Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

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Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:32 am

Hello, Gerbils:

At long last, I am preparing to replace my venerable laptop with a small desktop build.

Requirements:
My core requirements:
1. Decent compute power: I run some complex (minutes long) analyses with Excel and R; I may get into databases more soon.
2. Decent multimedia power: Photoshop CS2 photo editing, light home video editing.
3. Decent storage: I do some wedding photography and quite a few home videos, and have filled up my current ~400GB of storage.

Optional
3. Blu-Ray support (we do not have a TV)
4. Smaller form factor

This is a from-scratch, first-time build, so I need everything--monitor (preferably some form of IPS panel), keyboard, OS, etc.

A couple of ideas to keep the cost down currently:
1. skip an SSD for now, perhaps add later
2. skip video card for now?

Budget:
About $750, including monitor, OS, and keyboard.

Initial Build Idea:

CPU: Core i3 2105
( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819115090 )

Motherboard: BIOSTAR TH67+ LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813138296 )

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL
( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820231311 )

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green ST1500DL003 1.5TB 5900 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822148725 )

Optical Drive: LG Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model UH12LS28 OEM LightScribe Support - OEM
( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6827136232 )

Case/Power Supply: IN WIN Z589T.CQ350TBL Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case 350W Power Supply
( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811108211 )

Monitor: Dell UltraSharpTM U2312HM 23" Monitor with LED
( http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/prod ... e_irrank=0 )

Questions:
1. Should I move up to a low end i5?
2. Should I hold on until Ivy Bridge hits?
3. How important is getting a higher quality power supply?
4. How much should I trust NewEgg user reviews?
Last edited by DSMok1 on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:43 am

1. Yes, move to an i5 if you can afford it, if not, I imagine the i3 will be a big speed boost over what you have now
2. If you can wait, wait, if you can't, I don't think you'll be disappointed by sandy bridge
3. A good quality power supply is essential - think of it as the foundation of your "house". I recommend looking into an Antec case with included power supply or any ole case you like with a decent supply - seasonic, corsair, antec, etc.
4. Take user reviews with a grain of salt - the number of them is typically a good indicator or popularity of a product and relative value and universally bad review typically indicate a bad product, but a lot of them (especially motherboards) seem to be people that don't know what they're doing and blame the product.

A couple of other things - you're going to want either an SSD (highly recommended) for your boot drive (OS, applications, etc) or a faster hard drive than the green drive you have listed. Those are great for quiet operation and gobs of low power storage, but the slower spindle speed is going to have you waiting for things to load and be much closer to the laptop experience you are moving from. Even if you can only afford a low capacity (64gb) last generation drive, it's at least an order of magnitude faster than any mechanical drive for things like random reads and writes.

I don't know about that motherboard - I've only used one Biostar about 5 years ago and it was pretty good, but I would be more comfortable recommending an Asus or Gigabyte or even MSI product. The Techreport systems guide (just updated) is a great place to get component ideas - especially the alternative sections if the primary builds don't quite fit your bill.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:58 am

Thanks for the input.

Certainly, an i5 is preferred, as well as an SSD. The issue is the budget limitations. If I'm spending ~$200 on a monitor, and have to by the OS as well, the budget becomes extremely tight. Is it worth the extra $150+ to move up to an i5 and a budget SSD for a boot drive? Also--when can an SSD be used as a "Cache" disk?
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:13 pm

You should have a look at the AMD FM1 stuff. Sounds like it's just what you are looking for.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:46 pm

Did you factor the cost of a Windows license into this purchase?

Based on your description and budget, I would probably keep most of the configuration you have selected, including the i3 CPU, but do suggest dropping the $50 BRD drive and picking up a $15 DVD-RW. BRD is overrated on a computer monitor, and you can always buy the BRD drive later without feeling like any money was wasted. The difference should then be applied toward getting a better case/PSU option. As someone already noted, cheap PSUs are just asking for trouble.

