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New System with Snap for Old User

Last response: in Systems
July 21, 2011 7:32:00 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Ready Now, Less than a month

Budget Range: $800-$1000 US--some wiggle room

System Usage from Most to Least Important:

Surfing (RSS feeds. Google Reader, Email, Twitter, UTube, US Gov live streams, etc) with multiple open tabs/windows. Would like to be able to load and read pages (along with all the other junk that comes with them), launch videos, audio, java or flash content often included in an article or page, open a link in a new tab or window, etc). For reference my current ISP download speed is 30Mbs.

Work while surfing : No "drag down " if something else has to be done, like work in Word, Outlook, powerpoint, excell or the equivalent Open Office Apps.

Dragon Naturally Speaking 10. I use this a lot but don't know what sort of load it puts on the cpu searching for matches in sound files and associating those matches with conventional alphanumeric text. It does get less accurate as the machine has more load of whatever sort. (It's a guess, but I don't believe it is all cpu.)

Photo Shop or similar photo editing progs. Minimal role as network server for home network with about 5 up to 10 machines, mainly file and program sharing. Would be nice to be able to install windows updates in the background and not notice them in the foreground; run CCleaner or Smartdefrag without noticeable drag on the system. Or do a malware scan while running run my virus program with search filters on.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor(??) (maybe if two-for deal) speakers, OS)I have a 450w supply, not sure what it will take to run this. Also have various ATX boxes full of obsolete equipment.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:Any--usually use newegg but don't care where good quality/good priced parts come from

Country of Origin: Michigan, US

Parts Preferences: None at all--have used AMD before because of price.

Overclocking: I can if necessary.( Am also lazy!)

SLI or Crossfire: No real preference, whatever will cut it vs price

Monitor Resolution: well, I take photos with a cannon D20 circa 2006 and edit them online.

Additional Comments: Main priority is getting a rig that will let me multitask. I write with Dragon in Word, and often am searching the internet for content, quotes, video, etc and embedding that in the text as well. Right now I can't do both at once without taking a terrible performance hit in Dragon dictation errors, Word stalls, or extended pc "thinking sessions", slow web response, etc etc. I also wouldn't mind playing a game or two. :) 

I hope this helps give an idea of my needs. Questions about what I do are welcome. I started using pc's when they became popular in about 1976. I'd like to have one now that just works. I can be under the hood but really would rather not, unless of course its cost-effective.

I think this is a great site and very much appreciate the enthusiasm and support the experts here share and freely give to types like me. Best Regards. Rick


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Best solution

July 21, 2011 9:14:48 PM

CPU: i5 2400 $194.99
MB: Gigabyte Z68A-D3H-B3 $129.99
Memory: Gskill sniper 2x4GB CAS9 1.25V 1600Mhz $59.99 ( with CC end 7/25 )
GPU: Sapphire Radeon 6870 $179.99 ( before $20 MIR, free shogun game )
Case: Antec 300 Illusion $69.99 ( or something similar in this price range )
PSU: XFX Core Pro550W $69.99 ( before $20 MIR )
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB $64.99
SSD: Crucial M4 128GB $229.99
DVD: Asus 24x DVD burner $19.99

$1024.91 ( before $40 rebates )

quad core for multitasking
8GB of ram for multitasking
SSD for quick program launching ( 120GB should fit them all, possibly can save here by going 64GB if the SW fits on that )
Radeon 6870 should let you do some serious gaming as well.
July 22, 2011 4:25:34 PM

Thank you for your prompt and helpful recommendations. As you might expect I am looking closely at the components you suggested.

I have a question: I had thought to use XP Professional for the OS. Is that reasonable? Or should I move to Win7 to take advantage of the hardware?

I've nothing against Win7, other than it's demand for memory and I'm jealous of my resources.


Finally, I anticipate having several questions about one component versus another while working through this. In general, should a question about, for example, a CPU's use of hyperthreading (or not) be raised in this thread or should those questions be put in new topics or threads?
Related resources
July 22, 2011 5:06:00 PM

Nowadays you should use windows 7, especially when you use SSD's because they support the Trim feature of the SSD's. So over time when you use the SSD the performance will degrade only a fraction of what it would without TRIM.

As for the memory consumption, that's why you have more memory. And besides if you feel like you are running out of memory at any point, for $60-$70 you can add another 8 Gigs. But generally your applications shouldn't even fill the 8GB.

The 64-bit windows 7 maybe takes up a little bit more resources but everything else it brings makes up for any such minor difference.

Well from what I read about your usage, the 4 cores should be nicely sufficient for it. The hyper threading won't add that much. But then if you think you need the 4 cores and hyperthreading the i7 2600 would be an option, but it's about $100 more.

As for the additional questions, if it's a "this vs that" question related to the setup, just post it here. But if it's like specific instructions on how to setup an SSD for example then that should be elsewhere.

July 23, 2011 2:28:11 AM

Thanks for your reply. So it looks like Win7 for OS, though I think I will float the idea of using a MAC OS in another fforum.
I take it that the 64 bit version is the one to have?

