Looking to get a better desktop...

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Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:13 am

Problem is, I'm not sure where to find exactly what I'm looking for in a new desktop, especially within a price range that I can work with. And, of course, I don't even know what kind of price to expect with what I'd like to find. It'd be nice if there was a place where you could customize the hardware and be given a price for it, 'cause I haven't had much luck with the pre-made stuff I've looked at so far (though I haven't searched much, mostly due to unfamiliarity and not knowing how best to browse around to find stuff). As for what I'm looking for:

Processor: 3.5-4GB quad-core
RAM: 6GB
HDD: 200GB (I don't need a lot)
Video card: I guess I should get something better than an Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT (I don't know what to go for with that)
OS: Windows 7, if I can run things in Vista and XP mode; otherwise, I can stick with Vista

I also wonder if it would be cheaper or possible to upgrade my current desktop instead of getting a new one... Yeah, practically computer-illiterate, here. Out of all the computers I've ever owned, they were either second-hand gifts or bought for me, so I've got next to no experience with the process.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby PCHeintz72 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:43 am

quick notes....

>>3.5-4GB

s/b Ghz

>>6GB

6 is a odd number... most jump from 4GB to 8GB. Note anything with more than 4 should use a 64bit OS, any normal system these days comes with 64bit and should not even think of 32bit OS installed, but if you are potentially getting one built for you by unknowns, make sure that is what is to be used.

Win7 getting harder to come by, it will get worse once Win8.1 hits the public, as of right now the other day Microsoft released it to hardware manufacturers.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:08 am

Oh, right, hertz... Duh.

It doesn't have to be six, but since I more or less want to "double" what I've got right now, and this computer came with three gigabytes of RAM, that's the thereabouts I went with.

As for Windows 7, if I can't run anything in Vista and XP mode, it won't matter to me, anyway. I'm going to avoid Windows 8 like the plague, and I'll stick with Vista for a few more years if it comes down to that.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Spica75 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:14 am

I also wonder if it would be cheaper or possible to upgrade my current desktop instead of getting a new one...

Depends on what it is, but it´s unlikely.

Processor: 3.5-4GB quad-core

Do you need a quadcore? Also take note that a cpu that runs at 3Ghz today is generally much faster than something 3Ghz 5 years ago.
And if what you´re comparing with is an Intel Pentium 4, then anything today of the same Ghz is massively faster.
For example, my moms 1.6Ghz Core 2 Celeron is much faster than my dads previous 3Ghz P4 Celeron.

Anyway... If you want something decent but not expensive, Core I3 3220, 3225(better integrated gfx) or 3240 is a good basic one to look at. It´s dual core with 4 logic threads, so at best it can almost manage to be as fast as a quad core, unless you run lots of high performance stuff.
If you actually NEED a quadcore, look at the Intel Core i5, something from 3470 via 3570K to 4670K.
If you need a quad but prefer something cheaper, you can check out AMD FX-4300 for a 4 core or even the FX-6300 for a 6 core.
At the moment however, Intel has a clear lead in cpu quality, so i would reccomend looking at them first unless you know what you´re doing.

RAM: 6GB

Go with 8GB Corsair DDR3 1600 or 1866Mhz(XMS3, Dominator and Vengeance are all good models).

HDD: 200GB (I don't need a lot)

It´s actually a waste of money to go with a small HDD nowadays. My usual computer store has stopped selling anything below 500GB, because it´s just not worth it. Pricetag on a 200GB and a 500GB dont differ much at all, and a 1TB drive can be had for 30-40% more cash than the 200GB one. While being faster.

Do you need high performance? If not i suggest you get a Western Digital Red 1TB. They´re cheap, surprisingly fast despite their low spinspeed, much better than average in reliability as well as quiet and cool.

If you DO need high storage performance, or if you can afford it, you can get a SSD(Solid State Drive) as the boot drive. Operative system uses a lot of room so you need something like a 60+GB at least. Look for Corsair, Samsung or Intel SSDs. Avoid OCZ and Kingston.
Adding a SSD as boot and OS drive speeds up the computer a lot more than just about any other item you can buy "bigger".

Video card: I guess I should get something better than an Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT (I don't know what to go for with that)

Do you actually run anything that requires a good gfx card? Because otherwise you really could just try going with a cpu with decent integrated gfx, like the I3 3225. There´s also AMDs A10 series of cpu´s, their integrated gfx is easily good enough for a lowend graphics gamer system.

