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2nd Build -- Basic System -- Thouhgts?

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February 11, 2012 5:00:23 PM

Guys --

I'm planning on building another computer. This will be my second. I'm a college prof who does a lot of word processing and and I use Dragon software. I multitask hence the quad-core. I am not a gamer, nor do I tweak systems (I don't have the time to learn though I wish I did). My previous system only required a stock cooler so I'm not sure what I need for this one. I do want USB 3.0 on the front panel of the case because I jump drive data between three computers every day.

In short, I'm trying to build a solid stable system that boots up easily and runs with no glitches. I've been held back at this point by a motherboard choice. But after reading more reviews here is my projected system (Newegg). Money is not an issue. Any thoughts?

Thanks for your help!


Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM. (presently out of stock)
COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower
PNY VCGGT4301XPB GeForce GT 430 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 (presently out of stock)
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio PCI Interface Sound Card
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit - OEM
Cooler?
February 11, 2012 6:17:54 PM

Budget? You may want to consider an i3 system. It will perform about as well as the i5 for what you are listing as uses. For the Hdd I would really suggest a WD Black series since it's the only drive. You could also get by with 2x2gb of ram. You wouldn't need an after market cooler. On the gpu look at the AMD line..you could use a 6670 in place of the 430. You are wanting a SC because of Dragon? Might want to check directly with them to see if one is really need and if so which they recommend if you haven't already.

I can suggest an i3 system that runs about $700 after rebates if you are interested.
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February 11, 2012 6:34:29 PM

You don't need an i5-2500k for a system like this; I doubt you'll be overclocking it. As QuietPC said, I'd consider an i3-based system with an AMD GPU - AMD crushes nVidia in the lower range of graphics cards.

As for a hard drive, I'd use the money you saved and put it into a Western Digital RE4 drive; it's an enterprise-class drive which is basically the most reliable thing you can possibly buy for a consumer PC. It's expensive, but it's built like a brick and is really quite fast for a hard drive.
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/AMD-Radeon-HD-7000-gpu...
That 500GB is a single platter drive, comparable to the Caviar Black line in terms of speed, but built much, much better. If you're worried about data integrity and want a single hard drive, that's what I'd go for.

Do you already own that X-Fi card? If you're planning on buying it, then don't. If you're actually interested in a sound card because you want pristine audio for an expensive set of speakers or headphones, then we can set you up with one, but otherwise, onboard audio will do its job a whole lot better than an Xtreme Audio card. One of the absolute worst audio cards I've ever laid my hands on.

Give us a budget and we can set you up with something tailored to what you'll be using it for. :D 
EDIT: If money is not an issue, then here's what I'd go with:

Case: ?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Three decent choices with USB 3.0; as you can see, you pay a premium for having that. If you can handle only having 2.0, I'd probably recommend either your CoolerMaster Centurion or an NZXT Source.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Feel free to change it out if you'd like; computer cases involve a lot of personal opinion, and I can't speak for yours.

Motherboard: Same
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You made a good choice; excellent board for the money. I don't think it will ever let you down if you treat it well.

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Should get the job done with no problems; I like the 2120 for its .3ghz advantage over the 2100 for $5 extra. Makes it just a little bit more responsive, albeit not much. I feel it's worth $5, though. An i3 should be more than enough power for this use.

Graphics: XFX Hd 6670
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
If you're not playing games, a 6670 DDR3-model should be easily more than enough for videos and the likes.

Hard Drive: Western Digital RE4 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
<As Explained Above>

Power Supply: SeaSonic M12II
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Same as what you already chose, only modular for $10 more. It makes cable management a whole lot easier, and makes overall assembly simpler. If you think you can handle routing a non-modular power supply, then by all means, go ahead and save yourself ten dollars. If you want a quicker installation, go with this.

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
In all honesty, you don't really need DDR3-1600 memory; the performance boost isn't worth the price raise. The difference between the two is absolutely not noticeable, and unless you're overclocking your memory, it's of no use to you. Save some money and go with 1333.

Optical Drive: Asus DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's $5 more, but the reviews speak wonders. And trust me, optical drives are nice when they work, but a pain when they don't. It's more than worth it.

Windows 7 OEM 64-Bit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Subtotal comes to around $850-880 on NewEgg.
----------------------------------------------------------

In all honesty, there are better values to be had, but none more reliable. You're paying a bit of a premium with that build for dependability instead of raw speed, which is a bit of an advantage because with a lot of raw speed comes a lot of instability as well.

Any thoughts? Things you like? Not so much?
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Related resources
February 11, 2012 7:29:54 PM

It looks like a good system. I did one a while back for a fellow professor.

Although the i5 is probably unnecessary, the price difference is probably worth it long term i.m.o.

