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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've not bought a desktop in years, so not sure what good deals are (and not much knowledge of building my own, but could probably figure it out). Thoughts on this and/or other suggestions are appreciated!


Inspiron 3000 Small Desktop Details | Dell
 

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The cake is a lie
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Budget, what will you be using it for, do you already have peripherals (mouse/keyboard/monitor/etc)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good question.

Primary use:

2 to 3 monitor set up primarily for school (starting law school in the fall).
Additional uses include:
Light media usage (spotify/netflix mostly, not much editing)
Light gaming (nothing too graphic intense)

Budget:

I'm hoping to pick up a desktop and laptop for less than $2,000 in total cost including peripherals.

What do I already have?

Nothing yet, but can get monitors for cheap from school when they liquidate them at the end of the year.
 

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Well without linking exact models (I'll let you do the shopping for best prices etc):

CPU: i5-4670K (I'm an intel fanboy) - $250
Ram: 2x4gigs (8 total) of 1600 DDR3 1600MHz CL9dimm - $80 (fuck ram has gone up in price... i got my last 8gigs for $40 about a year ago)
Mobo: Spend around $150. Z87 chipset, LGA1150 socket (if you go with the 4670k i5). Good brands are ASUS (my fave across the board), Gigabyte, ASRock
GPU: Radeon R9 270 (again ASUS or Gigabyte for brand) - $200. I'm a NVIDIA guy, but this card is better than the comparable GTX 660.
SSD: get a 128gig SSD. $85
HDD: 1TB HDD. $75
PSU: Min. 500W PSU. QUALITY of the PSU trumps the wattage. Corsair makes good shit. ~$80
Case: Antec three hundred two case. It's what I use. Good space inside, easy to install everything, lots of cooling, and only costs about $60.

That should cover the basics. If you buy parts as they go on sale, you could probably build that comp for ~$750. It will play any video game on the market at high (give or take a bit depending on the title) settings, will stream anything under the sun, and overclocked to boot. If you buy a mobo that allows crossfire/SLI, you can buy a 2nd card in the future and keep the rest of the components the same and the computer will continue to be a workhorse for years to come.

Fanboy plug: Buy ASUS when you can. Their shit is fantastic. Plus it's beautiful. This is my mobo (has bluetooth, wifi etc too!):

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That is a nice set up! I'll have to consider it, but I've never built one before. Is it difficult/worth it over a premade one such as what I linked?
 

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That is a nice set up! I'll have to consider it, but I've never built one before. Is it difficult/worth it over a premade one such as what I linked?
Spec-wise it kicks the shit out of the one you linked (though costs a fair bit more as a result). IMO, building your own is almost always the better option. You can either save money (or buy better parts for the same price) compared to a prebuilt, but for me the biggest bonus is

NO PRE-INSTALLED BLOATWARE

Seriously. It's amazing. When I first built my comp it had windows installed. That's it. Not even Microsoft Office. It's amazing.

As for the actual building process... if you can build a lego set, you can build a PC. The hardware portion is easy as hell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Spec-wise it kicks the shit out of the one you linked (though costs a fair bit more as a result). IMO, building your own is almost always the better option. You can either save money (or buy better parts for the same price) compared to a prebuilt, but for me the biggest bonus is

NO PRE-INSTALLED BLOATWARE

Seriously. It's amazing. When I first built my comp it had windows installed. That's it. Not even Microsoft Office. It's amazing.

As for the actual building process... if you can build a lego set, you can build a PC. The hardware portion is easy as hell.

Could I not just go into system files and delete any bloatware? Why would bloatware not come if I bought, say, a copy of Windows and installed it (I figure that's how you'd actually get an OS on a home-built one, or correct me if I'm wrong).

I am fairly computer and lego literate, but more on a software side than hardware so I feel slightly out of my element.
 

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Bloatware included by the manufacturer (HP, whatever) can be made to be incredibly intrusive and difficult to remove. It's bullshit, and a pain in the ass. Windows by itself does not really contain any bloatware - it's just the operating system.

This is a more comparable Dell desktop to what I listed out: Member Purchase | XPS 8700 Desktop | Dell

$735, and still has a

1) worse CPU
2) worse GPU
3) No SSD
4) worse case / less cooling
5) guaranteed to be a worse mobo and PSU
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for your help. I may start doing some shopping around for parts then!

Newegg, amazon, or anywhere else to look?
 

