Picking Computer(s)

The magic smoke.

Moderators: phlip, Moderators General, Prelates

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:32 pm UTC

Since there's no way I'm getting a new car for my birthday, my mom decided to give me money to get computer(s) for college. I've worked out several ways to approach this, but I have about a $1000-1500 range (that might be pushed to $2000). I would like to get out of this:
-A computer that will last me through college with new games at whatever graphics level possible.
-A (preferably portable) laptop that can handle any engineering software I would need for college (does this disqualify netbooks?).

The first and simplest choice would be a gaming laptop, but from what I've heard and seen, those are very expensive, unreliable, and not likely to be usable in the long term for games.

Another way to go is to get a basic gaming computer that would be easily upgradeable throughout college to keep up with requirements and a cheap but reliable laptop.

The last option I came up with is building a gaming rig myself, and using the savings to get a decent laptop, but my technical skills are fairly limited (the most I've done is installing HDDs or graphics cards). One pro to this idea is the materials I already own, like hard drives, a case, and an HD 4670 I could crossfire.

The questions I have are:
Are these goals reachable with these price restrictions?
Does anyone have any suggestions for methods of achieving these goals or specific computers/parts to check out?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

crzftx
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:49 am UTC
Location: Rockford, IL

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby crzftx » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:43 pm UTC

That depends on what country you're in.

In the US, that is easily feasible.
I would recommend building your gaming rig, as they are always cheaper built. From my experience, all ranges of computer parts are much more similarly priced than Dell or HP would have you believe. With that in mind, it would be cheaper to buy the base model from Dell, but never buy their advanced models.

About the difficulty, I find it extremely easy. There are only a few parts, and they only fit (and make sense) one way (assuming you can use intuition). I take a more casual approach, assuming if it seems to work multiple ways, I get to pick the method I like best. This guess & check has gotten me through 4 PCs.

About the laptop, I'm not really sure. I'm using a Gateway M-6881 and it seems to do the job. It has no graphics processing, but that's what the desktop is for. It can process words and browse the internet (and play COD4 on lowest settings, which is enough for me). It's a 15.4 inch, so it's not "ultra portable"; more like carrying around another calculus book.

User avatar
BumpInTheNight
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:52 am UTC
Location: Yer pants

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby BumpInTheNight » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:47 pm UTC

While I normally despise the concept of the gaming laptop, a few months ago a friend of mine got this one through work and has been absolutely thrilled with it: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp ... 8043606827

I must admit that for a laptop that's a pretty reasonable machine and a very effective gaming platform without going over board. It still eats battery time alive while gaming of course but meh that's kinda the way things work. That price is pretty damn good too considering what you get, its definitely redeemed Gateway as a PC maker in my opinion.

User avatar
mosc
Doesn't care what you think.
Posts: 5404
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby mosc » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:57 pm UTC

BumpInTheNight wrote:While I normally despise the concept of the gaming laptop, a few months ago a friend of mine got this one through work and has been absolutely thrilled with it: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp ... 8043606827

This is what I would call "adequate" for today's games. You should be absolutely thrilled with it... today. 6 months from now, you should be slightly disappointed that it can't play "new game X" without some studdering and 2 years from now you will be frustrated you can't even play "new game Y" because it's so small and chuggy. Meanwhile, a similarly priced desktop setup will have more life to it.

The 2-machine solution is vastly superior. Nobody brings out their laptop for a quick Crysis lan match in the middle of the quad. Your gaming will be in your room where you don't need portability and you don't have to worry about battery life. Similarly, you will appreciate not hauling around a 9lb laptop (with a 10lb case full of accessories) to class. The best part is that you have added flexibility and you likely saved some money to boot.