I used Asus parts (motherboard and GPU), I've had too many scares with running "lesser makes"....

As for creative sound card....I don't use them, and I work in music.....?!?...oh and I have a dozen broken/faulty cards in my studio.

Maybe somebody can comment on Asus Xonar. If you just want great sound and not mixing up some wicked beats (joke) then they might be good.
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February 11, 2012 10:25:17 PM

QuietPC said:
Budget? You may want to consider an i3 system. It will perform about as well as the i5 for what you are listing as uses. For the Hdd I would really suggest a WD Black series since it's the only drive. You could also get by with 2x2gb of ram. You wouldn't need an after market cooler. On the gpu look at the AMD line..you could use a 6670 in place of the 430. You are wanting a SC because of Dragon? Might want to check directly with them to see if one is really need and if so which they recommend if you haven't already.

I can suggest an i3 system that runs about $700 after rebates if you are interested.



1. Thanks for your thoughts.

2. You and someguynamedmatt have convinced me to go for the Black Caviar.

3. I need the SC because Dragon highly suggests one. But it has been a while since I reviewed their suggestions and I will look again.

4. RAM -- I want to install as much as is needed. I'll consider your suggestion for 4g.

5. GPU -- need help here. Any particular 6670 you recommend?

6. OH . . . I forgot. I teach a film course and if ever I could find the time and software, I would love to be able to cut and paste portions (a few minutes here and there) of films for class lectures. How might this impact all of this? I didn't mention it because I am far from finding the time to research it. But this was part of the reason for the I5 purchase now.

7. Last, if the offer still holds, I would appreciate your suggestion for an I3 system (if it still applies given item #6).

Again, thanks for your time!
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February 11, 2012 10:38:00 PM

someguynamedmatt said:
You don't need an i5-2500k for a system like this; I doubt you'll be overclocking it. As QuietPC said, I'd consider an i3-based system with an AMD GPU - AMD crushes nVidia in the lower range of graphics cards.

As for a hard drive, I'd use the money you saved and put it into a Western Digital RE4 drive; it's an enterprise-class drive which is basically the most reliable thing you can possibly buy for a consumer PC. It's expensive, but it's built like a brick and is really quite fast for a hard drive.
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/AMD-Radeon-HD-7000-gpu...
That 500GB is a single platter drive, comparable to the Caviar Black line in terms of speed, but built much, much better. If you're worried about data integrity and want a single hard drive, that's what I'd go for.

Do you already own that X-Fi card? If you're planning on buying it, then don't. If you're actually interested in a sound card because you want pristine audio for an expensive set of speakers or headphones, then we can set you up with one, but otherwise, onboard audio will do its job a whole lot better than an Xtreme Audio card. One of the absolute worst audio cards I've ever laid my hands on.

Give us a budget and we can set you up with something tailored to what you'll be using it for. :D 
EDIT: If money is not an issue, then here's what I'd go with:

Case: ?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Three decent choices with USB 3.0; as you can see, you pay a premium for having that. If you can handle only having 2.0, I'd probably recommend either your CoolerMaster Centurion or an NZXT Source.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Feel free to change it out if you'd like; computer cases involve a lot of personal opinion, and I can't speak for yours.

Motherboard: Same
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You made a good choice; excellent board for the money. I don't think it will ever let you down if you treat it well.

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Should get the job done with no problems; I like the 2120 for its .3ghz advantage over the 2100 for $5 extra. Makes it just a little bit more responsive, albeit not much. I feel it's worth $5, though. An i3 should be more than enough power for this use.

Graphics: XFX Hd 6670
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
If you're not playing games, a 6670 DDR3-model should be easily more than enough for videos and the likes.

Hard Drive: Western Digital RE4 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
<As Explained Above>

Power Supply: SeaSonic M12II
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Same as what you already chose, only modular for $10 more. It makes cable management a whole lot easier, and makes overall assembly simpler. If you think you can handle routing a non-modular power supply, then by all means, go ahead and save yourself ten dollars. If you want a quicker installation, go with this.

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
In all honesty, you don't really need DDR3-1600 memory; the performance boost isn't worth the price raise. The difference between the two is absolutely not noticeable, and unless you're overclocking your memory, it's of no use to you. Save some money and go with 1333.

Optical Drive: Asus DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's $5 more, but the reviews speak wonders. And trust me, optical drives are nice when they work, but a pain when they don't. It's more than worth it.

Windows 7 OEM 64-Bit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Subtotal comes to around $850-880 on NewEgg.
----------------------------------------------------------

In all honesty, there are better values to be had, but none more reliable. You're paying a bit of a premium with that build for dependability instead of raw speed, which is a bit of an advantage because with a lot of raw speed comes a lot of instability as well.