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Mexican Hard Shell Taco
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The kind of bloatware Rhetorik is talking about are the "utilities" manufacturers love to pre-load on the computers. For example, on my HP notebook there is this "HP Advisor" thing that keeps track of all drivers and "makes sure" you have the latest version of them. It's just one more piece of software loaded on startup, hogging up memory, that does no good. Usually the latest drivers of most hardware will be published through Windows Update, but HP likes you to download their specific version of the driver, based on the same driver published on Windows Update, that features their latest "customizations" (more bloatware).

It also came with a Notron trial for 30 days. Who cares? I use Microsoft Security Essentials plus common sense...

And there are many other "pre-loaded apps" that you'll have to pay for if you dare to try them.

Difference is, a clean install of Windows will use 1/3th or even 1/4th the RAM of a bloatware infested OEM install.
 

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Hardass!
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I'd stay away from SFF. Small Form Factor. If size is a concern then I would rather find A very good laptop with a docking station.
If size is not a problem...older generation i7s are pretty fast and cheap.
 

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I'd stay away from SFF. Small Form Factor. If size is a concern then I would rather find A very good laptop with a docking station.
If size is not a problem...older generation i7s are pretty fast and cheap.
Mini-atx FTW

...or if its cheaper ATX, but that is really just a big case
 

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laptops now are more than enough to do most things, mobile graphics arent ideal for hard core gaming but even so you can still plays games.

I have a laptop with external mouse, keyboard and 24" monitor. Its so nice to just unplug it all and throw the laptop into a small case and run out the door if need be.

My GPU/CPU is old and I can still edit HD video, play a few games, use a CAD and mix music, graphic design. Its an Nvidia GeForce 320M + Core 2 Duo / 2GB DDR3 which is very much outdated by todays "standards"
 

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Mexican Hard Shell Taco
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I used to hate small form factor computers, as the "upgrade path" was severely limited...

But the "upgradeability" of a computer is just a myth. By the time your current hardware is obsolete you'll have to replace all the guts, sometiems even the PSU. Yes, I have ATX PSUs that predate the Pentium IV, Pentium IV compatible PSUs that are no good for the new mobos, SATA-less PSUs, etc; I also have very good, still usable and fully compatible ATX housings, that I no longer use because "white" housings are no longer in fashion and they'd look atrocious with a black blu-ray and memory card reader. All that is stored at my parents place, they call it my "comptuer graveyard", fully functional hardware that is obsolete.

That's why I no longer have desktops and I just have two laptops, one with Linux (main) and another one with Windows (considering doing away with it, just keep it for "compatibility"), on both I use an external mouse/keyboard. I'm not a gamer, so crappy GPU is not an issue, current integrated GPUs are just fine for general usage (remember the days of the first ones, like the VIA graphics on the Apollo MVP4?). The other issue that laptops had were the attrociously slow HDDs, but current 7200 rpm HDDs for laptops are pretty good and SSDs blur the line. The only thing I still don't like about laptops is the "small" display, but that is easily solved with an external monitor.

And I made the switch to laptops because of power, they use a lot less power and do not require an ups! My power bill dropped 30% when I switched my linux machine from a USFF desktop with an AMD Athlon 64x2 2.6GHz or something, to a laptop (it's always on, I only shut it down every few months to vacuum the fan). Probably it will make even a higher difference for you guys in warm weathers, as all the waste heat from the computer has to be removed by the AC unit.
 

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But the "upgradeability" of a computer is just a myth. By the time your current hardware is obsolete you'll have to replace all the guts, sometiems even the PSU.
This is factually untrue. The only parts that are entirely dependent upon eachother are the mobo and the CPU. The other parts (HDDs, GPUs, ram, PSU, etc) can almost always be swapped willy-nilly unless you're trying to do something ridiculous like put a 2014 GPU in a mobo from 1998.

I ran the same mobo/CPU (LGA1156 mobo/i5-750 CPU) for 4.5 years and replaced multiple other parts during that time. Hell, the HDD I used initially was pulled from an older comp, as was the CD-Drive. This past year I decided to splurge and get a new mobo/CPU (LGA1150 mobo/i7-4770k CPU), and simply plonked all the previous parts in it again. If I didn't always want to be close to the cutting edge in graphics I could run this comp for years with excellent performance. I'll probably upgrade video cards in 2015; all of my other parts will continue to be compatible with the new GPU.

