) ~$0.00
  • Hard Drive 2 - (1 TB / [[keep]]) ~$0.00
  • Hard Drive 3 - (1.5 TB / [[keep]]) ~$0.00
  • Hard Drive 4 - (none / Solid State Drive 60 GB) ~$120.00 [purchased, OCZ Agility 60 GB]
  • DVD - (Optiarc DVD RW / [[keep]]) ~$0.00
  • Card Reader - (15 in 1 card reader / [[keep]]) ~$0.00

    I'm looking for any recommendations on alternative part selections (most of these came from the part buying guides) to reduce the overall cost of the system or areas where I would be better off going with a different selection to meet my usage patterns. I'm going to be shopping around a bit for the parts and if there are any suggestions on good sites for that, I would also appreciate them.
    May 25, 2010 2:27:31 AM

    One other thing I'm interested in doing is potentially using some of the spare parts to create a Linux based HTPC for my home theatre (or more likely a web server). If there are any issues with the use of some of the components for the purpose, I would be interested in hearing that, though I don't think I would have any problems.
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    May 29, 2010 4:31:34 PM

    Caught this thread from your newest case thread...

    Recommendations..
    CPU: i5 750 $200
    MOBO: ASUS P7P55D-E Pro $180
    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600 $120

    These will still give you plenty of power for your needs!! With the savings, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the ATI HD 5770. You have better performance with that GPU.
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    May 29, 2010 8:59:02 PM

    Seems like a bit of a step down to go from a quad core to the dual core though-- how much of an improvement is the i5 over the older Q6600 Core2 Duo? (Since I could conceivably continue using that as well.)
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    May 29, 2010 9:55:57 PM

    The i5-750 is quad core. So I'm sure it would appreciably outperform the Q6600.
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    May 29, 2010 9:59:19 PM

    I don't know if it is a major step down as you make it sound.. :)  The i5 750 is a Quad core just like the i7 930 and it thought to be one of the best bang for the buck CPU you can buy performance wise.

    It is better than you Q6600 by far... Benchmark Reviews. Here is how it compares to the i7 920... http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/47?vs=109
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    May 29, 2010 10:34:44 PM

    Ahh, I thought the i5 line was essentially hyperthreaded dual core, the i7 hyperthreaded quad core-- I see i5 is actually straight quad core and i7 is the hyperthreaded version. I should probably do my homework before posting. :)  Thanks, I'll check out the links you provided.
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    June 3, 2010 12:10:32 PM

    I've been looking at a few of the 5770 video cards-- are there any particular brands to avoid or look at more closely? Or is it mostly a matter of doing comparisons and finding one with a price that looks about right and the right connections, since the base components are all manufactured by ATI? I've also been wondering about the PCI-e 2.1 that several of these have-- in my initial research, it looks like that is primarily implementing some management tools that will exist in 3.0. I'm not sure if support for that is standard or not on most motherboards yet though. (Or for that matter, if there is a point to waiting for PCI-e 3.0-- I suspect that isn't going to be affordable for awhile yet though.)
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    June 3, 2010 12:30:06 PM

    Hmm even under your min point ($800) of your budget range you could get far better gaming performance for the $$ really. Below is

    USB/SATA III
    Crossfire capable
    80+ 750W PSU


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    June 3, 2010 1:44:10 PM

    I've ordered my case and power supply already actually-- HAF 922 and Antec TP-750, so that will remove two of those combo deals from the list. I'll take a look at the other pieces though (and I've updated the original post to reflect the purchases now.) Where it's feasible within my budget, I'd prefer to cherry pick for quality and performance over cost though.

