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$600-900 General purpose computer x 2

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March 17, 2012 5:57:41 PM

My fiancee and I need to replace our computers. Her desktop is slow as molasses and sounds like an airliner taking off. My laptop is even slower, randomly freezes, and isn't particularly well suited for getting "work done." These machines are each 4 or 5 years old.

While our her computer usage is pretty different from mine, we both want to be able to occasionally play a recent or upcoming 3d game with decent (not maxed) settings. I think achieving this will likely put our computers on about equal footing, so for simplicity I'm looking to make two copies of the same build. I'll want the cases to look different, though.

This is my first desktop build, but I built a quite successful Zotac HTPC a year or two ago that stores my movie library.

Just trying to get pointed in the right direction here. Not looking for any final solutions, although those certainly wouldn't hurt. :wahoo: 


Approximate Purchase Date:
next two weeks, unless there's a compelling argument to wait

Budget Range: 600 to 900 dollars for each machine, not including monitor and peripherals. Cheaper to achieve goals with good quality, the better.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: General purpose, multicore software development, occasional 3d gaming, video editing

Parts Not Required: OS (we already have 2x Win 7 64 pro), 1 keyboard, 1 mouse, 1 monitor

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon because of Amazon prime membership and return policy. I also live close to a microcenter.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: likely i5-2500k, SSD

Overclocking: Possibly in the future

SLI or Crossfire: Doubtful

Monitor Resolution: Unknown

Additional Comments:
Capable of supporting nice dual monitors in the future, one of which will be in portrait orientation if that matters; good to last 3 years at least, more with overclocking or small upgrades; recommendations for 1x monitor appreciated; it would be nice if the cases were similar but came in different colors or something, kind of like a "his and hers" thing.
March 17, 2012 6:02:51 PM

I am working on a web app that explains a little bit about what people can expect for certain budget ranges.

Have a look at it and see if it can give you some ideas.

http://www.lifetimeprogress.net/projects/ComputerBuildi...

You can get more information about a part by clicking the button with the type written on it.
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March 17, 2012 6:05:16 PM

Here you go:

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 - $59.99 ($10.00 MIR)
PSU: Corsair Builder Series CX600 - $69.99 ($20.00 MIR)
Motherboard: Asrock Z68 Extreme 3 Gen 3 - $121.99
CPU: 3.30 GHz Intel Core i5-2500K - $229.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo - $34.99
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaw X 8GB 1600MHz 1.5V - $46.99
HD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB - $84.99
Optical: Lite On DVD Burner - $17.99
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 GHz Edition - $250 (approx, not out until Monday)

Total: $906.92 - $30 MIR = $870.92
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March 17, 2012 10:09:48 PM

aznshinobi said:
Check out my $650 build here:
http://www.squidoo.com/electronicandmore
Saves you money and it's going to be good enough for semi-intensive gaming. So you're good to go.


Yeah your 650 build looks pretty appealing. A couple of follow ups:

Is the sound quality on the mobo poor like the amazon reviewer says?

Does it make sense to get the 2500k if I can get it a microcenter? It's as much as the 2400 on Amazon. Would I need to get a better mobo to take advantage of it? Extending the life of the machine by overclocking the processor and installing a nice cooler is appealing, so long as there aren't many other costs introduced (such as investing $$ in a better mobo right now).

Microcenter usually just has the cheaper CPU, right? Everything is about on par or more expensive than online options?

Also, how does microcenter enforce the in-store 1 per household restriction? I'm looking to buy two CPUs, not just one. I would go today and tomorrow if that works out.

Edit: Also can I dual monitor with the 6870, and does that impact performance?
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March 17, 2012 11:37:04 PM

Quote:
Is the sound quality on the mobo poor like the amazon reviewer says?


No - most of the people who review on Amazon usually are not experts and probably don't know what they're talking about.

Quote:
Does it make sense to get the 2500k if I can get it a microcenter? It's as much as the 2400 on Amazon. Would I need to get a better mobo to take advantage of it? Extending the life of the machine by overclocking the processor and installing a nice cooler is appealing, so long as there aren't many other costs introduced (such as investing $$ in a better mobo right now).


Well if you intend to overclock and there's a Microcenter nearby the 2500K would be the ultimate.

Quote:
Also, how does microcenter enforce the in-store 1 per household restriction? I'm looking to buy two CPUs, not just one. I would go today and tomorrow if that works out.


I can't answer that one.

Quote:
Edit: Also can I dual monitor with the 6870, and does that impact performance?


The 6870 is actually made for multiple monitor setups - Radeons have a technology called "Eyefinity" that makes it a breeze - more than any NVIDIA card on the market, it will not have any impact on performance.
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March 18, 2012 12:06:25 AM

I think that for multiple monitors it helps to have a 2GB video card instead of a 1GB card or lower.

