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Author Topic: Approaches to computer builds  (Read 1867 times)

Dormouse

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Approaches to computer builds
« on: June 04, 2010, 09:10:58 PM »
Having reached the point where I feel I need to build/rebuild a computer for my own use, I reread Superboyac's thread for any ideas & info I might pinch and it struck me how many different approaches there are to the task. My needs/situation are very similar to his, though I do a fair bit of image stuff. Neither of us need gaming rigs and neither of us change computers often. In recent years, my approach has mostly been to go cheap on the basis that I don't need to pay more in most areas and I will only pay more for things I think I specifically need.

This time I mostly need more speed. I nearly always have lots of apps open and my current computer (only bought as an emergency stopgap 4 years ago, when I didn't have time to fix what was my primary computer - still haven't found time to do it) is getting bogged down. Partly that's because it needs stripping back down & having everything reinstalled (well, on the things I  am still using); I always used to reinstall Windows every 3 years or so anyway, though I've not found it so necessary recently. So that means lots more RAM (the current 2GB tends to be 90%+ used most of the time + the same amount of paging). I have a naive belief that this sort of usage will benefit from as many cores as I can get (not that I'm clear that there is really much evidence for that; and it might well be the number of threads that matters more - and Intel beats AMD clearly there). Image processing benefits from multicores & lots of RAM anyway, especially with increasing file sizes. And moving stuff around will benefit from usb3 & sata3.

So that leads me to AMD (cheap & good for IG) new chipset mobo & the slow 6 core CPU (I'll take my chance that a fast 4 core would have been more productive for me). 8GB RAM (in 4GB sticks so I can double up later if I need). I can always add a graphics card later if needed. I'll try the integrated sound - and if I don't like it, I can go back to my old relatively high end sound card; will be nice to get my speakers working again.

I'll probably put them into a very old full tower I have (I can always change it later if I don't like it). I'll start by using HDDs, DVDs & floppy drives I already have (I know there's no need to use floppies, but it is nice to be able to read floppies I might come across). I'll also test the system with a PSU I already have before doing anything else; though I know I will get a new one when I make my mind up which to get. I will also need a new HDD for the OS drive to get the best startup speed; don't like raptors, so am thinking of trying a SSD - but might wait to see what the price of one with sata3 is. I'll keep my monitors, input devices etc. Will install W7 (bought my copy last year & haven't touched it yet).

So, a very cheapskate & piecemeal approach. Reluctantly buying some of the latest stuff because I believe (probably mistakenly) that I'll get a productivity gain with the new features. The full build will probably spread over a few months & I'll keep it to Linux until I've got it all together. And then I'll add the software (gradually), keeping both computers in use, and then really cut back on the progs on my current computer and/or reformat it and start installing from scratch there too. As I've found in the past, having a spare available can be critical if you have work/deadlines that must be done/met.

Paul Keith

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Re: Approaches to computer builds
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2010, 12:53:46 AM »
Well, I've never scratched computer building in the first place but lately I feel like if you're going to be cheap, you're better off buying two computers or more.

A portable one and one purely for high end capability.

Albeit the cloud isn't that powerful and server and power users aside, I haven't heard of a pure usb slot PC that can allow for several netbooks/sticks/gadgets to be inserted simultaneously but it seems the less messier route.

You take browsing off of your PC and you remove a huge need for RAM. You take files into your e-book reader and you remove a huge need for space. Even movies can be ripped into HDs. Gaming rigs can be left for consoles or if you're not into power house games, a netbook or hacked PSP can support many of them. You may even separate your file space from your work space with Virtualized OS. Security by dual booting into Linux.

Sorry if I missed your question. I couldn't narrow it down and I interpreted that you want a perspective of how different people approach their computer building. Note that the above is just assuming that you're not upgrading now but waiting for years where all these gadgets become cheap but feature full enough that the simplicity of separate PCs beats out the need for wanting a powerful PC while avoiding bleeding edge and power user know how. Not to mention Linux know how.

Dormouse

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Re: Approaches to computer builds
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 05:19:13 AM »
Sorry if I missed your question. I couldn't narrow it down and I interpreted that you want a perspective of how different people approach their computer building.

Sorry, there wasn't really a question as such. Just got fascinated by how many different approaches there are to computer builds when reading the Superboyac thread. My needs & his, very similar; approaches to the build, quite different. And in the thread, lots of different approaches implicit in the recommendations.

Most discussions tend to be structured around components/recommendations or usage, but it seems to me that even if everyone shares exactly the same knowledge and usage, we'd do it differently. And probably even if we are going to end up with exactly the same components and computer, we'd get there different ways. I found the different ways of thinking more interesting than the actual recommendations. I possibly should have just posted at the end of the thread - but felt that would be diverting an old thread that wasn't mine.

But yes, I would be interested in anyone's perspective on doing this.

Dormouse

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Re: Approaches to computer builds
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2010, 05:32:28 AM »
I feel like if you're going to be cheap, you're better off buying two computers or more.

I would note that my approach, while being cheapskate, is not actually cheap.

Probably  the cheapest way of buying is to buy complete cheap/moderate systems when there is a good deal going. I was looking to build a cheap/moderate system a few months ago, then saw a review of one in a magazine. Company I hadn't seen before, but quite a bit cheaper than I could buy the components for and they were all decent components. Bought it instead of building; works perfectly well. Looked at the same company for my current build - but price for that sort of system seems about 2-3 times as high as I can do it building it myself.

Innuendo

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Re: Approaches to computer builds
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2010, 12:35:19 PM »
The most practical & frugal approach to purchasing or building a new computer is to list out all the activities you perform on your computer along with all the programs you use to accomplish those activities.

Take the most demanding resource-hogging programs & research them on the 'net (reviews - user & professional and forums) to gauge the level of performance you desire for those programs. This will tell you the minimum level of components you need to achieve the level of computer enjoyment you desire. Bump up this level of performance by getting faster/better components till you reach the top of your comfortable budget level and this extra bump will give you room to grow. Room to grow means longer you'll get to enjoy your computer before being forced to upgrade again.

Very few people really need 8 cores. Not many more people than that will fully utilize 6 or even 4 cores. For most average users a fast duo-core processor is the best bang for the buck with the best level of performance.

Don't let Intel's & AMD's marketing talk you into a bajillion cores because for most people they'll sit there idle doing nothing most of the time.

tl;dr version: Let your programs dictate what you buy rather than what marketing materials tell you.

Ath

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Re: Approaches to computer builds
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2010, 03:18:03 PM »
And whatever you buy: Let it be of good quality, as cheap is going to shoot you in the foot somewhere along the road (or when on the road)

Innuendo

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Re: Approaches to computer builds
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2010, 08:34:12 PM »
And whatever you buy: Let it be of good quality, as cheap is going to shoot you in the foot somewhere along the road (or when on the road)

Pay a little more now for something that will last you a lot longer or risk buying something cheap that when it goes out takes half your components with it...and yes, I've seen that happen before.