To do SSD caching in the future, you would need to get an Intel Z68-series board, such as this or this or this. I would suggest going with the SSD boot drive option, though. A Crucial M4 at 64GB should do excellent things for system responsiveness, and then you could still use the green-series HDD for storage.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:00 am

Perhaps consider an i3-2120? Less integrated video power, slightly cheaper, and a slightly higher clockspeed (3.3Ghz vs. 3.1Ghz), and at the moment, newegg is running a combo deal that will save you $10 on a dvd burner.

Would save you ~$18 (including the $10 combo on a dvd burner) and get you slightly better performance most of the time. If you look at the difference in encoding times for QuickSync, they aren't that great between the HD2000 in the 2120 and the HD3000 in the 2105.

The i5 would be nice, but it just doesn't seem to fit your budget. A man can dream though, eh?
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:36 am

1) Don't buy an FM1 system now. AMD is set to release Trinity APU's in a couple months and will not be compatable with FM1 mobos.

2) I would stick in the i3 area. Not only are they cool and efficient, but they also outgame many/all of AMD's CPUs... even 8 core models. I agree with the i3-2120 suggestion. Even a $40 discrete graphics card is better than the Intel HD Graphics 3000 on the 2105. IMO having HD3000 graphics over HD2000 makes no difference. If something is going to be unbearable on HD 2000 graphics, its likely that the situation won't be much better with HD 3000 graphics. The 200MHz clock bump on the other hand is a more worthwhile improvement.

3) I would get a better Case/PSU before an SSD. To do this you might have to purchase the case and PSU separately to get exactly what you want. The SSD can always be purchased later (but it should be purchased!!). Inasmuch, I would stick with your "green" hdd because it will be the perfect companion next to your SSD. When the time comes to get the SSD, have a look at my thread covering SSD prices. You can get a Corsair Force 3 or OCZ Agility 3 for close to $1/GB pretty regularly. I would recommend nothing less than 90GB. Going smaller than that, you're going to feel the capacity squeeze and the performance isn't as good. (I like to put ALL my programs/games on my SSD)
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:37 am

Thanks for the input.

I'll stick with an i3.

Is a $50 discrete card worth throwing away Quick Sync? I don't really game at all.

I will definitely look into getting a small SSD boot drive. I don't have a ton of applications/game files, so it probably doesn't need to be too big.

Regarding the case and power supply: does anyone have recommendations? I don't want the case to be flashy or loud, and I figure the smaller the better. I'm not going to try to fit a huge graphics card in there.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:19 pm

If you're going to do a lot of Photoshop and/or video encoding, I highly recommend you step up to a quad core.

The cheapest intel SB quad is the i5-2300 at $180. ($149 at Microcenter if you have one nearby).

ASRock H67 micro-ATX mobo at $86.

Antec NSK 4482 case w/ 380W PSU for $90. This is a good, quiet case with a quiet, reliable PSU.

Keeping everything else in your build, that puts you around $735 before OS and keyboard.

I've been leaving off ODDs in my systems for a while. Slipstreamed Win7 Pro onto a USB disk (google instructions) and now use that for installs.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:24 pm

Couple of points:
1. your situation is one of the rare ones in which an AMD X6 CPU might be the best choice -
2. the case and power supply you have selected are unacceptable as far as I'm concerned :)
3. don't get pressured into an SSD if you are not drooling over one. yes, they make disk access faster, no, they're not obligatory. Size needs come first.

Here's a build with all but keyboard and monitor for 593.93 + 18.01 shipping = 611.94
$20 dvd rw
$90 Antec NSK 4482 case and 350 Antec EarthWatts PSU
$120 2 TB Hitachi
$80 Asus 880G mATX
$150 Phenom II X6 1045T
$35 2*4 GB Crucial DDR3 1600
$100 Win 7 home premium

Notes:

That Antec case+psu combo is good in any build. The PSU is one of their EarthWatts models and those things are quiet and provide a decent level of quality.

The CPU should yield some appreciable overclocking results and 6 real cores is going to beat any comparably priced Intel model in terms of multithreaded compute performance.

