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New Computer - Spec Questions

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
It looks like I'm going to need a new PC and a lot has changed in the five+ years since I bought my last one. I don't need a high performance/gamer machine but at the same time I want something that will have staying power. I'm currently looking at a Core 2 Quad processor but how much difference is there going from 2.33GHz to 2.5 GHz to 2.66 GHz, etc.? I'm guessing the Core i7 is more than the average person needs (at least for now).

I'm planning on starting off with 4GB of RAM and at least a 500GB hard drive. Also, can I get away with using a video card with 256mb? I know I can always upgrade it at some point if I need to. I'm planning on running Vista 64bit (at least until Windows 7 comes out).

Basically, what's considered the current standard as far as computer specs go? My goal is to aim a little bit higher than that.
post #2 of 65
L2 cache is an important factor when choosing a chip. The last generation is better in this regard.

Example (nearly equal prices):
The 2.5GHz Q8300 has a 1333MHz FSB and 4MB of L2 cache
The 2.4GHz Q6600 has a 1066MHz FSB and 8MB of L2 cache

You can fix the lower FSB on the Q6600 with overclocking, but a chip with half the cache is just that. My Q6600 is rock solid stable at 3.2GHz with a 1600MHz FSB and I still have 8MB of L2 cache.

You can definitely get away w/ a 256MB video card- I ran my current system with a $20 Radeon X1550 while I waited for the 4850.
post #3 of 65
i just built a new desktop 2 week ago. so far this is my spec:

PSU RAIDMAX | HYBRID2 RX-530SS 530W 1
HD 500G|WD 7K 16M SATA2 WD5000AAKS 1
VGA ASUS EAH3450/DI/256M HD3450 RT 1
MEM 2Gx2|OCZ OCZ2P10664GK R 1
CPU AMD|PH X4 9850 2.5G AM2+ 65N % 1
MB FOXCONN A79A-S AM2+ 790FX RT
The whole thing cost aroung 430 after rebate. This system works fine for me as i dont' play game so not much of graphic card power is needed. Hope this help. kevin
post #4 of 65
now more than 5 years ago, it matters what you do with it. unless you're doing computationally heavy stuff (gaming, heavy photo or video editing), chances are you're harddisk will be a bottleneck and a quadcore will be overkill. Anything over 2GHz will be fine if it's a newer chip.
I think it would be smarter, if you don't do the high requirements stuff, to go a bit cheaper on the specs and spend on stuff you will enjoy. Like a 24" display or low-noise components.
post #5 of 65
Don't skimp on PSU's either. Always go for tried and true PSU's such as thermaltake, corsair, Antec, PC Power & cooling, enermax, etc.. Cheap, unproved PSU can ruin your every single components in you PC.
post #6 of 65
All good advice. I have a

Conroe 6400 @ 3.2ghz. Got it for $30! Nuff said lol.

Gigabyte P45 G mobo. Easiest overclocking motherboard I have ever had. You get more for your money with a simple software install and one click.

Mushkin XP2-8500 2X2gb ram cost me $40!! No issues ever.

Antec Earthwatts 650 very quiet and cool. Corsair makes great PSUs too for the $$

280 GTX 1gb ok so I game a lot but you want it to last and these suckers are beefy. I got mine for $250 used about 6 months ago.

I use a 74GB raptor for my gaming and XP pro. I use a 250GB Seagate for music storage and general file backup storage.
post #7 of 65
My favorite thing is to look at open-box sales at the electronic stores. Bestbuy is usually were I have most luck. (I am not suggesting to buy a new computer from there; xD)
post #8 of 65
love how every misconception in the book is being thrown right at this guy, with no filters


first of all, memory size on the graphics card means zilch, its the GPU that matters, second of all, clock speed on the CPU means next to zilch, its the architectural abilities that matter (and the CE guy didn't catch this one....c'mon, you shouldn't have architecture being lectured to you from across the hall, in CS we're only supposed to make them think, not build them)

