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Durable, Upgradeable Budget Non-Gaming Build

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April 13, 2012 12:13:43 PM

I am looking to build my own computer for the first time, and have a few unique objectives for this computer.

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Approximate Purchase Date: Within 2 months

Budget Range: Up to $700, including everything

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
1) Internet
2) Home Photos/Videos
3) Photoshop CS2
4) Moderate-Heavy Excel work
5) Non-3D gaming (Magna Mundi)


Parts Not Required: All are required

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference

Country: US (Maine)

Parts Preferences: No preference

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I would like the build to be:

1) Durable (Lasting about 4 years without a lot of costly repair work)
2) Upgradeable (To some extent)
3) Unobtrusive (No bling, relatively quiet)
4) Have a good IPS monitor (It doesn't have to be very big)

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A few points:

1) Obviously, my GPU requirements are quite low. No discrete card required.
2) CPU workloads are likely not well-threaded
3) I need good Hard Drive space (I've got 320GB filled right now), or at least the ability to add more.
4) I would like to be able to upgrade to an SSD (SATA 6GB/s) if there is not one in the current build.
5) I need wireless-n support

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Rough parts list:

CPU: $125 Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz

Motherboard: $100 BIOSTAR TZ77B LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Hard Drive: $100 Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

RAM: $45 Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

Case/Power Supply: $95 Antec NSK 4482B Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply

OS: $100 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM

ETC: $80: Card Reader, PCI Wireless Adapter, DVD-RW Drive, Wireless Keyboard + Mouse Combo

Monitor: $165 ASUS VS229H-P Black 21.5" 5ms (GTG) HDMI IPS-Panel LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Monitor

TOTAL PRICE: $810

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That is higher than I would like to pay.

Where can I cut things down? Is there anywhere, with my criteria/workload?
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 12:35:34 PM

You could do a Llano build, unfortunately it doesn't give you much of an upgrade path since the next generation of AMD fusion processors are probably going to break backwards comparability, but it could cut the cost significantly and will perform just as well, if not better in some areas. Llano vs Sandy bridge without a dedicated graphics card is pretty well on-par.

The thing about upgrades sometimes a system gets so old, you're better off scrapping it for a new build. 4 years of use is a pretty good chance of making that likely.

You can cut off 100 bucks if you're in college or know someone who is, you might be able to get a copy of Windows7 for free through Microsoft Academic Alliance. I personally have a product key that I can use as many times as I want and on as many systems as I want. Technically *wink wink, nudge nudge* you might have it available to you. Unfortunately I don't know you personally, and I have no allusions about Microsoft sending me to jail over it, its a shame too, I love taking advantage of Microsoft when I can. But I digress.

But if you want to stick with Intel you could cut the mobo down, with this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With the monitor included, theres not a lot else you can trim for quality parts. And I'm not sure how much a Llano build would trim off either. Sorry, I know I said in the beginning a Llano might be cheaper, forgive me, I'm a linear thinker. If you want me to quote a Llano build I could try.
April 13, 2012 12:40:13 PM

nekulturny said:
You could do a Llano build, unfortunately it doesn't give you much of an upgrade path since the next generation of AMD fusion processors are probably going to break backwards comparability, but it could cut the cost significantly and will perform just as well, if not better in some areas.

With the monitor included, theres not a lot else you can trim for quality parts. And I'm not sure how much a Llano build would trim off either. Sorry, I know I said in the beginning a Llano might be cheaper, forgive me, I'm a linear thinker. If you want me to quote a Llano build I could try.


No, I don't think the Llano is a fit for me. Even without considering the upgrade issues, most of my workload is CPU-constrained and not well-threaded, exactly the usage case in which Intel is WAY ahead of AMD.

Perhaps I should look down at the Sandy Bridge Pentium versions?
Related resources
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 12:44:22 PM

DSMok1 said:
No, I don't think the Llano is a fit for me. Even without considering the upgrade issues, most of my workload is CPU-constrained and not well-threaded, exactly the usage case in which Intel is WAY ahead of AMD.

