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Need a new PC to meet my requirements

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epoxi
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#1

Posted 15 March 2014 - 02:58 PM Edited by epoxi, 15 March 2014 - 03:10 PM.

Hi everyone, today I got the message from Microsoft that support is ending for XP on 8th April 2014, so I need to build a new Windows-based PC before someone hacks all of my details. Even then, a new PC is long overdue with the way my PC is starting to break a sweat over simple things like HD flash video and multi-tasking.
 
I haven't even looked at the PC market for over 10 years, and to be honest I haven't got a clue what any of today's models and clock speeds mean (bigger numbers used to be better, but now it seems to be all about the architecture and combinations of components which I have no understanding of).
 
The budget
 
£600
(can increase slightly if value really justifies it, I am also happy to go under-budget)
 
 
What I will use my computer for
  • It will be used daily as my personal computer
  • Playing Minecraft and GTA:SA to a good standard without a graphics card (explained below)
  • Playing GTAV when it comes to PC
  • Storing movies and TV to watch
  • Very moderate amounts of video editing and music editing when needed
  • I would like a reasonably fast boot time as I keep my computer switched off when not in use
 
Initially I plan to use the PC with no dedicated graphics card. When GTAV comes out, I will buy a graphics card to bring the PC up to the necessary standard as prices will be different by then.
 
 
Some estimated specs
 
The following are a combination of (speculated) required specs for GTAV and what storage I think I will need, criticism is welcome:
 
  • Core i5-2500T 2.3Ghz or better
  • SSD for boot
  • 2TB HDD for storage
  • 2TB+ Backup drive (external or internal, doesn't matter)
  • GeForce GTX480 (can wait until GTAV release and see market then)
 
As my only computer, it must be simple and reliable (i.e. no overheating, no overclocking, no/minimal extra cooling required).
 
My objective is to build a PC that gives me the best value for money over time, i.e. on average I plan to spend the least amount of money per year on a computer but still never feel held back by my specs. I am open to ideas about buying future-proof components (e.g. motherboard/PSU) to achieve this, I am also open to ideas about buying a cheap PC and then swapping it regularly, whatever approach delivers the best value for money.
 
Sorry about this long, confusing list, but I must admit I am really struggling without advice.
 
What are your suggestions for everything I need to make my ideal complete desktop machine?
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#2

Posted 15 March 2014 - 03:19 PM

Is there any website you prefer to use for purchasing PC parts? Do you need a new Operating System as well? Are there any system parts you could possibly take over from your current PC?

Well, the processor and graphic-card you mentioned are already outdated, especially the latter. Both should be from the latest generations (Intel Core i3/i5/i7 4000 series, nVidia GTX700 and AMD R8/R9 series). But I see you can wait a little with the GPU which might be good, because of nVidia's new generation Maxwell. Though, it depends on when V arrives for PC obviously.

epoxi
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#3

Posted 15 March 2014 - 03:24 PM Edited by epoxi, 15 March 2014 - 03:25 PM.

I am happy to buy from any reputable UK-based store, I would prefer to buy all components at one place. Two companies I can think of would be ebuyer and aria, but I am open to other suggestions.

 

Operating system is not a problem, I have access to licensed copies of both Windows 7 and Windows 8, I do not mind using either provided there are no compatibility issues.


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#4

Posted 15 March 2014 - 04:39 PM Edited by yojo2, 15 March 2014 - 04:40 PM.

Does the backup drive have to be included within the budget?

If not, then this is what I'd consider:

£145,38 Intel CPU i5-4570 3.2GHz Socket 1150 Quad Core Haswell Retail with Heat Sink Fan
http://www.scan.co.u...atio-84w-retail

£131,64 MSI Radeon R9 270 Gaming 2G AMD Graphics Card - 2GB
http://www.scan.co.u...ams-dp-dvi-hdmi

£56,22 Gigabyte B85M-D3H Socket 1150 Motherboard
http://www.scan.co.u...dvi-d-hdmi-matx

£61,44 Seagate 2TB SATA III Performance HDD ST2000DM001 7200rpm 64MB Cache 7200rpm SATA II Compatible
http://www.scan.co.u...che-8ms-oem-ncq

£64,56 Corsair Memory Vengeance Jet Black Low Profile 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz CAS 9 XMP Dual Channel Desktop
http://www.scan.co.u...-9-9-24-xmp-15v

£42,64 ThermalTake SPS-530MPCBEU Smart Series 530W Modular Power Supply (PSU)
http://www.scan.co.u...12v-fan-atx-v23

£11,98 Samsung x24 DVD Writer Dual Layer 5.25" SATA Black 24xDVD±R, 8x DVD±DL, DVD+RW x8/-RW x6 x12 RAM OEM
http://www.scan.co.u...-sata-black-oem