So again: your claim is untrue. You can totally have an easily up-gradable computer, so long as you make your initial purchases with that in mind. Desktop PCs also have many benefits that laptops do not, such as MUCH better cooling, ease of maintenance, and expandable internal hard drives.
 

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Mexican Hard Shell Taco
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So basically, over the time, you've replaced everything but the housing and the psu...

WOW, such savings, much upgradeable.

If I were "upgrading" my old computer all that I'd still have today is an old, low capacity, HDD, a DVD burner, housing, psu and memory card reader. Why would I want that old unreliable, and low capacity, HDD? The optical drive and card reader are worth, what, $25? That is, if the optical drive still works.

The difference is, you're replacing everything over the time, I replace everything at once.

Cooling? Why should I care about cooling? Yes, I remember the good old days, I had to open my computer in hot days as the GeForce 2 Pro and Athlon 1.4GHz overclocked to 1.6GHz produced too much heat, and it sounded like it was about to take off! A well designed laptop will remain within operating temperature with a small, silent, fan. I ended up ugrading that computer to a faster Athlon XP with the AMD OEM fan, at some point I realized that reliability and silence was much more important to me than speed. Also the GeForce 2 Pro was gone, replaced it with a low end GeForce 4 that was actually faster... And silent.

I see your point, you're a gamer, being able to upgrade the GPU and CPU every now and then is a godsend. The next gen mid-end GPU will be pretty much comparable to the previous gen high-end GPU. I'm not a gamer, music is not going to play better because I got a new CPU, SSH does not do anything faster when I log into a router, etc. Later on I'll probably upgrade the CPU on this laptop and I'll replace the HDD for an SSD (after one year, alwasy on, the current HDD gets relegated to external HDD duties), that should hold me for a couple years, then I'll get another low/mid range laptop that will work for another few years, that will include new battery, new housing, new display, new everything.
 

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Turbo nerd.
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So basically, over the time, you've replaced everything but the housing and the psu...

WOW, such savings, much upgradeable.

If I were "upgrading" my old computer all that I'd still have today is an old, low capacity, HDD, a DVD burner, housing, psu and memory card reader. Why would I want that old unreliable, and low capacity, HDD? The optical drive and card reader are worth, what, $25? That is, if the optical drive still works.

The difference is, you're replacing everything over the time, I replace everything at once.

Cooling? Why should I care about cooling? Yes, I remember the good old days, I had to open my computer in hot days as the GeForce 2 Pro and Athlon 1.4GHz overclocked to 1.6GHz produced too much heat, and it sounded like it was about to take off! A well designed laptop will remain within operating temperature with a small, silent, fan. I ended up ugrading that computer to a faster Athlon XP with the AMD OEM fan, at some point I realized that reliability and silence was much more important to me than speed. Also the GeForce 2 Pro was gone, replaced it with a low end GeForce 4 that was actually faster... And silent.

I see your point, you're a gamer, being able to upgrade the GPU and CPU every now and then is a godsend. The next gen mid-end GPU will be pretty much comparable to the previous gen high-end GPU. I'm not a gamer, music is not going to play better because I got a new CPU, SSH does not do anything faster when I log into a router, etc. Later on I'll probably upgrade the CPU on this laptop and I'll replace the HDD for an SSD (after one year, alwasy on, the current HDD gets relegated to external HDD duties), that should hold me for a couple years, then I'll get another low/mid range laptop that will work for another few years, that will include new battery, new housing, new display, new everything.

Depends.

The advantage isn't upgradablilty, its repairability. Losing a RAM DIMM or GPU is at best a pain in the ass, a damaged screen costs more than the laptop to fix.....and fix yourself often enough.....if its not in warranty forget having it done for you. Power supply connections are notoriously terrible, and tend to snap off the mobo....batteries fail, early and often. I can go on and on. (Thank GOD I no longer have a stream of people coming by to fix their damn laptops at my desk)

All of these are ten minute fixes on a desktop.

Upgrades are basically a myth, every major motherboard/CPU producer changes the chipset architecture often enough that the "next generation" often requires near a full rebuild, Mobo, CPU and RAM (usually). If you build your cmputer right it usually can make it 4-5 years, but that is if you go relatively whiz-bang. The cost to performance ration increases rapidly as you approach the latest/greatest, none of which you ever get in a lap top really.


Just depends on what you allowances are. I personally HATE laptops, the keyboards suck, touch pads annoy me and repairing then damn things is always an act of congress.
 
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