Perhaps I should look down at the Sandy Bridge Pentium versions?



That could be a solution yes. Pentium, the line that just won't die lol, I had a Pentium 4 10 years ago.

Something like this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

a c 118 B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 1:37:02 PM

Llanos aren't as bad as you might think btw. They have more in common with the architecture of Phenom/Athlon II, not the failed new Bulldozer. Sure the technology is showing its age, but even so it still holds its own with Sandy Bridge in terms of raw processing power.
Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 1:58:04 PM

low end graphic card and wacom like pen tablet will be great for photshop and video editing . It is very hard to draw anything in photoshop with a mouse correctly. Also 23-24 inch monitor will be nice addition. Bigger the viewing space more easier to work. Good and reliable ram as all effects resides in rams while using these photo/ video editing softwares. Rule of thumb for photo/ video software is larger the amount of rams, smoother the work flow.
April 13, 2012 2:43:07 PM

Quote:
low end graphic card and wacom like pen tablet will be great for photshop and video editing . It is very hard to draw anything in photoshop with a mouse correctly. Also 23-24 inch monitor will be nice addition. Bigger the viewing space more easier to work. Good and reliable ram as all effects resides in rams while using these photo/ video editing softwares. Rule of thumb for photo/ video software is larger the amount of rams, smoother the work flow.



Out of the budget, unfortunately.
Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 3:26:35 PM

that was only a suggestion based on my personal experience. :) 
April 13, 2012 4:26:34 PM

I know you mentioned some hesitation about Llano CPUs, but they really are very good cost/performance solution:


CPU, AMD A6-3670K Unlocked Llano 2.7GHz + MB, ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 AMD A75 Combo, $172:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM, Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 , $45:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Keyboard + Mouse, Logitech Wireless Combo MK260 920-002950 Black USB RF Wireless Standard Keyboard and Mouse, $25:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU, Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W, $45:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor, ASUS VS229H-P Black 21.5" 5ms (GTG) HDMI IPS-Panel LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Monitor, $165:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD, Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM, $100:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case, Fractal Design Core 1000 Micro ATX Computer Case, $40:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CD/DVD, LG DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH24NS90, $18:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS, Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit, $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This setup comes to $710 (not including shipping) plus there is a $15 Promotional gift card that you could use to get a pair of speakers

Just something to consider.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 4:39:11 PM

A few pointers:
1) NEVER use a power supply that is bundled with a case. Other than products that arrive DOA, you power supply is part most likely to cause issues. Something in the 350W range is fine for this type of build so long as you never want a discrete GPU.

2) You do not need a z77 mobo. H61/H67 for $50-70 would be just fine for this type of build. It will lock you out of future IB upgrades, but you would still have a lot of upgrade-ability with Sandy Bridge products as they age and drop in price. Also, with your workload you likely do not need much more than a Pentium CPU, but the i3 is a good call if you can fit it in the budget as it will have better graphics.

3) For what you are doing you would never notice the difference between 1333 and 1600 ram. In fact I have 1333 in my production/gaming rig and have had no problems at all, and I can render faster than my friend's mac that has 1600 in it. Ram is generally not the bottleneck of a system, and 1333 is pretty damn fast. 1600 is only really 'needed' for 3D rendering (think Maya, 3DS Max), and extreme gaming builds... Obviously if you find some 1600 on sale for cheaper then by all means put it in, just know that your CPU is not going to take advantage of that speed.

4) Can you consider getting a small SSD for your system drive and reusing your HDD? For your type of workload SSD would really make this system fly and would be well worth the money.