The graphics of the 880G is going to be very weak. They'll make due in a pinch, but you'll want to add a dedicated card as soon as you can. The Radeon 7750 sounds ideal for you. That's another $100, but you could suffer the 880G for a few weeks while you save up. Alternatively, you could throw in a $40-50 card right now and probably be fine given your purposes.

The AMD FX-6100 is also an option and at the same price as the 1045T. It's benefits include an unlocked multiplier and some respectable overclocking headroom - 4.0 GHz should be in the bag. The down side is lower per-core performance at the same clock speed. Overall I'd still probably recommend the 1045T - it should hit 4.0 GHz with relative ease too, although it's without an unlocked multiplier so overclocking is slightly more tricky.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:44 pm

flip-mode wrote:Couple of points:
1. your situation is one of the rare ones in which an AMD X6 CPU might be the best choice -


I disagree. The FX-6100 trailed an i5 2320 by 38% in Photoshop, and an i3-2120 by 12%. It was also slower than the i5 at video encoding. It was also slower than the old Phenom-II X6 1075T in most benchmarks. If the OP can swing the extra $40, the i5-2300 would be his best bet (including future proofing).

Photoshop is one application that works a lot better on intel than AMD at the moment. Since it's a large part of your computing workload, I'd give photoshop benchmark results more consideration in your decision making. there's a case to be made for discrete graphics, but Photoshop GPU acceleration is minimal at the moment, and you can easily add a cheap discrete card at a later date.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:47 pm

Voldenuit wrote:
flip-mode wrote:Couple of points:
1. your situation is one of the rare ones in which an AMD X6 CPU might be the best choice -


I disagree. The FX-6100 trailed an i5 2320 by 38% in Photoshop, and an i3-2120 by 12%. It was also slower than the i5 at video encoding. It was also slower than the old Phenom-II X6 1075T in most benchmarks. If the OP can swing the extra $40, the i5-2300 would be his best bet (including future proofing).

Photoshop is one application that works a lot better on intel than AMD at the moment. Since it's a large part of your computing workload, I'd give photoshop benchmark results more consideration in your decision making. there's a case to be made for discrete graphics, but Photoshop GPU acceleration is minimal at the moment, and you can easily add a cheap discrete card at a later date.

Ah, well, scratch the FX 6100, but do take note that I spec'd the 1045T in the primary config. Thoughts on that one?

Anandtech "Bench" shows a 1055T beating a i3 2100 at Phtotshop CS4.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:05 pm

flip-mode wrote:Ah, well, scratch the FX 6100, but do take note that I spec'd the 1045T in the primary config. Thoughts on that one?

Anandtech "Bench" shows a 1055T beating a i3 2100 at Phtotshop CS4.


Bench reports Photoshop CS4 results in seconds, so the 1055T (20.1s) is slower than the i3 2100 (18.9). The i5 2400 (13.8s) was a whopping 30%+ faster than either.

I believe that the i5 is the most balanced choice for the OP's needs. If he can't afford it, though, he will have to compromise on some aspects:
i3: decent (not great) in photoshop, not good in video encoding.
FX 6100: decent (not great) in photoshop, not good in video encoding (but better than i3, and close to i5)
PhII X6 1075T: not good in Photoshop, pretty good at video encoding (as long as your application scales to 6 cores)
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:36 pm

Voldenuit wrote:
flip-mode wrote:Ah, well, scratch the FX 6100, but do take note that I spec'd the 1045T in the primary config. Thoughts on that one?

Anandtech "Bench" shows a 1055T beating a i3 2100 at Phtotshop CS4.


Bench reports Photoshop CS4 results in seconds, so the 1055T (20.1s) is slower than the i3 2100 (18.9). The i5 2400 (13.8s) was a whopping 30%+ faster than either.

