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Old Duffer starting a build

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January 31, 2011 3:07:06 AM

I am an old duffer trying to put together a build to replace my aging Vista machine. This will not be a gaming pc. It will be used for surfing and general stuff. I do want to build for longevity. I'm hoping they can get a good 6-8 years out of it, barring any part failure. I have an existing mouse and keyboard. I have a 23” monitor that I want to switch between the old and the new computers. What do you call that switch?
So far this is what I’ve bought:

MOTHERBOARD: Gigabyte GA-H55-USB3 (Rev2) Socket 1156/ Intel H55/ DDR3/ USB3/ A&Gbe/ ATX for the i3/i5/i7

CPU:
Intel Core i3 Processor i3-540 3.06Ghz 4MB LGA1156 CPU

MEMORY:
Crucial DDR3-1333 4GB (2x 2GB) CL 9 Dual Channel Memory Kit

DVD Writer:
Samsung BDR-SH-B083L SATA Lightscribe Internal Blu-Ray Combo drive, 8x BD-ROM, 8x DVD+RW, 16x DVD +/-R, 48x CD-ROM, 2MB

HARD DRIVE:
Western Digital WD20EARS Caviar Green Hard Drive - 2TB, 3.5", SATA-3GB/s

POWER SUPPLY:
Topower/Epower ZUMAX ZU-500W 20/24 pin ATX V2.0

O/S:
OEM System Builder Pack Win Home Premium 7, 64 bit

COMPUTER CASE:
COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower

I’ve recently read that this mobo has some issues with SATA drives (but it didn’t specify any Rev number). That makes me wonder what else I’ve missed and whether or not I should be attempting this on my own.
I am looking forward to the opinions of others on this build.
I appreciate any and all comments, and actually look forward to reading the comments. Thanks in advance to everybody who responds. Much appreciated.

More about : duffer starting build

January 31, 2011 3:17:25 AM

If you want it to last a while, get a Sandy Bridge 2500K and and H67 motherboard. It'll cost about $325 total, ($225 for the cpu, 100 for the mobo). The K-series has the better on-die gpu. But the 2300 can be had for $185 if you don't plan on light gaming or video encoding.

Don't skimp on that power supply. Get Antec, Seasonic, Corsair in the 350W range 80+ Bronze for efficiency. The Antec Earthwatts 380 runs about $45, and has the juice to handle a medium-quality GPU (like a 5770 or GTS 450) if you want to add one later

if you plan on a 2 TB drive, consider the Samsung Sprinpoint F4 2TB. Its much faster than the caviar green.

The 932 is MUCH too large, and too expensive a case for your build. Consider the Rosewill P101 series of micro ATX cases. They're small in size and have a single 120mm fan with space to add another if needed, and run only $30
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January 31, 2011 3:34:53 AM

Thanks ScrewySqrl. I just wish I had found this website before I started spending that retirement money on computer parts.
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January 31, 2011 3:40:35 AM

what you've bought is not *bad*...it'll probly still do what you plan to do with it (light office stuff, web browsing, maybe some Hulu) and do it wonderfully for years to come. The 2500, being the very latest, might push a little longer,thats all
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January 31, 2011 4:02:13 AM

My dad just bought a Dell that has the i5-540 CPU. He does the same stuff, surfing the net, emails, some office apps. He is very happy with it. He replaced the P4 3.0 system I built for him 5 years ago, and is very happy with it. I could not beat the price of the Dell ($799), but he needed the monitor that comes with it. I got to $950 for an i5-750 system without monitor. We will see if the Dell lasts 5 years or not.

At the same time, I finally replaced my old P4 3.0 system with an i7-950 and HD 6870 video card, but I am a major gamer!

