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Unread 11-03-2011, 09:40 AM   #1
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It's time for a new PC

Hello everyone,

I've decided it's time for a new PC. I'm not too hardware-savvy, so I figured I'd get some advice before going nuts on newegg.

Here's what I want to accomplish with this build:
-Dual boot Windows and Linux
-Be able to play new games without killing the computer. I don't mind "medium" graphics settings for high-end games and such.
-Be able to record music.
-Have enough hard drive space for all of this and a bunch of porn and source code.
-Easily upgraded.

I'd like to do all of this for $1500 or less, if possible. The less it costs, the better, obviously. I'd also like to stay away from water-cooling systems. I've had bad experiences with them before(thanks cyberpowerpc ).

Thank you
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Unread 11-03-2011, 09:55 AM   #2
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are you looking to put it together yourself or pre-assembled?

build yourself for 1500 is a piece of cake...if you know what your doiong

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Unread 11-03-2011, 10:18 AM   #3
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+1 on the self assembly. I put my PC together about 2 months ago and it cost me about $800 dollars for a baddass gaming setup. Also, I knew next to nothing about computers before I started researching it and practiced a little bit on my old PC and still found it pretty easy to do.
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Unread 11-04-2011, 12:23 PM   #4
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With that kind of budget you'll be able to build yourself a pretty nice machine. Keep in mind you may be able to reuse stuff from your old machine to save money, such as your case, power supply if it is adequate, optical drive, hard drive, etc. I built a machine about a month ago doing this, only spent $500 (reused a lot, only replaced motherboard, vidya card, ram, processor, keyboard, mouse), and got a solid machine that can run modern games on high settings.
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Unread 11-04-2011, 12:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GhostsofAcid View Post
With that kind of budget you'll be able to build yourself a pretty nice machine. Keep in mind you may be able to reuse stuff from your old machine to save money, such as your case, power supply if it is adequate, optical drive, hard drive, etc. I built a machine about a month ago doing this, only spent $500 (reused a lot, only replaced motherboard, vidya card, ram, processor, keyboard, mouse), and got a solid machine that can run modern games on high settings.
whats a vidya card?

My friend, who works with computers for a living, tells me that he can build a gaming machine for around 600$ so with 1500$ you're more than prepared.

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Unread 11-04-2011, 01:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GhostsofAcid View Post
With that kind of budget you'll be able to build yourself a pretty nice machine. Keep in mind you may be able to reuse stuff from your old machine to save money, such as your case, power supply if it is adequate, optical drive, hard drive, etc. I built a machine about a month ago doing this, only spent $500, and got a solid machine that can run modern games on high settings.
This is good advice if you certain parts of your system relatively up to date.

I used to upgrade my system twice a year (as a bit obsessive about it and had to have max settings for any game I played). The first thing I'd recommend is going over to Anandtech and Tom's Hardware and reviewing all the latest CPU & GPU charts and motherboard recommendations. Its been a minute since I upgraded my last component (graphics card - a nVidia 460GTX, a good midrange card at the time) so its always best to start out fresh when planning a build and making sure you know what's the best current tech out there.

That being said, if I had your budget, I'd plan to build the following:

  • AMD Hexcore Phenom II (they're just the most processing bang for the buck)
  • 8-16Gb of DDR3 (anything over 1600MHz should do nicely). People have argued with me over the amount of ram before but the simple reason is that Windows 7 will seek to utilize as much ram as possible and if you have enough ram, you can disable the paging file altogether, which has the single greatest improvement on the "feel" of the interface of your OS IMO. Ram is also ridiculously cheap right now and 2x4G Ram dimm sets are the sweet spot in price to perf/space
  • In general I'd recommend an ATI GPU if you choose to go with the AMD proc, their drivers are designed to pair together (along with the chipsets) and have some really cool performance-enhancing and power-saving features.I'd also recommend a single card solution. I've messed with the multi-GPU setups before, not only is it expensive, it drains power like crazy and for not a big improvement (around 35%). If you're just going for current games to playable at medium (or higher) settings a single mid-range card will do nicely, or splurge another $50 (midrange is locked firmly around the $150 mark in general).
  • A High-Efficiency power supply is a must IMO. A good unit from Corsair, Enermax, PC Cooling and Power or Seasonic (those are just the big players) will offer greater stability and can save you money in power in the longterm. I shaved about $30 off my power the first year I had a HE power supply in my machine. I have the power supply for 4 years now and its been solid as a rock and my power rails still measure accurate to this day. IMO there is no better upgrade for your system. Plan on spending a good $80-150 (depending on how much wattage you need, I run on 520) here and you'll thank yourself by not having to replace that part again for quite a long time while its extra cost gets offset by our power savings.
  • I've good reliability from Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital. I'd advise perhaps 1 hi-speed drive to partition and load your OS' on (like an SSD or 10K RPM drive) and then larger, slower drives (think 5200RPM or "green" drives) to load data on. I'd read reviews to get a feel of the failure rate of a particular drive. I'm a big fan of partitioning, but that's mainly because I can't afford to by new components, so I make do with 1Gbs worth of disk partitioned to hold my different projects. I keep long-term data stored on external disks that I only spin-up when I want to copy data off of them.
  • Get a decent case. Antec makes really good cases, but a new company, Rosewill is making some good stuff too. Read reviews and check pictures and look for cases with good "rolled edges." That refers to the manufacturing process by which the interior steel edges are rolled back to keep the sharp edge from being exposed. Cheap cases tend to be deathtraps, expect to get cut. Personally I make the same recommendation here that I do for PSU's: Spend extra money here and you won't have to do it again. I've had the same Antec 900 since they were released, before that I had another Antec, which was my wife's case for 5 years and has now been passed on to my room-mate. Good quality stuff can last as long as you need it to in my experience.
Those are my basic suggestions. Good luck with the build!
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Unread 11-04-2011, 01:47 PM   #7
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I apparently haven't checked out Procs for a few months. I just did a quick review of the status and the AMD FX are looking very nice (8 cores). Still in the same pricerange as the Phenom II but newer manufacturing process (means the CPU will run cooler with less voltage applied).

The Core i7s are still the performance leader, but at roughly double the platform cost (meaning more expensive motherboard and ram) I wouldn't think its worth it, particularly if you are mainly going to be coding, recording with the occasional game playing, the performance gap between the two proc types will be minimal.

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Unread 11-05-2011, 12:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordacain View Post
I apparently haven't checked out Procs for a few months. I just did a quick review of the status and the AMD FX are looking very nice (8 cores).
You should read some reviews of the fx-8150. Right now it's not a good choice.
I was looking forward to the FX-series myself but after reading the reviews i would rather go with the intel core i5 2500k. The intel performs better, consumes half the power under load and it's not that much more expensive.
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Unread 11-06-2011, 10:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordacain View Post
That being said, if I had your budget, I'd plan to build the following:

