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First Build, $1K, Need Advice

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April 17, 2012 6:11:38 PM

Hello,

This is my first post, so sorry if it is long; I've tried to find a way to get it all out simply, but maybe I'm just too new at this. I've got a budget of $1000 total, including my recent purchase of Win7 Pro. Despite the fact that I'm nervous about it, I'm taking the plunge and building my next (first) machine. I could really use some advice on choosing components, as well as whether or not I can/should try to reuse some of the parts from my last computer. While most of the parts were original to the machine, the HDD was a replacement drive and was still working just fine. Here are the specs on my previous machine, a Gateway GT5228 (October '06):

OS: Windows XP Media Center
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Processor, 2.2 Ghz 2x512KB L2 Cache 2000MhHz System Bus
Motherboard: FIC K2BC51 Motherboard with NVIDIA GeForce 6100 Chipset (BTX)
HDD: 640GB WD Caviar Black 7200rpm drive (installed Dec. '09)
PSU: Bestec 300W
Memory: (2) 1GB DDR2
Optical Drive: DVD +/-RW Multi-format Double Layer
Card Reader: 9-in-1 Card Reader
Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 192N (19” LCD)
Speakers: Klipsch w/subwoofer
Case: Gateway supplied

This was our only computer for a long time and it served many purposes. It was a service plan replacement for an HP customized to order (CTO) gaming machine from Best Buy that lost a motherboard numerous times. Recently, the Gateway lost its motherboard, too, and knowing that the PSU was probably part of the problem in both machines, the two things I am most concerned about with my build are a great and reliable MOBO and PSU. In fact, that's my motivation for building – I want control over those two things out of the gate. I don't want to spend a fortune on them, but I do want something decent and will sacrifice a little somewhere else if necessary so those two pieces can function properly. I've checked out the recent system builds and have been checking other builds, and frankly, I'm going a little insane with it all. Here's what I've got:

Approximate Purchase Date: April-May (as soon as the husband finishes work in my office)

Budget Range: $1000 Before Rebates is preferable, After is acceptable provided total isn't over $1000, including OS purchased last week ($120)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Office programs, surfing the internet (incl. watching shows online), photo editing, music listening, potentially HD video editing (got a new Canon Vixia for Christmas for home movies), potential gaming (husband has some older games and might be inclined toward newer ones if the computer was capable), occasional use of Solidworks, potentially CAD software in the future (not a necessity, yet).

Parts Not Required: OS, Monitor (but it needs a VGA connection), Possibly HDD, possibly DVD +/- RW, possibly 9-1 card reader, possibly GPU.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, maybe Amazon (I have Prime)

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: No mini-towers, full or mid (as long as a decent MOBO will fit); MOBO with onboard graphics might be helpful; Intel Sandy Bridge i3/i5/i7

Overclocking: No (don't know how)

SLI or Crossfire: No (can't imagine I'll need it)

Monitor Resolution: Can't remember what I was running on the desktop

Additional Comments: Bling isn't required. Quiet would be nice but silent isn't a necessity. The biggest road block is that I'm not sure if I can get by with an i3-2100 or if I should spend the extra and get an i5-2500K or maybe even an i7-2600K.

This is what I'm thinking:

OS: Windows 7 Pro (already purchased on sale at Newegg, $120)

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K
Motherboard: ?? Possible options:
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
or
ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

HDD: REUSE 640GB WD Caviar Black 7200rpm drive
or
SSD for OS and reuse the WD for storage (never really used two drives, though, so a little wary)

PSU: ?? Adequate and reliable are the only requirements

Memory: min 8GB (the Gskill in the Newegg build looked pretty good)

GPU: ?? Will I need one? I've got this one that may or may not work; hard to say if it actually failed or if the problem was with the MOBO. If I can live without for now and add one in later, that might be best.

Optical Drive: REUSE DVD +/-RW Multi-format Double Layer (maybe add a BluRay writer later)

Card Reader: REUSE 9-in-1 Card Reader (for now, but I'd like to get an SDHC reader later)

Monitor: REUSE Samsung SyncMaster 192N (in great shape, despite purchase in '03)

Speakers: Klipsch w/subwoofer (if they still work; if not, I'll just get something inexpensive)

Case: ?? Balance between big enough to fit everything (and maybe some upgrades) and not huge

Phew, that was a lengthy post. I've spent a week trying to make this concise, but where I'm at, it's just difficult. Any help is greatly appreciated.

More about : build advice

April 17, 2012 7:14:46 PM

For your purposes, $1000 isn't necessary! If you're not gaming, then the build's going to cost a whole lot less. First of all... are you sure you don't want to overclock? It's simple, safe (if you don't go extreme), and gets you a lot of value for your money. If you still don't want to, then the build I've compiled below will be sufficient. If you DO want to overclock, post back and I'll change some stuff.

CPU: Anything ending in a "K" is for overclocking. Since you're not, I'd recommend the i5-2400
Motherboard: ASRock Pro3 Gen3 is good enough
GPU: MSI Twin Frozr 6870 is fine for modern games on medium settings, and will play any older games easy
Case: Fractal R3. You said you wanted quiet, get this case. Also, get an additional fan (Cougars are nice and quiet, make sure it's 120mm or 140mm) and put it in behind the front door so that you have two intakes (one included, the other optional on top of it) and an exhaust (included). Fractal R3 has good airflow, is quiet, and also has USB 3.0
SSD: Crucial M4 64GB - $80. Use this as a boot drive and put any applications you want to run fast on it.
RAM: 2x4GB DDR3-1600 CAS9 1.5v RAM... the Newegg G.Skill Vengeance with like 1,000 reviews is good.
PSU: Antec 550W... it's one of the top rated on newegg. It'll suffice for your needs.

Reuse your HDD. Total, this will cost about $800 maximum, and is a great build for your purposes... it will probably be closer to $700. It's plenty good enough...ask your husband what modern games he would like to play, and we might upgrade the GPU.
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Anonymous
April 17, 2012 8:11:53 PM

a suggested build . .

PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 400W Modular 80PLUS Bronze $69.99
$49.99 after mail-in rebate card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Core i5-2400 $189.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASRock Z77 Extreme4 $139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC128N/AM 2.5" 128GB $159.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Antec Eleven Hundred Black Super Mid Tower Computer Case $104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$719.94

if low end games/video:
EVGA 01G-P3-1526-KR GeForce GT 520 $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$774.93

more modern games:
EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1461-KR GeForce GTX 560 $189.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(yeah i am a evga fan :p  )

$909.93

oh yeah . .
SAMSUNG Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA $64.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
either $839.92 or $973.93
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April 18, 2012 2:07:50 AM

Eh... my build is quieter, and also... why the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 board? It's specifically for IB overclocking.. neither of which she is doing. I can understand the Z77 (although she's not going to ever be using PCI 3.0 since she's not gaming) somewhat, but the Extreme4 is for overclocking. At least a Pro3, although a Pro3 Gen3 is plenty good enough for her needs. I think my GPU is more well-rounded, but it's preference... knowing what games to play on which resolutions would help.
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Anonymous
April 18, 2012 2:55:35 AM

i wouldn't know about a board "specifically for IB overclocking" since no one has been benchmarking overclocked IB processors until after the official release due to the Non Disclosure Act. (any site posting such results are very suspect atm) actually it is very limited in the bios for overclocking; it is the Fatal1ty series that are the overclockers.

if given a choice between the two boards the OP posted, i picked the E4 because it has USB3 headers whereas the G3 doesn't. like i posted though, it is a suggested build to show what you can get for how much cash. IMHO a h67 board would be more than suitable.

lets not get into a "your build isn't as good as mine because . . ." it does no one any good. :) 
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April 18, 2012 3:22:39 AM

USB3 headers aren't all that important imo, but you've got a point about the benchmarks. Z68 has been good enough for i5-2500k overclockers, and I don't think Z77 really brings all that much to the table.

I think you misunderstood the "your build, my build" thing. I was just comparing the two, and pointing out the differences. For example, the fact that I have a quieter case needs to be known to him. I also wanted to point out the motherboard. Everything else is interchangeable. I'm not trying to say your build is worse, I'm just saying two of my components are more suited to his needs than your two (on one of which is up for debate).
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Anonymous
April 18, 2012 3:45:23 AM

i'm with you on the lack of excitement about the Z77 mobo. though ATM there isn't a lot of usb3 devices, who knows what is around the corner and it maybe a nice feature to have on the front ports. but any H67 Z68 motherboard will have those.

i'll take your word about the case; i never cared what i have, usually some POS i found on the curb. i just seen quite a few folks pick the antecs for whatever.

(btw, may i make the suggestion to you that when you post a build to link to the product so the OP can "see" what you have in mind)

cheers.
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April 18, 2012 3:52:05 AM

Oh, that... haha :/ 

I would, but... well... I don't have an excuse. I usually go the pcpartpicker route, so I'll probably do that more often.
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April 18, 2012 6:32:15 AM

I'm still reading/catching up on this thread but I would definitely reuse your existing hard drive and try and purchase an SSD.. 128GB is the ideal size though even just a 60GB will give you some benefits.

The latest mobos have an interesting technology that allows you to specify an SSD as a cache for an HDD which means as far as your system is concerned you only have the one large storage HDD device; however the performance and boot time is greatly improved. If money is tight you can even postpone the purchase of the SSD until a future date. This caching techology is called "Intel Smart Response Technology"

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4329/intel-z68-chipset-sm...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U83ED4FOWiw
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April 18, 2012 6:59:41 AM

OK so I basically read over the suggestions above. Instead of suggesting another whole build I'll just add to the discussion.

I like Corsair PSU's. 550W is probably sufficient but a 650W is preferred. Modular is great. Check out this page: http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx
Make sure you get a tier 1 or tier 2 PSU. I like the Corsair TX series. Antec is also up there.. Choose a tier 1 or 2 PSU model and then choose 550 or 650 W. Choose a higher tier over higher wattage. As long as you stick to those rules the amperage on the 12V rail should be decent (as this is usually more relavant than wattage). Brand is > wattage when it comes to PSUs.

Modular PSU's are nice for better cooling and convenience. The TX series has both modular and semi-modular models. For example the TX650 and the TX650M.

intel i5-2400 is fine.

