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Upgrade or start over


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#1 HushH

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 09:20 AM

Hi all, new to the site.  Looking for a little advice on whether I should keep a desktop I just ordered and it upgrade as needed or return it and build from scratch.  

 

My wife's laptop died last week and so we were in a hurry to replace it.  She has decided she wants to go back to a desktop.  Since we needed something quickly, I did a little looking and pulled the trigger on this Asus M521BC-US007S from Amazon.

 

This will be used mainly for office applications, some casual gaming, streaming movies, and web-browsing.  The specs seemed pretty decent, and the only thing I really wish it had was a SSD for quick bootup and installed app performance.  It actually may be overkill for what we intend to use it for, but I'm also looking to future-proof to a certain extent.

 

Of course, right after I ordered this I discovered PCPartPicker.  Now the thought of building exactly what we want and not paying for anything we don't seems pretty appealing.  

 

I guess my question is, do you think it's really worth it to go through the process of returning the desktop I ordered and building one or is this one a good enough starting point for the price that I should just keep and upgraded as needed.

 

Appreciate any and all feedback and sorry for the long-windedness.



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#2 jonuk76

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 11:14 AM

It would be fine except you say you want to do casual gaming on it.  Office, web browsing, movie streaming will all be fine.

 

'Casual gaming' means different things to different people of course.  If you want to run desktop games (Flash based for example) or maybe run some older less demanding games (I don't know, maybe 'The Sims' or something) at lowish resolutions then it should be OK.  If you're hoping to play anything more demanding then IMHO it's Radeon HD8350 OEM GPU is going to disappoint.  It's basically a bottom end GPU from 4 years ago (the HD 5450) which they've given a new model number and only sell through OEM channels.  It's well behind the integrated graphics in a current gen Intel CPU for example.  It's slightly stingy 300w PSU means that a significant GPU upgrade will also require the power supply to be replaced.

 

I suppose it's not too surprising as with the good headline spec and low price, something has to give.  If you still think it meets your needs, then an SSD should be an easy install though.

 

With that in mind, it's really up to you whether you return it or not.  I would always build but I like to know exactly what's in my PC.  It would be difficult to compete on price at this level with a self build, as the OEM's get much better deals on Windows and they make savings I would never consider (sticking a cheapo GPU and 300w PSU in an otherwise good spec PC for example ;) )


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#3 HushH

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 12:56 PM

Thanks for the response jon.  Most of our gaming to this point has been console-based.  I was just thinking that if the desktop could handle it, we would probably do some PC gaming as well.  Nothing that I would think would be too intensive - Civilization, Minecraft...maybe a little Goat Simulator :)

 

But that's not a necessity and certainly wouldn't be the primary purpose.  I figured there had to be something that they cut costs on to have the price at that level.  But if it's a good platform aside from the GPU and PSU, then maybe it makes sense to start with this and build up.  

 

Could you foresee any problems with that approach?



#4 Mistersprinkles

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:10 PM

CANCEL THE ORDER!!! I can build you something more appropriate than that machine for $523. Building your own sytem is not difficult. 

 

http://pcpartpicker.com/user/mistersprinkles/saved/Lbkj4D

 

^

Build this! It will do everything you want.

 

Why an APU? An APU includes an on die GPU capable of HD video playback, normal office and entertainment PC usage, and casual gaming. If you ever find that the graphics performance is not enough, a sub-$100 upgrade can be made to a low end graphics card which will run in "AMD Dual graphics" mode with the APU and improve your gaming performance by 50-100%. 

 

Why 8GB of RAM? 8GB of RAM is important to have these days. On my laptop, I'm at 3GB idle in Windows 8 because of all the background programs I have running. 4GB isn't enough for today's demanding user.

 

Why an SSD? Why Crucial? The M500 is a good drive at a very reasonable price. It is reliable and has a proven track record. It also has power loss protection, preventing data corruption when the power suddenly goes out. 

 

Why Windows 8.1? Win 8.1 is more lightweight and efficient than Windows 7. Also, Direct X 12 will only be available for Windows 8.1. If you want 8.1 to feel and run like 7, install "Classic Shell" (google it). This adds a start menu like the one in Windows 7.

