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Help, I need a Desktop Computer

Discussion in 'Games & Gadgets' started by pr26, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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    I know, I know, another one of these "I'm worthless and can't make my own decisions" thread. Honestly though, I have no idea what I'm doing and don't have a ton of money to blow on something that isn't going to fit my needs.

    So I have recently landed a new job (which I'm 100% stoked about), and it will involve most of my work hours being done from home. On top of this, my wife's photography has been taking off with more serious jobs and she also is starting up a small Etsy business on the side. With all of this work being done from home, we are looking to build up our office. Yes we both have laptops (me some lower end gateway and her an older macbook pro), but I need an office set up since the freedom of a laptop allows me to indulge my ADD. We both agreed a workspace is needed for us and this desktop would be the center of that workspace for us. We discussed going Apple because my wife loves her Macbook and she does like the Apple interface for photo editing. However I have talked her into a PC because I believe we can get a lot more for our money and have more flexibility to upgrade our PC when it starts showing its age.

    Here's the main things we need from the Desktop:

    - The ability to multitask. A lot of my wife's photo programs suck up a lot of memory and she needs to be able to use multiple programs at once seamlessly.
    - A decent sized hard drive to store RAW images, tons of music, etc. I'm thinking at least 1TB.
    - I'm going to be doing a lot of word processing and online work, so speed and minimal stuttering is important.
    - I'm assuming a good GFX card would be important for high quality photo editing?
    - A touch screen would be cool, but not necessary. A nice size bright screen, perhaps 24" or larger would be preferable. We don't need 2 screens as of now, but the ability to upgrade to that in the future would be nice.
    - Gaming would be nice since I'm a huge stupid nerd and have never owned a PC capable of high quality gaming, but it's not needed since this desktop should be for WORK.
    - I listen to a lot of music while I work through headphones, so decent sound would be nice.
    - Needs Wireless connectivity (I'm assuming most computers that's not an issue these days)

    To be honest, I just have no idea how much power I need to do this. For example, I was looking at this tower: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B006VG0HXC/improvphotog-20

    An 8 core processor and 10 GB or Ram sounds like a lot of power for the money, but I have no idea if that GFX card is adequate for what I need. I saw a photo website was pimping it, but I didn't find a ton of feedback on it.

    Or hell, do I ever need that much power? Would I be better served with one of the newer "all in one" packages? Something like this: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5618902&Sku=V03-27004 (or I could even get the 24" version for 200 bucks cheaper). Would something like this be enough for me? Are these all-in-one packages open for customization down the road?

    And before you ask, I WILL NOT build a PC. I know that I could save a ton of money doing it and make something baller. I get it. But seriously, I'm pretty tech retarded and I'm terrible with any type of electronic work. I'm terrible with my hands (insert sex joke here).

    I really don't want to spend more than $1000, including the screen. I'm stupid, help me.
     
  2. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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    No, you don't need that much power. But if you're willing to spend $800 for that, get it.

    My advice: DO have someone put it together for you, if you're not going to do it yourself. If you part it out yourself from sites like newegg.com or tigerdirect.com , you could put together a system under $500.......but avoiding all that, I would look at newegg.com for something like that.....

    Touchscreen all-in-one - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883214012

    Under $500 will do what you need without monitor - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883220162

    It's usually cheaper to buy from reputable places online (like newegg and tigerdirect or amazon) than to buy it in store (best buy). Also, if you have a costco membership, I would look into one at your local store. I just went through and saw some cheap stuff...too bad I'm not a member :chuckles:
     
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    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  3. Nicky

    Nicky The Moon & the Sky

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    Get an Apple. End of story!
     
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  4. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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    I've thought about it, and I'm not entirely opposed to it, but for the money I can spend I won't be getting as good of specs. The bigger problem I have with that, though, is that I don't want to have to buy another desktop in 3 years. I want to be able to update my RAM, Hard drive, and graphics card when I need to and my understanding is that I won't be able to do that with an iMac.
     
  5. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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  6. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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    Get a SSD (solid state drive) as your operating drive (I'd personally recommend at least 2 different drives, 1 for the OS and 1 for storage [or more for raid, etc]). 4 GB of ram is more than enough for most things. The main thing I'd look for a higher end CPU....CPU is what is going to drive your system...when you speak of programs moving fast...it's more of the CPU speed/power rather than the RAM that's doing the work.
     
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  7. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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    Understood. These questions are gonna sound stupid, so bear with me. CPU would be the processor, correct? So the 8 core AMD would be better than than Quad core, and a quad core better than a dual core? Is a Quad Core plenty powerful enough? Is there a major difference between an i5 processor and an i7?
     