My suggested build:
Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASRock H61M-VS, $55

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
i3 2105, $135, plenty of CPU power for your use, but also has the 'premium' graphics package instead of the HD2000

Ram: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.Skill, $38, 1333 because the mobo does not support 1600, 8GB (2x4GB)

SSD/HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Agility 3 60GB system drive, $64 from the Egg, $55 from Microcenter (in store only), Win7, Office, and Photoshop will take ~40GB (less than that if you turn off things like virtural memory in Win7 and make other optomizations), which leaves plenty of room for a few documents or other small games/programs. Then reuse your current HDD for bulk documents like video/pictures/music. There are better SSDs on the market, but nothing compares to this price after rebate, especially if you have a microcenter near you.

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$40, Thermaltake V3, you may or may not like this case, but it is what I use and there is TONS of space inside for expand-ability, it also have room for 3 120mm fans (the 2 top slots are useless, but I use the front, bottom, and back slots with low RPM fans with no problem). This case breathes easy, has plenty of room to grow, and is dirt cheap, and it also dosn't have that ugly 'gamer' look to it. there are plenty of decent looking cheap cases on the market even if you don't like this one.
Whatever case you get make sure it meets the following requirements:
1) no built in power supply, or if it has one do not plan on using it
2) bottom mount power supply, helps with cooling and power supply longevity
3) dust filters included, or easily added. Depending on where you live you will want to clean these every month to every year. where I live every year is fine.
4) room to grow, as a case can last for several builds. My last case lasted for 10 years and several upgrades. This case is currently on it's 2nd build.
5) room for work. If you upgrade every year or 2 you will want something that you do not mind opening and has rolled edges so that you do not cut yourself on it.

Power Supply: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$45, 350W, 80+ Bronze. Power supplies are important. Do not get one too big for your build, and do not skimp on quality as a PS can last for several builds, and is the most likely piece of equipment to either fail, or cause other parts to fail. 80+ certification is something to look for for 2 reasons: 1) less power used over time. 2) better quality parts used

DVD burner: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$17

Wireless N adapter: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$28 PCIe

Keys/Mouse: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$30, Logitech wireless keys and mouse

Card Reader: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$10, it's a card reader... nothing particularly special

Win7 Home 64bit: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100, if a student check your student bookstore. I know the local college here has 32 and 64 bit versions for $5.

IPS monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$165, IPS LED monitor, 1080p, 5ms, 21.5"

Grand Total: $727

Cost Cutting:
Obviously you can cut a little money buy not having an IPS monitor, but with doing graphic work that is obviously not suggested. You can downgrade to a Pentium processor to save a few bucks as well. A smaller/cheaper case can be found, but do not skimp on the power supply. 4GB of ram is likely plenty if you want to cut $20 (2x2GB so as not to loose the duel DDR boost), but ram is cheap so 8GB is still suggested and should be enough to turn off virtual memory without issues.


One last thing of note: Ivy Bridge is coming pretty soon and will offer much better onboard graphics. Some H61 mobos may get a firmware update allowing you to use IB on a much cheaper motherboard. Unfortunately there is no way to know ahead of time which boards will be updated. Also, the slower i3 and pentium/celeron IB chips will not be out at release time, so you will have to wait an extra 3-6 months before they become available, which is a bit of a wait, but the graphics should be 2-3x as good as the current onboard graphics, which may be worth it to you.
April 13, 2012 5:02:15 PM

Thanks a lot for all of the input!

CaedenV said:
A few pointers:
1) NEVER use a power supply that is bundled with a case. Other than products that arrive DOA, you power supply is part most likely to cause issues. Something in the 350W range is fine for this type of build so long as you never want a discrete GPU.


I agree, but this Antec case includes a high quality Antec EarthWatts Green 380W, 80+ Bronze certified. Shouldn't that be okay?

CaedenV said:
2) You do not need a z77 mobo. H61/H67 for $50-70 would be just fine for this type of build. It will lock you out of future IB upgrades, but you would still have a lot of upgrade-ability with Sandy Bridge products as they age and drop in price. Also, with your workload you likely do not need much more than a Pentium CPU, but the i3 is a good call if you can fit it in the budget as it will have better graphics.


