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~$1000 New Build; Photo Editing, Animation

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November 20, 2011 4:07:16 AM

My dream machine is simply one that lets me multitask between projects without lag, is capable of handling a game or two above minimum settings (nothing more gfx-intensive than, say, Starcraft 2), and will last at least 5-6years, with room to upgrade as time goes on. I've read dozens of others' builds and several suggested articles by members, but since I'm use to working on a 5y/o laptop, it's hard for me to judge what's the best bang for my buck, and what's just overkill for my needs. So, I come as thousands of others have to ask for your help in this new build.


Approximate Purchase Date: Black Friday & Onwards (wherever I can find a deal, I'm patient, and don't plan to assemble everything until the new year, if not later)

Budget Range: $900-1200 before rebates. The cheaper the better, but I'm willing to pay more for quality/longevity

System Usage from Most to Least Important: high-res graphic design/illustration, photo editing & manipulation, animation, gaming, internet surfing/music/general multi-tasking

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon.. Open to others

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel i5 (from what I've read, this is the current best value?)

Overclocking: Future Possibility

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Since I have not done any research on monitors yet, all I can definitively say is larger than 1024x768. Ideally I would love a 22" monitor, but I am more than Ok with starting small if it means I can start with a more efficient computer. In the end, color accuracy is more important than overall size.

Additional Comments:
- Case doesn't need to look pretty
- I need an optical out on the motherboard (I have an external DAC/amp)
- - It would be great to have USB 3.0 functionality, if that wasn't already a given as well
- Having a quiet system would be nice, but not at the cost of energy efficiency
- I'm aware of the jump in HD prices because of the floods in Thailand. I'm curious if there's a way to make my current external (an old WD 500GB Desktop HDD) function as the primary harddrive for this build? At least until HD prices drop low enough that I can afford an upgrade


Hopefully I've covered all my bases... I'm extremely grateful for anyone's help in this venture!
November 20, 2011 1:10:00 PM

joeman99 said:
My dream machine is simply one that lets me multitask between projects without lag, is capable of handling a game or two above minimum settings (nothing more gfx-intensive than, say, Starcraft 2), and will last at least 5-6years, with room to upgrade as time goes on. I've read dozens of others' builds and several suggested articles by members, but since I'm use to working on a 5y/o laptop, it's hard for me to judge what's the best bang for my buck, and what's just overkill for my needs. So, I come as thousands of others have to ask for your help in this new build.


Approximate Purchase Date: Black Friday & Onwards (wherever I can find a deal, I'm patient, and don't plan to assemble everything until the new year, if not later)

Budget Range: $900-1200 before rebates. The cheaper the better, but I'm willing to pay more for quality/longevity

System Usage from Most to Least Important: high-res graphic design/illustration, photo editing & manipulation, animation, gaming, internet surfing/music/general multi-tasking

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon.. Open to others

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel i5 (from what I've read, this is the current best value?)

Overclocking: Future Possibility

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Since I have not done any research on monitors yet, all I can definitively say is larger than 1024x768. Ideally I would love a 22" monitor, but I am more than Ok with starting small if it means I can start with a more efficient computer. In the end, color accuracy is more important than overall size.

Additional Comments:
- Case doesn't need to look pretty
- I need an optical out on the motherboard (I have an external DAC/amp)
- - It would be great to have USB 3.0 functionality, if that wasn't already a given as well
- Having a quiet system would be nice, but not at the cost of energy efficiency
- I'm aware of the jump in HD prices because of the floods in Thailand. I'm curious if there's a way to make my current external (an old WD 500GB Desktop HDD) function as the primary harddrive for this build? At least until HD prices drop low enough that I can afford an upgrade


Hopefully I've covered all my bases... I'm extremely grateful for anyone's help in this venture!


What program's do you use for your animation & photo editing? In many of these applications AMD chips can outperform Intel chips and they also have a better track record for backward/forward compatibility for future upgrades. Also if you would want to have multiple monitors (as I imagine many people that do animations do) an AMD system is key to utilize the Eyefinity. If you don't go with AMD though I would get an i7 for the hyper-threading unless the programs used are not very taxing on your system. AMD or Intel is something you really need to decide before you can start picking out parts though.

