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Advice please: Budget office build w/ excellent ugprade options

Last response: in Systems
January 19, 2013 6:20:01 PM

Hello All,

(Reformatting this according to the build help request sticky):

Approximate Purchase Date: within the next 1-3 months

Budget Range: $400-650

System Usage from Most to Least Important: basic office productivity, basic SD video editing and converting, future upgrade options for mid-level gaming

Are you buying a monitor: Probably buying a used monitor off of a neighbor

Do you need to buy OS: Yes, planning on Win 7 64bit

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon (Best Buy might work, too)

Location: Naknek, AK (remote area of AK, no stores near by and most retailers charge a lot to ship here)

Parts Preferences: None... but I would like reliable, mid-range parts that leave lots of options for upgrading later

Overclocking: Not at first... but maybe in future

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: Not sure yet... not terribly critical to me.

Additional Comments: Would prefer to have USB 3.0.

Here is my current build plan:
-Mobo: AS Rock Z77 EXTREME4 ATX (more than I need now but keeps all my options open later)
-CPU: Pentium G860 (near bottom of the line Sandy Bridge, but still a substantial step up from my current rig both in CPU and integrated GPU, will likely upgrade to i5-3570k within a year or two... maybe add a dedicated graphics card after that.)
-RAM: 4GB 1600Mhz Corsair Vengeance Blue (add another 8GB down the road)
-case: not sure yet... perhaps NZST Tempest 410 or CM Storm Enforcer? I would like to keep it under $75
-PSU: Corsair Builder Series 430W Plus 80 (I suppose if I ever added a big video card I would need to upgrade this?)
-120GB SSD for Win 7 & primary programs and 500GB (or bigger) HDD for everything else
-Win 7

That should put the entire build in the $600 ballpark from what I can tell.

Below is my more verbose original post. :) 

I've been using a Lenovo (yech) laptop (2GB ram and a core 2 duo T7200 processor, win XP) for the past 5+ years and am feeling the urge to upgrade. Mostly I'm tired of different parts of my laptop crapping out or getting flaky. At first I considered buying a replacement laptop but the more I consider it, I am now planning on building my own desktop... partly for the fun, partly for the upgrade options, and partly for the choice of quality parts. My current laptop does everything I currently need it to do... I'm just looking for something a bit more reliable and a touch faster (faster bootup, program load times, & video conversion/editing).

What I am looking for in a machine & other requirements:
1) Fast & stable w/ basic office/productivity applications.
2) I do a small amount of video converting (converting SD movies off my Dish Network DVR into tablet/phone size movies using Any Video Converter) and a small amount of video editing (ie. short SD Youtube video blogs using Videopad Free). My laptop works for this... but it would be nice to have a machine that did it faster and allowed better multitasking during the process.
3) Future upgrade possibilities for mid-level gaming down the road. The only games I currently play are 10+ years old (GOG downloads, original Ghost Recon, Age of Empires 2, etc), which obviously don't need much...
4) Low initial cost using quality parts & excellent upgrade options
5) Since high end gaming or video editing is not a priority to me, I have no immediate plans to overclock... but wouldn't mind it as an option down the road.
6) Since I live in a remote part of Alaska, I am limited by what vendors will ship out here.... I'm focusing the majority of my search for parts to Amazon and Best Buy (newegg & TD usually want to charge too much to ship here).
7) USB 3.0 on the front & back
8) I've never built a PC before so feel free to slap me upside the head to tell me I'm missing something or making an idiot choice. :) 

One last question. Am I correct that basic CPU power (ie. stats off of is more important for basic/SD video editing/converting than having a dedicated GPU? This is the impression I've gotten from what I have been reading.... but I would like to confirm that.

Thanks for your advice! I've been enjoying reading & learning from the different forums and really appreciate everyone's input.

