Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college- Help

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Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college- Help

Postposted on Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:50 pm

Hello everyone!

I'm about to start building my first computer. I decided that for college the best computer for me is a combination of a mid-high performance desktop, with a cheap netbook. I need the desktop to remain usable/respectable enough for about four years. I'm planning on becoming a mechanical engineer, and will be studying at UC Davis. Thus, I would like the desktop to be able to run various CAD programs, such as the student edition of Solidworks, while enough to not have to be majorly upgraded during my studies. It should also be able to run games for the next four years well enough.

It will be my workstation, TV, stereo, and game system for four years.

I have compiled a list of what components I think I should use to build it. So far, I only really have my heart set on the performance of the i5 2500k and the 6950. Beyond those components, I dont have much of a clue. Everything else is up for change/cheapening. Please: comment, critique, and let me know what you think. Price should be kept as low as possible, without sacrificing the i5 2500k, 6950, or any basic functionality/major performance.

Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc CD/DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118039
Still relevant in my opinion. I have some older games I would like to install too. If there is a cheaper option, let me know.

Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196
I like the looks of it, and the handles. I will be bringing my computer home for breaks, etc. so this is a nice feature. I am a bit worried about the size: a standard 6950 will not fit, thus I want the shorter XFX version. Once again, if there is a cheaper/better option, let me know. Is it worth getting a bigger case in light of future upgrade-ability?

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185
The TR favorite. Good value, plenty of capacity.

Monitor: HP LA2405wg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824176141
This is a BIG question mark for me. I've using a 16:10 monitor for over 3 years now, and 16:9 just seems weird to me. I love the extra vertical resolution but I'm not sure if its worth the $100 premium over a similar 16:9 monitor. This is the smallest and cheapest 1920X1200 monitor on Newegg. I think the size is good for my need, I'm currently on a 19" 1440X900 monitor.

GPU: XFX 6950 1GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150527
Performance seems good for me, I want it to play most games at acceptable frame rates for the next couple years. I like this specific model because it is short enough to fit in the case. If there is a better/cheaper option that is longer, I will also need to be recommenced a bigger case.

Sound Card: Xonar DG
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132020
Not entirely sure if this is necessary. After freshman year, I plan on moving to an apartment. Until then, speakers/sound will have to be kept on the down-low. I plan on using my current cheap Logitech 2.1 system on the rare occasions I wont be bothering anyone.

PSU: Corsair 650 TX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139005
More expensive a PSU than I think I need. Is it worth getting a good PSU now to use in the future, or should I save money and use a cheaper PSU for now? Whats the cheapest decent PSU I can get away with in this kind of system?

Keyboard: Saitek Eclipse II
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823175001
Eh, I'm a sucker for lighted keys. :D Seriously, I don't have a clue here. I need a good keyboard that will be comfortable for long typing sessions, and good at gaming. I like lots of buttons for quick use right at my fingertips.

Mouse: Logitech G500
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104318
Originally, I wanted the MX518, but that's deactivated now. Looks good. Any other (cheaper) option needs to be comfortable, and have plenty of functionality/buttons.

Media Card Reader: Rosewill RCR-IC001
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820223103
Basically, the cheapest reader that wont die on me. Anything better/cheaper?

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231311
Pretty sure I need 8GB. This Is the cheapest good DDR3 RAM of that capacity.

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131729
Took the TR recommendation. Is there room for getting anything cheaper that's about as functional?

CPU: i5 2500k
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072
Sandy bridge is great, should be an awesome improvement over my current Q6600, and remain just as good over time. Overclocking is good for extending functional life.

CPU Cooler: Hyper 212+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
I think I will need it for future overclocking. Not 100% sure if necessary. Also, do I need thermal paste?

SSD: Intel 320 Series 120GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820167050
Reliability is Paramount here. I want it big enough to have the OS and a few key applications; perhaps some games. MAY be cut if price of whole system is too high. How much do I need an SSD?

OS will be Windows 7, $62 with my student discount. :D Any way I can get it cheaper, without having to wear a patch on my eye, and a parrot on my shoulder?

Just realized I will be needing headphones, so as not to disturb my roommate. Whats a good/cheap option?