Dont know much about cases...

usb 3.0 headers are useful but I think you will benefit by a board with the Intel SRT technology (which both boards you specified should have.. although its not clearly listed on the z77.. i think it should be ). I've only ever owned an Asus mobo... ASrock is probably just as good if not better.

If you plan to use Intel SRT than a 60 - 80 GB SSD is all you need.

I am an EVGA fan. I would recommend the GTX 560TI.
Take note with EVGA cards that the models that differ only in the last two letters are the same physical cards except:

AR = lifetime warranty
KR = 3 year warranty

Usually there is a 30 - 50$ price difference between the two but often the difference is only $5 which makes it worth it.

EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR $204.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

EVGA 01G-P3-1561-KR $199.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Personally between the two I would go for the AR one since 5$ for the lifetime warranty is pretty good. If you can find the KR card alot cheaper than the AR and dont care about the warranty extension.. go for that.

The graphics cards come with one DVI - VGA adapter...

the only other thing I might change with the above builds is that I would shop around for RAM... I would get faster ram if possible... I wouldn't sacrifice quality for speed though, but often the faster RAM is only slightly more expensive and if your mobo supports it... Why not?
Its interesting that much older ram like DDR2 etc. is sometimes more expensive then newer faster ram because of lack of supply.
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April 18, 2012 10:27:06 PM

^Yay, the PSU I suggested (PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750W) is Tier 1 as a PSU!
ASUS is better as a mobo manufacturer, but ASRock is good too. The differences will not be seen... ASRock isn't bad (in fact, it's excellent), but ASUS is slightly better. I'd go with ASRock... it doesn't have any problems and has all of the features.

EVGA: Yeah, many are. They have great warranties, reliability, etc.... but they're basically providing the reference card. MSI Twin Frozr II OC actually provides benefits like better cooling, silence, and pre-overclocked (with room for more!) ability. However, it's also more expensive. MSI have a slightly higher rate of RMAs (although not high enough to warrant the newegg reviews it gets... most only comment when something goes wrong). I'd get a 3 year warranty because for most people, after three years you're upgrading it. However, it depends on your circumstances.

Also, the RAM I suggested (DDR3-1600 CAS9) is the sweet spot for an i5-2500k. I don't think there's all that much benefit in going higher, and if you have an SSD (Crucial 64GB M4 for $80, anyone?) then there really isn't much point. It's all about loading times... actual fps won't increase.

I've just offered my opinion on what geogolem said... however, everything he's said has been true and if you go with what he said, you won't have a failure or anything. Stuff I've suggested has been more geared towards performance, he's been geared towards reliability. However, his suggestions perform great, and my suggestions are reliable enough (if they don't fail in the first few months, you're pretty much safe for the next seven years if you don't upgrade).
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April 18, 2012 11:03:09 PM

Ok, I did a little more research based on what you guys have suggested. Also, I thought more about my usage, and since you all said I could use the i5-2400, knowing that I wanted to edit home quality HD videos, I realized that the performance level of this machine is more about gaming quality, since my previous system did fine with everything except the husband's games. He actually stopped playing them when we lost the HP because he thought there was such a decrease in quality. The Gateway did just fine running AutoCAD Land Development Desktop and my structural calc software as well as SolidWorks, and aside from the video editing (which I've yet to do), it also handled everything else just fine with only the onboard NVIDIA GeForce GPU.

So, here are my changes. I decided to stick with the i5-2500K, which was my first choice, anyway, and it gives me the option of overclocking if I want to try it when I am more comfortable with my build. I wanted to use the GSkill RAM, but I didn't like that they didn't show compatibility with either ASRock motherboard I considered (Z77 orZ68 Extreme3 Gen3), so I went with the Corsair instead. I used their memory finder to figure out which set worked best for overclocking and their PSU finder to size that. Upon reflection of what my husband plays for games, I'm thinking he would like BF3, since he's always played first-person shooter, flight simulator and racing types of games and he owns BF1942 and BF Vietnam. Let me know if you think this build will work for my reassessed needs:


OS: Windows 7 Pro $120

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K $220

Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 $122

PSU: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply $116

System Drive: Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $85

Storage Drive: REUSE 640GB WD Caviar Black 7200rpm drive $0


Memory: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8 $65

GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti FPB (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card $230 with a MIR of $25

Optical Drive: REUSE DVD +/-RW Multi-format Double Layer and get the BluRay burner later in the year

Card Reader: REUSE 9-in-1 Card Reader and get a SDHC reader later in the year (my Eee has one for now when needed)

Monitor: REUSE Samsung SyncMaster 192N

Speakers: Klipsch w/subwoofer :crossfingers: they still work

Case: I'd like tower without a clear panel – 3-5yo's are too curious as it is. I'm thinking one of these, all about $60:

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

I made some real effort to choose parts that got 4-5 eggs on Newegg with ratings that were 70% or better when possible. I tried to also keep costs AND quality in mind - I'm using a spreadsheet to play around with the numbers. I should hit right around $1000, maybe just under or over depending on what I can get for rebates and discounts. I hope I've balanced quality, reliability and performance. I'm a little nervous about the 2-drive setup and attaching the CPU to the motherboard, but I think the rest should be easy enough.
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April 18, 2012 11:11:59 PM

Yup, I pretty much agree with everything ddan49 said. Looking forward to hear other opinions and/or the OP's decisions/thoughts. [EDIT] I guess I posted slightly late... reading the OP's response above ;) 
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Anonymous
April 18, 2012 11:15:54 PM

if you can budget it, i really really really would like to suggest a 120+ gig SSD. that will give you plenty of room for the OS and ALL your applications. you might end up micromanaging with a 64 gig drive.

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April 18, 2012 11:38:36 PM

Everything looks pretty good. I think going with the i5-2500k is a good choice if you don't mind paying the slight difference (dont know what it is). i5-2500k is actually the best and most popular cpu for gaming value on the market. Even if you don't overclock you may have slightly better temperatures and/or performance and you can always cool/overclock in the future.

Since you stated you might be a little concerned with the dual storage device setup I thought I would just clarify the options available to you:

Option 1: Use SSD at a boot drive and HDD as data storage. In this case I would recommend an SSD of 120GB or more since 60GB won't be enough for the OS+games+apps. This will offer the best performance but will be slightly more expensive since you need a bigger SSD and slightly more complicated since you your system will actually appear to have 2 distinct storage devices - the SSD and the HDD.

Option 2: Use the SSD as a cache for your HDD in an Intel SRT setup. In this case a 64GB SSD is all you need since SRT can only use a maximum of 64GB. Once you set it up as far as your concerned (from an outside perspective) your computer will only have the one storage device - the HDD; however the performance will be improved behind the scenes through the use of the Intel SRT caching technology. The performance will improve over time and will be virtually the same as option 1 for frequently used files/applications/games etc. This solution is convenient and simple.

I reccomend Option 2 but make sure you watch the youtube video I posted a few posts back to understand and properly choose the device what you want. You also need to make sure your mobo supports SRT. I would try to strike a balance between performance and reliability.

Also keep in mind that even if you buy a 120GB SSD and want to use option 2 you can. 64GB will be used for a cache and the remaining area on the SSD will be available to be partitioned and used as another storage drive. Having made that clear as the post above this one reccomended I would grab an SSD no less than 120GB. As this gives you the flexibility to use option 1 or 2 and as a matter of fact SSD's with higher capacity typically have higher bandwidth and thus perform slightly better than their smaller capacity counterparts. In other words the 120GB is a win-win while the 64GB may restrict you and offer slightly less performance.

Anyway, other than that everything looks great and decently balanced except for one more thing I noticed/realized.

You may want to seriously consider investing in a newer monitor. I noticed the maximum resolution of that monitor you have is only 1280x1024. Gaming at lower resolutions actually introduces more CPU bottleneck and limits the capability of the graphics card. 1920x1080 is recommended. Of course, you could always wait and buy a new monitor eventually and not necessarily right now. You wouldn't have to necessarily even discard your old monitor as you could have a dual monitor setup. Trust me, dual monitors is awesome for productivity! :) 

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Just some insight into potential changes - if you wanted to put more money into the system and better "future-proof" the system (although no system is ever really future proof). I'm mostly just explaining this so that you may understand the expandability/limitations/upgradability of the system you have specified. I'm not necessarily recommending the following changes. Just providing info so you can make a more informed decision.

The only area where you might notice significant improvements would be in the graphics card although the price/performance ratio shoots up after the GTX 560 TI making anything better not quite worth it unless you are a hardcore gamer. If you wanted to make the system slightly more future proof I would either (a) get a more powerful graphics card like the 570, 580 or even the new 680 or get a more powerful PSU so that in the future you could potentially add another GTX 560TI in SLI if you wanted. i.e. you could spend some more cash now to get a more powerful PSU and then down the road when GTX 560TI's drop in price further or you see a sale you could grab another one and put it in your existing system under SLI and get a large performance improvement.

These changes aren't necessary I'm just trying to convey some insight into how you may evolve with this system in the future if you wanted. The TX650W PSU is great for any single graphics card setup but not for dual cards. 2 GTX 560TI in SLI are comparable in performance to the 580's. So basically if you leave thing as are, in the future you would need to either get a new GPU entirely or a new PSU along with another 560TI. In order to maximize the use of your existing components it may be beneficial to simply invest in a better GPU or PSU up front, now, in the beginning but obviously not necessary.

To make matters more interesting, EVGA has an awesome "step up upgrade" program for their cards. This program allows you to register your graphics card and initiate a step-up to a newer or better graphics card within 90 days of purchase. EVGA simply makes you pay the difference between what you paid for your current graphics card and the one you want to step up to and you ship them the old card while they ship you the new one.

Now having said all of that (I hope I dont appear to be rambling) nvidia may be releasing new GPU's in the 6xx series in the next month or two and intel may be releasing new Ivy Bridge processors very soon. the Ivy Bridge processors will not be a significant improvement over the Sandy Bridge (i5-2500k) you are planning to get but may be more power efficient and have other benefits. I don't know - they're not out yet.

Intel has a CPU release schedule described by the following site: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/silicon-innovati...

Ivy Bridge is the tick after the Sandy Bridge which involves a change in the manufacturing process but not the micro architecture.