£32,12 Zalman Z3 Plus Black Mid Tower Case with Side Window USB 3.0 No PSU
http://www.scan.co.u...e-panel-w-o-psu

£64,94 Plextor PX-128M5S 128GB SSD Solid State Drive SATA 3, Enterprise Class PC/MAC
http://www.scan.co.u...-71000-iops-pc-

= £610,92

Typically I wouldn't include an SSD in a £600 gaming rig (I'd go for a faster GPU instead), but since it looks like you aren't a hardcore gamer this might be the better alternative.
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epoxi
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#5

Posted 15 March 2014 - 05:08 PM Edited by epoxi, 15 March 2014 - 05:09 PM.

Thanks a lot yojo!

 

Yeah, the backup drive can wait since I already have enough space on my external 190GB HDD for the most important things.

 

Would you say the SSD is surplus to requirements? My motive for including it would be to reduce boot times and application opening times (mainly rudimentary things like browsers, Winamp, Office etc. trying to make them instantaneous). Is there a real-world benefit for a middle-range user like me or is a SATA HDD 'good enough'?

 

What logic did you use to choose the motherboard/CPU/GPU combo? Is it the best value in your experience?


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#6

Posted 15 March 2014 - 05:21 PM Edited by yojo2, 15 March 2014 - 05:22 PM.

The SSD pretty much does all the things you've listed. It's up to you to decide if the HDD is good enough already, or you need something faster.

i5-4570 is one of the best all-round CPUs for non-overclockers: it's a great performer and it's affordable. For home use (including gaming) you don't need anything better.
As for the GPU, I've looked through what scan.co.uk has to offer and the R9-270 seemed like the most viable option. Like the i5 it hits the sweet spot dead on with its performance for the price. From nVidia, the best alternative would be the GTX660 (slightly slower than R9-270, but overall very similar), but there doesn't seem to be many of those left.
As for the mobo, there's not much behind that - it's just a cheap and solid board like many others.

Also, it seems like I missed the fact that you wanted to buy the GPU later. In any case, this rig will work okay without the GPU as well.
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epoxi
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#7

Posted 15 March 2014 - 05:43 PM Edited by epoxi, 15 March 2014 - 05:48 PM.

Reading the specs of the i5-4570 it's hard to see how the i7 could beat it, I mean it's quad core with hyper-threading and turbo boost. Plus, all the benchmarking/comparison videos I've seen show there is just a marginal advantage for the i7 (whereas the i3 - i5 gap is substantial).

 

I like that the motherboard has HDMI, that means I can start using it with my TV straight out of the box, I was expecting only a dedicated card could provide it.

 

I was tempted to go for a really ghetto case to discourage people from stealing the PC if they broke into my house, but the benefits of a modern case are too much to refuse, the hot swappable HDD slots look useful and I like that the PSU is at the bottom of the case which keeps the power cable out the way and lowers the PC's centre of gravity (I have no idea why PSUs are usually at the top). Also, for security I could always buy a Kensington lock instead.

 

Logically the SSD still appeals to me, when you run most applications it involves a combination of reading the application data and reading the raw data the application must process, it makes sense that these should come from two different places (the same way we have multiple cores in a processor to multi-task) to avoid a bottleneck (yes, I know HDDs have multiple platters and heads but it still doesn't compare).

 

If I were to only buy an HDD and get an SSD later, how easy is it in Windows to transfer all the boot files and application files from one drive to the other?


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#8

Posted 15 March 2014 - 08:06 PM Edited by Andreas, 15 March 2014 - 08:09 PM.

Videogames don't benefit a whole lot from the improved performance of the i7 CPUs over the i5 for a simple reason: they mostly cannot utilize more than four cores/four threads, and the slightly bigger L3-Cache doesn't change that much either. This might be subject to change now that the PS4 and Xbox One have octa-core processors, but that will not stop the i5 to be one of the best processors on the mainstream market for the foreseeable future. To put it in another way: if there were any game that has a hard time to run at a stable framerate due to the i5, then it wouldn't be much better with the i7. It's another thing if you use professional video render tools, for example, because then there is likely a considerable performance difference.

As for your question how easy it is to transfer files from the HDD to the SDD, well, it depends on if you want to transfer everything, or only the programs. Transfering everything isn't as simple/fast obviously and will take more time. You could install Windows on the SDD and then transfer all the files you want and need to it. I am not sure though what the best technique to do that. I personally keep the installation packages of all programs in a folder, if possible, or on a disk, transfer them to the new hard disk drive and then install all of them.

