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Thread: Building a desktop computer

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    Building a desktop computer

    OK it is time for me to break out of the 'office' at home and build myself my own PC for photo editing and other general use out in the living room. I want something that will run LR and CS5 comfortably, and do a little bit of video editing at times, doesn't have to be a super system, rather good performance value for money type. I don't really have a budget set, cheaper is better but wouldn't mind going up towards $1000 or $1500 if it is good box that will last me a few years (ie can be upgraded as needs etc).

    I've been reading here and here amongst other places which has been a good start. Have also been reviewing systems on MSY and CPL websites (man their cheap!!) but there isn't a package that seems to nail all my thoughts on what I need at the moment.

    It has been about 10 years since I built one from scratch so my main concern is building something that isn't compatible with itself, if you know what I mean!? I also don't want to waste money on parts I don't need, ie a super dooper graphics card if my intended usage doesn't need it. I'm not talking monitors or HDD's here, they're simple. Although if I keep the price down I might be able to justify the Dell U2410 I have my eye on.

    My focus is on motherboard, processor, case/psu, ram and graphics card. So I'd be grateful to anyone with some advice on what to look for, pro's and con's. Where I'm at so far:


    • It will be a Windows 7 system (64bit Home Premium probably, any reason to go any different?)


    • Processor - am thinking of an i5 or i7 intel setup, or the AMD x4 or x6 range as they seem to give good bang for the buck. Thinking 8MB cache is a good option?\


    • Motherboard - no clue at all - help!! Probably depends a little on processor, what else is there to consider here?? Upgrade options? Bus speeds?


    • RAM - thinking 8GB minimum, seems the go is generally DDR3 1333MHz?


    • Case/PSU - Open to ideas, seems Antec gets the generally.


    • Graphics card - thinking 1GB dedicated card, but there are so many at varying prices, is this over the top? What's good?


    • A small SSD drive for installing the OS on, would that make things fly better?


    • Sound card?? Also wondering about a tv tuner card given where this will live.


    Any ideas or pointing me in a direction to follow I would appreciate. I'm sure many consider doing this but find it is all too hard and end up at Hardly Normal or Dell (like I have in the past, my 5 year old Dell Dimension that has had some upgrades will stay in the office to do office type things). I'd like to build from scratch this time and have a nice clean OS without all the bloatware etc and have a system I can add to if I want. Thanks for you time!!
    Mic

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    i3 chips have integrated graphics in them just make sure you get the h55 motherboard(i do believe its h55) and have more than enough grunt in them. if you have a bit left over in your budget at the end you could upgrade to the i5 750 cpu which is still a great card. (be weary of the type of socket as they come in different forms 1155 and 1156.

    that saves you buying a gfx card as the onboard gfx is more than good enough now days.....unless you game as well.

    this leaves you room to buy a good tuner card. PCI tuner cards are better than USB ones from what ive seen so that would be my recommendation

    make sure if you do get a SSD make sure it has the sandforce controller. Anything that doesnt have that is more than likely old stock and not as good in terms of read/write performance and durability. i would also get 2 backup drives for redundancy for data you cant afford to loose the samsung spinpoint series is fantastic and gets awesome reviews they are up to the f4 revision now as far as i know but you can still pick up f3 drives which are still good.

    no need for soundcard unless you plan on doing audio production in which case the xonar range is fantastic for that..just dont buy cheap speakers LOL

    8 gb is too much in my opinion your better off putting it in other parts of the computer. 8gb i would only recommend if you wanted to play around with virtual machines and the such otherwise 4gb is more than enough

    im pretty sure i covered all aspects of your post if you want further questions answers i'd be only too happy to help

    Cheers
    Last edited by brindyman; 02-04-2011 at 7:06pm.
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    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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    i would go with this

    i have just recently built a computer for my parents from that list only tweaking a few parts of the list but ultimately keeping it the same.

    i prefer the more tailored approach when it comes to that sorta stuff though but do look to see what people recommend

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    Thanks guys, I have spent the whole day looking into this reading about all sorts of parts etc. And in just about every case I have ended up back somewhere like these recommendations. One I'm still pondering is a Asus P8P67 LE motherboard as against the MSI they recommend mainly because the MSI isn't listed on MSY or CPL (I've emailed them both) and the Asus is $50 cheaper.

