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Last post Author Topic: Please help me build my new computer, DC!  (Read 105820 times)

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #150 on: December 24, 2008, 02:25:26 PM »
Carol's point is good -- a canon all in one might be a very good bet.  figure out if you are likely to do more plain printing (laser printer) or scanning/faxing/colorprinting (all in one inkjet).  Either way, you can get one pretty small and cheap.

cranioscopical

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #151 on: December 24, 2008, 02:55:32 PM »
Printers are so cheap now that it's barely worth what you save by eliminating them.

I, too, have an MX850.  It does a great job. Can't recommend it too much. I highly recommend it.

My opinion, though, is that you ALSO need at least a small laser printer.
They have so small a footprint now, and cost so little, that they must represent one of the all-time bargains in computer peripherals.
Staples was almost giving away the Samsung ML-2xxx family recently -- about $60 Canadian.  (I had to restrain myself from buying a skid full.)
I bought one for my wife a year ago. She doesn't print a huge amount, but there's no sign of the initial toner running low. Its print quality is virtually as good as that from my serious HP LaserJet
« Last Edit: December 24, 2008, 05:43:26 PM by cranioscopical »

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #152 on: December 24, 2008, 03:53:09 PM »
Well...maybe.  It's just that I so rarely have to print at home.  But ok, I'll get one if I must.  I have my own work printer.

Of course, I will only consider laser printers.  I hate inkjets with a passion.

The other thing I was thinking about.  I may be moving soon, and when I move I'll really need a printer.  I was thinking I don't need an additional thing to lug around.  But that's a little trivial, it's so little.  Whatever...I'll stick it back in I suppose.

40hz

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #153 on: December 25, 2008, 09:30:56 PM »
Of course, I will only consider laser printers.  I hate inkjets with a passion.

At last! Somebody else feels like I do about inkjets. And all this time I thought I was so alone! ;D

Just a thought*: check for LOCAL availability of supplies before you settle on a specific printer. Nothing is worse than running out of toner and not being able to score a replacement cartridge at your local discount office supply store. Second worse thing is ghosting your front window all morning waiting for the Fedex guy to show up with one.

Of course, if you're not as slipshod as I am about paying attention to low-toner alerts, then this probably won't be an issue for you. ;D

----------
* Actually, that's not true. I didn't just casually think of that. I've said the same thing  in other DC forum posts. But it's still advice worth  repeating - so there!

« Last Edit: December 25, 2008, 09:40:07 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #154 on: December 27, 2008, 01:34:51 AM »
oh yeah!  I can't stand inkjets.  Their only use is for affordable color printing, and even laser colors are catching up in affordability now.  I'm not too concerned about low toner...I don't print much at all at home anyway, seriously, I print maybe once a month if that.  That's why I may not even get one.  All my printing is done at work, and it's all work stuff, not personal.  What do I need to print?  I can't even think of anything.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #155 on: December 27, 2008, 04:26:47 PM »
According to Anandtech, the Logitech MX 1100 is the update to the two-year old MX Revolution.  So, I will be getting that mouse. However, it doesn't come in a nice keyboard/mouse combo package, so I'll have to get the keyboard separately.  That's ok.

About the MX 1100 (mouser will be happy), there is no charging cradle and it uses AA batteries.  That's actually easier for me because I always have some AA batteries charged up and ready to go.

Now I have to find a nice wireless keyboard.  The only annoying thing about this not being a package is that I will now have two USB receivers instead of one.

[Click here to return to first post and see updated system components & price]

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #156 on: December 27, 2008, 04:36:02 PM »
Can't you find compatible Logitech devices thaqt can share the USB receivers?

FWIW next time I buy a keyboard it is going to be a PS/2 type. I am really fed up with USB keyboards not being able to interact with boot time utilities in Windows (eg. if I set a CHKDSK to run at boot time and want to change my mind so I can get on I either have to find a PS/2 keyboard or let CHKDSK run it's course - a right pain!).

I hate USB keyboards for that reason (or should it be I hate Windows for that reason). You'd think MS would have the sense to initialise USB keyboards and mice before boot time apps run!!!