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#9

Posted 15 March 2014 - 09:39 PM

@epoxi: i5-4570 does _not_ have Hyper Threading - if it did, i7 would be quite pointless :p The cheapest quad core CPU with HT is the Xeon E3-1230V3 (~£40 more than i5).

As for transferring over the OS, I tried that in the past (back when I had an SSD) and it didn't work out well, the system ran slow and unstable. Dunno why, as no one seemed to have such issues. The programs I've used might have been faulty.
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#10

Posted 15 March 2014 - 11:43 PM Edited by epoxi, 15 March 2014 - 11:44 PM.

Ah damn, on Scan.co.uk they put this in the features list:

 

Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology

Intel Core i7 delivers two processing threads per physical core. Highly threaded applications can get more work done in parallel, completing tasks sooner.

 

Reading closer it says "i7" lol, they must have just copied and pasted it.

 

Given your experience yojo, I think I will get the SSD straight off. Storage space won't be a problem because I can always use HDDs, but I think the SSD read speed should future-proof the computer somewhat.


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#11

Posted 16 March 2014 - 12:33 AM

Case wise, any mATX or ATX case should work with your build. Yojo picked a good case but you may want something else depending on your taste. At the moment I like the more minimal looking Lian Li, and Fractal cases.

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#12

Posted 16 March 2014 - 12:52 AM Edited by epoxi, 16 March 2014 - 12:53 AM.

I agree, those minimalist (almost fridge-like) cases are really what I'd like, but I do not wish to pay anywhere near the prices quoted for most of those Lian Li and Fractal products.

 

The case yojo quoted costs less than £35 and is comprehensively ventilated (especially with its 3 fans as standard). Considering excluding graphics card the build only comes to £480, I think the Zalman case is much more appropriate.


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#13

Posted 16 March 2014 - 07:27 AM

Yeah, as far as budget computer cases go, the Zalman Z3 Plus is the best value right now.
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#14

Posted 16 March 2014 - 02:40 PM Edited by OverTheBelow, 16 March 2014 - 02:40 PM.

I think going from a HDD to an SSD boot drive is the biggest speed difference an everyday user will ever notice from an upgrade. The speed & responsiveness difference is massive in Windows 7 and I definitely back the idea of keeping room in your budget for a day 1 SSD.

 

The time between hitting your power button until actually being able to use Windows is drastically sped up, so would definitely keep frustration to a minimum with regards to turning on/off your PC frequently.

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#15

Posted 16 March 2014 - 08:24 PM

Videogames don't benefit a whole lot from the improved performance of the i7 CPUs over the i5 for a simple reason: they mostly cannot utilize more than four cores/four threads, and the slightly bigger L3-Cache doesn't change that much either. This might be subject to change now that the PS4 and Xbox One have octa-core processors, but that will not stop the i5 to be one of the best processors on the mainstream market for the foreseeable future. To put it in another way: if there were any game that has a hard time to run at a stable framerate due to the i5, then it wouldn't be much better with the i7. It's another thing if you use professional video render tools, for example, because then there is likely a considerable performance difference.

As for your question how easy it is to transfer files from the HDD to the SDD, well, it depends on if you want to transfer everything, or only the programs. Transfering everything isn't as simple/fast obviously and will take more time. You could install Windows on the SDD and then transfer all the files you want and need to it. I am not sure though what the best technique to do that. I personally keep the installation packages of all programs in a folder, if possible, or on a disk, transfer them to the new hard disk drive and then install all of them.

The NG consoles doesn't have octa-core CPU's. It's just a quadcore CPU, each core has 2 modules.

That 8core is just marketing bullsh*t.


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#16

Posted 16 March 2014 - 09:21 PM Edited by yojo2, 16 March 2014 - 09:23 PM.

Nope. Consoles are in fact true octa-core designs (or more like two quadcores slapped together - whatever), their CPUs aren't related to the AMD FX series at all, thus they don't consist of modules.
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#17

Posted 17 March 2014 - 05:38 AM Edited by Slamman, 18 March 2014 - 10:55 AM.

To move from XP onward, no need for State of the Art, just so you know, Vista is plentiful, improved AND supported for some years to come.

 

I got Windows 7 a plenty now, oddly, was longing to own the OS for a number of years, then the discs started showing up as I took in project PCs, I even scored an Acer Vista Home Premium restore disc set from eBay.

 

I built up an Asus ROG laptop as a budget buster project, I wound up getting a GTX460 nVidia card for that, not far from your specs, I don't have Ivy Bridge, Sandy, or Haswell yet, but the main advance has been socket 1150 Intel, Haswell IIRC, Was supposed to be augmented by one last 22nm CPU. [Broadwell was delayed for some say, lack of competition from AMD, just as ATI and nVidia aren't in direct competition]

Some years ago ATI/AMD said they'd give up competing with Intel, at least officially, but they still make CPUs and GPUs.

