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Hardware  » Still worth it to build your own system?

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47 posts found
  User Deleted
8/05/12 12:23:58 AM#21
Originally posted by Corber

I am currently using Vista but will be going to Windows 7 don't worry about that in the price.

 

I have a surge protector.

 

Not sure about SSD.  If you recommend SSD then I will get one.

 

Air cooling is fine.  I tried overclocking back in the day but it was way to hard so I gave up on it.  I think it is easier now but I don't really need to do it if the system is already fast enough.

 

I have surrond sound Klipsch speakers and currently have a dedicated sound card.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Corber

 

You may want to consider going to a custom pc builder website, making a build there, putting that build in their forums and here for a part by part analysis.

 

Here are some general suggestions:  Get a budget.  How much are you going to spend is the most important part.

Get on newegg, its a website that sells parts, if your not from NA you wont buy from it but its customer reviews are priceless when selecting components.  Use it to look for trending complaints rahter than random problems.  How often does the manufatuer respond to complains might indicate good/bad customer service. Also newegg has 3 youtube videos that walk you through building your own computer.  If youve never done it before some of it can look intimidating but its not.

Since im assuming this is for gaming youll largest expense should be the graphics card.  

For CPU get an i5, you dont need multithreading and thats the only thing that seperates the i5 and i7 so save yourself roughly $100 and get the i5 then put that saved money towards a better graphics card. 

Next pick a motherboard.  Go with Asus or Gigabyte, you will need a 1155 socket z77 motherboard.  Question with the mother board include how many bells and whistles you want and how many graphic cards and other crap will you be stuffing on it.  Most people just need room for one graphics card, and the asus and gigabyte motherboards all come with a nice array of bells and whistles.  Take note if the mother board has wierless internet intergrated or not, if not youll have to buy one seperate if your using wierless ect.  Asus and gigabyte have great intergrated soundcards and you wont need to buy one. Also both asus and gigabyte have new BIOS layouts, for instance overclocking on a gigabyte mobo is as simple as selecting a pre set overclock setting in the bios. 

One of the most vital components and often overlooked is the Power Supply Unit (PSU).  This part has the ability to destroy all other parts in your system and is often the thing that fails when you skip and get a generic.  Stick to Corsair, Antec, CoolerMaster and maybe seasonic.  I think consensus is Corsair is the best brand for the price.  What power rating will be set by your graphic cards power requierment with about 100 watts added to that number (your card needs 550 wats get a 650 watt psu for example). One thing to note: is the PSU modular?  Modular means each wire can be removed, meaning if you need 5 connections you can only use 5 cords..non modular has all coordes hard wired...meaning youll need to stick all the wires you dont use somewhere.  Modular = clean inside of your computer and easier install.

Now selecting the grapics card is tricky, it can be very expensive and they are catergorized with confusing numbers that makes it easy for people to think they are getting a good card but a card that cant run games for shit.  I would suggest a nvidia gtx 570 as a budget but would recommend a gtx 670 if you have the money, uses less power and newest tech.  not familair with ATI cards others can recommend, ATI is competative in th budget card department.  Make sure your getting a gaming card, its easy to save money and get a non gaming card but youll be pissed when your new rig cant play any games on or near max settings.

 

The rest of the parts are more personal preference.  Youll need 8 gigs of DDR3 ram, plenty of good brands. Youll need a hard drive.  If your getting a SSD get a crucial M4 dont buy ANY SSD that uses a sandyforce controller.  Get one thats around 120 gigs enough room for the OS and a game or two, then get a standard hard drive for storage.

Oh and a case.  Get one that has good airflow and looks appealing.  Cheaper cases are more flimsy.  Dont get a small case, it might not fit your graphics card.

You also need an optical drive, so you can install windows. Up to you if you want a good one or a blue-ray or a dvd burner depends if youll use it.

 

If you do decide use a custom pc builder website do note with all of them its hit or miss on getting a broke system on delivery, it usually takes them a month to build it, and returning them for repairs could take several weeks and might not fix the issue.  Many get one and never have an issue though.

