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Budget build for general use

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March 27, 2012 10:46:39 PM

Hey there!

My Dell XPS M1730 blew up last weekend (for the 3rd time since I purchased it in June 2008) and no longer being covered by the warranty, I've decided it was enough and to replace it with either a replacement laptop or a desktop.

I have also decided that I no longer wants to spend lots of money on computers since I feel the quality is constantly dropping and they are less and less reliable. This machine (whatever it will be) will be a machine I intend to keep at least 5 years. Thats why I am leaning toward a desktop, then if a part goes bad, I can replace it and keep everything else.

In the meantime I am testing a Toshiba L755D (8GB RAM AMD A8-3520M with HD6640G2 and 750GB HDD). This little laptop runs well but before I change my mind, I need to find out if im going to build a new desktop or keep this laptop.

I am wondering what the TH community would have to recommend me for a machine I will use to:

-Browse the web
-Play 1080p movies
-Play music
-Light Photoshop (Gimp)
-Software compilation (I use linux and build everything from sources)

If I go with the desktop, I will buy everything from newegg.ca (canada). No matter what the final solution is :

The machine *has* to play movies flawlessly (no tearing, no lag, no out-of-sync playback) and It has to display flash animations & movies also very well...
I prefer AMD over Intel (for price vs performance ratio, and I prefer Nvidia over ATI for compatilibity with linux and better video performance)
It has to support 2 monitors
My budget would be around $550-600 CAD (before taxes & shipping)

Right now I am thinking about these parts:

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-550-PCAR-E3 550W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply Item #: N82E16817171038
Mobo: MSI 760GM-P21 (FX) AM3+ AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard Item #: N82E16813130638
Video: EVGA 01G-P3-1431-KR GeForce GT 430 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card Item #: N82E16814130609
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-16GBXL Item #: N82E16820231486
CPU: AMD FX-4170 Zambezi 4.2GHz (4.3GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4170FRGUBOX Item #: N82E16819106009

Total: approx. $489.02 (incl. tax & shipping)

Hard to beat a price like that.. WOuld I be better staying with the Toshiba laptop or go for the build?

I Appreciate any input!

Thanks

More about : budget build general

March 27, 2012 11:30:55 PM

That build looks OK but you could do better for the money. I don't think you would even come close to using 16GB of RAM, 8GB would be more than enough. Also, an FM1 CPU would probably work out as better value for money since you are not going for a powerful graphics card.

AMD A8-3870K
Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB)
ASRock A75 PRO4-M FM1
Crucial M4 64GB
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200RPM
SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300W
Fractal Design Core 1000
Samsung DVD Burner

Total - $539.92
March 27, 2012 11:46:53 PM

what about the toshiba laptop? should i keep it or be better with the build?

what do you think?
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March 28, 2012 12:00:08 AM

That desktop would be a little bit better, not much better though. If you would prefer the portability, that laptop would be very good.
March 28, 2012 12:16:01 AM

well you can sell your laptop but you can also keep it even if you have a desktop.

I have multiple desktop my self and a laptop it's nice to have lot's of choices too. but if you will be getting some money for your 600cad by selling your laptop, it's ok i guess.

but if by any "chance" you can get your hands on one of these processors

-Phenom II X4 960T (if you by "chance" can get this on a really cheap price)
-Phenom II X6 1090T (if you by "chance" can get this on a really cheap price)

go with them and some cheap motherboard and some 1333mhz ddr3 ram,

anyways for PSU I would suggest a seasonic 520w80plus bronze but since it's a bit expensive go with a
corsair cx430 430W PSU it should be cheap.

+1 on the fractal design core 1000 case it's a great case with nice ventilations

g.skill ripjaws or ripjaws x or ares8gb (2x4gb) 1333/1600mhz memory module shouldbe great.
March 28, 2012 12:16:04 AM

Lenovo (Thinkpads) Are VERY Reliable With Enterprise Class Construction, My X61 Is A Great Laptop And I Have Dropped It Several Times To Demonstrate Its Ruggedness, Not A Scratch (From Falling), Ifr You Can Afford One And Value A Laptop You Should Check Out There Models, I Also Have A Desktop, Get Some Advice (Toms Hardware Forums, Friends Ect.) And BUILD Dont BUY One.
March 28, 2012 12:57:38 AM

I just performed a few tests with 1080p playback on the HD 6620G & 6470M GPU's of the laptop, and I've seen what I expected.. That is, worst performance than NVidia's GPUs. The playback seemed not entirely smooth, and 2 cores of the quad core CPU were averaging 75% utilization.