I agree, but I'd like to at least have USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s, which the board you've listed does not have.

CaedenV said:
3) For what you are doing you would never notice the difference between 1333 and 1600 ram. In fact I have 1333 in my production/gaming rig and have had no problems at all, and I can render faster than my friend's mac that has 1600 in it. Ram is generally not the bottleneck of a system, and 1333 is pretty damn fast. 1600 is only really 'needed' for 3D rendering (think Maya, 3DS Max), and extreme gaming builds... Obviously if you find some 1600 on sale for cheaper then by all means put it in, just know that your CPU is not going to take advantage of that speed.


Okay, thanks.

CaedenV said:
4) Can you consider getting a small SSD for your system drive and reusing your HDD? For your type of workload SSD would really make this system fly and would be well worth the money.


I'd love to get an SSD, but at the rate prices are falling and capacities are increasing, perhaps I ought to wait a year and get something much better at that point? Speed is good, but right now I need capacity.

CaedenV said:
My suggested build:
Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASRock H61M-VS, $55

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
i3 2105, $135, plenty of CPU power for your use, but also has the 'premium' graphics package instead of the HD2000

Ram: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.Skill, $38, 1333 because the mobo does not support 1600, 8GB (2x4GB)

SSD/HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Agility 3 60GB system drive, $64 from the Egg, $55 from Microcenter (in store only), Win7, Office, and Photoshop will take ~40GB (less than that if you turn off things like virtural memory in Win7 and make other optomizations), which leaves plenty of room for a few documents or other small games/programs. Then reuse your current HDD for bulk documents like video/pictures/music. There are better SSDs on the market, but nothing compares to this price after rebate, especially if you have a microcenter near you.

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$40, Thermaltake V3, you may or may not like this case, but it is what I use and there is TONS of space inside for expand-ability, it also have room for 3 120mm fans (the 2 top slots are useless, but I use the front, bottom, and back slots with low RPM fans with no problem). This case breathes easy, has plenty of room to grow, and is dirt cheap, and it also dosn't have that ugly 'gamer' look to it. there are plenty of decent looking cheap cases on the market even if you don't like this one.
Whatever case you get make sure it meets the following requirements:
1) no built in power supply, or if it has one do not plan on using it
2) bottom mount power supply, helps with cooling and power supply longevity
3) dust filters included, or easily added. Depending on where you live you will want to clean these every month to every year. where I live every year is fine.
4) room to grow, as a case can last for several builds. My last case lasted for 10 years and several upgrades. This case is currently on it's 2nd build.
5) room for work. If you upgrade every year or 2 you will want something that you do not mind opening and has rolled edges so that you do not cut yourself on it.

Power Supply: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$45, 350W, 80+ Bronze. Power supplies are important. Do not get one too big for your build, and do not skimp on quality as a PS can last for several builds, and is the most likely piece of equipment to either fail, or cause other parts to fail. 80+ certification is something to look for for 2 reasons: 1) less power used over time. 2) better quality parts used

DVD burner: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$17

Wireless N adapter: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$28 PCIe

Keys/Mouse: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$30, Logitech wireless keys and mouse

Card Reader: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$10, it's a card reader... nothing particularly special

Win7 Home 64bit: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$100, if a student check your student bookstore. I know the local college here has 32 and 64 bit versions for $5.

IPS monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$165, IPS LED monitor, 1080p, 5ms, 21.5"

Grand Total: $727

Cost Cutting:
Obviously you can cut a little money buy not having an IPS monitor, but with doing graphic work that is obviously not suggested. You can downgrade to a Pentium processor to save a few bucks as well. A smaller/cheaper case can be found, but do not skimp on the power supply. 4GB of ram is likely plenty if you want to cut $20 (2x2GB so as not to loose the duel DDR boost), but ram is cheap so 8GB is still suggested and should be enough to turn off virtual memory without issues.


