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Office PC $500-1,000 new build advice

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December 28, 2011 10:13:55 PM

Hi, I want to build a PC for my home office work. I need a new build because my current desktop PC, which I built about six years ago, went belly-up (motherboard failure, from what I’ve been able to gather), and I want to move to Win7 anyway (have it on my work laptop and really like it), and I figure that Win7 is never going to run acceptably on six-year-old hardware.

I’m thinking about basing my configuration on either the AMD-based Office PC or Intel-based Office PC in recommended configurations:
http://www.tomshardware.com/system-configuration-recomm...

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP, want to build it next week

Budget Range: 500-1,000 before rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
It’s really an office PC. I’m really not a gamer or serious number-cruncher, so high-powered graphics or mega computing power isn’t really necessary. I just think it's cooler to build than to buy a stock Dell.
  • Want to run Win7, thinking about 64 bit in order to be able to use more RAM.
  • MS Office applications: a lot of Word, some Excel. Often have 8-10 Word files open at once; performance stability with a lot of windows open is very important to me.
  • Dual monitor: Use a two-monitor setup. Currently, run one monitor using VGA and one using HDMI because that allows two monitors from my work laptop docking station.
  • Use two KVM switches (one VGA, one HDMI) to switch between my home desktop and a docking station for my work laptop (Dell E6410).
  • Quicken
  • Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Web browsing
  • Managing my Zen MP3 player
  • Skype
  • Picasa for digital photos
  • Standard system utils like Norton Antivirus, Backup, etc.

    Parts Not Required:
    LCD monitors (Acer P191W, Dell 1905FP) ,
    keyboard, mouse (Logitech Wireless Wave Combo MK550),
    **Include Power Supply Make & Model If Re-using**
    In trying to debug my motherboard problem with my old desktop, I very recently bought an Antec Earthwatts 380W power supply V2.3. Could I reuse this in either the AMD or Intel build? I ask because they are recommending either a 430W or 400W power supply, respectively.

    Have an Antec Sonata case (the original, about six years old). Could re-use that unless it’s a bad idea.

    I have a Plextor 712SA optical drive I could re-use, but with the low cost of optical drives these days, re-use is not a priority.

    Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Usually newegg.com, open to suggestion

    Country: US

    Parts Preferences: Tower case for ease of build

    Overclocking: No

    SLI or Crossfire: No

    Monitor Resolution: Generally, 1024x768 or 1280x1024. Might upgrade to larger monitors in the future (22” or 24”).

    Additional Comments as to what’s important to me:
  • I’d like to build and have it last for a while (as I said, my previous build went six years), so absolute cost minimization isn’t my highest priority.
  • Stability in general: Don’t want things to crash. I power down my desktop when I’m not using it, so I don’t get a lot of crashes anyway, but stability is important.
  • Faster boot time. Since I do power down often, a quick boot would be desirable.
  • I really like quiet. When reading Proximon’s “A Guide to Choosing Computer Parts”, I was reminded that water cooling is quieter, and thought, “Hmmm, maybe that would be work the extra effort.”

    Other specific questions:
  • Will getting a solid state hard drive to act as my system drive speed up boot time significantly? It seems whenever I start my current system, it boots somewhat slowly, and then the hard drive thrashes for 3-4 minutes (perhaps it Norton or Windows update downloads or whatever else XP does to wake up) and the system is somewhat sluggish until that’s all done.

  • Any strong opinions on AMD vs. Intel? Six years ago, I built my PC using the book Building the Perfect PC by Robert Bruce Thompson. (maybe 1st edition or something like that), and he recommended Intel motherboards for stability/not having problems reasons. Is that out of date? Competition always tends to raise the bar.

