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New Office Computer

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February 6, 2012 10:42:32 PM

I am looking for a new computer for my home office. I am a trader that works out of my home and need a system with 4 monitors. I have done some research and figured out that I need a system with 2 video cards in order to have a 4 monitor setup. My first question is processor. I am impressed with the Intel I7-3930K because of its high benchmark (13,429) but don't know if I will ever be tapping all that power since I am not a gamer. I know the It-2700K is a much better bang for the buck (benchmark of 9,447), but I spend 8-20 hours a day in front of my computer and if I can save some time, I am willing to spend the additional money on the 3930. I am also thinking of using the computer as a media center computer. The plan would be to get a 4 tuner card and record movies and shows that I can wirelessly stream through my house to various TV's utilizing windows extenders. I don't know if the processor will make a difference with this either.

I have priced out two computers on I Buy Power, a I7-3930K for $1,636 plus shipping and a similar system with the I7-2700K for $1,223 plus shipping. Both have duel AMD Radeon HD 6750 cards. I have no idea if this is the best card for the money with what I want to do.

I will use various monitors from my current computer setup.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially regarding the processor and video cards.

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February 6, 2012 11:18:01 PM

I'm certain this is going to be an unpopular opinion here but I would highly recommend using dedicated equipment for your entertainment especially if you're looking to record live TV and play it back. If U-verse is available to you, it contains 4 tuners and playback in multiple rooms. it's not a one time cost but it is very good, speaking from prior experience (they don't offer uverse at my new house). I've had HTPC's before and I've never been impressed compared to U-verse or even the Tivo and Roku and the setup and maintenance was a hassle I don't have time for. My roku just works. My U-verse just worked. Nothing more complicated than a remote control. no shells, barely any configuration. U-verse even has wireless cable which sounds intriguing. If U-verse is unavailable, it get's more expensive- comcast's equivalent is ridiculously expensive. I chose to forgo cable and use my Roku, Xboxes and PS3 for all my viewing needs.

as far as 4 monitors, you could technically have used a Radeon 5870 Eyefinity Edition, which could control 6 monitors from a single card, saving complexity, power, and heat, especially for the 2D work you're likely to be doing. I don't know what one of those costs now, nor if there are newer cards with 6 outputs like that.

the 3930 is the fastest processor out there at the moment. Since you use your computer for work- time is money and could definitely pay back the $500 difference in price in a short time. If it was me, I'd definitely step up to 3930, even if you don't overclock. the i7-2700K is "good enough" but the 3930 will probably pay for itself when seconds here and there count.

One thing to keep in mind is noise. the more powerful the system, the more heat it generates, meaning you need more fans to manage that heat and that usually means more noise. As someone who also works in office and home office environments, noise is a dealbreaker. just keep that in mind when looking to buy machine. Dells and HPs usually take that into account, so their business class machines are usually inaudible during use. I have 3 HP workstations under my desk, and my Macbook pro makes more noise than the three of them combined.
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February 7, 2012 2:26:40 PM

Thanks for your advice. I was not aware of the Radeon Eyefinity set of cards and that looks like a good way to go. Some of them are hard to get and expensive. The 5870, which gives you up to 6 monitors on a single card cost over $550. I don’t think I will go past a 4 monitor setup, so maybe two less expensive cards would be more cost effective. Any thoughts on the difference between each setup?

I appreciate what you say about heat and noise. My current setup uses 3 different computers and my office is a few degrees hotter than the rest of the house.
We do have U-verse in my neighborhood, but the internet speed is less than half of what I can get from my local cable company. I will look into getting U-verse for the TV, but I don’t want to cut down on the speed of my internet connection. Most of the deals are for the triple play option, so to deal with both companies may not be cost effective.

I’m going to go with your recommendation to step up to the 3930. Thanks for all your help.
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