Ok, by mid December I should have at least £1000 to spend on a new machine. I have the giblets like keyboard, mouse and speakers lieing around from an old machine and I don't like dealing with companies like dell, so I'm hoping to shop around and get the most bang for my buck. Im also quite happy to jump right into the deep end and assemble this myself, I'm really just looking for advice on what I should be looking for and what would be a waste of time.
I'm a student, so it's maybe worth noting in case anyone can recommend companies that offer student discounts? I guess thats more for software (I have an extra budget for 3dmax, AutoCAD etc so they dont have to be brought into the equation).
Im also hoping that by mid-December, maybe some new hardware will have come out that should push down the prices of the mid-high spec stuff.
Basically I've been offered the following machine;
Pentium D 940 3.2Ghz
2gb Ram (no spec mentioned)
80gb Hard disk
Win xp Pro
For the princely sum of £860. My problems with that machine are that from what I've heard, the Pentium D 940 isn't very good, the hard disk is tiny, there are no spec's on the motherboard (i hope to upgrade this machine as I go along, starting on 2gb RAM and adding more later on). And I want a 19" minimum monitor. I think its the Quadro in this machine that is bumping the price up. ALso its built by RM computers, so if I do upgrade the machine I'll invalidate the warrenty.
If I go through a list of the components, and detail what Im thinking of buying, or what my options are and why I'm looking at these options, I'd really appreciate if anyone could point me in the right direction if I'm going off track, or inform me if there is a higher-spec bargain to be had for an extra bit of cash.
I can't decide whether to go for a Core 2 Duo or an AMD X2 setup. From what I understand the Core 2 Duo's are faster, but more expensive. If I could find a bargain AMD X2 processor I think I'd be inclined to go for that, as I'm not looking for state-of-the-art technology, just the best bang for my buck. From what I understand if I do go for AMD, I should be buying an AM2 processor, as these are newer technology and offer better upgrade (RAM) options later on.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+ 2.20GHz (Socket AM2)
for £135 from overclockers.co.uk
Intel Core 2 DUO E6300 "LGA775 Allendale" 1.86GHz (1066FSB)
for £135 from overclockers.co.uk
What brand should I really be looking at here? I'm looking for good quality but for quite cheap prices. Basically no company with a 'bad rep' for shoddy product. A lot of the motherboards I see seem to be quite expensive because they offer SLI and Crossfire. Am I right in thinking that this just allows 2 GFX cards to be used in tandem for better gaming spec? If so Im not really bothered about that. I dont want to overspec/overspend in this department really. Im just looking for a board that is upgradeable without bottlenecking any component.
Asus M2N32-SLi-DLX nForce 590 SLi (Socket AM2) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard
for £135 at overclockers.co.uk
Asus P5B Deluxe (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard
for £140 a overclockers.co.uk
I guess i'm not looking for top-notch fancy RAM here, but just something not too slow that it bottlenecks the pc.
Corsair 2GB DDR2 Value Select PC5300
for £165 at overclockers.co.uk
I Think this is where it gets difficult. From what I've heard I should really be looking at an entry-level Quadro Card (as someone said it will actually speed up rendering, rather than just allowing me to shift more poly's on screen at once). Now I priced the fx560 at £200, can I really justify this price? Or can I spend less on this aspect (I dont expect to be doing anything too demanding, but I would maybe like the option to use 2 screens, and I will probably be doing a bit of video-editing) and maybe go for something like an x1300 and spend the £140 difference on a better cpu or mb? (or an extra monitor! ) Any advice in this department would be very appreciated!
Ive been using a really old, crappy CRT monitor for the past 8 years, so I think I owe it to myself to spend a bit and get quite a nice large monitor here. There just seems to be so much variety in pricing! Some 19" TFT's go for around £150, while others up to £300! If I could get something very nice at around 19-20"+, maybe widescreen (unless theres a reason that widescreen monitors shouldn't be used?) I'd be very happy. I'll also be purchasing a Wii when they release here, and would ideally like to be able to hook that up to the monitor (I dont have a tv in my room). I'm hoping that HDTV releases have maybe pushed prices down a bit (I dont care about HDTV, I'm not going to be using it for at least another 8-10 years i guess).
Am i right in thinking that XP Home just doesn't support dual core processors? ANd that I need XP Pro? If so thats around £100 here. Am I right in thinking that XP Pro can only handle up to 3gb of RAM, and if i plan on adding any more I would need XP 64? Is there a situation with XP 64 in regards to software. Do i need to buy 64bit versions of software to really take advantage of the 64bits? And will 32bit software actually run on it at all?
I'm looking at 2 hard disks, one to use as a scratch disk for photoshop and premier and other programs that can maybe utilise it, so I'm guessing maybe 40-80gb, 7200rpm, 8mb buffer? The other HD should be about 160gb I guess, even that will probably be overkill for my needs. Is there a minimum spec I should be looking at here to prevent bottlenecking with my HD? I dont want to go and buy a nice cpu only for it to be held back by a crappy HD.
Case + PSU
I guess I can spend about £60 on a case and psu. My only requirement is that it doesn't look like some horrible tacky boy-racer model. I guess it needs about a 500w PSU as well? If I can buy these seperate for better results then I'm open to that suggestion.
DVD-RW, TV Tuner, Firewire card, fans etc I can leave a bit of cash aside for all of these things. I'd really be probably going for the near-cheapest stuff here as It's not really vitally important to me.
Whew, what a post! Thanks for any advice you can give guys, I really appreciate it. As I say I wont be commiting to anything for another 2/3 months from now, so I can hopefully take advantage of any pre-xmas drops in price. I'm just looking for a machine that is good value for money, can handle modelling and rendering with acceptable speeds, and might be used for a spot of gaming, but probably not. Thanks guys!
I really don't think that offer is worth it. I would build your own, however you might want to wait until december before making your choice as there will be new components out and the prices will probably have dropped. So I'm not going to give advice at the moment.