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A long life PC base to up grade as needed-Could anyone help me?


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Hello everyone,

I'm looking for some help to build a PC for around 2500$AU.  I've been reading many PC forums and while very helpful, seem stuck on building in the style of as much component for as little $, worthy for sure, but not quiet what I am looking for.

Right now I have some savings but very soon my financial life changes dramatically and I really won't be able to buy a new PC again for a very long time.. Rather I will just be able to manage a rare 300 to 500$ upgrade here and there.

I'm hoping to build a base of a case, moboard, power & cooling, etc,  that will last me some 7 to 10 years... if at all possible... ?? So am thinking to put a good amount of $ into those parts.

The CPU, RAM and GPU's can be upgraded as I am able.

My computing needs are - SL, photoshop, playing music, watching & streaming TV. The computer stays on 24/7 often with at least 2 of these things running.. just left open.. I live on a very dusty road and summer hits 50 Celsius and we have no aircon.  In this build I want to add 2 more screens, which will make 3 to run, one of them 27 inch. 

I am new to building them, so am after some advice.. even if this approach to building a PC is possible?

So far I have found a moboard an -  ASRock Z68 Fatal1ty Professional Gen3     $255.00

It has a lot of slots and can take 3 or 4 gpu... The Gen 3 means it will be ok after some big Intel change coming around April next year.. Sandy something to Ivy.  To me this means I can do 3 years on the Sandy now and then upgrade to the Ivy?? etc... I am not sure if this is the way to think on it or just silly, Also wanted to buy a large case and big power supply... larger than needed right now..

it's all to get as long as I can out of the PC rather than the ultimate firepower for the next 2 years, thinking a new cpu & gpu here and there is cheaper...

 

Thank you in advance for any help advice or clarity

Meredith Francis

 

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Meredith Francis wrote:

Hello everyone,
I'm hoping to build a base of a case, moboard, power & cooling, etc,  that will last me some 7 to 10 years... if at all possible... ?? So am thinking to put a good amount of $ into those parts.

Thank you in advance for any help advice or clarity

Meredith Francis

 

Take this into consideration first, Meredith.

Warranty on individual computer parts / peripherals will most likely never be longer as up to 3 years.

It's always good to 'plan ahead', but in this case I'd say better reconsider your expectation regarding durability first.

Good luck and good fortune on your next purchase.

Regards,

 

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Hi, ROB,

Thanks for the answer, appreciated.  Yes, so true.  I've had my fair share of component fries, lol. Maybe I should aim for something more tangible such as one more upgrade to it possibly 2 giving me 5 or 6 years and spend less on these basic parts...

It's a nightmare for me, so much money and so easy to mess up how I spend it.. The off the shelf PC's I've had over the past years are just appalling really, So I have to try!

 

Thanks.. :)

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I converted your 2500 Australian dollars to USD..........they are pretty much the same (that's 2480 USD).  That's a pretty hefty budget for a home built computer.....your options are huge (which, as you said makes it even more difficult to be really wise about your computer.  Wasteful is wasteful no matter how much you have to spend).  I agree with Bob about just how long you can expect your computer to last before obsolescence.....actually, my personal thought is that you can't predict how long your computer will last because the technology moves so quickly).  All you can do is to plan for today with the best you can get for today's technology........you can't look into the future or depend on "the next best thing on the horizon" (that horizon is a moving target).  You can, however look at the present hardware components and who made or developed them and see how compatible those components are with system that are 2, 3 or more years old.  If the compatibility still exists then it's reasonable to believe that in 2, 3 or more years your components will still work with the newer stuff that will be available then.  It's still a guessing game but, at least, you have a chance of guessing correctly (not quite such a gamble as reading about the next best thing before that next best thing is developed....many of those next best things never happen).

 

One thing you said that brought a question to my mind.  You want to run multiple monitors.  Many video cards can do that (of course those card are the highest end of the models available from the manufacturers).  I don't know if you meant you wanted to use multiple video cards or a single card to achieve the 3 monitors you want to be able to run at once.  It would most likely be cheaper to get a single, very high performance card than to get 2 or 3 lessor performance cards (not to mention that, in order for the performance the cards are capable of you need the fastest PCI express interface......most motherboards only have one x16 slot (some MB's may have more, but I don't know of any myself).