I believe that the i5 is the most balanced choice for the OP's needs. If he can't afford it, though, he will have to compromise on some aspects:
i3: decent (not great) in photoshop, not good in video encoding.
FX 6100: decent (not great) in photoshop, not good in video encoding (but better than i3, and close to i5)
PhII X6 1075T: not good in Photoshop, pretty good at video encoding (as long as your application scales to 6 cores)

Ah, the details, they're so important. Looks like AMD offers absolutely nothing worth looking at for this build.

That's not bad news because the IGP on the i5 would be far better than the 880G also. I don't think DSMok has need for anything better than that.

$621.94 including shipping for an i3 2120 build:
$20 dvd rw
$90 Antec NSK 4482 case and 350 Antec EarthWatts PSU
$120 2 TB Hitachi
$35 2*4 GB Crucial DDR3 1600
$100 Win 7 home premium
$128 i3 2120 3.3 GHz
$105 Gigabyte Z68 mATX mobo

Add $50 to that if you want the quad core i5 2300:
$180 i5 2300
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:39 pm

Okay, updated build:

$135 - Core i3 2105 (HD 3000 Graphics)
I like the HD 3000 graphics--other alternative is to move up to Core i5. Do extra cores help a lot with Excel/R statistics work?

$105 - GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Good reviews, possibility to use Smart Response and an SSD caching drive, now or in the future.

$90 - Antec NSK 4482 Black / Silver 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 380W Power Supply
Looks like a good case, not too big, good PSU.

$100 - Seagate Barracuda Green ST1500DL003 1.5TB 5900 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Good reviews, better than the 2 TB Hitachi

$50 - G.SKILL Sniper Low Voltage Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
Low voltage, 1600, and cas 9--the Crucial is $42 but cas 11 (didn't even know that was made!)

$20 - DVD Drive (or $60, Blu-Ray)

$100 - Windows 7 Home Premium

$240 -Dell Ultrasharp Monitor (eIPS)
I like the wide viewing angles; I'm not a fan of TN. Is this the best monitor out there, or is there something I'm not aware of? Remember, on a budget.

$10 - Keyboard
Does anyone have recommendations on a keyboard? I'm not really picky, I guess. Does it matter?


Total for everything: $850

Any comments?
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:50 pm

DSMok1 wrote:$135 - Core i3 2105 (HD 3000 Graphics)
I like the HD 3000 graphics--other alternative is to move up to Core i5. Do extra cores help a lot with Excel/R statistics work?


The Core i5 will be roughly twice as fast. You can see a similar pattern on Anandtech's Bench here and here.

I've done DSMC simulations in Excel, Matlab and Fortran in the past, using a lowly C2D, and if you're doing anything intensive like that, the extra CPU grunt is worthwhile. If you're just doing light statistics/spreadsheet calculations, you probably won't need the extra horsepower.

EDIT:
Oh, and if you're going to be doing a lot of stats-heavy work (as well as Photoshop which you mentioned earlier), you might want to move up to 8 GB RAM.

This build is starting to get pricey. Have you looked at Dealzon to see if any pre-built OEM desktops are available at a lower price than you can build? The trick is to get a base configuration and get your own upgrades. This way, you skirt the exorbitant margins OEMs like to charge for RAM and HDD upgrades.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:47 pm

DSMok1 wrote:Total for everything: $850

Any comments?

Just one: if you can afford the $850, click "buy" now, particularly before the price goes back up on that Dell monitor. From some quick looking around there isn't a better price on a good-quality IPS monitor right now (which you WILL want for doing graphics work), even at a size or two smaller. If you've been getting by with an older laptop up until this point, the build you just spec'd will be more than fast enough, and your next big upgrade can then focus on storage peripherals (BRD optical + SSD boot or cache drive).

Oh, and make sure your copy of Win7 is 64-bit, of course. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available and look similar other than the SKU number and description.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:03 pm

ludi wrote: From some quick looking around there isn't a better price on a good-quality IPS monitor right now (which you WILL want for doing graphics work), even at a size or two smaller.


It's eIPS. So it's still a 6-bit panel. It will have the viewing angles of an IPS panel, but color accuracy and gamut won't be much much better than a TN, and it will have less contrast and slower response times than a TN.