    I'm also tossing up between the GeForce GTS450 and the Radeon HD6850 both of which they recommend, not sure if I need to spend the extra $60 on the higher spec Radeon card.

    Last thing on my list is a case and PSU which I'm off to look at now. I think I have everything else sorted.

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    Been building computers for far too long (10 years or so) and I tend to go either ASUS or these days Gigabyte for motherboards. Have had an odd MSI motherboard die on me - but it was a few years ago. Just one tip - make sure your power supply is a good name brand. I have had heaps of problems with "no-name" cheap brands. A good power supply seems to keep all systems stable.
    Last edited by screamer; 03-04-2011 at 9:02pm.

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    Thanks Screamer, I agree re the power supply. I'm looking to get a good PSU and Case that will last me many a year. OK tech heads, here's my current system spec (taken me all day!)

    Intel Core i5 2500 (finally decided on this over AMD)
    ASUS P8P67 LE Motherboard B3 (I wonder if I need anything better?)
    ASUS Radeon HD6850 DirectCU (I wonder if this is overkill for photo/video editing)
    Corsair 1600 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 (people say 4GB is enough, but with adobe stuff, I think you can never have enough and it's cheap!)
    Western Digital Black 1TB - 64MB Cache, SATA3 (only one drive at the moment as I will get a SSD drive for the OS in a few months, when they sort themselves out)
    Antec Nine Hundred Two V3 Case (very sexy!)
    Corsair TX-650W Power Supply (I think 650W us enough!)
    Pioneer DVR-219L DVDRW OEM
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit with SP1 OEM Wireless N 150MBps or better

    All that comes in around the $1250 mark which I think is pretty reasonable. Feel free to shoot me down in flames, I'm looking for all the advice I can get!

    PS and I have backup covered, I use external for that at the moment, and plan to update to an eSATA external backup drive. Plus I still have my old PC with 1TB drive that I'm currently using.
    Last edited by etherial; 03-04-2011 at 9:15pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    Not sure I can spare the $8.7M

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    ASUS Radeon HD6850 DirectCU (I wonder if this is overkill for photo/video editing)
    i would say so yes. if you want to stick with ati have a look at the 5850 they are still awesome cards and still have dx11

    Western Digital Black 1TB - 64MB Cache, SATA3 (only one drive at the moment as I will get a SSD drive for the OS in a few months, when they sort themselves out)
    Western Digital HDD from what ive experiences while have been fast they are also alot noisier. Hense why i mentioned the samsung f4/3 in my previous post. but if noise and ultimately a bit more heat wont bother you then that is no problem (i actually have a wd in this machine atm so no samsung fanboi here

    Pioneer DVR-219L DVDRW OEM
    the lite-on drive in the whirlpool wiki seems to get good wraps and the last time i looked it was only $22 not saying the pioneer isnt good but as you didnt mention prices i have no idea what they are going for

    Corsair TX-650W Power Supply (I think 650W us enough!)
    corsair do good PSU's some otherones to checkout for are themaltake, antec and OCZ which ive had experience with and or know people that have them and recommend

    thats bout all i can see still a good system though
    Last edited by brindyman; 03-04-2011 at 9:33pm. Reason: typo

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    Thanks Ben, I really appreciate your comments! I'm glad I'm on the right track. You know the hardest bit about this was deciding on the motherboard. They range in price from nothing to $500 and it is hard to understand the differences. I ended up here based on a few comments online about H67 vs P67 and I went P67 then basically chose one that had the ports I thought I would need (ie USB3 and eSATA on the back!) Hope that's reasonable!! The P8P67 range has 5 variants and this was the cheapest as it turns out!

    Re the graphics card, i suspected you'd say that . I'll have a look at the prices again and might drop that down a notch, I don't think the better one was much more so I might keep it in.

    The HDD, I choose based on SATA3 speed and 64MB cache. I hate waiting for my LR images to load! I don't really mind a bit of huff and puff, if it gives it to me quick!

