It's been about six years since I've built a machine, so I could use some help. I'm building a primary machine for my home, and it will be multipurpose. Primarily, it will be used for when I do work at home, which consists of astrophysics research in the form of working with large data arrays (moderate CPU requirements). Secondary purposes will include office type work, watching HD video, and some (very) light gaming. I will be using two monitors of fairly high resolution. I also need data backups - I'm tentatively considering using two pairs of 1TB HDDs with each pair in RAID1 separately, if this is possible (please advise). An eye towards upgrades is highly desired - this machine needs to last a long time, so the ability to slightly beef up CPU, graphics, and RAM in the future is a big plus.
Approximate Purchase Date: in the next one-to-three weeks
Budget Range: ~$1000, but this is very flexible and can go up or down by as much as ~$500 as is optimal/necessary. Obviously, I want to minimize costs, though.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Scientific calculations on arrays (IDL, etc), office, video/music/multimedia, light gaming
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg or amazon
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Intel CPU
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 on one monitor; second monitor TBD but will be equal or higher resolution than current
Additional Comments: I don't care how the case looks or anything like that - function and cost over form.
Here is a **very** rough draft of parts. It is primarily taken directly from the guides on this site, and some component are just guesses. See specific questions at the end of this post.
Is there any real reason for me not to get OEM Windows? A mobo replacement on this machine during the life of Windows 7 seems unlikely....
What should I change to improve upgradability? Similarly, is this a cost effective machine at this point in time, or can the cost be reduced? I want to optimize these two competing variables.
Is the RAID1 disk configurations I described possible with this set up? If not, how do I make it so? Or would I be better with a RAID5 setup? Or something else entirely? I really need advice here.
My choices for MOBO, PSU, CPU, GPU, and HDDs are largely guesses - other suggestions, along for explanations of why I should change, are highly appreciated.
Would I be better off with one of the i7s?
Is the graphics card adequate for my purposes, including two large monitors? I just pulled this one off of one of the suggested builds - I have no idea how to pick one. I've always used nVidia in the past, but that was years ago...
I know I've asked a lot of questions, but any help you can provide will be very much appreciated. The number of choices out there are daunting - I need the help.
That mobo seems to have pretty awful reviews at newegg - lots of complaints about infinite reboot loops when using all memory slots, lots of failures, etc. Any particular reason you recommended it? It doesn't seem that appealing with all those complaints...
Glad you pointed out some of those combos though - much better deals than what I was doing in some cases.
I'm still leery of switching out the MOBO. The primary reason I picked the ASRock was the relatively small number of DOA complaints compared to, for instance, the ASUS. I really don't want to deal with DOA. It also seemed like it might offer a few more opportunities for future proofing the machine (overclocking, Crossfire, etc), but that was a minor point.
I've heard bad things generally about Rosewill - do people have problems with their cases, or is that mostly just brand preference?
I'm also unsure about the HDDs. What's the difference between those F4 EcoGreens and the Spinpoints I listed? Further, because reliability and data safety is a priority for me, I'm skeptical of the 2TB drives rather than 1TB. Most 2TB are two platters, rather than the one platter in the drives I mention. This affects reliability, but I'm not sure by how much.
The SSD vs HDD debate seems to vary depending on who you talk to. How great is the performance increase? Is it worth the money for general purposes?
Anyone else want to weigh in? I'd like to get a few different opinions before I go ahead and order the parts.