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Thread: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

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    ALT0153™ Rob_B's Avatar
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    Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    A bloke at work is looking for a PC build, he's decided he doesn't want an off-the-shelf PCWorld job (yay!) so has asked for advice.

    It sounds like he wants to spend around £500, probably upto £600.
    Usage is mostly media, blu ray is a must, some gaming as well.

    I'm not sure whether to recommend Sandy Bridge or not, they're obviously the best performers but for cost/usage I'm not sure whether to go with AMD?

    SLI/OC ability isn't important.
    No monitor/keyboard/mouse needed.
    He'd like an SSD of some sort (probably be in conjunction with a large HDD for media purposes)

    So basically I'm looking for ideas on a whole build including case/PSU/OS etc

    Everyone loves these threads so fire away please guys!

    Rob

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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    OK, here's my attempt
    Coolermaster Elite 430 with 500W PSU £58.
    Asus M4A88T-M AMD 880G AM3 Motherboard £65.
    AMD CPU Phenom II X4 840 Quad Core Processor £79 (it's really an Athlon, not Phenom, but is good value).
    Corsair 2 x 2GB DDR3 1333 Mhz £35.
    Kingston 64GB SSDNow V100 2.5" SATAII Read=250MB/sec, Write=145MB/sec - Desktop Bundle £82.
    Samsung 2TB Spinpoint F4 Hard Drive £62.
    LG Blu-Ray Writer £70.
    XFX HD 5750 Graphics Card £84.

    Total = £535.

    You then add £75 for OEM Windows 7.

    For me, this is a pretty-well balanced system focussing on media (i'm assuming video conversion, hence quad-core was essential). A 5750 will still game, and do quite well, however i'm waiting for some heat my way from people reminding me of Crysis 2 coming out...
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
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    ALT0153™ Rob_B's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    that looks good thanks

    I was thinking Phenom (NB noted on the 840 though, doubt he'd even know!) Told him to decide on whether he wants or NEEDS an SSD/decent GFX already so could possibly cut some cost there.

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    ALT0153™ Rob_B's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Any suggestions for mATX? I've seen this on Scan http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-...-raid-matx-vga

    Not sure on a decent SFF case though?

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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    I have that particular Kingston SSD in my laptop now (see my sig), and it has transformed the laptop.
    I'm strongly thinking of buying it for my desktop too.

    I note that the CPU & BluRay are currently on 'Today Only' for about a quid off each.

    In terms of graphics, you could cut out the additional graphics card completely, as the onboard 880G graphics will do light gaming (see here), but i'd probably caution against spending any less to get anything less than a 5750, or it's a false economy.
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    I'd found that bit tech article, he's thinking of SFF so athough the case/PSU is twice the price it saves on GFX power.

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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_B View Post
    Any suggestions for mATX? I've seen this on Scan http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-...-raid-matx-vga

    Not sure on a decent SFF case though?
    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/antec...bays-120mm-fan
    It's a great case.
    Be very wary of buying anything too cheap, especially a cheap PSU which could be ok, but also is likely to fry your components, and then your friend will give you personally a lot of hassle (i've been there, done that, and ended up doing alot of extra work that could have been avoided).
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Yeah thats whay I've said already, he pointed towards one of the cheapo £40 incl 300W PSU cases, I did the obligatory "it would probably be ok but I wouldn't use it" !

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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Yep, unfortunately people who aren't too tech-literate only see the bottom line, and are happy for the cheapest possible. My advice - give him the information to self-build, including the better and the cheaper PSU's & cases, and let him make his own decisions. But if he chooses the cheaper one, don't build it for him!
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Can you persuade him to buy stuff second hand as that will improve the kit he could buy for his money.

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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    nah, too risky for him i reckon. better getting warranty etc to be safe (hey maybe even Scansure! )

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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    The Coolermaster Elite Power 500W uses a passive PFC so I would get a better PSU such as the following:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/400w-...mm-fan-atx-12v

    I got one a few weeks ago on Scan Today Only for around £34. Here are my thoughts on the PSU:

    http://forums.hexus.net/hexus-hardwa...-thoughts.html

    It is very similar to the CX400W.

    If you go with a full ATX motherboard you can get one with SATA3.0 for around £59:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/255180


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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    I got the i3-540 over the AMD - Anandtech did a very helpful comparison of the budget processors a few months back. Basically for most stuff the i3 was on parity with, or better than, the AMD chips and it overclocks well.

    i3-540
    Asus P7H55-M/USB3.0 (mATX and has Sata 3 (6GB/s) and USB3.0 plus a cracking BIOS, no RAID though)
    LG BluRay R/W
    GTX560 Ti or failing that a GTX460
    60GB OCZ Vertex (one of the older sandforce ones if you can get it)
    1TB Seagate 7200.12 - they are QUIET and do well against the pack - see PCPro reviews.
    4GB corsair 1600 9-9-9-24

    Case, take your pick. I went for the BitFenix Survivor and it is sweeeeeeeet

    I use all the above and am quite happy with my budget standby until the new sockets come out this autumn. Compared to my old P4 rig it goes like the clappers.