Now comes the question of where to buy all this. I like Newegg for the support, but since I live in California, the ~$120 tax is not so good. Amazon will be a bit (~$50) cheaper, but I don't know if the loss of support is worth it.

I feel up to the task of building this. Although the most hardware intensive task I have done is installing my 4850, I have been reading TR and other tech sites for over three years now. I also have a friend that has some experience building computers that I plan on asking for help. All it is is a really, REALLY expensive lego set, right? :lol:

Finally, the netbook. I just need something cheap and decent to use on the occasion I have to do my work someplace else/take notes/be in a study group. Definitely under $300, as cheap as possible while not being hair-pullingly slow.

THANK YOU ALL for answering my avalanche of questions. Any other tech related college tips are greatly appreciated! 8)
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Sat Aug 20, 2011 11:19 am

Have you considered Blu-ray?

The P8Z68-V LE might be adequate for your needs.

Take a look at http://www.Directron.com for your component pricing. They're based in Texas, so they won't collect California state sales tax.
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:35 pm

pomplemus wrote:
OS will be Windows 7, $62 with my student discount. :D Any way I can get it cheaper, without having to wear a patch on my eye, and a parrot on my shoulder?

Just realized I will be needing headphones, so as not to disturb my roommate. Whats a good/cheap option?

THANK YOU ALL for answering my avalanche of questions. Any other tech related college tips are greatly appreciated! 8)


Three things: You will not find a cheaper price for Windows 7 that what you have found. Second, I second the Directron vs. Newegg thing because of sales tax issues. Third, a few suggestions on your build.....

Instead of the 1TB Spinpoint, consider this instead. While I would normally point you to a Caviar Green, some people have issues using that drive.

Your choice of monitor is fine, but I would point you to this instead. If budget precludes this, keep the one you found.

As for the Intel SSD, they have just released a big bug fix the the 320 series. Consider this one if that is an issue.

Otherwise, a very good build. Change nothing else..... except possibly the keyboard. An ergonomic keyboard is best for fast efficient typing, such as this one.
Laptop: HP Pavilion 17-e016dx. AMD A8-5550M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 8550G integrated video, 17.3" display, 1600*900 (HD+) resolution, SD card reader, Windows 8.1 (DL Classic Shell)
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:37 am

pomplemus wrote:OS will be Windows 7, $62 with my student discount. :D Any way I can get it cheaper, without having to wear a patch on my eye, and a parrot on my shoulder?

Just realized I will be needing headphones, so as not to disturb my roommate. Whats a good/cheap option?

Now comes the question of where to buy all this. I like Newegg for the support, but since I live in California, the ~$120 tax is not so good. Amazon will be a bit (~$50) cheaper, but I don't know if the loss of support is worth it.


OS: UC Davis has MSDNAA access, so see if you can get access. That'll get you Win7 for free (if you don't count the fees you're paying to attend UC-Davis anyway).
Headphones: Audio Technica A500 or AD500 (up through the 700 and 900 if budget allows) or the Sennheiser 555 or 595 are good options
Purchasing: IME, Amazon has been fine for support.
Monitor: The zr24w riviera74 mentioned is good, as is the Dell U2412M or U2410M.

edit: Don't purchase the monitor from Newegg. Their dead-pixel return policy is quite bad, so if your monitor is less than perfect you're SOL.
Last edited by arsenhazzard on Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
arsenhazzard
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:37 am

Not bad. This is a much nicer power supply and it's a steal here with the HOCP code.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817151087

No sound card unless you need it for a game. It's much better to come out of the machine to a stand alone DAC for quality.
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:57 am

What you have listed here is a good deal and it will work. I would stay with a 16:10 LCD monitor. I have a Asus Vk266H 2ms(GTG) monitor, perfect for gaming, came with no dead pixels. Web cab not of a high quality, but ok. Samsung hard drives are the most dependability hard drives. Samsung sold their hard drive business to Seagate, so the technology is outdated. You don't really need a SSD Hard drive, you could strip two western digital hard drives together. There's already a descent sound card on the motherboard. You should get a CD/DVD burner with software. The CPU you are planning to order has a Heatsink and Fan include, so no need to order there third party CPU cooler unless you plan to over clock. PC Power and Corsair are great power supplies, but I don't like to skimp on the power supply. If you weird about cost, get a cheaper keyboard or motherboard.