If I were in your shoes, I'd get myself a portable cheapy laptop and use it for school stuff. Minimizing it's extra-curricular activity will actually help extend it's life. Most students type a lot over those 4 years and a laptop's keyboard often doesn't last. Having something else to use in the dorm room will ensure you have good odds of getting away with just that laptop for the next 4 years. On the gaming front, you should have plenty of budget left for a decent machine. Build it yourself, it's fun and not that difficult. Plus you'll be able to fix it if it breaks. Plus you'll have a "serious" laptop to do your "serious" work on. Also, you'll be able to plop in a new video card and some 2TB disk drives for Junior year so you can keep gaming and storing all those... "class papers".
Title: It was given by the XKCD moderators to me because they didn't care what I thought (I made some rantings, etc). I care what YOU think, the joke is forums.xkcd doesn't care what I think.

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:40 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Nobody brings out their laptop for a quick Crysis lan match in the middle of the quad.

:shock: You single-handedly just ruined college for me.

Unless you meant just Crysis, which is fine because it sucks.

Seriously though, that seems like the way I am going to go. My only consideration with that is getting a laptop that will run any necessary software for school. Does anyone here (especially engineers) have ideas on what the requirements for that sort of stuff would be?

Also, would it be more beneficial to buy the laptop now and the desktop later? I'm thinking this has to be the case, but just want to check first.

stephentyrone
Posts: 778
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:58 pm UTC
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby stephentyrone » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:45 pm UTC

benbw wrote:Does anyone here (especially engineers) have ideas on what the requirements for that sort of stuff would be?


Matlab.
GENERATION -16 + 31i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

0xBADFEED
Posts: 687
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 2:14 am UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby 0xBADFEED » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:59 pm UTC

Is CAD important to you?
If you're an ME and planning to run any MCAD systems on your laptop you should be sure it has a decent graphics card with good OpenGL compatibility.

User avatar
BumpInTheNight
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:52 am UTC
Location: Yer pants

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby BumpInTheNight » Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:20 am UTC

CAD software is probably the most taxing you'll encounter and think of them like a semi-modernish game, they'll work on a lower end machine but can and will take advantage of any higher grade parts. If you're going with the el cheapo laptop & desktop combo you'll want to focus on ensuring the laptop can basically be a portable note taker for school itself and a general light-weight browser etc for more personal purposes and that's about it, focus your cost and power on the desktop. This is ultimately how I'd do things as well, just thought I'd bring up that rather neat and for its type inexpensive gamer laptop as an option. I think the 2 years before its 'useless' is heavily exaggerated too, considering king of the hill two years back were 8800GTXs and they have no issues at all playing games released recently, its slightly more modernized cousin the 9800GTS-M should have a similar lasting power as well.

Back to the paired method's laptop I probably wouldn't go as light as a netbook for the laptop but that's my personal taste, I'd want something just a little more capable but it doesn't have to be modern at all. Something with perhaps a 2ghz single or dualcore CPU and 1-2GB of ram, reasonable sub 100gb drive and a decent or third party wireless capability would be it. Battery life would be my second most important trait in them as you'll probably want it to be semi-active throughout the day with minimal time spent being tied to an outlet, a spare battery could work towards that as well. You could likely find all that in a laptop that's been on the market for 3-4 years already and it would probably cost very little, under 400$ ideally in either situation of buying an older model but new or used and just replacing its battery. ED: Mind the key stroke noise factor, there is nothing more off-putting hearing someone constantly tapping away on a laptop during a lecture while taking notes, same with being that person with the loud keys.

Based on that strategy for the laptop that'd leave you with roughly 1000-1500 (you know you want the 1500$ to spend on this guy so push for that :P). How that is spent is open to much debate on methods. I just wouldn't cheap out on the monitor, get a good idea of what you want to spend on that before anything else, you're going to be looking at that thing *alot* over the next four years so be sure its a pleasing sight. 22-24" WS LCD with both DVI & HDMI input so that it could multi-purpose as times goes on too.

One further word/question though is do you know what your accommodations are going to be like? Gaming desktops release a lot of heat, a cramped two-man dorm room without any sort of climate control could lead to a frustrating experience. Another is noise, the fans used to cool this guy should be goodies and as silent as possible, I've had great success with the Scythe brand and replace any default case fans with them.