So I think it's an acceptable buy at the price but by no means a steal.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:20 pm

Voldenuit wrote:
ludi wrote: From some quick looking around there isn't a better price on a good-quality IPS monitor right now (which you WILL want for doing graphics work), even at a size or two smaller.


It's eIPS. So it's still a 6-bit panel. It will have the viewing angles of an IPS panel, but color accuracy and gamut won't be much much better than a TN, and it will have less contrast and slower response times than a TN.

So I think it's an acceptable buy at the price but by no means a steal.


I just got this exact monitor as a replacement for an older TN dell model. It is leaps and bounds better for viewing angles. Color accuracy is mediocre but i can't imagine you will mind unless you do a bunch of photo editing or have work that requires really accurate color reproduction. I also game a lot on it: FPS, RTS, etc. I haven't noticed a major difference compared to my old TN. It's definitely not as fast but i don't have any problems with games. That was my biggest concern with an IPS was the response time and i am glad i don't notice it much.

My 2 cents
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:48 pm

Thatguy wrote:I just got this exact monitor as a replacement for an older TN dell model. It is leaps and bounds better for viewing angles. Color accuracy is mediocre but i can't imagine you will mind unless you do a bunch of photo editing or have work that requires really accurate color reproduction. I also game a lot on it: FPS, RTS, etc. I haven't noticed a major difference compared to my old TN. It's definitely not as fast but i don't have any problems with games. That was my biggest concern with an IPS was the response time and i am glad i don't notice it much.


The OP stated that he does a lot of photoshop and wedding photography (which will presumably entail a decent amount of printing).

I don't think it is unsuitable for his needs, but at the same time, it doesn't sound enticing enough that he should run, not walk, to grab it :P.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:55 pm

Voldenuit wrote:
Thatguy wrote:I just got this exact monitor as a replacement for an older TN dell model. It is leaps and bounds better for viewing angles. Color accuracy is mediocre but i can't imagine you will mind unless you do a bunch of photo editing or have work that requires really accurate color reproduction. I also game a lot on it: FPS, RTS, etc. I haven't noticed a major difference compared to my old TN. It's definitely not as fast but i don't have any problems with games. That was my biggest concern with an IPS was the response time and i am glad i don't notice it much.


The OP stated that he does a lot of photoshop and wedding photography (which will presumably entail a decent amount of printing).

I don't think it is unsuitable for his needs, but at the same time, it doesn't sound enticing enough that he should run, not walk, to grab it :P.


AH, i must have missed that part. It would indeed be better than a TN For such things but not as good as an 8-bit panel as you noted. It's an OK deal at 240. Nothing to special though. :D
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:24 pm

That monitor normally retails at $299, and Dell's next size down in their IPS series is a 21.5" (also eIPS, it appears) currently retailing at the regular price of $259. The info about being eIPS is an important point I hadn't realized initially, but even so: What is OP's next better option, and how much does it cost?

The OP listed two things that are very important to consider: he is upgrading from some sort of laptop, and he is constrained at around $750. IMO, relative to what he was using, this system will greatly improve his experience in all of the applications he listed; and relative to what he can afford, this may be the best overall spec he can put together...no?
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:00 pm

ludi wrote:That monitor normally retails at $299, and Dell's next size down in their IPS series is a 21.5" (also eIPS, it appears) currently retailing at the regular price of $259. The info about being eIPS is an important point I hadn't realized initially, but even so: What is OP's next better option, and how much does it cost?


The next better option will probably be something like hp's ZR24w, with an 8-bit S-IPS display, for around $345. Or a Dell U2410, also with an 8-bit IPS panel for around $540. Both of these do 100% sRGB.

