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Icy Defiance

Want A Gaming Desktop For Under $1200

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Hey all, I know I've gone inactive here for a while, but I love the techies here, and I need help. Maybe I'll try to be more active in the non-RS sections in return. :D

 

I've done a bit of shopping, but I'm kind of limited in where I can look because I only have a mid-level knowledge of parts, and 0 knowledge of graphics cards. I want an I7 processor, mainly so I don't look at it 2 months later and go "Dang, wish I had that..." I need at least 6 GB of RAM, one good quality monitor of at least 20", support for a second monitor (which I can supply), a drive that can read and write to CD's and DVD's, and a wireless-N adaptor. Like I said, I know nothing about graphics cards, but I want one that can run most of the newest games on good settings. I don't care about max settings. I need a hard drive, but my space requirements are quite a bit lower than most people's...500 GB should be good, but definitely no lower than 250.

 

Can anyone suggest something for me for less than the $1200 stuff I found at Dell, or at least point me in the right direction for places to look? (I did find cheaper stuff, but nothing below $1000, and not from companies that I'd normally hear of and trust.) I do have enough confidence to custom build a machine if it's enough cheaper to be worth the extra time I'd have to put in ($100-200), but I still need a list of parts to buy, 'cuz I don't know enough to figure out what to buy on my own.

 

Also, if I'm making any stupid mistakes that I'll regret within the next year or so, please tell me. The main thing I'm looking for is a machine that I'll be satisfied with for quite a while. Next year is my first year of college, I'll be going into computer programming, and in my spare time I'll be doing some 3D modelling and gaming, and while I don't care if things take a little longer or if I have to turn the graphics down, I want to be able to run almost anything and run it well.

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This is what I bought from Dell in July 2009, cost me around £900 back then (so imagine you could get it cheaper now)

 

Intel® Core™ i7 Processor 920 (2.66GHz, 8MB cache, 4.8GT/sec)

Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium SP1 64 bit - English

Microsoft® Works 9 - English

1Yr Premium Warranty Support

Display Not Included

6144MB (6x1024) 1067MHz DDR3 Tri Channel

750GB Serial ATA (7200RPM) Hard Drive

512MB ATI® Radeon® 4850 Graphics card

16X DVD+/- RW Optical Drive (DVD & CD read and write)

Dell™ USB Entry Keyboard - UK/Irish (QWERTY)

Dell Laser Mouse USB (6 buttons scroll) Black

Accessories

No Security/Anti-Virus Protection - English

Integrated HDA 7.1 Dolby Digital Audio

No Speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system)

19-in-1 Media Card Reader

Services & Software

No Accidental Damage Support

DataSafe Online Backup 2GB 1 year

Also Includes

English Documentation with UK/IRL Power Cord

D07SX02

Studio XPS Desktop Order - UK

1 Year Premium Warranty Support

Datasafe Local 2.0 Basic

Resource DVD - (Diagnostics & Drivers)

 

Though this didn't include a monitor. Just thought it may give you an idea :D

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Yeah, it doesn't look like I can get that exact setup from Dell now (that I can easily find), but to get close to it is still about $1000-1100, or £710-780. Of course, that's without a monitor. Thanks for the parts list, though, it's a good starting point.

 

BTW, on a related note, if I were to build my own computer, the biggest problem would be knowing what motherboards and cases would support the things I need. I don't even know where to begin doing research on motherboards. Anyone have advice for this as well?

 

EDIT: Oh, yeah, thought I was forgetting something... Because of a class I'm taking, I can get a free copy of Win7 through MSDNAA, so I don't really need an operating system on whatever I end up buying. I don't know if that can save me any money if I buy through the right place, but the only places I could find that offered to sell a computer with no OS either had very limited options or they charged more for the computer in the first place, so the end price was still the same. Just something I thought I'd throw in there.

Edited by Icy Defiance

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I really wouldn't recommend buying prebuilt, that's an easy way to turn cash down the drain. Especially Dell. All their bloatware will halve the performance of your PC before you even start it up.

 

Can you build it yourself, from parts, if we can find some good ones?

If so, do you have a local vendor's site.

Edited by Satan

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I don't care about bloatware, so long as I don't have to pay for it, the first thing I'll do is format the hard drive. I've done that a good number of times before.

 

But yeah, the more I think about it, the more I'd love to build my own, even if it's not really cheaper. I've never built my own before, but it sounds like exactly the type of project I need, I've been pretty dang bored for the last couple weeks. Only real good local store I know of for tech stuff would be Best Buy, but I don't think they sell some of the parts I'd need, like motherboards. I like Amazon and Newegg, though, and on a purchase this big the shipping won't be too bad.