 

This system will meet all of the needs you set out initially, and includes a fairly large SSD that you were after while still coming in at or under budget. I don't think you're going to do any better with what you have to spend. A couple of the parts in the build are on sale (ie, the CX430 power supply) so I would jump on this build and order while those sales are still going on. 

 

A note: If you decide you want more raw CPU power (nothing you laid out in your usage would require it mind you), upgrade to an A10 APU ($150). You will have to cut the SSD down to 120GB to accomplish this though.

Another note: the 1TB version of the hard drive I selected is not that much more expensive. If you feel like you'll run out of space with 740GB, you may want a 1TB HDD.


Edited by Mistersprinkles, 02 June 2014 - 02:14 PM.


#5 HushH

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 02:49 PM

Thanks!  I'll definitely take a closer look at this.  One of my hesitations to building my own was determining what components play nice with each other as well as which component models are good and which to avoid.  

 

I should have mentioned earlier that I do have an external 1TB hard drive, so storage is not an issue.  In fact, with a large enough SSD, I was thinking I would not need the additional internal HDD. 

 

Really appreciate the response and suggestions.



#6 Queen-Evie

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 03:21 PM

Something else to consider:

Call or visit some computer shops in your area.

A custom built system not be as expensive as you think. 2 of my 3 custom builds cost about the same as a mid-price off-the-shelf system. The first one was more expensive because I went from a laptop to a desktop and needed speakers, keyboard, monitor and mouse. I also requested sound and graphic cards.

If you already have speakers, keyboard, monitor, and mouse you'll save money because you don't need those things.

Questions to ask when consulting about your custom build:

Do you have a basic custom build?

Most of them do. Find out what the basic build consists of-OS, hard drive size, how much memory, processor type.

You won't get a sound or graphics card. If you don't want to use on board sound and graphics, you'll pay extra for the cards. If you want it to connect wirelessly you will need to get a wireless network card installed or purchase a USB wireless adapter.

What is your warranty? How long is it for, what does it cover?

(mine was 3 years, which covered motherboard, hard drive, fans, and maybe a few other things but I had to take it to the tech every 6 months so they could open the case and clean out the innards0

Will the warranty be voided if you open up the case for anything? They may put a sticker over it and if you open the case, the sticker will break.

Will you get the disk for the motherboard, and an OS disk? These are a must-have. You will need the OS disk if you ever have to reinstall Windows and the motherboard disk for the various drivers after an OS reinstall.

Will there be room for future expansion if for some reason you want to add network, sound or graphics cards if you initially opt to use the motherboard for those functions?

Once you find out what the basic build is, you can talk about extras and how much they will cost.

If you have a computer tech shop you've dealt with and like, that's the place to start. If not, ask people you know who they use.

There are advantages to a custom build. You don't get the pre-installed junk that clutter an off-the-shelf system. It also may be easier to upgrade in the future. If you are not confident you can build it yourself, this could be the way to go.

Edited by Queen-Evie, 02 June 2014 - 03:30 PM.


#7 Mistersprinkles

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Posted 02 June 2014 - 04:48 PM

Thanks!  I'll definitely take a closer look at this.  One of my hesitations to building my own was determining what components play nice with each other as well as which component models are good and which to avoid.  

 

I should have mentioned earlier that I do have an external 1TB hard drive, so storage is not an issue.  In fact, with a large enough SSD, I was thinking I would not need the additional internal HDD. 

 

Really appreciate the response and suggestions.

 

If you're happy with your 1TB external drive you can take the hard drive off the build and save some cash. Redirect that cash towards this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113359&cm_re=AMD_A10-_-19-113-359-_-Product

 

The A10s run a little hot so you may need an aftermarket cooler (Coolermaster Hyper 212). 

 

That'll cost a little more than the HDD did in the first place but it'll make for a faster system. Alternatively you could take the same amount of money and get a 480GB SSD. Just choose whether performance is more important to you in storage or raw computing power.

 

I really think the build I've put together for you will be a good choice for the applications you're looking to use it for.

 

If you've never built before there's nothing to worry about as it's a very simple process. Watch a Carey Holzman guide on Youtube. They are 2 hours long and very detailed. You can build along with it, pausing after each step.


Edited by Mistersprinkles, 02 June 2014 - 05:39 PM.





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