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Productivity build, please advise where to compromise.

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September 15, 2012 7:13:04 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Next few days

Budget Range: $650 after all is said and done

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Productivity, then mid level gaming

Are you buying a monitor: No

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Trusted websites

Location: Kansas City

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe in future

Additional Comments: Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom, Microsoft Office

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Cheap laptop (Pentium P6200) can't handle photo editing.

Specific questions:

Do you feel this budget is adequate for the task at hand?

Is getting an unlocked processor worth the added cost in this budget range?

I might be able to offset the cost of the O/S, so what items would you upgrade if you had another $100?

If I wanted to upgrade down the road, which items are more economical to spend now, rather than upgrade later?
September 15, 2012 7:37:53 PM

If by another 100$ you mean the budget can be stretched to 750$ than this is the build for you

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($269.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty P67 Performance ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.94 @ NCIX US)
Storage: OCZ Agility 4 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($149.98 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB Video Card ($114.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Zalman Z11 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.98 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $765.85
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-15 15:28 EDT-0400)

Or if you want a build for 650$ with the OS included you just can't do much better than this

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1045T 2.7GHz 6-Core Processor ($124.99 @ CompUSA)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($79.98 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.94 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($86.22 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 560 1GB Video Card ($129.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Zalman Z11 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.98 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.20 @ Amazon)
Total: $653.28
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-15 15:37 EDT-0400)
September 15, 2012 8:11:09 PM

Thanks for the quick reply Kamen,

Do you feel that the i7 is worth the $60 premium over the i5-3570K? Will I notice a difference?

Does anyone know a good reference for MOBO differences between P61 and Z77 and B75 and so forth. I would like to read up and figure out which ones are necessary.

Did you choose the 700W PSU for the purpose of duplicating the cards later down the road or why would I need 700W?

This build is not for gaming, but what level of performance could I expect?

Related resources
September 15, 2012 8:23:01 PM

It's for photo editing and not video editing, right? You could probably get by with the i5 easy enough if you need to save that $60. Yeah, the 700 watt is kinda overkill, but it's cheap. Any socket 1155 mobo would probably work for your needs, although the Z77 chipsets are more geared for enthusiasts.
September 16, 2012 2:42:39 AM

Yes, this will be for photo editing of large raw files from full frame cameras.

Ok, I modified Kamen's previous recommendation some to shift money from the cpu and ssd to a hdd and gpu. Do you think this was wise? I want the machine to be able to play games at a mid settings level in addition to the photo editing.

Also, part picker warned that the p67 chipset may need to be updated in order to work with ivy bridge; should I be worried at all.

Feel free to chime in with other opinion or changes you would make. I am pushing the limits of my budget, so try and keep all recommendations at or below $700. If you are aware of better places to get any of the items or equivalent items cheaper, please let me know.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hzBe
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hzBe/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hzBe/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($215.98 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty P67 Performance ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Pareema 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($37.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Zalman Z11 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.98 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($39.25 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($90.33 @ Amazon)
Total: $739.49
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-15 22:34 EDT-0400)
September 16, 2012 2:44:27 AM

So the current plan is to get the i5 unlocked cpu, but not to overclock it to any significant level until I do more research on the subject and ensure I have proper cooling.

Where did you guys learn about which coolers to use and if they fit in the case and such? Any good articles or places I could start?
September 16, 2012 2:52:45 AM

Lots of reviews...
As for whether it will fit physically in the case, all cases are made to ATX standard, so you can just assume they will fit. Obviously there are exceptions like HTPC cases, but then you just get a slimline cooler.

Anandtech, Hardware Canucks, Guru3D, Vortez, Overclockers UK and Toms Hardware are all good places to find reviews. Just type whatever components your looking at into google + review. Chances are you will find a couple of reviews on it, no matter how obscure the component.
September 16, 2012 2:23:38 PM

rabowz said:
PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hzBe
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hzBe/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hzBe/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($215.98 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty P67 Performance ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Pareema 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($37.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Zalman Z11 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.98 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($39.25 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($90.33 @ Amazon)
Total: $739.49 (now $750)
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-15 22:34 EDT-0400)


Possibly can get same i5 for $200 after tax at Microcenter

Possibly can get Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO $27 after tax at Microcenter

This would bring total up to $750.

Does any see other places to save some money?