Any thoughts? Things you like? Not so much?



someguynamedmatt --

1. Thanks for your generous reply.

2. Please look at my reply to QuietPC.

3. GPU -- just realized you offered me a suggestion same as QuietPC. Question: is it worth another $10-20 to get more speed and/or memory?

4. Case -- didn't quite realize the cost increase for the USB 3.0. My previous build used the same Centurion. It worked well for me (a novice). I have to consider the cost vs. return on this one.

5. Seasonic Modular -- good point. Is that model still a Tier 1? I can check later.

6. Optical Drive -- I will take your suggestion.

7. I3 -- gotta think about this. I was so impressed with my old (and still running excellently) I6600 Quad that I thought I would simply continue with the best processor in the "sweat spot" price/performance range. I will look again at the charts and reconsider.

8. Win 7 Home Premium -- hadn't thought of that. I just presumed the Professional was worth the money in the longrun.. Would this impact my film editing (if I ever get to it . . . ).

9. MB -- I appreciate QuietPC's suggestion for Asus. Had one in a pre-built about 8 years ago. Solid performer. But the ASRock is quite a bit less expensive and, it seems from the reviews, a more stable unit. If I run into problems I don't have the knowledge or the time to deal with them.

OK . . . . thanks again!!
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February 11, 2012 10:41:13 PM

davidjuk said:
It looks like a good system. I did one a while back for a fellow professor.

Although the i5 is probably unnecessary, the price difference is probably worth it long term i.m.o.

I used Asus parts (motherboard and GPU), I've had too many scares with running "lesser makes"....

As for creative sound card....I don't use them, and I work in music.....?!?...oh and I have a dozen broken/faulty cards in my studio.

Maybe somebody can comment on Asus Xonar. If you just want great sound and not mixing up some wicked beats (joke) then they might be good.



DavidJUK --

1. Likewise, thanks for your time.

2. ASUS MB -- thought it was QuietPC who made the suggestion. . . . But I think you see from my previous response why I am geared up for ASRock.

3. I5 -- ditto. As I said, just trying to do it right at the outset as I understand things. But I will reconsider an I3 given the suggestions.

4. SC -- think I have to go with one. Dragon is fairly insistent on one.

Thanks again.
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February 11, 2012 11:39:36 PM

Not a problem. We're always here to help. :) 

If you have the money, then by all means, go ahead and go with an i5-2500. I wouldn't get the i5-2500k since the only difference is that it's unlocked for overclocking, but either way, it's an absolutely amazing processor. There's no doubt at all that the i5 is a much faster processor; like I said, if you have the money, then by all means go ahead.

If you only need a sound card for your software and not for ultra-high sound quality, then my recommendation would definitely be either an Asus Xonar D1(x) or HT Omega's Striker. Of the two, HT Omega's drivers are more reliable, but the Xonar D1(x) puts out better sound, and is available in both PCI (D1) and PCI-e (DX) interfaces. If you'd like to keep the SC budget down a little further, Asus' Xonar DS and then DG would be my next recommendations, both getting incrementally cheaper.

You make an interesting point about a couple things - firstly, about the version of Windows. I have no experience in your area of work, and so I can't make a solid statement on what you should go with. I myself have always used Home Premium, and it's done everything I've ever asked of it without question. I have no experience with Dragon software, either, so you'll have to weigh the pro's and con's of both operating systems and determine which is better for you. It would be better that way than me making an ill-informed decision. Gotta realize your limits every now and then. :) 
For the same reason, you'll have to be careful buying a sound card; I don't know what is and is not supported by your particular software... I can make a general recommendation, but you'll have to delve into specifics to make the call as to whether or not something is guaranteed to work.

As for the GPU, maybe the 6670 is a little more than you'd need, but even so, the GTS 430 just isn't a good card, both in terms of stability to general performance. The next step down is a 6570, still probably enough for your purposes.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
...and from there, probably down to the 6450. I have a hard time recommending nVidia's current lower-end cards, mostly because of their drivers. They're stable enough to get by, but AMD's drivers are generally more reliable in this area.

I'm still looking into your case request - I'm sure there has to be a good alternative with USB 3.0 connectivity, but there are so many options available that it takes a while to sort through all of them, especially when it isn't listed on the front page. The jump from USB 2.0 to 3.0 represents a lot less of a direct price jump, and more of a jump between entry-level, possibly older cases, to modern flagship cases, hence the difference.
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February 12, 2012 12:07:43 AM

someguynamedmatt said:
Not a problem. We're always here to help. :) 

If you have the money, then by all means, go ahead and go with an i5-2500. I wouldn't get the i5-2500k since the only difference is that it's unlocked for overclocking, but either way, it's an absolutely amazing processor. There's no doubt at all that the i5 is a much faster processor; like I said, if you have the money, then by all means go ahead.