User avatar
mosc
Doesn't care what you think.
Posts: 5404
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby mosc » Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:52 pm UTC

I forgot about the lack of air conditioning. Bring fluids, dress lightly, and ignore it. That's the only thing you can do anyway. Not that people like to admit it but 2 human bodies put out enough heat in a cement tomb dorm room to roast anyway. With or without the gaming machine.
Title: It was given by the XKCD moderators to me because they didn't care what I thought (I made some rantings, etc). I care what YOU think, the joke is forums.xkcd doesn't care what I think.

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:09 pm UTC

I've been looking at processor/motherboard combos recently, and I need some help on comparing power. For example, what speed i7 or quad-core CPU would outperform my current 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo? Are there specific ratios for comparing them or are the other factors too important to ignore?

Also could someone confirm that this list of what I need is complete?

CPU
Motherboard
Graphics Card(s)
PSU
Cooling
Case
RAM
HDD
Optical drive

User avatar
BumpInTheNight
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:52 am UTC
Location: Yer pants

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby BumpInTheNight » Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

Monitor, keyboard & Mouse, speaker system and if you're dorming it up definitely some headphones.

Comparing CPUs is where things get gray and fanboy flame wars start so I'll try to keep it generic: The speed in mhz is the first measure, the next is how many cores. Multiply those two against each other for direct comparison when talking about mundane tasks like dealing with archives or burning a DVD but know that gaming itself is still catching up to the using more then two cores. Next consider the different types of quads, this is where people will bicker but just consider that the newer the design the faster they'll be then the previous ones by (random ballpark figure) 20%.

ED: Even with 1500$ I wouldn't be looking at an I7 based computer considering you need to buy all the peripherals beyond the guts too.

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:44 pm UTC

Since I want a computer that will be viable all four years and hopefully longer, I think paying for an i7 is justifiable, as adding SLI/Crossfire is an option during college, while getting an i7 is not.

User avatar
mosc
Doesn't care what you think.
Posts: 5404
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:52 pm UTC

benbw wrote:Since I want a computer that will be viable all four years and hopefully longer, I think paying for an i7 is justifiable, as adding SLI/Crossfire is an option during college, while getting an i7 is not.

Spend less, upgrade more often. 4 year timeframe is silly.
Title: It was given by the XKCD moderators to me because they didn't care what I thought (I made some rantings, etc). I care what YOU think, the joke is forums.xkcd doesn't care what I think.

User avatar
mosc
Doesn't care what you think.
Posts: 5404
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby mosc » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:20 pm UTC

You spent $1400 in 4 years and have a computer that is considerably slower than mine. I spent ~$1000 in 4 years and have a computer faster than yours. You got ripped off and are patting yourself on the back for it. Also, if you include interest/inflation over that time (especially if you financed yours), it's even more in my favor.

Not trying to call you out, but it's silly to argue about the general principle that your best performance per dollar over the long-term on continually scaling applications is to buy more often for less money.
Title: It was given by the XKCD moderators to me because they didn't care what I thought (I made some rantings, etc). I care what YOU think, the joke is forums.xkcd doesn't care what I think.

stephentyrone
Posts: 778
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:58 pm UTC
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby stephentyrone » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:10 pm UTC

mosc wrote:You spent $1400 in 4 years and have a computer that is considerably slower than mine. I spent ~$1000 in 4 years and have a computer faster than yours. You got ripped off and are patting yourself on the back for it. Also, if you include interest/inflation over that time (especially if you financed yours), it's even more in my favor.

Not trying to call you out, but it's silly to argue about the general principle that your best performance per dollar over the long-term on continually scaling applications is to buy more often for less money.