 

Im sure ive forgotten something here but if you post how much you want to spend i could post, as could others, a system piece by piece for you.

  User Deleted
8/05/12 12:29:49 AM#22

Just for reference.  Here is the build im about to buy. Under $2000 (not by much) but should run any game on max for years to come. Only thing i didnt add was a 200mm fan for the side. 

I find it easier to make a build on a custom builder website so i dont miss components which is what i did here, then get the parts from newegg:

 

 

  • INTEL Core™ i5-3570K Quad-Core 3.4 - 3.8GHz TB, HD Graphics 4000, LGA1155, 6MB L3 Cache, 22nm, 77W, EM64T EIST VT-x XD, Retail
  • COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler, Socket 2011/1155/1156/1366/775/FM1/AM3/AM2, Copper/Aluminum
  • ARCTIC SILVER Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound, Polysynthetic Silver, Electrically Non-Conductive
  • GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3, LGA1155, Intel® Z77, DDR3-2666 (O.C.) 32GB /4, PCIe x16 SLI CF /2+2*, SATA 6Gb/s RAID 5 /6, 3Gb/s /4, DP + HDMI + DVI+ VGA, USB 3.0 /10, HDA, BT+Wi-Fi, GbLAN /2, FW /2, EATX, Retail
  • MUSHKIN 8GB (2 x 4GB) Blackline PC3-16000 DDR3 2000MHz CL9 (9-11-9-27) 1.65V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
  • MSI N680GTX Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC, GeForce® GTX 680 1058MHz, 2GB GDDR5 6008MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, 2x DVI + HDMI + DP, Retail
  • CRUCIAL 128GB M4 SSD w/ Data Transfer Kit, MLC Marvell 88SS9174, 500/175 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 6 Gb/s, Retail
  • WESTERN DIGITAL 500GB WD Caviar® Black™ (WD5003AZEX), SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache, OEM
  • PLEXTOR PX-L890SA Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner w/ Lightscribe, SATA, Retail
  • COOLER MASTER HAF XM (RC-922XM-KKN1) Black Mid-Tower Case, EATX, 8 slots, No PSU, Steel/Plastic
  • CORSAIR GS800 Gaming Series™ 800W Power Supply, 80 PLUS® Bronze, 24-pin ATX12V V2.3 EPS12V, 4x 8/6-pin PCIe, Retail
  • MICROSOFT Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM
  Robokapp

Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/15/09
Posts: 4823

The only luck I had today was to have you as my opponent.

8/05/12 12:39:47 AM#23

off topic:

 

quizzical helped me build mine about 11 months ago and it's running great.

 

<3

 

I'd trust that guy. Although the company put it together for me. I just ordered what goes into it. For me a screwdriver is something you open a stubborn plastic wrapping with, and nothing more. Things that I build never work, so I don't build things.

  chilipin

Novice Member

Joined: 8/05/12
Posts: 13

8/05/12 1:16:59 AM#24
Just my 10 cents, go to several computer store, window shop first and see if they have deals or sale for a particulat day, week or month. You might have a $2000 budget but keep in mind that different store sell items at different prices.

Come to the World of Magic Earth. http://dragona.sc.gameclub.com

  Corber

Novice Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 33

 
OP  8/05/12 9:09:45 AM#25

Thanks for the input. 

 

I think there is a slight misunderstanding however.  I do know how to build a system, however I am out of touch when it comes to the latest and greatest components out there.

 

I am looking for some recommendations on what to buy for the $1500~$2000 budget I have.  This site seems to always have good advice for people trying to build their next big system so I thought I would look to you for some help.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I did spend last night looking at different systems and components but now I seem to be more confused then ever. 