And getting something truly better than the 9800 GT isn´t as easy as you might think, as it´s based on the longest running series of gfx cards ever(and most renamed chip ever), an exceptional chip when originally made, so good that it has stuck around in new iterations for something like 5 generations of new releases...

For something with vaguely similar performance you could look at a NVidia GTX 650 or GTX 650Ti or AMD Radeon HD 7750, 7770, 7790, 8760 or 8770. Of course, "similar" in this case refers only to fillrates, as these are much newer cards, they will generally perform far better overall.
For gfx cards, i personally prefer AMD at the moment(who bought ATI to become their gfx division some years ago).

I doubt you really need anything above the above HD 7750(or a NVidia GT 635) though(if even that). And the advantage going with the lower end of these cards is that you can get one with passive cooling only, which is frankly great as you don´t have to listen to annoying fan(s), and there are also no fans that can break and kill your expensive card.
Personally i run a Gigabyte HD 6770, passive only, superb card, and uses better than average components so even running at full, it keeps cooler than just about all similar cards with fans.

OS: Windows 7, if I can run things in Vista and XP mode; otherwise, I can stick with Vista

Yeah, go with Windows 7. If you want to use a SSD, you pretty much have to go with 7, as earlier OS doesn´t support SSDs well enough.
If you needan earlier OS to run something, dual install or use a virtual machine setup.

Dont skimp on the power supply. Antec or Corsair around 550W is a good place to aim. Avoid OCZ and cheap stuff in general.
A good quality PSU will keep running even if you overload it, while for a cheapskate PSU, the claimed wattage is commonly something more like wishful thinking on a really great day and with all the luck in the world, some will even burn out before reaching the claimed wattage.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... sing_units
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... sing_units
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... sing_units

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... processors
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... processors
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:04 am

I really don't know what I need; I typically don't push my computer much at all, but sometimes a game or other kind of program demands more than it can handle, and that happens more often over time. Whatever I'm able to afford won't just take into account what it can't do now, but what might be demanded of it later, since there's no telling when I'll have another opportunity to get a better computer again.

As for my current processor, it's a Pentium dual-core CPU E5200. I have no idea if that or my RAM is the weakest link, or both.

So long as the price is right and the performance is good, I'm not overly concerned with HDD storage space.

I have no idea what kind of video card I'll need for whatever I'll do in the future; I don't think I've ever played anything that my video card couldn't handle, but that's a moot point when I keep encountering more games that demand RAM and CPU that my computer can't muster.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby PCHeintz72 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:56 pm

Crescent Pulsar S wrote:I really don't know what I need; I typically don't push my computer much at all, but sometimes a game or other kind of program demands more than it can handle, and that happens more often over time. Whatever I'm able to afford won't just take into account what it can't do now, but what might be demanded of it later, since there's no telling when I'll have another opportunity to get a better computer again.

As for my current processor, it's a Pentium dual-core CPU E5200. I have no idea if that or my RAM is the weakest link, or both.

So long as the price is right and the performance is good, I'm not overly concerned with HDD storage space.

I have no idea what kind of video card I'll need for whatever I'll do in the future; I don't think I've ever played anything that my video card couldn't handle, but that's a moot point when I keep encountering more games that demand RAM and CPU that my computer can't muster.

Simple approach... determine what you use or do now. The most hardware intensive stuff is graphics, be it games or cad imaging or similar.

For games you play, look up the requirements on video cards and ram and video resolution... you will have to get one at least as good as the best one listed for video, and at least that much ram. If you play mainly older games, then nearly anything modern should work, but it pays to check.

Also on games, if there is a game you were thinking on, might as well check those as well, and accommodate for them now.

For hard drive space, see what you currently use, add in any games you want to play, and any downloaded media, then at least double if not triple it, that is the bare minimum size to shoot for.

Different people have different ideas on how to figure stuff like that out, but not everyone needs a more advanced system.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:46 pm

Well, I've already run into MMOs that I couldn't play (or play well) because I didn't have enough RAM or CPU, as well as the odd game or two of some other type. Every now and again I'm likely to find a new game of interest and try it out, so I'd like to not run into a hardware deficiency for a few years on top of what I can't play right now (because I can't know what I'll need for games I'm interested in if they don't exist yet).

Other than that, at some point in the future I'd like to make music and animations. The last time I'd tried either, things hadn't run so smoothly despite meeting the requirements for them, so I'd want that to be a non-issue as well.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Spica75 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:31 pm

Simple approach... determine what you use or do now. The most hardware intensive stuff is graphics, be it games or cad imaging or similar.