Especially if you plan on doing graphics intensive things on both monitors.

Not sure what the lowest card is that has 2 GBs, but there may be some 6870s out there with that. If there are any, you might want to think about getting those in preference to the other kinds.

Any board that works with a 2400 should work with a 2500k, you just might not be able to do too much OCing if you go for certain kinds of boards, like H61 for example.

From what I understand, it is best to OC on Z68 boards that have UEFI since they tend to have the most features and be the easiest to work with.
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March 18, 2012 12:27:29 AM

THe 6870 would run mulitmonitor fine however gaming w/ multi-monitor strongly depends on the settings and monitors resolutions. It'll handle 2 1280x1024's fine I believe but definitely not any larger than that @ high settings.

As for the i5 2400, it's sufficient specially if you don't plan on overclocking it'll save you money and be giving the similar performance.
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March 18, 2012 12:47:26 AM

Quote:
I think that for multiple monitors it helps to have a 2GB video card instead of a 1GB card or lower.

Especially if you plan on doing graphics intensive things on both monitors.

Not sure what the lowest card is that has 2 GBs, but there may be some 6870s out there with that. If there are any, you might want to think about getting those in preference to the other kinds.


I don't know of any 2GB 6870s that exist. Maybe the Sapphire Flex but I think those have been taken off the market. Maybe grab a 7850 when / if they drop in price.

Quote:
Any board that works with a 2400 should work with a 2500k, you just might not be able to do too much OCing if you go for certain kinds of boards, like H61 for example.


H61 is about as stripped down as you can get - there's an 8GB RAM limit, and it will not allow you to OC. H67 is a step up as it will allow you to OC, but not much.

Quote:
From what I understand, it is best to OC on Z68 boards that have UEFI since they tend to have the most features and be the easiest to work with.


UEFI certainly helps for overclocking as you can tweak the BIOS quite a bit better than the standard BIOS screens allow you to, but Z68 and P67 both overclock about the same. I hear P67 is the preferred OC board of choice but I can't verify that.
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March 18, 2012 1:13:28 AM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:

H61 is about as stripped down as you can get - there's an 8GB RAM limit, and it will not allow you to OC. H67 is a step up as it will allow you to OC, but not much.

Quote:
From what I understand, it is best to OC on Z68 boards that have UEFI since they tend to have the most features and be the easiest to work with.

Quote:


Which board would be a decent upgrade over the H61? I don't have any overclocking plans so that feature isn't essential, but I do want a quality board. Let's assume that the processor is a I5-2400 and the build mostly follows aznshunobi's guide. Let's say that I bought at microcenter for a $30 discount, so I could reallocate that money towards other components (like mobo), and even spend more if the performance improvements are warranted.
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March 18, 2012 1:57:49 AM

It really depends on which feature set you want to have.

Does UEFI sound appealing? If you aren't sure what it does, look it up.

How about SATA 6GBPS?

How about USB 3.0?

PCIE 3.0?

Anything with an 1155 slot will hold a 2400. The difference is mostly which of those things you want.

I would only get 8 GBs of RAM anyway, so I wouldn't avoid H61 on those grounds.

Most Z68 boards with UEFI should be able to handle Ivy Bridge later with a BIOS update. Not so for most of the other types, I think.
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March 18, 2012 4:28:26 AM

TBH, the motherboard isn't really that important. The H61 board I suggest has more than enough features for it, it has USB 3.0, SATA 3 (AKA Sata 6GB/PS). PCI 3.0 isn't very important as PCI 3.0 is backwards compatible with PCI 2.0 which is why we can even use the 7xxx series from AMD.

As stated Sandy Bridge boards just need a BIOS update (depending on the manufacturer) to be able to upgrade to Ivy Bridge. Honestly UEFI isn't even that important since you won't mess much in the BIOS as you're not overclocking.
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March 18, 2012 12:59:03 PM

What about taking the $30 I save by getting the CPU at microcenter and putting that toward an SSD for the Win 7 installation and commonly used programs? The improvements in responsiveness that come with an SSD (from what I've read) seem awesome and worth up to $100 dollars of additional investment. If I go this route, would 32GB be better or would 64GB? Any brand recommendations? And will it work with the H61?
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March 18, 2012 5:34:17 PM

32 GB SSDs are tiny. Windows will take up like 20 GBs of that. Some games bust the remaining 12 GBs.

64 GBs are what I would call the bare minimum.

Mostly, though, people who are trying to cut costs should really just not be talking about SSDs. They are for people with money to throw around. The rest of us get regular hard drives.

IMHO, you should be looking at something closely resembling the $800 build in my signature.
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March 18, 2012 6:01:39 PM

Well sounds good 60GB is fine but remember to set it up as a boot drive so that your main files go to your 500GB otherwise the SSD will get slow real fast. Brands are really just any brand. Most are pretty good now, no huge difference other than Crucial & Samsung vs the rest of the companies that use SandForce controllers.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
That at the moment is super cheap and gives you SATA 3 or SATA 6GBP/s Mushkin isn't so bad either, solid company.

