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Thread: Xmas family build...

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    Xmas family build...

    Yes, yes, I know Christmas is still a long way off, but I can't be certain when my free time will fall between now and then due to work, and I want to allow time for components being DOA, having to return them/ get replacements etc etc, so I'm looking to start buying components in the next few weeks.

    I'm looking for some opinions on a new build for my family. I've had a good hunt around for information, but I'm much more at home playing with software than hardware, and my current PC is my one and only build so far, so I'm not much more than a novice at this.

    My plan is to use my old PSU and Graphics card which are spare now that I have upgraded, which are this:http://www.ebuyer.com/product/124922 and this:http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152940

    Although the PSU is less than ideal, it hasn't missed a beat in the two years that it has been powering my system, even with a mild CPU overclock and 2 hard drives. I certainly wouldn't trust it to power a graphics card more powerful than the above, as it only has 18A on the 12V rail.

    The budget for the rest of the machine is £400-£500. I already have a copy of W7 on pre-order for this build, so I won't need an OS, and my family already have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

    The system will be used for everything from the basics of web browsing, iplayer etc, to playing a few casual games (mostly Spore and FSX), and will also be used for some photoshop work by my sister, and will be used a lot for audio encoding in itunes for the ipods of various members of the family.

    Whilst this in itself isn't so demanding, the main requirement of the build will be longevity. My family's current computer is now 5 years old and runs on a Celeron D 336, and unsurprisingly can't handle what they now require of it (they installed office 2008 and had to uninstall it again because it was just too slow to use). They were really quite annoyed at this as they seemed to expect it to last as long as their tv (10 years and still going strong), so I really am looking to build something with plenty of headroom for the future, as it may be a very long time before they want another new PC.

    Also, the quiter the better, and if I can make it a mATX build then that would be a bonus, but is by no means a requirement.

  2. #2
    S1L3NT danroyle's Avatar
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    core i5 750 £140
    motherboard £100
    memory £60 4gb ddr3
    £300 for your 3 core components
    case your choice
    hard drives £50-75 up to about 1tb for that

    your psu should run that

    cant really think what else you will need but that will keep them going a while


  3. #3
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    I am surprised that the Celeron D cannot handle Office 2007 as the 1.7ghz Pentium M in my notebook was perfectly fine. I suggest a RAM upgrade and perhaps a re-install of the OS will do the trick IMHO and it will save you money too!! You shoule be able to get a 3ghz P4 off Ebay and this will be a big improvement over a Celeron due to the larger L2 cache and hyper-threading.

    Also we have old desktops at work which have 2ghz+ Pentium 4 processors and they work fine for work processing,image editing and web browsing. These desktops are at least 5 years old.

    This is what I would get for a new build:

    AMD Phenom X3 705E ~ £91

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/167111

    This is a 65w TDP CPU meaning lower power consumption.

    If you want more performance then you get the 95w X3 720 for a similar price off Scan or a 65w Phenom II X4 905e for around £130 to £135.

    Asus M4A785D-M ~ £60

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/170281

    This is an all solid capacitor motherboard which means a longer lifespan.

    4gb DDR3 ~ £72

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/169240

    Antec Mini P180 case ~ £66

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/140996

    Samsung F3 500GB hard drive ~ £36

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/146252

    OCZ 400w ~ £35

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/152505

    It is an 80+ certified PSU and is well regarded.

    The total comes to around £360 excluding an optical drive. With an HD4670 this should be a fast and relatively low power consumption system.

    Put the rest of the money into a nice screen like the E-IPS Dell 2209WA:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/158551

    Once calibrated this will be ideal for image editing and will far better for this purpose than the TN type panels typically available at this price.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 05-10-2009 at 11:25 AM.


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  4. #4
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Thanks for the replies.

    I have to say I was torn between an AMD or Intel build for them. I can't imagine either sockets still being used by the time they next want a new computer, so I doubt CPU upgradability will come into play.

    On office, I had to reinstall the OS just to get Office '07 to install in the first place (.NET framework went MIA and wouldn't reinstall!) and the RAM is maxed out @1GB of DDR, so not sure what else I could do to get it working, and it was riddiculously slow.

    The monitor is an Acer AL1952, which is a PVA panel which they got 2nd hand (it was cheap, as otherwise they wouldn't have got it, because they said at 19" it was too big :s) so I won't be getting them a new monitor.

    I see you included a PSU in the list. I appreciate that the one I have is fairly rubbish, but its been reliable so far, and I have no reason to suspect it won't continue to be so. I know that investing in a quality PSU will save money in the long run, as it can be reused without issue, but I hate waste, and so would like to use this PSU if I can rather than throwing it away. The money isn't the issue, I just hate to throw away something that works fine. So I suppose my question is in your opinion is it absolutley neccessary to get a new PSU for this build?


    And thanks for the heads up with the solid capacity Motherboard, that wasn't even on my radar as something to look for!

