Author Topic: Computer building question  (Read 6966 times)

dogmush

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Computer building question
« on: September 13, 2023, 05:24:51 PM »
My desktop computer is dying, and probably due for a replacement.  I've been limping it along since about 2008, and it has dropped from my primary computer, to my secondary, to a backup, to the one that sits in the office and I go to when the APS post in my mind is too long for my tablet's virtual keyboard.  I also do my taxes on it, and have a couple hard drives slotted in with all my historical stuff.

So I need a desktop that can run Windows 11 (pro?  I usually get the pro version of windows, but haven't really played with 11), has a ton of storage, the ability to take multiple drives, or both, can do web browsing and YouTube streaming, isn't too expensive, supports multiple monitors, and (this is the weird part) looks cool sitting in my office.  Mrs. Mush has been crying about my ancient gaming desktop sitting under the desk like a huge monolith for 5 or 6 years.  If I can get 10 or so years out of it, I'm good for $500-$700 on this application.

So I though I'd build one for kicks.  I found these cases that fit the "fits décor" portion of the list: https://www.fractal-design.com/products/cases/terra/ or https://www.fractal-design.com/products/cases/north/

I can probably figure out motherboards, drives, power supplies, and RAM from poking around on Newegg, but does anyone have ideas for a chip and video card that walks the line between "not too expensive" and "good enough it'll still surf the net and run windows in 8 or so years"?

Is a decent home build doable in that budget?

Should I just go to best buy and get something pre made?

Thanks.

Brad Johnson

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2023, 05:30:47 PM »
Didn't Jays2Cents do an upper-midrange build not too long ago?

He's on a case kick right now. Might be worth catching a couple of episodes to get up to speed on what's available.

Brad
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dogmush

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2023, 05:35:31 PM »
Didn't Jays2Cents do an upper-midrange build not too long ago?

He's on a case kick right now. Might be worth catching a couple of episodes to get up to speed on what's available.

Brad

YouTuber?

charby

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2023, 05:37:47 PM »
My experience is that it is cheaper to buy one ready to go, toss in an extra HD for more storage and replace it every 4-5 years.
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Brad Johnson

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2023, 09:33:14 PM »
YouTuber?

Correct. Linus Tech Tips also has a ton of build vids.

Brad
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
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Calumus

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2023, 08:45:35 AM »
If you're not planning on gaming with it, your budget will be close.  I'd suggest staying away from the mini cases though. Makes cooling and expansion difficult. The "North" case that you posted is nice. Tough part is multiple monitors without a video card. This set up will do it, though I'd suggest price shopping everything on the list.
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/DtdTCd
This gives you good quality parts, way way above what you'll get in ANY pre-built. Plus, it's upgradable and you can reuse your old hard drives. I specced windows 10 because it's $20 cheaper, and the upgrade to 11 is free. Gamers nexus is another YouTube channel that does build vids and reviews of high end gaming PCs. What they usually find is pretty sad.

cordex

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2023, 09:01:42 AM »
Calumus has some good ideas.

I'd personally be inclined to go a gen older i5 (12400ish maybe) vs current gen i3 if I were going with Intel, and I'd be personally even more inclined to go Ryzen 5 than an Intel CPU especially for a value build, but I get his reasoning.  I'm also not a big fan of liquid cooling, but I haven't followed the newer stuff so maybe it's all good these days.

I've built a bunch of Fractal cases (mostly Define C cases) and have been happy with them.

MechAg94

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2023, 09:08:48 AM »
I've mostly just settled for the mid-tier pre-built computer as I don't do a lot of gaming.  However, collecting up build list parts sounds interesting. 
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Ben

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2023, 09:11:05 AM »
Calumus has some good ideas.

I'd personally be inclined to go a gen older i5 (12400ish maybe)

i5? I'm not calling you out - I know that you know way more about computers than me. I must have really screwed up when I chose the i5 for my travel laptop, because I find it awfully doggy. I've only used i7s for my main computers for years. Admittedly, I'm not a "normal" user in that I still like to play around with stuff I used to do at work, which requires a scientific workstation build. Still, and I haven't kept up on prices, I didn't think you saved all that much dough going i5 instead of i7 when compared to capability.
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cordex

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2023, 09:18:30 AM »
i5? I'm not calling you out - I know that you know way more about computers than me. I must have really screwed up when I chose the i5 for my travel laptop, because I find it awfully doggy. I've only used i7s for my main computers for years. Admittedly, I'm not a "normal" user in that I still like to play around with stuff I used to do at work, which requires a scientific workstation build. Still, and I haven't kept up on prices, I didn't think you saved all that much dough going i5 instead of i7 when compared to capability.
1. Sure i7 can be great, but it makes it hard to hit dogmush's $500-$700 budget without dropping back a bunch of generations.  I was suggesting one gen older i5 as opposed to the i3 Calumus specified in his parts list at an equivalent price point.  An i7 around $130 is going to put you back in the 3000 or 4000 series at best vs the 12000 and 13000 series that we were talking about.
2. Laptop processors are not the same as desktop processors and also have a much greater chance of experiencing thermal or power throttling.
3. Usage and install bloat matters a lot.  Someone using a pretty clean computer for web browsing, YouTube, and tax prep will be plenty happy with an i5.