If you only need a sound card for your software and not for ultra-high sound quality, then my recommendation would definitely be either an Asus Xonar D1(x) or HT Omega's Striker. Of the two, HT Omega's drivers are more reliable, but the Xonar D1(x) puts out better sound, and is available in both PCI (D1) and PCI-e (DX) interfaces. If you'd like to keep the SC budget down a little further, Asus' Xonar DS and then DG would be my next recommendations, both getting incrementally cheaper.

You make an interesting point about a couple things - firstly, about the version of Windows. I have no experience in your area of work, and so I can't make a solid statement on what you should go with. I myself have always used Home Premium, and it's done everything I've ever asked of it without question. I have no experience with Dragon software, either, so you'll have to weigh the pro's and con's of both operating systems and determine which is better for you. It would be better that way than me making an ill-informed decision. Gotta realize your limits every now and then. :) 
For the same reason, you'll have to be careful buying a sound card; I don't know what is and is not supported by your particular software... I can make a general recommendation, but you'll have to delve into specifics to make the call as to whether or not something is guaranteed to work.

As for the GPU, maybe the 6670 is a little more than you'd need, but even so, the GTS 430 just isn't a good card, both in terms of stability to general performance. The next step down is a 6570, still probably enough for your purposes.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
...and from there, probably down to the 6450. I have a hard time recommending nVidia's current lower-end cards, mostly because of their drivers. They're stable enough to get by, but AMD's drivers are generally more reliable in this area.

I'm still looking into your case request - I'm sure there has to be a good alternative with USB 3.0 connectivity, but there are so many options available that it takes a while to sort through all of them, especially when it isn't listed on the front page. The jump from USB 2.0 to 3.0 represents a lot less of a direct price jump, and more of a jump between entry-level, possibly older cases, to modern flagship cases, hence the difference.


someguynamedmatt --

Again, thanks for your time.

The I5-2500 may well do the trick. I've never really explored the finer points of my OS because it generally has been my main work machine and I have always been hesitant to put it in jeopardy. I was thinking earlier today of running some ideas by yo guys regarding an older machine I have with an eye to upgrading it very cheaply so as simply to tinker with it. But that is a subject for another time.

As for the GPU, I like the looks of the 6670. Likely I will go with that.

The soundcard is problematic. I went back on the Dragon site and they are DOA as far as maintaining a good updated assessment of acceptable soundcards. Strange for a company that makes its living off of "sound" . . . . They were quick however to criticize quite readily nearly the entire range of RealTek offerings. Gotta think about this some more. The answer may lie in an USB adapter for the mic and just skip the entire SC problem.

As for the case, I'm not convinced the USB3.0 capability warrants the cost. I wonder if there is not some simple USB extension I can run from the back (directly from the MB) and plug the jump drive into it. Also, my limited reading on the subject has led me to believe that the quality of the connection to the front port is not as good that directly off the MB. But please don't spent too much time researching this (thank you) because I am sure you have other things to do, and the issue, as you noted, will probably shake itself out shortly as the USB 3.0 becomes more common on more up-to-date cases.

More research and more thinking. . . . .

Thanks again.
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February 12, 2012 2:45:55 PM

One thought Jim.

re; home premium or pro.

The nice folk at my work have kindly stored a full system image backup of my home PC on their network, which they did for me two days after completion. Now, somewhere in my mind is a little bell going off reminding me I bought pro for a reason.........

:wahoo:  oh, and the XP mode, although I don't need it...
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February 12, 2012 3:32:34 PM

davidjuk said:
One thought Jim.

re; home premium or pro.

The nice folk at my work have kindly stored a full system image backup of my home PC on their network, which they did for me two days after completion. Now, somewhere in my mind is a little bell going off reminding me I bought pro for a reason.........

:wahoo:  oh, and the XP mode, although I don't need it...



David --

Let me be sure I understand. 1) You can't make an image of the HD without professional? And, 2) home premium does not come with XP mode?

BTW, have you ever tried Drive Image XML? You may wish to take a look: http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm

Jim
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February 14, 2012 4:47:08 PM

Jim_99_68 said:
David --

Let me be sure I understand. 1) You can't make an image of the HD without professional? And, 2) home premium does not come with XP mode?

BTW, have you ever tried Drive Image XML? You may wish to take a look: http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm

Jim


Thanks for the link, looks interesting.

I get a little confused with the 3 versions of windows I use. I thought it was possible to carry out a full system backup to DVD with 7 home premium but NOT backup to a network, but I could be wrong.

As for XP mode, I believe it is possible to circumvent the initial restrictions on home premium to use XP, but running it and having a "license" are two different things.

Like I've said, I use the pro version (OEM) and found out I didn't need to use the XP mode.

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