Why do you hate inkjets so much? I really like my Canon PIXMA MX850 brilliant printing (and a great scanner and fax) and not particularly expensive on consumables. I know inkjets are more expensive to run than B&W laser printers but you can't fault the quality of output these days (at lease not from Canon printers).

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #157 on: December 27, 2008, 07:25:58 PM »
Can't you find compatible Logitech devices thaqt can share the USB receivers?
I didn't know you could do that if you buy them separately.  I'll look.  But I really want the MX 1100, so I'm not going to compromise that.

I hate USB keyboards for that reason (or should it be I hate Windows for that reason). You'd think MS would have the sense to initialise USB keyboards and mice before boot time apps run!!!
You know, that's a good point.  But I have a wireless keyboard (logitech) at work and it works fine for Bios and boot stuff.  I'll make sure to get one that works.

Why do you hate inkjets so much? I really like my Canon PIXMA MX850 brilliant printing (and a great scanner and fax) and not particularly expensive on consumables. I know inkjets are more expensive to run than B&W laser printers but you can't fault the quality of output these days (at lease not from Canon printers).
My printing needs are probably different than yours.  I don't really ever print in color.  I hate how slow they are (even the fast ones).  And their ink lasts for so little compared to lasers.  It's just annoying.  I love laser printers.  But I still print so seldom that I don't think I need one.  This will probably be a decision very late in the game.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #158 on: December 27, 2008, 07:44:16 PM »
You know, that's a good point.  But I have a wireless keyboard (logitech) at work and it works fine for Bios and boot stuff.  I'll make sure to get one that works.

USB keyboards work fine for BIOS and stuff like that - it is boot time utilities in Windows that get crippled.

With your USB keyboard try this experiment:

In windows open My Computer, right click on your windows drive, properties, tools, Check Now... and check the two options. Now click OK and because Windows is in use it will offer to scehdule a check at next system start. Click OK and then restart your system.

During Windows boot there will be an interruption with a blue screen and it will tell you a Disk Check has been scheduled, press Escape to cancle it. Try pressing Escape ...

If it is like any of the USB keyboards I have used it won't work and you will have to wait until the Disk Check complete.

This is a trivial example - there are other utilities that perform Windows boot time functions (eg. PerfectDisk boot time defrag) which gives the option to abort.

There are some utilities that actually wait for a keyboard choice to be made - these are unusable with a USB keyboard and you get locked in a loop because you can't stop the boot time option from starting and can't respond to prompts - the only solution is to find a PS/2 keyboard and reset the machine.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #159 on: December 27, 2008, 08:03:26 PM »
Sounds like an interesting topic for another thread.  I guess it's important to have a ps2 keyboard around for emergencies.  What a pain.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #160 on: December 27, 2008, 09:34:41 PM »
Fry's sale for Western Digital 1TB drive

Fry's is having a sale for this drive that I'm planning on buying 3 of.  If I get it from Fry's, I get the full retail kit.  If I get it from Newegg, it's $30 cheaper and just the bare drive.  Is the retail kit a big deal?  I normally get my drives from Fry's with sales like these.  I actually got one from Newegg recently, and it was fine.  I'm guessing the retail kit is not worth it.  Any opinions?

cranioscopical

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #161 on: December 27, 2008, 10:35:27 PM »
With your USB keyboard try this experiment:

In windows open My Computer, right click on your windows drive, properties, tools, Check Now... and check the two options. Now click OK and because Windows is in use it will offer to scehdule a check at next system start. Click OK and then restart your system.

During Windows boot there will be an interruption with a blue screen and it will tell you a Disk Check has been scheduled, press Escape to cancle it. Try pressing Escape ...

If I do this from a command prompt -- chkdsk c: /f I get the 'schedule for next boot' option.
My keyboard isn't USB per se (Northgate Omnikey Ultra) but it's connected through an adapter to a USB port.
(The last mobo I bought had no PS/2 port.)
On XP Pro SP3 I haven't a problem causing the disk check to abort.
Is that because the keyboard itself wasn't designed to be USB?  Or am I just lucky?


superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #162 on: December 28, 2008, 01:48:24 AM »
Question:
Is there any reason why I would want a wired keyboard?  I'm not a gamer, and from my initial research, it seems that all the premium keyboards are targeted to gamers and they are wired.  I love wireless keyboards, but I'm not finding many choices besides one or two from Logitech and Microsoft.

