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To Build or Not To Build


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#1 bkweibley

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Posted 04 January 2016 - 08:42 PM

Well to start off, I have built my own computer in the past, but it was 10-12 years ago.  Since then I have been using laptops.  I have recently gained interest in getting back into programming (I dabbled in VB, C++, and a few web languages in the past) and thought it would be nice to have a desktop computer again instead of always using a laptop.  My question is, is it still worthwhile to build your own PC, or is it cheaper to find a decent tower on sale?  I want something decent that I can easily upgrade in the future, but Im not sure if it makes a lot of sense to since I am not a gamer so im not worried about the crazy video cards and things like that.  Although I am very intrigued by a double monitor setup.  What suggestions do you guys have?



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#2 ScathEnfys

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Posted 04 January 2016 - 09:22 PM

It is almost always worthwhile to build your own PC. Though the savings are smaller in the low-end market they are not non-existent. If you are only doing 2d applications like IDEs, you should be fine with an Intel i5 or AMD A10. If you have the budget for a Solid State Drive instead of the hard drive, you won't regret it. If you want to find the best deal on your parts, I'd check out pcpartpicker.com to compare. My preferred retailers for general PC components are Newegg, Micro Center, Amazon, B&H, and Adorama. I do not trust Superbiz due to the issues I have heard about them.

What exactly do you want to run other than dual monitors? Once I have a better idea of what you need, I can create a partlist for you.
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#3 bkweibley

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Posted 04 January 2016 - 09:43 PM

It is almost always worthwhile to build your own PC. Though the savings are smaller in the low-end market they are not non-existent. If you are only doing 2d applications like IDEs, you should be fine with an Intel i5 or AMD A10. If you have the budget for a Solid State Drive instead of the hard drive, you won't regret it. If you want to find the best deal on your parts, I'd check out pcpartpicker.com to compare. My preferred retailers for general PC components are Newegg, Micro Center, Amazon, B&H, and Adorama. I do not trust Superbiz due to the issues I have heard about them.

What exactly do you want to run other than dual monitors? Once I have a better idea of what you need, I can create a partlist for you.

I really dont have much in mind honestly.  I think its more along the lines of being able to have the pride that I built my own computer again. LoL.  I definitely want the ability to add if I want to/need to.  My plans are to pick parts up over a couple paychecks so I dont have a real budget in place.  I dont want to go crazy and spend $500 on a video card or anything like that, but I dont want to skimp on something where I feel like I need to upgrade right away.  The 2 monitors will probably set me back a little bit so it just means it will take me a few more weeks to get parts together.  I also enjoy tinkering in Linux, so I have been trying to see if I have any options there.  The last few days ive been reading up on Raspberry Pi thinking that maybe I could just run Linux off the Pi if there was a way that I could switch the second monitor back and forth between the desktop and the Pi when I would want to be able to run the 2 side by side, im not sure if that is possible though?



#4 ScathEnfys

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Posted 04 January 2016 - 11:08 PM

The simplest way to switch the screen from the rPi to the desktop would be to make sure the monitor has 1 HDMI + 1 of any display connector that you want to use to connect to the desktop. You can then just use the button to switch between inputs to the monitor. What will be more annoying is switching the keyboard and mouse between the two.
You do not need a dedicated graphics card unless you are planning on gaming at high quality graphics on modern games, rendering stuff, or using intense 3d modeling/CAD programs. You will be able to run desktop applications across multiple screens with the Integrated graphics on your CPU. I really need a good plan to be able to help you. Programs you run daily, stuff you can't run but would like to, etc.
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#5 richcbro

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 01:56 AM

Building a PC will allow you to upgrade it whatever you want. Some pre-built PC might have a low end PSU or too small case that prevent you for upgrading the components in later time. What is your budget?

 

Spending $500 on a video card is waste of money if you don't games or use GPU intensive applications. Most Intel integrated graphics can run 3 monitors with no problems. Nvidia or AMD card less than $100 is enough for 2 monitors.