What do you think about just getting a boot SSD and waiting till black friday for HDD sales, essentially giving more time for the prices to come back to preflood prices?
September 16, 2012 2:28:14 PM

manofchalk said:
Lots of reviews...
As for whether it will fit physically in the case, all cases are made to ATX standard, so you can just assume they will fit. Obviously there are exceptions like HTPC cases, but then you just get a slimline cooler.

Anandtech, Hardware Canucks, Guru3D, Vortez, Overclockers UK and Toms Hardware are all good places to find reviews. Just type whatever components your looking at into google + review. Chances are you will find a couple of reviews on it, no matter how obscure the component.


Man of Chalk,

Your sig has a build that mine seems to be evolving into. If you had to rebuy today, would you change any of your components? A different gpu, psu, etc?

Are there certain features of the z77 chipset that you feel are vital over the p67? The differences that I saw are that the mobo won't have integrated video or dual monitor support, but I thought having a discrete gpu replaced those needs?
September 17, 2012 2:01:26 AM

Come to think of it, no. Its about the best I could get given my money and goal of easy upgradability.
Maybe low profile RAM instead of the medium profile I picked, but that's kind of void since I'm getting a water-cooling kit soon. So thats not an issue.
Though there is one fan in there I regret buying, Xigmatek CLF string-o-numbers. Its the loudest in the rig and so I have it turned down all the time.

Having a GPU does fix those problems.
PCI-3 is a future proofing thing, as current cards have no real benefit of it over PCI-2, but its good to have anyway.
Inbuilt USB3 headers are useful to connect front I/O, and again future proofing.
Lucid Logic Virtu is a good feature if you transcode video a lot.
I think P67,H61 chipsets require a BIOS update before they can use Ivy Bridge CPU's.

Overall there isnt much of a difference, but I would still go with Z77. Its newer, has some more future proofing features, and does everything P67,H61 and Z68 did before. Integrated graphics may seem worthless, but if your GPU ever fails, you'l be sitting on a quite expensive brick until you get a new one.
September 17, 2012 2:27:59 AM

manofchalk said:

I think P67,H61 chipsets require a BIOS update before they can use Ivy Bridge CPU's.

Overall there isnt much of a difference, but I would still go with Z77. Its newer, has some more future proofing features, and does everything P67,H61 and Z68 did before. Integrated graphics may seem worthless, but if your GPU ever fails, you'l be sitting on a quite expensive brick until you get a new one.


I just read through the comments of the $1000 August SBM. It was eye opening for me with regards to the chipsets. I do not have any spare sandy bridge cpus to use to update the bios. So I think I will be switching to a z77 chipset.

Now I am trying to determine the best video card. Maybe I will just use the integrated graphics until I can get a nicer card.
September 17, 2012 2:32:41 AM

Whats your budget for the card?

Less than $200: HD7770 or GTX650 (haven't made up my mind which is better yet)
$200-300: HD7850 or 7870 (depending on budget)
$300-400: HD7950 or GTX670 (depending on budget)
$400+: HD7970 Ghz Edition
Money is no issue: GTX690 (essentially two 680's on the one card)
September 17, 2012 2:55:45 AM

I have already pushed my budget, but please look over this and provide any comments you may have.

There was a 7850 for $187 from Sapphire, but it was the only one that was 1GB and not 2GB, what is up with that?




PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hH4B
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hH4B/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/hH4B/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($215.98 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($27.98 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($102.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.00 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 430 ATX Mid Tower Case ($36.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($39.25 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.08 @ Amazon)
Total: $828.80
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-16 22:54 EDT-0400)
September 17, 2012 3:28:59 AM

I know that you can get cards that have double the amount of VRAM (and those are typically higher end cards), never heard of halving it. Might be a typo or something.

Onto the build.

That RAM has very tall heat-fins on them, which may conflict with that 212 EVO if you ever had to fill the slots.
Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB (2x4GB), 1600Mhz Cl9 1.5v. $43
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

While HIS isnt a bad manufacturer, they aren't really known for their quality. I found a Sapphire card that is the same price and doesn't rely on a rebate. Better cooling as well.
Sapphire HD7850 2GB. $200 ($10 rebate as well).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That PSU is a no... Usually OCZ are a decent brand in PSU's, not great but decent, but that unit is bad. That thing will only provide 300W through the 12v rail (responsible for the CPU, mobo and GPU/s), nowhere near its advertised 600W.