    Truthfully, I've been debating upping my budget limit a bit in order to add in a video card to the i7 build just to have fairly close to what I would consider the best mid-range at the moment. The $1200 was mostly an arbitrary restriction on myself, rather than a hard limit. Though sticking to it also gives me more room for some other things I would like to purchase like the TV or an HD projector to replace our existing one.
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    June 5, 2010 2:54:02 AM

    Assuming they don't run out, I think I'm going to go with an i7 930 actually-- a store in the area has them for 200 dollars right now. (They had i7 920's for 170, but they're out of those unfortunately). With tax, that's still about $215 or a 75 dollar savings. That leaves the motherboard and RAM.

    Amazon has OCZ Platinum RAM for $142 and Newegg has a rebate on Mushkin for $154. I'm inclined to go with the Mushkin at the moment since I've seen it recommended more, however, I'm not sure how much difference the 7-7-7-20 timing makes versus 7-7-7-24.

    For the motherboard, the $240 Asus above is still a possibility, however, I was also looking at this Asus motherboard for $180. From a comparison, it appears the primary differences are the direct memory support (not an issue if I go with 1333 GHz memory), an optical audio port, and a fan connector (plus the board actually has more USB, firewire, and other connectors). Am I missing anything else about the board that would make this a bad decision? The missing fan connector seems like it might be the biggest issue, since my HAF 922 has 3 case fans that I would like to keep controlled by the motherboard. I thought I read it was possible to "chain" fan connectors though, to avoid that issue.
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    Best solution

    June 5, 2010 3:05:36 AM

    I would go with the Mushkin RAM. OCZ has had some issues lately with their RAM, so the once mighty OCZ Platinums may not be what they once were (mine are a year old and going strong though :D  ).

    If you are getting the i7 930, I would go with the ASUS P6X58D-E Motherboard - LGA 1366, Intel X58, SATA, SLI Ready, CrossFireX Ready, Triple Channel DDR3 support, RAID, Hyperthreading, USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s for a little more but a much better upgrade path!!
    Share
    June 5, 2010 4:51:02 PM

    That's everything except for the video card and the TV tuner card at this point, and I've come in at 945 spent so far (after rebates), so I'm almost certain to come in under my budget after all even with the video card.

    I've seen a lot of brands out there for the HD 5770-- are there any that I should focus on or avoid? From some searching on the internet, it looks like the HD 5770 MSI Hawk might be my best bet for a silently running card. It's fairly easy to compare the number of ports available and the warranty on the card, but the fan tends to just be listed as "Includes Fan" so I'm not sure if there are any others I should consider. (Another HDMI port would have been nice, but dropping the decibel level down by 5 or 6 seems worth that.) The other question I had in selecting a card is whether 2.1 PCI-e is worth considering as a differentiator.
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    June 8, 2010 2:02:29 PM

    Best answer selected by Balthanon.
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    June 8, 2010 4:47:24 PM

    Final Build is:

    Primary

    * Motherboard - Asus P6X58D-E ~$230.00 [purchased]
    * Processor - Core i7 930) ~$215.00 [purchased]
    * Video Card - HD 5770 MSI Hawk ~$185.00 [purchased]
    * RAM - Mushkin 6GB DDR3-1333 ~$155.00 [purchased]


    Support

    * Case - Cooler Master HAF 922 ~$90.00 [purchased]
    * Power Supply - Antec TP-750 ~$85.00 [purchased]
    * TV Tuner - delayed until something decent comes up


    Storage

    * Hard Drive 1 - Solid State Drive OCZ Agility 60 GB ~$120.00 [purchased]
    * Hard Drive 2 - 500 GB Serial ATA-300 7200 RPM ~$0.00 [kept]
    * Hard Drive 3 - 1 TB Serial ATA-300 7200 RPM ~$0.00 [kept]
    * Hard Drive 4 - 1.5 TB Serial ATA-300 7200 RPM ~$0.00 [kept]
    * DVD - Optiarc DVD RW ~$0.00 [kept]
    * Card Reader - 15 in 1 card reader ~$0.00 [kept]

    Grand total was 1,130 dollars with the TV Tuner delayed until something catches my eye or I pick up a decent 40" or so monitor/TV for my bedroom and need the tuner.
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