 

Getting the big power supply is critical in my opinion.  For what you want to do I would go for no less than 1000 watts (sustained).  You can never have too much power available.  You'll need extra cooling for a power computer like I envision you wanting.....get a case that is well designed for ventilation and get as many fans as you can put in it (both intake and exhaust).  In your dusty invironment you should certainly get replacable (or cleanable) filters. 50 degrees C is damned hot (122 F!!).  It gets hot where I live too (about 105 F, 40.5 C) but not like you........I don't have air conditioning either (I feel your pain in summers :) ).  I monitor my hardware temps, especially in summer, and I usually see my internal computer temps about 10 F higher than the ambient room temp.........hardware components' temps vary according to the use at the time.  Since most hardware have an upper temperature threshold of about 100 to 105 C I don't think you should see much problem..........that, of course, depends on how well designed your computer case is and how you cool it (you could opt for liquid cooling but, from what I've heard, that's pretty much a waste of money since it will only bring down the component temp about 10% over just sucking in fresh air and exhausting out the internal air.  That's up to you.......your PS should handle the additional load if you get 1000 watts or more.

 

Hope my insight helps a little.  I've built 5 computers total in my life.  But never one with more than just a couple years life expectancy in mind.......though my computer usually last much longer than that (4 years, at least).  I build mine because I want what I want and not what some manufacturer thinks I want.......plus I get my computer at almost half price with greater performance.

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Heya Peggy!!!

 

Oh thank you! So helpful.. I have been so struggling with where to spend what.. and you've nailed a few huge questions I had. Especially the power box as it is so drummed in most tech forums that it wasteful to have over 700 watts or so..

And yes, another thing that has had me so worried is the heat. That parts can handle such high temps is very soothing to know. I will take your advice and pile in fans. 

The 10 years of use I am letting go of. Maybe too, I won't have to spend all my savings. I will go now and look at older builds and see how they have lasted..

Thanks again, wonderful info for me.  :)

 

 

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 7 to 10 years 

:matte-motes-agape:

I'd really recommend saving half that budget for five years, at which point you throw away whatever you buy now and replace it completely.

There is just zero chance that anything you buy now will be even marginally acceptable for everyday use, ten years from now.  Practically every component will be antiquated before then, but the display(s) especially will be absurdly outdated.  

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Just a comment on the temp thing and my thoughts on the power supplyk argument (I've heard those claims too).

 

I said most hardware components have an upper temperature threshold of 100 to 105 C.  That's true but I might have been a little misleading in the way I said it.  That is the temperature that the component will begin to run the risk of failing due to excessive heat......most video cards will simply crash to quit running at the threshold temp (and the same with CPU's).  That temperature is not a temperature you want to run your hardware at.  Many times damage has occurred by the time the component shuts down.  What I should have added was that you will want to prevent your hardware from ever reaching that limit.  I would say, to be safe, that your temperatures should remain at or below 90 C............shut down the program that is causing the temp to rise above that personal limit.  Last summer here (Southern California) my house got to near 100 F (about 40 C for you) a few times.......my video card temperature reached 80 C at those times so I was safe from heat issues.  But if I had seen my temps get above about 85 C I would have been ready to shut SL down at a moment's notice.  I've burned up a video card due to letting it get too hot so I watch that temp like a hawk on hot days.  I've never seen my CPU get much above 70 C.

 

And on the power supply question.  Yeah, for most users, 700 watts is plenty (with reserve even).  All the higher end graphics card want 450 watt minimum PSU's.  That is not what the video card draws, it's taking the average user's requirements for an average computer with an average level of hardware installed..........and giving a little overhead for "insurance".  The reason is simple.......the manufacturer doesn't want the responsibility of causing something (or their card) failing due to not having enough power to run properly.  A component running at a lower power than it's designed for will run hotter.......and heat is bad for electronics.  But you want a better than average computer with better than average hardware..........better, in computers, means higher performance.  Higher performance means more power required to perform.  Let's say you opt for two video cards.  Each wants a minium PSU of 450 watts.  The video cards don't draw that much but, again, it's the average user/machine thing the manufacturers use as a basis for the requirement.  With your system and, say 5 case fans, a high performance CPU cooling fan, and a few USB powered peripherials installed, your wattage is 200 watts.  Now add that video card and your wattage when running a high graphics program like SL your wattage jumps up to 400 watts.  You're good until you add that second card......now your wattage is (for example) 550 watts.  You're under powered and in danger of causing something in your computer to fail.  With a 700 watt PS you're fine.......but what if you want to add a third card?  Probably still good..........but you want to charge your smartphone with the USB cable and you already have your speakers USB powered.  What is the wattage now?  Probably 700 watts.........you have no overhead left.  That's my thought..........you can't have too much power.  So you don't use it all.........it's there if you need it.  Power supplies are one of the least expensive components in a computer.  The easily transfer to new computers as you upgrade.........the power supply in this computer has powered 3 other computers over the years and stil running strong.  I think it's foolish to "just get by" with PSU's..........go big so you can do almost anything you want in the future.  And, for your next computer (and probably the next one after that) you don't need to worry about PSU's (just move it to your new computer like I do).

