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Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 57188 5-Feb-2010 07:44
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I need to keep costs low, so my budget is whatever is the least possible (without however going waaaay too cheap, as I'm aware of the law of diminishing returns also has application to the first few rungs of costs where the jumps are biggest. Plus I'd like to have a decent).

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this month, hopefully even next week BUDGET RANGE: as far under NZ$1k as possible....

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: web design/development, browsing the net, movie watching, a light bit of gaming of previous generation games

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: won't need an OS, speakers, or a mouse. Maybe not a keyboard either

PARTS PREFERENCES: I've got a preference for AMD and uATX form factor, but I can be swayed on these issues as they are not deal breakers

OVERCLOCKING: No / Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No, won't have a graphics card just yet. I'll make do with IG for now

MONITOR RESOLUTION: dunno? higher the better I suppose, but really I just want to keep costs down


What I've decided on so far (criticism welcome!):
CPU: $90 AMD Athlon II X2 240 2.80GHz AM3
Mobo: $150 Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H
RAM: $100 2GB DDR3 (recommendations?)
Case: $100?? ?? I'd prefer a small form factor as I live in a small apartment in the central city
DVD: $45.00 Samsung/Asus/LG/LiteOn 22X SATA Dual Layer DVDRW (haven't decided on a specific one yet)
HDD: $80 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE SATA II 7200RPM 16MB Cache
= ~$565.00 Total inc gst, ex shipping (and no screen yet)


My preference tends towards going with the AMD option if all arguments for/against more or less cancel themselves out, but if Intel is a greatly better idea it won't be hard to convince me.


What I have now: An IMB Laptop, the X30 (many years old and is on the fritz).

So basically I don't have any parts I can reuse in a new computer, although I've got a mouse and might be able to rustle up a keyboard.

Planning to assemble it myself, done it a couple of times before & isn't that hard. No intentions at this point in time to overclock.

Living in auckland, and intending to pick up the parts in person from the stores around here in the central city.

Going to use it for web development work, tinkering on open source projects, etc...

Won't do any gaming other than quite light stuff like Civilization III, Unreal Tournament 2004, Quake III etc... thus won't spend the money on a graphics card, I expect a decent bit of integrated graphics can cope with that these days? Although maybe when Christmas rolls around this year I'll get myself a mid range graphics card for a couple of hundred if I can.

Which leads me on to the next point... if we can look to the future for potential upgradability that would be handy, as this would be my main machine for the next few years & I'd expect a secondary one for several years after that.

As I'm clueless as to what monitor to get I'll just go with pab's monitor guide? I'd get the cheapest 20 inch which is recommended in the guide (LG W2043 for about $220, 20" 1600x900 16:9 5ms DVI) or maybe the 23 inch that is recommend (Asus VH232T at about $280 23" 1920x1080 16:9 5ms DVI). Perhaps in a Christmas or two from now I'll get a bigger screen and use whatever one I get now as the secondary monitor (for email, newsgroups, forums, news sites, etc..), but for now I have to be conscious of cost.

I really miss the old pricespy a lot, was heaps easier to look and see where the price jumps are as you go from one monitor/harddrive/ram/etc size to another.




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  Reply # 296395 5-Feb-2010 13:07
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Dell GX280 or newer off TradeMe, around $200. Add a cheap low profile video card. In general I go for Samsung monitors, but there are various models. The ones with square boring plastic trim tend to be the professional ones, the glossy rounded plastic trim are consumer "show pieces" (but still good).

There was an issue with Dell (and most other brands) causing capacitors to fail prematurly due to a supplier issue. It affected Dell most because they took a very long time before acknowledging the issue or fixing it. The capacitors pop open at the top, easy to check (just see if the can makes a bubble). Mostly an issue with GX270 and older and mostly the capacitors around the CPU and graphics.

I've got a GX280 which I might consider selling. All faulty capacitors were replaced, I'm an electronic engineer. Send me a PM if interested. These are nice PCs which I find boots up very fast, just not the same as custom built PCs (and I've built many custom built PCs).




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  Reply # 296411 5-Feb-2010 13:53
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Looks like you are already following the good advice from the gpforums pc build forums.

I would take a <$600 custom build with quality parts you have chosen yourself over a Dell any day of the week.

The onboard video should be good enough for old games, you can always upgrade to 4GB ram and a better graphics card later as needed.

www.gearbot.co.nz is a good alternative to the "new" pricespy.

For the monitor I would definitely go for a 22-24" with the full HD res (1920x1080) rather than the 20", 900px high is just too small for a desktop machine thesedays imo!

Remember to factor in power supply price, if you go for a case that doesn't come with one.