 

I still can't pay more than $1200, though, $1000 would be better if it doesn't hurt quality much. I'm 17, still need a car, and even with the scholarships I have so far college will still be costing me $5k/year plus books. Money is not my friend right now... XD

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Once you hit 1k, you'll still have a pretty dang good machine. 1.2k will only make it better, and you probably won't need it.

Just on a quick look at newegg, this combo looks good, but you'll want it checking. I'm also not sure about value-for-money.

 

Case/PSU/Mobo deal: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDet...st=Combo.614061

HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136514

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16819103808

Fan/Heatsink: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16835118046

GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814121424 - might be a bit overboard :D

RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820227477

 

As far as I can see, they don't have sound cards and they have no decent speakers.

I'd also recommend this monitor.

Overall, that comes to ~$990 + PP.

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You don't want a Green drive as your main drive.

 

AMD doesn't work with triple channel memory.

 

I see no case.

 

I've never heard of that PSU brand. Is it reliable?

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I don't care about speakers, I have a semi-cheap stereo that I'll be using, and I'll find a sound card somewhere...my stereo isn't horrible, but its quality is probably worse than even cheap sound cards would provide. Maybe I'll be able to rip one out of my family's dead XP, if it's not integrated...

 

For a hard drive, if that one's no good, how about this? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822152181 It's only 500 GB, but my laptop only has 250 GB and I still have like 80 free, and I have another 500 GB USB hard drive. Reviews are pretty good on it too.

 

And the more I think about it, the more I want 8 GB of RAM anyway, just 'cuz the standard is quickly moving to 6 GB and I want a bit above standard. Would this work? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820231311

 

Yeah, there's no case, and they're as hard to figure out as graphics cards are, so I'd really appreciate suggestions there. :D

 

The PSU, according to the reviews I see, is real nice, except that the included cables are too short, usually just barely reaching.

 

The rest looks good as far as I can see...which isn't nearly as far as I'd like. XD The processor isn't an I7, but after researching a bit it looks like the difference isn't real big and it ends up a good bit cheaper, so thanks for the suggestion there, and the GPU is the one place I don't mind going completely overboard, so long as it doesn't push my price past the limit.

 

Oh, and I think I'm gonna get a cheaper monitor than that and save about $80 if this isn't a totally stupid choice?

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You don't want a Green drive as your main drive.

 

AMD doesn't work with triple channel memory.

 

I see no case.

 

I've never heard of that PSU brand. Is it reliable?

 

Looks like they changed that bundle ;O

It did have a case before.

PSU is part of the bundle, they say it's good.

 

That new monitor's decent, good contrast ratio, but it's not widescreen and it only has 5ms response. Good for most stuff, but if you're gaming then a 2ms response time is ideal.

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Once you hit 1k, you'll still have a pretty dang good machine. 1.2k will only make it better, and you probably won't need it.

Just on a quick look at newegg, this combo looks good, but you'll want it checking. I'm also not sure about value-for-money.

 

Case/PSU/Mobo deal: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDet...st=Combo.614061

HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136514

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16819103808

Fan/Heatsink: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16835118046

GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814121424 - might be a bit overboard :D

RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820227477

 

As far as I can see, they don't have sound cards and they have no decent speakers.

I'd also recommend this monitor.

Overall, that comes to ~$990 + PP.

That isn't nearly the value he could be getting. By no means take this as a final build, but try:

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...3-849-_-Product - $200

RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820231323 - $90 (this was $200 when I bought 8 months ago :P)

GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814102909 - $210

HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136073 - $40

Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16813128443 - $105

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16811129042 - $60

PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16817139005 - $70

Monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16824236049 - $210

Thermal compound: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...0-014-_-Product - $5

Supplied heatsink should be more than enough, and if you want to OC later it's a cheap upgrade.

 

And that's a fair amount better than Satan's build, for $990 :(

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It's also worth noting that the free Windows 7 you're getting with your course will most likely be a 32-bit version, that's what I received on a similar scheme (through a training company called Zenos) Now, if you're looking to get or build a PC with the specs you want, you'll be wanting a 64-bit version of 7.

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It's also worth noting that the free Windows 7 you're getting with your course will most likely be a 32-bit version, that's what I received on a similar scheme (through a training company called Zenos) Now, if you're looking to get or build a PC with the specs you want, you'll be wanting a 64-bit version of 7.

 

He can download the 64-bit version because codes are valid with both versions.

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That new monitor's decent, good contrast ratio, but it's not widescreen and it only has 5ms response. Good for most stuff, but if you're gaming then a 2ms response time is ideal.

How is 16:9 not widescreen? :D I like it even better than 16:10, it fits widescreen movies better. The response time could be an issue, though...I'll have to research that.

 

If you're going for an AMD build, you should wait until Bulldozer is released.