    Yeah Pioneer is probably over the top, they were $40 and the others on the site I was playing with to build this were $25 ish and I just choose the Pioneer based on brand loyalty. Might revisit this.

    I choose the PSU based on a UK shop/review site which had a massive amount of reviews and this one was way out in from. I've also listed an equivilant Antec which I'd be happy with.

    Thanks again!

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    Out of curiosity, is physically building a desktop very difficult ie could an average Joe with minimal experience in computers but a fair amount of common sense and a few youtube videos put one together and have a reasonable chance of it functioning somewhat 'correctly'? Reason I ask is that my next computer will be a desktop and although I rarely have the funds to purchase a complete system, buying the components individually over time is very achievable. (did that make any sense )
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    Quote Originally Posted by terry.langham View Post
    Out of curiosity, is physically building a desktop very difficult ie could an average Joe with minimal experience in computers but a fair amount of common sense and a few youtube videos put one together and have a reasonable chance of it functioning somewhat 'correctly'? Reason I ask is that my next computer will be a desktop and although I rarely have the funds to purchase a complete system, buying the components individually over time is very achievable. (did that make any sense )
    Reasonably doable I would say. There are a few good tutorials out there on now to do it. Whirlpool has a good one that I've been following. It does take some knowledge to get the right components that work together though. I've done the basics like replacing RAM or changing HDDs etc in the past, but this is my first build from scratch. So far it has gone ok for me, I'm reading lots and taking my time (they can do it in a 10 minute video on YouTube ) Last night I got to the stage of power up and booting the bios and everything seems to be going ok so far. Tonight is installing disks and then Windows and programs with any luck.

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    I used to build my own, but MSY do the build for an extra $70 - well worth it.
    You have to be very careful, lots of little traps like using the right mobo stand offs, the right thermal paste (not too much), the right cabling, anti-static meaures and so-forth.

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    Well, I succeeded, I have it togethor, doing all the things it should...

    OMG!!! Who knew a computer could be this fast, I am very impressed with this new machine. Tomorrow night, install Lightroom and Photoshop and really test it out.

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    Very timely topic Etherial. I was just about to post asking the same question; only difference is I don't really have the knowledge to put the hardware together myself.

    My old computer, along with a heap of other electrical gear, was destroyed in the Toowoomba storm and flash flood on Jan 10 (been using this crummy laptop in the meantime) but our insurance company has finally come through (after many arguments.)

    My budget is up to $1500 also but I don't think I'd get the value you got building it yourself if I have to buy from a computer store, unless anyone can point me in the right direction?

    I'm really looking forward to a new computer so I can start posting some pictures here again.
    Last edited by Paul G; 06-04-2011 at 1:31am.
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    Okay here's where I'm at....

    I finally worked out what MoBo means!

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    Hey Paul, as Kym said you can pay most of these companies to put it togethor for you which would be worth the money. On Parts, go to the Whirlpool suggestions as in my first post, and there are suggested lists. My system is pretty close to their suggestions just with a few tweaks. Give it a go, it will be half the price of buying something like a Dell online.

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    As I mentioned, been putting machines together for many years. These days it's much easier. Lots of error beeps / Leds on most recent motherboards to guide you if there is a problem. Main area to watch is the CPU/heatsink paste and heatsink installation. Getting a good well designed case also helps to "ease the squeeze". I tend to use Lian Li cases but there are many others these days.

    Well done in putting it together etherial! It's a good sense of achievement! All my kids (3 boys) put their's together and add bits and pieces with no problem generally.

    Paul, you might like to do some research (plenty on the net - try Overclockers.com.au or Whirlpool) and have a go yourself. If there is a problem you can always take it a store and get them to do it. Hard to "break" things these days. Even if the CPU overheats, these days the motherboard generally shuts downs the system before any damage.
    Last edited by screamer; 06-04-2011 at 11:24pm.

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    Cheers guys. I guess my only other issue is compatability issues with various hardware if I do decide to have a go myself. Time to do some reading. Been waiting three months on insurance so a little while longer isn't going to matter.
    Last edited by Paul G; 07-04-2011 at 12:43am. Reason: Spellunk

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