PC Advice

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by TheFocusElf, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. TheFocusElf

    TheFocusElf Obliviot

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    Mar 1, 2005
    Rob, as I said, I've been checking in from time to time, and am now taking up real-estate, equity in fact in Canada, got a US flag here and everything! Slowly working my way to take Fort George for the US Cavalry!

    Seriously though? Can I saw I own a D*LL without people disregarding this topic out of hand?

    Can I say I've owned numerous G**WAY PCs before they were bought out by A**S? I am bleeping myself because I don't want any sponsors to become offended!

    Let's just say I've always had a high level of software prowess but been ... Comp. Eng. retarded. I've removed and replaced the odd HDD and CDRom, but that's the extent of it.

    And now I find myself in a marketing / training position with a US Consulting firm and have a budget to provide office and PC supplies, and I am having a hard time NOT considering a new PC.

    That being said, I have a pretty decent system on paper, but it happens to be a 6 month old D*LL, and some days, it decides not to boot up, etc.

    I have a budget of around 2500 including taxes, shipping and whatnot, and am curious if I should use it to buy components and assemble my own, or just perhaps I can be directed (by PM if necessary) to a quality company who stands behind what they build.

    I would like to incorporate a Solid State Drive into the system as well maybe even two SSDs and an ansillary "traditional" HDD for a total of 2-3 HDDs.

    I play World of Warcraft, some sim games, but spend a great deal of time in Adobe Premier and the Adobe Suite of products. (( I am mentioning this because the 64bit / 32bit question is also haunting me )).

    I'd like a system that I can reliably bank 3 years out of without being TOO obsolete.

    Unless warranted, wouldn't 512k video be enough?

    Well... I figured I'd throw it out there, been a while since I said anything here.... and the Skulltrain or whatever ... dang that's a sexy system!

    (( Or maybe I just buy a Mac? ))

    -Scott aka The Focus Elf
     
  2. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    Mar 6, 2008
    Texas
    There's nothing wrong with OEM systems if they meet your needs... not everyone knows how to build a computer, or wants to learn the hard/expensive way to do so. Or simply doesn't have the time for it.

    Whatever you decide on, it sounds like you should have a 64bit OS with 4GB of RAM... Unless your budget is in the stratosphere and you can afford the good SSDs, I would dicourage getting those for a desktop. Anandtech reported on why the cheaper, JMicron controller SSDs are not delivering the better performance that they first appear to offer, and a desktop has no need to save on power consumption so that really negates the use of a SSD in my view. Intel's X-25M is one if not the best though if you are going to look at them.

    You shouldn't even consider a Mac unless you are first sure you (Or your office) won't have issues with the different file formats and imcompatible programs.
     
  3. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    Jan 12, 2005
    Atlantic Canada
    Half of the time when people come to me asking for "new computer" advice, I point them right in the direction of Dell, simply because most of them don't have any interest in building their own machine, and showing them how to do it will accomplish nothing. It helps that Dell really doesn't make a bad computer though. They aren't going to be as powerful or robust as a custom-built PC (since you can look for the deals and really choose your parts wisely), but for those with no ambition to build their own, it's not as though they'll get a bad PC.

    If you really do care about the machine and will be spending a lot of time on it, it will be worth it to build your own, especially since a $2,500 budget will get you a screamer.

    You'll want something with a Quad-Core, since you'll be using a lot of multimedia-type applications, 4GB of RAM like Kougar recommended, one or two hard drives (1,000GB drives are like $140 now), a decent GPU (~$200) and then pour money into everything else.

    SSD at this point is expensive, and unless you really don't mind putting a lot of your money from the $2,500 into those, you can get a nice setup. The Intel drive that Kougar mentioned is incredible (I have one here, but sadly haven't been able to play with it much), but they are also kind of expensive, at $600 for 80GB. It's hella-fast though, but it really makes you question whether putting two in the rig would be money well-spent.

    Personally, I'd build a decent PC now... one that would cost around $1,500 - $1,800, then worry about SSDs a few months from now. I hate to recommend that, but SSDs are dropping in price SO fast, and the longer you wait, the better the product will be. It goes beyond normal progression too... read this post for more info:

    http://techgage.com/news/super_talent_releases_dangerously_fast_ssds/

    Once you have a better idea of what you want, we can help you choose parts.
     
  4. TheFocusElf

    TheFocusElf Obliviot

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    Mar 1, 2005
    I read some of your reviews of course on SSDs, and then looked at what is currently offered, and decided on 10kRPM Raid1 as a decent and valid substitute for what I was looking to accomplish. I wish I was more "techsavvy" Rob, I fear that all the resources in the world are no substitute for a capable mind.