I've done some reading here about hyperthreding, but so far as I can tell, the jury is still out on whether or not anyone actually needs it. Is there some way of determining if a particular piece of software utilizes hyperthreading? I know I can't tell. If you had the extra $100 in budget, would you opt for the i7 2600? Or maybe save it for another build or upgrade?

Also need to figure out what audio Nuance (Dragon) requires for their speech recognition program, which I will do elsewhere as you suggested. I've had bad luck with Realtech on-board audio in the past, but that was a ways back. Am I correct in assuming that I can add a sound card to the Gigabyte board if it comes down to that?

Again, thanks. I found that Newegg has a Combo deal on the case and power supply you recommended. It's only $10, but every little bit helps.

July 23, 2011 3:34:45 AM

If there were a few extra dollars in the budget, would you pop for the the Radeon 6950 instead of the the Radeon 6870 ?
At $209 for the 6950

While the 6870 is $159 (after rebate)

do you think these benchmarks are significant? (I'm not really concerned about power consumption at the moment)

Is this a considerable difference? By which I mean an important difference whether I happen to notice it or not?
It amounts to about $50. Would you spring for that?

July 23, 2011 7:25:56 AM

OS: Yes, 64-bit version of windows 7 is the way to go, they support memory > 4GB.

For extra $100, it depends on what you want to get better in your budget. You could also use it to improve video card for gaming.
Other than that you pretty much have what is needed.

Yes you can definitely add an audio card to that mobo, it has plenty of expandability.

As for the Video card upgrade: Yes it is worth it as the 6950 will have most games playable with high details at 1920x1080.
Where as the 6870 has roughly the same performance at 1680x1050. The benchmarks you listed were for the crossfire solution.
But the 6950 is a pretty significant boost over the 6870. It all boils down to the needs. You won't notice any difference in the regular use of your applications.
But if you start gaming it will let you improve the settings in the game usually.

And yeah it's always good to look for combo's. Such as the following I just noticed:

Inter promotion on CPU's and Z68 boards.

There is anyway a link above to an intel promotion getting you up to $25 off with mobo and CPU combo.
so you can get $25 off with i7 2600 & the mobo i listed.
Or you can get $25 off with i5 2500 & the mobo i listed.

So either way if the promo is still going when you buy you should go with one of the above, the i5 2500 is slightly higher clocked than i5 2400.

July 24, 2011 1:28:01 AM

Thanks! So many things to figure out, but most of the components are on sale until July 31.

Sort of an odd-ball question, but if you wanted to try to jam all of this into a laptop, what forum would you search?

I have 3 older children, so yes, I have some laptops floating around that could be rebuilt (I think). Just wondering.
July 24, 2011 8:07:05 AM

Laptops are really custom made with their own motherboards due to all the space and power requirements. So that's not really something you can do yourself.

You can buy laptops that have roughly the same features as what is listed, but expect to pay 2-3x the price, especially for graphics performance.
July 24, 2011 6:39:34 PM

rvilkman said:
Laptops are really custom made with their own motherboards due to all the space and power requirements. So that's not really something you can do yourself.

You can buy laptops that have roughly the same features as what is listed, but expect to pay 2-3x the price, especially for graphics performance.

Too bad the laptop build is out of the do-it-yourselfer's reach. Your right about the price too, as a look at the new 15" Mac Book Pro shows. Around $1900 with 8gb mem, and SSD. Of course it's an i7 cpu but with lower-performing GPU. Only one drive, etc.. 'Course, your also getting a monitor.

Point well taken. Thanks.
July 24, 2011 6:43:04 PM

Aim for a non reference video card for cooling + quality product.

MSI has amazing non ref coolers like the Cyclone and Twin Frozr (im using the Twin Frozr III 6950 2GB and I couldn't be happier with the performance + cooling + quality of product + software like MSI afterburner)

If you aren't concerned that much about the power of your card and the quality of product+company rep and support then the XFX is something to look at as a last resort IMHO

I really don't know what these "non reference" cards are. I think I am concerned about the card's power and quality though. Will check out the Twin Frozr III that you like.
July 24, 2011 6:59:30 PM

Got one of those twin frozr III 6950's a couple of months ago and it's been great. Quiet, cool and fast just like it should be :) 
July 24, 2011 11:33:50 PM

They seem to be pretty slick components, but at $320 they are just out of my budget. ( I have a couple lotto cards, and if things go right, I'll be asking you for a shopping trip!) Thanks for the input.
September 4, 2011 10:40:14 PM

Just noticed that newegg has a combo deal on many of the components you specified. But theirs uses the ASUS P8P67 LE (REV 3.0) rather than the Gigabyte board you recommended. Hope this is a "this or that" question, but what do you think of this board, at least in comparison to the gigabyte Gigabyte Z68A-D3H-B3?
September 12, 2011 1:02:23 PM

Best answer selected by rick1230.