Oh and yes, it will work with H61.
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March 18, 2012 11:42:09 PM

Hey everyone. Just wanted to say I really appreciate all the advice and info I've received here. My almost final build closely resembles aznshinobi's guide, as that seemed to me to be a good step up from what I have now as well as a realistic reflection of what my computing needs really are.

The full build is here, minus mouse which I haven't picked out yet: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/5Q0U

You'll see that the PSU is not the one from aznshinobi's guide. The Antec Neo Eco 520 is out of stock at both newegg and amazon, and this Antec 550W seemed like a reasonable and well-reviewed replacement. However, I just realized that this PSU is *old* and might not be the best option. Raiddinn's web app guide recommends the XFX Pro 650w core in his $800 build, and g-unit recommended the corsair CX600. I don't know if either of these models are the best fit either. They very well could be, I just don't know. I'd really love to get some additional feedback, and hoping to keep it in the $60-70 range if possible. This seems like the last piece I need to pull the trigger on these bad boys in the next few days.

I ordered the Asus VE247H off mwave to go with it. Easily the best display I saw at either Best Buy or Microcenter.

I'll be ordering all parts from amazon except the case and CPU, which I'll get from my local Microcenter. Probably on 2 separate days to get around the 1 per customer limit.

Thanks all!
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March 19, 2012 12:34:37 AM

Those units they recommend are definitely a lot more than you need. Honestly the CX430 is probably the best substitute at a low price. I say this because your CPU will only need 95w, your GPU 151w (6870) and the rest of the hardware give or take 30-40w at most. That puts your max power consumption as 286w @ most. So the CX430 will be more than capable in supplying that power. Just remember to get the CX430 V2 version.

That PSU you selected is more than good enough though. No issues with that. I'd maybe substitute with this however.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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March 19, 2012 1:15:17 PM

The XFX 650w is available from TigerDirect for $65 shipped after rebates and the 550w is available for $60 shipped from Buy.com.

The CX 430 is about $38. However, they are Channel Well Technology PSUs, which puts them a tier below Seasonic PSUs in the general consensus.

Not that I am saying the CX 430 will perform poorly, but everyone around here generally suggests Seasonic OEM PSUs because they deserve it. Nobody goes around saying to seek out a CWT PSU for a PC. Its more like if you get one its not the worst thing in the world.

This is exactly why I always suggest XFX, you know you are getting tier 1 every time.

If you really want to aim for mid 400ws, you could go with XFX 450w just as easily for $53 shipped on Amazon (supplied by TigerDirect). $10 extra for Seasonic as your OEM is not a high price to pay.

I can say that compared to dozens of people coming in here with problems traced back to bad CWT PSUs, I haven't seen a single person come in here with a problem traced back to a bad XFX PSU.

One thing that wasn't touched on, though, is that you generally want the load wattage your PSU is required to put out to be about half its max capacity if possible, because that does the best for the longevity of the PSU.

All PSU internals deterioriate over time, certain brands just use parts that deteriorate slower and it depends on how much stress the PSU is under as well (% of wattage). The more stress on the PSU the faster it dies, and the PSU is almost always the thing that dies first, so it really matters how long the PSU makes it.

If you want to target the halfway point like I would suggest, you could aim for the XFX 550w.

However, having your PSU deteriorate down to the ideal load percent tends to be a better thing than having your PSU deteriorate and get farther and farther away from the ideal load.

I just say the $650w PSU in the web app, because it leaves additional options open for later like adding a second 6870, or replacing the 6870 with some other more power using card and ebaying the 6870. The 650w can handle 2x 6870s or 1x of even the highest draining cards easily.

Future proofing is one of those buzz words that has nearly lost all meaning by this point, but it is certainly the case that the 650w is more future proof than a lesser wattage unit would be.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that there are a lot of things to factor into a PSU decision and the wattage on the label is just one of many factors to consider.

Regardless what wattage figure you go with, I would take the XFX version. Per the above, you can figure out which XFX PSU is the one you think is best for you.
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March 19, 2012 3:34:03 PM

Raiddinn said:
32 GB SSDs are tiny. Windows will take up like 20 GBs of that. Some games bust the remaining 12 GBs.

64 GBs are what I would call the bare minimum.

Mostly, though, people who are trying to cut costs should really just not be talking about SSDs. They are for people with money to throw around. The rest of us get regular hard drives.

IMHO, you should be looking at something closely resembling the $800 build in my signature.


Not to mention formatting takes 10% of a drive so after formatting and a Windows install on a 32GB SSD you're looking at more like 8GB left.