Suggest changes.
Cdrom: Samsung Black 12x BD-rom
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6827151232
Hard drive. 2-Wester digital 1 TB 7200 hard drives Stripped.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822136533

Nothing anything better, just putting out some Ideals below.
Motherboard: Asus P8z68-V Lx
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813131781
Monitor: Asus Vw266H or Hanns-G hz281HPB 27.5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6824236169
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6824254052
Memory: G.Skill Ripjasw series 16GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820231312
Power Supplies. Corsair Enthusiast tx750, PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817139021
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817703027
Case. Raidmax Quantum ATX-798w
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811156241
CPU. Intel core i7-2600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819115071
Hd Tv tuner card: AverMedia
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6815100041
Keyboard: Microsoft Ergonomic 4000
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6823109148
CMOl
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:23 pm

I'll chime in with my take. Like the others have already said, nice build overall. I'll start off by echoing a few comments.

(1) IMHO the sound card is probably not needed. Back in the day when I was building only my second PC (also for school) I dropped in a Creative sound card and can absolutely say it was the biggest waste of the entire build.

(2) Unless you plan to overclock immediately I wouldn't really bother with the HSF right now. It looks like the case you chose has a cut out for easy access to the back panel that you'll need to install a nicer after-market HSF later. I would just hold off until you really wanted to push it.

(3) I teetered on the idea of using an SSD with my last build (in sig), and ultimately decided against it. I'm sure they're quicker, I've seen the numbers, but I just couldn't justify the price. I'm very happy with the performance of my WD640GBCB and would recommend at least considering a couple of standard 7200RPM drives if you're concerned with price (it'll save you at least $100).

(4) The RAM you linked to looks fine. I saw this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820231426 with a $10 off promo code attached. I couldn't really tell what the differences were from a quick look, not sure what's up. Maybe a CAS timing, not sure. But anyway, don't necessarily feel obligated to get 16GB, just make sure you stick w/ 2x4GB if you're only getting 8GB (so your upgrade down the road will be a lot easier).

(5) Again, I'll echo considering the Dell U2421M or U2410. They're usually nice quality monitors, and you'll be looking at that monitor a lot. If anything after the CPU/GPU, don't skimp on your monitor.

(6) After years of headaches I always buy quality PSU's now. I have the one you linked to in my main system now, it's great. Keep in mind that Corsair rebates must be post marked within 21 days - not the typical 30 most manufactures give you.

(7) The mobo you chose is nice, for sure. If you need to save a few bucks (and don't need the switchable QuickSync of Z68, or TRIM 'stuff'), then I would recommend considering this board to save $30: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813157229 - in my experience it's gotten along beautifully with my CPU/RAM (even was able to push my 2500k to 5.0GHz).

Anyway, there's my 2c. Good luck.
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:12 am

HorseIicious wrote:I'll chime in with my take. Like the others have already said, nice build overall. I'll start off by echoing a few comments.

(1) IMHO the sound card is probably not needed. Back in the day when I was building only my second PC (also for school) I dropped in a Creative sound card and can absolutely say it was the biggest waste of the entire build.

(3) I teetered on the idea of using an SSD with my last build (in sig), and ultimately decided against it. I'm sure they're quicker, I've seen the numbers, but I just couldn't justify the price. I'm very happy with the performance of my WD640GBCB and would recommend at least considering a couple of standard 7200RPM drives if you're concerned with price (it'll save you at least $100).

(5) Again, I'll echo considering the Dell U2421M or U2410. They're usually nice quality monitors, and you'll be looking at that monitor a lot. If anything after the CPU/GPU, don't skimp on your monitor.

(6) After years of headaches I always buy quality PSU's now. I have the one you linked to in my main system now, it's great. Keep in mind that Corsair rebates must be post marked within 21 days - not the typical 30 most manufactures give you.


