SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:Basic photo edits, Internet with multi tabs open
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, Keyboard, OS, Monitor
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg or Tigerdirect
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: No Pref
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I am looking to upgrade my friend's computer for her. The one she has now keeps giving her a lot of problems and acting up on her. Of course I am the one that is always disabling stuff, and clearing stuff out to get it running semi decent. Anyways this is what I know about her current OS. I am assuming the mobo is a cheap one with built in gpu, the cpu is a AMD Athlon II X2 240, and it has 2 GB Ram. She sells things so takes pictures often and has a lot on her hard drive. The pictures she edits are around 12 MP and normally when she does it she ends up having multiple internet tabs open amongst some unneeded background programs. I try to eliminate the unneeded background stuff but of course it comes back. I am trying to build her something that can handle what she does with no issues without me constantly having to disable stuff. Any questions feel free to ask.
The key to what she is doing is lots of ram. 2gb is not enough these days. 4gb should be a minimum and perhaps 8gb would be better for photoshop. If you can add to the current system that would be the cheapest. If strange junk is getting into the system, I suggest you install Microsoft security essentials. It works well, is free, and is completely unobtrusive.
If you want to build one, then here is what I suggest.
1) I see no need for a quad core cpu for these applications. I like the 32nm clarkdale i3 530 cpu. It has integrated graphics and should be sufficient without the need for overclocking. If you are inclined to overclock, it will approach 4.0. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2) You need a H55 based motherboard to be able to utilize the integrated graphics. Since there are few required features, look at a micro-atx or even mini-itx motherboard. They will allow you to put the parts in a small and perhaps cute case.
I have used the ECS mini-itx board which has worked out well. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
3) I built such a system using a lian li Q07 case. $60 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... For something different, it comes in red!
4) Put in a small 40gb SSD for the os and apps, and a 1tb hard drive for storage. The WD avgp drive is designed for multimedia and will do well in the Q07 which has very little cooling. SSD prices will get better in the coming months, so it might be better to install the OS in a small partition, planning to clone the partition to a SSD later.
As a cheaper alternative, consider the seagate momentus XT 500gb hybrid drive. It has a small SSD MLC buffer that keeps the most referenced stuff in it making performance better than any hard drive, but not as good as a SSD. $129 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
5) Go ahead and put in a 2 x 4gb ram kit. It should cost about $170.
6) A small Seasonic 300w psu should be fine. $40. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
1.) Multiple processes (including multiple tabs in a browser) prefer physical cores over hyperthreading. Besides, the i3's integrated graphics isn't as great as the newer onboard video that AMD offers, not that it matters too much.
That also doesn't factor in the fact that AMD's quad core destroys the i3 in photo editing. Of course, that won't matter much if the usage isn't that intensive (which I'm doubting it is). I'd still take the X4 hands down over the i3. It only adds around $30-40 to the cost and gets you a much better CPU.
I can also definitely say that given time, quad cores are going to become almost a necessity. Why buy a dying CPU now (yes, the LGA 1156 socket is dying) when you'll need to upgrade it relatively soon?
4.) I disagree with the SSD. 40 GB is too small for anything useful (it only has about 16 GB after the OS and required 20% free space) and prices are only going to fall. This can easily wait until later. I don't like spending a good $100+ on something that's going to be half that in under a year and be nearly twice as fast. SSDs simply aren't worth the premium
5.) I'm also going to disagree with the 8 GB. While it would be nice (and you can certainly afford it), it doesn't sound like anything is that intensive in the build. I don't see any reason for spending another $110 for the larger sticks (2x4 GB kits are $190)
6.) I saw the SeaSonic 300W, but it's still more expensive than the OCZ. It is higher quality though, but doesn't offer much in case of expansion.