Regarding a monitor you would definitely want to get something that is 1080p aka. 1920x1080 resolution. If you are going for a 22" or up monitor it is probably going to be hard to find one that is not that resolution. Also, you want something that has a low refresh rate (typically 5ms or less) to cut down on ghosting. The following is a good initial choice: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It shouldn't be too hard to get a case and motherboard that supports USB 3.0 as it is becoming more and more of a standard. Also, I believe you can remove the casing of the external hard drive and mount it just as you would an internal in most cases although it just depends. I've never tried it myself but just heard from other fellow computer nerds that it is possible. :sol: 

Get back with me and we'll try to get some parts lined up for you.
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November 20, 2011 1:18:56 PM

What you need is an i7-2600k with a 560ti build. :D 
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Related resources
November 20, 2011 1:54:47 PM

I've compiled a list for you and I would recommend getting an HDD once the insane prices fall back to normal. Anyways here's the list within your budget. Feel free to critic and replace things you deem unfit.

Total Price: $1,240.90
Rebates -$70.00

Case: Antec 300
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor: Samsung 23' LED 1080p
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HSF: CM Hyper 212 Evo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: G.skill Ripjaws 8GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: Sapphire FLEX 6870 1GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD: Corsair Force Series GT 120GB SSD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Corsair HX650W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optic: Sony 24X DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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November 20, 2011 2:03:28 PM

The 300 is a small case. He is going to want something modular. But you are correct. He doesn't need 650W of power.
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November 20, 2011 11:39:50 PM

venom4u said:
What program's do you use for your animation & photo editing? In many of these applications AMD chips can outperform Intel chips and they also have a better track record for backward/forward compatibility for future upgrades. Also if you would want to have multiple monitors (as I imagine many people that do animations do) an AMD system is key to utilize the Eyefinity. If you don't go with AMD though I would get an i7 for the hyper-threading unless the programs used are not very taxing on your system. AMD or Intel is something you really need to decide before you can start picking out parts though.

I use most of the Adobe programs--Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc. They can all be quite the resource hog depending on how big the project is. The only animation I deal with is 2D, so I don't really need more than one monitor to work properly, and I know the programs I use wouldn't cause anywhere near the amount of strain a 3D program would.

venom4u said:
Regarding a monitor you would definitely want to get something that is 1080p aka. 1920x1080 resolution. If you are going for a 22" or up monitor it is probably going to be hard to find one that is not that resolution. Also, you want something that has a low refresh rate (typically 5ms or less) to cut down on ghosting,

I appreciate the crash-course in monitors. I plan on checking out a local Fry's, just to see some of these screens in person. I don't think I need to go balls-to-the-wall on my first purchase, but I'll wait until I can see some of the differences in person (e.g. how big LED-backlighting really is) before I pass judgement

venom4u said:
It shouldn't be too hard to get a case and motherboard that supports USB 3.0 as it is becoming more and more of a standard. Also, I believe you can remove the casing of the external hard drive and mount it just as you would an internal in most cases although it just depends. I've never tried it myself but just heard from other fellow computer nerds that it is possible. :sol: 

I haven't opened up my hdd yet, but it says it's using a WD5000AAKB drive, so it looks like it should be a pretty simple switch, like you mentioned. I'll hold off on getting any other storage unless there's some amazing deals after Xmas.


cutebeans said:
What you need is an i7-2600k with a 560ti build. :D 

I think the i7 is a big above my pricepoint for now. I could make it work within the budget, I'm sure, but I'll leave that for upgrading later, when I have a bit more money to play around with. Coming off of a half-decade-old laptop, I'm sure the i5 will be fast enough to impress me (here's hoping!).

I also forgot to mention that I won't be using an optical drive--haven't needed one in years, so I don't think I'll plan on buying one anytime soon. Should save me a bit more money, too.


Amended Build:


Total Price: $935
(Rebates -$50)

Case: NZXT Elite 210 - $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor: Asus VH236H 23" 2ms - $179.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K - $224.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HSF: CM Hyper 212 Evo - $34.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z - $169.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: G.skill Ripjaws 8GB - $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: Sapphire FLEX 6870 1GB - $179.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Corsair CX500 - $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I appreciate everyone's input so far, thanks! Any other thoughts/comments?
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November 20, 2011 11:54:53 PM

I would strongly advice getting the i7-2600k!

Get this motherboard instead. It's pretty good for the price. You can also SLI if you ever wanted to. That ASUS is a good board but it is expensive for your needs.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you got the i7-2600k then you would only need to add +$100 on your build and you're set.

You don't need a cooler too if you don't plan on Overclocking right now.

EDIT: You're doing 2D rendering huh? I guess I have to understand why you don't need the i7-2600k that much.

Make sure you get a Win 7 Home Premium 64bit.
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November 21, 2011 12:28:51 AM

cutebeans said:
I would strongly advice getting the i7-2600k!

Get this motherboard instead. It's pretty good for the price. You can also SLI if you ever wanted to. That ASUS is a good board but it is expensive for your needs.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you got the i7-2600k then you would only need to add +$100 on your build and you're set.