  5. #5
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    • CAT-THE-FIFTH's system
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Quote Originally Posted by Random_guy View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    On office, I had to reinstall the OS just to get Office '07 to install in the first place (.NET framework went MIA and wouldn't reinstall!) and the RAM is maxed out @1GB of DDR, so not sure what else I could do to get it working, and it was riddiculously slow.
    TBH,I would try installing a socket 775 P4 instead of the Celeron which lacks L2 cache as this is the reason they were so slow!! Also the socket 775 P4 processors had HT too. You should be able to get a P4 3ghz for under 25 quid:

    http://shop.ebay.co.uk/i.html?_nkw=p...1&_from=&_ipg=

    I did a similar upgrade for a mate and the speed increase was noticeable IMHO. Also if the PSU is starting to go kaput it can cause the PC to slow down as this happened with a PC one of my friends owned and on replacement of the PSU the symptoms disappeared.

    Quote Originally Posted by Random_guy View Post
    I see you included a PSU in the list. I appreciate that the one I have is fairly rubbish, but its been reliable so far, and I have no reason to suspect it won't continue to be so. I know that investing in a quality PSU will save money in the long run, as it can be reused without issue, but I hate waste, and so would like to use this PSU if I can rather than throwing it away. The money isn't the issue, I just hate to throw away something that works fine. So I suppose my question is in your opinion is it absolutley neccessary to get a new PSU for this build?
    The OCZ has high efficiency meaning lower power consumption for the computer. Also TBH if your family expects a long life for the computer I would make sure that all critical components are brand new with a warranty so they cannot have a moan at you if the PSU does break. Also with cheaper PSUs it is debatable whether there is enough protection for the other components if it does go kaput.

    Here is a review for the PSU:

    http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/794


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  6. #6
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Quote Originally Posted by Random_guy View Post
    mostly Spore and FSX
    If performance in FSX would influence your buying decision, i'd go for the i5 750 - the sim runs better on intel CPUs.

    An overclocked i5/i7 is the best processor solution for FSX - it is very CPU intensive.

    www.simforums.com has all the info you need for FSX if you take a peek in the Hardware and Ground Environment X sections!

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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Thanks for that link on FSX, most helpful! Its my dad that would be playing FSX (he loves all that stuff) and from what I've read quad-core is a must for that.

    I originally had HTPC-shaped plans for the old Celeron PC, but having looked at the info you've posted CAT i did some more research, and it seems that I could actually get it back (if it ever was in the first place) to being a servicable PC.

    I've done some digging (popped to my parents house and ran CPU-Z on the PC in question at lunch as it's not too far from work) and although the PC manual says that the motherboard has a max FSB of 533Mhz and max 1GB ram, others are using the same board with 800Mhz FSB CPUs and 2GB ram.... (Its a Foxconn 661 7MI IIRC, in case anyone is interested). If that's the case, then for sub £80 I can get it running pretty well, and if I can find a half-decent second hand AGP card then all the better! And it can give a good home to my old PSU, and I'll get a decent one for the Xmas build.

    *phew*

    So for the Xmas build then, I'll be looking at a powerful CPU to handle FSX, so perhaps something like CAT's build above but with a 945/ 955? Or would I be better off going i5? (I was wondering if there might be a noticable difference in the itunes encoding performance with turbo boost, as its currently single threaded?)

    Thanks again for all the help so far.

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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Quote Originally Posted by Random_guy View Post
    I'll be looking at a powerful CPU to handle FSX, so perhaps something like CAT's build above but with a 945/ 955? Or would I be better off going i5?
    For FSX you'd definitely be better off with the i5, so long as you could overclock it. The i5 750 will outperform the Phenom in FSX clock for clock.

    As for other apps like itunes, I really can't help you there!

  9. #9
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Ok, so having spoken to my Dad, he's not so fussed about FSX, he has some other less demanding flight sims that he'd like to play (he likes simple controls, and I think he finds FSX quite daunting!) so I'll probably go AMD.

    However, I was having another look at CAT's suggested build above, and realised a slight problem... although its an AM3 board, it takes DDR2 RAM.... bizzarre. So do I a) go with a different motherboard (preferably at a similar price with solid capacitors) and DDR3, or stick with this one and go with DDR2? As the RAM is the easiest upgrade in the future, I'm inclined to go with DDR3, does that sound right? If so, anyone know of a suitable replacement motherboard?

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    Re: Xmas family build...

    that ram is now £96 !!!
    Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

  11. #11
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Xmas family build...

    Quote Originally Posted by Random_guy View Post
    Ok, so having spoken to my Dad, he's not so fussed about FSX, he has some other less demanding flight sims that he'd like to play (he likes simple controls, and I think he finds FSX quite daunting!) so I'll probably go AMD.

    However, I was having another look at CAT's suggested build above, and realised a slight problem... although its an AM3 board, it takes DDR2 RAM.... bizzarre. So do I a) go with a different motherboard (preferably at a similar price with solid capacitors) and DDR3, or stick with this one and go with DDR2? As the RAM is the easiest upgrade in the future, I'm inclined to go with DDR3, does that sound right? If so, anyone know of a suitable replacement motherboard?
    Oops! Sorry about that!!

    Just get some PC2-8500 DDR2 RAM. DDR3 does have a slight performance advantage and a slight decrease in power consumption but TBH, DDR2 will still do the job well.


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