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Basic Office/Web Build

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Like the title says, I'm going to be putting together a really basic build later this month and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts on what I have so far. The issue is that I don't really know how much CPU/graphics power is too much and how much is not enough.

Max budget it $800 for the rig, a monitor (~23"), and Windows 7 64-bit Home, although the lower the better. Will be used for Word/Excel, Firefox, some picture storage, and probably an occasion 1080p video. Period of use if likely to be 4+ years with no (or very few) upgrades. No overclocking. Need to keep it simple.

Their current rig is a Pentium 4 2.8GHz Single-core with 512 MB RAM, a Radeon HD 3xxx series, and a 120GB HDD (just off a fresh install of XP with only 30GB used).

Here's a few things I've come up with so far (with some flexibility for inevitable price changes between now and purchase date):

Primary Build
Intel Pentium G840 (2.8GHz Dual-core)
Integrated Intel HD 2000 graphics
ASRock H61M/U3S3
8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1333
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB 7200RPM SATA3
Crucial M4 64GB SSD
Corsair Builder CV430 v2
NZXT Source 210
Asus VH236H 23"
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM
Current Newegg Total: $766.93 shipped, $736.93 after rebates

I think this is the option to beat. They don't currently - and don't plan to - use anything that takes advantage of multiple threads (with the exception of messing with Photoshop Elements 9 from time to time), so a solid CPU for single- or lightly-threaded applications seems best to me. And what's better for that than a 2.8GHz Dual-Core Sandy Bridge for $85? The HDD is (much) bigger than what they need, but it's about the cheapest I could find at the moment. The bonus SSD will give them a big boost to basic everyday office/web computing (But it shouldn't be used for storage, right? Something to do with a physical limit to write cycles on SSDs, I think).

Changing the Pentium G840 to a G620 saves about $10-12 and you drop to 2.6GHz. Going further into the bargain basement yields the Celeron G530, which would knock about $23 off. It's clocked at 2.4Ghz and has a 2MB L3 cache instead of the 3MB found in the Pentium G's and the i3's. Anyone have any opinions on these tradeoffs? An i3-2100 (or an i3 with HD 3000 graphics) would be an option as well, but it significantly increases the total and I'm fairly sure the modest speed boost isn't cost-efficient for their needs.

As far as I can figure, the Sandy Bridge Pentiums/Celerons should outperform similarly-priced Athlon II/Phenom II/Llano models for the types of things this build will be used for - lightly threaded office and web applications. If you need more cores or will be overclocking then the AMD chips will tend to win out in this price range, but neither of those is any benefit to this build. Additionally, the Sandys are much more power efficient at load.

AMD Build 1
Same as above with
AMD A6-3650 2.6GHz Quad-Core
Integrated Radeon HD 6530
Gigabyte GA-A75M-D2H
Total: $823.93 shipped, $783.93 after rebates

This has better graphics than the Sandy above at the cost of $47 and a much slower and more power-hungry CPU. Surely a cheap dedicated GPU can be added to the Sandy build to made up the graphics difference while retaining the speed and power advantages of Sandy.

AMD Build 2
Same as above with
AMD Athlon II x3 455 3.1GHz Triple-core
Onboard Radeon HD 4250 graphics
Biostar TA880GU3+
Total: $758.93 shipped, $713.93 after rebates

I must admit that I'm surprised by the price difference. Perhaps I spoke too soon about the dual-core Sandys...though, the HD 2000 graphics should be better than the HD 4250, right?

If anyone wants to chip in on motherboard selection for any of these builds, feel free - I'm not too well versed in quality low-end boards.
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post #2 of 8
I wouldn't call the quad core a "much slower" CPU. In fact, its faster (Talking about AMD build #1 here). I would say go with that one.In your case however, you don't need 8GBs of RAM, 4GB would be fine. Is the SSD really necessary?
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tr4656;15494712 
I wouldn't call the quad core a "much slower" CPU. In fact, its faster (Talking about AMD build #1 here). I would say go with that one.