It may be beneficial to wait a month or 2 and build a very similar system to the one we have discussed except with the new nvidia 6xx series GPU and the Intel Ivy Bridge CPU or perhaps get the current system specs at a slightly better price. I don't know what the future holds and its up to you ;)  Of course you could end up always waiting for new technology to come out as things are changing all the time; however I am quite certain both nvidia and intel will be releasing these changes soon... maybe within weeks to a month or 2.

most of this info I have provided below the ---- is not reccomendation etc. but I am just trying to provide you with information that may help you maximize the value you get from your purchase over time :) 

Now that I have given arguments for waiting and/or spending a little more to get more bang for your dollar, I will counteract that with some useful insight. In my experience it is usually better to not overspend on a top of the line system now to last you longer than it is to spend less now and simply buy a new system sooner.

There is a certain optimum price/performance point where spending more now is not worth it since you might as well spend less and simply put that extra cash you would have spent towards a newer system sooner. To give an arbitrary example: Spending $5000 on a computer to last you 10 years now is not as good as it would be to spend $2500 now and $2500 5 years from now; however it could be the case that spending $1500 (or $1100?) now is better than spending $1000 now. These values are just arbitrary but you get the idea. There are a ton of variables involved and the future is unpredictable but the more info you have the better decisions you can make :) 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conclusions:
I would definitely get a 120GB SSD over a 64GB SSD.

If I decided to stick with the GTX 560TI I might buy a more powerful PSU that wold allow me to add a second GTX 560TI in SLI in the future.

Here is an interesting video about the TX series PSU's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-mexVbkjiw

Note that if I were to get a TX series PSU I might get the M version (depending on the cost). The M version of the 850W is $10 cheaper than the non M version of the 850W on tigerdirect. This does not appear to be the case for the 650W. The M versions are semimodular which makes cable management much more efficient.

Just for interest/comparison:
TX850M: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
TX850: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Here is an interesting video about PSU modularity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm_2RG61hhk&feature=fvwr...

If I could I would wait to see what happens with nvidia 6xx and Intels Ivy Bridge CPUs but if I needed a PC right now or don't really care that much I would completely forget above Intel's Ivy Bridge CPU grab the 560TI and *maybe* participate in EVGA's step up program if a new 670 TI or something comes out in the next 90 days (depending on its price point - it is possible that within 90 days of purchase you could get a virtually free or cheap upgrade if the new ones take over the price point of the old ones and the old ones drop in price - you basically have 90 days of protection with EVGA which I like).. Because of the possibility of using EVGA's step up program I would probbaly get the z77 mobo now (which supports PCI-express 3.0) since the new 6xx series GPU's also support PCI-Express 3.0..

Looking forward to hearing what you decide or any other discussion/questions you may have. I hope I didn't ramble too much. Just trying to convey my thought process.
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April 19, 2012 5:10:02 AM

Thanks, geogolem. You guys have all helped quite a bit already and as you can tell by my first post, I'm certainly no one to criticize for rambling. ;)  I usually appreciate a lengthy explanation when I can get something out of it, too (it's why I sometimes give them). Here are my thoughts...they might ramble a little, too...

Ok, first, when we bought that HP in 2003, we overspent. At the time, the husband was in a place in his life where he just wanted the best he could afford and since we had no kids and no mortgage and shared expenses, well, it was a lot, to the tune of $2k for the computer setup and $750 for the monitor. So, the goal here is to get something that kicks the booty of our last system and, at the same time, serves all our purposes without breaking the bank. It's probably a pretty standard thought process, but I'm coming from a place where I've learned a few lessons the hard way and I want to avoid doing that again and to illustrate that I've truly learned from those lessons (to myself if to no one else).

Lesson 1: don't keep pushing the budget until you find yourself saying, "What was I thinking?" in a year.
Lesson 2: if you don't have a great motherboard, your system is junk.
Lesson 3: out of the box systems often use lower-end motherboards.
Lesson 4: it is often the case that when a motherboard fails, the power supply is to blame.
Lesson 5: out of the box systems often use low-end, low wattage PSUs.
Lesson 6: it really, really sucks to lose all your data and backup is paramount, because recovery is $$.
Lesson 7: the only real way to have control over your motherboard and PSU is if you build it yourself.
Lesson 8: external HDD make good backup but not good write drives.

A special shout out to Gilware for their reasonably priced recovery of my priceless data. Those guys rock.

So, that said, I don't want to push my budget too hard, but I can probably swing a few extra bucks over the husband's firm $1k budget by using some cash that was for gifts for me from my parents. Certainly, I can afford the extra $35 to buy the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 120GB SSD, (which was my first choice if I went that route) if I can't make wiggle room elsewhere in the budget.

I don't think I'll wait for IB - from what I've read, it should mostly be an efficiency improvement, which would be important if I were intending to buy a laptop. Since this is a desktop home/gaming build and not a 24/7 server or workstation, I'll skip IB and worry about the minor improvements down the line when I build my next computer. :D  (I figure it'll only really hurt the first time, right? Hehe.) Now, if I'm not going with IB, is it worth moving up to the Z77? There isn't much of a cost difference from the Z68, but the little there is could go toward the SSD instead. That brings me to my next question...

...which is about the GPU. Now, I know my husband, and he'll likely be interested in new games if the computer can handle them. And by new, I mean that if the computer can handle a current title, he's probably more inclined to buy older versions, maybe buying the current 'new' titles when they're no longer new. While I'm all good with OC in the near future, I don't have any immediate plans to use SLI nor do I anticipate that his gaming requirements will exceed the ability of the computer before I am ready to build a new one. Honestly, if the Gateway had been better set up for gaming vs multimedia, it would have been fine in his book, but with the lack of discrete sound and, especially, GPU, it just couldn't perform. He isn't as into gaming as he was 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean I don't want him to be able to play his old stuff or maybe a few newer titles. We've got a ~3yo son and a ~5yo daughter, a house with a huge yard and plenty of woods where he can ride his 4-wheeler or play lumberjack with his chain saw...yeah, he might play games instead of surfing Craigslist, but it won't be anything hardcore or extensive. And so in that case, will I really need more than what the 560Ti can do now? Heck, with his aversion to MMORPG, he's highly unlikely to invest time or money into the games that emphasize the non-single-player aspect, and those seem to be the really intensive ones. Is there even a GPU that might do the job just fine for me and save some $ in the process without sacrificing quality (obviously, it would be a sacrifice in performance, but it will still be miles ahead of the Gateway)?

So, let's say I'm not going to use SLI, bump up to the Z77 or get a more powerful GPU than the 560Ti, do I actually need a PSU greater than 650W? I'm assuming no, based on what you said. But, would it be better, then, if I used CORSAIR Professional Series HX650 (CMPSU-650HX) 650W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply? That one gets great reviews and is modular and it costs about the same as the last one I spec'd, since the shipping is free vs $6 for the 650TX version. I'm not overly concerned about cable management per se, but I can see the advantages of leaving out the ones you're not using. And, again, this is not a server and is not intended to be on 24/7, so any minor voltage drops at the connectors are not a concern, nor is the heat at this point (which, from what I gather, both are a little bit old wives tale blended with facts), so I'm ok with going modular. Heck, it might make my life easier for my first build.

Back to the SSD...I'll fork over the extra $35 of my personal cash and get the 120GB. What I meant before was that I've never actually set up two drives. I installed and formatted the drive currently in the Gateway, but that was it. I want to install two drives; heck, I've got a 250GB SATA II that was the original drive in the Gateway and the reason it failed was because it lost a kernel in the OS portion of the drive. I always wondered if I could set it up so that I could just access the drive like it was storage, still 'see' everything on it as long as I'm not using it as my boot drive, without actually overwriting it. If so, that would be sweeter than I can possibly tell you...if not, well, no biggie, that ship sailed and I can live without it returning to port, but I'd love it if it did. Either way, I guess I wanted to buy the SSD from the beginning so that I could install the OS on it and have a little more stability as well as performance gains. Now, do I have to set it up in RAID? This is where I'm a little concerned; I've read stuff that makes me think it would not only be cool to use RAID but would also help with data storage and backup, so that I could have an internal drive for backup #1 with irreplaceable stuff duplicated on our 500GB WD external and backed up to disc. Note my above comment re: losing data. Yeah, that was a HARD lesson to learn, so if I can go a step beyond with this build and improve that aspect of my computer use, it would be fantastic. But again, it's one of the parts of a first build that I want to do and not screw it up, you know? If what I'm doing, though, is installing my OS on the WD 640GB and using the SSD as cache, then can I set that up at a later date? In other words, can I push off buying the SSD even by just a few months? Or do I need to have it up front (it sounded like no for Gigabyte but what about ASRock)? Because if I can avoid installing the OS twice and all the hassle that goes with it, that would be worth $120! And if setting it up in RAID with the OS on the new SSD means I can just plug and play with the drive (or drives, even) that I already have, well cool beans. Of course, if I added a drive, that might affect my PSU...

See, this is why I came here...I like to get feedback about stuff, even if I'm just talking to myself in an email, but with a lot of this technical aspect of computing, I'm such a newbie that I really have to get input from people who know more than me!

Anyway, I would love to get another monitor, if only to be able to keep using this one as the docking station for my ASUS Eee. But I'm not set up to run two on the same machine right now, even if I can concoct scenarios where I'd use it (*sigh* they involve spending more time on the computer than I should as a SAHM). It's also not in the current budget. And while better resolution would probably be great for the games, I've found that at finer resolutions it becomes harder to read small text. The husband is a simple computer user in many respects, mostly in that he likes to get something the way he wants it and then not have to keep changing back and forth (he grumbles about using gmail at home and outlook at work). I suspect he'd not change resolutions between games and everything else, so he'd probably keep things where they are comfortable, and IIRC, we didn't even have it maxed before. I'll be interested to see what a discrete GPU will do for it. :) 

UGH, and crap, I forgot that I need a printer. Not that it's a big deal except that it costs $. *sigh* How essential is it that I buy a $200 GPU right now? Will the Intel GPU on the i5 be enough if I postpone gaming and say, HD video edits? It's never simple, these things...

Ok, time to hit the hay. I look forward to your response!

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April 19, 2012 6:11:50 AM

lol, great response. I agree with all 8 of your "lessons". I too have learned those from past experience.

I agree with your thoughts on not necessarily caring about IB. I doubt the improvements will really affect you much. If you were buying a laptop I would be more inclined to push to wait because power consumption/efficiency of the CPU is a big deal when it comes to battery life/mobility on laptops but I doubt you will notice much of a relavant difference in a desktop.

