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Last post Author Topic: Please help me build my new computer, DC!  (Read 105842 times)

superboyac

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Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« on: December 15, 2008, 11:26:10 AM »
Modified 1-12-2009, 10:09pm
ITEMBRANDMODELPRICESTORE
MotherboardGigabyteGA-EP45-UD3P$136.99 *Newegg
CPUIntelQ9400$259.99 *Newegg
MonitorBenQG2400WD (x2)$610.17NCIXUS
Main Hard DriveWestern Digital300 GB VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS$248.96Newegg
Storage Hard DriveWestern DigitalCaviar Black WD1001FALS (1 TB)$119.99 *Newegg
Backup Hard Drive #1Western DigitalCaviar Black WD1001FALS (1 TB)$119.99 *Newegg
Backup Hard Drive #2Western DigitalCaviar Black WD1001FALS (1 TB)$119.99 *Newegg
External HD EnclosureGranite DigitaleSATA Hot-Swap 1 Drive$85.64Granite Digital
RAMCorsairDominator 4GB (2 x 2GB) (PC2 8500)$97.00 *Newegg
Graphics CardATISAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4870 512MB$194.99 *Newegg
Audio Mixing BoardMackieBig Knob$310Sam Ash (in-store purchase)
Pro Audio CardM-AudioAudiophile 2496$0(reuse from my old pc)
CaseCooler MasterCosmos (1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP)$181.48Provantage
MouseLogitechMX 1100$58.49 **Buy.com
KeyboardLogitechWave$42.29 **Buy.com
DVD/CD BurnerNEC3500?$0(reuse from my old pc)
56k PCI Modem(I don't know)(I don't know)$0(reuse from my old pc)
Power SupplyHiperHPU-5B680$127.77Xoxide
*Newegg bulk order, shipping+tax = $95.93
**Buy.com bulk order, shipping+tax = $10.52

Real Total:
$2820.19
Rebates:
$65.00
Adjusted Total:
$2755.19

I trust the opinions on this board more so than anyone, so I would love it if you people could help me build my new pc.  I get a new computer once every 5-7 years, and I don't keep up with hardware in the meantime, so I need a lot of help.  For this thread, as it goes along, I will update this first post with the hardware I have chosen (like mouser does with his software updates).  Thanks in advance!


I started a similar thread earlier about this
, but this is the official one now.  I just finished a hectic year with work and school, so now I have time to do this.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2009, 10:04:36 AM by superboyac »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2008, 02:02:42 PM »
From recent experience my suggestion is don't go for bleeding edge technology ... get something you know is going to be solid and stable.

Bleeding edge stuff doesn't really make any sense (unless you have a real need for what it potentially offers) - far better to have a marginally slower and less whizzo system that is stable and lasts a few years than a high spec system that causes problems.

The other thing to consider is that whatever you build it will be out of date within the month it was built so it isn't worth spending a fortune!

Sorry I am speaking from a slightly bitter point here - I just had to send an ASUS motherboard back under warranty. It was two years old with a three year warranty - what did the warranty mean? After two years the original supplier cannot replace the board but they offered a refund and since it was two years old they only offered 33% of the value of the board. It has cost me a fair amount of money in postage and a lot of frustration, expensive international phone calls and I have come out with it without a motherboard and not much money.

ASUS were particularly useless - they offer a 3 year warranty but as far as they are concerned customers can only work with the dealer they made the purchase from. They won't get involved in the argument even if the supplier is talking rubbish. The one thing I know is that ASUS have replacement boards in stock (they told me they keep stocks for this reason) and my supplier (overclockers.co.uk) won't obtain a replacement from ASUS to supply me.

Lesson learned:

  • don't buy expensive motherboards (and then I don't have to worry about the warranty)
  • don't buy from ASUS (the warranty process is hopeless and the boards are not made to a good standard - I have had three of these boards and they have all developed faults)
  • don't buy from overclockers.co.uk --- their RMA system sucks (especially as you cannot speak to anyone dealing with RMAs it all has to be done via webnotes which they only half read), they don't honour warranties properly and they get things wrong (like sending me a wrong replacement board which I am still waiting for a refund on the return postage)

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2008, 02:04:18 PM »
First decision should be, do you want a laptop or desktop.  No point discussing building if you realize you need a laptop.