He also may have generated less waste and had a smaller carbon footprint of shipping and manufacturing, depending on what you chose to do with the old parts you replaced, as well as saving himself time getting a new system set up to suit his needs and preferences. I'm also not trying to call you out, but for a lot of people "performance per dollar" isn't the end-all of their decision making. There are other elements of cost beyond simple dollar amounts.
GENERATION -16 + 31i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:10 am UTC

mosc wrote:
benbw wrote:Since I want a computer that will be viable all four years and hopefully longer, I think paying for an i7 is justifiable, as adding SLI/Crossfire is an option during college, while getting an i7 is not.

Spend less, upgrade more often. 4 year timeframe is silly.

Upgrading my processor will be next to impossible once I reach college (unless I go ahead and settle for a state school). If I settle for a Core 2 Quad, how long would it be usable?

User avatar
cerbie
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:14 am UTC
Location: USA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby cerbie » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:38 am UTC

benbw wrote:I've been looking at processor/motherboard combos recently, and I need some help on comparing power. For example, what speed i7 or quad-core CPU would outperform my current 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo? Are there specific ratios for comparing them or are the other factors too important to ignore?
If you currently have a 2.8 C2D...what is wrong with your current PC? While you can get faster (really, the i7 doesn't beat the Core 2s clock per clock), it's mostly parallel (an i7 w/ HT on encoding modern video formats? Oh hell yes!). In other words, for most things, a 2.8GHz i7 will not be appreciably faster than a 2.8GHz C2D. With HT off, it will only show itself as better than a C2Q in benchmarks, and usually only by a hair.

Don't plan for it to last four years. Make it a good value, and gradually upgrade as needed. For non-gaming tasks, a nice C2D or i7 will be more than enough. It may still be more than enough in four years...or not. Don't go cheap; but don't go spending a bunch extra for future-proofness. Also, if you don't game much on a PC during these years, anything current will last, as long as you give it enough RAM :).

I haven't been able to *really* stress my 1+ year old C2D 2.66, yet. So, exactly what do you have, before we go on? A Core 2, with a nice video card added, and RAM maxed out (4GB for 32-bit OS, 8GB most of the time for 64-bit), and spiffy monitor on the desk, will be a fine machine for a little while yet. You can show vast benchmark differences...but you can also lower game detail :). IMO, a desktop with a quality keyboard, mouse, and monitor are superior to a faster PC any day of the week. Also, if you're in the US, Best Buy has a practically no-questions-asked monitor return policy for 14 days. That one pixel Newegg won't take it back for? Well, Best Buy sucks for a lot of things, but not for buying monitors!

I agree w/ the 2-computer solution, and would personally go with a lower-end Thinkpad with a decent bit of RAM (3-4GB), for a notebook. Be warned: Thinkpads grow on you.

Anyway, really, what is your current PC? You may be able to upgrade it, or scavenge from it.
Also could someone confirm that this list of what I need is complete?

CPU
Motherboard
Graphics Card(s)
PSU
Cooling
Case
RAM
HDD
Optical drive
...add an OS, and you're good.

benbw wrote:
mosc wrote:
benbw wrote:Since I want a computer that will be viable all four years and hopefully longer, I think paying for an i7 is justifiable, as adding SLI/Crossfire is an option during college, while getting an i7 is not.

Spend less, upgrade more often. 4 year timeframe is silly.

Upgrading my processor will be next to impossible once I reach college (unless I go ahead and settle for a state school). If I settle for a Core 2 Quad, how long would it be usable?
My notebook has a P3 in it. Things are usable as long as you need them to be. IMO, SLI/Crossfire are wastes of money. A single good card now then a single good card later v. two good cards now that will be bested by a single cheaper one later, that will also use less power? Eh, just stick with one.
DSenette: (...) on the whole, even a trained killer cow is kind of stupid.

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:15 pm UTC

The problem is that my current computer won't be coming with me to college. I can take my HD 3670 and an 8400 GT, but that's all.

cerbie wrote:My notebook has a P3 in it. Things are usable as long as you need them to be.

You can't run TF2 on willpower.