    Read... write... I comprende, but the speeds mean little to nothing to me sufficent to say I've heard that a 5200RPM laptop HDD for example takes twice as long as some SSDs to boot XP. I know there are other factors however that effect this. Needless to say, SSDs are too expensive and the "market for them" is too volatile at this time to warrant their purchase or make it palatable.

    As for a system build, I put two systems together on NewEgg... my biggest concerns :

    1) Will it work?
    2) Am I missing anything?
    3) Despite my curury review, do all components work together or are there any apparent imminent conflicts?

    If I've got all the pieces I need, I am enthusiastically ready to assemble the unit, slowly however! :D

    Now I wonder how I can link new egg to here... and also I did read that review on SSDs as well as some on engadget and some youTube videos. I think I'm going to wait until their prices fall dramatically and their performance increases. I'll give it a year and revisit the idea.

    And Kougar, the only reason at this point that I'd consider a retail prefab PC would be for the piece of mind that after I argue for several hours with the folks in some far off corner of the world, they eventually have to make good on their warranty. As I was initially concerned about that, as I browsed high-end components, I found most retailers put 3-5 to lifetime warranties on their own individual components, hardly justifying waiting for company X to send me a refurbished item. Macs are just ... sexy! :D (( Please ... no permabans! ))

    So with the warranty matter being "closed" and no other issue or benefit to a prefab as I see it, it looks like I'll be delving into the BYO world -- is it ... like tattoos? Once I build one... is it an addiction? I could use another vice or two...

    -Scott
     
  5. TheFocusElf

    TheFocusElf Obliviot

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    Mar 1, 2005
    First Attempt : Configuration 1 Full tower, I know, but I don't know a WHOLE lot about air flow and I don't want this unit to fry, plus expanding is important down the road. Likely a Video Capture Card :

    Pinnacle MovieBoard Plus 230100124 PCI Interface or something along those lines.

    I've been staring longingly at this case too by the by :

    ABS Canyon 695 4 x140mm Fan Multiple Heat Zones Full Aluminum Super Tower Computer Case
    I'll psycho-analyze myself for you : I am terrified of a meltdown, and am also terrified of soldering (because I'm sure I'd muck it up), so liquid cooling is out of the question. It is important to note that I do not intend to OC anything besides the Intel Processor to 3.4ghz


    Not professional, but not some USB garbage! Thank you for your advice and support, and good to see you again Spawner.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  6. Merlin

    Merlin The Tech Wizard

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Lakeland, Fl
  7. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    Mar 6, 2008
    Texas
    That's about as bleeding edge a setup as you can build. ;)

    My suggestion is if you are going to buy a $100+ RAID card, you might as well buy one that has some headroom/expandability in it. 2 ports is not worth it... the model with 4 SATA ports costs only an extra ~$30.

    All in all, everything you listed should work fine together...

    Nice case, that thing is freaking huge! That'd be fun to try, but $600 is crazy stuff. :)
     
  8. Krazy K

    Krazy K Partition Master

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    Apr 9, 2008
    Awesomeville, Mn
  9. TheFocusElf

    TheFocusElf Obliviot

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    Mar 1, 2005
    I had to look up that phrase you used... bleeding edge, and thankfully I didn't have to visit the urban dictionary!

    The term is formed as an allusion to "leading edge" and its synonym cutting edge, but implying a greater degree of risk: the "bleeding edge" is in front of the "cutting edge". Although it is now in common use, the term is somewhat ironic, since the actual bleeding edge of a knife is generally the trailing edge.

    There were other references to expenses, ultimately as I might not have mentioned I want to use this as a work PC -and- gaming... maybe now I'll be able to PVP in Asheron's Call! Bwahahaha!

    Seriously though, I will look at that other SATA controller -- the thing is I know I want data security, and I have looked up other RAID configs... thing is they're just beyond my understanding. Mirroring I get, but what is the benefit to RAID0/2/3/4/5/6!? Don't feel compelled to answer that question in its entirety!

    Also a question I had thrown out there but am still utterly hopeless on. 1 GPU and wait until I can afford 2, or is 2x512mb GPUs sufficient and better than 1x1gb GPU.