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Peggy Paperdoll wrote:

 

One thing you said that brought a question to my mind.  You want to run multiple monitors.  Many video cards can do that (of course those card are the highest end of the models available from the manufacturers).  I don't know if you meant you wanted to use multiple video cards or a single card to achieve the 3 monitors you want to be able to run at once.  It would most likely be cheaper to get a single, very high performance card than to get 2 or 3 lessor performance cards (not to mention that, in order for the performance the cards are capable of you need the fastest PCI express interface......most motherboards only have one x16 slot (some MB's may have more, but I don't know of any myself).

 

Indeed there are many SLI options with motherboards having up to 4 x16 slots.

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I'll give my opinion on your questions......but these are strictly my opinions.

----------------------------------------

Have you re-used cases at all? For temprature and if possible, re use, I was thinking a tower sized one..

I, personnaly have never re-used a case.  But I can see no problem if you want to re-use a case as long as it's the form factor as the motherboard and it serves your needs.......ATX is the most popular motherboard so the case must match it and allow proper installation of the motherboard.  A good case by my definition is a case that is designed to allow proper air flow when it's fully loaded with hardware and roomy enough to handle the hardware that is installed in it without crowding.  A full tower should serve that roomy problem.

 

My screen now is on it's 3rd PC.

By "screen" I believe you are talking about what I call a monitor.  I do use the same monitor on my builds.  I keep my monitors until they die or until I decide to get a larger one or a different type.  I use a 23 inch LCD monitor right now.  I'm looking at those new 26 inch LED's now.........I might upgrade someday (probably when this one dies.......it's only about a year old so it will probably be a while).

 

Are there any other parts worth investing well in I could re use?

I keep my old hard drives.  I have had 3 installed in a single computer but I found that really somewhat useless for my needs and now just install 2.  When I build a computer I get a new hard drive (I am bias toward Western Digital) and then take the newest of the two hard drives in the computer I'm replacing and install it in the new computer as a second hard drive.  I keep all my downloaded setup files, pictures, videos, music and some little used programs on the second drive......I also move things like the SL cache to that drive.  Right now I have a terrabyte of storage on two drives.....my first drive (my operating system drive is about 19% full and my second drive is about 10% full.  That's on 2 500 gig drives.  I can't see needing a third drive when I'm only using 1/5 of the capacity at the most and I don't anticipate filling either drive more than twice what I have today.  I do, however, wipe the un-used drives and keep them.........you never know when a drive might fail (I have two in reserve right now.......one 500 gig and one 320 gig).  That's about all I re-use.

 

With the use I am talking about do you think I can get by on an I5 for this build or will I need one of the I7's?

I would go with the i7.  It's the most powerful in the "i" series and any new CPU platform will be an improvement on that one.  There's nothing wrong with the i5 or i3..........but, for the price difference the i7 has the best potential of remaining top level for longer.

 

Is 8 gigs of cheapest memory ok? or should I invest in good stuff and lots?

8 gigs is probably enough for the foreseeable future for most things.  But not the cheapest memory........get DDR3 and as fast as you can get.  Memory is right up there with PSU's in expense......they both are among the cheapest components you can put in a computer.  Get as much as you think you will need in the immediate future.........but, the smarter thing would be (in my mind) is to get as much as your motherboard will support if you can afford it.  Upgrading memory is tricky.  If you find you want more memory it's likely you'll have to replace the existing memory when you buy more later.  If you have all you can get you'll not be a position to replacing perfectly good memory because you can't find memory modules to match the existing ones.

 

Do moboards have much chance of making it to a new build?

I don't think so.  When I get to the point of a new computer the technology and hardware has advanced to a point that the motherboard is what causes me to build a new computer in the first place.  If I can upgrade the hardware without a new MB then there is no need to build a new one.  There's nothing wrong with doing it I suppose but what's the advantage?

 

Whew.......windy me.  :)  Good luck with your new computer.  You'll have so much fun and you really should warn your friends and family about the swelled head you'll have once you get it running.  :smileyvery-happy:

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 When you say display(s) do you mean the components' settings display? 