  • Was thinking about putting a second 1TB drive to either mirror the main drive or to use as a backup drive. Thoughts/opinions? Can’t seem to find much on Tom’s Hardware about backup recommendations.
  • More about : office 500 000 build advice

    Best solution

    December 28, 2011 11:16:48 PM

    Intel is still generally believed to be better in the performance and efficiency aspect, but is more expensive. So generally this is the difference between AMD and intel:
    intel is for builds that are higher priced
    AMD is for budget builds

    Since You don't need a powerful gfx card, we can add a powerful CPU, meaning we'll be using the 4 core Intel core i5 2500k.

    CPU: Intel i5 2500k $220
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Graphics: Radeon 6850 $140
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    MoBo: ASRock Z68 PRO3-M $110
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green 500W $57
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Case: Antec 300 $55
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    HDD: HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.D HDS721010DLE630 $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    SSD: 120GB Sandisk $130
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    RAM: G.SKILL Value Series 8GB Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBNT $35
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Heatsink+Fan: CM Hyper 212+ $29
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    DVD-ROM: LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner 22X $17
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Total: $913

    I chose to go with this setup because of the intel CPU and the AMD gfx card. Some people might find it weird that I'm doing this but I have a reason. AMD, even at the beginner end gfx cards allow for eye-finity, meaning you can have up to 3 monitors hooked up at the same time. Nvidia can't do that. I chose the ASRock motherboard because it allows for overclocking and is decently priced. With this build, I recommend you overclock the CPU, if you don't want to overclock, then use the build below. The PSU is more than enough for the components. A 1TB harddrive for storage and a 120GB SSD for Win 7 and any programs that you use A LOT. 8GB of RAM should allow you to run any programs without problem. The HSF is for overclocking and once again, I recommend you overclock with this set-up. DVD-ROM is self-explanatory.

    NON-OVERCLOCKING BUILD

    CPU: Intel core i5 2400 $190
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Graphics: Radeon 6850 $140
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    MoBo: ASRock H61M-VS $60
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green 500W $57
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Case: Antec 300 $55
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    HDD: HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.D HDS721010DLE630 $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    SSD: 120GB Sandisk $130
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    RAM: G.SKILL Value Series 8GB Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBNT $35
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

    DVD-ROM: LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner 22X $17
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Total: $804

    I changed the CPU and motherboard and obviously removed the HSF. The i5 2400 is almost as good as the 2500k but without the ability to overclock and has a lower clock frequency. The motherboard is cheaper because it is a H-series chipset, which doesn't allow for any overclocking.
    Share
    December 30, 2011 3:33:53 PM

    r0aringdrag0n said:
    Intel is still generally believed to be better ...

    Overclocking build
    Distinct parts....

    Since You don't need a powerful gfx card, we can add a powerful CPU, meaning we'll be using the 4 core Intel core i5 2500k.

    CPU: Intel i5 2500k $220
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    MoBo: ASRock Z68 PRO3-M $110
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Heatsink+Fan: CM Hyper 212+ $29
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


    Total: $913

    NON-OVERCLOCKING BUILD

    Distinct parts...

    CPU: Intel core i5 2400 $190
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    MoBo: ASRock H61M-VS $60
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

    Total: $804



    r0aringdrag0n, thank you for the very detailed response. It took me a little while to process your suggestions, but when I realized that you were the author of the current recommended Intel Office PC build (congrats on that), it made sense to me that you were cranking things up a bit because I had a higher budget.

    What I decided to do was order the parts for your overclocking build. I'm not yet comfortable with overclocking, but I figure that if I build the box "straight", I can always experiment with overclocking in the future.

    One question on quiet: Is the CM Hyper 212 quieter or noisier than the stock CPU cooler?

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    December 30, 2011 5:40:10 PM

    TBH I don't know if the Hyper 212+ is quieter or louder than the stock, I'm assuming it's quieter but I'm not sure. However the noise levels for the CM hyper 212+ is 13 - 32 dBA (NewEgg.com), which isn't too loud.
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    January 15, 2012 11:30:54 PM

    Best answer selected by saundja3.
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