 
 
 
 




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 296451 5-Feb-2010 16:31
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Additional info:

I'll only be doing very light weight "development". Scripting languages (PHP/Ruby) and fairly smaller sized sites. So far as application development and other such "heavier" work that would just be side hobby projects that won't matter so much (such as developing games for the mobile phones).  So I don't think I'll need a top end quad core processor as I won't be the kind of developer working with NET/Java/etc who has to wait around for ages for their code to compile.

And I think I'm certainly going for the AMD, for several reasons (feel free to argue against!):
0. Better value at the lower end price point I'm going for
1. Better upgrade path from that price point (with the AM3)
2. motherboards for AMD can have *much* better IG than Intel motherboards (which at least allows me to do very basic gaming on an occasional basis without getting a dedicated graphics card).

I'm quite happy with the idea of just getting a minimal computer now to get me buy and later in the year when I have more cash get the other parts one by one (a 2nd & bigger monitor, mid range graphics card, etc...).

Which leads me on to my other piece of important info, my planned upgrade path for the next 18months (hopefully sooner! First upgrade out of the list will only be a few months from now I'm sure) as cash allows and needs require (so in no particular order):

Another (bigger!) monitor to run 2 at once (the 1st monitor I'm getting now will become the secondary one to display email/newsgroups/nzherald/forums/tv/music/etc...)
Another identical 2GB of RAM to bring it to a total of 4GB
A second identical hard drive for RAID 1 (to help with data always being backed up)
SSD hard drive to boot from & to put the most regularly used applications on it
A mid range graphics card so I can take on more recent games
Some nifty speakers

Niel: Dell GX280 or newer off TradeMe, around $200. Add a cheap low profile video card. In general I go for Samsung monitors, but there are various models. The ones with square boring plastic trim tend to be the professional ones, the glossy rounded plastic trim are consumer "show pieces" (but still good).

There was an issue with Dell (and most other brands) causing capacitors to fail prematurly due to a supplier issue. It affected Dell most because they took a very long time before acknowledging the issue or fixing it. The capacitors pop open at the top, easy to check (just see if the can makes a bubble). Mostly an issue with GX270 and older and mostly the capacitors around the CPU and graphics.

I've got a GX280 which I might consider selling. All faulty capacitors were replaced, I'm an electronic engineer. Send me a PM if interested. These are nice PCs which I find boots up very fast, just not the same as custom built PCs (and I've built many custom built PCs).

Hmmm...  I thought as a general principle it is best to not buy consumer electronics secondhand off trademe? (unless you have a very good idea of the pricing and you are damn sure you're getting a *bargain*) For various reasons such as they get outdated *very* quickly & they are meant to be *consumables* thus further limiting their lifespan.

Ragnor: Looks like you are already following the good advice from the gpforums pc build forums.

I would take a <$600 custom build with quality parts you have chosen yourself over a Dell any day of the week.

The onboard video should be good enough for old games, you can always upgrade to 4GB ram and a better graphics card later as needed.

www.gearbot.co.nz is a good alternative to the "new" pricespy.

For the monitor I would definitely go for a 22-24" with the full HD res (1920x1080) rather than the 20", 900px high is just too small for a desktop machine thesedays imo!

Remember to factor in power supply price, if you go for a case that doesn't come with one.
Thanks for the link to gearbot! It is just like the "old" pricespy, w00t! :D
Read my additional info above: I'm considering getting the 20" as eventually I'd upgrade to 2 monitors, but for now I just really want to save on costs (while still allowing as much upgrading as possible in the near future without any wasted cost along the way).

Yup, I have been reading a lot around the gpforums but I've already found a few errors (from it being out of date) or simply not quite meeting my exact requirements. One example being the AM2+ => AM3 (& thus getting DDR3 instead, with the price drops they are no longer so much more expensive). So I felt I should get another perspective & geekzone would be the next best place for local advice :)




Who I am: multi time Ironman finisher, University of Auckland graduate, Freelancer (mainly focused on website development, message me for work).

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  Reply # 296472 5-Feb-2010 17:22
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I would not pay $200 for an old Dell, but you can rely on a newer model around $200. Fine if you use it for low end and a temporary cheap PC.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 296492 5-Feb-2010 19:02
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Let's say I spent around $200/300 for a 2ndhand Dell, along with the risks of getting it 2ndhand it also has no future whatsoever... where can it be upgraded to? Well it could, but it would hardly be worth it.

I'd rather spend the extra few hundred (even though I've got a very tight budget now) to make a strong base computer, which has got a solid expansion/upgrade path for the rest of the year when I do have the money. Then come the end of this year I'll have a final computer which will be quite powerful.

======

would this be such a crazy idea: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=3730 ?

About 70% success rate was reported (all the gory details: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=227004). Good idea to unlock the extra two cores on an X2?




Who I am: multi time Ironman finisher, University of Auckland graduate, Freelancer (mainly focused on website development, message me for work).