If C2D's are feasible, how long would a 2.93 GHz i7 last as more and more programs make use of its benefits?

stephentyrone
Posts: 778
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 10:58 pm UTC
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby stephentyrone » Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:44 pm UTC

cerbie wrote:While you can get faster (really, the i7 doesn't beat the Core 2s clock per clock), it's mostly parallel (an i7 w/ HT on encoding modern video formats? Oh hell yes!). In other words, for most things, a 2.8GHz i7 will not be appreciably faster than a 2.8GHz C2D. With HT off, it will only show itself as better than a C2Q in benchmarks, and usually only by a hair.


That depends a lot on what you're doing with it, and which Core2 you're comparing with. While the differences between the Core2 and the i7 are mostly in the memory/cache hierarchy and layout, one shouldn't forget that i7 (and the "penryn" die-shrunk Core2s of the last year or so) have a much faster divide/sqrt unit, and support for SSE4.1. Earlier Core2s ("merom", "conroe", etc) do not. There were some other minor micro-architectural changes made in the penryn die shrink that can actually have quite a large impact on performance for certain tasks.

For general computing, yeah, there's not a big difference. From my standpoint (optimizing scientific/DSP compute libraries), the difference is pretty substantial (though not nearly as big a deal as the Core -> Core2 transition).
GENERATION -16 + 31i: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum. Square it, and then add i to the generation.

User avatar
mosc
Doesn't care what you think.
Posts: 5404
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby mosc » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:02 pm UTC

If you can't find some ridiculously specific task that the old processor doesn't do faster than the new one, you haven't looked hard enough. That's been true for eons.
Title: It was given by the XKCD moderators to me because they didn't care what I thought (I made some rantings, etc). I care what YOU think, the joke is forums.xkcd doesn't care what I think.

User avatar
cerbie
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:14 am UTC
Location: USA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby cerbie » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

benbw wrote:The problem is that my current computer won't be coming with me to college. I can take my HD 3670 and an 8400 GT, but that's all.
Ah, that does it for that, then. And, if you plan for more heavy games than WoW, yeah, neither of those are too suitable.

cerbie wrote:My notebook has a P3 in it. Things are usable as long as you need them to be.

You can't run TF2 on willpower.
Nope. That's what a C2D-based desktop is for (with a 7300GT, I technically can run TF2, actually, but I do plan for a decent video card once Windows 7 comes out). The important things are actual work, like papers and such, you know?

If C2D's are feasible, how long would a 2.93 GHz i7 last as more and more programs make use of its benefits?
It depends on what can take advantage of it.
Scenario A: single thread.
Scenario B: multiple threads, but poor scaling.
Scenario B: multiple threads, scales fairly well.

A is your desktop tasks. You get benefit from a dually, but a C2D, C2Q, and i7 at 2.93 GHz will basically be as fast.
B is most of your games, some engineering type software, and some image and video editing software. Most just can't quite take advantage of all the extra cores...but they are working on it! If you know what you'll use can use more cores, but it's like Photoshop or something, more than a C2D may help, or may not, depending on how much you push it. Games are being slow to take advantage of four or more cores properly.
C is your server apps, good engineering type software, h264 video encoders, and so on, that just plain rock with more CPU cores thrown at them. For these, the more, the better.

Check out this: http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=3542
Mix and match between the Intel value and Intel performance, and you'll have a good start.
DSenette: (...) on the whole, even a trained killer cow is kind of stupid.

