Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

ESA - I believe it was the type of memory used in the SSD, and the Pro has a slight boost in speed. The takeaway - you probably won't notice if you're coming from spinning HDDs.

I'm planning on building another pc and would like to get the opinion of the GWJ hive mind. My gaming rig is doing fine, so this will be a little different build than some of the more common builds around here. I need to replace a large, loud, inefficient computer with a new, small, relativly quite, more efficient, "family pc". Its primary use is going to be a plex server for roku, minecraft and internet. The current computer tasked with this is a old work machine I picked up for $40, a 3.2 ghz Pentium D with two nvidia 7800 gtx running sli.

So here's what I've been looking at:
PCPartPicker part list

CPU: AMD A6-5400K 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Biostar A55MD2 Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($55.97 @ Newegg)
Memory: Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($46.99 @ Microcenter)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.34 @ Amazon)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 361 (Black) ATX Mini Tower Case ($59.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: FSP Group 300W 80 PLUS Certified Micro ATX Power Supply ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $334.26

And I think I'll have a to tack another $100 on for Win 7 or 8.

Initially I'll reuse the old 19" 1400x900 monitor, but eventually I'll grab a 24" 1920x1080. I'm also planning on using a old dvd drive.

So one of things I'm debating is the timing with the AMD APUs. From what I've read, the Trinty APUs should be going on sale soon to make way for the Richland APUs coming out Q2 (I've read June). I've considered waiting for the A6-6400K Radeon HD 8470D/ Dual Core 65W but had hoped to pull the trigger on this sooner. I've read they are talking about a "visual performance increases ranging from more than 20 percent to up to 40 percent over the previous generation". Not sure how true that is or if that's worth waiting for on a general use build.

I'm also considering a intel build with a i3-3225 but haven't fully developed that build with yet, but I would appreciate some feedback on the AMD build or some suggestions for a low cost intel build.

I'm wondering, does anybody live near a Microcenter? The closest one to me is over an hour away, but they don't even have the i7 3770k in stock. It seems like almost all the other locations do though. But dang, that's a hot price, $230?? If I end up doing a build, I wonder if a generous goodjer who was stopping by one anyways wouldn't mind picking one up for me, and be reimbursed for purchase/shipping/gas. I'm sure that would still come in way under the $130 off what the price is.

A few pages back I mentioned I was building a new $800 rig. After the usual period of frantic research, that budget ballooned into $1100. I don't have the patience to do a PCPartPicker breakdown, so here it is manually:

Case: Cooler Master Storm Trooper full tower
PSU: Seasonic 620 watt Bronze M12II
MB: MSI Z77A-GD65 Z77 (which included 8GB of the below RAM for free)
RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz 10-10-10-27 timings
CPU: Intel Core i5 3570k 3.4GHz
CPU cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
GPU: PNY VCGGTX670XPB GeForce GTX 670 2GB ($350 minus a $50 mail-in rebate seemed a good deal)
HDD: 2TB Seagate Barracuda 64MB cache
DVD: Lite-On IHAS324

The most agonizing decision was between the build you see above, and one with a lesser GPU and a 128GB Samsung Pro solid state drive, on which I might have installed Windows and my most-used programs. I decided that since I'd rapidly fill up a 128GB SSD, and I really can't afford a 512GB drive, SSDs are just not quite yet for me. Maybe in a year or two.

All the parts are en route. Now begins the intolerable wait.

Thanks to you guys who helped me out a couple of pages back. You provided the launching point for what I hope will be a really fun machine for years to come. I'm going to overclock the hell out of that CPU for sure, and we'll see what the GPU will yield.

Citizen86 wrote:

I'm wondering, does anybody live near a Microcenter? The closest one to me is over an hour away, but they don't even have the i7 3770k in stock. It seems like almost all the other locations do though. But dang, that's a hot price, $230?? If I end up doing a build, I wonder if a generous goodjer who was stopping by one anyways wouldn't mind picking one up for me, and be reimbursed for purchase/shipping/gas. I'm sure that would still come in way under the $130 off what the price is.

I live about 25 minutes from the Cincinnati one. Ordered a 775 heatsink from Amazon but I'll still need some hard drive cables and might head up there this week. Happy to help if it's there.