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  Reply # 296528 5-Feb-2010 22:24
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try and get yourself a motherboard that has both VGA and DVI (or HDMI) ports on it. If you are developing you'll end up wanting to run a second monitor and you can do that easy if you have a VGA and DVI. (NOTE: the board you chose has that covered)

Also get a CPU that can handle both 64bit and virtualisation. if you're web developing you might want to run different browsers inside of virtual machines for testing and a cpu with the goods will make this easier. (NOTE: your chosen CPU is fine for this)

Lastly, try and get a motherboard that has 4 memory slots- and a capacity of 8GB or 16GB. It sucks when your motherboard only has 2 slots and limits you to 2GB. (NOTE: board you chose has that covered)

you can get some pretty cheap motherboards that would fit the bill.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 296534 5-Feb-2010 22:48
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sweet, by either dumb luck or wise decision I've picked out the right parts! (cpu/mobo)
but thank your very much for making those points, I'll keep them at the front of my mind should I decide to switch to a different part




Who I am: multi time Ironman finisher, University of Auckland graduate, Freelancer (mainly focused on website development, message me for work).

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  Reply # 296836 7-Feb-2010 17:47
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dman: Additional info


Sounds like a decent plan.

About RAID1 just remember do not be lulled into a false sense of security.

RAID may reduce the chance of losing data due to drive failure but it is no protection against losing your data due to other means, e.g. user error, house burns down etc.



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 297272 9-Feb-2010 03:31
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I'm thinking I'll just buy a cheap ex-lease 17" monitor for about NZ$100: http://www.gearbot.co.nz/pages/prod/1260/17%22-LCD/

Then later when I get the cash I'll spend the several hundred for a bigger main monitor while that ex-lease becomes the secondary one. It is still going to be a big step up from my little 11" laptop so I'm sure I'll survive.

A cheap case for NZ$55.00 + GST:
Aywun A1-802 Black mid tower ATX case with 320W PSU
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/produ [...] w_psu-4198 (as I've happily used XPComputers before and live near to them, which will make it easy to transport back on my bike)

Or alternatively one of these cases:
http://www.qmb.co.nz/p.aspx?108640
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=CHAPOW14128

If I go for an ATX case would it make sense to instead get the Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H instead of the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H?

I am leaning very heavily towards this one as it is the only one I've listed that is uATX only (i.e. the smallest):
SUPERCASE TX302 Micro Tower Case, Hyena 300W Power Supply
Cash discounted Price: $69.00 +gst ($77.63 incl)
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=CHASUP0302

Which if I then do get the uATX motherboard card it is from Notebook city for $155:
http://www.notebookcity.co.nz/prod [...] e-cord-and

Or perhaps from PBTech (for $167.63 incl):
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=MBDGBM1171

The memory I'll get from PBTech (just down the road from me on Queen St):
APACER 2G DDR3-1333MHz CL9
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=MEMAPA32048
Cash discounted Price: $79.00 +gst ($88.88 incl)
or if by some chance they don't have it in stock when I'm there, then:
STRONTIUM HYNIX 2GB 1333MHz DDR3
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=MEMHYN52048

AMD Athlon II X2 240 2.8GHz Socket AM3 Box from XPComputers (for $91.13 incl):
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/produ [...] etail-5255

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 16MB 500GB from XPComputers again (for $81.00 incl):
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/produ [...] sata2-3780

And now finally to complete the list, a few bits and pieces:

LG GH22NS50 22x DVD Writer from PBTech ($55.13 incl):
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=DVWLGH209
LEXMA KU-6400 Standard USB Keyboard BLACK from PBTech (for $16.88 incl):
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=KEYLEX6400

This makes a grand total of:
100 + 77.63 + 167.63 + 88.88 + 91.13 + 81 + 55.13 + 16.88 = $678.28

The total is a touch over the evil mark of $666... ! But otherwise I'm happy with this, I'll go around over this coming week in picking up the parts. All criticism as always is welcome :P




Who I am: multi time Ironman finisher, University of Auckland graduate, Freelancer (mainly focused on website development, message me for work).

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933 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 301298 23-Feb-2010 01:09
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hmmm..... so I bought more or less what I wrote above, yet it isn't booting up. cpu fan spins up etc.. but nothing going to the screen, just goes to sleep

I'm more or less stumped at the moment, but trying to research & seeing what starting points I've got to try and fix this

ideas?! o_O




Who I am: multi time Ironman finisher, University of Auckland graduate, Freelancer (mainly focused on website development, message me for work).

twitter.com/TersoIT



933 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 301307 23-Feb-2010 03:25
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am suspecting the PSU at the moment as even when the computer is switched off the cpu fan keeps on very very slowly (and jerkily) spinning around. Yet when I switch off the PSU at the back the fan then stops completely.

Am I right, or is there another explanation?




Who I am: multi time Ironman finisher, University of Auckland graduate, Freelancer (mainly focused on website development, message me for work).

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