One last thing of note: Ivy Bridge is coming pretty soon and will offer much better onboard graphics. Some H61 mobos may get a firmware update allowing you to use IB on a much cheaper motherboard. Unfortunately there is no way to know ahead of time which boards will be updated. Also, the slower i3 and pentium/celeron IB chips will not be out at release time, so you will have to wait an extra 3-6 months before they become available, which is a bit of a wait, but the graphics should be 2-3x as good as the current onboard graphics, which may be worth it to you.


I like the i3 2105 for my usage, definitely. I don't think I can wait until the Ivy Bridge i3's come out (Q4?).

I definitely don't want to scrimp on the case/power supply, but I think the one I've picked, with the high quality PSU, fits the bill pretty well.

My current HDD is shot, and most of my storage is in a really slow 320GB external hard drive. I don't think I can reuse that, nor do I want to.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 5:17:27 PM

CaedenV said:
A few pointers:
1) NEVER use a power supply that is bundled with a case. Other than products that arrive DOA, you power supply is part most likely to cause issues. Something in the 350W range is fine for this type of build so long as you never want a discrete GPU.


99 times out of 100 I'd agree with you on that, but in this instance it's an Antec case that comes with an Antec power supply. So I'd say this is the one exception, and he'll be fine.

Other than that, these are all pretty good suggestions.

One other thing for the OP: If you can't find a way to get the student/free copy of Windows, for the next 72 hours Newegg is running a 10% off promo on Windows 7, so you can at least save yourself $10 if it comes to that:

http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/Apr-0-2012/coupon1...
April 13, 2012 5:21:20 PM

capt_taco said:

One other thing for the OP: If you can't find a way to get the student/free copy of Windows, for the next 72 hours Newegg is running a 10% off promo on Windows 7, so you can at least save yourself $10 if it comes to that:

http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/Apr-0-2012/coupon1...



I plan on paying for Windows, yes (I'm not a student). I will certainly get it in a bundle or discounted 10% as Newegg is currently doing. I can save probably $40 dollars off of my originally posted build by waiting for specials or getting bundles off Newegg.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 10:13:29 PM

lol, didn't see that it was an Antec. I saw that the PS was bundled and assumed that it was crap, because 99% of the time it is.

So yes, I was wrong, that case and power supply you picked would be just fine.

For the SSD; prices will fall pretty consistently for a while yet, and you can always add one later with minimal difficulty (best case you can image it over, worst case you get to re-install everything). Still, when I installed my wife's SSD the boot time went from ~1 minute to ~15sec (not including POST time), opening Outlook went from ~30sec to ~2-4sec (depends on the day... kinda wierd). And all of that is on an old Core2Duo, things are quite a bit quicker on a more modern system.

Mobo: there will be little difference between SATAII and SATAIII with that CPU. Also, check benchmarks, there is little difference in real world benchmarks between the two anyways. As for USB3 you could do an adapter card for $25 and still save a little, but then again we are talking a $20 difference, and the z77 is likely of better quality in the first place.

ext HDD: the drive is not slow, the connector is. Pop that thing into a newer USB3 case, or use it as an internal drive and you will get performance like a normal HDD.
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 10:27:15 PM

capt_taco said:
99 times out of 100 I'd agree with you on that, but in this instance it's an Antec case that comes with an Antec power supply. So I'd say this is the one exception, and he'll be fine.

Other than that, these are all pretty good suggestions.

One other thing for the OP: If you can't find a way to get the student/free copy of Windows, for the next 72 hours Newegg is running a 10% off promo on Windows 7, so you can at least save yourself $10 if it comes to that:

http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/Apr-0-2012/coupon1...



Thats why I didn't ding that either. The Antec PSU that comes bundled with that case is decent enough.

