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$2000 dev/gaming system - new to building

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December 19, 2011 1:15:57 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm looking to buy a new computer. My old computer was built some time in the year 2000, and is becoming almost unusable with even casual workflows, so there's practically no point to draw comparisons or re-use parts...

I'm studying computer science, and I take an interest in development, so I'd rather not have my machine prevent me from working on projects... The machine will mostly be used for development, browsing, watching movies, listening to music, etc. These are not necessarily in need of a powerful computer. However, as a secondary function, I will probably do some gaming when I start running out of high priority things to do (example of games I may play... Diablo 3, Skyrim, StarCraft 2, ...?). I'd like to keep that option open, so I may not invest very much in a GPU for now, but I'd like to keep that as an option down the road. By this logic, I should probably buy a good enough GPU, and later, possibly buy a second to put into SLI or a brand new GPU... Shopping is an ordeal for me, so I'd rather buy something that will last me a while, with the possibility of adding a second or third GPU...

I intend to run primarily under a / several Linux distros... and have Windows, possibly even Mac OS installed on the side for rare usage.... i.e. gaming or specific dev needs...

I have no stake in any sort of brand name wars, I just want something that is most importantly reliable and hopefully performs well. I'm not rich enough to be willing to spend $1000 on a CPU that does nothing more than give me bragging rights, but I am willing to pay enough to avoid cutting corners...

I was thinking of buying the computer on Boxing Day or during Christmas sales... but this probably means a lot of the parts won't be in stock, so I may just stick to doing price matches...

Please make no assumptions that I have any idea of what I'm doing, I know the bare minimum, if even that. Any feedback or even questions are appreciated.

Thanks

Approximate Purchase Date: By mid January

Budget Range: 2000 grand total

System Usage from Most to Least Important: development, web browsing, movies, gaming, music

Parts Not Required: OS (MSDNAA for Windows, Linux is free), keyboard, mouse

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: ncix.com / Canadian based stores to price match to ncix

Country: Canada

Parts Preferences:

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CPU - Intel Core i5 2500K ~ $200 (unless the Intel Core i7 2600k is worth the extra $100...)
GPU - GTX 560 ~ $230
MOBO - ASUS P8Z68-V Pro ~ $200
PSU - Antec High Current Pro 850W - $205
SSD - Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 240 GB ~ $400
Heat Sink (1 of)-
Spire Thermax Eclipse II ~ $45
Noctua NH-C14 ~ $90
Water cooling??? Opinions?
RAM - 16GB (4x4GB) No particular brand in mind, and as far as I can tell, clock speeds and timings are irrelevant ~ $80
Case - COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP ~ $180
Blu-ray - LG BH12LS38 - $90
Monitors - 2x 24", maybe 1x 27" + 1x 24" or even 2x 27" ...I have no idea what brand, therefore no estimate on price
Peripherals - Will keep what I have, unless there's a need to upgrade. Will happily take recommendations on headphones that sound decent, and most importantly, don't break easily....

Later (hopefully soon!?):
HDD - 1x 2TB WD Caviar Black in tower, 2x 2-3TB WD Caviar Green in NAS

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Overclocking: Potentially on demand

SLI or Crossfire: Potentially on demand

Monitor Resolution: Nothing specific, as long as things look clear and crisp

Additional Comments: Must be reliable with performance to satisfy my needs for at least a couple of years (My current computer lasted me nearly a decade...) I hate shopping.
December 20, 2011 4:02:29 AM

To be honest with you, you sound like an ideal candidate for an AMD hexacore build. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about AMD cpus. For your needs 2k is an exceptionally large budget that if you're not careful you'll get a lot of advice to spend. You could probably cut that in half and still be well beyond what you really need.
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December 20, 2011 4:45:26 AM

a4mula said:
To be honest with you, you sound like an ideal candidate for an AMD hexacore build. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about AMD cpus. For your needs 2k is an exceptionally large budget that if you're not careful you'll get a lot of advice to spend. You could probably cut that in half and still be well beyond what you really need.


What advantages does the AMD hexacore CPU offer over an Intel quad core? How about an Intel quad core with hyperthreading? From the brief reading I did on the Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge CPUs... I was under the impression that AMD performed quite poorly by comparison in most regards...

I agree that $2000 is a bit much. Keep in mind though, I am including the costs of peripherals like 2-3 monitors, headphones, and media storage (NAS and HDDs included) in this grand total. I am also hoping that people will be reasonable in their suggestions, for example, if a $1200 system is almost comparable to a $1800, then they will suggest the $1200 one.

I was hoping my list of parts would give an idea of what I was willing to spend per component, and if someone notices that something could be easily swapped with a better component for a similar price, then they would make that recommendation...
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December 20, 2011 5:26:16 AM

Simply put the Intels outperform the AMDs across the board. With that being said from what you've said you don't need that kind of horsepower. Keep in mind that benchmarks really just are that. Real world differences tend to be much less pronounced. I recommended the Hexacore because of its value versus Intels offerings. Now, don't quote me because again I'm not an AMD guy, but their cpus and motherboards have historically been much more affordable than Intel.

It really doesn't take much to run visual studio or python or any other programming language assuming you aren't compiling millions of lines of code, which outside of an enterprise project just isn't very likely. If you are you should have their hardware at your disposal. For light gaming the AMD should be fine. Now if you want to talk about a hardcore gaming rig that can run Battlefield 3 at ultra settings, 4x AA @ 2560x1600, then it's a different conversation.
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December 21, 2011 4:34:01 PM

I suppose you're right that an Intel CPU may be overkill. My understanding about AMD is the same as you say, it has historically been the more economical choice... However, I may not mind spending that extra bit of money. In fact, isn't the i5 2500k cheaper than the AMD Bulldozer FX-8150? Not sure about the mobo comparisons... Seems like a worthwhile investment, since I think the CPU is the most expensive part to upgrade if you end up switching architecture... What I fear is that if I did go with AMD, and chose to upgrade to an Intel CPU... I'd have to replace the motherboard and CPU... Whereas if I cheap out on a GPU, I can simply buy whatever is best in the future with no need to replace anything else...

IDEs like Eclipse and Visual Studio on my current computer are terribly slow... even on some better machines that I've worked on.. but I guess the newest AMD CPUs should be able to handle it, even if they are not as good as Intel...

From what I understand about how software is developed and designed, and how hardware comes into play, there is a diminishing return on every CPU core past the second.. third or maybe even fourth one. Quick and efficient architecture is what begins to matter once you do have a couple of cores... Though my understanding can be completely wrong...

I was hoping to get a bit more discussion or feedback going between people though before I committed to anything...
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December 21, 2011 4:58:01 PM

I'm not sure about your prices but the PSU you listed is only $185: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I'd recommend G.Skill for your RAM and this is a good deal:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Do you plan on ever using 3 monitors? If so, I suggest you look at AMD alternatives 6970 etc. (new 7000 series should be announced tomorrow - so take a look at those too). Otherwise, you will be fine with 2 displays.
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December 21, 2011 5:19:37 PM

Right, the prices aren't very well researched, just something of an upper bound for what I am willing to spend on a part, I guess. I just found prices at NCIX or other random Canada stores which I will price match with... I'll see if I can provide links to the hardware components later today..

I'll look into deals for G.Skill at a Canadian store then, if that's a recommended brand.

I definitely want at least two monitors. 2x 24" is probably the minimum I will settle with... I could possibly reuse my existing 17" monitor as a third... When it comes to development, screen real estate is nice, especially with bad window managers like the one in Windows...

Is there a reason for recommending AMD over NVidia? I simply chose a GPU at random, I know very little about them... I'd like to make a more informed choice on that one.

Thanks for the feedback!
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December 22, 2011 1:32:42 PM

I'm not a guru so please take my advice with a grain of salt, but from what I've heard, NVidia usually has better drivers, AMD has better bang for buck, and AMD supports EyeFinity which allows for 3 monitors (possibly more depending on the card), while NVidia only supports 2 monitors unless you get 2 graphics cards. Now I might be totally wrong, but this is what I think. It's really a matter of preference - some prefer AMD, while others prefer NVidia. I'm still waiting to see what AMD has in store in their 7000 series cards before I buy a GPU for my new build.
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