I'm not too familiar regarding which brands of SSD offer the best reliability/performance so I might do a little more research if I were you but 120GB is probably the "sweet spot" regarding capacity/cost and your expected usage possibilities.

Even if you were to get a more powerful "single" graphics card, the Corsair 650W PSU will be more than good enough. The only time you will require more than this would be if you ever had a multiple graphics card (SLI) setup. The Corsair HX line of PSU's is supposed to be on par with the TX series, while the AX series is slightly better than both. The HX is fully modular which kind of makes it slightly better than the TXM in my eyes. It appears the only fundamental difference between the AX and HX (other than the price) is the fact it is 80+ GOLD certified. This could potentially save you money on your energy bill.

Here is an great video that details the differences and potential energy savings with different grade (i.e. 80+ Bronze vs 80+ GOLD) PSU's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vnXNyh9vIg

Whether that is worth the price difference etc. I dont know but I figured I'd mention it just because it's useful to know.

Just to summarize the differences between the various models:
TX650: non modular 80+Bronze
TX650M: sem-modular 80+Bronze
HX650: fully modular 80+Bronze
AX650: full modular 80+GOLD

Regarding the SSD's and HDD's:
Regardless of what you do, when you install Windows make sure you have the BIOS set to AHCI mode. SSD's require this mode (and so does eSATA i believe) and if you flip this setting without reinstalling Windows you will get BSOD's of death on boot. My current Windows installation was installed without AHCI mode being enabled and my eSATA port won't work properly because of this. When I turned AHCI mode on Windows BSOD's on start up. If I switch AHCI back off I can boot into Windows fine. Supposedly there are some "hacky" workarounds for switching AHCI on without reinstalling Windows but I haven't been able to get it to work. I learned my lesson and the next time I install Windows I will make sure AHCI is on.

I currently don't own an SSD but have been investigating purchasing one myself soon. The performance improvements are drastic and my mechanical HDD is the weakest link in my current setup. Based on my research and referring to options 1 and 2 as described in my previous post I believe the ability to easily migrate from an HDD to an SSD setup depends on the SSD itself (for option 1, using it as a boot drive) or the mobo (for option 2 using it as a cache).

When doing option 1 some SSD's come with software that allows you to easily migrate your Windows installation from your HDD, test your new SSD and then wipe your HDD clean upon successful test with the new SSD. Here is a video of some intel data migration software: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jebII-FTOmk
though I personally don't know about its reliability or compatibility with various SSD (i.e. does it just work with intel??? I dont know).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxNyDBSBNxg
http://hothardware.com/News/Acronis-Data-Migration-Soft...
Seems its only available? and free to intel users.... need to google around to find if a similar solution exists for other brand SSDs.
Adata has something similar: http://www.adata-group.com/index.php?action=ss_main&pag...
Seems the software is available for purchase: http://www.acronis.com/oem/products/trueimage-hd/
Its just free with certain SSD's it seems..

When doing option 2 (using Intel SRT technology) it seems to depend on the mobo but as far as I can tell it should be very simple to add an SSD as a cache to an existing HDD Windows installation. Basically its just like installing the SSD and enabling it as a cache for your existing HDD.

RAID is another story. There are many different types of RAID. The two main ones are:
1) two identical drives functioning as 1 drive to improve performance - this wont be useful if you have an SSD as the performance of the SSD is far superior to two mechanical drives in this RAID configuration. Also, interesting to note setting up two SSD in this type of RAID will not perform as well as a single SSD with a total capacity equal to the sum of the two smaller ones because larger SSD's typically have higher bandwidth and thus perform better than their smaller counterparts. These types of RAID setups are risky because if one drive goes the data is not recoverable.
2)one drive operating as the backup of another (mirroring). I don't have much experience with this though it could be useful for you. Instead I would recommend some kind of network attached storage (NAS) solution with Windows backup backing up to the NAS. You can buy routers that have built in HDD or usb ports for external HDD and/or printers. I dont have much experience with RAID but I use a NAS for backup purposes.

Having said all that I could see an extremely useful and convenient setup being like the following. SSD cache of HDD1, and HDD2 mirroring HDD1 as a backup. I might do some more googling to investigate this as I'm curious myself.

If I have some time I might actually look into optimal RAID setups for systems with SSD drives etc and post back what I find here. Im curious as well.

Regarding that old 250GB HDD you said failed on you because of missing kernel data. If the physical drive was undamaged and the data was just corrupt (for some reason) than the drive could still be used. Just need to hook it up to the mobo through a SATA cable and Windows should autodetect it and you should be able to access the data if its not corrupt. Though because you had issues with that drive before I would not depend on it too much even if it does appear to work.

The integrated GPU will be sufficient for most day-to-day tasks that don't involve gaming or video edits so if you don't immediately require the GPU you can hold off on it which may be beneficial for the potential new cards and/or price drops forthcoming.

Regarding the Arock z77 vs. the z68 if you don't care about IB i think the z68 is the better choice. It appears (I didn't confirm but newegg z77 lacks the specification of it)that the z77 doesnt have SRT support which I think could come in handy and is supported via the z68. Both the z68 and the z77 have PCI-Express 3.0 which would have been a reason to choose z77 over z68 if z68 didnt... but it does... It appears the only other difference is that the z68 lacks usb 3.0 headers for connecting front panel usb 3.0 leads from the front of your case. It does in fact have usb 3.0 ports on the rear of the mobo though, so theoretically you could hook up the front usb 3.0 ports (if your case has them) by connecting the lead to an extension (which comes with the case often) to a usb 3.0 port at the back. I don't think this is a big deal and considering the z77 lacks SRT and you dont care about IB I would rather have the z68 with SRT and no usb 3.0 front panel leads then z77 without SRT with usb 3.0 panel leads.

Regarding a printer. I only go with HP and I have been using the Printer/Scanner/Copier type HP printers for years. You can get a good printer/scanner/copier model even with WiFi capability for really cheap, cheaper if you don't care about wifi. When you choose a printer take note of the cost of the ink it requires. Some of the printers require more expensive ink than others. I use HP Deskjet 4400 and HP Deskjet 4500 series in my house. They are identical except the 4500 series has built-in wifi while the 4400 series doesn't. I have the 4400 series connected via usb to my router and so its still available on the network which is convenient if you have laptops or other devices throughout your house. If you use iOS (iphone/ipad) you may want a printer that supports the "Airprint" protocol but honestly you can probably get a decent all-in-one for 59.99 or 99.99 if you want a built-in fax too. I wouldn't spend more than $100 on a printer. There was a time in my life that I didn't bother buying new ink but rather just bought a new all-in-one each time I ran out of ink because they were so cheap... The new one would use cheaper ink (they come with ink too) and be a more reliable better performing model. The 4500 series I have now I have actually stuck with for about ~year or 2 and have refilled the black ink twice and the colour once. It seems that the technology stabalized these days, but like I said I remember buying new printers often instead of ink refills. ( I know its bad for the environment etc. but it was cheaper and I would end up with a better printer that required cheaper ink for refills in the future)

Finally regarding the monitor. If you can, I would somewhat hold off on buying the monitor. Check out this article: http://techreport.com/discussions.x/22784

though you can probably get a really nice good size monitor for less than $200. The best way to buy a monitor is to go to somewhere like bestbuy and compare the pictures and specs and then find the lowest price and price match at Bestbuy or another retailer like that (I prefer Futureshop, here in Canada --- which is owned by Bestbuy anyway). They have a good return policy and its hard to decide on a monitor without looking at the picture it produces.

Now I thought of something else entirely that I should mention. I noticed you already purchased a copy of Windows 7 for $120 ... that should be fine.

I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the fact that Windows 8 will be released probably around the October time frame. If I were buying a laptop I would definitely wait until sometime after Windows 8 comes out. For desktops it won't be as big of a deal though you might buy a Windows 8 upgrade at some point. I have actually tried the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and at first I didn't like it but the more I used it the more I liked it. Obviously its targetted at merging and improving the tablet/notebook space but there are also several improvements to the standard desktop portion of the OS as well.

Hope this helps. Talk to you later.
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April 19, 2012 12:59:06 PM

Paki0921 said:
Ok, I did a little more research based on what you guys have suggested. Also, I thought more about my usage, and since you all said I could use the i5-2400, knowing that I wanted to edit home quality HD videos, I realized that the performance level of this machine is more about gaming quality, since my previous system did fine with everything except the husband's games. He actually stopped playing them when we lost the HP because he thought there was such a decrease in quality. The Gateway did just fine running AutoCAD Land Development Desktop and my structural calc software as well as SolidWorks, and aside from the video editing (which I've yet to do), it also handled everything else just fine with only the onboard NVIDIA GeForce GPU.

So, here are my changes. I decided to stick with the i5-2500K, which was my first choice, anyway, and it gives me the option of overclocking if I want to try it when I am more comfortable with my build. I wanted to use the GSkill RAM, but I didn't like that they didn't show compatibility with either ASRock motherboard I considered (Z77 orZ68 Extreme3 Gen3), so I went with the Corsair instead. I used their memory finder to figure out which set worked best for overclocking and their PSU finder to size that. Upon reflection of what my husband plays for games, I'm thinking he would like BF3, since he's always played first-person shooter, flight simulator and racing types of games and he owns BF1942 and BF Vietnam. Let me know if you think this build will work for my reassessed needs:


OS: Windows 7 Pro $120

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K $220

Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 $122

PSU: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply $116

System Drive: Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $85

Storage Drive: REUSE 640GB WD Caviar Black 7200rpm drive $0


Memory: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8 $65

GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti FPB (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card $230 with a MIR of $25

Optical Drive: REUSE DVD +/-RW Multi-format Double Layer and get the BluRay burner later in the year

Card Reader: REUSE 9-in-1 Card Reader and get a SDHC reader later in the year (my Eee has one for now when needed)

Monitor: REUSE Samsung SyncMaster 192N

Speakers: Klipsch w/subwoofer :crossfingers: they still work

Case: I'd like tower without a clear panel – 3-5yo's are too curious as it is. I'm thinking one of these, all about $60:

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

I made some real effort to choose parts that got 4-5 eggs on Newegg with ratings that were 70% or better when possible. I tried to also keep costs AND quality in mind - I'm using a spreadsheet to play around with the numbers. I should hit right around $1000, maybe just under or over depending on what I can get for rebates and discounts. I hope I've balanced quality, reliability and performance. I'm a little nervous about the 2-drive setup and attaching the CPU to the motherboard, but I think the rest should be easy enough.


