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Multipurpose Home computer

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November 14, 2011 2:44:40 PM

My first build. A multi-purpose home computer. To be used for web browsing, photos, development, home videos and testing software. No gaming. I plan to run multiple operating systems. The host O/S would be Windows 7 professional. The guest OS would be Windows 2008 server, Linux or another instance of windows 7 depending on what I am playing with.
Fortuntately I live close to a microcenter. My budget is $800-900. Would appreciate your feedback on the components.

CPU - i5-2500k $179
Probably overkill but 4 physical cores would bear the load of 2 OSes better. i5-2400 would also work as I don't plan to overclock but I like HD3000 and higher clock speed for the extra $30. Also microcenter currently has $60off on motherboard with i5-2500k only.

Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 $54.99 (and a $15 rebate)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
My three requirements are SATA 6GB, USB3 and 32GB/4 memory slots. Any H67 board would do but Microcenter which has a $60 off promotion doesn't have a good selection of H67 boards and between Gigabyte GA-H67MA-USB3-B3 ($49) and Gigabyte GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 ($54 with a $15 rebate), the Z68 seems to offer better value.

Graphics - Onboard HD3000. May add a low-mid end graphics card later if I feel the need but I expect HD3000 should be more than sufficient

Case - Antec 300 $50 (+$15 Rebate)
PSU - Corsair Builder Series 500 Watt - 59.99 (+$20 rebate)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
Perhaps, overkill but this is the cheapest 80+ certified or better PSU, I could find at microcenter

Optical Drive - LG22x DVD±RW Burner $18.99
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Memory Corsair XMS3 8GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 $56.99 (+$10 rebate)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

SSD - Crucial M4 128GB - $209
Wish 256 GB were cheaper but for now I'll manage. I don't need a data disk at this time. Have a spare one that I can use till the HD prices come down.

OS - Microsoft technet subscription - $199
Monitor, KB, mouse not required
Total comes to $830 before taxes and rebates (a whopping $60 - Don't know if I will see it!)

Have been buying Dells for the past 15 years. I have been a lurker on this forum for a few months and got motivated to to try a build myself. My goal was to build a clean computer with quality components and no clutter.

Thanks for your help.
November 14, 2011 3:18:41 PM

Hey there, welcome to the forums (or, posting anyway xD)

Eh, I think the 2500k is well overkill. An i3-2105 and H67 combo would get the job done, but it's your call.
Antec 300 is a great case. Things are gonna be quite roomy, hope you're ok with that. The Corsair PSU is a good choice.

Ram is ok, same with DVD.

Ah! the SSD. First things first I'm gonna say that the Crucial M4 is an excellent drive for reliability. It ain't (I'm Texan) no speed demon. However, it's gonna be a huge upgrade from a hard drive. That said, you still need a hard drive! You may notice prices are way up, that's because of the floods in thailand. Swamped the factories. However Best Buy currently has a sale on: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Seagate+-+Barracuda+1TB+Int... and you need to BUY IT NOW! Once they're gone, you're back to paying $100 for a hard drive.

Yeah... I can't find any problems with the build! You did a remarkable job sir. Might look into getting an i3-2105 and H67, but that's about it.
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November 14, 2011 3:56:20 PM

Overall it is a solid build. You really can't beat Microcenter's price for an i5-2500k if you have one nearby.

Are you going to be editing those home videos? If so, you may want to consider overclocking to shave some time off. You can easily take an i5 up to 4GHz (just change the multiplier), and wouldn't be hard to get it to 4.5GHz. But if you do, I wouldn't recommend that motherboard. If you do overclock, pick up a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ for ~$25 (newegg, Amazon) and a ASUS P8Z68-V motherboard. A bit pricier, but considering you are getting a k series chip you might as well use it to it's full potential. (the ATX motherboard and 212+ will fit the case)

Also, the RAM you selected is 1.65V. While it will work, 1.5V is recommended for Sandy Bridge processors. Besides, you can do better for the same price or less at newegg without having to fill out a rebate form - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you care about energy efficiency, then the PSU is really too big. Efficiency under 20% load drops off fairly quickly down to 70% or less. You'll probably only be at 20% load when running full load on the CPU. If you add a GPU later down the line you'll be closer but still sub 20% when at idle. A good alternative is the Corsair CX430V2 on newegg for $35. There are smaller PSUs, but you spend more for better efficiency and it washes out in the end and you don't have room to expand your PC.
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November 14, 2011 5:28:55 PM

Thanks for the feedback.
nordlead - I do occasionally edit home videos but not keen on overclocking. Turboboost to 3.7ghz may be sufficient.
Agree on Ram and PSU. Microcenter was selling the 430W and 500W for the same price (after rebates). So I went for the higher one!

striker - Best buy here has run out of the seagate. Will be on the lookout for more deals. Can last for a few months on an old drive for now.
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November 14, 2011 6:42:17 PM

i wouldn't pair the 2500k with the z68ma-d2h
i would either pair 2500k with asrock z68 extreme3 gen3 or the z68za-d2h with the i5 2400
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November 14, 2011 7:12:12 PM

The RAM for sandybridge processors should be 1.5 volt . If not theres potential to damage the processor .

Z 68 is a great idea . All will perform similarly so buy the cheapest one with the features .

If you are not over clocking then just buy the 2500 [ no K ]
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November 14, 2011 9:46:07 PM

This post is very informative on what voltage RAM is safe.

http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showpost.php?s=2a...

essentially, so long as the RAM voltage is within 0.5V of the QPI/Dram voltage the memory controller (built into the CPU) will be fine. So if the QPI/Dram voltage is 1.25, you can run RAM up to 1.75V. So, like I said, 1.65V is fine, but 1.5V is preferred.

Also, the reason he is getting the k version is because it gives him a $60 discount on a Z68 motherboard.
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November 14, 2011 10:49:05 PM

nordlead said:
This post is very informative on what voltage RAM is safe.

http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showpost.php?s=2a...

essentially, so long as the RAM voltage is within 0.5V of the QPI/Dram voltage the memory controller (built into the CPU) will be fine. So if the QPI/Dram voltage is 1.25, you can run RAM up to 1.75V. So, like I said, 1.65V is fine, but 1.5V is preferred.

Also, the reason he is getting the k version is because it gives him a $60 discount on a Z68 motherboard.


Your link predates 32 nm sandy bridge processors .

Intel say use 1.5 volt or less with sandy bridge , so it seems really unwise to advise people that higher voltages are ok
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November 14, 2011 11:20:50 PM

I agree with Outlander. While I can't point you to a specific article, Tom's warns against using 1.65v ram on SB.
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November 20, 2011 6:50:57 PM

Wish to thank everybody for their feedback. For PSU, I ended up buying
ANTEC NEO ECO 520W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Newegg had it for $40 (+ a $5 rebate)

For memory I went with CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB for $40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I assembled the computer in under 3 hours! Amazed how easy it was for a first timer like me. In fact, I wasted a lot of time because my old IBM 20 in CRT monitor couldn't display the Gigabyte BIOS screen. I was able to do a initial test with ubuntu CD (10.04 is usable with HD3000). I tweaked the BIOS using another LCD monitor.

I was also surprised how fast installing windows 7 and a lot of software with the M4 SSD. Considering it still had to read from a slow DVD, I was able to install a nearly 30Gig of OS and software in just over an hour.

Now I am off to looking for a good deal on a monitor (With Black friday around the corner, that shouldn't be a problem) and run some benchmarks.

Happy thanksgiving and Regards.
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November 28, 2011 3:18:30 PM

Best answer selected by ramkal.
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