According to AnandTech the G840 beats the A6 in a fair amount of things - mostly the lightly-threaded stuff, and even all of the listed games - and it's more power efficient. The A6 wins out with anything CPU-intensive, of course, but Microsoft Word and Firefox aren't exactly thread hogs. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding some basic facts of CPU architecture here, but Sandy's higher clock-for-clock performance (and higher clocks in this case - 2.8GHz vs. 2.6GHz) will make it faster at anything that doesn't fully utilize the A6's additional cores. Perhaps not a lot faster, I don't know, but that leaves you paying an extra $50 for increased graphics capability that I don't see this build needing. And if it did need it, adding a cheap GPU into the Sandy build would retain the G840's single- and lightly-threaded performance qualities and it's power efficiency.

Now, I'm not saying that the A-series doesn't have a purpose. It does: low-end gaming, which this build will not be doing. Eventually, I hope AMD will release more A-series chips that allow them to slide into the midrange gaming market at a great price.

Although I may be wrong, and please correct me if I am, a fast dual-core seems better than a slower quad-core for a basic home PC with a life expectancy of ~4 years. I can't imagine any programs that they will be using (Word, Firefox...that's mostly it) needing four or more cores in four years. They simply don't need very much power, so the cheaper and more energy efficient chips wins out as far as I can tell.

The Althon II x3 throws this all for a loop by being slower than the G840 for light applications (and faster for multi-threaded ones), but cheaper. For the $20 difference now, I'd rather the Sandy because it's power efficiency will end up paying for any price gap. If that gap were bigger, though...I don't know. The Athlon might be worth it, but it'd be a tough call.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tr4656;15494712 
In your case however, you don't need 8GBs of RAM, 4GB would be fine

It's only an extra $5 or so. Like I said, they aren't likely to ever upgrade the thing so front-loading it with a bucket of currently-cheap RAM seems like a good idea. It's hard to recommend "only" 4GB for any build with the prices so cheap right now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tr4656;15494712 
Is the SSD really necessary?
No, but it fits in the budget and HDD speeds are the bottleneck through which most everyday PC use has to pass. Although I don't have one myself (can't wait for Christmas or my tax rebate!), people constantly tell me that they're the most noticeable performance upgrade for just about anything you can do with a computer (except gaming framerates). Anything that loads a program or file from the SSD instead of the HDD is going to be monumentally faster - and that's a lot of stuff if you put your OS and all of your programs on it. The M4 is a really good drive, but even a cheap one is light-years quicker than a physical disk.
Edited by ayyini - 10/28/11 at 11:06pm
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Core i5-2500k ASUS P8P67 B3 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit HP 2310m 
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post #4 of 8
Barebones i3 kit
CoolerMaster 500W PSU
Win7 Home Premium
24" AOC Monitor
Crucial M4 64gb SSD

I wanted an i3 build at least haha.

Edit: Total price in cart $744.95
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Be Rock Steady
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by B-rock;15497084 
Barebones i3 kit
CoolerMaster 500W PSU
Win7 Home Premium
24" AOC Monitor
Crucial M4 64gb SSD

I wanted an i3 build at least haha.

Edit: Total price in cart $744.95

You forgot shipping cost:
Shipped: $762.66
After Rebates: $712.66

So, it's $24.27 cheaper than the G840 build. Fitting an i3 into this rig would be fantastic, but your build makes a lot of tradeoffs that I'm hesitant to.

+ Faster CPU in a box running primarily Microsoft Word and Firefox
= Larger, lower-quality monitor (24" vs. 23")
- No USB 3.0 or SATA 6.0Gb/s (slows the SSD and limits future expansion)
- Less RAM (4GB vs. 8GB)
- Larger, slower storage drive (1TB 5900rpm vs. 500GB 7200rpm)
- Low quality PSU
- Case looks OK, but it includes another low-quality PSU

Looking at it from the other direction, going with the G840 build gets you more RAM, more expandability, more HDD/SSD speed, more reliable and efficient PSU, and a higher-quality monitor. It costs you $24.27 and some CPU performance that will not be missed in Microsoft Word/Firefox.

