Hi everyone. Thank you for taking the time to read my question. I am going to build a new desktop PC. I am not a serious gamer, though I would like to be able to play certain games without fuss. I want my basic computer functions to be superb (ie. Booting, loading programs, surfing the internet). Also, I plan on getting a nice monitor as I'd like to watch movies and netflix on my computer. I am "upgrading" from a laptop from 2004 (Whoa! It's about time) and I feel that I've dealt with this POS long enough and I deserve a strong PC that is built to last. My biggest priority is upgradeability. I will be building this computer from scratch from parts I will be purchasing via TigerDirect (NewEgg charges tax because I live in NJ and TD comes in much cheaper for that reason).
I will be getting:
7200 1TB Hard drive.
1600 DDR3 2x4GB RAM
Windows 7 Pro 64bit
Ultra LSP 650watt Power Supply (Though I am naive and open to suggestions here, this PS seems reliable and well priced)
I am uncertain which route to go: be it AMD or Intel when it comes to processors.
For AMD, I was considering the Sabertooth 990FX MOBO paired with the FX 4170 processor. This processor seems to be the most "bang for my buck", but I am not against jumping up to the FX8120 series. This combination totals about $330-$350. In all honesty, it is the Sabretooth motherboard I am MOST attracted to. It seems wonderful and ready for any upgrade I may want to make in the next couple of years.
For Intel, I was considering the i5 3450 CPU and the I-Just-Have-No-Idea motherboard. I seem to be partial to Gigabytes series of z77 boards, but there are many which seem to fit my needs. Also based on my research, I realize that the i3 21xx series of CPUs are probably enough to suit my needs. However, I am feeling a bit of a greed for power and the number 3 isn't making me give a hearty "Tim The Toolman grunt".
Additional information: I did not want to have to purchase a video card right away. As I said, I'm not really a gamer, but plan to start to get into it. Also, I want to be able to watch movies on my computer. That said; I think onboard CPU graphics will suit my needs until I buy a dedicated video card.
I welcome any and all suggestions, my research just keeps bringing me around in circles and I'd like some real-time advice from people.
Also! This is my first post here @ Tom'sHardware forums. I apologize if I am beating a dead horse asking you for help with this question. You all provide a great service to people googling/researching information for computer builds, who might not be so "hip" to new technology. I am computer savvy and have built computers in the past; but not in about 8-10 years. The technology and names have changed!
My hypothetical computer thus far:
Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM, 64MB, SATA 6GB/s 1TB hard drive - $94
Crucial Ballistix PC3-12800, DDR3-1600, 2x4GB RAM - $48
Ultra LSP 650 watt Power Supply - $55 (Power Supplies are quite confusing to shop for, though I think I found a good one here.)
Windows 7 Pro 64 bit - $140
LG DVD/RW (win7 compatible) - $17
Diablotek ATX Mid-tower Case - $42 (Cases are really a nuisance to shop for, I may change my mind.)
= This totals about $400. I would prefer to keep the MOBO/CPU combo at about $300.
As said in the OP, it is the MOBO/CPU combo I am most concerned with. Any new technology is going to seem fast for me, considering I am upgrading from a 60GB Hard drive and 512MB RAM laptop. However that does not mean I want to short sell myself.
Generally speaking, either AMD or Intel will do for your needs.
Intel tends to change sockets about every two years. The current mainstream socket is 1155 and it will be replaced by socket 1150 next year when Haswell is released. It will likely be replaced in 2015 or 2016 when Intel releases their next big CPU architecture update; Skylake.
AMD tends to have longer lasting sockets. The one sore thumb is socket FM1 which was released just last year for Llano APUs. It will be replaced this year with socket FM2 when the Trinity APUs are released. The current mainstream socket is AM3+, but the soon to be released PileDriver may be the last AM3+ compatible CPU.
In terms of processing power... Intel's current Ivy Bridge CPUs are about 30% more powerful than what AMD has to offer right now. PileDriver might cut that lead down to 20%. This is the reason why AMD CPUs tends to cost less than Intel CPUs.
That average of 30% difference in performance will likely not be notice if you are just doing basic stuff like surfing or watching a movie. If playing a CPU dependent game, then Intel will likely provide better frame rates, but as long as the CPU does not bottleneck the video card the difference should not be very big. You'll likely not notice a difference unless you benchmark an AMD CPU and an Intel CPU side by side.
However, since Intel CPUs are more powerful it means that you may likely postpone your next upgrade compared to if you go with an AMD CPU.
What programs might you be using on the pc (beside watching tv stuff) ?
Adobe Photoshop, iTunes, Media Player, etc. It's hard for me to say exactly because on my current computer, I can't use any programs without the computer slowing too much to bare. For me the question isn't which programs, but the ability to multitask and to use a few of them at a time.
Thank you for your detailed answer, Jaguarskx. I had a feeling that the answers I received here would have me lean towards the Intel line of CPUs (Not in a bias way). I actually just took a drive over to Best Buy to sample some of the computers they're selling there. They had an ASUS computer with and AMD A6 6 core, 1TB HD, and 10 gigs of ram being sold next to a computer sporting an I5 24xx, 500GB HD, and 6 gigs of ram. The computer with the i5 moved notably smoother and faster, even though it was selling for cheaper than the AMD comp. I realize both of these processors are not as good quality as the ones I'm searching for, but it helped to provide me with a bit of perspective.
If I were to go with, say, the i5 3450 being sold for $195; what would be an appropriate motherboard to pair it with? At that price, the the most I could justify spending on a motherboard would be $150; though I'd prefer the number to be less than that. Would you suggest a different version of the i5?
I also have another (stupid) question: Do I need to buy something in particular so that my computer would connect to the internet? Is that supported in the MOBO or CPU?
If you are considering a 990FX, you really ought to look at a Crosshair V or Fatality, the boards are truely high end for not a huge premium, the Sabertooth is aright but mostly just cosmetics, the build quality is to mainstream for the price tag, A Crosshair V is going straight to the top, you can smell it, it is built in the ROG tradition.
Problem with buying AMD now is that Piledriver is out soon with new refined architecture it makes going bully tough to suggest, that said the 4170 is enough and will do alright.