So, I agree that the i5-540, using the integrated GPU is very capable for what you want to do. However, I agree with ScreweySqrl about the HD and power supply. I got the 1T Western Digital Black HD and love it. I also prefer to build my own too, and would rather spend a bit more than get a Dell. Unless you plan to play games or become an avid 3D designer and/or Photoshop user, the i5-540 will be plenty of power!
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January 31, 2011 4:15:05 AM

Oldduffer said:
I have an existing mouse and keyboard. I have a 23” monitor that I want to switch between the old and the new computers. What do you call that switch?
It's called a KVM switch.
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Best solution

January 31, 2011 4:49:51 AM

I'm a computer technician with LOTS of building experience. I recommend printing this out.

MY LINKS TO NCIX ARE CANADIAN. I chose one link as an EXAMPLE of a good deal for good quality.

In general, I like your choices. Let me tweak this:

1) PSU - Most important component. I agree on Antec/Seasonic/Corsair. Look for exact reviews on the model you choose (just in case of an issue). 350W to 500W.
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=55788&vpn=CM...

2) Case. Antec 300. (great, simple, bought for my dad)
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=29812&vpn=TH...

Antec 300 has two fans include. Place one at bottom front. Place the second in line with the CPU fan if possible (probably not for the stock HSF). TAPE cardboard over any remaining intake on side or top/rear to optimize air pressure.

BTW, the HTF 932 and similar cases with all the ways to make things "easier" aren't as advertised. I found them to actually be MORE prone to noises and installation was HARDER on average. Plus it's overkill for your needs.

3) Hard Drives. Get the 2TB as a second drive. Get a 320GB or 500GB as the main drive. Make periodic backups with either (or both) Windows 7 Image and Acronis True Image WD version (at WD). Make periodic images in case of issues so you can RESTORE from the 2TB.

4) SSD (Solid State Drive). Get one in another 1 or 2 years when prices drop to replace the main drive . Just get one with at least 50% more storage than what your drive holds at that time. CLONE from hard drive to SSD, then boot from the SSD. Keep the hard drive outside the case and don't touch it in case of problems with the new SSD.

5) Graphics. The Intel is fine (it's on the CPU). If in the future you need better graphics for video processing or whatever obviously you can buy a PCIe graphics card.

6) HSF (heatsink/fan). Your stock include with CPU is probably fine. you can get your own in the future if you find it whines.

*You MUST setup fan control in the BIOS (nowhere else). You probably have three choise. In my case it was "voltage", you need to experiment (run a CPU stress test application to see if fan kicks in. If fan control isn't on right setting the fan always runs at 100%)

I hope this helps.

Other tips:
You may have some graphics decoding capability; my testing with a similar setup didn't seem to show much advantage with this but I didn't have much time to test. You can test this using either VLC, K-Lite or Boxee software. Watch a high-def video with decoding support enabled or disabled. Have the Task Manager running (CTRL-ALT-DEL). Run the video for at least 5 minutes in a Window if possible (or ALT-TAB) and observe the Task Manager cpu usage. Let's say it's at 30% on average with graphics decoding disabled. Enable graphics decoding (aka "hardware acceleration") in your video player, then repeat.

Decoding may make a big difference if you get an internal BluRay player (when prices drop to $50).

www.free-codecs.com (I use K-Lite Codec Pack STANDARD; the player is MPC-HC). You might be best with VLC. For either, Google on how to enable DXVA encoding support. Basically the VLC is still experimental, for K-Lite it's enabling the BOLDFACE AVC or VC1 in Options->Internal Filters.

DRIVERS:
Install right after MICROSOFT UPDATES.
Make sure you get the latest, correct drivers for:
1) main motherboard chipset (motherboard homepage)
2) graphics (motherboard mainpage; Intel site MAY have a newer version)
3) audio (motherboard mainpage; Realtek or whatever PROBABLY has a newer version. Realtek HD audio codec at www.realtek.com is fully compatible)
4) Other Gigabyte drivers and applications (motherboard mainpage; read about each one)

GOOD LUCK!!
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January 31, 2011 5:51:16 AM

MONITOR SWITCH:

You have two options. Some monitors accept multiple options; if so this is the best option. For example, you could use VGA for the old PC and DVI for the new. My dad's Sony will auto-select the second computer if running and the first one is turned off.