Unless I'm missing something.
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Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
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My System
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-2500k ASUS P8P67 B3 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit HP 2310m 
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NZXT Hale 90 650W NZXT Phantom White 
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post #6 of 8
Just try to go with an i3 for longer lifetime than that newer Pentium.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
A direct swap from the G840 to the i3-2100 currently costs $42.

Again: I might be missing something here, but how is Hyper-Threading or more cores beneficial to this system? Running office applications or a web browser is very light duty for a modern CPU, and the speedy dual-core that is the G840 should handle them with ease for the foreseeable future. Right? Sure, maybe in 2-4 years Windows 7/8 or MS Office or Firefox will be a massive, resource-hogging, 12-core-consuming beast. But I really doubt it.

They will notice an SSD. The 64GB version of the M4 (or the new Samsung 830) are perfect.

They will notice a fast and spacious storage HDD. They've had a 120GB for years and have never needed all of it. Practically any 7200rpm drive is more than sufficient. Specific drive isn't so important, especially with the screwy prices right now.

They will notice a good, large monitor. The Asus VH236H seems to get a lot of praise and is a great price. Obviously, a Dell Ultrasharp would be ideal, but the $300+ price tag takes it off the table.

They will notice a lower price tag than expected.

Will they notice a faster CPU? Quicker .zip compression (if they even know what that is)? Faster virus scan? Call me skeptical...unless I'm grossly underestimating the current (and future) resource consumption of OS/office/web usage.
My System
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-2500k ASUS P8P67 B3 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit HP 2310m 
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NZXT Hale 90 650W NZXT Phantom White 
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My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-2500k ASUS P8P67 B3 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit HP 2310m 
PowerCase
NZXT Hale 90 650W NZXT Phantom White 
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I've given another crack at this

mATI
CPU/Mobo: Intel Core i3-2100, ASRock Z68 PRO3-M
GPU: Intel HD 2000
PSU/RAM: Corsair Builder Series CX500 v2, Corsair Vengence 8GB DDR3-1600
HDD: ?
SSD: Crucial M4 64GB
Case: IN WIN Dragon Slayer
Monitor: Asus VH242H 23.5"
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM (Is this place reputable? I've seen xd_1771 recommend it a lot)

Shipped: $744.78
After Rebates: $714.78
Left for HDD: $85.22


Mini-ITX
CPU/RAM: Intel Core i3-2100, PNY 8GB DDR3-1333
GPU: Intel HD 2000
Mobo: ASRock H67M-ITX
HDD: ?
SSD: Crucial M4 64GB
Case: Silverstone SG05-450 (Would the 300W version be enough? It's $20 cheaper.)
Monitor: Asus VH242H 23.5"
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM

Shipped: $746.56
After Rebates: $736.56
Left for HDD: $63.44


I really wish I had a spare HDD laying around somewhere...

The ITX build has a major size advantage, which I know they'd like, but the shipping costs really kill it ($26.76!!). It makes sacrifices related to it's size - less mobo connectivity, fewer mounting racks in case, etc. - but they aren't likely to be missed.

I'm still unconvinced that the $120 i3-2100/A6-3650/Phenom II x4 955 or the cheaper Athlon II x3 455 would give any real-world advantage over the Celeron G530/G540 or Pentium G620/G840/G850 for the type of computing this system will be used for.

That was the original point of this thread in the first place - to find out how much CPU/GPU power was appropriate for a simple home office PC that will be used for ~4 years.

Thoughts?



EDIT: Forgot optical drives, so reduce available cash for HDD by ~$20.
Edited by ayyini - 10/31/11 at 7:28pm
My System
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-2500k ASUS P8P67 B3 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit HP 2310m 
PowerCase
NZXT Hale 90 650W NZXT Phantom White 
  hide details  
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My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i5-2500k ASUS P8P67 B3 Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz 7-8-7-24 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM Lite-On 24x DVD Burner Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit HP 2310m 
PowerCase
NZXT Hale 90 650W NZXT Phantom White 
  hide details  
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