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Software Development and Multimedia Build under $700

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November 16, 2011 3:18:46 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: < 2 weeks (will complete purchases around Black Friday)

Budget Range: 700 (or best) After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Software Development, Photo and HD video editing, Virtual Machines, Multimedia-HD Video and Music.

Parts Not Required: I already have these: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS. I also plan on reusing the following parts but I’m willing to swap out for better part or if the part is not compatible with the build.
• Antec EarthWatts 750W (EA-750)
• Kingston HyperX 6GB DDR3 1600 CL9 (KHX1600C9D3K3/6GX)
• Seagate Barracuda 2TB ST320005N4A1AS-RK Hard Drive
• Asus 24x DVD Burner

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference, whichever site has best price

Country: US

Parts Preferences: I prefer the build to last me about 4 years to come. Intel CPU and chipsets sounds the like way to go but I’ll still consider a comparable AMD build that provides a better value.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: multi-monitor: 2x (1920x1080) OR 2x (1280x1024) and 1x (1920x1080)

Additional Comments:

I haven’t built a PC in a really long time now (> 5 years), so for all practical purposes I’m a n00b at this. I’m a software developer and I’m looking for an all-rounder PC. The following is what I would be primarily using this PC for:

Software development: I would like the PC to not only be fast but also handle the following tasks (some simultaneously) without any problem/hesitation: debugging, building/assembling software, running Visual Studio 2010, source control software, web server, SQL server, running multiple web browsers for research and test, automated testing.

Photo and video editing: I plan on doing occasional Photo editing (>12 MP) and HD (1080p) video editing using Adobe Photoshop, Premiere and After effects. I’m not looking to do professional grade video production or photo editing; just bunch of family photos and videos and really looking to satisfy a hobby. Therefore, although speed and power are important keeping it affordable is equally important--I’m not looking to spend thousands as one would on such production workstations.

Virtualization: I plan on running 2 – 3 virtual machines at a time for various testing, network simulation and software development tasks.

Multimedia, internet and word processing: although I feel this category needs no mention, I’m including it for completeness sake. I plan on doing heavy internet browsing and multitasking. I would like to watch HD movies (H.264 encoded), listen to music and run typical business applications such as Microsoft Office.

Games: I don’t play any computer games (sorry ;)  ), nor plan on using this machine for that purpose.

I will be running Win7 Pro x64 on this PC.

My current machine sounds like a portable vacuum cleaner; hence, I would prefer the new PC to be quieter but doesn’t have to whisper quiet—just quiet enough where I don’t hear the fans blasting from 2 – 3 feet away. I prefer my case to have clean, simple and minimalist yet functional design. A nice size window is ok; don’t care for too much flash.

I know $700 might be a bit tight but I’m hoping that the parts I already have on hand would help make up for some and the savings can help towards good CPU, motherboard, GPU and more RAM.

If you need more info or have questions please ask.

Thanks for your comments and advice.

Best solution

November 16, 2011 10:35:45 AM

CPU: i7 2600k $314
CPU cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212+ $26
Mobo: Asrock Z68 Extreme 3 Gen3 $125
Memory: Gskill ripjawsX 2x4GB 1.5V CAS9 1600Mhz $45
GPU: built into the chip
HDD: existing
DVD: existing
PSU: existing
Case: Antec 300 Illusion ( or something else that seems good for you ) $70
(4 120mm fans keep it cool and they are adjustable, so you can't barely hear them )

Total: $581

Leaves about $119 for other optional upgrades.

A good choice would be an SSD for the os.
60-120GB. If your apps fit the 64GB great, if not see if the 90GB ones are in your price range.
If not you might want to throw an extra 40 bucks to have the 120GB instead of the smaller one.
Crucial M4, OCZ Vertex 3, Corsair Force 3 etc.

Or an extra 2x4GB of memory if your video editing benefits from it.
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November 16, 2011 6:41:15 PM

Thanks for the reply. I have a few follow-up questions:

Would the GPU built into to i7 2600k be sufficient for my video editing, HD movies and multi-monitor (up to 3 screens) needs?

Is the RAM I have not compatible with SB? I know it's 1.65V but somewhere on the specs I saw it can run @ 1.5v @ 1333Mhz. I dunno if your recommendation was based on this. Please comment.

Since I'll be doing lot of multitasking and photo and video editing would I benefit from more cores, i.e., would the new AMD FX 81xx octacore outperform the i7 2600k in my usage scenarios?

Thanks!
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November 16, 2011 8:08:28 PM

It should be able to run 2, since there is HDMI and DVI connectors, but 3 might be pushing it.
If you seem to run out of juice you can of course just get a video card 100-150 range cards should already be able to run eyefinity setups for 3 monitors for example

Your ram might work, but you really want to have it utilizing dual channel. And it is really preferred to have 1.5V or lower ram.

You will get more out of the i7 2600k than you would from FX81xx, at least until the OS properly supports the CPU.
So overall the i7 is the better choice. Also in this case it comes with the video capability so you don't need a graphics card.
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November 17, 2011 3:20:08 AM

rvilkman said:
It should be able to run 2, since there is HDMI and DVI connectors, but 3 might be pushing it.
If you seem to run out of juice you can of course just get a video card 100-150 range cards should already be able to run eyefinity setups for 3 monitors for example

Your ram might work, but you really want to have it utilizing dual channel. And it is really preferred to have 1.5V or lower ram.

You will get more out of the i7 2600k than you would from FX81xx, at least until the OS properly supports the CPU.
So overall the i7 is the better choice. Also in this case it comes with the video capability so you don't need a graphics card.


Thanks! I will go with your recommendation on RAM.

I'm leaning more towards a dedicated video card as it would benefit the photo and video editing, correct me if I'm wrong. However, I'm confused over which video card I should get. Do Adobe apps such as photoshop CS5, Premiere Pro and After effects take advantage of CUDA capable nVidia cards or would any good card work? Should I be looking for high clock speeds or more RAM? Since I want to run 3 or so monitors I'm looking at AMD Radeon 6850 because of eyefinity, however, nVidia GeForce 550Ti looks attractive for it's CUDA engine. I dunno if these are overkill for what I'm trying to do. Please advise.
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November 17, 2011 1:44:03 PM

If I understood the things correctly, some cards are supported for CUDA, but not all. And you would need to find a list as to which are.
I haven't been able to find a clear answer as to what exactly is CUDA accelerated and what is not.

So maybe open another tread asking for help on that, unfortunately i can't help you with that one.
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November 17, 2011 9:42:27 PM

Not a problem. Thanks for all your help. I appreciate it.
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November 17, 2011 9:42:46 PM

Best answer selected by karlp.
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