Second, assuming you want a desktop -- i don't know much about cpus, but i do know that having 2 monitors can make all the difference in the world in terms of productivity.  so the first thing i'd do is budget for 2 good 21" lcds.

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2008, 02:05:22 PM »
i agree with carol's point about avoiding "bleeding edge" -- the prices are premium and the risks are highest.  go for one notch down -- something that's been out long enough for them to work out the bugs.

as for avoiding asus -- my view is that all motherboard manufacturers are horrible.  it's too bad you have to choose to buy from one of them.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2008, 02:13:46 PM »
I suppose I am still bleeding from my experience of bleeding edge 'flagship' ASUS tosh.

I have an ASROCK motherboard which I bought cheap to replace the lost board (I suspect ASROCK is just a division of ASUS) and so far no problems.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2008, 03:42:09 PM »
OK, well since you guys brought it up, let's have motherboards/cpu and montior be the first items to discuss.

What motherboard shall I get?  My current one is an average-level MSI from 2001, and I've also bought an ASUS one for my sister (a little higher end) back in 2002.  Don't know much else about them.  The MSI never really had any problems that I can remember.

For CPU, I usually get the upper-middle class CPU, right about the point where the prices jump significantly for bleeding-edge ones.  For example, if the choices in dollars are, 1,3,5,7,12,15,18,25,28,30...I'll usually get the 18.  If that makes any sense.  And I normally get Intel, no good reason...name recognition.

For monitor, mouser's suggestion would be a big deal for me.  I currently still use a 19" CRT.  At work, I have a nice widescreen Dell 24".  So what's better, one wide 24", or two 21"?

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2008, 03:49:11 PM »
two monitors, no question about it.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2008, 04:02:20 PM »
Hmm, ok, two monitors it is.  So, two 24", or two 21"?  I'm not sure, but I feel like two 24" side by side is a bit awkward.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2008, 04:10:41 PM »
Personally I always feel you get more bank for your buck with AMD CPUs - but I am not religious about it.

I have used MSI mobos in the past and they have always been pretty reliable. Try and avoid VIA chipsets though (or at least that was my experience).

Re. monitors - 24" and 21" are pretty similar in price these days so go for what space allows! The one thing I have discovered as screens have got bigger is that I can always use more space!

f0dder

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2008, 05:11:19 PM »
Intel core i7
8gig DDR-3 ram
IODrive
:D

To be realistic... two monitors indeed. I do fine with 2x17"@1280x1024, but with today's prices going below 21" is probably silly. Just remember that TFTs don't only look good at their native resolution, and that you need a high-end graphics card to run games at 21" resolution.

If you can wait until core i7 drops a bit in price, go for it. And 4 gigs of ram.
- carpe noctem
« Last Edit: December 16, 2008, 05:54:45 AM by f0dder »

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2008, 05:27:19 PM »
OK:
Intel core i7 is about $300, from what I see.

8GB DDr-3 ram seems to be about $250.  Is this the latest RAM type now?

I doubt I'll get an IOdrive.  I'm thinking about 3 1TB drives, 2 of them Seagate, maybe 1 WD (or another Seagate), I don't know.  THe two seagates will be used for dual-backup, and the other one will just be my main drive.  Maybe I'll try Samsung finally, I hear a lot of good things about them, but I don't know anything about them.  I know from my experiences, I've never had problems with Seagate and WD.  I'll probably go with all Seagate because they have the longest warranty's, and that's all I really care about.  I back up 3-fold, so losing data is not an issue.  The drives altogether will probably run me $300-500.

This is already getting pretty expensive, but that's ok.  Maybe $2000 will be my limit, I don't know.

What monitors do you guys recommend?

