Semi-Budget Build

Hello everyone. I am new to the forums and it has been a while since I've messed with computers. I built my first and only PC back in September 2007 which had: AMD 64 X2 6000+, 4gb OCZ DDR2 800, and a HD2600XT. This computer has done well for me but I feel it is passed its prime and is ready to be put down. I am looking to build a PC for mainly photo editing and office functions. I would like to start gaming again but I do not want a 1K+ gaming rig. I will most likely only play CS:S, TF2, and other minor racing games, maybe WOW? Maybe newer games? What I really need help with is deciding which CPU, mobo, what speed of DDR3 ram to go with, and GPU. I know nothing about todays PC hardware and what the difference is between Core 2 Quad and i3/i5/i7. I do know that I want my PC to last at least 3-4 years and I want it Intel/Nvidia this time. I already have a case, PSU, HDD, and DVD drive. I also do plan on getting a blu-ray drive at some point. So any help, ideas, suggestions are all appriciated. Thanks.

As for budget, I do not plan on setting one. I just want a quality PC, yet affordable. I cut corners on my last/first build and had nothing but issues. I dont want to make that mistake twice. I am also running Linux now and am not sure if I plan on going back to Windows or not. If I do it will be Windows 7 Ultimate if that matters.

edit - sorry wrong format, guess i should read rules first

Approximate Purchase Date: over the next month or 2

Budget Range: No more then $800

System Usage from Most to Least Important: photo editing, office work, gaming

Parts Not Required: case, PSU, HDD, DVD drive, Keyboard, mouse, monitor

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, best buy

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel/Nvidia

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Not necessary

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Additional Comments: Fast, fast, fast, last a good amount of years
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More about semi budget build
  1. What size and brand PSU do you have, what resolution are looking for, will you eventually want to setup multiple monitors for your photo editing? Is it just photo editing or will you be working with movies as well?
  2. Welcome newcomer!

    Just to confirm: you are looking for CPU, motherboard, RAM and graphics? $800 is a very healthy sum of money for those four items, when heavy gaming is not involved.

    Just a quick overview: i3, i5 and i7 are the new lines of intel processors, with i3 the least powerful and i7 the strongest. I3 chips have 2 cores, i5 have 4 cores, and i7 also have 4, but use hyper-threading to split each core into 2 for a total of 8 cores. Intel is in the process of rolling out the latest version of their performance chips called Sandybridge. These chips replace the older Lynfield lines. Here is a wiki to help you learn more if you like.

    A month away you may still find some of the older core products, like an i5-760 or an i7-870 cpu, which fit into an 1156 socket motherboard. These products should be discounted to bargain prices. Consider purchasing one of these, and adding maybe a solid state drive or extra monitor to your build.

    Here is the current (for the next 3 days) i5-760 processor and the i7-870 processor, both of which should come down in price over the next couple of weeks.

    I would suggest you also look at the Sandybridge offerings, which go on sale this Sunday. Specifically, look at the i5-2500 or the i7-2600, with an 1155 socket. Stay away from the k models, since they are for overclocking (sure you don't want to try? It is easier than ever before with the utilities offered these days and it extends the useful life of your pc.)

    For memory, both 1155 and 1156 sockets take dual channel, DDR3 RAM. 4 GB is recommended, and since you are not seeking performance buy something inexpensive with voltage less than 1.65 v, like this Mushkin Enhanced.

    That leaves graphics: For light gaming, and minimal monitors, nothing larger than a GTX460. More likely you should consider an HD 5770 or even an HD 5750.

    Please take into consideration the current strength of your PSU: capacitors age, and lose efficiency. Deduct 30 percent from your rated wattage for the three plus years you have had it, assuming average usage (not 24X7). Subtract from there to give you an idea how much more room you have left. Here is a power supply calculator to help.

    Did I recommend overclocking to you? If I had your machine right now, I would get a $30 heat sink like this one, and speed it up! That heat sink will also fit the new build, so it is not money lost.
  3. It would be useful to know what kind of parts you have already - most importantly your PSU.
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