  • AMD Hexcore Phenom II (they're just the most processing bang for the buck)
  • 8-16Gb of DDR3 (anything over 1600MHz should do nicely). People have argued with me over the amount of ram before but the simple reason is that Windows 7 will seek to utilize as much ram as possible and if you have enough ram, you can disable the paging file altogether, which has the single greatest improvement on the "feel" of the interface of your OS IMO. Ram is also ridiculously cheap right now and 2x4G Ram dimm sets are the sweet spot in price to perf/space
  • In general I'd recommend an ATI GPU if you choose to go with the AMD proc, their drivers are designed to pair together (along with the chipsets) and have some really cool performance-enhancing and power-saving features.I'd also recommend a single card solution. I've messed with the multi-GPU setups before, not only is it expensive, it drains power like crazy and for not a big improvement (around 35%). If you're just going for current games to playable at medium (or higher) settings a single mid-range card will do nicely, or splurge another $50 (midrange is locked firmly around the $150 mark in general).
  • A High-Efficiency power supply is a must IMO. A good unit from Corsair, Enermax, PC Cooling and Power or Seasonic (those are just the big players) will offer greater stability and can save you money in power in the longterm. I shaved about $30 off my power the first year I had a HE power supply in my machine. I have the power supply for 4 years now and its been solid as a rock and my power rails still measure accurate to this day. IMO there is no better upgrade for your system. Plan on spending a good $80-150 (depending on how much wattage you need, I run on 520) here and you'll thank yourself by not having to replace that part again for quite a long time while its extra cost gets offset by our power savings.
  • I've good reliability from Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital. I'd advise perhaps 1 hi-speed drive to partition and load your OS' on (like an SSD or 10K RPM drive) and then larger, slower drives (think 5200RPM or "green" drives) to load data on. I'd read reviews to get a feel of the failure rate of a particular drive. I'm a big fan of partitioning, but that's mainly because I can't afford to by new components, so I make do with 1Gbs worth of disk partitioned to hold my different projects. I keep long-term data stored on external disks that I only spin-up when I want to copy data off of them.
  • Get a decent case. Antec makes really good cases, but a new company, Rosewill is making some good stuff too. Read reviews and check pictures and look for cases with good "rolled edges." That refers to the manufacturing process by which the interior steel edges are rolled back to keep the sharp edge from being exposed. Cheap cases tend to be deathtraps, expect to get cut. Personally I make the same recommendation here that I do for PSU's: Spend extra money here and you won't have to do it again. I've had the same Antec 900 since they were released, before that I had another Antec, which was my wife's case for 5 years and has now been passed on to my room-mate. Good quality stuff can last as long as you need it to in my experience.
Those are my basic suggestions. Good luck with the build!
I agree with most of this, especially the stuff about the case and PSU. If you DO go SSD... Don't get ANYTHING with a Sandforce controller. You want something like a Crucial M4 which while appearing to have slightly slower read/write speeds are actually just killer for the kind of thing you want to do.

I agree with the amount of RAM, but not the speed. 1333 to 1600Mhz is fine for RAM for the kind of thing you want. In fact 1600Mhz is more than fine, it's killer.

I also agree with the ATI graphics card. I just think they're all around better cards. In general they run cooler, burn less power, get almost the same framerates on most games in real world situations and they're cheaper.

The high end nVidia's are better than high end AMDs. But who the hell spends $1000+ on the graphics card? I mean sure if you want to play BF3 across 6 27" screens in 3D sure.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordacain View Post
I apparently haven't checked out Procs for a few months. I just did a quick review of the status and the AMD FX are looking very nice (8 cores). Still in the same pricerange as the Phenom II but newer manufacturing process (means the CPU will run cooler with less voltage applied).

The Core i7s are still the performance leader, but at roughly double the platform cost (meaning more expensive motherboard and ram) I wouldn't think its worth it, particularly if you are mainly going to be coding, recording with the occasional game playing, the performance gap between the two proc types will be minimal.
Gotta disagree on this though. The i7s kill in recording and particularly in the box mixing. Having 8+ threads allows so much in the way of plugins to be running. Also the nature of the FSB (front side bus) makes them perfect for hosting peripheral recording devices. Turn off all the power saving states and Turbo boost and you can run a 48 track project with soft synths, samplers, hundreds of plugins and still have processing room to spare and not have too high a latency.
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Unread 11-06-2011, 11:08 PM   #10
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If you're doing a little bit of things other than gaming then yeah a 6 core might be nice.

The Core i5 2500K I think has the crown for being the best bang for the buck processor as far as gaming is concerned but AMD still has the value. My Phenom II 965BE was $150. 3.4ghz quad core for $150. Crazy.

4GB of RAM is all you need for gaming, 6GB is better, 8GB is better, 8+ won't hurt and it's not terribly expensive.

