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Building 2 machines in a $5,500 USD budget

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October 19, 2011 9:45:41 PM

:D  :love:  Hello there! :) 

This is my first post in Toms Hardware, so please! Be easy on the newbie!

I recently obtained a $10,000 loan from the SBA (Small Business Administration) for my newly founded company, Mind Break Games.

This is all quite exciting! For the first time, I have money to throw at a new system for developing a title under an engine that is quite similar in capabilities as theUnreal 3.5 engine, and would love some advice on what to buy for a machine.

One machine is going to be my main development computer.

I am going to be running Windows 8 Developer Preview on it, along with Windows 7 Home Premium.

Here is my wish list for the machine...

A large (256 GB) SSD with 6 gb/s, as well as an external 2 tb HDD.

I7-2600 (highest model)

A top-of-the-line Nvidia Graphics card with SLI(DO NOT TRY TO PERSUADE ME TO AMD, VERY FRUSTRATED WITH LACK OF PROPER OPEN-GL SUPPORT!) 2-3 gb v-ram?

12 gb ram (MAYBE 16) fastest (going to add 32 with ready boost)

1200 watt power supply.

Must have USB 3.0

GOOD COOLING SYSTEM! (liquid vs fan?)

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The other needs to be powerful enough to run Unreal 3 Dev kit with a light struggle.

Want an 1-7 920, maybe 6 gb of ram, HDD does not matter, but would like a decently performing one (will be streaming HD video to this computer, a DECENT NVIDIA Card, but not top O the line. Must be capable of running Direct x 10 though...even if just barely. (1 gb card)

MUST have USB 3.0


Thanks so much in advanced!

I am 19, and am JUST getting started as far as actually paying attention to exact hard-ware specifics goes. Time for me to delve out of the Software world and learn a little bit.

My ASUS N61J is getting a little old, and I have a hard time getting it to do much without overheating.

It has an 1-7 720qm inside, and a ATI MOBILITY RADEON 5730 1 GB inside, with 4 gb of ram. I can not wait to see what a real desktop power horse can do!


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ALSO, what are some good monitors? I would maybe like one at 1080p, and the other can be any run of the line LCD, as long as its not too crappy.

Thanks Toms Hardware!!!! :pt1cable:  :pt1cable:  :bounce: 

More about : building machines 500 usd budget

a b B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2011 10:25:35 PM

I would go with Intel or Crucial for the SSD, they are the most reliable around to be honest. I would also definitely get the i7-2600k and GTX 580, they are both basically top of the line and you can easily afford it.

As for liquid vs fan, they both have fans :p . The difference is that the water will move the heat to another place in the case where you have enough room for a huge heatsink, air coolers have to be mounted on the CPU so can only get up to a certain size.

As for the monitors, 1080P isn't exactly asking a lot at any budget these days so you won't struggle to find something there. Basically anything over 22'' is 1080P nowadays.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2011 10:33:20 PM

Welcome to Toms! :love: 

:hello: 

for your second computer, why something last gen like a 920?

Why not a basic system with, say a i5-2400 and a GTX 560? (I reccommend such a build for around $600 here on a regular basis). Or alternately, get an AMD build so you can test how your game engine works on both intel and AMD hardware?

personally, I prefer air cooling to water cooling, as air doesn't have the potential drawback of spilling coolant all over your $5000 of components!
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2011 10:35:36 PM

Yeah it's a lot of risk, cost, effort, maintenance etc. for the sake of being a few degrees cooler. It's just for the overclocking enthusiasts really and to some degree silence enthusiasts too.
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a c 93 B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2011 10:58:52 PM

jmsellars1 said:
I would go with Intel or Crucial for the SSD, they are the most reliable around to be honest. I would also definitely get the i7-2600k and GTX 580, they are both basically top of the line and you can easily afford it.

As for liquid vs fan, they both have fans :p . The difference is that the water will move the heat to another place in the case where you have enough room for a huge heatsink, air coolers have to be mounted on the CPU so can only get up to a certain size.

As for the monitors, 1080P isn't exactly asking a lot at any budget these days so you won't struggle to find something there. Basically anything over 22'' is 1080P nowadays.


I'd definitely second Intel and Crucial - I have two different builds and have one of each - a 64GB Crucial and a 128GB Intel.