I will say to the OP that 3.0 Sata and 6.0 SATA does not have a noticible difference in performance, I have used both a 7200 RPM SATA 6.0 and a 5900RPM SATA 3.0, both get a 5.9 on Windows experience index and both of them were adequate.

One thing about the mention of 1333mhz RAM vs 1600mhz.. If you plan on upgrading to an Ivy bridge, you definitely want 1600mhz. Ivy Bridge is set to support higher RAM speeds, and 1600mhz is about 5-10 dollar price difference, spend the money.
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
April 13, 2012 10:36:59 PM

maui67 said:
I know you mentioned some hesitation about Llano CPUs, but they really are very good cost/performance solution:


CPU, AMD A6-3670K Unlocked Llano 2.7GHz + MB, ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 AMD A75 Combo, $172:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM, Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 , $45:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Keyboard + Mouse, Logitech Wireless Combo MK260 920-002950 Black USB RF Wireless Standard Keyboard and Mouse, $25:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU, Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W, $45:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor, ASUS VS229H-P Black 21.5" 5ms (GTG) HDMI IPS-Panel LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Monitor, $165:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD, Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM, $100:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case, Fractal Design Core 1000 Micro ATX Computer Case, $40:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CD/DVD, LG DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH24NS90, $18:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS, Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit, $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This setup comes to $710 (not including shipping) plus there is a $15 Promotional gift card that you could use to get a pair of speakers

Just something to consider.


I would take that before stepping down to a Pentium Sandy Bridge for sure, but we all have our preferences I guess.
April 14, 2012 1:32:23 AM

CaedenV said:
lol, didn't see that it was an Antec. I saw that the PS was bundled and assumed that it was crap, because 99% of the time it is.

So yes, I was wrong, that case and power supply you picked would be just fine.

For the SSD; prices will fall pretty consistently for a while yet, and you can always add one later with minimal difficulty (best case you can image it over, worst case you get to re-install everything). Still, when I installed my wife's SSD the boot time went from ~1 minute to ~15sec (not including POST time), opening Outlook went from ~30sec to ~2-4sec (depends on the day... kinda wierd). And all of that is on an old Core2Duo, things are quite a bit quicker on a more modern system.

Mobo: there will be little difference between SATAII and SATAIII with that CPU. Also, check benchmarks, there is little difference in real world benchmarks between the two anyways. As for USB3 you could do an adapter card for $25 and still save a little, but then again we are talking a $20 difference, and the z77 is likely of better quality in the first place.

ext HDD: the drive is not slow, the connector is. Pop that thing into a newer USB3 case, or use it as an internal drive and you will get performance like a normal HDD.



If I delay getting an SSD for a few months or a year, I suspect the SSDs will be, at that point, easily able to saturate SATAII (they already can) and perhaps even SATAIII. The desire for SATAIII is for future-proofing to some extent. Of course, we may be all on PCI-e or something else for SSDs soon, anyway. I definitely want to get an SSD eventually; I think storage will most likely be the bottleneck for a lot of my tasks dealing with photos and videos.

I need to find out more about reusing the external HDD. It's a WD MyBook 320 GB USB 2.0; it's perhaps 3 years old now. I've had issues with it not being recognized at times, and the enclosure is really beat up. It's REALLY slow for me, because my current computer doesn't even have USB 2.0.

I tend to keep my computers a loooong time. Not a lot of money to throw around every couple of years.
April 14, 2012 1:34:35 AM

nekulturny said:
Thats why I didn't ding that either. The Antec PSU that comes bundled with that case is decent enough.

I will say to the OP that 3.0 Sata and 6.0 SATA does not have a noticible difference in performance, I have used both a 7200 RPM SATA 6.0 and a 5900RPM SATA 3.0, both get a 5.9 on Windows experience index and both of them were adequate.

One thing about the mention of 1333mhz RAM vs 1600mhz.. If you plan on upgrading to an Ivy bridge, you definitely want 1600mhz. Ivy Bridge is set to support higher RAM speeds, and 1600mhz is about 5-10 dollar price difference, spend the money.