Anyone care to comment on what volume level a PC should stay under to not be distracting when idle? I know this can range significantly depending on the environment, but let's assume the room is totally quiet.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Anyone care to comment on what volume level a PC should stay under to not be distracting when idle? I know this can range significantly depending on the environment, but let's assume the room is totally quiet.

Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but this might help

IMAGE(http://www.dspguide.com/graphics/T_22_1.gif)

original article: http://www.dspguide.com/ch22/1.htm

Cheers,
/ESA

It is getting close to the tie where I will be able to actually buy a new computer...a couple of months. How long beforehand should I start to plan things out?

mudbunny wrote:

It is getting close to the tie where I will be able to actually buy a new computer...a couple of months. How long beforehand should I start to plan things out?

Always depends.

What's your budget? What kind of games do you play? Are there must have applications/proprietary things you run e.g. AutoCad, Maya, etc.? Will you need periphs such as monitor, keyboard, mouse, incidentals (cables), OS?

And when I mean budget, I mean you ENTIRE budget.

EvilShawnAndrich wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

Anyone care to comment on what volume level a PC should stay under to not be distracting when idle? I know this can range significantly depending on the environment, but let's assume the room is totally quiet.

Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but this might help

IMAGE(http://www.dspguide.com/graphics/T_22_1.gif)

original article: http://www.dspguide.com/ch22/1.htm

Cheers,
/ESA

You're as useful as you aren't evil. Looks like 40dB is the sweet spot, and since my hearing kinda sucks I can probably go a bit higher.

EvilShawnAndrich wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

It is getting close to the tie where I will be able to actually buy a new computer...a couple of months. How long beforehand should I start to plan things out?

Always depends.

What's your budget? What kind of games do you play? Are there must have applications/proprietary things you run e.g. AutoCad, Maya, etc.? Will you need periphs such as monitor, keyboard, mouse, incidentals (cables), OS?

And when I mean budget, I mean you ENTIRE budget.

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That needs to include *everything*. I have a legit copy of 32 bit W7 I can use, but given that I want around 16GB RAM, I think that requires a 64 BIT OS.

I am interested in playing most modern games. Other stuff, well, I would like to dip my toes into Photoshop. I also do some sound editing in Audacity. I would like to start out with one monitor, and expand to 2 eventually.

I am less interested in being on the cutting edge of systems than I am in having a system that will allow me long-term useability as well as a nice upgrade path to stay somewhat modern.

The max monitor size I can handle right now is about 24 inches wide, which works out to max diagonal of about 26 inches. The resolution I am looking for is 1920x1200, but 1920X1080 is also acceptable if there is an decent deal.

Edit to add - I am not afraid of overclocking, but it is not necessary. Also, given that i have young kids, I would prefer to *not* have water-cooling that would be external.

Given that the last time I built a computer was about 10 years ago, I would also like to make sure that it has front-facing USB and sound ports. I would like an SSD for my OS, but it is not necessary.

Large amounts of storage would be ideal, as would be a CD/DVD burner of some sort. Reading blue rays would also be awesome, but writing is not required.

mudbunny wrote:

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That's a pretty big budget with today's prices.

A good place to start might be the $1300 build here.

muraii wrote:
Citizen86 wrote:

I'm wondering, does anybody live near a Microcenter? The closest one to me is over an hour away, but they don't even have the i7 3770k in stock. It seems like almost all the other locations do though. But dang, that's a hot price, $230?? If I end up doing a build, I wonder if a generous goodjer who was stopping by one anyways wouldn't mind picking one up for me, and be reimbursed for purchase/shipping/gas. I'm sure that would still come in way under the $130 off what the price is.

I live about 25 minutes from the Cincinnati one. Ordered a 775 heatsink from Amazon but I'll still need some hard drive cables and might head up there this week. Happy to help if it's there.

I'm 35 minutes from the one in Cambridge, but already burned my "1 per household" cheapy when I bought my own i7 3770k two weeks ago

How in the world I double posted around another person's post, I have no idea. But I'm talented.

MannishBoy wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That's a pretty big budget with today's prices.

A good place to start might be the $1300 build here.