Not quite true. I just ran a few games of Starcraft 2, and you can turn down the graphics a LOT(enough that my previous gfx card, a 3450 could run it fine), but the limiting part, that´s the cpu. Bigtime.
Same goes for some other games, like "Hearts of Iron 2".

There is a severe need to keep gfx intensive and NOT gfx intensive games separate when determining hardware.
Games =/=(does not equal) gfx intensive by default. But if it´s a first player shooter game, THEN you generally need better gfx.

Different people have different ideas on how to figure stuff like that out, but not everyone needs a more advanced system.

Very true indeed.



*****

I really don't know what I need; I typically don't push my computer much at all, but sometimes a game or other kind of program demands more than it can handle, and that happens more often over time. Whatever I'm able to afford won't just take into account what it can't do now, but what might be demanded of it later, since there's no telling when I'll have another opportunity to get a better computer again.

As for my current processor, it's a Pentium dual-core CPU E5200. I have no idea if that or my RAM is the weakest link, or both.

Ok... Well the E5200 is a pretty decent cpu, so i´ll recommend that you go for a decent Core i5 to make sure it´s enough for long. I´m still running my E8400, although OC to 3.6Ghz and with the FSB up at 400.

Aim for that i5 4670K straight away if you can afford it.

You COULD also check if you have a motherboard that allows easy overclocking. Because that E5200 will probably run super easy and just fine with a fair amount of OC. Record for the E5200 is over 6Ghz... Though that´s with liquid nitrogen cooling...

You can try it out by checking in BIOS if you can easily modify the FSB(you will probably also need to adjust the RAM settings to compensate, so it doesn´t try to OC the RAM as well as that´s harder to do well). Your current FSB should be saying either 200 or 800(because it´s quadpumped, ie it transmits data 4 times per clockcycle), and if the motherboard supports it, you´re just about guaranteed being able to run it at 266/1066.
That would raise the cpu clockspeed from 2.5Ghz to 3.3Ghz. Oh, and make sure you know how to reset the BIOS if you try it, in case something causes it not to reboot properly after any changes. (and that´s why i buy Gigabyte motherboards, their dual BIOS backup thing is wonderful to have, if it fails to boot, the motherboard automatically boots from the backup chip with basic settings that always works)

Also, a nice bonus from this is that the FSB is the BIG bottleneck for Core 2 cpu´s, so any increase in that gives disproportionately higher bonuses.

This isn´t an ever after fix, but if you want to wait, it MAY be a very easy way to gain 20-35% extra performance for nothing.

Other than that, at some point in the future I'd like to make music and animations. The last time I'd tried either, things hadn't run so smoothly despite meeting the requirements for them, so I'd want that to be a non-issue as well.

Music making draws minimally on the hardware. Animations, if it´s serious stuff, then you may need to up the level of gfx card you´re looking for. If you mean the sort that doesn´t use the gfx card for the work, then never mind.

So long as the price is right and the performance is good, I'm not overly concerned with HDD storage space.

Getting good performance in combination with good price is just about the two things that are opposite.
Still though, even the WD Red that i mentioned has similar or better performance than my older 7200rpm HDDs, and they are about the best drives you can get without spending much more.

Otherwise i will recommend the WD Black series. The Green series is slow and has some reliability issues, the blue series is just an attempt at selling a halfassed fullspeed drive, not worth the money since their performance is pretty lame compared to what you pay for them.

And Seagate is currently too uneven with quality for me to like them. And since WD and Seagate bought up Samsung and Hitachi(the ones I preferred...) in the last few years, not much other drives around.

However one important thing, if you ever get around to doing any much with music or animations, you WILL need lots of storage space.
Also remember that a general truth on HDDs is that the larger size the drive is, the faster they operate. This due to using higher density and more platters(which also means more heads).

Me, i´m no longer buying any HDDs aside from 2TB. Because those will work with older operating systems and connections, while being the largest i can get.
And with the difference between 1TB and 2TB being around 30% higher price, why not...

But again, IF you can afford it, adding a SSD as the system disk speeds up the whole system a LOT.
Otherwise a 1TB WD Black to get best performance. You might be able to find a 500GB Black for a good price, but for another $20, you get 1TB.