This XFX 550W provides 528W through the 12v rail and is also cheaper. XFX is good quality as well, as they are essentially rebranded Seasonic's. You do lose the modularity, but its a small sacrifice.
XFX Core 550W, 80+ Bronze non-modular. $55
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=59615&vpn=P1550SXXB9&m...

Rest of it looks good.
September 17, 2012 1:02:32 PM

manofchalk said:
I know that you can get cards that have double the amount of VRAM (and those are typically higher end cards), never heard of halving it. Might be a typo or something.

Onto the build.

That RAM has very tall heat-fins on them, which may conflict with that 212 EVO if you ever had to fill the slots.
Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB (2x4GB), 1600Mhz Cl9 1.5v. $43
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

While HIS isnt a bad manufacturer, they aren't really known for their quality. I found a Sapphire card that is the same price and doesn't rely on a rebate. Better cooling as well.
Sapphire HD7850 2GB. $200 ($10 rebate as well).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That PSU is a no... Usually OCZ are a decent brand in PSU's, not great but decent, but that unit is bad. That thing will only provide 300W through the 12v rail (responsible for the CPU, mobo and GPU/s), nowhere near its advertised 600W.

This XFX 550W provides 528W through the 12v rail and is also cheaper. XFX is good quality as well, as they are essentially rebranded Seasonic's. You do lose the modularity, but its a small sacrifice.
XFX Core 550W, 80+ Bronze non-modular. $55
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=59615&vpn=P1550SXXB9&m...

Rest of it looks good.


Two 25 amp rails at 12volts each equals 600 watts
September 17, 2012 1:09:09 PM

egilbe said:
Two 25 amp rails at 12volts each equals 600 watts


http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=33041&vpn=OCZ600MXSP&m...
Dont see any indication of a second rail anywhere on that page.

Though Newegg says it does.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The unit should be fine then.

God that is annoying,you think a tech store would have all that stuff on the product page. Amazon is usually the worst though.

Still recommend that XFX 550W unit. Better brand, single 12v rail, higher efficiency and cheaper as well.
September 17, 2012 1:11:24 PM

Amazon is a bookstore. What do they know about tech? :lol: 
September 17, 2012 2:01:57 PM

Ignoring brand for now, is there any benefit to having twin rails versus a single rail if capacities are the same?
September 17, 2012 2:05:51 PM

No benefit, only cons.
If you have a single strong rail, you cant overload it unless the total CPU/GPU draw is more than it can provide.
With two weaker rails, it is possible that the GPU or GPU could draw more wattage than its rail can provide. Though at 300W a rail that going to be fairly difficult to do, this was mainly an issue with low quality supplies.

Regardless, it is considered better to have a single strong 12v rail than two (or more, I'v seen up to 4 on some really bad ones) weaker ones, even if they total to the same wattage.

September 17, 2012 5:45:54 PM

Ok, I am looking at different mobo that are z77.

What in my current setup uses sata 3 or sata 6 connections? I am trying to judge if some of the more expensive mobo are worth it for the additional connections.

What in the future might I add that would require these connections?

Are there any other differentiators I should be watching for?
September 18, 2012 1:34:03 AM

Currently, nothing in the build requires SATAIII.
If you get an SSD you will need them if you don't want to bottleneck it. While unlikely, HDD may become fast enough to require SATAIII in the future.

All Z77 boards have the same basic feature set. So USB3 headers, at least two SATAIII connections, and PCI-gen3.

Higher end boards do add more on, ASUS' higher end board has inbuilt WIFI, Gigabyte G1's have four 16x slots for quad Crossfire/SLI, AsRock Fatal1ty boards support IDE and some older standards.

Usually the higher you go you get other benefits such as better integrated sound, more fan headers, better Crossfire/SLI capability, automatic overclocking utilities, bundled software, EUFI BIOS', etc. Its really a case by case basis comparing boards.

Though might I recommend the AsRock Z77 Extreme4? Has most of the features of higher end boards at a cheap price. The quality of it is pretty good as well.
AsRock Z77 Extreme4. $135
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
September 18, 2012 3:18:34 AM

Stopped by the local microcenter at lunch today and picked up an ad. They currently have a $50 instant savings when bundling a i5/i7k cpu with a z77 mobo. So i could get that ex4 with the i5k for $275.

I was asking about the features because other mobo available are cheaper like the asus v lk and vlx and the gigabyte d3h, ds3h, and ud3h.

!