I'm not going to rattle off all the specs of my build, just the pertinent bits. I have been sitting on a 700-watt power supply and an ATI HD4870 video card for some time in anticipation of the day my laptop became too slow to use for work daily. I also have a keyboard, mouse, headset, speaker set, 24" LCD display, webcam, camera dock, blah blah blah, which is currently all hooked up to my laptop through a creative spaghetti maze of USB cords and hubs. So what I primarily need is a processor, motherboard, case, memory, hard drive, fan/heatsink, and a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. I do not want to overclock or undervolt anything, so figure on stock everything.
What do I do?
I do data entry and maintenance for a few websites and spend 6-8 hours or more a day copying, pasting, typing, coding, and downloading pictures to use for that. My 24" display is 1920x1080 and I wish to use that resolution because it is very effective in allowing me to do what I do. I also burn a lot of DVD's of data each month when my poor Acer's 160GB hard drive fills up with all this garbage, since I archive everything. I also intend to play GTA IV since I'll have a good GPU to do that with, but frame rates and playability are not important. I need it to be a powerful multitasking business machine that can have fifty browser tabs open at once with flash and all that going in some of them and still have enough oomph to not hesitate when I'm typing in another window. I want instant application switching, when I click on a window I want it in front of me right then, I don't want to wait for the screen to redraw at all.
What am I looking at?
All of the computers below have the following unless specified otherwise: 4GB of PC8500 or PC10600 DDR3 memory, a 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard drive, a package of Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste, an ASUS DVD burner, a cheapa$$ case of some sort, and a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (system builder edition). All system prices are before any rebates, combo discounts, or shipping charges.
A - $426 - Barebones setup from Tiger with Phenom 9600 CPU, ASUS M2N68-AM PLUS motherboard, only 2GB of memory, a Lite-On DVD burner instead of ASUS, a case, a 400w PSU I wouldn't use, and a Seagate HD instead of Samsung. Cost $249 plus $48 for another 2GB stick of memory, $99 for the copy of Windows, and $30 for a fan/heatsink.
B - $434 - Wishlist saved on NewEgg with Athlon II X4 635 CPU and ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard
C - $451 - Wishlist saved on NewEgg with Phenom 9850 CPU and ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard
D - $478 - Wishlist saved on NewEgg, identical to C but with Phenom II X4 945 CPU and ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard
E - $519 - Wishlist saved on NewEgg with Intel Core i3-540 CPU and ASUS P7H55-M PRO motherboard
F - $419 - Refurbished HP Pavilion P6302f with 6GB RAM, 500GB HD, Athlon II X4 620 CPU, Foxconn H-RS780-uATX motherboard, DVD burner, modem, card reader, Windows 7 HP 64-bit, keyboard I hate, mouse I'm not sure I like, and it's in a pretty slick looking OEM case
So my problem here is that with the exception of the smaller hard drive, the HP seems to have everything I need and nothing I don't. Obviously it's an HP, and the PSU is garbage, but I'm putting my Ultra in there. It'll be fine. HD4200 graphics? Remember, I've got the HD4870. It has more memory, it looks nicer, and it has a card reader and some other bits with it. Downsides...the hard drive is smaller...I'll have to clear out the bloatware and spend probably the same amount of time optimizing the HP as I would installing 7 fresh on any of the others...and as it is refurbished it's technically used and not new at all.
I know all you tech people would want to steer me away from the HP. I've always pretty much had OEM computers all my life. Acers, Gateways, eMachines, IBM, Apple, Dell, etc. The last HP I had was a 90MHz Pentium I with Win 98 SE. I don't mind owning "the man's" computer. I guess what I'm asking is, will the extra money for one of the other systems reward me with more than just building it myself? Will they be MORE or LESS useful than a mass produced box?
If my budget is a hard ceiling of $450 for the following bits:
CPU and motherboard (minimum Passmark score 2500, quad cores only)
case (plain black best, no side panel windows, no gaudy lighting, no PSU)
hard drive (500GB but prefer 1TB)
optical drive (double layer DVD burner, no Lightscribe needed)
thats a HEXA-CORE 1055t, 780L motherboard, 4 gb ram, 1 tb hdd, A NICE case, a solid power supply
the 6-core will do all your multitasking with ease, and won't slouch in games.
Thank you everyone for your replies. This takes me in a new direction as I thought the six-core chips needed a special motherboard. But it seems it'll run fine on regular AM3 chipsets and that means a simple $70-$80 board would do. I also get a bonus, my wife bought a hard drive for her wicked i7-920 box and hates it. Caviar Green 1.5TB WD1500EARS or something. Since she doesn't want it, that freed up a little cash in the budget and I should have no problem building in the rest of a 1055T system for the $450.
Thanks to the Screwy Squirrel for getting me to look at the 1055T and the various combos offered with it. As it stands now I'm looking at this:
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory
Combo 1 Item 1: Rosewill Blackbone Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Combo 1 Item 2: LG DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model GH24NS50 - OEM
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
Scythe SCKTN-3000 92mm Sleeve "KATANA3" 3Heat Pipes CPU Cooler
I have plenty left over out of the $550 total budget to either/or some stuff, like buy a snazzier motherboard, choose a different case, or I could take out the Katana3 Cooler and go with a 1090T instead and run the stock cooler for awhile. Or simply explain to the wife I need to increase the budget, nudge nudge, wink wink.
If if I don't go 1090T, it would be a $28 stretch to get this case and burner instead of the Blackbone. The 300 does meet all my requirements and it has a bottom mount PSU. The Antec p182 my wife's computer has is very easy to work on and I appreciate the design innovation of it. So getting an Antec case would be very good. 1963 out of over 2000 reviews give 4 or 5 eggs. I can't see a downside to using this case. The Illusion model with the blue fans on the front, THAT I could pass on. I thought all Three Hundreds glowed like that. Glad they still make a basic model for a reasonable price!