I have no idea what kind of video card I'll need for whatever I'll do in the future; I don't think I've ever played anything that my video card couldn't handle, but that's a moot point when I keep encountering more games that demand RAM and CPU that my computer can't muster.

Well, you currently have a relatively decent, even if old gfx card so might as well aim for a new one that is similar in raw performance, as that should let you run anything you want.
That Radeon 7750 might be a decent starting point, check what price you can get and see if it feels like it´s worth it.

Since you mention the possibility of doing animation, then you should stick with AMD gfx and no older than that 7750, as that´s the lowest end of cards that uses their new GCN architechture which does some things, like some rendering jobs, exceptionally well.

You can use this site to get a very rough comparison of gfx cards:
http://www.hwcompare.com/11844/geforce- ... n-hd-7750/
And a different, benchmark based comparison:
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/video ... 800+GTX%2B
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:52 pm

Thanks for all that. Man, there's so much to consider. I kinda miss just getting computers, now. XD;;

As for the motherboard, I think the identity can be gleaned by the model of my computer? (Which is a Dell Studio 540.)
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Spica75 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:39 am

Crescent Pulsar S wrote:Thanks for all that. Man, there's so much to consider. I kinda miss just getting computers, now. XD;;

As for the motherboard, I think the identity can be gleaned by the model of my computer? (Which is a Dell Studio 540.)

I´m sure you have no clue that most of the forums i frequent are computer and tech-focused right? :mrgreen:

A Dell... Well that sucks as they´re usually horribly bad at letting users do much of anything in the BIOS.
Sure it´s an easy way to avoid problems due to people playing around with settings they have no clue about, but it often also means no easy way to do easy improvements or fixes.

Anyway, i seem to find this:
http://www.findlaptopdriver.com/dell-m017g-specs/
Which tells us that the board at least technically supports both 1066 and 1333 FSB speeds, meaning that the BIOS should include the ability to change FSB and to change the RAM to FSB ratio if needed.

So, decent chance of a free upgrade. It´s nothing like getting a new system but it might be enough.

And you can use this:
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
to check what other hardware you have if you don´t know.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:31 am

I think I've heard something along those lines before. :P

Well, next time I turn my computer on, I'll fiddle with the BIOS and see what happens.

(That sounds ominous when put that way!?)
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby PCHeintz72 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:31 am

Not quite true. I just ran a few games of Starcraft 2, and you can turn down the graphics a LOT(enough that my previous gfx card, a 3450 could run it fine), but the limiting part, that´s the cpu. Bigtime.
Same goes for some other games, like "Hearts of Iron 2".

There is a severe need to keep gfx intensive and NOT gfx intensive games separate when determining hardware.
Games =/=(does not equal) gfx intensive by default. But if it´s a first player shooter game, THEN you generally need better gfx.


Do realize that was a generalization... of course a game like say minesweeper would be less intensive than say mass Effect 3. But most games will be more intense than say merely checking email, browsing internet, etc...

About the only other hardware intensive thing to come to mind are things that hit the drive often... file servers for example... but no way will I believe that an issue here...

Do also note later in that same post I suggested actually looking at the system requirements for all of them plus ones considering and consider the highest as a baseline.

Performance is also relative... a person replacing say a 10 year old system could probably buy the lowest end desktop today and it would be worlds better off than what they had...


EDIT: Under no circumstances do I recommend any non-game fanatic overclock their systems. I do not care if it is safer these days, it simply is not worth it, and can damage the system unless they know what they are doing.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Spica75 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:40 am

Do also note later in that same post I suggested actually looking at the system requirements for all of them plus ones considering and consider the highest as a baseline.

Yup and that was a good suggestion.

of course a game like say minesweeper would be less intensive than say mass Effect 3. But most games will be more intense than say merely checking email, browsing internet, etc...

Nope. Unless you´re running minesweeper using 3D effects, then it is zero more intense than checking mail.
And browsing internet, can actually be more intense due to how some java and flash can run 3D code through the gfx card nowadays.

A gfx card runs in 2D mode unless the software requires 3D to be used, and the 2D are not strained by showing gfx onscreen any more than text, or moving objects any more than static ones.

About the only other hardware intensive thing to come to mind are things that hit the drive often... file servers for example... but no way will I believe that an issue here...

Well, cpu can very often be maxed out, at least on a per core basis. And that´s basically the background for why i built this computer as i did, very focused on getting the best possible cpu performance, even getting a cheapskate minimalist gfx card for it, expecting to upgrade in a year or so, but it turned out since i don´t mind running lowend gfx settings, it wasn´t until last year that i really felt a need to upgrade that.