  8. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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    You got the idea. The more cores, the more power, the less heat, the longer it lasts. I can't answer about differences between i5 and i7, etc. A quad-core CPU (central processing unit) is - I think - the industry standard for most higher-end in-store systems and laptops, and that usually accompanies 4GB of ram. Windows XP, for example, couldn't even use 4GB of ram even though a lot of machines had them with it pre-installed.

    Building your own PC 101 - Things you need:

    Case
    Motherboard
    CPU
    Memory
    PSU (power supply unit)
    Hard Drive
    Disc Drive (recommended)

    That's everything you need for a working physical system. Get a monitor/keyboard/mouse set-up...a wireless hook-up if your motherboard doesn't come equipped, install an Operating System (these can be expensive buying them outright)...and you're golden. Or...just buy it already produced lol. Or better yet, I'll part it out for you and you install it when you get it. Easy.

    Now, the reason why apple is so expensive is because they boast machines that never have any viruses/problems, etc. GARBAGE. Apple products are easy to work with...but they allow for a lot less customization...A LOT.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  9. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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    x dupe
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  10. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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  11. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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    Refurbished is OK as long as it's from somewhere reputable. Personally, I'd stay away from refurbs because you'll get a shorter warranty (maybe you can add years to it somehow). In 95 days if something goes wrong with it, you're going to be SOL. I think it would be hard to find something cheaper but as powerful.

    Newegg is a great site, IMO.
     
  12. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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    Yeah I was looking at that, and it looks like I could get a 1 year warranty for 60 and a 2 year for 120. Even with the addition of the 2 year, that bring that price to about 720 and that seems like a good deal for a machine of that power (even though I have no idea how good of a graphics card that is). I'm gonna bookmark it and keep looking around a bit.
     
  13. gourimoko

    gourimoko Fighting the good fight!

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    ...OK, well first thing I want to just knock out the way pretty quick.. Don't buy an Apple.

    That's my 100% honest, professional opinion. It's a complete waste of money if you're on a budget or if you're a gamer, both criteria you mentioned in your OP and therefore both disqualify any Apple computer from consideration. There really is no counter-argument I could imagine, so we'll just end that there.

    As to the argument regarding the number of cores: Jon and I had a conversation about this in another thread, just search, where I gave a fairly detailed breakdown as to why more cores will usually mean more performance. However, that was limited to comparing single and dual core machines, rather than quad vs octo-core. There aren't many applications that I can see you using that will benefit from 8 cores; therefore, we must consider the added expense and determine if there is a faster processor (greater clock speed) with fewer cores. Very often, for thermal considerations, equivalent cores will be clocked lower to avoid heat buildup within the processor. A dual-core i5 can run faster at a higher clock with equivalent heat than a substantially lower-clocked quad-core processor. Heat is one of the determining factors regarding the upper bound of processing throughput. (I'm not advocating getting a dual core anything btw)..

    8-cores is probably somewhat excessive considering your needs. In several years time when more than just the latest .NET Framework has built in parallelization support, then perhaps more applications will scale across a series of available cores, but as of now, there isn't much I can see you doing with 8 cores.

    Regarding AMD vs Intel: I used to be a huge proponent of AMD starting with the Athlon 500Mhz K7's. Since the Core architecture arrived, however, that's all changed. AMD has yet to catch up architecturally to Intel's designs, and simply cannot compete on almost any level with Intel processors. The price-point difference is so irrelevant as to not warrant discussion. The first PC you posted has an AMD FX-8150 processor. I would strongly recommend avoiding the Bulldozer line of chips as they are bug ridden, and offer sketch performance due to a design scheme that looks to maximize performance in very specific scenarios while leaving general tasks and floating-point driven tasks behind. To compare, the Intel i7-920 series 4 core processor (2 generations back) routinely outperforms the FX-8150 even on computing tasks spanned over 8 threads! Architecturally the AMD processors are flawed, and while offering attractive clock cycles and many-core processors, the actual amount of work done is actually significantly less than Intel's middle-of-the-road offerings..

    With your budget, I'd recommend an Intel i7-2600k 3.4ghz or better.

    Nvidia vs AMD(ATI): Nvidia always offers better drivers. It's hassle free and you get what you pay for. I love Nvidia cards because if you make you build around them with an SLI board, you'll get greater scalable performance that works in Linux without a hitch. With that said, AMD usually gives you more bang for your buck, more often than not; substantially more flexibility because you don't need an SLI board (just about any board will work) which can save you an easy $100 instantly and is future-proof; and AMD's boards run cold and usually very quiet.

    With your budget I'd strongly recommend an AMD Radeon 7950.