SATA II vs. SATA III will make a difference for SSD's, though, right? For a standard hard drive, they're not saturating the interface. An SSD can and will.


The RAM speed--most benchmarks I have seen on RAM speeds show very marginal differences. Of course, the price is marginally different also...
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
April 14, 2012 1:45:56 AM

DSMok1 said:
SATA II vs. SATA III will make a difference for SSD's, though, right? For a standard hard drive, they're not saturating the interface. An SSD can and will.


The RAM speed--most benchmarks I have seen on RAM speeds show very marginal differences. Of course, the price is marginally different also...

I'm honestly not read up well enough on SSDs to answer that. But probably yes that sounds reasonable. Either way, even a SATA II SSD will perform noticeably better than a traditional HDD.

As far as RAM, yes, both the price and performance are marginal. In my opinion the price is marginal enough to merit the expense, especially if you're considering upgrading the system at some point.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 14, 2012 2:00:29 AM

Here's probably the best article I've seen on the subject of whether you really NEED SATAIII for an SSD. Basically, even with SATAII you'll see a huge improvement over standard hard drives, but you do get an extra boost with SATAIII (see the last page of test results especially).

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sata-6gbps-performa...

What it boils down to is, if I had an existing system with only SATAII and I was thinking about adding an SSD, I'd go ahead and at least try it first without going to all the trouble and expense of buying a new motherboard. But if I was building a new system and had my choice of parts, I'd take a motherboard with SATAIII 100% of the time.

As far as RAM goes, in terms of overall system performance, the difference between your typical DDR3-1333 and high-performance DDR3-1600 (or above) is on the order of maybe 2%. On the other hand, the price difference compared to your overall budget is going to be more like 0.5%. So while it's not going to make all the difference in the world, I'd call it a good investment if your motherboard supports it.
a b B Homebuilt system
April 14, 2012 2:12:14 AM

DSMok1 said:
SATA II vs. SATA III will make a difference for SSD's, though, right? For a standard hard drive, they're not saturating the interface. An SSD can and will.


The RAM speed--most benchmarks I have seen on RAM speeds show very marginal differences. Of course, the price is marginally different also...

SSDs are funny creatures. They are rated at 550MB/s, but that is under ideal conditions for synthetic benchmarks. Those speeds are attainable... just not for real use.

Bench-marking my SSD I find that it runs at 2 very specific speeds. It will run at ~140MB/s for uncompressable data (files that are already compressed, or files too random to compress), and then ~320MB/s for compressable data (easily patterned data, or things that are already lightly compressed). It does not dip below that, and it rarely hits anything inbetween the two speeds. SATA 2 will cap the drive out at ~280MBps, so you will choke a SATA 3 drive a little bit on a SATA 2 connection, but not a whole lot (only ~40MB/s, which isn't much for an OS drive as most data reads/writes are very short/small).

The real difference in speed over a HDD (because a good HDD will read/write at 140MB/s... at the beginning of the drive, on a sequential write, if the wind is blowing in just the right direction) is that the performance stays the same from the beginning to the end of the drive, and the drive is not tripped up by random IOPS like a HDD is (random IOPS you can hit an easy 40,000 on the slowest SSD, while the fastest HDDs are in the low hundreds). Also, there is 0 seek time (~.2ms) on a SSD, compared to 8-20ms on a traditional HDD depending on where you are seeking from and to. Add to that the lack of noise/heat/power/space that SSDs take up and they are quite worth their money.

So for sequential reading and writing (read; Video editing) HDDs in RAID is still likely the best bet (especially with space considerations), but for an OS drive, a SSD should be just about required, especially when you consider it is your single bottleneck in the whole system.

Go do some searching for real SSD benchmarks, don't believe the package advertisements as they are quite misleading. But even though they do not run anywhere near what they are rated to be, they are still worth their weight in gold.
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