OTOH, if i nowadays drop the OC on this system, ie take FSB from 1600 to 1333 and cpu from 3.6 to 3Ghz, i get the feeling of a slow system... So i consider it the right choice to look at cpu throughput first of all. As it affects EVERYTHING you do.
For a hardcore FPS gamer, it´s probably better to focus on the gfx card first, but those kind of people generally use highend or even extreme cpu´s anyway, so it tends to be a rather moot point.

EDIT: Under no circumstances do I recommend any non-game fanatic overclock their systems. I do not care if it is safer these days, it simply is not worth it, and can damage the system unless they know what they are doing.

Well, the thought here is basically that if he can get free performance improvement, then he can simply wait getting a new system. And if the system is damaged by the OC, he still has to get the new system now instead of later.

And well, a cpu OC, can strain 3 items, cpu(and the E5200 is one of the most easily OC cpu´s ever), motherboard(and his motherboard specs says it already supports 2 higher FSB settings on an official basis, meaning that they have to work perfect), and potentially RAM(if you need to reset FSB to RAM ratio and fail to do so).

If the motherboard didn´t fully support the higher FSBs, then there was a small risk of affecting the PCI clock(which affects everything connected to the motherboard ), but it was standard to have a PCI lock in place even before the E5200 existed, so even then there should be no bad effects. This was a big problem with OC before PCI(and AGP ) lock appeared, but they did appear a long time ago now.

Essentially, nothing beyond the cpu is going to run beyond it´s official rating, and while it might be unable to push even a single clockcycle beyond 2.5Ghz, more likely it can run 3.3Ghz without changing voltage at all.

Generally, i´m very restrictive about OC, and i more often recommend against it than for it. And i ALWAYS recommend against changing voltages. I´m very conservative about that. But the E5200 can sometimes run above 4Ghz on stock voltage, and without noticeable effects on lifetime.

I expect it to be extremely likely that his cpu can run with a 1066 FSB without any detrimental effects or problems.
Going higher will depend on wether the heatsink on the cpu is too cheapskate or not.

Soon been running my own cpu/FSB at a 20% OC for 5 years, and there´s not even a hint of any trouble. It´s one reason why i like the Core2 cpu´s, nearly all will run far beyond it´s rated specs.



Well, next time I turn my computer on, I'll fiddle with the BIOS and see what happens.

Just stick to being careful. If you´re unsure about something, don´t change.
Use this, Speedfan:
http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php
to monitor temperatures in realtime. Going for a 1066 FSB shouldn´t be a problem, but there is always the risk that Dell skimped on the heatsink for the cpu. If temperature gets up around 70C, beware. And preferably, cpu temp should stay below 60C.
But due to how some chips are differently calibrated, some will report too high(or rarely, too low) so it might be a good idea to check what temp the cpu has when you run it normally.

And as always, don´t OC just because i suggested it, it must be your choice. Even if this OC should have no risks at all, there´s always the risk of "strange things" happening.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Crescent Pulsar S » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:59 pm

Well, I'm not in dire need of it right now, but I thought I'd at least get to know what to do if I feel I can't wait, or if the opportunity to buy a new computer passes me by. I didn't find the BIOS key this time (I literally get a split second to see the Dell logo before it goes to load the OS), but by chance, out of the likely keys my research turned up, I ended up finding some other thing where I finally found the option to turn off the auto-restart feature.

Upon turning it off, though, my computer proceeded with loading the OS, so I guess I'll wait to make another attempt the next time I turn my computer on.
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Re: Looking to get a better desktop...

Postby Spica75 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:57 pm

Crescent Pulsar S wrote:Well, I'm not in dire need of it right now, but I thought I'd at least get to know what to do if I feel I can't wait, or if the opportunity to buy a new computer passes me by. I didn't find the BIOS key this time (I literally get a split second to see the Dell logo before it goes to load the OS), but by chance, out of the likely keys my research turned up, I ended up finding some other thing where I finally found the option to turn off the auto-restart feature.

Upon turning it off, though, my computer proceeded with loading the OS, so I guess I'll wait to make another attempt the next time I turn my computer on.


Good start then at least. :D

From the link i found on your motherboard, the key to get into BIOS is F2.
http://www.findlaptopdriver.com/dell-m017g-specs/
BIOS To Enter BIOS Setup: Press F2
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