Brad Johnson

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2023, 09:19:33 AM »
I know you want to build but Dell is running a blowout on Outlet Store units right now, half off or more on some stuff. Might be able to get a solid platform with better than just-decent core components, then upgrade incidentals over time.

Downside is high likelihood of getting into proprietary equipment, fitment, and BIOS issues. Upside is getting a lot of machine for a very modest price, giving you the chance to save against building a custom super-zoot machine later.

Example
Dell Vostro 3910 (Scratch & Dent)
Intel Core 12th Generation i7-12700F Processor (12 Core, Up to 4.90GHz, 25MB Cache, 65W)
Windows 11 Pro
1TB 3.5inch SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
256GB PCIe M.2 NVMe Class 35 Solid State Drive
16GB (1X16GB) Up to 3200MHz DDR4 UDIMM Non-ECC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER 6GB GDDR6
Retail Price $1258
Outlet Price $667

https://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/Online/SecondaryInventorySearch.aspx?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb&sign=PXhcOSHtr1T4IOw%2fPR7UdRn9ivdB%2bE0oq6Zr00NdFulgTkoXU%2bzcysNXBc7J15UyjuSgKSf2tkhc%2bes%2b4BD8f0u%2bX6BZfhFJWCTYT6iz4kTrOLeIv%2bSleISB4V%2fcF1PlckMS%2fY4uZ8P8peAf2lJ5nh4vGQ4Im7hs7uVXzTFLsA390v6Dg0zFTooSA4qP0uOP

Brad
« Last Edit: September 14, 2023, 04:22:13 PM by Brad Johnson »
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
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Ben

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2023, 09:26:44 AM »
1. Sure i7 can be great, but it makes it hard to hit dogmush's $500-$700 budget without dropping back a bunch of generations.  I was suggesting one gen older i5 as opposed to the i3 Calumus specified in his parts list at an equivalent price point.  An i7 around $130 is going to put you back in the 3000 or 4000 series at best vs the 12000 and 13000 series that we were talking about.
2. Laptop processors are not the same as desktop processors and also have a much greater chance of experiencing thermal or power throttling.
3. Usage and install bloat matters a lot.  Someone using a pretty clean computer for web browsing, YouTube, and tax prep will be plenty happy with an i5.

Gotchya.
"I'm a foolish old man that has been drawn into a wild goose chase by a harpy in trousers and a nincompoop."

Calumus

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2023, 10:17:07 AM »
Calumus has some good ideas.

I'd personally be inclined to go a gen older i5 (12400ish maybe) vs current gen i3 if I were going with Intel, and I'd be personally even more inclined to go Ryzen 5 than an Intel CPU especially for a value build, but I get his reasoning.  I'm also not a big fan of liquid cooling, but I haven't followed the newer stuff so maybe it's all good these days.

I've built a bunch of Fractal cases (mostly Define C cases) and have been happy with them.

I went with 13th Gen mainly because there was only a couple bucks difference between 12 and 13. Might as well have the newest. Based on his stated usage plans, the modern i3 will be more than enough. Huge difference between i3s now and 5 years ago. I haven't touched AMD in probably 15 years mainly because of hackintosh compatibility. Do they have onboard video these days that can support two monitors? 

As for AIO liquid coolers, they're pretty much dead solid reliable these days. Arctic is my favorite right now because they have thicker rads than anyone else, they're outperforming almost everybody, and they're one of the cheapest. New cpus run hot. With air cooling, his wife might find the noise in the living room objectionable. Plus, when you look at the size of the cooling towers required for modern cpus, I worry about the stress the weight of them puts on the mobo. I pretty much exclusively use AIOs for builds now unless there's a good reason not to.

