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Sub-$1000 Reliable and Long-lasting Office Build

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November 7, 2011 1:30:02 AM

Looking to build a new office PC. Needs to be fast and to last a long time.

Budget: Less than US$1000.
Main uses: Office applications, Adobe CS suite (minor edits and web images, not major design work).
Date: Buying in the next 4-6 weeks.

Already have:
Keyboard/mouse

Others:
Preferences - none. For the monitor it would be good to have accurate colours and height-adjustable stand.
No need for data redundancy (anything important is kept on network storage).

Appreciate the help guys.
November 7, 2011 8:24:18 AM
November 7, 2011 8:37:43 AM

I would say go for a $500 build if its not for gaming no reason to drop money in for a gaming rig
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November 7, 2011 2:51:54 PM

Emelth said:
I would say go for a $500 build if its not for gaming no reason to drop money in for a gaming rig


Realize the Dell U2412M is a $360 monitor, and well worth it for an office build. I love my P2411H and E2011H monitors, and those don't even have the IPS displays. The screens are vibrant and colorful, but also slightly matted to block out any strong reflections.
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November 7, 2011 3:44:08 PM

1) I would use an Intel sandy bridge of some sort. The 2100 is a dual core that is probably quicker than you need, and it could be upgraded to ivy bridge in the future if needed. Plan on using the integrated graphics. $125

2) From a performance point of view, nothing beats a ssd. Plan on $1.5 or so per gigabyte. Look to Intel or Samsung for reliability, they make their own nand chips. If 60-120gb will hold what you need do that. If you need more, get 60gb for the os and apps, and a 1tb drive for storage.

3) Get two identical monitors. The extra display space is most useful. They can be attached to the integrated graphics supplied by the cpu, no need for added graphics cards. Samsung 21.5" monitors are about $150 each. Samsung makes panels for many other vendors, and I think they keep the best samples for themselves.

4) Ram is cheap, get 8gb, it should cost about $40.

5) Look at a H67 based m-atx or even itx motherboard. It should be <$100. That will also let you use a much smaller case.
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November 7, 2011 6:33:05 PM

geofelt said:
1) I would use an Intel sandy bridge of some sort. The 2100 is a dual core that is probably quicker than you need, and it could be upgraded to ivy bridge in the future if needed. Plan on using the integrated graphics. $125

2) From a performance point of view, nothing beats a ssd. Plan on $1.5 or so per gigabyte. Look to Intel or Samsung for reliability, they make their own nand chips. If 60-120gb will hold what you need do that. If you need more, get 60gb for the os and apps, and a 1tb drive for storage.

3) Get two identical monitors. The extra display space is most useful. They can be attached to the integrated graphics supplied by the cpu, no need for added graphics cards. Samsung 21.5" monitors are about $150 each. Samsung makes panels for many other vendors, and I think they keep the best samples for themselves.

4) Ram is cheap, get 8gb, it should cost about $40.

5) Look at a H67 based m-atx or even itx motherboard. It should be <$100. That will also let you use a much smaller case.


All good points. The i3-2100 is even a capable gamer (outperforms high-end AMD Phenom II X4s in a lot of benchmarks).

On my laptop and desktop, everything is extremely snappy thanks to SSDs. Office and other programs load ridiculously fast, and overall it's been worth it.

Depending on what you spend on the PC, I'd even go as far as to say go for 3 monitors. You get tons of real estate without a bezel in the middle (gets annoying). I got a great deal with a promo code on Newegg and got 3 E2011H monitors for $110 each + free shipping. I used them for a lot of my schoolwork, since I'd need to write a lab report while referencing the lab handout/procedure and the data collected, so I could do all 3 without having to switch applications or windows.
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November 8, 2011 10:08:12 AM

Thanks all. Think I'm going to go for something like this (made some changes, based on what I can get here):

Intel i3-2100
ASRock Z68M/USB3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Antec Mini P180 Case
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB)SDRAM DDR3 1600
OCZ Vertex 3 series 128gb SSD
DVD RW
Enthusiast Series™ Modular TX550M

For those guys with multiple monitors - do you go for widescreen or 4:3 aspect? Have you got any particular model to recommend?

I might just use an existing cheapo LG 24" that I've got, but also keen to hear other options. I'm guessing I would need a discrete graphics card if I was using multiple screens?
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November 8, 2011 11:08:20 AM

kong85 said:

OCZ Vertex 3 series 128gb SSD

For those guys with multiple monitors - do you go for widescreen or 4:3 aspect? Have you got any particular model to recommend?

I might just use an existing cheapo LG 24" that I've got, but also keen to hear other options. I'm guessing I would need a discrete graphics card if I was using multiple screens?


Just a note about SSDs - I'd switch that to a Crucial M4 or Intel 320. They are notably more reliable, since OCZ has had some very widespread controller failures with their 3-series drives. Though the M4 isn't quite the fastest around, it's faster than a non-working drive ;) 

As for monitors, it's up to you. The E2011H monitors I have are 16:9 widescreen, but their smaller size doesn't make them too wide for my peripherals. You could also get them and get a dual/triple monitor stand that allows you to rotate them to portrait (rather than landscape), and it seems like you can one bigger 4:3 screen.