 

Corber

  monarc333

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/16/07
Posts: 606

Gizmofusion.com

Screenrag.com

Steamfirst.com

8/05/12 9:25:00 AM#26

It's true building your own comp give you the best bang for your buck, but if you are looking for a great comp company that makes beastly comps let me suggest two: falcon northwest and cyberpower. In the last couple of years I've purchased rigs from both. My desktop is a falcon northwest and my laptop is cyberpower. With 2gs you could get a really nice rig from cyberpower. Falcon northwest is on the more expensive side but they are top quality. They are an all American company with customer Svc right here in the states.  And cyberpower is the same deal. Never had a problem with any of my rigs and the falcon northwest is easily upgradable for future needs. Just my two cents based off my experiences. Good luck finding your comp. 

  Skuz

Novice Member

Joined: 12/25/08
Posts: 1041

"If you can''t laugh at yourself there''s always someone around to show you how it''s done!"

8/05/12 9:29:28 AM#27

I built two rigs one for me another for my kid & it was deinitely cheaper to do so, I made a small error in choice of motherboard which meant my SLI set-up wont actually work in SLI (stupid Gigabyte tech) but I'll fix that in a future upgrade & move to 2x full-speed PCIe slots on a mobo instead of the dumb 50% speed if running 2 cards mode my current board had (damn you small print).

I've built my own PC's for the past 15 years & find it a rewarding hobby, doesn't require any rocket-science either (at least until it goes wrong & most problems are straightforward to resolve).

  jdnewell

Elite Member

Joined: 7/04/06
Posts: 1942

8/05/12 9:33:34 AM#28
Originally posted by Corber

Thanks for the input. 

 

I think there is a slight misunderstanding however.  I do know how to build a system, however I am out of touch when it comes to the latest and greatest components out there.

 

I am looking for some recommendations on what to buy for the $1500~$2000 budget I have.  This site seems to always have good advice for people trying to build their next big system so I thought I would look to you for some help.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I did spend last night looking at different systems and components but now I seem to be more confused then ever. 

 

Corber

See Bigrocks build a few posts up

  paulocafalli

Novice Member

Joined: 11/11/05
Posts: 258

8/05/12 9:40:45 AM#29
Originally posted by Badaboom
My one piece of advice is buy your computer to last and don't worry to much about future upgradability. I have built many  best bang for buck systems with hopes of switching out parts here and there to keep it current but technology keeps changing so fast that it renders one part obsolete.  My example is ddr2. Out came ddr3 which rendered my current ram, motherboard as extinct. 

I totally agree. IMO it's always worth to build you own system but don't do it thinking about upgrading because the technology changes to fast to do so when you are going to need.

paulocafalli Xfire Miniprofile
  ruonim

Novice Member

Joined: 8/25/09
Posts: 258

8/05/12 9:46:21 AM#30

Get ssd for operating system partition.

And 2 same hdd in striping raid mode. For everything else.

Also Grab cooler for graphic card too, stock ones are so noisy.

 

Also rember that intel cpu alone cost same as same performance amd cpu+ motherboard. Saved money willl get you much better graphics card.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

8/05/12 2:53:06 PM#31
Originally posted by BigRock411

 

You may want to consider going to a custom pc builder website, making a build there, putting that build in their forums and here for a part by part analysis.

You could use that as a guide to which parts you need to have, to make sure you don't, say, completely forget to buy memory.  But you don't want to restrict your options to the few choices offered by a particular configurator, and you also want to be able to see prices when making your choice.  For example, a Corsair TX650 V2 and an XFX Core 650 W are basically the same power supply (both are actually built by Seasonic), but if one is $20 cheaper than the other, you want to get the one that is cheaper the day you make your purchase.

For power supplies, don't get too caught up in brand names.  Other than Seasonic, most power supply vendors don't actually build their own power supplies.  Most power supply vendors actually buy power supplies from multiple manufacturers.  For example, Corsair uses Channel Well for some lines, Seasonic for other lines, and Flextronics for at least one power supply.  And even from a given manufacturer, some products will be much higher end than others.  There are quite a few Super Flower-built power supplies that I wouldn't recommend, but their platinum platform (e.g., Kingwin Lazer Platinum) was the best on the market for a while.