For a system with gaming intent, desktop, might want to invest long term in SLI or Crossfire, up to 4 cards in unison, but you give up most all other card slots in doing so! It also is marginal performance since it's sharing graphical rendering duties at any given time. Desktops can expand much more, as we've all noted before, more user upgrade components, but for Windows 8, I'd go nearly strictly with a touchscreen laptop.

SSD can speed up any computer, but the sad end is RAM is becoming expensive no matter what type you're after! It's uber costly to go all out with the best RAM you can buy.

 

Thankfully we can edit these up to 24 hours at least, I figured a newer response since mine, but I thought I'd aid any Intel shoppers out there, since curiosity hit me as well, might wanna hold out for the end of this year, according to this.....

http://vr-zone.com/a...dmap/60966.html


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#18

Posted 30 March 2014 - 01:29 PM Edited by epoxi, 30 March 2014 - 01:45 PM.

Hi again, on the advice of friends and internet reviews I have decided to avoid scan.co.uk and buy parts from Novatech.
 
As such, I have substituted some of the unavailable components in yojo's list for others. Have I made any mistakes in terms of compatibility or picked any components that you would suggest I avoid?
 
http://www.novatech....0646i54570.html
4th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 4570 3.20GHz Socket LGA1150
 
http://www.novatech....gi0-m0eay0.html
ASUS H81M-PLUS Intel H81 (Socket 1150) Motherboard
 
http://www.novatech....t2000dm001.html
SeagateBarracuda 7200.12 2TB 64MB Cache Hard Drive SATA 6 Gb/s 7200rpm - OEM
 
http://www.novatech....3m2a1600c9.html
Corsair Vengeance Black LP 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-12800 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit
 
http://www.novatech....-224dbbebe.html
Samsung 224DB 24x DVD Re-Writer - SATA - Black - OEM
 
http://www.novatech....9020047-uk.html
Corsair Builder Series CX500 - 500 Watt 80 PLUS® Power Supply
 
http://www.novatech....p-128g-g25.html
SanDisk SSD SATA III 2.5" 128GB Solid State Hard Drive
 
http://www.novatech....re-1000-bl.html
Fractal Design Core 1000 MicroATX Mini Tower Case - No PSU

 

Edit: Do all components come supplied with the necessary cables? Will I need to buy processor paste separately?


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#19

Posted 30 March 2014 - 01:48 PM

I'd suggest these changes:

Mobo with more RAM slots (I think it'd be a good idea)
http://www.novatech....r/h87mpro4.html

Modular PSU
http://www.novatech....9020059-uk.html

More trustworthy SSD:
http://www.novatech....20m500ssd1.html

More functional and better built case:
http://www.novatech....e-200-kkn1.html
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#20

Posted 30 March 2014 - 01:55 PM

Thanks for the quick reply, yeah I wasn't sure whether to get the Cooler Master or Fractal case.

What about cables and processor paste, will these be included with the listed components or do I buy them separately?


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#21

Posted 30 March 2014 - 02:03 PM

All what you need will be included.
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#22

Posted 30 March 2014 - 08:29 PM

Thanks for your help yojo, I decided to go with the parts you suggested I have ordered the PC and should have all the parts by Friday.

 

Edit: Uh oh, the motherboard you suggest says "ATX" on the sub-title (despite being in microATX section). I have checked elsewhere and the ASRock Pro4 is always microATX. I hope it is just a description error.


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#23

Posted 31 March 2014 - 05:10 AM

H87M Pro4 s mATX, H87 Pro4 is ATX.
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#24

Posted 01 April 2014 - 06:19 PM

Phew, thanks.


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#25

Posted 05 April 2014 - 06:35 PM Edited by epoxi, 05 April 2014 - 06:40 PM.

Woohoo, I am up and running.

 

e30V9BO.png

BuPjWHa.png

 

Boots in 25 seconds and SA:MP and Minecraft are a breeze even at 1080p. I've matched it to a 22" Philips LED screen, I'm not used to having this much space!

 

I am in a funny position though, I have yet to install HDD because I only have two SATA cables. Once I have finished installing things from discs I will switch the cable to the HDD instead of DVD-RW.

 

Thanks for the tips yojo, it's a great investment.


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#26

Posted 05 April 2014 - 07:06 PM Edited by yojo2, 05 April 2014 - 07:07 PM.

My bad, I've somehow missed that the mobo only comes with two SATA cables included. But those cost a few quid, so it shouldn't be that much of a problem.

Good to hear the new rig is working fine :)
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