If you have a 24" already, see if you can't get one or two more for cheap. You could always get another brand; it just bothers me a little when they don't match.

As for the discrete card, the cheaper 6000 can usually support 3 monitors - some will have 3 display connectors, but only be able to support two, so take a look at the manufacturer specs to make sure it will work with 3 (if you're looking for 3)
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November 8, 2011 5:06:53 PM

Most inexpensive monitors will be based on TV panels, and be 1080P which is 1920 x 1080.
Nothing wrong with them.

If you already have a monitor, see if you can match it in size. That way, windows will not change in appearance when you drag them from one monitor to the other.

1920 x 1200 monitors give you a bit more display pixels. They tend to be priced a bit higher. I happen to like that aspect ratio better, but you will get used to anything.
If you will be playing movies the 1080P might be better.

The integrated sandy bridge graphics will drive two monitors at 1080p OR 1920 X 1200; No need for a discrete graphics card..

Nothing wrong with corsair, but g.skil has 8gb ddr3 1333 on sale at the egg for $35.
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November 8, 2011 5:28:34 PM

Try this out - it's pretty similar to what I'm using. I like this computer a lot it's one of the best I've ever owned.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 - $59.99
PSU: Corsair Builder Series CX600 - $69.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3P - $179.99
CPU: 3.2GHz Intel Core i3-2100 - $219.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212+ - $25.99
RAM: 16GB (4 x 4GB) Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz 1.5V - $104.99 ($49.99 each)
SSD: 64GB Crucial M4 - $114.99
HD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - $149.99
Optical: Lite-On 24X DVD Writer - $20.99
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6790 - $139.99
OS: Windows 7 Pro - $139.99

Total: $1274
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November 8, 2011 5:38:32 PM

For an office computer I wouldn't go beyond i3. OK, the Adobe suite might benefit from an i5 (might), but still using 1k for an office build sounds an awful lot to me. Word processing and Powerpoint presentations aren't THAT demanding :lol: 
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November 8, 2011 5:49:19 PM

FinneousPJ said:
For an office computer I wouldn't go beyond i3. OK, the Adobe suite might benefit from an i5 (might), but still using 1k for an office build sounds an awful lot to me. Word processing and Powerpoint presentations aren't THAT demanding :lol: 


True - I'm using the i3-2100 and even with full AutoCAD and Revit loads I'm only maxing out about 80% of the CPU load - that's how amazing SB is.
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November 8, 2011 8:07:15 PM

Maybe so, but do I really need to dig out a post from 2006 where someone is claiming an Athlon FX processor is overkill?

Time marches on, and CPUs become obsolete. A quad core i5 is a reasonable investment for the extra horsepower.

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November 8, 2011 8:13:09 PM

Proximon said:
Maybe so, but do I really need to dig out a post from 2006 where someone is claiming an Athlon FX processor is overkill?

Time marches on, and CPUs become obsolete. A quad core i5 is a reasonable investment for the extra horsepower.


True - you don't know what's gonna be around in 5 years. We could all be using Droid machines and cloud computing by then. :lol: 
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January 8, 2012 12:25:58 PM

Thanks for all the help guys. In the end I bumped the budget a little and went for:

Asrock Z68 Pro3-M
i5 2500K
Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB 1600
Corsair TX550M PSU
Crucial M4 128GB
W7 Home Premium
Antec 300
Dell 23 U2312HM

Total $1,100.

Went for the 2500K due to the Intel 3000 graphics and the small performance boost. boiler1990 went for your SSD recommendation as it needs to be reliable.

Anyway, it boots in no time at all and runs perfectly. Couldn't have done it without your help!
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January 8, 2012 1:23:17 PM

I bet that U2312 looks fantastic - I'd get one for gaming if only IPS displays had fast enough response times :/ 
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January 18, 2012 2:16:58 PM

boiler1990 said:
I bet that U2312 looks fantastic - I'd get one for gaming if only IPS displays had fast enough response times :/ 


Hey boiler1990, you don't think 8ms is good enough for gaming? Will it be noticeable? Reason I ask cause I was thinking of getting another one of these for a gaming rig!
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January 18, 2012 2:36:19 PM

I've heard very mixed things about IPS displays for gaming. It's definitely worthwhile to look into that if you intend to game on an IPS monitor.

I'm not sure if it's just response time issues (8ms is faster than most IPS displays I've seen) or if it's just a personal thing or even something else about the display. I've just heard many debates about them (I considered a U2311 instead of my P2411).
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January 18, 2012 2:40:04 PM

kong85 said:
Hey boiler1990, you don't think 8ms is good enough for gaming? Will it be noticeable? Reason I ask cause I was thinking of getting another one of these for a gaming rig!


8ms response time is equivalent to 125 fps(1/.008), faster than most monitors can actually do.

But, take that 8ms with skepticism since there is no standard on what is the measurement based on.

Good job on the PC. It looks very good and appropriate.
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