Ben, does your travel laptop have a solid state drive?  The fastest CPU ever made will feel doggy on a laptop platter drive running Windows 10 or 11 

Ben

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2023, 10:42:28 AM »
Ben, does your travel laptop have a solid state drive?  The fastest CPU ever made will feel doggy on a laptop platter drive running Windows 10 or 11

Solid state and 4meg RAM, which is the highest it could take. It's an older Lenovo Yoga 4202Y, I think circa 2015, so it is certainly past its prime, but it has always felt doggy to me. I know the RAM likely had a lot to do with it. It sounds like modern i5s (or even i3s) could run circles around it?
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cordex

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2023, 10:55:12 AM »
... 4meg RAM ...
I think we found the problem ...
Even at 4 gig that's going to be asking a lot for modern Windows.

AZRedhawk44

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2023, 11:02:09 AM »
I haven't touched AMD in probably 15 years mainly because of hackintosh compatibility. Do they have onboard video these days that can support two monitors? 



That would be mobo level rather than CPU level.  AMD does have a CPU integrated graphics accelerator that is supposed to be halfway decent though.  And there's always USB displays and/or docking stations for a second display if all you're doing is Windows Desktop tier work.

Dogmush:  I'm retiring 32GB of PC3200 DDR4 memory, due to incompatibility with my Ryzen 7 3700X processor in an expanded configuration.  It's four sticks of 8GB each, sold to me as two kits of 16GB.  I'd sell you 16GB cheap for your build, it's perfectly good RAM and 16GB is more than enough for most desktop tier work that doesn't involve CAD or graphics editing.  Might save you a few bucks and let you invest a little more in a different direction.  Part number of the RAM kit if you're interested in compatibility with any CPU/mobo you choose is F4-3200C16D-16GFX, made by G.Skill.
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Ben

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2023, 11:03:22 AM »
I think we found the problem ...
Even at 4 gig that's going to be asking a lot for modern Windows.

Yeah, it started out with win8 and I went to 10. I actually mostly ran it off linux on a stick when traveling for extra security on hotel wifi, and that seemed a good bit faster than the native win.

I recall the stupid thing cost me like $500, and a quick browse shows me I can probably get way better for half that now. Maybe even cheaper on the Woot market.
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AZRedhawk44

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2023, 11:09:38 AM »
Solid state and 4meg RAM, which is the highest it could take. It's an older Lenovo Yoga 4202Y, I think circa 2015, so it is certainly past its prime, but it has always felt doggy to me. I know the RAM likely had a lot to do with it. It sounds like modern i5s (or even i3s) could run circles around it?

Yuck.

https://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/Lenovo_Laptops/Lenovo_Yoga_2_11/Lenovo_Yoga_2_11_Spec.PDF

SOC soldered RAM.

And yeah, it's about 8 generations of Intel processor behind modern stuff.  Honestly I'm kinda surprised that CPU in it even merits an i5 label, since it's only 2 cores and 4 threads.  Typically an i3 is a 2/4 config, an i5 is a 4/8 config and an i7 is an 8/16 config. 

Sorry, I don't mean to poop all over your computer.  It's just a long ways off from what a desktop system can do, even from a comparable time period.
"But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."
--Lysander Spooner

I reject your authoritah!

Calumus

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2023, 11:20:38 AM »
Sorry, I don't mean to poop all over your computer.  It's just a long ways off from what a desktop system can do, even from a comparable time period.

Yeah, a current i3 will curb stomp that i5 with 3 of its 4 cores tired behind it's back.

Ben

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2023, 11:46:53 AM »
Sorry, I don't mean to poop all over your computer.  It's just a long ways off from what a desktop system can do, even from a comparable time period.

Naw, that's cool. I was looking for something cheap to mostly web browse, emailz, and maybe netflix from while traveling. It just never seemed to even do that well. I'm not a big tablet guy, which is why I went laptop for that application. My desktops are whatever the bleeding edge CPU is at the time of purchase, as I never scrimp on my daily driver.
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dogmush

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2023, 01:48:40 PM »
Dogmush:  I'm retiring 32GB of PC3200 DDR4 memory, due to incompatibility with my Ryzen 7 3700X processor in an expanded configuration.  It's four sticks of 8GB each, sold to me as two kits of 16GB.  I'd sell you 16GB cheap for your build, it's perfectly good RAM and 16GB is more than enough for most desktop tier work that doesn't involve CAD or graphics editing.  Might save you a few bucks and let you invest a little more in a different direction.  Part number of the RAM kit if you're interested in compatibility with any CPU/mobo you choose is F4-3200C16D-16GFX, made by G.Skill.

https://www.newegg.com/g-skill-16gb-288-pin-ddr4-sdram/p/N82E16820232767

That stuff?  The super cool site Calumus just showed me says it's compatible.  What are you looking to sell it for?