You've made good choices. So many people have commented with essays, and they're all right, so I'll kind of address things briefly and concisely, while going down the list.

So. A 128GB (or 120, around there) SSD is probably best, for lots of applications and games. However, it doesn't seem like you use a lot of different applications. Putting Google Chrome (which you should use, by the way ;)  ) on an SSD won't really make your internet faster. Do you really use any large, consuming programs? 64GB is enough for an operating system, BF3, and OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) with a bunch of room left. I mean, the average person will have:

-OS
- BF3
- Word or LibreOffice
- Another game? GTA?
- Video editing

Total, that won't be more than 40GB... MAYBE 50GB. Don't put documents on an SSD... it's unnecessary. Crucial M4 if you're on a budget.

For playing around with prices, use pcpartpicker.com . It's a great site that finds the lowest price (among newegg, NCIX, etc... not ebay) with graphs showing price change over time.

GPU: Well... a GTX 560 Ti is better than you think. A lot better. It'll play any (and I mean ANY) game out there on medium, most on high (BF3 is demanding, along with Crisis), and any older games on max. MMORPGs will not be a problem. Don't go any higher... it's unnecessary. I'd suggest an MSI Twin Frozr II OC edition of the 560 Ti, but it's up to you. MSI has better cooling and it's overclocked for better performance (still leaving room for you to overclock more. It just ships faster than reference).

Case: Antec Illusion Three Hundred is the best in a side-by-side... it's got a three-speed fan controller for each fan. Also, it's got room, and is well-reviewed. I'd suggest that. If you can spring more, a Corsair 400R would be nice, but that's optional. If you want silence/quietness, a Fractal R3 would be great. Although at the moment it is $115 (it shot up $10...).

Other than that, it seems everything is good. A Z77 motherboard really isn't necessary, since you're on SB and it won't really do anything. If you ever decide to overclock, remember to get a CPU fan... Intel stock isn't very good (although good enough for stock speeds).
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April 19, 2012 2:54:57 PM

pretty much also agree with ddman above. One interesting thing I learned that probably isn't relavant to your decision making but is interesting to know. SSD's typically come in capacities of 60, 120, 240GB etc. which is unusual since you would expect 64, 128 or 256GB. Apparently the 60, 120, 240 GB SSD's actualy have flash chips that are 64, 128 or 256GB in total capacity; however the small portion of the capacity missing are disabled and left as redundancies so that a small portion of the SSD can burn out over time and the SSD can compensate by using that extra capacity set aside.

There are some SSD's on the market which do not set this extra space aside (the 64GB, 128GB or 256GB). These are able to have the full, higher capaciity for one of 2 reasons. Their lifespan is rated lower meaning they won't last as long and/or they use higher quality memory which compensates for the lack of redundancy.... I don't know which is better or more reliable or cost effective. I would stick to reviews etc and I wouldnt worry if a drive was 120 or 128... 120 is good enough.... I'd be most concerned with reliability, compatibility and performance.

It may be useful to compare the available or reccomended cases via youtube videos. The following is a video about the Antec 300 (I'm not sure if this is the same as the Antec Illusion 300 reccomended by ddman but you could probably find videos for several cases)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8xJmzzR1_I&feature=resu...
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April 19, 2012 3:49:44 PM

by the way... IB should be out April 23 but I don't know what that means in terms of availability or price or how it will affect the price of current SB cpus.
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April 19, 2012 6:08:16 PM

I think that SB won't go down (may even go up) because MANY people are deciding on SB INSTEAD of IB! I know... it's weird, but leaked IB chips (although not retail) run hot, and aren't satisfactory. I know there will be a large amount of people buying them anyway. The price will be inflated in the first week for sure because of supply vs demand, but may drop off after that. Although Intel isn't supposed to inflate prices... retailers might. Newegg should be fair, though.

I didn't know that about SSDs , geogolem. I guess that makes sense. Basically, at the rate SSDs are going, I think having a shorter lifespan in favor of better performance is worth it because SSD prices are falling, and when you buy your next one, I am sure it will be better than the one you could be using.

Basically, my point is that I would rather use an SSD until it dies (say... ten years) rather than replace my SSD in ten years, and run on slightly lower performance. It's up to you, though... I don't know how your situation is.

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April 19, 2012 7:20:34 PM

@ddan - I also heard the similar reports about the leaked IB CPU's. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. Ya I just learned that about SSD's as well from the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGS2l4aftiM
I don't know whats better. I would have to compare all the specs and reviews but I would want to maximize performance, reliability, and capacity in that order with performance/reliability being more important then capacity (when comparing a 120 vs 128 GB or a 60 vs. 64GB or a 240 vs 256GB). I don't mind dropping a few gigs if it means the drive will perform better or be more reliable... but if the larger capacity drives perform better or are just as reliable then why not go for the extra capacity (well, depending on the cost of course - the extra few gigs offered wouldnt justify much of an increase in cost in my opinion - i would probably go with the cheaper slightly lower capacity drive unless the high one performed better or was more reliable). Anyway I was just pointing this out so that when one sees a 120GB SSD and compares it to a 128GB SSD they might realize the underlying reason for the difference in capacity and factor in other metrics like performance and reliability as opposed to just comparing cost/capacity.
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April 19, 2012 8:02:01 PM

^Yeah, I know.

By the way, most SSDs are going to perform about the same. An SSD difference of like 10mb/s won't make a difference. Just get whatever you feel comfortable with.
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April 19, 2012 9:34:08 PM

Just noticed an article here on "Tom's" today about the high res displays expected to enter the market and how standard monitor resolutions may change in the next several years. Perhaps this will give you an idea of a good time to eventually purchase a new monitor - though I'm guessing a 1920x1080 will still be the most economical and common for the next 3 years.
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Intel-Higher-Resolutio...
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April 20, 2012 11:38:47 PM

Yeah... I think those "retina" monitors won't be available for most consumers (meaning at prices that won't cost as much as a house) until about 3-5 years... also... y'know... 1080p doesn't look that bad. I mean, I know the famous Gates quote of "402K [or some other 400ish number] should be enough for anyone", meaning 400ish (can't remember) kilobytes of memory. But still... I don't think you'll miss out on much. Retina displays will probably only be affordable in about 5 years, considering the tech to make them is still developing.
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April 21, 2012 4:12:12 AM

Sorry, guys. Your posts have given me a lot to think about in the past couple days and I've sat here to compose my thoughts numerous times. I think I'll try to summarize as concisely as I can, otherwise, it'll be another novel!

I think I'm pretty comfortable with the following build: (not posting links unless they're new)

CPU: Intel i5-2500K $220
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 $122
PSU: Corsair Professional Series HX650 $120
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) $50
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti $230
System Drive: Crucial M4 64GB $85
Storage Drives: Existing WD 640GB, Existing 250GB SATA II drive from the Gateway $0
Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black $60

Including the OS for $120 and budgeting about $25 for a keyboard, that's ~$1050 before rebates and promos and assumes I'm buying the GPU now instead of later. I'm going to give the husband the option of waiting for the GPU. I'm also going to give him the option of getting a bigger SSD, but I talked to my cousin, and I think the 64GB might be ok; if I can access my two SATA drives without reformatting them, a lot of the programs I might put on my main drive are already loaded on those two. In which case, the OS drive will not have much on it besides the OS unless I add stuff later.

I've decided to skip RAID configurations for now. I think backup software might do the trick, and I'll probably try out the Win7 stuff first. If you see otherwise, let me know, but what little I read gave the impression that it might be a bad idea to utilize a SSD for RAID, depending upon which setup you use. A big part of it for me is that I'm in no rush to add a RAID controller when the reality is that I just want to back up the irreplaceable stuff, not every.single.thing.

I'll stick with my existing monitor for now - it's really been a great monitor and there isn't a real reason to replace it, yet. We still don't own an HDTV, (shock!) so before we replace this monitor, we'll likely get a new TV, LOL.

I've always liked HP printers (our last one was purchased in '03 and just died, likely due to 3yo curiosity), so I'll probably get one of theirs that has the copy/scan/print feature (and if I can get fax for a little extra, sure, that too), but I'll stick with WalMart and the like for photos.

Also, if you guys have any recommendations on a good, reliable UPS, let me know; after watching the SRT video, it occurred to me that it's possible the power fluctuations at my house (we get brown outs more than I'd ever like) could possibly have contributed to the demise of the Gateway. In which case, it is probably time to move to a UPS. If it was the occasional blackout that happens in winter, that would be one thing, but this is random, non-weather related, so I'd say it's a good investment in the long-term health of our computer.

Other thoughts:

I'd like to have stayed under $1k for the whole shebang, but I don't want to sacrifice quality, and that means I'll spend more on the motherboard, PSU and GPU than I might have originally planned. Plus, the discussions here reminded me of the keyboard/mouse, printer and adding a UPS, so that's a little extra beyond the system itself. If we hold off on the GPU, we can probably stay under $1k with those other items included. Which is pretty much how I'm presenting it to the husband: spend extra, get discrete graphics and play your games OR wait for the card and play your games later, saving around $200 now.

Thanks for the tip about ACHI. I'll be sure to reference this when I build. Ditto the SSD capacity reference - that was a good thing to know. And thanks for finding that Antec video - it helped me get a real sense of the case and its size. I'd guess it's very similar to my Gateway case. Oh, how I wish that stupid thing wasn't a BTX case...

I really hope IB doesn't make the SB prices go up, but perhaps I should buy my processor, at least, before 4/23? I'm hoping to finalize the build specs this weekend and get things ordered sooner than later.

If the husband vetoes the Illusion case due to the LED fans, I'll get the Black and buy the two 120mm fans that doesn't include. But for $5, it's worth the cost of the fans, I think.

dan, you don't have to sell me on Chrome or OpenOffice - I use and like them both. :sol:  And thanks for the mention of pcpartpicker. I'll be checking there, for sure (though with the few items I already checked, Newegg was the best price most of the time).

I could get the HX750 for about the same price as the HX650...should I go there? Also, I switched my Corsair memory to the C9 instead of the C8 because it's the same except the price, which is $15 less (and IIRC, their site suggested either of the two if I was OC). Will check to make sure, but I think that's what it was.