    This will set you back $650 outright, and that's before buying a mobo, RAM, a case, etc. Some people would contend that you take a few steps back and get milder components, but IMO, you're better off starting out with a good baseline and building up and outward from there, rather than trying to start with outdated parts that will only be replaced in just a few years. It's cheaper in the long run.

    After buying a mobo, PSU, RAM, a case, and an SSD, you'll probably be over budget by about $100 bucks.. If budget is an issue just save an extra $100 or wait to buy your SSD (the 3rd or 4th most important component). Buy a mobo with 6-8 slots and buy your ram in 2GB DIMMs. Start with 4GB over 2 channels and then add 4GB more later on down the road. Buy a single 1TB drive and keep your work on another disk anticipating a move towards an SSD and RAID-5 (google it) for your non-solid state disks. Buy a decent but cheap case... you can always buy another case.

    If you simply can't go over budget, or if you need to include a monitor in your budget - I would cut out the graphics card and go with something cheaper or preferably wait to buy a graphics card until you can afford one (don't buy something that you'll simply regret in a few months). I would not skimp on the processor.

    Point being:

    1) Build your own PC.
    2) Build it around an Intel chip.
    3) Get the best CPU and GPU you can afford and start from there.
    4) It is better to not have an expensive dedicated GPU and buy a high-end card later than to buy a mid-tier card today and regret it after the first sub-30FPS outing. Just buy a fairly old low-end card to power your display and save your money.
    5) Lastly, a gaming graphics card will not help your wife very much with her photo editing, at least, not substantially. If she were doing video editing, or 3D design, that'd be a different story. And even then, you might consider getting a workstation graphics card like a Quadro rather than a gaming card like a GTX or a Radeon.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  14. TyGuy

    TyGuy With the Left hand!

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    If you know what you are doing this time of year is the best for deals. I just picked up a geforce 660 for 165 bones for my gf that came with an extra 30 dollar rebate. My little brother also got in on a frys i5 ivy bridge processor with motherboard combo for 209 dollars with a 30 dollar rebate. My gf picked me up a kingston hyperx 3k 240 gb ssd for 150 that I just switched to for my os install.

    Apple is starting to catch some steam (lol) with valve now releasing all of their games on apple and pc. Blizzard has always been friendly towards apple as well. The problem with apple though is they are incredibly overpriced and you are much more limited game wise. If I was getting a laptop I might consider an apple, but hell would have to freeze over for me to go apple on desktop land.

    If you are savy enough you can take a pc with intel hardware and hackintosh it to run osx, but really that is more trouble than it is worth because windows 7 is a nice and mature OS.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  15. gourimoko

    gourimoko Fighting the good fight!

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    That's what I've never been good at, getting shit at a reasonable price.. Pr26, if you can get deals like those, you could build an ideal PC for under $1000..
     
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  16. TyGuy

    TyGuy With the Left hand!

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    You just have to be diligent about checking every so often, especially if you are in the market for new hardware. I think pr26 should check out anandtech and register on the forum. They have a hot deals section where members will post deals they find. That is where i found the videocard and frys combo deal. They also have great articles and a benchmarks graph to get you an idea about performance when comparing products.

    Not to mention you can also find killer deals on pc games. I picked up dishonored for 20 dollars, thq has this humble bundle going on where you name your own price. Steam has sales every so often. Pc gaming completely leaves consoles in the dust in my opinion.
     
  17. gourimoko

    gourimoko Fighting the good fight!

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    Agreed.. I avoid console gaming whenever possible.
     
  18. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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    Thanks Gouri and Ty, you guys have given me a lot to think about.

    Again, I'm probably not going to build a PC. I do realize that I can save a ton of money if I did, but I'll spend the extra money for the convenience. I'm really dumb when it comes to this stuff, and I don't have time to find someone to build it for me because I was hoping to set up this office asap (Probably gonna buy something Monday or Tuesday online). I know a few people who could do it, but their unreliable and I don't wanna wait a month.

    I know now, after your guys help, than I really do want to buy something that is i7 Quad core, and non-intergrated graphics so I can upgrade later. Again, gaming would be a perk, not a need on this machine.

    Also, I'm gonna keep my eye on techbargains and slick deals to see if I can find a steal early next week. For example they had a new Dell XPS 8500 with a quad core i7 and 10gb of ram with a 24" LED 1080p screen for $850. That deal expired now, but an example of something I could nab if I keep my eye out.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  19. Lord Mar

    Lord Mar Master

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    When gourimoko types, your eyes must read and your brain must understand. DO IT!
     
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  20. pr26

    pr26 NBA Starter

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    Gouri, what's your professional opinion on buying refurbs from reputable sites such as new egg, tiger direct, or amazon?
     

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