January 24, 2013 5:52:22 AM

Skip the SSD for now. You would actually see some system performance improvement by spending that money and getting an I3 or an I5. Yes, I know the benefits of the SSD, but I really think that money would give you a better overall system if you spent it on the processor.

I think you are correct in that. The basic CPU should be able to handle those task without a GPU.
January 24, 2013 5:53:52 AM

One more thing: Spend a little more and get the 8 gb of ram now. I think the cost difference is around $25, but it will totally be worth it!
Related resources
January 24, 2013 5:57:19 AM

Let me clarify, you don't need 12 gb of ram. You don't get much of a performance boost by going over 8, but you do need the 8. Get 8 when you order everything else.
January 24, 2013 4:43:46 PM


Thanks for taking the time to reply and look things over.

I was able to find 8gb Corsair Value Ram for $33 @ Amazon Warehouse. Not a bad deal. Its only 1333Mhz, but I figured I was better off stepping up to 8gb at that price than to get 4gb of 1600 for a few bucks cheaper.

Thanks for the thoughts on CPU/GPU/SSD. I have already purchased pretty much everything now (including SSD) except for the CPU. I'm just taking a couple days to watch prices on Amazon before I make up my mind. Thankfully my budget for this project expanded quite a bit, so I may just end up going with the i5-3470 right away... instead of upgrading a year or two down the road.

Thanks again for your input!

In case you or anyone else is curious, here is my near final setup via PCpartpicker @ Amazon prices.

PCPartPicker part list:
Price breakdown by merchant:

CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($136.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($101.97 @ Amazon)
Case: Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($52.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: LG BH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($103.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Asus VE228H 21.5" Monitor ($134.98 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($92.65 @ Amazon)
Other: Used USB keyboard/mouse combo ($0.00)
Other: Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter with EZmax Setup Wizard ($9.99)
Other: [Dec 2012 Upgraded Version] Anker® Uspeed USB 3.0 Card Reader 8-in-1 for SDXC, SDHC, SD, MMC, RS-MMC, Micro SDXC, Micro SD, Micro SDHC Card, Support UHS-I Cards, 18 Months Warranty ($9.99)
Other: Used 250GB 2.5" Notebook SATA HDD ($0.00)
Other: Used DVD Writer ($0.00)
Total: $823.52
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-24 13:31 EST-0500)

A couple of notes for the curious:
-I haven't decided on the CPU yet... might yet go with the i5-3470
-As previously mentioned, I got the RAM for about $13 cheaper
-I plan on adding a 1 TB HDD ($75) soon, and maybe a Asus Radeon HD 7750 1GB ($108) down the road
-I purchased the LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray writer (OEM) not the BH14NS40 (Retail). The OEM was only $55 through Amazon (not listed on PCPartpicker for some reason)

January 24, 2013 11:11:06 PM

The I5 3470 is a great processor from everything I have heard. It is only slightly slower than the 3570k that everyone seems to recommend, and it is at a really great price.
I haven't built a computer since 2009, but my parts just arrived today for my new build. My build is around an AMD FX 6300. I am not recommending this to you, it is really only for fans of AMD because it is a bit slower than the Intel.
The $55 Blueray drive you found might not write to Bluerays. Most of them at that price read bluerays but write to DVD/CD only. Not sure if you need the drive to write to Blueray or not.
PS feel free to select a "best answer" I get points (which improves ranking) and so do you! Thanks.
January 24, 2013 11:13:28 PM

Oh, I forgot, the 3470 can't be overclocked. The 3570k can, but, I'm not one for overclocking too much anyways.
January 24, 2013 11:22:26 PM

Yeah, I'm not concerned about overclocking either... hence the H77 instead of the Z77 mobo I puchased.

Surprisingly the Bluray drive I purchased is a writer as well... you can check it out here:

Looks like the price has already jumped up since I purchased it.
It sounds like it may not come with software, but it appears there is decent free software out there (for the small amount of Bluray burning I plan on doing).

Thanks again!