You don't need a cooler too if you don't plan on Overclocking right now.

EDIT: You're doing 2D rendering huh? I guess I have to understand why you don't need the i7-2600k that much.

Make sure you get a Win 7 Home Premium 64bit.

Despite my budget for this build, I'm a bit skeptical at how much of a difference the i7-2600k will really make. I.e. I don't even know with certainty that I'll utilize all the processing power of the i5, so what difference will added hyper threading have?

I appreciate the extra mobo link. I saw some similar models by Asrock that looked good, but I don't know just how reputable that company is, whereas I've had some great experiences dealing with Asus in the past (granted, that was years ago by now). So, is it safe to assume that Asrock, Gigabyte, MSI, and Asus are essentially on the same level (in terms of quality and/or longevity of their products)?

And no cooler is another $30 I can save, which I certainly won't complain about.
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November 21, 2011 12:06:01 PM

There's a lot of difference that the i7-2600k makes. Just google benchmarks. There are tons i5 vs i7.

Yes, Asrock, Gigabyte, and ASUS. MSi not pretty sure about that.
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November 21, 2011 2:45:12 PM

joeman99 said:
Despite my budget for this build, I'm a bit skeptical at how much of a difference the i7-2600k will really make. I.e. I don't even know with certainty that I'll utilize all the processing power of the i5, so what difference will added hyper threading have?

I appreciate the extra mobo link. I saw some similar models by Asrock that looked good, but I don't know just how reputable that company is, whereas I've had some great experiences dealing with Asus in the past (granted, that was years ago by now). So, is it safe to assume that Asrock, Gigabyte, MSI, and Asus are essentially on the same level (in terms of quality and/or longevity of their products)?

And no cooler is another $30 I can save, which I certainly won't complain about.


Here is a benchmark specific to Photoshop to help you see the difference between the i7 2600K, i5 2500K, and FX-8150 among others: http://www.lostcircuits.com/mambo//index.php?option=com...

If I were building a computer for the tasks listed I would go with a FX-8150 or i7 2600K because as software becomes more multithread friendly their performance will increase in these tasks due to the FX's increased core count and the i7's hyper-threading vs. the i5. Having said that, the i5 2500K is a good chip and is considered the best for the money when it comes to gaming.

Regarding your selection for CPU cooling might I recommend the XIGMATEK Gaia cooler: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It is a very good budget cooler and works well (especially with an additional fan for push-pull configuration). It is also saves you a few $$.

I would also recommend putting some more money in your graphics as the build is a little unbalanced (aka. Muscle car CPU and a Prius for the graphics card). I would look at either a Radeon 6950 series or Nvidia 560 Ti series cards.
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November 25, 2011 7:40:01 PM

Thanks for the input guys. Though the differences between the i5 and the i7 weren't as drastic as I was hoping, I'm on the verge of taking your recommendations for the i7, though I realized I didn't acknowledge the option of going with AMD here yet.

I've been told more cores > hyperthreading on fewer cores, but the FX 8150 didn't really meet expectations in terms of performance. Granted, I don't know that I'd realistically be putting that much strain on the CPU to notice the difference between the FX and an i5/-7, but my concern lies more with potential upgrades in, say, 3-4 years. If I had the money, and wanted to upgrade the CPU without replacing the mobo, do you guys think Intel or AMD would be a better way to go? Up until now I've just gone with what I know, which is that Intel will have (at the very least) Ivy Bridge usable with the Z68 boards. --Please correct me if I'm mistaken on that.

Graphic cards and Coolers all look the same to me, but these are components I know I will upgrade sooner than the others, as I learn more about them and get familiar with desktops again. That's probably why I don't mind a Prius and stock cooling just to get started.
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November 26, 2011 5:16:05 AM

I'm updating the build list and showing prices as if I'd buy these within the next day or two (with the holiday sales n' all). I'm foregoing the monitor for now, since my roommate is lending me his old one, unless there's some crazy-good deal that I'd be a fool to pass up. Till I find one, I figured I can use the extra money to upgrade the case with a couple more features and better airflow.

Updated Build:


Total Price: $920

Case: Considering
- Corsair 600t - $159.99
- Corsair Carbide 500R - $109.99

CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K - $319.99

Mobo: Considering the following, open to input;
- ASUS P8Z68-V - $169.99
- ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z - $169.99

RAM: G.skill Ripjaws 8GB - $29.99

GPU: Sapphire FLEX 6870 1GB - $179.99

PSU: Corsair CX500 - $59.99
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