Just to clarify, I meant monitors, but graphics cards, too.  The thing is, displays have changed a lot in the recent past, and I'd expect even faster changes going forward, with the desktop getting some of the technology that's going into mobile displays.  For example, I doubt that it will take even five years for the standard-issue desktop screen to be 4K resolution (3840 x 2160).  So I wouldn't put much budget on current generation monitors, nor on corresponding graphics cards.

I probably also should have mentioned SSDs, which are improving very fast right now.

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AU? Then try here. http://www.computeronline.com.au/index.php?PHPSESSID=d84c86d34dc5d38a29cdac16264daa95

Our fave comp shop for the last decade or so. Enfield, NSW. Great mail order or pick up. They also have a live chat feature as well. Prices are generally wholesale. In almost 15 years we have only ever had 1 memory stick fail, replaced under warranty. (sent back to manufacturer).

i7 motherboard is your best current option. Any major brand is usually i5 compatible too. Any Quad above 2.8 will do you. 64 bit OS is a must. Minimum 8gb ram and prolly 2gb graphics card. Get external Esata connectivity too. Forget overclocking and all that stuff, just make it sizzle from the word go.

We built i5' quads to above specs for around $1650 Aud. Including new monitors, speakers, 2 ramdrives etc.  No PC will last ten years and be usable with current applications. Upgrade items every 6/12 months as new things come out. Oh and the time is right for large SSD hard drive/s.... 100gb for OS install. (that's where your money will go).

Don't enquire about multi cpu motherboards like my US friends run, (custom alienware etc), or ACO will go> o.0 < They are latest tech wholesalers not future tech pixar suppliers. lol.

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Hiya everyone,

A huge thank you for this info, tbh it has beat the tech forum I tried before hands down.  I've been trawling the net over the past day or so with all this advice formost on my mind.  It's even become less agonizing :)

 

So far have found a very versitile & ultra massive case for 170 $AU & the i72700K is only 370$AU or so here ... so am on the way.. It's a bit like going for your fist drive when you finally worked out how get the clutch & gears not to grind :)

 

Pierre.. Those are such funny links but it really does hammer home the point. I remember my Celeron 2 in 1998 or so and my 12 gig memory and my boyfriend so excited saying it could run all the banks in Australia.. looool

Qie, you know displays... I'd have never even thought to ask about them as a part that could possiblly outdate, so thanks.  

Peggy, thank you for those answers, I do have a few old HD's and the case I am looking at has a HD dock on it for ssd and normal size HD so basically I will just buy a ssd for my system and won't bother with a raid set ups as ssd will make it super fast anyway.

Thank you Mary Anne for that site... I am using a wishlist on PC case gear site to keep track of my build, but your site has a lot more choice of component on it.  Which ever I use I'll have to have it sent to the one Puter shop here for them to put together... I'm pretty remote..  

I just wanted to say thanks and am going to get back to trawling, things take me ages to do..

 

Meredith :)

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  • 1 month later...

Hi guys... I'm back with a puter I built.. It's beauuuuuuuuuuutiful..  the graphics card makes me feel as if someone put ete glasses on me.. so amazing and I have 2 lovely screens which allow for veiwing in the sun.. big fat cpu I can overclock .. just yummy all of it... took me a while and the boxes of stuff even just sat here for a day or two till I could get the nerve up to start... my brother had to help me a little plugging in to the mo-board and I had a glitch for  a week or so as I hadn't installed my graphics card bios.. biut now it is as smooth as a babys bum

 

Thank you for all that help!!!!

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Meredith Francis wrote:

Hiya everyone,

A huge thank you for this info, tbh it has beat the tech forum I tried before hands down.  I've been trawling the net over the past day or so with all this advice formost on my mind.  It's even become less agonizing
:)

 

So far have found a very versitile & ultra massive case for 170 $AU & the i72700K is only 370$AU or so here ... so am on the way.. It's a bit like going for your fist drive when you finally worked out how get the clutch & gears not to grind
:)

 

Pierre.. Those are such funny links but it really does hammer home the point. I remember my Celeron 2 in 1998 or so and my 12 gig memory and my boyfriend so excited saying it could run all the banks in Australia.. looool

 

Meredith
:)

 

Glad you liked. I think my favorite line in those is this:

"A sound card enabling users to enjoy the sound..................is also available for $349."

$349 for a SOUND CARD!   OMG! 

Things sure have changed.

