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£500/$780 dual screen system for programming and occasional gaming

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  • Homebuilt
  • Gaming
  • Programming
  • Systems
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August 6, 2012 11:23:12 AM

I would like to build a system according to the following requirements:

- Up to £500 inc vat and shipping
- Would like to purchase within one month
- Mainly for programming in linux (latest ubuntu), also for occasional gaming on Windows (Games by Id, Valve and Blizzard)
- Must be able to support 2 hi-res 24" LCD monitors, the option of 3 would be nice! I will buy monitors separately, that's a separate budget (of about £250/$390)

- [RAM] At least 4GB
- [GPU] Nvidia strongly preferred since I may want to do some CUDA programming at some point
- [HDD] Perhaps I could run linux on a SSD (so it's quiet for work and programming tasks don't need that much space anyway). I could have a regular HDD for windows. Is this a good idea?
- [PSU] Quite is strongly preferred, would pay a bit extra for this. Air cooled only, nothing fancy ^^
- [Case] Something black and plain, no coloured lights or pointy design features e.g. ARIANET Reticence Black Micro-ATX Soundproof Case

Some prebuilt systems I looked at:

1. http://www.aria.co.uk/Systems/Gaming+Range/Cyclone/Glad...
2. http://www.asus.com/Desktop/Entertainment/CM6330/
3. http://www.dell.com/uk/p/inspiron-660/pd

I don't really have much experience in doing this so any help is really appreciated! I would be looking to buy from UK suppliers preferably (I live in the UK)

More about : 500 780 dual screen system programming occasional gaming

a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
August 7, 2012 6:53:28 AM

Im from the UK myself and know a thing or two about quiet PC's but im on my phone at the moment, ill reply again tonight when I can get to my PC.
August 7, 2012 7:48:35 AM

Antec Sonata III 500 Case EarthWatts EA-500D PSU 80Plus £86.98
http://www.dabs.com/products/antec-sonata-iii-500-case-...

Gigabyte Z77-DS3H S1155 Intel Z77 DDR3 ATX £69.99
http://www.dabs.com/products/gigabyte-z77-ds3h-s1155-in...

Intel Core i5-3450 S1155 3.1GHz 6MB £146.98
http://www.dabs.com/products/intel-core-i5-3450-s1155-3...

Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz CL9 XMP £41.98
http://www.dabs.com/products/corsair-vengeance-8gb--2x4...

Seagate 1TB Barracuda SpinPoint SATA 3Gb/s 7200RPM 16MB 3.5" £63.58
http://www.dabs.com/products/seagate-1tb-barracuda-spin...


Asus GeForce GTX 550 Ti 900MHz 1GB PCI-Express HDMI £83.98
http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-geforce-gtx-550-ti-90...

£493.49 inc VAT

You want the machine mainly for programming so put more money into the CPU, that GPU will run most modern games at medium settings. I would suggest an AMD card at this price range but you want an Nvidia, it might be worth waiting for the GTX 650 to come out, you can still run the machine on the on board intel graphics.

For the hard drive, just partition the 1TB into two drives and then you can dual boot, the SSD won't really help unless you want the machine to boot up really fast and move large files around. Your budget of 500 quid is hard to get a SSD into, if you have some extra cash then consider this:

OCZ Technology 120GB Agility 3 SSD Series SATA 6Gb/s 2.5" Solid State Drive £69.99
http://www.dabs.com/products/ocz-technology-120gb-agili...
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August 7, 2012 8:39:09 AM

You can also go the AMD route, giving you more of your budget to spend on an GPU:

AMD FX-4100 AM3+ 3.6GHz 12MB 95W £84.99
http://www.dabs.com/products/amd-fx-4100-am3--3-6ghz-12...

ASRock 990FX Extreme3 AM3+ AMD 990FX DDR3 ATX £79.99
http://www.dabs.com/products/asrock-990fx-extreme3-am3-...

This gives you £142.48 for a better GPU, maybe a GTX 560.

Asus GeForce GTX 560 810MHz 1GB PCI-Express HDMI DirectCU £131.98
http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-geforce-gtx-560-810mh...

EDIT:
Forgot to add an optical drive £11.98
Sony 24x DVD-RW SATA Black Bare Internal Drive
http://www.dabs.com/products/sony-24x-dvd-rw-sata-black...
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
August 7, 2012 6:41:21 PM

Sounds like you will want to go CPU heavy in this build, you won't need anything fancy in terms of a graphics card, something like that GTX 550Ti would be fine because presumably your most graphically demanding game will be SC2 or something and that is very CPU dependant.

Both the Intel and AMD routes are viable in this build to be honest, personally I'd go with Intel though because they are better for games and they have lower TDP's. A PC which doesn't consume much power is WAY easier to keep quiet.

I think if you want something truly quiet, you will want a passive graphics card. Very few Nvidia cards have this unfortunately. If you were willing to go for an AMD card though, you could go for the HD 7750.

This is cutting it a bit fine with your budget but should be almost perfect for your usage:

Intel Core i5-3470 - £147.82
2x4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport 1600Mhz 1.5v - £37.00
MSI H77MA-G43 - £66.23
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200RPM - £50.00
Sapphire HD 7750 1GB Ultimate (Passive) Edition - £91.99
Be Quiet Pure Power L8 430W Modular PSU - £44.83
Fractal Design Core 1000 - £29.98

Then for the sake of quietness (and improved cooling), I'd replace the CPU heatsink and case fan with these:

Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 - £19.99
Be Quiet Shadow Wings SW1 120mm Low-Speed Case Fan - £10.47

Total is almost exactly £500 including delivery


If you really want to go Nvidia you could swap the GPU for a GTX 550Ti but I think you would get a noticeable increase in noise along with a slight increase in performance.

EDIT: With the hard drive, I would just partition it for now and maybe add the SSD later.


With the monitors, I'd grab a couple of these at £125 each. They have nice 23'' IPS panels with excellent reviews here

http://www.ebuyer.com/284103-lg-ips235v-ips-lcd-led-23-...
August 9, 2012 2:31:36 PM

Wow, these seem like very useful responses, it would've taken me aaages to look up and learn about all this stuff and even then I'd probably come up with something crappy! I'll look over it tonight and get back to you, thanks a lot! :) 
!