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Need advice for $1300 all-purpose build

Last response: in Systems
January 18, 2013 7:30:48 AM

I'm getting ready to build my first computer and need some advice. I'm looking to spend around 1300 USD for an all-purpose computer that will be shared by my wife and I.

Neither of us are really big gamers, but I do enjoy the occassional Total War game or something from the Civilizations series.

We are both big multitaskers; we often have browsers with multiple windows/multiple tabs open while working on Word/Excel, while watching a movie in a seperate window. Biggest priority, no lag and no stalls while moving back and forth between programs. Also, I HATE waiting for stuff to boot/load.

I also want the system to serve as a file server for the rest of our home. My wife uses a laptop, I use an iPad, we have two Apple TVs, etc. I'm hoping for a fast SSD for our boot drive and then a couple of large HDD for redundent storage. Also planning on a blu ray burner for hard copy backups fo things like family photos/videos.

Also looking for a nice monitor; I'm hoping a good quality 27 inch monitor, but I can go smaller for quality. I don't do a lot of video/photo editing, but I want the real estate to work on multiple things at once and have it all look very nice while I do.

So, hopefully that gives you an idea.

Approximate purchase date: Next four weeks

Budget Range: 1300 USD; cheaper is always better, but I can flex if I need to.

System usage: See above.

Monitor: Yes, I need one. High quality is important, would like 27 inches but can go smaller for better quality.

Parts to upgrade: Everything, including keyboard and mouse. Both my wife and I spend a lot of time typing and need a comfortable keyboard.

OS Needed: Yes, probably windows 8.

Preferred Website: Newegg or Amazon. I'll be buying everything online.

Parts Preference: I'm not married to anything, but I've been an Intel guy since the beginning.

Overclocking: I've never done it before, but maybe this time around.

SLI or Crossfire: Not likely; the only way I would consider it is if I decided to go dual monitor later and needed to do it. I don't play enough games with high end requirements to justify it.

Monitor Resolution: Whatever the new monitor is.

Additional Comments: The system will probably live in our family room so it needs to look respectable, can't sound like a jet engine, and ideally won't require its own power grid (it will likely be on most/all the time). Also, I want to make sure I've got he full complement of USD 3, HDMI, etc inputs.

Thanks in advance for any advice/assistance.

January 18, 2013 8:17:06 AM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($149.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($87.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($77.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: OCZ Vector Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($189.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($53.99 @ NCIX US)
Monitor: Asus VE228H 21.5" Monitor ($135.63 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Asus VE228H 21.5" Monitor ($135.63 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Total: $1225.72
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-18 05:11 EST-0500)

Thats my recommendation on what you get. Managed to squeeze dual 1080p monitors in, which will help a lot with the productivity side of the rig. The 7850 isnt the most powerful card, but it will play intensive games quite well. Fractal Design case optimized for silence and it has a subdued aesthetic. Not overclock-able unfortunately, but if you want I can make it so it can, but will likely hit the budget.

Things like Mouse and Keyboard are very subjective to the person using them, so you will have to figure out what to get. BUt given that typing and productivity is going to be a big thing on this rig, I recommend a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches.
January 18, 2013 8:43:24 AM

Hmm... I don't know that you even need a video card, nor do you need to spend that much.

Would you be interested in a smaller build - I'm thinking that the Bitfenix Prodigy would be the perfect case for your needs. It's quiet, small, stylish, and yet has plenty of room for cooling and hard drive setups.

You'd also be better off with a 1440p monitor than two 21" monitors, in my opinion. It's the edge where windows snap (moving a window to take up exactly half the screen) becomes a very very viable productivity option, and causes less issues than two monitors does. (Along with taking up less space.)
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January 18, 2013 7:11:25 PM

Thanks for the replies so far. I think I'd prefer the larger, 1440p monitor to the dual monitor layout; I'm not sure how much desk space I'll have when all is said and done. I've been reading about those Korean IPS monitors and they look interesting.

That being said, it seems like I'm going to really want at least a decent video card; am I right? Especially with a high resolution screen?

As for a smaller system, I'm all for it. Size doesn't really matter, but it has to look nice, be quite, and not turn the room into a sauna. That little Prodigy case looks really interesting.

Also, not sure if it was clear in the original post, but I'm hoping for dual HDDs running in a mirrored configuration. I've never lost a hard drive yet, but I don't want to risk it.

Thanks again for the advice; keep it coming!
January 18, 2013 7:40:04 PM

PCPartPicker part list:
Price breakdown by merchant:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($209.98 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS5X Performa CPU Cooler ($9.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Sandisk Extreme 240GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($169.00 @ Adorama)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7770 1GB Video Card ($102.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: XClio Nighthawk ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($74.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: LG E2742V-BN 27.0" Monitor ($229.99 @ NCIX US)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Keyboard: Microsoft Desktop 400 Wired Standard Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($16.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $1258.83
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-18 16:39 EST-0500)

Base Total: $1294.84
Mail-in Rebates: -$40.00
Shipping: $3.99
Total: $1258.83

should do the trick :)