Budget out a computer for me!

Hey gang, I’m thinking about getting a new desktop for home. And I felt I was starting to hijack another thread talking about Vista, so I decided to open a new one.

I’m looking at trying to spend less than $1500 bucks for the computer, monitor, and software (like Office 2007). I don’t need a printer.

I primarily use my computer for games (strategy, simulations (sports primarily), Spore will be a huge time suck for me when it comes out), web surfing, etc. I realize that I’m not a power user, but I’d like to have something that’s got the horsepower to run something like Bioshock should I care to buy that (or whatever intensive thing comes after that).

So, suggest away! Main questions include: Vista or XP, how much processor, how much RAM, how much hard drive space. And sorry Mac folks, but my very favorite games are from a few independent game companies and they’re Windows only.

Thanks in advance!

Try this:

I can’t put the thing together! :eek: I’m nowhere near that talented.

However, that does give me some good ideas for what sort of things I should be looking for. Thanks!

My suggestion for your budget:

CPU - Intel Quad Core $276 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115017

GPU -Geforce 8800 GTS $290 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130325

Mobo - ASUS 780i $150 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131232

RAM - 2 Gigs GSkill $70 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231144

Power Supply - SLI ready $110 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341001

Case - (I like mine, and this is it) Antec $110 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129021

OS: Vista home premium $110 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116202

Microsoft Office Home - $120 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116135

Monitor: 20 inch Widescreen LCD $210 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824116099

Total: $1446

If you need a keyboard and mouse and taking S&H into account it will go over $1500 though. In which case I’d drop the 8800 GTS for an 8600 GTS and/or drop the mobo to a 650i ultra, that should leave enough in your budget for shipping and peripherals. Alternatively, if you’ve got a Microcenter or similar store near you, go there and save on shipping. Just don’t buy anything at some overpriced retail store like Bestbuy.

Oh, you’re not putting it together? Hmmm, I would go to the “build it yourself” section of Gateway and dell then. Just make sure you don’t have “integrated graphics solution” for your video. Get a stand alone card from them (if it’s not overpriced, it might very well be). something like the 8800 GTS would be great. If it is overpriced, then get it yourself on newegg.

By the way, you’re not going to get a system anything like the one I spec’ed out above from dell or gateway for the total I quoted above.

If you decide to go XP, make sure all your hardware is Vista compliant in case you decide to upgrade later.
If you have a student in your house, (K-college based on my reading of the EULA) you are eligible to buy the student teacher edition of MS Office. This is quite a savings.

Find a local computer store (not a big box retailer), and then go to him/her with the specs you want. They will build what you want the way you want it.

Here is what I would look for:

Case: I would look for at least one 120mm outtake, and preferably, another 120mm intake. These will keep the insides cooler, and are quieter (generally) than smaller 80mm and 92mm fans. I like the Antec Sonata III. I also like the Sonata II, but the included power supply might be a little underpowered.

Power supply: 500 watt minimum. Preferably, unless buying an Antec case, not one that comes with the case. They tend to be less reliable. The Sonata II has a 450 watt power supply, which should, if you do not envision adding components, suffice for the system.

CPU: I’m partial to the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache. Lower power requirements means your CPU fan has to work less hard, which means quieter computer. And it is a little cheaper than Kinthalis’ recommendation.

Motherboard: I would opt for a motherboard based on Intel’s P35 chip, versus one based on nVidia’s 780i. Generally speaking, unless you go with the best, most expensive videocards, SLI is overrated versus just upgrading your current videocard.

RAM: 2 gigs. Should have a heat spreader.

Graphics: NVidia GeForce 8800GT (not GTS), 512mb. Again, a cheaper option. Don’t skimp here if you want to play Spore and BioShock. Stay away from any videocard that has 320 or 640 mb memory. That is old stock.

Hard Drive: At least 320 Gb. 500 Gb would be better.

OS: Vista Home Premium will allow you to enjoy your games in DirectX 10 goodness. XP Pro will be (slightly) less of a headache.

20" LCD monitor.

Let your local shop price this for you - itemized would be better.

Don’t forget the DVD/CD burner.

(In case you missed one of my themes, I like quiet PCs)

This is something that most people don’t think about until they power on their behemoth and the living room noise level shoots up several decibels. Along with large case fans I’d also look for a quite power supply with 120mm fans, and maybe consider spending an extra $30 on an aftermarket CPU/GPU cooler - you’ll typically get better overclocking performance and a quiter overall system.

Thanks! I think I’ll set up a list of local computer places and have them price this out for me.

We find that OpenOffice suffices quite nicely for our needs at home - it is reliable, well supported, supports all formats you’ll likely need, and is free.

From reading the thread, I doubt Capn Pitt will be overclocking, but you are certainly correct. The Intel chip in my post is also a good overclocker because it runs cooler. That said, reviews I’ve seen of the Intel cooler say it is a capable, and not overly loud cooler. I still swapped out for a quieter cooler with a bigger fan. My wife just got an 8800GT with a non-nVidia reference cooler - the reference coolers tend to be small and loud.

ETA: I agree with Mr. Moto with a caveat - if you will also use the computer for work and your employer uses the more advanced functionality of Microsoft Office, you will find that OpenOffice falls short.

I’ll second that, I gave OpenOffice to a friend of mine for her home machine and she likes it just as well as Office, which she uses at work every day.

My work uses Office 2007 for everything, so I want compatibility. I’ve fooled around with OpenOffice and it is pretty nice.

Thanks for the suggestions and if you have any more, I’m all ears.

OpenOffice is compatible with Microsoft Office 90% of the time. Because I need some functions that don’t exist in OpenOffice, I use MS Office and can trade files with my wife and daughter, both using OpenOffice, with ease. It’s only the work stuff that is a headache (something I found out the hard way after spending a day working on a presentation).