However, there are plenty of cheaper monitors that aren't far off the Dell U2312HM, either. AOC's i2353 also has an e-IPS display, and goes for around $189. It has a 95% sRGB gamut, and lower contrast ratios than the Dell, but the Dell's 96% sRGB gamut isn't much better (and probably within the bounds of measurement error). Hence my statement that the Dell is an acceptable but not necessarily exceptional choice.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:13 pm

I'm not too worried about the monitor--I'm sure it'll be better than what I have now on my 6-year-old Inspiron 6000! I really like the wide viewing angles on the IPS panels I've used for several years at work.

What are the benefits with doing a build such as this vs. a pre-built OEM computer? I'd like to do it for the experience, but if the same computer is significantly cheaper with the pre-built... I may need to do that instead.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:42 pm

DSMok1 wrote:What are the benefits with doing a build such as this vs. a pre-built OEM computer? I'd like to do it for the experience, but if the same computer is significantly cheaper with the pre-built... I may need to do that instead.
Your home build will be better than what you can get from an OEM at the same price. First off, you're using 8 GB of RAM - and OEM would usually draw some blood for anything over 4 GB. Secondly, your motherboard is going to be much better than anything an OEM will give you; for instance, Dell has probably crippled the BIOS of any Sandy Bridge computers it has sold so that they will never be able to upgrade to Ivy Bridge. Third, you case is ATX standard and will take any standard ATX motherboard - not so with OEMs, they're usually proprietary so that you can't upgrade the motherboard.

You have above average computational needs - you're not the average home computer shopper. To me that means a computer-in-a-box is going to be a less ideal solution for you than a customized build. And home built machines will always be more flexible in terms of upgrades. A couple years from now you'll be able to drop in a new motherboard and CPU and probably be able to retain everything else. OEM machines are meant to be used and then thrown away - not upgraded.

Cases and PSUs can be sticking points for low budget home builds. People are tempted to cheap out on those (I've done it myself, and regretted it) because they don't affect computational performance at all. but cheaping out means you end up with an ugly, tacky, low quality case and a sub standard PSU possibly with a much noisier fan. It's really important to get the best case and PSU that you can because those can stay with you through several builds. If it's your first home build, the case and PSU are arguably the most important components of the build.
flip-mode
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:51 pm

ludi wrote:Did you factor the cost of a Windows license into this purchase?

Does anyone anymore? If building a system of all separate components, I guess you'd have to.

Sometimes students get Windows licenses for free or ridiculously low prices ($5-10). Beyond a student, then yeah... I'd rather opt for a linux system myself. No cost! :-)
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:52 pm

With a pre-built your going to get second rate or third rate junk on a lot of the parts. A generic power supply, a decapitated motherboard, a lesser case, slower ram generally. I mean mostly your going to sacrifice build quality A LOT. Most of the OEMS make their money by being able to provide you with a "Warranty"... this is basically them gambling. They happen to know that everyone gets a 1 year warranty with their stuff and most of the cheapo parts will start to fail a bit after this time period, so they might only have to repair peoples stuff 10-15% of the time, and those parts are usually pretty minimal at their cost. How they make their cash is selling people the extended warranties, its like healthcare all over again :D.

The only thing that sometimes is about the same in the OEMs is the CPU, unless they are using an OEM specific/only CPU, but whats the point when its surrounded by really cheap parts that may go out prematurely? On top of that they cut costs by having the manufacturers of the parts take off little extra things here and there. So the motherboard may have came with 2 USB controllers, they take one off, it may have had 4 ram slots, now its only got 2, had 6 Sata, now its got 4. The power supply should have PFC (Power Factor Correction) but it doesn't often have any (not even passive). http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/faqpfc.html

The short of the long is that your trying to cross an ocean with an inflatable Wal-mart raft that was meant for a few weekend visits to the lake with the family.

As for the case, I'd drop that thing like its a hot potato. Generally when you find a case that's in the 50-60 $ range and it includes a power supply, its an ULTRA cheap one, and I wouldn't hook much up to it. Take a look at the NZXT Elite 210 case (49.99) with USB 3.0 on the front or the 2.0 for 39.99, and grab something like the Corsair Builder CX430, was on sale for 16.99 after mail in rebate. that's 66.99 for the case and power supply, if nothing else spend a little bit more on a good PSU, everything relies on it.
Last edited by Welch on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:55 pm

DSMok1 wrote:What are the benefits with doing a build such as this vs. a pre-built OEM computer? I'd like to do it for the experience, but if the same computer is significantly cheaper with the pre-built... I may need to do that instead.