theres no reason to avoid Core i7 if you can afford it, because its the only platform with any future (in other words, LGA 775 is dead and gone, same is true for DDR2, most users just don't want to accept this yet, because its still for sale), performance wise, it isn't any massive jump over the Core 2 Quad/Duo on 65nm, although it is noticable (in applications that will tap it, meaning: applications that already have good performance, you won't care, appliations that don't, you may notice it)


now as far as "heavy photo editing", what exactly is meant here? do you realize how ridiculous and intensive you'd need to get in order to lock up a modern system with photo editing, don't be spreading the notion that mom and pop's trip the carribean takes a $10,000 workstation to edit

ultimately your budget needs to decide what you buy, and you need to accept that "future proof" doesn't exist (period)

infoseeker makes a good point, but finding those sales is sometimes harder said than done
post #9 of 65
My pc was built on bang for your buck components is my point. Cost next to nothing and is a ripsaw for speed and performance now. That combination will give you years of headroom until it is obsolete.
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacemanspliff View Post
My pc was built on bang for your buck components is my point. Cost next to nothing and is a ripsaw for speed and performance now. That combination will give you years of headroom until it is obsolete.
years?

from today, you have 18 to 24 months on that system, tops, and in the last half, you'll be massively reducing quality settings, and outright disabling features just to get things running smoothly, gaming computers have a very short usage lifetime, especially given their price

...oh, and this assumes that DirectX 11 (which comes in roughly 9 months) doesn't dominate the market and EOL everything on the planet (and given how aggressive Microsoft has gotten with Windows 7 in this last week (they're turning all the DRM/mommy-and-me features back on), I wouldn't hold my breath)
post #11 of 65
I paid $450 for my pc. Obsolete in 2 yrs for you or me but not the OP.
post #12 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacemanspliff View Post
I paid $450 for my pc. Obsolete in 2 yrs for you or me but not the OP.
true, I'm just trying to make the point that future proof is silly thinking, as I see many newcomers to IT and computing throw the term around, and love to believe that spending more money today will save them down the line...

...the people who convinced their management to spend $100m+ on Sun Ultra Enterprise equipment thought the same way (this was in ~1999, its around $2000 used on ebay or at surplus auction today, left mainstream usage in the early to mid 2000's)
post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post
years?

from today, you have 18 to 24 months on that system, tops, and in the last half, you'll be massively reducing quality settings, and outright disabling features just to get things running smoothly, gaming computers have a very short usage lifetime, especially given their price

...oh, and this assumes that DirectX 11 (which comes in roughly 9 months) doesn't dominate the market and EOL everything on the planet (and given how aggressive Microsoft has gotten with Windows 7 in this last week (they're turning all the DRM/mommy-and-me features back on), I wouldn't hold my breath)
Why are you talking about gaming computers. The OP specifically said he does not need a high end gaming computer.

The computer that the OP talked about getting should be sufficient for the tasks he wants to do for at least 5 years.

My Thinkpad T42 can do most tasks that don't involve gaming.
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by meat01 View Post
Why are you talking about gaming computers. The OP specifically said he does not need a high end gaming computer.

The computer that the OP talked about getting should be sufficient for the tasks he wants to do for at least 5 years.

My Thinkpad T42 can do most tasks that don't involve gaming.
could you be any thicker?

I was responding to another person's post, god forbid I'm allowed to have a conversation thats somewhat off-topic, and god forbid you read the explanation to that conversation (or the resolution thereof)


and the OP didn't talk about getting any specific computer, nor will any modern hardware of 2009 be in any way "sufficient" in 2014 (just like Pentium 4 at 2.5GHZ with 256MB RAM isn't "sufficient" in 2009)
post #15 of 65
I'd have to disagree. Windows 7 runs much better than Vista- my single-core Thinkpad z60t barely runs Vista but Win7 beta performs better than XP on it. A machine that runs Vista now will be faster with Win7 in the future. PCs have reached a sort of plateau in useful non-gaming performance in the last couple years. Upgrades aren't needed nearly as often anymore.
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