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Good to hear, but i see 2 points that make me want to reply:

Install gpu bios? i really hope you mean the windows driver

Big fat cpu to overclock, don`t even attempt it with the **bleep**ty stock cooling, even with a better cooler, you can not push it that far, basic rule: 
Keep the cores around 65-70 celcius when at full load with wprime or linx 

 

and while reading this thread, struggling psu to provide enough power generated more component heat = lolz
Your pc will just start crashing/unstable, nothing more...
The reason to get a more powerfull psu then needed is the simple fact of it`s efficiency vs time, what it will put out in power new, is not what it will put out in power in a couple of years 

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Hiya,

 

Yeh I had never heard of needing tp install a bios to a graphics card, but it seems this is what it took.. The Windows dowenload drivers and ATI site drivers just didn't quite work.. I went to Gigabyte who made the ATI card and found the bios installed it and it was fine after that... Weird, ey.

As for cpu coolers... *Drum roll* ...

 side2_thumb.jpg               noctua_nh_d14_3_thumb.jpg   Noctua D-14

I spun out on how beautiful this cooler was.. but it takes up a 1/4 of my case

 

Power supply is a corsair 1200 watts .. so I can run half the house and the local shop from my puter

 

I ran some diagnostics.. prime 95 for an hour, did 3 hours of memtest and passed an hour of furmark. temps seem good, 40ish on idle for the CPU and GPU... the gpu hits 60 at most on SL and hit 66 in the furmark testing. I have to sit and watch cpu yet.. but I have a lot of fans.. that big heat sink. 

 

 

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At the other end of the scale I picked up an abandoned Acer Power M6 at  the local dump 2 weeks ago [price: £0.00]. After slapping in an extra gig of RAM [price: £5.00 on Ebay], an HD that didn't sound like someone rattling a tin of peas all day long, an Athlon 64 3200+ [price: £2.50 on Ebay] and an Nvidia 8400GS I had a machine that was perfectly able to run Windoze 7, log into SL and run an avatar. The grafix card and HD [Hitachi Deathstar 160gB] both came out of my box o' spare parts.

FWIW, my main computer is an Intel Q6600 machine w/Asus Silent Knight cooler which, surprisingly, also hailed from the same local council dump. The case I use is an ancient beige Gateway 2000 tower that originally housed a Pentium-2 system. Built like a tank. My other tower case started out life as a 486 small office server. I prefer older cases as they tend to have a more robust construction and fewer gimmicks. Downside: they may need a bit of work with a Dremel to improve the airflow.

I keep my system costs low by recycling as much as possible. Only my laptop was bought from new and that's almost 5 years old and has had many hardware upgrades [CPU, graphix, RAM, HDD]. The downside is that I tend to run on what could be euphemistically described as 'trailing edge technology' but in terms of cost and reliability it's hard to beat. One advantage of trailing edge tech is that all the hardware bugs and glitches have long since been worked out. YMMV.

As for lifespan, that also varies. My P4-D 945 system is over 5 years old. It has been through many changes over that time. I tend not to see my computers as fixed items but rather as motherboard-based platforms which continuously evolve. My advice to anyone buying new hardware is to go for a motherboard that has the longest hardware upgrade path that you can afford to buy [silly money prices excepted]. All the other components will be swapped out over time anyway.

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That's excellent you could run windows 7 like that :) Hats off to you!

I took this on mainly wanting some control, so learning how to do it and what it all means, components etc to save me from having to buy bits of *&^% computers from the big stores that fry with in 2 years leaving me high and dry with these hack warentees.. all that.

Now I have seen into it I love it and will enjoy spending on it the same way people love to do up a classic car..

But yes as for bargins I do go there in other areas like real life building around my place and clothes.. & other things. 

Where I live some friends started this thing called the "TIP shop" tip is Aussie slang for dump.. It's very cool.

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Welcome to the world of home computer building, Meredith! In my experience SL can run quite well on any ho-hum mid-range computer. The CPU doesn't have to be all that powerful or fast. Try to avoid Celerons, Semprons and anything lower-spec than first-generation P-4's. The Atom CPU in netbooks really doesn't cut it either. What SL really needs though is a powerful graphics card and as much memory as you can get hold of.

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Thanks Alazarin

yeh my stuff wasn't the latest out, I had heard too it takes a while for the drivers to be settled and work properly, I chose a i72600k threaded for photoshop and able to be overclocked really well if I need it.. vid card is 6970 hd radeon. It's a year or so old and was half price of the latest ones and for me is a massive improvement.

 

I actually spent most of my budget on the case, psu,cpu& its cooler and so on.. things I can keep.

Aside from it feeling utterly fantastic to use, what I like most is what I have now enough knowlage to never ever have to buy a pre made one again.

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