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Aiming for a reliable, quiet, $1,000 all-purpose build

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November 22, 2011 7:02:35 PM

First time DIYer here. I have substantive experience upgrading components, and dealing with software issues, so I think I'm ready to give this a go. Here is the mission statement for this build:

I am looking for an all-purpose desktop that favors:

  • reliability
  • ease-of-build
  • quiet operation

    above all, but provides the best all around performance within those constraints for around $1,000. I have had a string of Dell workstations, all of which have run for over 3 years with little to no trouble that I couldn't handle, and I need to have that level of reliability as I depend on this machine for work.

    I develop on a dual screen setup and will run Visual Studio, Photoshop, Excel (with very large files) and similar type apps. However, I'll also run games including newer MMORPGs so all around performance is important but I don't need anything beyond 'very good' in that area. I'm not going for maximum FPS, but will settle for something noticably better than my current 3-year old Dimension 410 (this should be a layup). I don't anticipate overclocking now, but will probably want to dabble with it at some point as the machine starts to age.

    What I'm hoping for is an evaluation of my first-pass parts list to tell me if they are all solid choices for compatability and performance. I'm certainly open to suggested substitutes but let me know if we are changing on behalf of cost, quiet, ease-of-install, or reliability (or perhaps a combination). While I'd like to whittle this down closer to $1k I'm not going to sacrifice my core goals to save a few dollars.


    Without further ado, here is my first draft list:

    Case: NZXT Phantom 2 $125

    PSU: Seasonic X650 Gold $130

    MoBo: ASUS P8P67 $150

    CPU: Intel i5-2500k $225

    Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM $150

    RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB DDR3 $80

    GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 460 1GB $170

    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus $26

    DVD: ASUS DRW-24B1ST $20

    Total Price (Pre-tax/shipping): $1,076

    Am I missing anything critical. Should I be considering replacement fans for this case right away or can that wait to see how my temps are? Does this appear to be as trouble-free a build as I can reasonably expect to achieve in this price range?

    Thanks for all feedback.

    -Dan
    November 22, 2011 7:43:49 PM

    $150 for an HDD is tough on the eyes. Do you have any other HDDs available to weather out the Thailand flood? Otherwise you could get an SSD and wait on the HDD.
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    November 22, 2011 7:46:32 PM

    i5-2500k - Great CPU, no change needed

    ASUS P8P67 - Bit pricey for what you get really, I'd go with Z68 too because It's basically an improved P67. This is a good board:

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

    That one is also PCI-e 3.0 ready among other things.

    Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz - This is going to run at 1333Mhz with Sandy Bridge so no need to spend the extra on 1866, also you are going to need low profile if you want a big CPU cooler.

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

    This would be more suitable.

    GTX 460 1GB - The GTX 460 is a decent card but this one is cheaper and probably a little bit better.

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

    Pretty sure ASUS cards can go down to 10% fan speed too, my friend's ASUS DirectCU GTX 560Ti could at least.

    Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - Personally I'd grab a Seagate here, they tend to be a lot quieter and you don't lose a huge amount of speed but it really is up to you.

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

    Seasonic X-650 - Very nice choice of PSU but the X-550/X-650 are the old models, I'd go for the improved X-560/X-660. More specifically the X-560 because even 500W would be more than enough power with a mid range GPU.

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

    NZXT Phantom 2 - This is personal preference really but I'd go with something designed for low noise like the Silencio 550 or Fractal R3 or something.

    http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Silencio-Silent-Mid...

    Hyper 212+ - I'd get the new EVO version because it's meant to be a bit cooler and quieter.

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


    I hope these suggestions help.
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    November 22, 2011 7:49:54 PM

    Anything I have around here is sitting in an old system and would be frightening from a reliability standpoint. I get the message about pricing being over double what it used to be, but it's a problem that every new build faces right now.