HDMI monitor input:
If you have an HDMI input on your monitor you can either use the HDMI or DVI output of your PC. If you use HDMI output you MAY have audio in all conditions (possibly if it's on the motherboard, not always if on a graphics card.). If you use DVI there's no audio present but you can still play the video (DVI->HDMI cable).

If a monitor has HDMI that means it has speakers, an audio OUTPUT or BOTH. I have PC->HDMI->MONITOR (digital to analog)->EXTERNAL SPEAKERS (3.5mm audio)

Physical switch:
I guess you want something like a "DVI Switch"; the problem is anything like this is too expensive. I found a 2x HDMI switch (two HDMI sources) at Monoprice but couldn't find a DVI switch. When I did find them they were over $100.

You may also want to use the same Keyboard an Mouse so you'd want to switch USB inputs too.

You also see "DVI KVM" which means Keyboard Video Mouse which may not have USB for mouse/keyboard (may be the round PS2); some have DVI, USB, and PS2. It's all a big pain to be avoided if possible.

(KVM alone likely means two PS2 and one VGA connection outputs and 2x this set for inputs.)
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January 31, 2011 1:54:53 PM

rwpritchett said:
It's called a KVM switch.


Many thanks rwpritchett,
Any thoughts that would make my selection easier? One computer is HDMI and the other is not.
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January 31, 2011 9:26:03 PM

Thanks photonboy,
You have given me a great deal of information for me to digest, and caused more questions.
1-Do I understand that the Zumax ZU-500W is not a good power supply?
2-I bought the HAF case because the mobo wouldn't fit into the 3/4 case I already had and I thought I needed more ventilation. Should still be OK though?
3-I was glad that you mentioned the hard drive and the backup. I've been using Carbonite because the backup to another drive takes too long.
4-I was going to get a temperature monitor and an adjustable fan control. Are those used for the other fans and not the CPU fan?
5-For a kvm switch I'm debating the Tripp Lite B004-VPA2-K-R (26.99) or the Aluratek AVW02H (29.99) at NewEgg.
Many thanks for the insight!

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January 31, 2011 11:47:00 PM

It be easier w/ a budget. However methinks many vendors will be encouraging their employees to take some vacation. Sandy Bridge is the latest and greatest so that makes the 1156 socket based systems "old" from the getgo. However, with Sandy Bridge being bugged and "unbugged" Revision B hardware not expected to arrive till April, I'd put my build on hold if at all possible.

The 932 is a gamer's case .... HAF = high air flow and H-U-G-E. If you're a gamer, it rocks (not as much as it's replacement the HAF-X or DF-85) but a good case. May have cable length issues with some "non enthusiast level" PSU's.

The only thing I'd be really concerned about is the PSU. An Antec EA-650 is one of the best bargains you can find .... yeah you can use a smaller one biut since ya not gonna save much money, and PSU's run at peak efficiency at 50% load, why bother ?

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February 1, 2011 8:04:19 AM

reply:
1. no idea about Zumax. Google if you want (it just worries me that I never heard of it but I don't know everything)

2. HAF case is fine, just more expensive than you needed but whatever

3. IMAGING your drive will take initially 10 minutes or so

4. fan control. You should have a CPU fan control. The PSU is sealed. I recommend that the case fans just spin at a low and constant RPM. So you only need to worry about enabling fan control for the CPU in your BIOS (and plugging in the fan to the correct fan control; see your motherboard manual)

5. KVM switch. Whatever works. Lots of choices. Make sure the connections are what you want.
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February 1, 2011 1:10:39 PM

Best answer selected by Oldduffer.
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February 1, 2011 1:15:29 PM

The 3 responses given by photonboy were insightful and very much appreciated.
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