GPU-wise, yeah it's probably better to go with an AMD (formerly ATI until AMD bought them out?) for the mentioned reasons if you're getting an AMD processor. As far as Nvidia and AMD are concerned it seems that there are a lot of Nvidia fanboys out there. The reality is, there are a shit-ton of very capable graphics cards available for pretty damn reasonable prices. AMD and Nvidia are the 2 companies that make GPUs and they're in tough competition. If you want gaming capability but you don't need a hardcore gaming rig, just get a mid-range card like an Nvidia 550 or 560, or an AMD HD 6850/6870 or 6790. Pretty sure the uber high end stuff is pretty equal too, and let's face it. Unless you're THAT concerned with having that extra 2FPS in a certain game at a certain resolution, you can play ....ing anything with an AMD 6990 or an Nvidia GTX590.

I'm no expert but I at least have a bit of an interest in computer hardware and I have a general sense of what's out. And yeah, the new AMD CPUs haven't gotten rave reviews as far as I know.

CPU-wise, Intel has AMD beaten fair and square but you do pay a bit more although the newer Core series processors aren't really THAT expensive. I think the top of the line i7 2600K is pretty reasonable, maybe around $300? Considering the top of the line Core i7 from the previous generation was what, $999? If you're strapped for cash though, an AMD CPU is by no means bad and you'll have a bit extra for a nicer component somewhere else.
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Unread 11-06-2011, 11:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingAenarion View Post
Gotta disagree on this though. The i7s kill in recording and particularly in the box mixing. Having 8+ threads allows so much in the way of plugins to be running. Also the nature of the FSB (front side bus) makes them perfect for hosting peripheral recording devices. Turn off all the power saving states and Turbo boost and you can run a 48 track project with soft synths, samplers, hundreds of plugins and still have processing room to spare and not have too high a latency.
Out of curiosity, can anyone link to some benchmarks that would show recording performance?

I'm not being combative, but ProTools performance isn't something you find on Tom's Hardware CPU chart, y'know?

I did find this: AnandTech - The Bulldozer Review: AMD FX-8150 Tested

For several of the multi-threaded applications, it does rival the i7. The power consumption is much higher. Single threaded performance definitely does seem to favor the i5.

Overall, I think the guys are right. The i5 is a better performer in most circumstance. The platform cost is going to be a bit higher, but he energy savings might make up for it.

That being said, the 32nm Phenom II hexcores look like a great budget option that have power consumption closer to the i5/i7 and still have multi-threaded performance that is quite comparable as well. The Turbo-Boost feature of the i5/i7 definitely gives Intel the single-threaded performance.

Realistically though, unless you are pegging the system 24x7, the performance differences between these different procs probably won't be particularly noticeable in real-world, everyday use.

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Unread 11-07-2011, 05:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordacain View Post
Out of curiosity, can anyone link to some benchmarks that would show recording performance?

I'm not being combative, but ProTools performance isn't something you find on Tom's Hardware CPU chart, y'know?

I did find this: AnandTech - The Bulldozer Review: AMD FX-8150 Tested

For several of the multi-threaded applications, it does rival the i7. The power consumption is much higher. Single threaded performance definitely does seem to favor the i5.

Overall, I think the guys are right. The i5 is a better performer in most circumstance. The platform cost is going to be a bit higher, but he energy savings might make up for it.

That being said, the 32nm Phenom II hexcores look like a great budget option that have power consumption closer to the i5/i7 and still have multi-threaded performance that is quite comparable as well. The Turbo-Boost feature of the i5/i7 definitely gives Intel the single-threaded performance.

Realistically though, unless you are pegging the system 24x7, the performance differences between these different procs probably won't be particularly noticeable in real-world, everyday use.
There was an article either in Sound on Sound or Audio Technology (an Australian magazine) a while back that looked at audio performance. It particularly spent quite a bit of time looking at CPU interrupts, Turboboost on the Intel CPUs, the front side Bus functions and external bus (like PCI bus etc) functions.

I'll try and dig it out/see if I have it. It was around the time the Sandy Bridges came out, so I may have thrown it out, I'm not sure. I'll have a look.

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