Quote:
The XFX 650w is available from TigerDirect for $65 shipped after rebates and the 550w is available for $60 shipped from Buy.com.

The CX 430 is about $38. However, they are Channel Well Technology PSUs, which puts them a tier below Seasonic PSUs in the general consensus.

Not that I am saying the CX 430 will perform poorly, but everyone around here generally suggests Seasonic OEM PSUs because they deserve it. Nobody goes around saying to seek out a CWT PSU for a PC. Its more like if you get one its not the worst thing in the world.


I like the CX430 because it's cheap and quiet and works well in HTPCs where you don't need the power that a Seasonic PSU generates.

Quote:

I just say the $650w PSU in the web app, because it leaves additional options open for later like adding a second 6870, or replacing the 6870 with some other more power using card and ebaying the 6870. The 650w can handle 2x 6870s or 1x of even the highest draining cards easily.

Future proofing is one of those buzz words that has nearly lost all meaning by this point, but it is certainly the case that the 650w is more future proof than a lesser wattage unit would be.


It's impossible to future proof on any build - nobody knows what's going to be out 3 - 4 years from now. The PSUs are one thing that for sure isn't changing any time soon - they're safe investments.

Quote:
You'll see that the PSU is not the one from aznshinobi's guide. The Antec Neo Eco 520 is out of stock at both newegg and amazon, and this Antec 550W seemed like a reasonable and well-reviewed replacement. However, I just realized that this PSU is *old* and might not be the best option. Raiddinn's web app guide recommends the XFX Pro 650w core in his $800 build, and g-unit recommended the corsair CX600. I don't know if either of these models are the best fit either. They very well could be, I just don't know. I'd really love to get some additional feedback, and hoping to keep it in the $60-70 range if possible. This seems like the last piece I need to pull the trigger on these bad boys in the next few days.


Yeah I generally don't recommend skimping on the PSU because it's one of the most important parts of the buld - the main areas you want to concentrate on are CPU first, GPU second, then case, then motherboard/CPU/RAM, then storage (SSD, HD, optical).
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March 19, 2012 5:20:47 PM

fluffynukeit said:
Yeah your 650 build looks pretty appealing. A couple of follow ups:


Microcenter usually just has the cheaper CPU, right? Everything is about on par or more expensive than online options?


No they will price match newegg on identical parts if new egg is lower I live within 5 miles of the Columbus OH store and its fairly awesome. I don't have to wait for parts unless I'm doing something weird.

fluffynukeit said:


Also, how does microcenter enforce the in-store 1 per household restriction? I'm looking to buy two CPUs, not just one. I would go today and tomorrow if that works out.




From what I've seen they list everything under your name at purchase. They won't really let you buy whole bunches of the same part within a couple of days but if you do it 5 or more days apart they generally will. Secondly if your wife also buys one set and you aren't in line back to back. They don't reference across name profiles for the household. At least they didn't when my girlfriend at the time bought some identical phenom IIs within a few days of each other in mid 2010 and not much seems to have changed. The managers and most of the people there typically have at least basic knowledge and will work with you if you go into the store and mention you are getting ready to build matching computers for you and your wife. Its not like best buy where its high school and college kids quoting policy at you
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March 19, 2012 9:28:29 PM

I agree with G-unit, you don't need Seasonic. That is the most common misconception with enthusiasts and builders, that you NEED brand names like Seasonic, Corsair, or XFX to have a good PSU. That is not the case considering it's not always the best bang for the buck you can get. The CX430 is a solid build PSU, had criticism but the V2 revision has fixed most issues.

However I still stand, the Antec 500D is a solid PSU @ $50 ATM and a 15% off promo code. That means it costs only $42.50 that's really cheap for such a great PSU.
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March 20, 2012 4:36:06 PM

There are 3 really bad things to cheap out on in a computer:

1) Case
2) PSU
3) RAM

Coincidentally, those are the things that everybody just loves to cheap out on if they don't know a lot about computers.

$10 more is not too much for the best brand you can possibly have when you are talking about these objects.

Note, that the XFX PSUs are very competitively priced after rebates. $1 per 10w is standard for a high quality PSU and they are usually right at that figure. It is not like you have to pay 2x the cost of a reasonable PSU to get a good one. You have to pay maybe $5 more than a reasonable one.

If someone can't manage the price of Crucial or Kingston RAM, a Seasonic OEM PSU, and a solid low end case like HAF 912, then they should scale back on the video card. That is really all there is to it. One step back from pretty much any price point for video cards will free up enough money to move to the best of each of these things.

Anyone can go to www.pcpartspicker.com and come up with a list of parts that will fit inside whatever case they end up with. The value we provide here is getting rid of the inevitable heartache that comes after the purchasing happens.

The best way to do that is to get people quality components for the areas that matter most, because we know what those areas are better than most.
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