Ok, time for sleep again.
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April 21, 2012 5:07:51 AM

Everything looks and sounds great. It seems like you have become more confident in your build and more understanding of the potential trade-offs involved with your various component selections/combinations/choices.

I hope ddan49 will read the following post and weigh in on his opinions. I notice we are on somewhat of the same page when it comes to these builds and I think his opinions would provide either a nice confirmation or contrasting perspective to mine.

I'm going to add a little more insight into the choice surrounding IB vs. SB without reiterating the discussion we already had. I happened to notice something interesting regarding the z68 mobo, IB, PCI express and your situation. (Regardless of IB or SB, PCIe 2.0 or PCIe 3.0 I still think this mobo is the best choice for you).

Form the newegg site's description:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

"NEXT-GEN PCI-E 3.0 SUPPORT
By adapting PCI-E 3.0 quick switch IC onboard, the ASRock motherboards can support the Next-Gen PCI-E 3.0! PCI Express 3.0 can maximize the bandwidth for the next-gen PCI Express 3.0 VGA cards, provide ultimate graphics performance. (To run the PCI Express 3.0 slots in Gen 3 speed, please must install the Ivy Bridge CPU which supports PCI Express 3.0. If you install the Sandy Bridge CPU, the PCI Express 3.0 slots will run only at Gen2 speed.)"

Notice that with IB the PCIe 3.0 slots will perform as 3.0 slots while with SB they will only function as 2.0 slots.
The nvidia 5xx series are PCIe 2.0 cards anyway, so this won't affect you at all if you decide to go with the GTX 560 TI etc; however the nvidia 6xx series GPU's are PCIe 3.0.

PCIe 2.0 and PCIe 3.0 are fully compatible and interchangeable (functionally); however a PCIe 3.0 card will have the *potential* to perform better when it is in a PCIe 3.0 slot.

I'm only pointing this out because of the potential that you may postpone the purchase of your GPU. If you postpone the purchase of your GPU it may be best to get an IB CPU since if you postpone the GPU purchase hopefully more of the nvidia 6xx series GPUs will be on the market and you can grab a GTX 670 TI or something that is PCIe 3.0 and you will actually be able to place it in a matching fully functional PCIe 3.0 slot.

Now having presented the potential situations etc. I will counterbalance the discussion by providing another useful piece of information.

Most GPU's on the market today never even really come close to saturating the PCIe 2.0 interface meaning PCIe 2.0 is rarely a bottleneck and PCIe 3.0 will offer no real tangible performance improvement. With top performing graphics cards like the GTX 590 or GTX 680 (which are on the same level of the graphics card hierarchy, http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...), these cards may somewhat saturate the PCIe 2.0 slot and thus in those cases the GTX 680 will in fact perform better when paired with a PCIe 3.0 slot. This is probably even more apparent when using two such high performing cards in an SLI configuration.

So whether PCIe 3.0 is useful to you and worth waiting for IB and nvdia 6xx series GPUs, I don't know. Perhaps you won't even notice a difference, though having PCIe 3.0 support makes your system more "future-proof" if that even really means anything.

You asked if its better to grab the HX750 instead of the HX650 if they are the same price... As you seem to have already realized, the answer to this is not really as simple as "ya grab the higher wattage PSU, its the same price, why not?"... having a PSU thats too powerful for your system will force your PSU to operate in a region that does not correspond to its highest efficiency. This isn't really a big deal with an 80+ bronze PSU (like the Corsair HX series) and is even less of an issue with an 80+ GOLD PSU (like the Corsair AX series). These PSU's are guaranteed to have certain efficiencies within large regions of their operation. In general you want a PSU that is powerful enough that it can handle anything you might throw at it but isn't too powerful that your system drives it to operate far from its most efficient potential operation.

Again it really depends on your choice of GPU and intentions of potential SLI in the future. I think 650W PSU is ideal for any single card GPU setup but it won't be enough for an SLI setup. Take note GTX 5xx series GPUs consume more power than comparable GTX 6xx series GPUs.. at least thats the trend so far based on the GTX 680. For SLI with two 5xx GPUs you might be able to get by with a 750W but it would be pushing it.. an 850W would be better. For SLI with 2 6xx GPU's your chances of getting by well with a 750W PSU are improved since the cards consume less power though I would still prefer an 850W PSU. If you don't plan on SLI at all get the 650W PSU - and I wouldn't bother with the 750W. If you plan to maybe wait until nvidia 6xx GPUs come out and want the potential to SLI down the line the 750W for the same price as the 650 might be a good choice, though I would actually prefer the 850W.

Personally, if I were you and this is just because I'm a tech guy that likes to have the latest tech etc. I would build my system with IB CPU without a GPU. I would grab the 750W PSU (or 850 if I could afford it) and then I would grab my dedicated GPU sometime after the nvidia 6xx series GPU's are released. This way I would end up with system that can make full use of PCIe 3.0 and offer the potential to SLI in the future without much trouble. In any case, maybe you will never use SLI in the future in which case it would have been more cost effective and power efficient to just buy a 650W PSU. And maybe the gains you have by enabling and using PCIe 3.0 end up being negligible.

I once lived in an apartment building that had somewhat flaky power and I'm quite certain that is why I had some major and quite confusing computer malfunctions and hardware problems. Back then I knew far less than I know now and I have no idea what PSU I even had (not the brand, not the wattage.. nothing). I'm sure these issues would have has far less of an impact on me if I had a quality PSU like the Corsair HX or even better AX series.

At some point I also did have a APC UPS. It was a really cheap one that cost me like $50. It was really low end and I bought it almost 7 years ago so I'm sure they have changed alot. It was great while it lasted but for some reason after about a year or 2 (perhaps I didn't use it properly???) the battery kind of stopped holding any charge and it seemed to just go nuts sometimes if the power was not stable. I really didn't think it was that great at all.

Having said that, I'm sure things have improved and a modern mid range model will provide an experience far, far superior to the one I had in the past.

Here is an interesting video about UPS's in general: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWGOKWWkTho
APC BACK-UPS Pro 1000 UPS Unboxing & First Look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlWarb7xues
Cyberpower CP1000PFCLCD Pure Sine Wave UPS Unboxing & First Look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=fvwp&v=ViGZ7h...

No idea if those UPS's above are any good but I'm sure watching those videos will help in finding a good UPS.

Regarding the monitor. Ya - no rush. Also of interest if you finally ever do get an HDTV you can always hook up the computer to that as well.

Hope I was able to convey more information without reiterating too much of the discussions we have already had via previous posts in this thread. We could probably go on forever debating and waiting for newer products technologies to come to market etc. but at some point choices have to be made. Having said that, patience is very important in maximizing the information available to make the best decisions. Plus I actually enjoy these debates and discussions. Its a great opportunity to learn and share experience.

This thread really illustrates the benefits of building your own system versus buying (and even customizing) a pre-built system. Of course with pre-built systems you don't have to invest as much time/energy researching and selecting components but when you build your own not only do you get more control over the quality and selection of all the components but you also gain more insight into the capabilities and potential of the system you eventually build. With pre-built systems you often don't really know what you're getting until you get it and even if you did know, the ability to modify or customize is lacking in many respects. At the end of the day usually when you build your own you get a higher quality system that offers more value for your money. Not only do you get more out of your system because the components are better but also because you are more intimately aware of details of the system you built.
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April 21, 2012 12:13:14 PM

Okay, I guess I'll start from the top.
For some reason, it seems your PSU is priced too high. I have no idea why it's $120... it seems really expensive. I found a $120 700W GOLDEN rated PSU here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Their other PSUs seem to have good ratings from reviewers (not newegg customes, actual PSU reviewers). However, I have never heard of the brand. Some other of their PSUs have been recommended by overclockers (the website), so I think it'll be fine. However, this isn't modular. If you wanted to go with Corsair, for $10 more, you could go gold with this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anyway, moving on, your GPU is $20 away from a 7850 that would perform SO MUCH BETTER. Problem is that most are out of stock, and the ones that are in stock are: Powercolor (one fan), VisionTek (one fan), and Gigabyte (great, two fans, $266 with shipping). The Gigabyte is also clocked to 975 MHz, up from a standard of 860. Getting ANY 7850 would offer a HUGE improvement from a 560 Ti.

Now, hold on. Are you going to overclock? If so, then you'd need a CPU cooler (Hyper 212 Evo). If maybe, get a Pro3 Gen3... you'd be fine for overclocking and it's cheaper. If not, then switch out your motherboard AND your CPU. However, I think you're going to overclock in the future, so maybe Pro3 Gen3 would be best to shave off the 20$ you need to get up to a 7850.

Now, moving on to geogolem. I actually looked at how much power you'd need (http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp), most reliable one out there. I basically overtaxed what you would have... overclocked CPU to 4.2 at 1.35v, put a few USB devices in, allowed for 20% wearing, etc. I also accounted for a few fans, and put in the 560 Ti (it uses like 70 more watts than the 7850). Total minimum? 465W. Recommended? 515W. Thus, you could go with the Antec 550W continuous power PSU... if you have power fluctuations. Anyway, you could go with a 550W or 600W PSU... the calculator even accounted for a 20% capacitor aging, four fans, and a hefty overclock.

Now. PCI 3.0. I'd be against waiting for a 3.0 GPU, since those won't come out for a while, and I really don't think the performance will be much better, but if you were to wait in order to buy a 7850 (or NVidia equivalent... they have to compete with their 600 series cards, now. For now, though 7850 is unmatched at its price range). The 7850 doesn't have 3.0, but, as geogolem said, most cards don't even use 2.0 at this point. It's really up to you... keep in mind that the cards that use 3.0 first are going to be the high-end ones, like the 680 or 7870 (nothing new higher from AMD, although they have their 7970 still competing).

UPS? No idea. Monitor? No idea. Sorry! :) 

Yes, this thread is an example of why someone would build a system. Otherwise, you'd have a terrible, $20 PSU that would last a few weeks, a motherboard that would fail at the slightest breath, no dedicated GPU, and a non-sexy case ;) 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 21, 2012 9:59:55 PM

After a discussion with the husband this morning, I can definitely say that this build would start venturing into a violation of Lesson 1 if I work too hard to upgrade the GPU for potential SLI/Crossfire, thus, changing the CPU, motherboard and PSU. I understand the logic behind it and if I thought the husband was going to do some serious gaming or I was working toward a graphically intensive use otherwise, I'd be all for it. However, one thing the process of searching for parts and advice has definitely taught me is how easy it is to do what we did when we got the HP – overbuild and have buyer's remorse. I think I'll stick with my last iteration – it seems to balance my needs well with a good level of future potential use and a reasonable budget.