    Not a bad idea about going with a 128GB SSD, which is a little more pricey but gives so much more performance (not to mention the reduced noise). I think 64GB would be too small for me as the only storage but 128GB might squeeze by for a while. The only concern is that I have seen no reliable estimates on when production will ramp back up and prices on disk drives will sink back to near their prior levels so I may be setting myself up for a long wait, or end up buying more SSDs.
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    November 22, 2011 7:59:01 PM

    JM,

    This is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for. I have to review this at more leisure tonight but will do so and revise my list accordingly. I want to check on things like reviews on noise for the ASUS GPU and such, but it looks at first glance like you have updated a few components and lowered the cost a bit with no downside.

    The NZXT received a very good comments about being quiet and easy to build with on newegg. I have probably looked at cases more than any other component and I still have no idea what will be best. I'll take a closer look at your suggestion as well.

    Thanks.


    jmsellars1 said:
    i5-2500k - Great CPU, no change needed

    ASUS P8P67 - Bit pricey for what you get really, I'd go with Z68 too because It's basically an improved P67. This is a good board:

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

    That one is also PCI-e 3.0 ready among other things.

    Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz - This is going to run at 1333Mhz with Sandy Bridge so no need to spend the extra on 1866, also you are going to need low profile if you want a big CPU cooler.

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

    This would be more suitable.

    GTX 460 1GB - The GTX 460 is a decent card but this one is cheaper and probably a little bit better.

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

    Pretty sure ASUS cards can go down to 10% fan speed too, my friend's ASUS DirectCU GTX 560Ti could at least.

    Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - Personally I'd grab a Seagate here, they tend to be a lot quieter and you don't lose a huge amount of speed but it really is up to you.

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

    Seasonic X-650 - Very nice choice of PSU but the X-550/X-650 are the old models, I'd go for the improved X-560/X-660. More specifically the X-560 because even 500W would be more than enough power with a mid range GPU.

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

    NZXT Phantom 2 - This is personal preference really but I'd go with something designed for low noise like the Silencio 550 or Fractal R3 or something.

    http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Silencio-Silent-Mid...

    Hyper 212+ - I'd get the new EVO version because it's meant to be a bit cooler and quieter.

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


    I hope these suggestions help.

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    November 22, 2011 8:00:39 PM

    Look into a GTX 560 Ti to future proof your gaming a little longer...

    Also, according to the type of programs you're using, quick sync may be beneficial for you with encoding, decoding, and etc... So you might want to rethink about your motherboard choice and opt for a Z68 instead.
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    November 22, 2011 9:00:58 PM

    The HD 6850 is plenty of power for MMO's I think.
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    November 22, 2011 9:31:54 PM

    The 6850 is a very good line of cards, however IMO, it's only good for the next 2-3 years which isn't bad at all... But if the OP plans on playing something new within the future, like Diablo 3 for example, the 6850 may lack in performance within some areas.

    In all honesty, if the OP wants the computer to last for 3 years and MORE; by looking at his parts list, I would say the 6850 is the weakest link which is why I threw out the idea of the GTX 560 Ti.

    Then again, my mind IS stuck on "everything has to be played with the highest settings possible."
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    November 22, 2011 10:20:23 PM

    The GTX 560Ti is good value compared to something like a GTX 570 or HD 6970 but not compared to the HD 6850 or HD 6870 in my opinion.
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    November 23, 2011 5:08:05 AM

    Yea considering the price difference to performance ratio, the 560Ti isn't a "best bang per buck" card compared to the 6850/6870s. If anything the 6870 can be had for around the same price the OP was looking at the GTX 460 for which would be much more logical and well suite for the setup.
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    November 23, 2011 6:03:27 AM

    Thanks everyone so far.

    Here are my thoughts. In general, I am not assuming every part I buy will last 3 years or more. One of the reasons I want to build this is so that upgrades are simpler to contemplate when the cost-performance ratio makes sense. Whatever I choose will be a significant upgrade over my current machine and I'm pretty happy to be near but not at the leading edge, particularly if it gives me more reliability.