Can anyone comment on this? Last time I built my HTPC, I went for a Geforce GT430 because Nvidia was way ahead of AMD/ATI in Linux and especially with video playback. Is it still the case today or its just a misconfiguration on my laptop?

The end line is that I have until April 06 to return the laptop for a full refund if not satisfied with it. So better test now than regret later....
Anonymous
March 28, 2012 1:29:36 AM

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-550-PCAR-E3 550W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply Item #: N82E16817171038

cooler master are not quality PSUs
http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-eX...
"We can’t recommend this power supply, however if you are really on a budget this may be an option until you have money to buy a decent power supply for your PC."

Rosewill Stallion Series RD500-2DB 500W ATX12V Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
has a dual fan config.
or
Rosewill Stallion Series RD500-2SB 500W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
either is $44.99 - $5 less than the CM.
March 28, 2012 9:21:37 AM

lpallard said:
I just performed a few tests with 1080p playback on the HD 6620G & 6470M GPU's of the laptop, and I've seen what I expected.. That is, worst performance than NVidia's GPUs. The playback seemed not entirely smooth, and 2 cores of the quad core CPU were averaging 75% utilization.

Can anyone comment on this? Last time I built my HTPC, I went for a Geforce GT430 because Nvidia was way ahead of AMD/ATI in Linux and especially with video playback. Is it still the case today or its just a misconfiguration on my laptop?

The end line is that I have until April 06 to return the laptop for a full refund if not satisfied with it. So better test now than regret later....



That sounds really odd, plenty of people play HD content with Intel HD 2000 and HD 6310 (integrated) graphics.
March 28, 2012 10:59:02 AM

Might sounds really odd for a windows user, but im using Linux (slackware )... I don't mean to offend the Linux guys since im myself a penguin, but im realistic : Linux still doesn't keep up with windows and apple in term of multimedia and entertainment, and im not sure if it will ever work well....

Not a long time ago you could actually read and write bluray in Linux..


Anybody with 1080p playback experience on similar or identical hardware in Linux? ??
March 28, 2012 12:03:23 PM

Ahh, in that case I would perhaps get a desktop and go with a dedicated graphics card. Something similar to your original build but with 8GB RAM and a better quality PSU like that 300W Seasonic. I'd try to fit a SSD in there too if possible.

EDIT: Since you have a dedicated graphics card there, maybe the 350W model for some peace of mind. (Despite the max power consumption being ~200-220W)
March 28, 2012 4:39:02 PM

.....right now I am leaning toward returning the laptop for refund and buying parts on newegg for a custom build, but again, there is this machine that I could very well just trade the toshiba laptop for.. Its a Lenovo V570 with these specs:

  1. Processor Type Intel Core i5-2450M
  2. Processor Cores 2
  3. Processor Speed 2.5 GHz
  4. Processor Cache 3 MB L3
  5. Hard Drive Capacity 500 GB
  6. Graphics Chipset NVIDIA GeForce GT525M
  7. Video Memory Configuration Dedicated
  8. Dedicated Video Memory Size 1 GB
  9. Wireless Display (WiDi) Capable Yes
  10. Digital Audio Output No
  11. USB 2.0 Ports 4
  12. HDMI Output Yes
  13. VGA Output Yes
  14. eSATA Port Yes (Shared with USB 2.0)
  15. Ethernet Port 10/100/1000
  16. Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n


In a nutshell, its pretty much the same machine but the major differences being:

Dual core instead of quad core
i5-2450M instead of A8-3520M
CPU speed of 2.5GHz instead of 1.6GHz
GPU is Geforce GT525M instead of HD6470M
Gigabit LAN instead of 10/100

I have a hard time figuring out if a trade for the toshiba against the lenovo is a good move... The fact that it has a Geforce card is good, but the Dual core instead of Quad core makes me wonder if my experience will suffer from that... Higher clock rate but 2 cores less... Will I see a major difference? I do a lot of encoding/decoding, software compilation from sources (Linux eh..) bluray playback, and randomly uses Gimp & Inkscape/Blender for animation/picture stuff..

The Geforce sure has CUDA which possibly can help, and most of all, it supports vdpau so 1080p playback *should* be very good.

Its really a GPU & CPU decision... Will this Lenovo laptop be better than a custom build for a similar price range?

Anybody can provide feedback?
Thanks
March 28, 2012 4:42:37 PM

I think both the CPU and graphics performance should be roughly similar, don't think you would see much of a difference.
!