I do appreciate the information, however – thank you guys for playing a bit of devil's advocate – and I've really benefited from the discussions. I almost feel like I've taken a crash course in computer building because I've learned so much from this. And you guys are exactly right; this is precisely why people build – and why it's a good thing when you do – because even if you only ever do it once, you should at least gain some understanding about how your computer really works. I know I have. At least now when I read that something is SLI/Crossfire ready (or supports it), I know what that means. Likewise, I understand RAID better, know the benefits of SRT and overclocking, and have a real feel for the level of effort this all takes, not to mention a great appreciation for the breadth and depth of the tech community, their support and enthusiasm.

Despite the fact that I can't get continuing education credits for my time spent on this, should decide to build my own consulting firm from the ground up, I know it will be even more valuable than the class I took last fall on forming the small business. No modern business can really function without computers. I think it's fantastic that I'm learning how to be my own IT department. :D  I've done a little here and there: a bit for a job years ago, working as webmaster for my local professional society, and of course, troubleshooting when our off-the-shelf computers were not behaving well. I come from the school of 'Why pay someone else if I'm capable of learning it and have the desire?' and I'm glad the husband is, too. Even if I never do anything else with this knowledge, at least now I can work on my own computer!

If the post is still open, I'll come back when the build is together and let you guys know how it's going and how I did with the physical assembly part. I expect it to be in the next few weeks. The husband just finished putting up the cedar v-match in my work space downstairs, which is the last step before he builds the work bench. Now it's reasonable to think about purchasing the components and getting ready to assemble them. When I started this post, I was a little terrified of building my own computer, but they say you should try to do things that scare you sometimes. And now, after really taking the time to get things right, I'm excited about building this machine and seeing what it can do!
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April 21, 2012 10:16:53 PM

The post is always open. Good luck! FYI, I only got interested in hardware like a month ago, when I was thinking of building a new computer. Now, I'm advising people and am ranked 3rd for this month in system building! Some would call this obsessive research... I call it... well... I call it obsessive research, too.
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April 21, 2012 11:23:42 PM

ddan49 said:
The post is always open. Good luck! FYI, I only got interested in hardware like a month ago, when I was thinking of building a new computer. Now, I'm advising people and am ranked 3rd for this month in system building! Some would call this obsessive research... I call it... well... I call it obsessive research, too.


That's a little bit hilarious and a lot awesome! I guess it's only appropriate if computer knowledge moves as fast as the technology, right? ;) 

BTW, thanks for telling me the post stays open. I've noticed that sometimes posts are 'closed' or 'solved', and I wasn't sure who decides which posts and when. I'm not new to message boards, but the one I frequent most regularly is a very small community with only a few regular posters and I know the board owner/moderator personally, LOL.
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April 21, 2012 11:57:31 PM

I'm glad you got it sorted out and made decision. I hope it works out great for you!

FYI: I just joined this community too and though I have some experience building computers a long long time ago (Pentium 233 MHz MMX days!!!! yay! and then Pentium D super hot, dual core processor) I only recently got back into the game when I was looking for a new GPU for my HP desktop.

I custom built a Pentium D system around 2004/05 but mostly just tweaked an advertised build at a computer store. I didn't assemble it myself. In late 2008 that computer started having issues but I didn't really care since I mostly used the laptop provided by my workplace and I had little time or interest in gaming. I didn't really need a personal computer but didn't really want to totally depend on my work laptop so I wanted to keep a functioning one around. I attempted to fix the system by replacing the ATI graphics card and then the motherboard to no avail. Frustrated and not really ready to drop some serious cash into a computer I eventually just bought a low-end HP system on sale at Bestbuy. Since I had recently bought an EVGA Nvidia GT 9500 to try and solve my previous problem I dropped that new (low end) graphics card into the HP system since it didn't come with a dedicated graphics card. That system served me decently well.

Fast forward a few years to the present. I actually gotten back into gaming ... somewhat and decided I might want to try a few recent games but wasn't really interested enough to purchase an entirely new system.

I posed my question here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/345865-33-athlon

After my research I settled on the EVGA GTX 560 TI and the Corsair TX650 PSU. I'm happy with the Corsair TX650 but next time I'll go for the HX or AX series because I think a modular PSU is worth it.

It seems the threads do get "closed" after and if you pick a "best answer" though I don't know if this actually prevents further postings.

Looking forward to hearing how the system is once you get it up and running! :) 

As time moves forward I may actually end up grabbing similar components to you and throwing my GPU/PSU into a Intel SB or IB system though my current setup seems good enough for the next while. Even before that once nvidia releases the GTX 6xx series I may participate in the EVGA step-up program to upgrade my GTX 560 TI to a GTX 6xx TI series GPU (depending on cost and time permitting).
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April 22, 2012 4:37:26 AM

dkcomputer - I think I'm happier with the build that got arranged in this thread. The one you've assembled in that thread sounds great for the right person, but I think there are a few too many things that I like in my current iteration better.

geogolem Ack. Your previous thread re: GPU made me wonder if I could reuse my CPU and basically just replace the absolute necessary components, such as the motherboard, case and PSU (motherboard = dead; PSU = want to replace the crappy Bestec; case = BTX vs ATX). But, um, unless I'm just looking in the wrong place, I can't even find any socket AM2 motherboards available anywhere. And from what I could find, it seems like I don't have any other options because there isn't any back-compatibility w/AM3? Thoughts? I mean what does it save? I suppose it saves the $220 for the processor and saves (maybe) the cost of the OS if I say, sold my copy of Win7 on craigslist or ebay or something (because if I keep most of my parts, I can just stick with my retail version of XP...) But that's maybe $340 saved?

I'm still curious if it would be possible, just for the sake of knowing. However, truth be told, I'm thinking that the answer is this: if I was willing to stay with the dual core, I'd be better off to drop down to the i3-2100, still get the Z68 and all the rest and stick with the Win7 upgrade. In which case, I'm really only saving $100. Well, $110 - I can get the i3-2100 for $110 at Newegg right now. Nah, I want the i5-2500K!
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April 22, 2012 9:44:05 AM

Paki0921 said:
geogolem Ack. Your previous thread re: GPU made me wonder if I could reuse my CPU and basically just replace the absolute necessary components, such as the motherboard, case and PSU (motherboard = dead; PSU = want to replace the crappy Bestec; case = BTX vs ATX). But, um, unless I'm just looking in the wrong place, I can't even find any socket AM2 motherboards available anywhere. And from what I could find, it seems like I don't have any other options because there isn't any back-compatibility w/AM3? Thoughts? I mean what does it save? I suppose it saves the $220 for the processor and saves (maybe) the cost of the OS if I say, sold my copy of Win7 on craigslist or ebay or something (because if I keep most of my parts, I can just stick with my retail version of XP...) But that's maybe $340 saved?

I'm still curious if it would be possible, just for the sake of knowing. However, truth be told, I'm thinking that the answer is this: if I was willing to stay with the dual core, I'd be better off to drop down to the i3-2100, still get the Z68 and all the rest and stick with the Win7 upgrade. In which case, I'm really only saving $100. Well, $110 - I can get the i3-2100 for $110 at Newegg right now. Nah, I want the i5-2500K!


If your going to have to replace the motherboard, its in your best interest to replace your CPU (otherwise you really aren't going to get the value out of your purchase). A quad core CPU is really the ideal for gaming and Intel is light years ahead of AMD these days. If you were strapped for cash and/or absolutely didn't care about gaming I might suggest trying to find an older mobo and reusing your CPU, but if your going to buy a mobo its better to go intel with i3 and then if you're going to put the money out there for a new mobo and/or CPU realistically you might as well get something that is going to give you more value and a decent experience. You might be able to reuse your older ram (depending on its type/speed) but ram is so cheap thats probably not a huge deal.

You might be able to get by with using your existing Windows 7 license even if you build an entirely new system. It really depends on the installation media etc. and the activation. I've heard of it being done, though it is nice to own a standalone copy of Windows (I bought Windows 7 Pro retail DVD for my older computer before I gave up trying to solve the problem and bought the HP). Since I eventually bought the HP, I didn't really need Windows 7 because the HP Desktop came with Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed. There are a few features of Windows 7 Pro that I like that aren't in premium (ability to host an RDP session etc.) so I just used that retail Windows 7 to "upgrade" the HP. Recently since buying my new PSU/GPU I did a full format and clean install of Windows 7 Pro. System runs so much better than before becuase I didn't have all that HP crap pre-installed. I've never personally tried to reuse a license from a pre-built computer on another newer computer, but I have heard mixed stories of success.

The only unfortunate thing is that Windows 8 is coming out soon making your purchase of Windows 7 not the greatest value though if you do eventually jump up to Windows 8 you will save some money since you will only need to purchase the "upgrade" version, which will be cheaper than the full retail version.
http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/bloggingwindows/ar...

For a desktop too, I wouldn't get too excited about Windows 8. Windows 7 is a great OS and the differences to the Windows 8 desktop though useful and good probably won't necessarily entice you to feel like you have to upgrade as soon as it comes out. If you have a nice functioning Windows 7 computer and don't care about having the latest OS installed you probably won't have to upgrade to Windows 8 until much further in its life cycle, if ever (unless of course there is some feature or capability in Windows 8 you want/require - we'll see how it develops its eco-system with its app store etc.)