Hang on and I'll pick out some parts.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

8/05/12 3:30:32 PM#32

You said a $1500-$2000 budget, and I believe in respecting the budget, so I'll spend about what you said.  It would be easy to cut back from this quite a bit.  All prices including shipping and before rebates:

Processor/motherboard combo deal:  $395

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1033220

That's the standard processor for a high end gaming system, and you haven't said anything that makes it sound like you'd make good use of hyperthreading in order to justify a Core i7.  And the motherboard is very nice, and somewhat high end.

Power supply:  $200

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151111

Because it's the best that money can buy.  You could also get something very good for substantially cheaper if you preferred.

Case/memory combo deal:  $159, before a $10 rebate

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1020813

Right specs on nice memory, together with a very nice case with all of the modern amenities.

Solid state drive:  $210

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148443

You've got the budget to get a big SSD and not have to worry so much about prioritizing what goes on the SSD and what doesn't.  And a Crucial M4 is very nice.

Hard drive:  $75

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

Do you even still need a hard drive, with such a big SSD?  If not, then you could skip it.  But if you do, then get one of whatever capacity you need.  This one is 1 TB.

Optical drive:  $18

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106289

Most people have no plausibly use for a Blu-Ray drive, so I'm guessing you won't, either.  So any old DVD burner will work fine for you.

Operating system:  $100

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986

Because a lot of games don't run that well on Linux.

Processor heatsink:  $33, before a $15 rebate

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835181012

If you're looking to overclock the processor to the moon, then you'd want a better heatsink than this.  But for most uses, this will be plenty.

Video card:  $478

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125439

You've got the budget to fit the top of the line, and a 7970 GHz Edition means that AMD has binned it out as one of the best Tahiti dies.

Uninterruptible power supply:  $180

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16842102133

You don't actually have to get this if you don't want to.  If the electricity that you pulled from the wall were invariably a completely stable 60 Hz 120 V sinusoidal wave form, there wouldn't be any point in a UPS.  But it probably isn't, and when things go awry, a good UPS can detect it, kick in, and make sure that your computer still gets the clean power supply it wants even when things go wrong from the electric utility.

If you can't remember the last time you had a power outage or power flash or other such unwanted power event, then you don't really need a UPS.  But if you get them several times per year where you live, this will greatly reduce the probability that they cause damage to your computer.  It's also partially a question of how much you value reliability.

Total:  $1848 including shipping, and before $25 in rebates.

  Corber

Novice Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 33

 
OP  8/05/12 5:16:14 PM#33

Thank you very much Quizzical.

 

I will buy this exact system.  If there is anything you would change let me know in the next day or so otherwise...It will be built.  :)

 

I'm only at $1674.89...Would you upgrade anything????

 

Corber

  Corber

Novice Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 33

 
OP  8/05/12 7:27:50 PM#34

Ok Quizzical.  I did some reading and I came up with a couple modifications to what you recommneded.

 

Let me know what you think of this:



Optical Drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135247

Hard Drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148837

Video Card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121637

Power Supply: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151111

Cooling: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835181012

Case Memory Combo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1020813&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&AID=10446076&PID=4176333&SID=94tggic4fzz7

CPU/Motherboard Combo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1033220&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-na-_-na-_-na&AID=10446076&PID=4176333&SID=yu28fde7bm00

OS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986

I went with the i3750 because I'm not sure I really need the i7 CPU. I read that for gaming the i5 Ivy Bridge's are the way to go. And the combo is pretty good with the Motherboard.

I have a huge case right now and I never use all that space. I'm going to go to a mid tower, plus the combo with the memory looks like a great deal.

I read up on the Hybrid drive i have posted and it looks like a great product.


I choose NVIDIA because of the reviews on the GTX670

Went with a little faster optical drive.

What do you think now? Newegg says I am at $1511.19. I have some more money to play with....but do I really need to spend it or will this get me thru the next 3~4 years?

 

Corber

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

8/05/12 7:53:43 PM#35
Originally posted by Corber

I will buy this exact system.  If there is anything you would change let me know in the next day or so otherwise...It will be built.  :)

I'm only at $1674.89...Would you upgrade anything????