    All of these items repeatedly come up in Scan's Today Only offers, and in fact yesterday for just £273.84 you could get all of the above minus the graphics card and bluray, but including a DVD RW drive, card reader, PSU etc. (Dif case though) - oh and no SSD needless to say
    Last edited by ik9000; 16-02-2011 at 02:56 AM.

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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    For me there are three main reasons to build your own system (in order of benefit) ...

    1) If you want specific components (i.e. you're fussy about the case and the Mobo and the PSU and the colour of the fans, etc ....
    2) You want to really understand your PC, be happy about upgrading it in the future (including OCing), like doing lots of research (specs and cost) and see strange hardware failures as an interesting challenge and learning opportunity (not an "Oh no, it's broken" moment).
    3) Save yourself a little bit of money. Actually what am I talking about. Building your own always costs you more because you end up lusting after better components

    Sure, help your friend, but I wouldn't build it for him. If you do you'll also become his support contact

    So my advice, if he wants to build his own system but is a little bit scared (we all were the first time), then go for one of the bare bones systems on Scan Today Only and top it up with other Today only bits. Scan sales people are very helpful with what he'll need (in my experience).

    If that doesn't appeal then consider Scan's 3XS Smart systems.
    http://3xs.scan.co.uk/Category.asp?S...rCategoryID=18
    Here's one for just over £500 http://3xs.scan.co.uk/ShowSystem.asp?SystemID=1011
    But as the page says "Blah blah ... Scans Fixed specfication range blah blah, If you would like to configure your own 3XS i3 OC please visit the 3XS Custom Shop"

    The trouble is that gets you into the "costing more than you intended" territory I mentioned in (3) above

    Rob_B - I just realised that you've been on this site for like 100 years and have posted a zillion times and probably know everything I wrote. So I was about to delete the post when I thought naa, what the heck. This might not be news to you but it might be useful to one of the lurkers that read (but never post) on these forums.

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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    I got the i3-540 over the AMD - Anandtech did a very helpful comparison of the budget processors a few months back. Basically for most stuff the i3 was on parity with, or better than, the AMD chips and it overclocks well.

    i3-540
    Asus P7H55-M/USB3.0 (mATX and has Sata 3 (6GB/s) and USB3.0 plus a cracking BIOS, no RAID though)
    LG BluRay R/W
    GTX560 Ti or failing that a GTX460
    60GB OCZ Vertex (one of the older sandforce ones if you can get it)
    1TB Seagate 7200.12 - they are QUIET and do well against the pack - see PCPro reviews.
    4GB corsair 1600 9-9-9-24

    Case, take your pick. I went for the BitFenix Survivor and it is sweeeeeeeet
    Before i do anything else, I want to be clear that i'm not having a go at you buddy, and that all opinions are welcome here! Taking the time to suggest something to help someone out is a great thing, plus alternatives to my ideas are good to stimulate debate...
    And now i'm going to say why I think your suggestions are not so good

    In terms of the actual specs, the i3-540 (whilst a viable option) isnt as good as the Phenom X4 840.
    Consider that the 840 is really like an Athlon II X4, but at 3.2 Ghz.
    Looking at your reference of Anandtech, and considering what the OP has requested ("mostly media, blu ray is a must, some gaming")
    Scroll down halfway to Sony Vegas Pro 8: BluRay Disc Creation. Admittedly, they are close though. Also the Sorenson.
    The media transcoding stuff, the i3 does well, but the Athlon equally or better.
    Gaming is more of a mixed bag, and i'd probably give it to the Intel chip, on average, in those games.

    Moving on to cost though... (im using scan, please do say if you have seen cheaper elsewhere as i dont want to misrepresent you)

    i3-540 £88.25
    Asus P7H55-M/USB3.0 £73.86
    LG BluRay R/W £70.76
    GTX560 Ti £190
    60GB OCZ Vertex £89.64
    1TB Seagate 7200.12 Today only £35.99
    4GB corsair 1600 9-9-9-24 £39.74
    BitFenix Survivor £83.98 (USB 3.0 version).

    Given the graphics, we're also going to need a good quality PSU.
    As a minimum, a quality 500W. £59.98.
    Also the OS for £75.

    The total comes to £807.20.
    A little out of budget, and not exactly meeting his requested needs.
    Not that it's a bad system (its not, it's pretty good actually), but it looks like something that you would want, not the O.P.
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
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  16. #16
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: Yet another 'spec me a build for a friend' thread...!

    Here is a comparison of a 3.1GHZ Athlon II X4 and a 3.06GHZ Core i3:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/188?vs=143

    For video encoding the Athlon II X4 is around 10% to 30% faster although the Core i3 has the edge for gaming.


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