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$1300 to Spend on a New Desktop

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#1
xmf

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Looking for an all-around machine - nothing too specialized (such as for gaming or photo editing).

Appealing so far has been the 2nd gen intel core processors, a good graphics card, and lots of ram. I'm also intrigued by (excuse my naivety) the dual hard-drive setups that apparently increase speed greatly.

Any input/suggestions relevant to my search are greatly appreciated

Thanks

Edited by xmf, 21 May 2011 - 11:21 PM.



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#2
CoffeeFiend

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I would personally pick something like this:

-a good CPU. While i3's are pretty nice, you can afford a i5. I'd personally pick an unlocked i5 and OC it (although it's more than enough for most tasks at stock speed). A i5 2500K can hit around 4.5GHz.... That's faster than any desktop class Intel or AMD has for sale at *any* price point (including $1000 i7's) for almost any task, and the single-threaded perf would be out of this world. $225 or so.
-a cpu cooler that would support a decent OC. Around $50 or so (I don't keep up with those monthly reviews, you'd have to look)
-a good P67-based motherboard from a decent OEM, preferably with solid state caps, USB 3 and SATA 6Gbps ports, 4 DIMM slots for sure, and ideally that's good at OC'ing, like a Asus P8P67 at $160
-a vid card with great performance at a decent price point (it's all about value). Something like a Radeon HD 6870 around $200 (more than enough for anyone but the most extreme gamers really)
-plenty of decent RAM. Even on an old C2D, 4GB was somewhat limiting for me. 8GB is the min I'd personally buy, but at the current prices 16GB isn't out of the question either (it all depends on what you plan on doing with your PC). In fact, 16GB (4x4GB of decent DDR3 @ 1.5v) should be about $160
-a decent case (solid, good airflow, etc). Being conservative, let's pick an Antec 900, around $100
-a good quality PSU (NOT a no-name cheapo!), definitely 80+ or better, and at that budget you can definitely get something modular too. There's no need for a crazy amount of watts. There's TONS of options out there, but let's pick a very nice Seasonic M12II 520 Bronze ($90)
-a good SSD and a large storage drive. RAID0 setups like you mentioned only help so much for performance. Yes, copying large files (sequential access) is pretty much doubled, but seek times/latency/reading random bits of files all over the place isn't -- that's where the SSD helps. The SSD is faster for starting your OS and apps. Then for the storage drive, speed is not crucial. Something like a 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300 ($240, decently sized for a SSD and still quite fast) and a 2TB WD Green ($80) along with it.
-any decent DVD writer, they're pretty much all around $20

Everything on the above list should come up to $1300 or so. Some people may will obviously disagree with some points depending on what they do with their PCs. An avid PC gamer would likely get less RAM (no games need that much!) and a faster video card... Plenty of others who don't game much would spent a lot less on the video card and more elsewhere. I think it's one of the fastest (and really high quality) computers you can buy at that price point, without building something with one particular task in mind. Quality parts all-around, super fast CPU/video card, tons of RAM, super fast SSD and lots of storage, great quality modular PSU and everything. It's got it all...
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#3
xmf

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CoffeeFiend,

Thanks for the generous post. I've never built my own PC before, but with your suggestions I'm definitely tempted to. I've already begun reading "A beginner's guide to overclocking" and checking out some of the posts over on OCN. Thanks again.

#4
pointertovoid

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I should like to catch this opportunity to tell I do agree with CoffieFiend.

Especially to prefer fewer cores that overclock a lot, as this corresponds to your needs.
As well for the SSD and the uncommonly advantageous Raid-0.

On my config with similar needs, I even exaggerated even to an X25-E flash disk. 130€ for 30GB second-hand, but I feel a small improvement over a good MLC disk like the Vertex.
The more exotic RevoDrive looks interesting, but I didn't try it. It needs a wide Pci-E and OCZ gives a list of compatible mobos able to boot on it.

Even for mass storage, I wouldn't choose a "green" disk. They're far less agile, many even rotate at 5400rpm. When you search for a file lost somewhere in a big folder of subfolders, the difference is huge.
I tried the 450GB Velociraptor: much more silent than expected, but not completely as silent as my 7200rpm which I'll keep.

I'll give a look to the P67. Some previous Intel chipsets were misleading about their capabilities, especially Pci-E 2.0, which was available at the video ports but not at the x1 ports on the southbridge; their statement was so unclear it could only be intentional.

A DVD burner wears out (laser diode) and is a source of worries, hence I suggest to buy it new from a good model. To pick mine, I compared by googling their <modelname>:
modelname
versus
modelname problem
and made a ratio between the number of answers.

#5
CoffeeFiend

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Even for mass storage, I wouldn't choose a "green" disk. They're far less agile, many even rotate at 5400rpm.

5400rpm isn't that big of a deal, even when performance matters (and it's often not that much of a concern to begin with). Last I checked, they actually outperformed some current 7200rpm drives. Nevermind they're already overkill speed-wise for most "mass storage" needs (how fast does a drive have to be when it's reading a 700mb avi over a 2 hour period, or a 4MB mp3 file every 3 minutes? Even a ATA33/4200rpm drive is almost overkill for lots of such tasks). There's several good 5400rpm drives that outperform "lesser" 7200rpm counterparts in various areas these days, it's just NOT that clear cut. For example, the seek times/access delays of the WD Green drives are better than the Seagate 7200.12 series which are 7200rpm. It's pretty much faster than the Hitachi 7K1000 at basically everything if you compare both with PCMark... There's little difference in performance from a 7200rpm drive in most everyday real-life semi-intensive tasks (like loading a game). Some synthetic benchmarks might put them a few percent behind the very best 7200rpm drives but it's really nowhere near as bad as you make it sound. Sure, they're no verlocirapor or SSD but they're still quite fast -- usually more than you really need. They're also very silent and low power which is great.

He can definitely afford a faster drive if he wants though...

Edit:

I'll give a look to the P67. Some previous Intel chipsets were misleading about their capabilities, especially Pci-E 2.0, which was available at the video ports but not at the x1 ports on the southbridge; their statement was so unclear it could only be intentional.

It's really not that bad. Just look at the pretty picture they provide us with. I'd say they're pretty clear. Intel makes nice fast CPUs but their chipsets tend to be unimpressive alas.
Coffee: \ˈkȯ-fē, ˈkä-\. noun. Heaven in a cup. Life's only treasure. The meaning of life. Kaffee ist wunderbar. C8H10N4O2 FTW.

#6
xmf

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I'm not sure if I need a dedicated sound card.




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