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2008, 05:46:27 PM »
ok id take issue with your drive selection and ram.

i'd suggest getting one top-speed drive for your C drive.  that is not going to be a terrabyte drive, its going to be substantially smaller if you want to be able to afford it.  in fact i would go for 3 drives, 2 superfast 200gb or so drives (10k), and then 1 big drive (terrabyte) which you will use mostly for storage, and dont worry about speed.  alternatively one superfast for C drive and then 2 big slow ones for data.

for ram, 8gb is overkill.  id rather get 4gb of high quality ram for same price.


superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2008, 05:56:09 PM »
Hmm, interesting, I never considered that.  OK, 2 small, fast drives.  1 large drive for storage.  But then I still need 2 large drives for my backups (double redundancy).  That's 5 drives!  If you remember my backup article.  I backup everything on the 2 drives, and one of them is kept in a physically different location.

OK, so what are the specs for 4gb high quality ram?  Brand+model please.  Thanks.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2008, 06:18:45 PM »
In case no one noticed, I started putting my table together in my top post.

So, Seagate doesn't have a 10k drive?  I guess I'll go on to the WD Raptor in that case.  That's too bad, I really like Seagate's 5 year warranty.

Man, 10k's are expensive!  So, two WD Raptor's 150GB will run me about $340.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 06:22:34 PM by superboyac »

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2008, 06:32:12 PM »
Quote
But then I still need 2 large drives for my backups (double redundancy).


get yourself an external usb2 enclosure for that -- put a rack in it so you can swap in backup drives and change them out at will. this has many advantages:
1) you can use it to backup multiple pcs.
2) you can swap in and out spare backup drives.
3) you can disconnect the backup drives when not in use -- safer.


superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2008, 06:39:20 PM »
get yourself an external usb2 enclosure for that -- put a rack in it so you can swap in backup drives and change them out at will. this has many advantages:
1) you can use it to backup multiple pcs.
2) you can swap in and out spare backup drives.
3) you can disconnect the backup drives when not in use -- safer.
Well, what I'm using now is an internal rack, where I can just slide the bare drive in and out.  But if I were to use an external enclosure, don't you think eSata would be better?  I've never had good experiences with USB for transferring large amounts of data.  It's always so much slower than expected.

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2008, 06:50:21 PM »
i've had no problem with usb2; many usb2 external enclosures now also support esata so that's easy to kill 2 birds with one stone.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2008, 06:55:52 PM »
Thanks, yeah, maybe external enclosure is the way to go.
OK, so what are the specs for 4gb high quality ram?  Brand+model please.  Thanks.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2008, 07:22:49 PM »
Memory: Corsair isn't the cheapest but is good and comes with a lifetime no quibble warranty.

I agree with Mouser - what is the point of getting more than 4Gb at the current time - there is hardly any software that takes advantage of 4Gb let alone 8Gb and getting 8G of matched memory is going to cost you an arm and a leg.

Having said that when you decide on a motherboard check out the manufacturer's website and they will have a list of memory modules that have been tested and certified to work.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2008, 07:29:03 PM »
Re: USB drives - I quite like the Seagate FreeAgent range. They are USB2 only but I have two (500Gb and 750Gb, but they now do 1Tb+ models) and they work fine.

If the motherboard you buy supports eSata you may prefer to look at external drives or enclosures that support eSata.

Have you thought of 1Gigabit access NAS with RAID 1 as a viable backup medium? You could wire it up in the garage so that it is in a separate location or you can get NAS enclosures that allow external USB2 drives to be attached and stored offsite so you could have the best of both worlds, plus the NAS setup would allow you to access the drives from any computer (including via the internet if you want/need that). Lots of the new NAS systems are effectively a file server with automated torrent downloads (without computer) and printer server functionality too.

Shades

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2008, 09:07:52 PM »
Whatever you do, do not buy Samsung SATA harddisks. Maybe they send better drives to the northern hemisphere, but here in South America they are worthless and very unreliable. The old IDE versions are ok. The only thing is that they are cheap while packing a lot of storage capacity.

Over here you can only buy four brands, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Maxxtor (IIRC Maxxtor bought Seagate some time ago, so there are actually only three brands for sale). With the ambient temperature here, it is Maxxtor who is king performance-wise while being very reliable.

Mainboards made by Intel are the best you can buy here. Personal preference lies with ASUS/AMD though, never had any issue with them. The only time I encountered a failing ASUS board, it was one with Intel CPU (and nVidia chipset).

Whatever you want to go for, at least don't be cheap on getting a decent power supply for your desktop.