    And, Physx Cards... any use? (( And yes I read the article -- glad companies are taking them seriously, they;'re just hard to find and I don't know if this one would quite simply be overkill, useless, or rendered ineffective by an SLI setup ))

    -Scott
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  10. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    Jan 12, 2005
    Atlantic Canada
    Oh boy, if you don't know what bleeding-edge is, you need to start visiting more ;-)

    As for Asheron's Call... I'm still waiting for them to add rain back in. Their last excuse is that they had to develop the game to run on most systems out there... not a good excuse though. Computers nowadays could run the game ten times over.

    Just added redundancy. I am -not- a RAID guru and I'm not even sure of the differences between the levels, but there are various setups for speed or security. You could RAID one drive to two others, similar to a RAID 1, or have four hard drives, where two are mirrors of the others.

    Other RAID levels include combining a bunch of drives together for insane speed, although that might be all mirrored, I'm unsure. I do know that combining drives together to have more space is unsafe. If one drive goes down, you lose everything, since each piece of data is spread across each drive... virtually impossible to recover.

    This is a common misconception... the amount of memory the GPU has doesn't tell us anything about the real-world performance. Nowadays, the standard is 512MB, which is more than enough for most resolutions. The benefit of a card with 1GB memory is that it can better handle ultra-high resolutions and texture/anti-aliasing settings in some cases (like 2560x1600, 4xAA, for example).

    It all depends on the card and what you are looking to do with it. A 2 x 512MB setup is going to beat 1 x 1GB almost always, but again, they just can't be compared... it depends on what GPU we are talking about. Two HD 4870 512MBs for example is equal to one HD 4870 X2 2GB.

    I do recommend checking out our latest GPU reviews whenever you plan on a new purchase. The latest GPU review features up-to-date charts comparing about ten or more current graphic cards... that way you can get an idea of what kind of performance you will see for your buck.

    Personally, my first choice in a new GPU would be a Radeon HD 4870. You can purchase virtually any decent Intel X38 or X48-based board and be able to combine two for extreme performance. Depending on the resolution you are planning to run, you are going to see no difference between 2 x HD 4870 and 2 x GTX 280... except on the wallet.

    Nowdays though, a single HD 4870 is going to be more than enough for most people. It's when you are running 1920x1200 or higher at high graphic settings that you might want a second card. Even then, as you can see in our review, a single card there performs well at top resolutions throughout most titles.

    You must've read an old article. You might want to look through these:

    http://techgage.com/article/nvidias_physx_performance_and_status_report/
    http://techgage.com/article/nvidias_physx_performance_and_status_report_-_part_2/

    Long story short... PhysX is supported on all current NVIDIA cards, although it's overall use is still debated. We need to see more games support it before we can really take it seriously.
     
  11. TheFocusElf

    TheFocusElf Obliviot

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    Mar 1, 2005
    I'd like to bump up to a 28"-32" monitor capable of HD/BluRay and multiple apps at high resolution.

    The purchase will be taking place around mid-november, about 60 days from now. Though I'd love to buy the items on credit and reimburse myself from the business, I am holding back the clicking finger in the hopes that "holiday season" promos and sales will be taking place to shore up lagging Q4 sales as a result of the political climate in the US.

    -Scott
     
  12. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    Jan 12, 2005
    Atlantic Canada
    There are no computer monitors that I'm aware of at 28" or 32", and if there are, they probably don't support the demanding resolution that a 30" would (2560x1600). The only size other than 30" that I know of in a computer monitor is 27", and that only supports 1920x1200. If you wanted to get a monitor on a budget that supports the highest consumer resolution on the market, then Dell's 3007WFP-HC might be a good choice. It's $1,199, which is far less than their 3008WFP.

    There might be other good 30-inches for the same price, but I'm not sure of their quality. I do know that Dell has some backlight bleeding, but I think that's hard to avoid that that price-range.
     
  13. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    Mar 6, 2008
    Texas
    The biggest difference between the various RAID levels is price, capacity, and redundancy. And to some measure performance, but that's inconsequential for true RAID purposes.

    Since you said you know mirroring... RAIDing two drives in RAID 1 means you need four drives, right. So, RAIDing two drives in RAID 5 means you can get away with using only three drives, and yet still have the same protection and same total drive capacity for use as a RAID 1 setup. Different people just have different preferences.

    Personally, I'd suggest sticking to a single GPU... not all games scale with multiple GPUs, which means the game will only run as fast as a single GPU. For the games you listed even a single 4870 or GTX 280 is overkill... If you are going to buy a 30" display, then maybe a GTX 280 or a 4870 X2 card. Using your NVIDIA motherboard, you can't Crossfire two 4870 512mb cards... the 4870 X2 2GB would be your only choice for dual ATI GPU's just to let you know.
     

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