    So regarding the MoBo, the reason i chose the one I did was the outstanding user rating and the substantial cost difference between the P67 and the Z68 ($150 vs. $215). Will the Z68 give me substantially better performance on most of the things I want to do? Also, JM, you mentioned you thought the P67 was pricey. What would be a better option in that range of product?

    I swapped the RAM as JM suggested.

    Regarding the GPU, I know the GTX 460 is starting to get a little long in the tooth, but again, the reviews were outstanding and I have always had better results with nVidia than ATI (I know this changes over time but I have a hard time convincing myself to switch, partciularly since Adobe Creative Suite apparently benefits from CUDA on nVidia). I expect the GPU will be the first item I upgrade in about 2 years or so, and have no problems with that if I'm spending <$200 on it now. Having said that, I took your communal advice and looked up to the GTX 560 series and found the MSI for just $20 more with equally stellar reviews. So I switched to that. Any experience with that? It's not a TI but I think it's plenty of performance for what I want right now and I just don't have a great desire to switch away from nVidia for a few more FPS.

    I looked at the Seagate HD reviews and there were a lot of bad experiences recently. The Samsung, by comparison, was almost universally well-received. Am I putting too much stock in these reviews?

    What is different between the 650km and 560km PSU besides the 90W difference? Price is almost the same so if there is any reason to go with the x60 model, I will, but otherwise, the 90W might be better for future-proofing.

    For $9 you are right and I upgrade the Plus to the Evo.

    I am still looking at the case options.

    Thanks so far.

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    November 23, 2011 1:57:47 PM

    Like I said in an earlier post, Intel's quick sync will be beneficial for you while using your Visual Studio and Photoshop programs while utilizing the Z68 chipset motherboards. Here's a little something from Intel about quick synce so you can get a grasp on how it can be beneficial:

    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and...

    As for the GPU option, the GTX 560 is a stellar choice! Better performance than the older GTX 460 at only a few dollars more... This card will last for a while, and for whatever reason it doesn't, it's cheap and affordable enough that you can go SLI if need be (and if you have an SLI capable mobo of course.)

    About the hard drives and putting too much thought into the reviews... I think you may be doing that just a bit... yea just a bit lol. Hard drives are hard drives, there's nothing there to prevent it from crashing or dieing within a week or a month or a year from using it. As of right now with the prices so high, the best thing you can do is go with a reputable brand (WD, Seagate) and chose the cheapest for you (factoring in the size, speed, and etc).
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    November 23, 2011 6:17:53 PM

    Z68 will give you quick sync as previously mentioned, also you tend to get more for your money in terms of USB 3.0, SATA 3, PCI-e 3.0 etc.

    With the GPU, the GTX 560 is basically the nVidia version of the HD 6870, same performance really. You should get a +20% performance increase from the 460 so it's a good choice.

    With the hard drive, I have always had Seagate drives with the exception of one Maxtor drive. The Maxtor lasted around 5-6 years before coughing and dying and my Seagates are yet to fail. They have been pretty quiet and reliable with respectable speed. The Samsung by comparison is faster but can be noisy, in terms of reliability I think you would be splitting hairs. The vast majority of hard drives use the same components. (mostly) Some are slightly different layouts etc. but Seagate, WD, Samsung etc. are all reliable really.

    The Seasonic X-560 and X-660 are just slightly updated versions of the X-550 and X-650 really. Just small all around improvements. I wouldn't worry about that 90W though, with this build 450W would be fine, maybe 500W with overclocking. 560W is more than enough power, especially with such a top notch PSU.

    EDIT: Just to prove the point, I'm thinking of getting a similar build with a more powerful graphics card (GTX 570/580 equivalent) when the HD 7000/GTX 600 and Ivy Bridge are released and I plan to use the X-560 myself.

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    November 30, 2011 12:56:18 AM

    Best answer selected by Dlubart.
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    November 30, 2011 7:17:07 PM

    So what was the final build?
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