User avatar
cerbie
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:14 am UTC
Location: USA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby cerbie » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:11 am UTC

mosc wrote:If you can't find some ridiculously specific task that the old processor doesn't do faster than the new one, you haven't looked hard enough. That's been true for eons.
Here, it's the other way around. The main thing is that the minor costs of the i7 add up a bit, even with the CPUs being almost the same price...up to a point

3.00GHz C2D w/ VT: $168
2.93GHz C2D w/o VT: $140 <-- great value, but I'd have to get HW VT (probably not important to you :))
3.00GHz C2Q w/ VT: $324
2.66GHz C2Q w/o VT: $185 <-- competitive for four cores
3.00GHz Ci7 w/ VT: $599
2.93GHz Ci7 w/ VT: $559
2.66GHz Ci7 w/ VT: $279 <-- best price for i7, but for 99% of what you'll use, it's no better than the C2Q

The 2.93GHz C2D is awfully compelling. How much will the i7 get you for $79? Well, if you're running an Apache server and are worried about being put up on Reddit? Plenty. Turn HT on and laugh. If you're gaming? Eh, basically nothing. Almost everything else that isn't specifically tailored for high numbers of cores, or just for that CPU? Not much difference. $79 is 8GB of DDR2, a nicer mobo, a nicer PSU and cooler, nicer case, more money for a monitor, or for the notebook, etc.. IMO, it's a choice between the C2Q 2.66, and the C2D 2.93.
DSenette: (...) on the whole, even a trained killer cow is kind of stupid.

benbw
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby benbw » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:35 pm UTC

After looking at this, I'm thinking that the i7 920 would be much more cost-effective for what I want, but the C2Q seems very close performance-wise. So, can someone tell me (without bias if possible) what advantages, if any the i7 would have in gaming ability, gaming longetivity, and internet/music use?

User avatar
echelle
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:59 pm UTC

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby echelle » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:03 am UTC

for your first two questions most games don't rely a huge amount on the procceser its more the video card that makes a differance once you have a 2.8 ghz or so dual core and web browsing doesn't take much either the only thing that you might need more proccesing power for is decoding audio, if you plan to compile programs and some enginnering and mathamatics programs.

some reasons you still might want to get the i7 is it uses the new socket type which might make it easier to upgrade later and more and more programs are taking advantege of multiple cores and the i7 will pretty much future proof you. But if you do go with an i7 get the 920 the only differance between it and the others is a few hundred dollers is a bit higher clock speed and an unlocked multiplier in the 1000$ ones
thehivemind5 wrote:
many things are fundamental to the concept of humanity, but, in my opinion at least, carbon is not one of them.


Liberals are closet aristocrats

User avatar
cerbie
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:14 am UTC
Location: USA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby cerbie » Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:10 am UTC

For internet and music, anything modern is overkill.

For a pro-C2Q view, check the UT3 benches on that same article. *yawn* You can almost always find such benchmarks.

So, for now, I guess...price up everything else, and see how much room you have to work with. The notebook, case, power supply, video card, drives, cooling (if any), mouse, keyboard, and OS are all going to cost the same whether you get a C2Q or Ci7.
DSenette: (...) on the whole, even a trained killer cow is kind of stupid.

User avatar
rath358
The bone of my bone
Posts: 945
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:02 am UTC
Location: west Camberville

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby rath358 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:51 pm UTC

When looking at a desktop, make triple sure that is has USB and headphone jacks in the FRONT!
I cannot stress this enough, having dealt with it.

User avatar
Emu*
Posts: 689
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:47 am UTC
Location: Cardiff, UK
Contact:

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby Emu* » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:17 pm UTC

cerbie wrote:Scenario A: single thread.
A is your desktop tasks. You get benefit from a dually, but a C2D, C2Q, and i7 at 2.93 GHz will basically be as fast.


O RLY?

More than one core does make common desktop use more pleasurable; being able to use Photoshop and play music and download creative-commons licensed files via BitTorrent all at the same time is way better than watching it all stutter about.

Normal desktop usage does not rule out multiple concurrent theads.
Cosmologicon wrote:Emu* implemented a naive east-first strategy and ran it for an hour, producing results that rivaled many sophisticated strategies, visiting 614 cells. For this, Emu* is awarded Best Deterministic Algorithm!

User avatar
Dromtry
Posts: 169
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:22 pm UTC
Location: The Ninjas Are Coming, NH

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby Dromtry » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:36 pm UTC

Just to say, I play TF2 right now on a 1GHz AMD Athlon XP-M with a single gig of RAM and a GeForce 4600. I've had this machine for something like 5 years, and it's till playing fairly new games.