What's a nice, upper-class quality wireless keyboard?

Deozaan

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #163 on: December 28, 2008, 02:41:50 AM »
Am I the only one who looks at the first post and thinks this machine is complete overkill for superboyac's needs? Seems to me like everyone is building their own dream computer vicariously for superboyac instead of helping him buy what suits his purposes.

I haven't read all 7 pages of posts in this thread, but from what I remember he doesn't even care about playing the latest games. So why is he buying a $200 video card?

I care about playing games on my PC, but I would never spend $2,500 on a gaming rig. Why is he spending that much on a non-gaming rig?


40hz

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #164 on: December 28, 2008, 08:45:44 AM »
Am I the only one who looks at the first post and thinks this machine is complete overkill for superboyac's needs? Seems to me like everyone is building their own dream computer vicariously for superboyac instead of helping him buy what suits his purposes.

I don't think that's what is happening in most cases.

In the first post, Superboyac pointed out he only does a new machine every 5-7 years - and that he does not do hardware upgrades in between.

A lot of the recommendations have obviously taken that into account by suggesting newer technologies with an eye to future system hardware requirements, rather than just what would be optimal right now.

If you take a look at my specific recommendations you'll see a heavy emphasis on "bang-for-the-buck" and 'recycling' where appropriate.

Quote
I haven't read all 7 pages of posts in this thread, but from what I remember he doesn't even care about playing the latest games. So why is he buying a $200 video card?

This did come up earlier. Carol Haynes, et al also raised that question.

In one of Superboyac's posts, he mentioned he is involved in pro/semi-pro music applications. (So am I.)

I can't speak for everyone since I never buy the fastest CPUs, RAM, or motherboards. But I do know from sometimes bitter experience that the less you have hogging CPU cycles when you're running music applications, the better. If you ever had your DAW freeze up on you right in the middle of a session where you were desperately trying to get some elusive bit of "inspired brilliance" down before you forgot it - or you lost that 'once in a lifetime' guitar solo you were playing - you'll understand.

So in SBoy's build, offloading graphics to a separate GPU makes a huge amount of sense. And when you can also get an overall better video experience across the board by using a GPU, why scrimp on that relatively small outlay?

GPUs were suggested at various price/performance points. Some were well below the $200 mark. Once again, SBoy seemed to go with a piece of hardware that got both excellent reviews and bang-for-the-buck performance.

(Do I see a trend here? ;D)

BTW: the mobo, which I recommended, doesn't have onboard video for that very reason.


Quote
I care about playing games on my PC, but I would never spend $2,500 on a gaming rig. Why is he spending that much on a non-gaming rig?

You'll have to ask him that! ;D

When I suggested some cost cutting, he replied he could afford it and didn't feel the need to start worrying about the price just yet.

I've never been in that position.  :-* But I've been given to understand that it's rather nice! ;D

« Last Edit: December 28, 2008, 08:48:21 AM by 40hz »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #165 on: December 28, 2008, 08:54:34 AM »
I did say that earlier on ...

I know you want a nice computer but if your aren't panning to game with it why go for such a high spec? In many ways high spec computers are a waste of money (unless you have very specific requirements). The trouble is you spend a fortune and a month later the whole thing is old hat and you could have paid half the price.

Think of it like this: if you are a rally driver who needs a high spec car for racing spend a fortune. If you want a nice car to get from A to B then buy something sensible but with some nice touches that give you pleasure - there is absolutely no point in buying an F1 car to go to the supermarket!

If you want a nice computer I would suggest buying something much more basic but actually focus on the things that make a real difference to your experience when using it. Here is what I would suggest:

  • A good middle of the road motherboard - tried and tested so you know it is reliable. Anything higher spec will simply cost more for no gain.
  • A graphics card to support the monitors you want to use (in your case you want 2 x DVI interfaces which probably means spending a little more but a $200 card is going to be wasted as you are never going to see what $130 worth actually does!
  • Onboard 7.1 surround sound these days is fine unless you are a real audiophile - in which case you will need to spend a lot to make sure the whole rig runs silently.
  • A keyboard that is good to use. Maybe a wireless one would be nice - but do you really plan to sit on the otherside of the room to use it? If you are planning to use your PC as a media centre then perhaps you will but I bet 99% of the time a keyboard with a wire would be no hardship and you will have a lot more choice. Ditto mice.

If you want to send money then focus on the monitors you have to look at all day and the input/output devices that you have to work with. Perhaps spend a little more on quiet running (have you consider water cooling). These are things that will make a huge difference day to day.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #166 on: December 28, 2008, 09:02:34 AM »
Re. audio applications and CPU usage ...

A better and cheaper solutions is to buy two OEM copies of Windows and install them as dual boot. That way you can have a DAW setup that is totally uncontaminated by any other software. You can disable all non-essential services such as networking etc. and strip down Windows to its rock bottom minimum configuration and only install you DAW apps in that version of Windows (you can download patches and updates in your parallel booting system). Also have a separate har disk fo your DAW data. That way every clock tick you can make available will be there for your audio processing.

Similarly if you want a video workstation.

Buying an overspec system and then plonking all of your software into it will not solve the problem with audio apps chewing up all available CPU - you will just end up with the same problems you had before - an underpowered system because of unnecessary clutter.

Basically the way professionals do this sort of stuff is to buy a Mac and dedicate it to 'studio' work. There is no reason why you can't do it with Windows too (and a separately booting partition would do that) but most people in the business would argue that a dedicated Mac is the best solution and the one favoured by many studios.

Being radical how about going for a Mac for you audio work and dual booting into a Windows partition for other things?

40hz

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #167 on: December 28, 2008, 10:20:03 AM »
A better and cheaper solutions is to buy two OEM copies of Windows and install them as dual boot. That way you can have a DAW setup that is totally uncontaminated by any other software. You can disable all non-essential services such as networking etc. and strip down Windows to its rock bottom minimum configuration and only install you DAW apps in that version of Windows (you can download patches and updates in your parallel booting system). Also have a separate har disk fo your DAW data. That way every clock tick you can make available will be there for your audio processing.

Similarly if you want a video workstation.

Agreed.

But I prefer to do it with one copy of Windows on swappable hard drives. Because I'm running the same copy of Windows on the same machine, I'm still in compliance with the EULA, even though Windows is loaded on two separate HDs.

My main machine (where I did spend some money for 3D work) has six or seven HDs configured for all sorts of things - including different OSs. (Why struggle with Linux on a hand-me-down clunker when you can have it running on your 'Top Gear' rig after a quick disk swap?)

I do a clean install of windows, and then install the related service packs, updates, hardware drivers, etc. Then I activate it online , and create a drive image file of the installation.

A copy of that image gets installed on a second hard drive, which then gets stripped down as much as possible for my music apps. This also gets imaged so I have my "Music-Minimal" OS separately available if I need to reinstall it.

Windows also never gets further MS updates on this drive unless a music app needs it. Since I won't be using networking (except if a music app should require online activation) I'm virtually immune to security risks.

Quote
In many ways high spec computers are a waste of money (unless you have very specific requirements).

Also agree.

I tend to think of my PCs as purpose-built appliances these days. I just look for the least expensive and complex configuration that gets something done. As a result, I have several inexpensive machines I've built, kludged together, or was given, merrily doing all sorts of little jobs for me. "Small, cheap, and out of control!" as the saying goes.

In the future I'll be looking to build inexpensive machines with even smaller footprints, and lower power consumption. 8)

« Last Edit: December 28, 2008, 10:21:34 AM by 40hz »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #168 on: December 28, 2008, 11:35:00 AM »
Actually I am not sure you would need to buy two licenses for Windows to run a dual boot system. As you say you are running only one copy of Windows at a time on the same hardware so you should be covered by the EULA anyway. It isn't as if you have multple VMs running concurrently.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #169 on: December 28, 2008, 03:16:49 PM »
Am I the only one who looks at the first post and thinks this machine is complete overkill for superboyac's needs? Seems to me like everyone is building their own dream computer vicariously for superboyac instead of helping him buy what suits his purposes
Ha!  Thanks Deozaan for your concern.  But everyone's right, I am mostly to blame for the cost so far.  I have definitely been asking for it.  I know I don't "need" most of this stuff.  At the end of all this, I am going to go through a fat-trimming, cost-cutting phase where I truly decide if I want to buy these parts or not.

On the other hand, if you look closely, it's not like I've chosen things that are a huge waste of money.  Like 40hz said, a lot of this stuff is the right choice when you look at it from a bang-for-the-buck perspective.  That being said, the truth still may be that I don't need half of whatever is banged for the buck, but I'll decide that definitely later on.  And if I really wanted to be budget-conscious about it, how much could I really save?  Let's think about it:
I'm not skimping on any of the audio equipment or the hard drive, no way.  That's $560 right there.  That's already approaching the cost of many budget Dell desktops that people get.  The graphics card is definitely a luxury for me, but again, with 2xDVI, how much will I save, $100?  That's no big deal.  I can cut out $300 if I don't get two monitors.  My case is also quite a luxury, so a normal case would easily be $100 cheaper.  The Mobo/CPU combo is about $400, but I don't like skimping there knowing I'll use this thing for years and years.

All things said, I could probably easily cut out $500 of stuff right now.  But $500 is really no big deal in the grand perspective.  I can afford it...really.  I'm not rich or anything, but I know I spend a lot of time with my computer and I make a good living.  It's really not a big deal.  More importantly, I don't think I'm being careless with the parts...just a tad on the premium quality side.  It's an impressive computer, no doubt, but it's not just eye candy...it will be a workhorse, and I'll be thankful when it's 2015 and still going strong.

Also, even on my last computer which I didn't spend nearly this much attention to, and I'm using it over 7 years later, it wasn't all that cheap.  First of all, I had to add a whole bunch of hardware to it as it went along, and I wouldn't be surprised if over the course of the 7 years if I spend over $2000 on it.  Actually, I'm pretty sure I did.  I had to replace an IBM DeathStar.  Then I bought two more hard drives for backup purposes to ensure nothing like that ever happened again.  I bought the pro soundcard.  My PSU died, and took my graphics card with it, so I had to replace those.  I bought a DVD burner.  A couple of hard disk trays and a cooler unit.  A new monitor the same time the PSU died (don't know if they were related).  So there you go...easily $2000.  I'm just doing it all up front now.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #170 on: December 28, 2008, 03:21:15 PM »
Actually I am not sure you would need to buy two licenses for Windows to run a dual boot system. As you say you are running only one copy of Windows at a time on the same hardware so you should be covered by the EULA anyway. It isn't as if you have multple VMs running concurrently.
You're absolutely right.  On my laptop, I do a dual boot; one for just audio applications.  Such a great idea.  Those audio apps need all the power they can get, so the audio boot is as minimal as I can get it, and it really helps.  Hopefully, with this computer, I won't have to do that.  And with Windows 7, I hope OS efficiency will be even better.

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #171 on: December 28, 2008, 09:46:10 PM »
OK, here's one cost-cutting move.  Since this fancy case I'm getting has these snazzy hard drive bays built-in, with removeable aluminum trays, I don't need to get the internal enclosure from Granite Digital.  So I'm taking it out.  That's a savings of $50.  Yay!

[Click here to return to first post and see updated system components & price]

superboyac

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #172 on: December 29, 2008, 12:53:19 AM »
Ooh!  The Logitech Wave seems to be a good keyboard, even though it's corded.  But so what.  Let me check out the Microsoft offerings and see what they have...

mouser

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #173 on: December 29, 2008, 12:58:56 AM »
i advise matching keyboard+mouse company: ie get mouse+keyboard both from MS or both from Logitech.  As for corded keyboard -- don't know why you would want anything else.

f0dder

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Re: Please help me build my new computer, DC!
« Reply #174 on: December 29, 2008, 09:52:18 AM »
i advise matching keyboard+mouse company
How come?
- carpe noctem