I just realized you mentioned your old PC has Windows XP and not 7 which makes my discussion about reusing its license null and moot. I reccomend you distance yourself from Windows XP. Although it was a great operating system for a long time (I skipped vista which was horrible IMO) Windows 7 is a far superior OS. As a matter of fact I think Windows 7 is the best OS available across the board. Until Windows 7, I firmly believe Mac OS X was the superior OS except I mostly used Windows simply because it was the common platform. With Windows 7 I think MS crossed a line and surpassed Mac OS X on every front. I have played with the Windows 8 consumer preview and although I disliked it at first (for a desktop without a touch screen - I'm sure it will be great on a tablet etc.) after a while I did like the improvements on the desktop it offered. Many of the "noticable" improvements to the Windows 8 desktop are nice but unnecessary. Combine those nice improvements with whats going on under the covers and I'm sure Windows 8 will be a worthwhile upgrade especially if it does overtake the market and develops a good-eco system/interoperability with the "cloud" etc but I don't think I would be in a rush to upgrade other than just for the fun of it.
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April 22, 2012 1:51:27 PM

I'm gonna put it this way:

For non-touch-sensitive devices, Windows 8 sucks. Windows 7 is awesome. You can download a preview of Win8 (dev. version) if you want to see how it works... it's like a smartphone interface. I really, really wouldn't.
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April 22, 2012 3:25:57 PM

Ya, I've been running Windows 8 Consumer Preview for a little while now on a spare hard drive. When I first got it running I absolutely hated it and figured it was only good for a tablet or some kind of ultraportable laptop/tablet hybrid. At that point I was confused trying to figure out what Microsoft was thinking with some of the changes. The Desktop is fully intact but the start menu is missing and several things you might be used to have been replaced with similarly useful but different things. I thought many of the changes to the desktop mode were stupid but after using it more for longer and getting used to the details/changes in the desktop mode I ended up actually liking it and think it is an improvement albeit not a significant one to Windows 7's Desktop. Since I do like it now and see it as an improvement I won't discourage anyone from jumping up to it but I'll be honest and say that the changes regarding the desktop mode are minimal.

The most significant of the changes other than the missing start menu and new "start screen" is the fact explorer uses a ribbon menu bar (like office 2010) and Windows now has built-in capabilities of mounting ISO files in virtual drives etc. Those are two of the significant changes/features regarding the desktop mode. The Metro mode while useful on a tablet or laptop/tablet hybrid type device isn't particularly useful or convenient on the desktop.

Perhaps Windows 8 performs slightly better but if so, its really negligible.

My dream device is an ultraportable laptop like the Macbook Air with a swivelling screen that snaps down over the keyboard. With the screen in the regular laptop position you have a regular laptop.... swivel and snapthe screen down and now you have an ipad. A device like that running Windows 8 would be awesome IMO.... With Desktop's... Windows 8 is no big deal, but I wouldn't discourage its use and once its out anybody stuck on XP should jump straight to Windows 8 over Windows 7, but I would also suggest they jump up to 7 now and *maybe* jump up to 8 sometime in the future. XP is old ;)  This differs from Windows Vista, anyone who was running Windows Vista I would recommend to go back to XP and stay far far away from Vista. Windows 7 is basically the new XP but having said that Windows 8 is also no Vista... thankfully.
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April 22, 2012 4:31:41 PM

I'm glad to hear that Win8: Win7 isn't Vista: XP. I loved XP, especially XP Pro - that's what our HP was running when we first got it. The only real motivation to sticking with what I had would be to save a little $, but truth be told, we've had this computer for 5.5 years, now, and it's really very dated technology. If I can still get some life out of the DVD rewritable and the card reader as well as the two HDD's, I'll be happy (btw, I was looking up info on the Gateway last night and I'm happy to report that the 250GB HDD originally in the Gateway is a 7200RPM drive. Sweet.) I won't be able to reuse my RAM - the motherboard was old enough that it only had DDR2. That's ok; it's only (2) 1GB sticks.

My friend had a PC tablet like the MacBook Air you mentioned. I think it was Lenovo (she gets a family discount). She got it a couple years ago, so I'm sure there are newer versions out there trying to compete with the Macs. Yep, looks like this is the latest one:

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Convertible Tablet

It runs Win7 now, so I'm sure they're planning to bump those up to Win8 when it is released. And it's got an Intel CPU, so you know it's going to be a great competitor to the Macs. I think dan is right re: switching to Win8 for a desktop; it's probably going to be great for people using touch devices and those who want to take advantage of the cloud and move between devices seamlessly. I'm not there right now, personally. I'm just glad MS finally caught up with the Macs. I loved Mac OS in the post 90's, but there was no way to convince the husband to switch to Mac before, and now that Win7 is finally on par or better than Mac OS, there isn't any motivation to go that route.
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April 22, 2012 6:57:02 PM

I personally think Win7 is a copy off of Mac OS... but then again, I'm not complaining. The "End Now" screen now actually ENDS THE PROGRAM!!!!! :)  :)  :) 

Mac copied off of Windows a while back... it's just one big mess. Win7 isn't better than Mac, and it still has quite a few problems (compatibility, and boy is it easy to get infected still. Third-party AV patches all the problems with Windows, essentially). But it'll do for a non-crazily rich computer user.
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April 22, 2012 7:15:05 PM

This post will take us completely off topic but I doubt it matters given the fact that the OP's system is mostly settled and we're keeping the thread open to eventually hear how it all works out.

Its actually interesting. I left the job I was in about a year ago and so I don't have a work laptop anymore. At that time I bought a 13" Macbook Pro and it has served me well. I also run Windows 7 on it in bootcamp/Parallels 7 but I rarely use Windows on it. Having said all that my macbook pro came with Mac Os X Snow Leopard. I updated to Mac Os X Lion. It had some more useful features and more iOS aspects integrated in here and there but Mac OS X Lion gave me alot more problems and seemed to perform worse than the previous version. I especially had problems with bootcamp and Mac Os X Lion - for some reason Windows installer would freeze if I setup my bootcamp partitions in Mac OS X Lion. Suffice it to say after a while I became frustrated and reverted back to Snow Leopard. Things have been fine since. The only reason Mac OS X is not sufficient for me is for applications like gaming or niche freeware programs. Most things I do on a computer for anything other then gaming or special niche things (like hacking a nintendo wii, or using a ps2 memory card adapter via usb to install a hack onto a ps2 memory card etc.) I can do on a Mac just as well if not better. I bought my Macbook Pro around the time that Windows 7 came out and I don't regret the experience but my next laptop/computer purchase will likely be a Windows machine not because I'm not happy or satisfied with my mac but I see Windows innovating and becoming more modernized and catching up or surpassing Mac while I see Mac becoming somewhat stale in the near future. Quite frankly though I feel that this Macbook Pro I own, is extremely reliable and robust and I won't really have the need to buy a new laptop for a few more years. I have owned several Windows based laptops in the past and I have never been quite satisfied with the performance or featureset as long as i have with this Macbook pro. Its a 2010 model. I'm also an iphone user (iphone 3gs) and I love it though android does seem like a decent contender. I prefer google's browser and web services and so android is somewhat enticing to me for my next phone purchase although I'm still quite happy with the iphone 3gs despite the fact I got it over 3 years ago. I'm not on a contract and am elligible for a hardware upgrade but don't really see a reason to move on from the iphone 3gs yet. If I had an iphone 3g that would be a different story but the 3gs seems to be still going strong, at least for me.

Quite frankly as of the state of things today: I like MS Software (Windows, Office), I like Apple's hardware(at least in the portable space, and I admit the foothold apple has is weakening) and I prefer Google's browser and services. It shall be interesting to see how things evolve in the next few years.
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April 22, 2012 7:24:07 PM

:o 

I like PC hardware (c'mon... Apple is so overpriced, and it doesn't even have RAM!), I like Apple software (OS), and I LOVE Google Gmail, Chrome, etc.
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April 22, 2012 7:30:06 PM

lol I just edited my post to say I prefer Apple hardware * at least in the portable space* before I saw your response. I still think Apple's form factors and devices are superior to the competition in laptops, ultrabooks, tablets and smart phones. I do notice the competition gaining on apple though, which is why I bet my next purchase will be a full fledged PC laptop/ultrabook/tablet over the Mac equivalent. If I were to buy today I would have to seriously consider the options as I'm not totally sure what I would prefer but thanksfully I wont need to buy until well after Windows 8 comes to market so we'll see how things play out.

lol Apple laptops do have RAM, same stuff thats in PCs ;)  Actually its interesting since Apple Computers are now using Intel CPU's etc. and PC mobos are now using UEFI there really isn't much difference between the guts of a mac and the guts of a PC in terms of standards/brands/architectures.

I do admit there is a slight premium for Apple devices but having invested in an Apple Macbook pro in this case I feel the premium was somewhat worth it. Next time I'm not so sure it will be wise let alone worth it but I can't decide until we see how things play out in the next year or two.
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April 22, 2012 7:37:33 PM

You're right about the laptop (or Macbook). Just keep quiet about that in THESE forums (heh heh).

Bah, forgot that it wasn't the Macbooks that didn't have RAM. Anyway, the RAM in them is slower than 1333.

I, however, don't think the premium is worth it :) 
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April 22, 2012 7:41:25 PM

I also think the Apple Ipad (or a comparable Tablet) is a great device; however between my laptop and smartphone and/or desktop I really see no use for such a device. If on the other hand, I didn't have a smartphone and/or didn't require a full fledged computer something like the ipad would be perfect. For someone like my mother who doesn't have a cell phone and tries her best at using the computer to browse web pages and read emails the ipad is a perfect device and if Windows 8 wasn't on the horizon she would be getting one for mothers day. Even if Windows 8 is awesome I may still get her an ipad over a comparable tablet just because of the simplicity of it. She is the complete opposite of what you would call tech savvy.
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April 22, 2012 7:45:03 PM

^Agreed.
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April 22, 2012 11:21:46 PM

Back to the topic I was just reading somewhere that Asrock mobos only come with a 1 year warranty while Asus and gigabyte have 3 years. Also someone was complaining that the mobo failed after about 10 months and Asrock gave them trivial workarounds and beat around the bush for a couple months until the warranty expired at which point they refused to service/replace his board.

I have no experience with Asrock directly so I dont know but I do know from expeience Asus is great! You might want to grab the asus mobo instead of the asrock depending on cost and how this story makes you feel.


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

I believe that that mobo is compatible with Ivy Bridge but I'm a little confused regarding z68 IB compatibility. I think you need a BIOS update which is a pain.
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April 23, 2012 12:08:31 AM

ASRock has a 2 yr warranty.
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April 23, 2012 12:46:37 AM

^Looks like someone with an ASRock got ripped off >.<

Anyway, I will agree ASUS is good, but ASRock is fine for his/her needs.
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April 23, 2012 12:32:53 PM

Noooo! Anyway, that's only for pre-builts.
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!