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#6 bkweibley

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:51 AM

The simplest way to switch the screen from the rPi to the desktop would be to make sure the monitor has 1 HDMI + 1 of any display connector that you want to use to connect to the desktop. You can then just use the button to switch between inputs to the monitor. What will be more annoying is switching the keyboard and mouse between the two.
You do not need a dedicated graphics card unless you are planning on gaming at high quality graphics on modern games, rendering stuff, or using intense 3d modeling/CAD programs. You will be able to run desktop applications across multiple screens with the Integrated graphics on your CPU. I really need a good plan to be able to help you. Programs you run daily, stuff you can't run but would like to, etc.

 

Good Call on the input button.  I want to say that I had some kind of connector in the past that allowed me to share 1 monitor, keyboard, and mouse between 2 computers so I would think I could probably find something like that to share keyboard and mouse between the desktop and rPi?  Its been YEARS though so I cant remember exactly LoL.

What I can tell you as far as programs I currently use, I would like to be able to take my work home with me from time to time which I use Microsoft Office for.  I currently do a lot with Macros in Excel (my plans are to eventually write small web based apps to handle the majority of my Excel/Macro programs).  Things like Outlook, Word and such shouldnt really affect anything I assume.  I also have Adobe Creative Cloud, although I dont use it to often it and am not that great with it, it is fun to dabble in Photoshop.  I know there are also a few programs in there for Mobile App development that might be fun to get into some day.  I am pretty bad with having about 10 different windows open at once so im assuming that could affect the RAM / CPU I go with.  The only thing I have tried to run on my laptop that really gave me fits was Adobe Illustrator, but honestly I was only trying to use it to open a file that I couldn't open with Photoshop to cut part of the image out and move it over to Photoshop anyways.

With currently reading up on MySQL and PHP, it seems like I will want to install some type of test server on my computer (EasyPHP DevServer is suggested in the book I am currently reading).  I am not sure what kind of strain on the system something like that would cause.  

I love to tinker and pick up random programs on the way.  I was playing with some reverse engineering of mobile apps which required programs like IDA and NetReflector.  I recently downloaded NetBeans for playing with PHP.  Sorry for making this question so tough LoL

 

Like I said it has been 10+ years since I built my last computer but thinking back I feel like the Motherboard and CPU need to be top of the line, that you cant really upgrade those as easily as you can do things like add a larger hard drive, extra RAM, a better video card, so on and so forthe?  


Edited by bkweibley, 05 January 2016 - 09:09 AM.


#7 bkweibley

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:53 AM

Building a PC will allow you to upgrade it whatever you want. Some pre-built PC might have a low end PSU or too small case that prevent you for upgrading the components in later time. What is your budget?

 

Spending $500 on a video card is waste of money if you don't games or use GPU intensive applications. Most Intel integrated graphics can run 3 monitors with no problems. Nvidia or AMD card less than $100 is enough for 2 monitors.

That is my main worry.  I dont care how big my case is, honestly I might go for one of the cool fancy showoffish type of cases just because they look cool :-)  Many computers you see at Staples and such they are going for the smallest case possible to make the tower seem compact, I want room to expand.  Definitely want to find a large enough Power Supply to upgrade with also



#8 ScathEnfys

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 09:54 AM

If you think overclocking might be in your future and would not like to modify your case too much make sure to get a case that supports watercooling radiators. I will go ahead and say that motherboards and cases are the parts you get the least increased performance/$ over a basic model. These days you really don't even need a whole lot of space anymore - miniITX form factors (merely 16x16cm!) are beating out large rigs all over the place. These days the only thing you need a large case / mobo for is if you want to go crazy with multi-GPU configurations, and it doesn't sound like that would be a benefit for you. Now about the CPU. I strongly suggest getting one with an unlocked multiplier (K-series CPUs for Intel / 'Black Edition' CPUs for AMD) as when it starts to reach the end-of-life you can overclock it to make it last another year or two. I find it difficult to recommend building a PC right now as multiple vendors will be releasing new parts soon: NVIDIA will release a new series of GPUs sometime this spring, AMD will be releasing new GPUs and - for the first time in a very long time - be releasing a new CPU to the market. While you might not necessarily be interested in those exact products, they are likely to shake up prices. This however is still a fair way off - I wouldn't expect AMD's offerings to hit shelves before Q2, maybe not even Q3 this year. If you can wait you might be able to save big. However if you need the PC within the next couple months, it's fine to go ahead and buy parts.
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#9 bkweibley