Brad's correct that the smart thing to do is snap up one of those Dell outlet deals.  They have some good sales right now.  But I've never built a computer from scratch, I kinda want to, and this one's not a huge deal if it takes me a little bit to get running.

If you're not planning on gaming with it, your budget will be close.  I'd suggest staying away from the mini cases though. Makes cooling and expansion difficult. The "North" case that you posted is nice. Tough part is multiple monitors without a video card. This set up will do it, though I'd suggest price shopping everything on the list.
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/DtdTCd
This gives you good quality parts, way way above what you'll get in ANY pre-built. Plus, it's upgradable and you can reuse your old hard drives. I specced windows 10 because it's $20 cheaper, and the upgrade to 11 is free. Gamers nexus is another YouTube channel that does build vids and reviews of high end gaming PCs. What they usually find is pretty sad.

Thanks so much for that.  That looks pretty close to what I'm looking for.  I think I can get windows cheap as a fed, I gotta look at our deals.


If I start pinching pennies, What do I loose by dropping back to an I3-12100 instead of the 13100?  And the case takes Micro/Mini/normal ATX motherboards.  The MicroATX's are like 2/3's the cost.  What does the full size mothorboard get me?  Futureproofing?

Thanks so far for all the advice.

AZRedhawk44

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2023, 01:56:18 PM »
https://www.newegg.com/g-skill-16gb-288-pin-ddr4-sdram/p/N82E16820232767

That stuff?  The super cool site Calumus just showed me says it's compatible.  What are you looking to sell it for?



$20 per 16GB work for you? 
"But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."
--Lysander Spooner

I reject your authoritah!

Calumus

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2023, 04:14:25 PM »
A full sized board generally gets you more ports etc, plus it's easier to work with. While a mini atx board might have one slot for nvme drives, a full sized may have three. Extra space for the fastest storage available is always nice. Bigger board is also easier to work on.

https://computertechnicians.com.au/intel-13th-gen-vs-12th-gen-processors-what-has-improved/

With what you saved on ram, it's worth spending the extra on the additional horsepower. Plus, add in a decent gpu, and now you have a pretty decent gaming machine. Ask Rocketman about how he likes the system I specced out for him a couple months ago. Hopefully you can get a deal on Windows too. 10 or 11 doesn't matter, upgrade path is the same. Try to get Pro if you can. Keep in mind with the dells, they're still regularly using proprietary connectors on their motherboards and power supplies. Their power supplies are also often low quality and barely adequate for the system they're in. So if you did decide to upgrade the gpu in the one you posted to something more capable, you might be out of luck.

AZRedhawk44

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2023, 05:12:32 PM »
A full sized board generally gets you more ports etc, plus it's easier to work with. While a mini atx board might have one slot for nvme drives, a full sized may have three. Extra space for the fastest storage available is always nice. Bigger board is also easier to work on.

https://computertechnicians.com.au/intel-13th-gen-vs-12th-gen-processors-what-has-improved/

With what you saved on ram, it's worth spending the extra on the additional horsepower. Plus, add in a decent gpu, and now you have a pretty decent gaming machine. Ask Rocketman about how he likes the system I specced out for him a couple months ago. Hopefully you can get a deal on Windows too. 10 or 11 doesn't matter, upgrade path is the same. Try to get Pro if you can. Keep in mind with the dells, they're still regularly using proprietary connectors on their motherboards and power supplies. Their power supplies are also often low quality and barely adequate for the system they're in. So if you did decide to upgrade the gpu in the one you posted to something more capable, you might be out of luck.

Ugh... flashbacks to my PC repair days, and Gateway E1400 series computers with NLX form factor.

I think that monstrosity had a 90 watt power supply to run a Pentium III CPU and all the stuff they crammed in there.  Motherboard with a right-angle daughterboard for the PCI slots, ridiculously small fans.

I'm amazed at how much money an outfit like Gateway or Dell will blow to come up with a barely adequate power supply in an obscure proprietary form factor, in order to cheap out as much as possible on quality hardware.

Friends don't let friends buy major brand computers.
"But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."
--Lysander Spooner

I reject your authoritah!

dogmush

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Re: Computer building question
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2023, 08:05:29 PM »

With what you saved on ram, it's worth spending the extra on the additional horsepower. Plus, add in a decent gpu, and now you have a pretty decent gaming machine. Ask Rocketman about how he likes the system

I'm trying to avoid the lure of making this thing even game capable.  I have a PS5 and a 3 year old Razor laptop to scratch that itch.  Trying to save the cash.

Thanks again for that pc builder sight.  Really cool to be able to look at different combinations and get compatibility checks and different vendor's pricing.