I would agree with these points in particular. The money saved on the sound card and the SSD can be put into the monitor upgrade, and you could always upgrade a hard drive easily later (say, in your junior year), and SSDs should be better and more reliable as time goes by.
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:57 am

PenGun wrote: No sound card unless you need it for a game. It's much better to come out of the machine to a stand alone DAC for quality.


Are you recommending that he get USB speakers? If so, which ones? There do not seem to be many anymore.
Laptop: HP Pavilion 17-e016dx. AMD A8-5550M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 8550G integrated video, 17.3" display, 1600*900 (HD+) resolution, SD card reader, Windows 8.1 (DL Classic Shell)
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:44 am

I thought that the developer of Solidworks highly recommended the use of FireGL or Quadro video cards for use with their product. Could be possible that it requires them. I dunno. Better look into that very carefully.

Man, how did we ever survive college before cable TV, the Internet, and video games? It's a miracle. :)
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:50 am

cjcerny wrote:Man, how did we ever survive college before cable TV, the Internet, and video games? It's a miracle. :)


I did. I graduated from college having little or no exposure to the internet. Rarely did I play any video games and I watched rather little cable TV. Had no console and the internet was still mostly accessed in computer labs rather than dorm rooms. Ah the glory days of the mid-1990s. 8)
Laptop: HP Pavilion 17-e016dx. AMD A8-5550M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 8550G integrated video, 17.3" display, 1600*900 (HD+) resolution, SD card reader, Windows 8.1 (DL Classic Shell)
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 11:34 am

Why dont you go through www.ibuypower.com and configure what you want and chk the price diff,they are based in california and you can do a warehouse pickup,seen a coupke ibuypowerbuilds and they kick ass at reasonable prices along with a 3yr warr.
I personally dealt with cyberpower and they are a good compamy also with in house pickup.Config your setup on both sites,you might accually save some time and a buck,btw 650tx is a good PS not modular but good i have 850tx,they come wih alot of extra wire.GL
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:04 pm

That looks good. I'd suggest getting 16GB of RAM, a second monitor, ditch the SSD, sound card, and card reader.

You're going to be running CAD software, and CAD eats RAM.

Second monitors are really nice, and they will save you from flipping between windows. Definitely stick with a 16:10 format. The missing pixels will be noticeable. You could find refurbished monitors, and those can be really good deals.

You don't need an SSD. They are trendy, but not necessary. You can save a couple of bucks by going with a smaller single platter hard drive, and you can use the money saved for more RAM.

You don't need a sound card just yet, and the MB has an optical out. Get a receiver with S/PDIF in, and save the money.

Unless you're going to be doing lots of photography, I don't see a need for this. You could get a USB reader, and it will work just as well.

As for a netbook, a refurbished ThinkPad or a refurbished Dell Latitude. Seriously, those are both solid notebooks that can take the abuse, and you can find some good deals if you shop around. Dell Financial Services (http://www.dfsdirectsales.com/) sells off-lease laptops for cheap, and Dell puts all of their repair manuals online, which makes servicing them easy. ThinkPads aren't as cheap, but they're tanks with a loyal following. Just don't get something with a Broadcom or Realtek wireless chipset. Intel WNICs just work better.
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:57 pm

Where can I get a refurbished Thinkpad?
Laptop: HP Pavilion 17-e016dx. AMD A8-5550M, 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 8550G integrated video, 17.3" display, 1600*900 (HD+) resolution, SD card reader, Windows 8.1 (DL Classic Shell)
riviera74
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:30 pm

riviera74 wrote:Where can I get a refurbished Thinkpad?


http://outlet.lenovo.com/laptops/thinkpad.html
Main: ASRock P67 Extreme4 | i5 2500K @4.2 | 16GB DDR3 1600 (4x4GB) | GTX 660 FTW Sig2 3GB | 500GB EVO SSD | TX650W | Win 7 Pro
Server: Intel BOXDH67CLB3 | G620 @2.6 | 8GB DDR3 (2x4GB) | IGP | 33TB | WHS 2011
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Re: Building my First Computer- "Sweeter Spot" for college-

Postposted on Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:21 pm

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