Also, I have to pay in Canuckistanian dollars, so increase that cost by a bunch.

mudbunny wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That's a pretty big budget with today's prices.

A good place to start might be the $1300 build here.

Also, I have to pay in Canuckistanian dollars, so increase that cost by a bunch.

You can use a 64-bit copy of Windows with your 32-bit key, fyi

Chairman_Mao wrote:
mudbunny wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That's a pretty big budget with today's prices.

A good place to start might be the $1300 build here.

Also, I have to pay in Canuckistanian dollars, so increase that cost by a bunch.

You can use a 64-bit copy of Windows with your 32-bit key, fyi

Even if it is a 10-license site key?

mudbunny wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:
mudbunny wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That's a pretty big budget with today's prices.

A good place to start might be the $1300 build here.

Also, I have to pay in Canuckistanian dollars, so increase that cost by a bunch.

You can use a 64-bit copy of Windows with your 32-bit key, fyi

Even if it is a 10-license site key?

That I don't know, but I feel pretty certain it would work as long as you don't have more than a total of 10 32-bit and 64-bit licenses active at once.

Chairman_Mao wrote:
mudbunny wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:
mudbunny wrote:
MannishBoy wrote:
mudbunny wrote:

Budget is between $1500 and $2000.

That's a pretty big budget with today's prices.

A good place to start might be the $1300 build here.

Also, I have to pay in Canuckistanian dollars, so increase that cost by a bunch.

You can use a 64-bit copy of Windows with your 32-bit key, fyi

Even if it is a 10-license site key?

That I don't know, but I feel pretty certain it would work as long as you don't have more than a total of 10 32-bit and 64-bit licenses active at once.

Awesome. So Paying for an OS is not a problem.

muraii wrote:
Citizen86 wrote:

I'm wondering, does anybody live near a Microcenter? The closest one to me is over an hour away, but they don't even have the i7 3770k in stock. It seems like almost all the other locations do though. But dang, that's a hot price, $230?? If I end up doing a build, I wonder if a generous goodjer who was stopping by one anyways wouldn't mind picking one up for me, and be reimbursed for purchase/shipping/gas. I'm sure that would still come in way under the $130 off what the price is.

I live about 25 minutes from the Cincinnati one. Ordered a 775 heatsink from Amazon but I'll still need some hard drive cables and might head up there this week. Happy to help if it's there.

Awesome, thanks muraii. I'm not sure if I can do it this week, I might try and pick up a monitor first. I wanted to see who might be able to do it, I should have known everyone would want to do it really soon

McIrishJihad wrote:

I'm 35 minutes from the one in Cambridge, but already burned my "1 per household" cheapy when I bought my own i7 3770k two weeks ago :D

Use a different credit card? haha

I haven't checked CPU prices in, well, years. But I know that Microcenter has always been good for these types of deals. Do they have them quite often? $130 off $360 is nothing to scoff at.

Citizen86 wrote:
muraii wrote:
Citizen86 wrote:

I'm wondering, does anybody live near a Microcenter? The closest one to me is over an hour away, but they don't even have the i7 3770k in stock. It seems like almost all the other locations do though. But dang, that's a hot price, $230?? If I end up doing a build, I wonder if a generous goodjer who was stopping by one anyways wouldn't mind picking one up for me, and be reimbursed for purchase/shipping/gas. I'm sure that would still come in way under the $130 off what the price is.

I live about 25 minutes from the Cincinnati one. Ordered a 775 heatsink from Amazon but I'll still need some hard drive cables and might head up there this week. Happy to help if it's there.

Awesome, thanks muraii. I'm not sure if I can do it this week, I might try and pick up a monitor first. I wanted to see who might be able to do it, I should have known everyone would want to do it really soon :P

No biggy. I go up that corridor (not a euphamism) fairly regularly.

On another note...

If I'm installing to a SATA drive and have only XP, to my knowledge, I've got to slipstream SATA and perhaps other drivers. That's what I had to do for my dual-boot laptop. Before I go through that headache, and assuming I'm not upgrading to W7/8 anytime soon, is this accurate, or is there a better option?

muraii, I've never had to do that, but I've used the XP download from Technet, and it has SP3 bundled with it. I haven't had my original XP disc for years now. I don't know, maybe if you have the original it's an issue, but I don't remember having to slipstream SATA drivers... maybe for RAID?