They are both excellent drives.

I think if you're running a business though I wouldn't trust liquid cooling until you get off the ground and start generating revenue. With a liquid cooling setup - there's way too many ways that something could go wrong. I'd recommend a dual heat sink / fan setup like the Noctua D14 or Thermalright Silver Arrow or a closed block like the Corsair H100 or Antec Kuhler.

Any motherboard these days will include the latest features like USB 3 and SATA 6. Even the no-frills barebones Asus AMD Evo board I got a few months ago had those features and it was only $87.

You don't really need a 1200W power supply unless you're running some serious hardware and OC'ing on top of that, but in this case it looks like you are, so with that in mind I'd go with something like Corsair, Seasonic, Silverstone, PC Power & Cooling, or maybe Antec. I'd say go with the Silverstone ST1500 - it's a bit overkill but in your case it's a solid PSU with very little to no failure rates and it's got more than enough power to run any piece of hardware you throw at it.

RAM - you cant really do 12GB anymore unless you're running X58 since most motherboards now use dual channel RAM instead of tri-channel. Go with a motherboard like the Gigabyte Sniper or Asus Maximum IV that will give you a maximum of 32GB RAM. That will ensure you're future proof.

What I'd do with the hard drives though if you can (not sure how much we're talking here) but I'd run a 256GB SSD as the primary device only - then you run everything off a networked 2 - 3TB hard drive and have that connected to another device capable of backing up your data every day - in a business environment, backups are CRITICAL, I cannot stress that enough!

I'd also be sure to keep both systems as streamlined as possible - use the same everything - keyboard, mouse, monitor, RAM, PSU, and so on. This way if something goes wrong your downtime is at a very minimum.

I'd also second the idea of getting both an Intel rig and an AMD rig - when you develop you want to test your software on as many different hardware configurations as possible. Instead of getting two solid systems, I'd recommend getting four with a couple of very different configurations (one X58, one Z68, one AMD 990FX, and one AMD 800 based), the more options you have for testing your software, the better.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 19, 2011 11:55:08 PM

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Compucase Case with USB 3.0, Black Interior and Four Fans-1x 230mm front RED LED fan, 1x 140mm rear fan, 1x 230mm top fan, and 1x 230mm side fan $159.99 and a $20 rebate and free shipping.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec High Current Pro HCP-1200 1200W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply $279.99 and free shipping.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K $314.99 and free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA Z68 FTW 160-SB-E689-KR LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard $269.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9 $99.99 and free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Corsair Force Series GT CSSD-F240GBGT-BK 2.5" 240GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)$459.99 and free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Elements 2.5TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive WDBAAU0025HBK-NESN $129.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x EVGA 03G-P3-1584-AR GeForce GTX 580 (Fermi) 3072MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card $589.99=$1180.98

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LG CD/DVD Burner 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black IDE Model GH22LP21 LightScribe Support - OEM $22.99

COOLER MASTER Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Intel Core i7 compatible $33.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LG W2753VC-PF 27" 2ms Full HD Tilt & Swivel Adjustable WideScreen LCD Monitor300 cd/m2 50000:1$339.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The total for the main computer is $3315.87 and it would include the monitor.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2011 12:20:35 AM

COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKA3-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case w/ Cooler Master RS700-PCAAE3-US 700W Power Supply $119.99 and a $10 rebate and free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K $219.99 and free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C7R $96.99 and free shipping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard $169.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLHX 300GB 10000 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $169.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA SuperClocked 012-P3-1572-TR GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card $339.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LG CD/DVD Burner 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black IDE Model GH22LP21 LightScribe Support - OEM $22.99 x2 = $45.98

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Intel Core i7 compatible $33.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LG E2370V-BF Black 23" IPS Panel Full HD HDMI LED BackLight LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 DCR 5,000,000:1 $259.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Second computer $1446.90 for a total of the two computers of $4762.77

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a b B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2011 12:33:32 AM

The Wester Digital Elements is a usb hdd and can be plugged into a router with a usb port and function as a network drive. I have it set up that way on my home network and all the computers on the network can access it. It is not the fastest setup as it is usb 2.0. These two computers are just something I put together to show what you can get for your $5000 budget . you can of course make changes to fit your needs.
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