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 10:26 AM

If you think overclocking might be in your future and would not like to modify your case too much make sure to get a case that supports watercooling radiators. I will go ahead and say that motherboards and cases are the parts you get the least increased performance/$ over a basic model. These days you really don't even need a whole lot of space anymore - miniITX form factors (merely 16x16cm!) are beating out large rigs all over the place. These days the only thing you need a large case / mobo for is if you want to go crazy with multi-GPU configurations, and it doesn't sound like that would be a benefit for you. Now about the CPU. I strongly suggest getting one with an unlocked multiplier (K-series CPUs for Intel / 'Black Edition' CPUs for AMD) as when it starts to reach the end-of-life you can overclock it to make it last another year or two. I find it difficult to recommend building a PC right now as multiple vendors will be releasing new parts soon: NVIDIA will release a new series of GPUs sometime this spring, AMD will be releasing new GPUs and - for the first time in a very long time - be releasing a new CPU to the market. While you might not necessarily be interested in those exact products, they are likely to shake up prices. This however is still a fair way off - I wouldn't expect AMD's offerings to hit shelves before Q2, maybe not even Q3 this year. If you can wait you might be able to save big. However if you need the PC within the next couple months, it's fine to go ahead and buy parts.

Sorry for being out of touch, but GPU?  and is overclocking something pretty standard for guys who like to tinker?  Unlocked Multiplier relates to overclocking it sounds like?  



#10 Captain_Chicken

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 11:13 AM

Unlocked multiplier cpus you can overclock. I am a natural born tinkerer so overclocking is enjoyable for me. The speed of the processor is the baseclock(usually 100mhz) times the multiplier. Overclocking usually is turning up the multiplier and voltage until the cpu is stable and at a reasonable temp.
Gpu stands for graphics processing unit. If you are just programming integrated graphics should be enough.

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#11 bkweibley

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:22 PM

A solid state drive instead of a hard drive was mentioned above.  What are the differences between the 2?



#12 Drillingmachine

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 01:13 PM

A solid state drive instead of a hard drive was mentioned above.  What are the differences between the 2?

 

SSD: Fast, small. Good for operating system and programs

 

HDD: Slow, big. Good for storage purposes.

 

I recommend taking both.



#13 richcbro

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Posted 08 January 2016 - 05:24 AM

Solid state drive is a faster but smaller, while hard drive is slower but bigger. You will want to put the OS, applications and games that you use often on the SSD, and use the larger HDD to store media files that you won't access them frequently. SSD is much faster than traditional HDD, usually 4-5X faster than HDD in sequential read/write, and up to 50X speed in random read/write. Some PCIe SSD can have several times faster in normal SATA SSD, but it is usually more expensive per GB and most users won't need it.


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#14 bkweibley

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Posted 08 January 2016 - 07:56 AM

Deciding on which Hard Drives to go with.  Im looking at the Solid State Drive first trying to make sense out of them, I will go with an HDD also for extra storage like suggested, so I dont think the 500gig+ SSDs are really nessessary?  My gut tells me the small like 120 gig ones will do, but my head is telling me to at least go with the 250ish gig ones?  It looks like Samsung is a pretty big name in the game with these drives?  They are all listed as vertical drives though, but none of the other companies are?  This means they need to be stood up on their side in the tower?  Im trying to make sense of their Evo to their Pro line, looks like about a $50 difference but doesnt really list any differences between them on NewEgg?  



#15 raymac46

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Posted 08 January 2016 - 09:23 AM

I fixed and upgraded stock PC desktops for years, but when I wanted one specifically to run Linux I decided to build. I ended up with an AMD A8 system. I have upgraded the video recently to an AMD R7 360 so I don't use the built in APU any longer for video. However the CPU is still serving my needs.

I have both an SSD and HDD in this system and with Linux it flies.

I think if I needed a new Windows desktop I'd now build it rather than buy and upgrade power supply, video card etc. later on.

I found that a 120 GB SSD and a 1TB HDD gave me plenty of storage space - even if I wanted to run Virtual Machines. My SSD is Toshiba and I have it mounted horizontally at the bottom of the case in an area that the case maker designated for SSDs - there are special mounting holes there.


Edited by raymac46, 08 January 2016 - 09:27 AM.





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