I'm not sure how you calculated that total, as I added it up again and it still comes to $1848.

If you want to go for an unreasonably large processor overclock, then you'll need a better processor cooler.  A more moderate overclock (e.g., 4 GHz) wouldn't require a better cooler than the one I linked.

The other upgrade that I think is obvious is to buy another monitor.  About three years ago, I bought a second monitor, and within a few days, I was wondering how I ever got by with only one.  It's very convenient to be able to have a game on one monitor and something else on another monitor at the same time, without having to tab back and forth.

  Corber

Novice Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 33

 
OP  8/05/12 8:18:05 PM#36

Not sure why but I show $1511.90.  Hope I didn't do something wrong....

 

 

 

ASUS GTX670-DC2-2GD5 GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

 

ASUS GTX670-DC2-2GD5 GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
Item #: N82E16814121637
Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy

 

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SeaSonic Platinum Platinum-860 860W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply

 

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Item #: N82E16817151111
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Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

 

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM
Item #: N82E16832116986
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Seagate Momentus XT ST750LX003 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache 2.5

 

Seagate Momentus XT ST750LX003 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache 2.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Solid State Hybrid Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822148837
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

 

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CORSAIR CAFA50 120mm CPU Cooler

 

CORSAIR CAFA50 120mm CPU Cooler
Item #: N82E16835181012
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

 

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The product will be replaced and shipped directly to you at no charge.(more info35-181-012.0.18)

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ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS

 

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Corsair Carbide Series 500R Black Steel structure with molded ABS plastic accent pieces ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9

 


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Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I53570K
ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

 


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  jdlamson75

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 12/27/08
Posts: 930

There's some lovely filth down here.

8/05/12 8:34:39 PM#37

I think I just drooled on your order, Corber.  Sorry about that.

 

Best of luck in putting your monster together - and thumbs up to Quzzical for once again showing that he's really freakin' good at this stuff.

  Corber

Novice Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 33

 
OP  8/05/12 8:42:18 PM#38
Originally posted by jdlamson75

I think I just drooled on your order, Corber.  Sorry about that.

 

Best of luck in putting your monster together - and thumbs up to Quzzical for once again showing that he's really freakin' good at this stuff.

 Agreed.  Quizzical is a great source!

 

Corber

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

8/05/12 8:49:47 PM#39
Originally posted by Corber

I went with the i3750 because I'm not sure I really need the i7 CPU. I read that for gaming the i5 Ivy Bridge's are the way to go. And the combo is pretty good with the Motherboard.

I have a huge case right now and I never use all that space. I'm going to go to a mid tower, plus the combo with the memory looks like a great deal.

I read up on the Hybrid drive i have posted and it looks like a great product.


I choose NVIDIA because of the reviews on the GTX670

Went with a little faster optical drive.

What do you think now? Newegg says I am at $1511.19. I have some more money to play with....but do I really need to spend it or will this get me thru the next 3~4 years?

A Core i5-3570K and Core i7-3770K both have an unlocked multiplier, so it doesn't matter that the 3770K has a stock speed that is 100 MHz higher.  The only important advantage of the 3770K over the 3570K is hyperthreading.  In programs that don't scale past four cores, hyperthreading doesn't help at all, and Windows won't even use it.  If a program would scale flawlessly to eight processor cores if you had them, then Intel says hyperthreading can improve performance by up to 30%.  The 30% figure is realistic, but so is the "up to" part of it--meaning that many programs won't see anywhere near a 30% benefit.  I once messed around with threading a simple program on my computer that trivially scaled to as many cores as you wanted, and found that hyperthreading improved performance by about 15% in that particular program.

But again, that's only in programs that would scale flawlessly to eight cores.  If it's for gaming, then I wouldn't expect to see any games where four fast cores isn't good enough in the useful lifetime of your computer, unless the problem is a badly-coded, single-threaded game, and hyperthreading wouldn't help a bit there, either.  So yeah, I'd get the Core i5-3570K if I were you.  That's why I linked it above.

-----

If one optical drive is a little bit faster than another, that doesn't matter.  You're not going to be reading from the optical drive in situations where speed matters, anyway.  It might save you a minute in installing the OS (which basically consists of, let it start, go do something else, and check back later), and that will probably be all the benefit you'd ever see from the optical drive being faster.

The advantage of the optical drive that you linked is that it can read Blu-Ray drives.  That's great if you want to watch Blu-Ray movies on your computer.  And it's completely worthless if you don't.  Most people don't, but if you do, then go ahead and get a Blu-Ray drive.  Otherwise, it's a waste of money.  And don't think it's future-proofing, either; Blu-Ray won't catch on as a replacement to DVD until they don't cost much more than a DVD burner--and if that ever happens, then it will be cheaper to buy both a DVD burner today and a Blu-Ray drive at that time than just the Blu-Ray drive today.

-----

Don't get the Seagate Momentus XT.  The claims that it performs like an SSD are complete marketing lies.

There is really only one reason to buy a Momentus XT.  If you have a laptop with only room for one drive, and need more capacity than is reasonable to get in a solid state drive, then a Momentus XT will often be faster than a simple laptop hard drive.

Perhaps I should go into an explanation of why you should get an SSD in the first place--and why the Seagate Momentus XT is nothing like the SSD you should get.

The basic problem with hard drives is that they're slow.  In order to read from or write to a hard drive, you have to wait until the platter physically spins to the right spot and the drive head physically moves to the right spot.  That takes on the order of 10 ms.  And that means you have to wait about 10 ms before the hard drive can even start reading or writing.

You might think that 10 ms sounds fast.  And if you were only going to read or write one cluster (4 KB), it would be.  But what happens when you need to read or write hundreds of files at once?  Then you wait 10 ms, read a file, wait 10 ms, read a file, and so forth.  You end up waiting long enough that you could time it with a stopwatch.  That's the main reason why many games have loading screens, and some programs take quite a while to load.  You're probably used to this, and might not have imagined that it could ever be otherwise.

Solid state drives can function like hard drives, but don't have any physically moving parts.  That means that solid state drives can skip the "wait for things to physically move to the right spot" step and start reading or writing almost immediately.  If you want to read or write one cluster with a good SSD, it takes somewhere on the order of 0.1 ms.  Multiply that by several hundred small files at once and it's still only a small fraction of a second.

The upshot is that with a good SSD, when you ask your computer to do something, it just does it, and doesn't make you wait.  Or perhaps rather, sometimes you'll have to wait, but you'll wait a lot less than you would with a hard drive.  On my computer, for example, after I enter the login password, it will show the Windows desktop within a few seconds.  Once it does, I can immediately click on programs to launch them and they'll open.  If I sit and wait for Windows to do everything it wants to do as part of booting the computer, it takes about 10 seconds for Windows to finish and let everything go idle.  My SSD is about three years old; newer ones are several times as fast.

If you find reviews that compare good SSDs to hard drives and they try to include some "real world" measurements, it's likely to show loading times of various programs.  The reason they measure this is because it's easy to measure.  But it's really not the biggest performance benefit.  If you use a web browser, it's constantly doing lots of little reads and writes.  Being able to finish those faster means that the browser does what you told it to faster.  It's a small difference that is hard to measure, but it's pretty obvious that it "feels" faster.  Think of it as the offline equivalent of reducing your ping time by 100 ms.

So what is a Seagate Momentus XT?  It's basically a 750 GB hard drive together with 8 GB of NAND flash.  The hard drive will try to figure out what gets loaded a lot, and store that in the NAND flash.  If you want to load something again, it checks to see if it's in the NAND flash, and if it is, it can load it very quickly, like an SSD.  It's actually quite slow compared to a good SSD even in this case, but massively faster than any hard drive.

The problem is what happens if you want to do something other than read what is in the NAND flash cache.  In that case, if you have to read off of the hard drive, it's slow for the same reasons as any other hard drive.  And it's actually pretty slow for a 7200 RPM hard drive, even.  I'm guessing that checking cache adds some latency, but that's probably not all of it.  In pure hard drive tests, it loses pretty substantially to a Western Digital Scorpio Black.

And that's as compared to other laptop hard drives.  Desktop hard drives are faster than laptop hard drives.  A 3.5" form factor (as desktop hard drives have) means that you can read and write a lot faster than you could with otherwise equivalent technology in a 2.5" form factor.  The reason is that a given rotation speed means a higher linear speed due to the larger platter radius.

And even that is only comparing read speeds.  If you ever want to write to the drive, then the NAND flash doesn't help you a bit.  In that case, it performs like a slow hard drive (slow even compared to other hard drives) precisely because it is a slow hard drive.  If I could only have one drive and couldn't get an SSD, I'd sooner get a Western Digital Caviar Black than a Seagate Momentus XT.  But in a desktop, you don't have to make that choice; you've got six or eight or whatever drive bays.

Part of the problem is consistency.  What you really want is something that is always fast.  A Seagate Momentus XT will be fast now and then, but will usually be pretty slow.  A good SSD will always be fast, no matter what workload you give it.

You might think, the Seagate Momentus XT will figure out what files you use a lot, and then make those ones fast at least.  But it can't even do that.  It figures out which hard drive clusters (particular physical positions on the hard drive) get read from a lot and caches those.  If you defragment your hard drive, then a bunch of data gets moved all over the place, and the cache is now worthless.  It will have to start all over on figuring out what gets used a lot, and will be very slow until it does.  And if you don't defragment your hard drive, then whenever you want to read something not in cache, it will be really slow.

But not all solid state drives are equivalent.  For starters, you want one with a Marvell, SandForce, or Samsung controller.  In particular, avoid the JMicron and Phison controllers.  But it's hard to dig around and figure out exactly what is in every SSD on your own, so it's easier to just get the Crucial M4 that I linked.

-----

For the video card, a GeForce GTX 670 is a nice card.  The card I linked is probably a good 10% faster, though.

Don't get too carried away with reading old GTX 670 reviews.  For one thing, much of the enthusiasm was due to the price tag.  When the comparison was a GeForce GTX 670 for $400 against a Radeon HD 7970 for $550, a Radeon HD 7950 for $450, and a Radeon HD 7870 for $350, that the GTX 670 could perform in the same ballpark as the 7970 and be much faster than the other cards was a clear win.

But prices have changed.  Now you can get a Radeon HD 7970 for $414, a 7950 for $329, and a 7870 for $279, while the GeForce GTX 670 still costs $400.  It's still a decent value, but no longer a dramatically better value than the competition.  And now you can also get a Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition (basically a 7970 clocked higher) which is easily 10% faster, such as the card I linked.

Drivers have also changed.  Both AMD and Nvidia have improved performance on their cards since the GTX 670 launched, but AMD has probably gotten bigger driver performance improvements.  This isn't a complete shock, as AMD's new GCN architecture (Radeon HD 7000 series) is easily the biggest architecture redesign AMD has done since the introduction of VLIW5, which came five generations earlier.  Kepler is a new architecture, too, but not as radically different from Fermi.  Larger architecture changes make it harder to optimize drivers, as it takes a while to figure out what works well for the new architecture and what doesn't.

If you happen to prefer Nvidia to AMD, then go ahead and get the GeForce GTX 670.  I don't think you'll be disappointed with it.  A GTX 670 also features better energy efficiency than a Radeon HD 7970.  But the 7970 is faster.  It's a matter of priorities, really; they're both nice cards.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

8/05/12 8:53:47 PM#40
Originally posted by Corber

Not sure why but I show $1511.90.  Hope I didn't do something wrong....

 

That's because you're adding up numbers from different parts than what I linked.  I hope you didn't place the order yet.  At minimum, you want a real SSD, not an overpriced laptop hard drive.

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