Hmm...a quick Google search makes it look good, but how much will it cost? The only reason I'd rather have AMD over Intel's I7 is to save some money, unless Bulldozer ends up significantly outperforming it. And it's not like I can wait too long after release for the prices to drop, I would like the computer functional by the time classes start this fall if possible.

 

It's also worth noting that the free Windows 7 you're getting with your course will most likely be a 32-bit version, that's what I received on a similar scheme (through a training company called Zenos) Now, if you're looking to get or build a PC with the specs you want, you'll be wanting a 64-bit version of 7.

 

He can download the 64-bit version because codes are valid with both versions.

Bingo. The download I get only gives the 32-bit version, but I already have both versions from old projects, I just need the key I get from MSDNAA.

 

That isn't nearly the value he could be getting. By no means take this as a final build, but try:

CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...3-849-_-Product - $200

RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820231323 - $90 (this was $200 when I bought 8 months ago :()

GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814102909 - $210

HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16822136073 - $40

Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16813128443 - $105

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16811129042 - $60

PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16817139005 - $70

Monitor: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16824236049 - $210

Thermal compound: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...0-014-_-Product - $5

Supplied heatsink should be more than enough, and if you want to OC later it's a cheap upgrade.

 

And that's a fair amount better than Satan's build, for $990 :D

Now there's both the quality and the relatively low price that I always hear about with custom builds. :P I'll look closer at it when I'm not so freaking tired (working 2x as many hours as normal this week), but just skimming over the specs it looks awesome. Thanks a lot.

Edited by Icy Defiance

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5ms is fine. Tbh you're not going to notice a difference in 3ms. It's just marketing bullshizzle.

 

I don't even know if Bulldozer is set to release any time soon. It's been pushed back so many times.

 

If you're going to be paying $1200, get an SSD to boot from/put key applications on. The performance increase is absolutely amazing. You can get them for a hundred or two, but there's the new cheaper Intel 320 drives coming out soon (though they are a tad slower, still faster than a platter drive).

 

Also Fencefry's build looks good. And hey babe.

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Ditch the 4x2GB kit and get a 2x4GB kit instead. Also consider a few dollars more for an HD6950 (I'd suggest the 2GB version, but the 1GB version is plenty good as well).

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820226095

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814125356

Edited by Bob-sama

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5ms is fine. Tbh you're not going to notice a difference in 3ms. It's just marketing bullshizzle.

 

I don't even know if Bulldozer is set to release any time soon. It's been pushed back so many times.

 

If you're going to be paying $1200, get an SSD to boot from/put key applications on. The performance increase is absolutely amazing. You can get them for a hundred or two, but there's the new cheaper Intel 320 drives coming out soon (though they are a tad slower, still faster than a platter drive).

 

Also Fencefry's build looks good. And hey babe.

I think I'll go with the normal hard drive because I don't feel like paying that much extra...if I get too irritated with slow data access, I'll upgrade later. I'll take your tip on the monitor, though, I'm not too worried about ghosting or anything anyway. Last time I've actually seen anything noticeable was my XP's old box monitor...I'm surprised the thing still works, I'm using it as my second monitor right now. XD

 

Ditch the 4x2GB kit and get a 2x4GB kit instead. Also consider a few dollars more for an HD6950 (I'd suggest the 2GB version, but the 1GB version is plenty good as well).

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820226095

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814125356

Oh, yeah, 4x2 GB would be easier to upgrade in the future. XD Just out of desire to learn, is there actually any functional difference between the two?

 

But yeah, if I get the 5 ms monitor, I save like $40-ish, so the final price will still be around $1k, so if that graphics card is better I'll take it.

 

I'm still surprised I can actually get a computer this good for $1k... XD It's freaking awesome. Looks like I just about have my final setup now, but will I have to buy any cables or anything myself, or should everything I need be included with the parts? Oh, and should thermal compound still be any good if it's sat in the syringe thingy for like a year since when I tried replacing the motherboard in a laptop? (Wasn't a fun project at all...and I think I didn't apply the compound well enough and ended up frying other stuff...never did get it to work. XD )

Edited by Icy Defiance

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Pretty much no. It's just two pairs of dual channel memory so the speeds will pretty much be the same.

 

2x4GB is easier since you can just slap in another pair of 4GB and you're good to go. With all the slots filled up you're stuck replacing EVERYTHING.

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Actually, yes, there are a few differences. With the 4x2GB kit, the controller's much more stressed. With the 2x4GB kit, the speed remains the same but the controller has a lighter load. And in the future, if you find yourself wanting more RAM, it's fairly easy to upgrade with another 2x4GB kit. You won't have to "throw away" any RAM to do it--which is the beauty of having empty slots.

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