I'd say see if you can find a CD with SP3, that brings XP (loosely) relatively up to date. Let me know if you can't find one, I can help you out. I assume that's nothing illegal since you have a legit CD key.

Citizen86 wrote:

muraii, I've never had to do that, but I've used the XP download from Technet, and it has SP3 bundled with it. I haven't had my original XP disc for years now. I don't know, maybe if you have the original it's an issue, but I don't remember having to slipstream SATA drivers... maybe for RAID?

I'd say see if you can find a CD with SP3, that brings XP (loosely) relatively up to date. Let me know if you can't find one, I can help you out. I assume that's nothing illegal since you have a legit CD key.

Yeah, not sure. I have XP Pro x64 but it appears not to have any SPs on-disc. Is it possible to just download XP Pro SP3 and use my key?

muraii wrote:
Citizen86 wrote:

muraii, I've never had to do that, but I've used the XP download from Technet, and it has SP3 bundled with it. I haven't had my original XP disc for years now. I don't know, maybe if you have the original it's an issue, but I don't remember having to slipstream SATA drivers... maybe for RAID?

I'd say see if you can find a CD with SP3, that brings XP (loosely) relatively up to date. Let me know if you can't find one, I can help you out. I assume that's nothing illegal since you have a legit CD key.

Yeah, not sure. I have XP Pro x64 but it appears not to have any SPs on-disc. Is it possible to just download XP Pro SP3 and use my key?

That should be fine. Legally, all that matters is that you have a valid key for XP.

muraii wrote:

I have XP Pro x64

UGH. Good luck spending hours trying to find drivers for anything in your system. (At least it was that way in 2006 and I doubt support is much better for it now.) I don't think you'll need to go out of your way to slipstream SATA drivers, though.

(You really should be upgrading to 7, though. It's the new XP in that people will be clinging to it for the rest of the decade.)

psoplayer wrote:
muraii wrote:

I have XP Pro x64

UGH. Good luck spending hours trying to find drivers for anything in your system. (At least it was that way in 2006 and I doubt support is much better for it now.) I don't think you'll need to go out of your way to slipstream SATA drivers, though.

(You really should be upgrading to 7, though. It's the new XP in that people will be clinging to it for the rest of the decade.)

Hmm. Maybe I have a regular XP disc around. And I'll upgrade to W7 as soon as I can fit it into my budget.

muraii wrote:
Citizen86 wrote:

muraii, I've never had to do that, but I've used the XP download from Technet, and it has SP3 bundled with it. I haven't had my original XP disc for years now. I don't know, maybe if you have the original it's an issue, but I don't remember having to slipstream SATA drivers... maybe for RAID?

I'd say see if you can find a CD with SP3, that brings XP (loosely) relatively up to date. Let me know if you can't find one, I can help you out. I assume that's nothing illegal since you have a legit CD key.

Yeah, not sure. I have XP Pro x64 but it appears not to have any SPs on-disc. Is it possible to just download XP Pro SP3 and use my key?

Hmm, according to Technet, the only version they have is a Volume Licensing CD with SP2 for x64 Pro. I guess they didn't update the Pro x64 versions like they did the x86 home versions. I agree with psoplayer, support and drivers will most likely be pretty spotty.

If you have a Volume License, let me know if you want to try the SP2 version.

muraii wrote:
psoplayer wrote:
muraii wrote:

I have XP Pro x64

UGH.

Hmm. Maybe I have a regular XP disc around. And I'll upgrade to W7 as soon as I can fit it into my budget.

I would start out with x64, just in case you happen to have an easier time than I remember. You do want to be making use of all that juicy RAM, after all. If find that you can't get important stuff working then go ahead and reformat with the old faithful.

Isn't there a $29 W8 tryout thing or something that allows for a slightly less-expensive way to end up with W7? Cheaping skaterz!

muraii wrote:

Isn't there a $29 W8 tryout thing or something that allows for a slightly less-expensive way to end up with W7? Cheaping skaterz!

Expired already.