Shit is so cash.
~steve

User avatar
cerbie
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:14 am UTC
Location: USA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby cerbie » Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:19 am UTC

Emu* wrote:Normal desktop usage does not rule out multiple concurrent theads.
True. It just isn't involved 99% of the time for the overwhelming majority of apps, and those apps it does help get hefty benefit from two cores, too (how much difference will you notice in Chrome between 2 and 4 and 8, really?). There's always an exception.

Dromtry wrote:Just to say, I play TF2 right now on a 1GHz AMD Athlon XP-M with a single gig of RAM and a GeForce 4600. I've had this machine for something like 5 years, and it's till playing fairly new games.

Shit is so cash.
Resolution tends to be the killer. 1680x1050 with any AA, AF, etc. just kills older cards and crappy new cards (I got mine for cheap HD offloading and a good passive cooler). It was $43 shipped, and at 1680x1050, crippled RAM and all, it kills my old OCed 5900XT (FYI, my Ti 4200 died of ESD or something during a mobo change, else I'd have skipped that generation :)).

You can get 2GHz+ dual-core Intels for under $100. You can get a stock passive 9800GT (BFG) for under $150. You can get 8GB DDR2 or 6GB DDR3 for under $100. If you want it to be bad at gaming, you have to put effort into it.
DSenette: (...) on the whole, even a trained killer cow is kind of stupid.

User avatar
Dromtry
Posts: 169
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:22 pm UTC
Location: The Ninjas Are Coming, NH

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby Dromtry » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:59 am UTC

cerbie wrote:
Dromtry wrote:Just to say, I play TF2 right now on a 1GHz AMD Athlon XP-M with a single gig of RAM and a GeForce 4600. I've had this machine for something like 5 years, and it's till playing fairly new games.

Shit is so cash.
Resolution tends to be the killer. 1680x1050 with any AA, AF, etc. just kills older cards and crappy new cards (I got mine for cheap HD offloading and a good passive cooler). It was $43 shipped, and at 1680x1050, crippled RAM and all, it kills my old OCed 5900XT (FYI, my Ti 4200 died of ESD or something during a mobo change, else I'd have skipped that generation :)).

You can get 2GHz+ dual-core Intels for under $100. You can get a stock passive 9800GT (BFG) for under $150. You can get 8GB DDR2 or 6GB DDR3 for under $100. If you want it to be bad at gaming, you have to put effort into it.

My monitor can't do anything higher than 1280x1024, so I play it at that.
~steve

User avatar
Durinthal
Posts: 799
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 9:46 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby Durinthal » Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:40 pm UTC

As a number of other people said, having a separate laptop and gaming computer will probably work out better than an all-in-one brick of a laptop.

I'll note that the Ars Technica System Guide has just been updated, which I find useful as a base guide for planning a new system. With your budget, I'd probably try for a modest Core i7 system (a hybrid of Ars' Budget Box and Hot Rod) as it leaves room to upgrade.

User avatar
cerbie
Posts: 934
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:14 am UTC
Location: USA

Re: Picking Computer(s)

Postby cerbie » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:51 am UTC

Honestly, I like the Ars Intel choices better than Anandtech's (IMO, do not buy a monitor before you see it in person, though--little features in the mount, OSD menu, how it scales non-native res, degree of backlight bleed, etc., can be important factors for something you see so much of--and yes, CRTs were easier to choose from). The modestly-priced Antec cases are very nice.

If you plan on twerking it a good bit (quieting, overclocking), I'll say that I've been exceptionally pleased with all the recent Gigabyte boards, from the Intel 9xx series (even the cheap 945G and G31 ones) on up to the newest 775s. They aren't put in those guides over and over again without cause.
DSenette: (...) on the whole, even a trained killer cow is kind of stupid.


Return to “Hardware”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests