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Build vs Buy, Dad's Challenge

Last response: in Systems
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August 9, 2010 6:21:54 PM

So after 7 years it's finally time to replace my desktop for college. Dad is giving me a choice, He's picked out a customized PC from HP that costs about $1500.
Here are the Specs:

Processor: i7-930 quad-core [2.8GHz, 1Mb L2 + 8Mb shared L3 Cache]
Memory: 9GB DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM [5 DIMMS]
Hard Drive: 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3Gb/s
Graphics Card: 1.8GB NVIDIA GTX 260


I can choose to get this one ready made, or I can build my own with the same budget. After much research I think I managed to put together a pretty good one, which leads to a question, or rather three.

1. Do I have good parts picked out for the computer? I'm hoping that the computer can last maybe 5 years before I have to worry about getting another.
2. Are these parts going to work together or will my computer blow up when I push on?
3. How does my custom computer compare to the HP ready-made one? In other words, will it be worth it to build my own or should I just buy one?

Here's the Specs for my custom computer:

Processor: Core i7-930
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115225&cm_re=core_i7_930-_-19-115-225-_-Product

Memory: OCZ Gold 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227539&cm_re=ocz_gold-_-20-227-539-_-Product

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136284&Tpk=caviar%20black%20wd1001%20fals

Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130565&cm_re=geforce_gtx_460_1gb-_-14-130-565-_-Product

Power Supply Unit: CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-650HX 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139012

Motherboard:ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131365

Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129021&cm_re=antec_900-_-11-129-021-_-Product


Last comments: I really had no idea what to get for the motherboard. I stayed away from gigabyte boards because I have never built a computer before and I read that they are not very noob friendly. I budgeted about $240 for the motherboard, so I just picked a good one that fell inside the budget, if anyone has any better ideas please let me know.

I don't plan on overclocking the computer either, which is why I kept the RAM at 1333 instead of 1600.

I also may end up putting in another gtx 460 and running both in the future for a graphics boost so I'm wondering if my power supply will be able to handle it. Should I increase it to a 750 watt?

So is this build a lot better than the pre-made, or should I buy from HP?
August 9, 2010 6:26:01 PM

Neither. You should go with the custom made option, just not that setup. You've got the wrong RAM (dual channel not triple channel), a slow HDD, a lower powered card (for your budget) and a lesser board. Here's what I'd build with $1,500 (including an OS):

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $285 after rebate (with free game)
RAM/PSU: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 and Corsair 850W $185 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $650
HDD: Samung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case/OS: HAF 922 and Windows 7 $180
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $18

Total: $1,393
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August 9, 2010 6:28:41 PM

for that price, never buy a pre-made system its not worth it, Admiral just made you something that would cost like 2000 but he made it awesome, nice one admiral
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August 9, 2010 6:39:35 PM

Actually, I like Gigabyte boards better than Asus. But you won't go wrong with either.

i7-900's use triple channel memory - so either 3 X 2GB or 3 X 4 GB for maximum speed.

A 650 watt Corsair PSU will handle a second GTX460.

I like the Antec 900 case (I have three), but ... I think one of the CoolerMaster cases would be a better idea. The cooling will be just as good and it will be easier to work with than the Antec.

I don't think that any of the cases include a system speaker, so you will need one.
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August 9, 2010 6:47:33 PM

Thanks for the advice Admiral.
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August 9, 2010 6:49:44 PM

Assuming you need the i7's hyperthreading for some reason (AutoCAD at school or something), here's a build that's still reasonable for gaming (though not as good as MadAdmiral's build). Links/prices were old, have been double-checked, no combos included.

CPU - Intel i7-930 - $290
HSF - Hyper 212+ ($30 at amazon) or your choice from Frostytech's top "5" list
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R - $210
RAM - Mushkin Silverline 6 GB CAS 7 1600 MHz - $154
HDD - Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB - $75
GPU - PNY 480 - $500
PSU - Corsair 950TX Active PFC 80+ Bronze - $140 ertified for 480 SLI by slizone.com
Case - HAF 922 - $90 (+$10 shipping) or whatever suits your fancy

$1489 without shipping (though most items have free shipping), no OS (assuming educational Win7 for ~ $30)

EDIT: Thanks for tracking down some combos, MadAdmiral. SLI 460 might be better, was just trying to leave the option open for later. Getting those combos + the HAF 922/Win 7 combo still leaves the price under $1500, and doesn't rely on the educational discount.
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August 9, 2010 6:53:48 PM

$1500 will buy you a very nice custom rig...however, do you NEED to spend $1500??

What are you going to be using this computer for??

I can completely understand that there is a little goblin on your shoulder telling you that you NEED a $1500 computer...but...word from the wise...spending hours playing video games while college homework stacks up is not a wise choice...

also, book bills add up quickly!!

Now, you may have all this other stuff figured out (books, transport, food, etc.) and in that case, ignore my rant about using the money for other items...

But the main question still stands, what will this rig be used for?
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August 9, 2010 7:50:37 PM

I really can't thank you guys enough for all the help, you're really making this computer come alive.

I'll be using the computer for programs like Autocad and Inventor, but I'll also be playing games like Dawn of War 2 and Mass Effect 2. But really the main reason I picked out the i7-930 is because the microcenter by me has a deal going where I can pick one up for $200.

Right now I think i'll be following ColdSleep's build but with MacAdmiral's combo deal additions, those were a great find. I'm going to try and add a second GTX 460 but it might be just one for a little while.

I already have Windows 7 (sometimes it's great to be a student), a good set of speakers, and I'll be salvaging the DVD Reader/Burner from my old computer.

Thanks alot for all the help.
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