40hz

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2008, 11:58:07 PM »
My tuppence:

MOBO -  I've had the best luck with Intel and Gigabyte boards. MSI has been mixed luck.

RAM - I completely agree with Carol. Go Corsair and be done with it. If too $$ Crucial brand is also a good choice.

DRIVES - Maxtor/Seagate drives have been reliable.

CPU - if you're going with Intel, smart builders always do a quick spreadsheet and compare current price to speed. About three steps down from the top chip you'll usually find the "sweet-spot" CPU that offers the most bang for the money. But why am I saying this? You already do that. ;D

EXTERNAL ENCLOSURE - IMHO the absolute best are made by Granite Digital. Moderately pricey, but very well made. http://www.granitedigital.com/

Startech also does some nice externals - including basic dual drive and RAID setups. Prices are reasonable. I haven't bought very many of their products so far (2 this year), but I've heard very good things about this company. Stuff looks good - and Egghead caries their products at discount.

http://www.startech....iple-drive/list.aspx

http://www.newegg.co...62&name=STARTECH



tomos

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2008, 04:14:36 AM »
remember that TFTs don't look good at their native resolution

I presume you meant that the other way round!?!
Tom

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2008, 06:18:39 AM »
remember that TFTs don't look good at their native resolution
I presume you meant that the other way round!?!
D'oh! :)

Personally, I'd go for a single 150gig velociraptor main drive (in my current box I have 2x74gig raptors, now partially running RAID stripe) - I don't see much reason to pick two of them, unless you want a RAID mirror. If you need local data beyond that, a single terabyte drive (if you need that much :O) should be sufficient - and they're pretty fast, too.

Most NAS boxes are unfortunately pretty slow. Partially because windows file sharing (SMB/CIFS) is pretty inefficient - even on gigabit, you're probably going to hit a wall at 30MB/s or so. SMBv2 fixes this, but is only available in Vista and 2008 server - and samba only has experimental support for it, so it probably isn't going to be present in any NAS boxes right now. Even if you use FTP, consumer-grade NAS boxes tend to not be able to hit full harddrive speed. So either get an eSATA enclosure or build your own fileserver for backups. (I like having my backup/filestorage raid-mirrored and available all the time, instead of having to muck around with enclosures etc.)

As for RAM, if you go for core i7 (*drool*), keep in mind that the CPU supports triple-channel memory. So you'll probably want to go for 3xsomething modules for max performance. Perhaps you aren't going to utilize even 3GB right now, but you say you only upgrade your computer every 5 years... definitely go for 3x2GB, then.

Shades: sounds weird that maxtor is king where you live, since they've been notorious for having drives that run very hot :)
- carpe noctem

Lashiec

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2008, 07:07:57 AM »
I take issue with your choice of hard drives. While the VelociRaptor is OK (despite its price premium), the Segate 7200.11 is definitely not OK. It's not that it's a bad drive, quite the contrary, just that Samsung and especially Western Digital make better drives. My choice would be the Caviar Black, which although it's a bit more expensive, it performs better overall, and it has a 5-year warranty. The Caviar Green is also OK, though the performance difference with the 7200.11 is not that big.

Also, have in mind that Seagate will no longer offer a 5-year warranty in HDDs starting January 2009, so buy fast! :D

Regarding memory brands, a well-known one is OK. Kingston, Corsair, Crucial, GeiL... I personally prefer Kingston, but that's because it's the biggest manufacturer of all, and its Value RAM is everywhere, and never gave me problems.

As for the rest, my recommendations in the other thread still apply. And remember that first you choose the CPU, then the motherboard, not the other way around :)

I would not personally go for a Core i7 yet. You're paying a big premium for the CPU, the memory and the motherboard, and unless you're going to use the computer for some processor-intensive tasks, you're really burning money at this point. When the entire platform lowers its cost, it's more than recommendable, but Intel is not going to do that 'til later in 2009, possibly in the second quarter, when they'll introduce new CPUs at a lower price. The Core 2 Duo (or Quad) still will be a great choice for a time.

It would be helpful if you also tell us what you will use the computer for, whether it would be just surfing the Internet and working with it, or if you're also going to game with it, or do some other more exotic things, like graphics or video editing.