Dell Optiplex 390 Core i5 2400 w 4 GB RAM $499 after coupon (apply code '7RZXPX9M7$JLVR' at checkout).

It's really tough to build cheaper than the OEMs at budget price points. Flip-mode's comments on the outrageous prices OEMs chrage for minor upgrades (RAM, HDD) are accurate but disingenous - you can always buy extra RAM outside and install it yourself.

$499 will get you the quad core (what you want for photoshop and excel) and leave you enough money left over for an extra $20 for another 4GB of RAM from newegg and a monitor. It won't be as upgradeable as a DIY build, but the OP is not after a gaming rig. Since he will be using it for work and productivity the 3 yr warranty is something he can't get from a DIY build, either.
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:07 pm

Welch wrote:As for the case, I'd drop that thing like its a hot potato. Generally when you find a case that's in the 50-60 $ range and it includes a power supply, its an ULTRA cheap one, and I wouldn't hook much up to it. Take a look at the NZXT Elite 210 case (49.99) with USB 3.0 on the front or the 2.0 for 39.99, and grab something like the Corsair Builder CX430, was on sale for 16.99 after mail in rebate. that's 66.99 for the case and power supply, if nothing else spend a little bit more on a good PSU, everything relies on it.


Since the original post, I changed to this case--I'd like a relatively small one:


Is that a good case/PSU for my objective?
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Re: Low Price Compute/Multimedia Build

Postposted on Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:07 pm

Voldenuit wrote:
DSMok1 wrote:What are the benefits with doing a build such as this vs. a pre-built OEM computer? I'd like to do it for the experience, but if the same computer is significantly cheaper with the pre-built... I may need to do that instead.


Dell Optiplex 390 Core i5 2400 w 4 GB RAM $499 after coupon (apply code '7RZXPX9M7$JLVR' at checkout).

It's really tough to build cheaper than the OEMs at budget price points. Flip-mode's comments on the outrageous prices OEMs chrage for minor upgrades (RAM, HDD) are accurate but disingenous - you can always buy extra RAM outside and install it yourself.

$499 will get you the quad core (what you want for photoshop and excel) and leave you enough money left over for an extra $20 for another 4GB of RAM from newegg and a monitor. It won't be as upgradeable as a DIY build, but the OP is not after a gaming rig. Since he will be using it for work and productivity the 3 yr warranty is something he can't get from a DIY build, either.


I can't agree here, he may be able to get ram outside of the purchase transaction; always a good idea as they overcharge like previously mentioned, but the fact is his upgrade options may be limited if they for one cut the number of ram slots. The OEMS will usually have 2 slots and both filled with lower dimms, so instead of upgrading his system by buying a 4gb stick to bring his system to 8gb, he has to buy 2 x 4gb sticks and has 2 x 2 dimms sitting there going to waste unless he can sell them. The power supply is the largest reason I'd refuse to do an OEM, every other upgrade is going to hinge on the horrible PSU that OEMS place in their systems. More often than not they also put a PSU so low in the build that the components stress it out and cause overheating and premature failure, acer is great about that.

If you want to have a general disregard for the quality of components that go into your computer, you can get just as good and usually a better deal from neweggs full system or bare-bone kits. Those will usually take off about a $100 or more bringing the total system into OEM range, but not quite as bad as an OEM.

If you are ultra concerned about price, you could go with the I3 now and then upgrade once you get into the Database stuff that you were talking about before, perhaps build another cheapo system around the I3 once you upgrade to an I7 IF you feel the need to down the road. But if you don't mind spending that little bit of extra cash now, go with the I5. Ideally the I7 is EXACTLY what you want due to Hyper Threading.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

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