Well, I guess I’m really looking for advice/tweaks to a configuration I already have in mind. I’ve got a 6-year-old Alienware that is really starting to show it’s age, so it’s time for a new desktop. I am not what I would consider a power user; I don’t do video or sophisticated photo editing, and I’m generally a couple of years behind on gaming (I’ve got Half-Life 2 sitting on my shelf, and I haven’t even loaded it yet). I don’t anticipate my usage changing in the future. This will be a general purpose home computer. I’ll be doing the banking, surfing the web, writing the occasional letter, watching Hulu every now and again and things like that.
I went to Dell’s web site (we’ve had good luck with Dell, and my wife gets a discount through her company), and configured the following computer:
Studio XPS 9000
[li]Intel Core i7-920 processor[/li][li]12GB Tri-Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6DIMMS[/li][li]2 x 1TB SATA 7200 RPM HDDs in RAID 1 config.[/li][li]ATI Radeon HD5890 1GB video card[/li][li]Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium sound card[/li][li]16x DVD-ROM Drive[/li][li]16x DVD+/-RW w/ double layer capable[/li][li]Windows 7 Home Premium[/li][/ul]
Price after program discount is $2,264.00. I suspect that some of this is more than I strictly need, but I wouldn’t mind getting another 6 years out of a desktop, so I like to future-proof somewhat. If anyone’s got any suggestions for tweaking this in an economic manner, I’d love to hear them.
I also went to NewEgg and compiled a list of what I think are the parts necessary to build a comparable machine. You can look at the wish list here. Total price is almost identical to the Dell, so I figure I might as well let Dell build it and warrant it. If you have suggestions for cost-cutting measures which would make the home-built option more attractive, I’d love to hear them as well.
Thanks for any and all comments/suggestions/criticisms.
Nice machine. It’s roughly comparable to mine, which is the 27" Core i7 iMac; mine includes the screen, but yours has more memory (12 gigs rather than 8, plus 1 gig on the video card rather than 512 megs). Given that I got my machine as a ‘power user’, the machine may be slightly overpowered at the moment. It will serve you well for a long time. I guess you already have a display?
Or possibly the 5870, which is a new-ish dx11 card. I would hope for that kind of money, he’s getting dx11.
That’s a lot of machine for a non-power user. It’s a little like buying a Porsche just to drive to the Piggly Wiggly and pick up some milk. But what the heck. It’ll probably be six years before you outgrow it.
Alright, given that you want to future proof and you’re behind on the gaming curve I’d drop the 4890 and get an HD 5770. DX 11 and about $60 less. You don;t need 12 gigs of RAM. Drop it to 6. Why 2 optical drives? Drop one of them. Unless you absolutely need that sound card I’d drop it too. Sound is not a CPU intensive task. I have a headset that outputs 7.1 dolby surround sound and it’s all in a USB stick. So again, unless you need some sort of specialized sound feature on that discreet sound solution, I’d stick to the HD sound from your mobo.
Offloading sound to a separate card is always helpful, but I agree, it can be done much less expensively. I was just running with the theme…if he wants the good stuff, the good stuff is there to be had.
So, now y’all have me re-thinking this. On the one hand, I don’t want to be wasteful and get WAY more than I need, on the other hand, I hate getting a new machine and having to migrate data, reinstall software, etc. On the gripping hand, the gadget whore in me likes the idea of getting a shiny new box a little more frequently than this last go-around.
My problem is really that the number of choices I have has far outstripped my ability to keep current with PC technology. So, I’m willing to entertain suggestions for paring this thing down to something more reasonable.
Looking at some of the suggestions above, I can probably ditch the sound card, and one of the optical drives. I honestly can’t remember the last time I burned a disc of any kind, so I should be able to get by with a single combo drive. I assume that there is room to move downward with both the processor and the video card, but I kind of get lost in all the options I’ve got, so my default is “more, bigger, faster.”
Thanks for the input everyone. drachillix, I’ll PM you when I get ready to make a decision.
Based on research done for a build later this year:my own nonexpert
Intel Core i5-750-you do give up the HyperThreading.
Matching motherboard will be cheaper.
8GB of RAM is still more than most new systems come with and can be upgraded to 16.
Raedeon 5770 gives very good performance in almost all games.
This is probably less future proofing than your original configuration in particular the CPU/motherboard. Best CPU Best graphics cards System builder marathon Previous builder guides
I would ditch the raid configuration on the hard drives, and just get a single hard drive. With harddrives being relatively unreliable these days (due to data density, the 512 byte format, among other things), going raid just doubles the chance of failure.
Also, do NOT get the X-FI sound card unless you have an extremely good reason do so. I bought one these and since I upgraded to Windows 7, the astounding ineptitude of the Creative driver and software departement has made my card all but worthless.
Alternatively you really want to have a fast hard drive, one that’s maybe 4 times faster than the raid configuration, and you don’t mind paying a lot extra, do this instead:
Get a good quality SSD. SSDs are based on different technology with no moving parts, which means the reliability and the speed are a order of magnitude greater.
The difference between an application taking 4 seconds to load, and loading instantly.
If you have the money and want amazing speed at everyday use, and it seems as if you do, get the Crucial RealSSD 128 GB or the** Intel X-25M 160 GB**. Use this drive for Windows and your applications and a normal hard drive to store movies, pictures and other large files.
Absolutely agreed. For you, it seems the only real advantage of going the I7 920 route, is the extra room for RAM, but 8 GB should be enough.
The thing is, carlb you have to make a choice somewhere between future-proofing and value.
If you want the best bang-for-the-buck you get the aforementioned CPU, amount of RAM and graphics card.
Get a motherboard with SATA 6 GB/s and USB 3.0, that should provide a bit more future-proofing for just a small increase in the price.
Also, make sure you get a decent case and power supply. These things are often underrated, but good ones will make your computer quieter, cooler, more power efficient and more stable.
I would recommend the Antec P183 or the more economical (although not by much overall) **Antec Three Hundred **case and the Corsair CMPSU-750TX power supply.
This kind of build, with just a single hard drive, should run up to slightly less than $1000 dollars, give or take.
I would go ahead and get two hard drives, but skip the RAID thing. The advantage to two hard drives is that you can put Windows on one and put your games on the other. The upside to this, is, games bought from Steam and also certain other games, like World of Warcraft, don’t need to be reinstalled if you wipe your C:/ drive. It makes upgrading/or reinstalling significantly simpler.
Instead of RAID, I’d just use any of the dozens of sync software options to back up your documents folder on to the D:/ drive. You’ll still want an external back up solution of some sort. But a simple software back up will do 99% of what you need from a RAID with a lot less chance of mishaps.
Sound card - yeah, I have a Creative Audigy 4 from a few years back. Creative screwed the drivers for Vista such as to make the card unusable (hoping we’d all by X-fi’s). I vowed never to buy a Creative card again. Which is fine, because I’ve always liked the sound from Turtle Beach cards better anyway. I’m using a USB sound Card from Turtle Beach. It’s not as flashy but it was cheap and it does sound better than the onboard sound.