Some unbiased purchasing advice.

  jhwhite 17:10 19 Nov 2010
Locked

Hello PC Advisor Community

Thanks to unexpected tax rebate I'm able to invest in a new computer. I spent ages hunting around the internet finding what (with my limited knowledge) was the best deal I could get.

I finally decided on buying one from pcogroup.co.uk but just before purchasing I thought I'd checked a forum (which happened to be this one) and found out that lots of people had experienced all sorts of problems with them. Having been stopped in my tracks I thought it would be wise to get seek some purchasing advice from people who aren't trying to sell me their computer as I'm not that knowledgeable on the subject (though I am getting better).

I have between £900-£940 to spend (can't really go any higher and will mainly be used for gaming and creating music. I already have a nice external soundcard that requires a firewire port.

I've got another PC in mind (which I'll put in the next post) and would be thankful for any feedback offered. And if anyone wants to have a go at configuring a whole new system for me (as I find it quite fun) then feel free.

Thanks

J

  jhwhite 17:28 19 Nov 2010

This is what I currently have in mind...

It's from Cougar-extreme.co.uk... which seems to have a much better reputation on here.

Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8Mb Cache LGA1366 Socket,
Manufacturer Supplied Cooler,
6GB DDR3 CORSAIR Triple Channel (3x2GB) 1600, 1000GB SATA Hard Drive,
I7 - Asus P6T SE Crossfire
6400FSB DDR3 2000 x6 X58 chipset,
1024Mb GTX460 PCI Express Nvidia DDR DVI DX11, Venus Midi Tower Case with 2 x Blue LED Fans & LED Display,
Powercool 650W High Efficiency Black PSU,
DVD+/- RW - 20X Samsung Lightscribe,
Integrated Sound Card,
Windows 7 Home premium 64 bit,
Wireless card PCI,
Intergrated Monitor Speakers,
Free Courier Insurance,
Standard Warranty,
Standard England & Wales Shipping

£948.84 (though in an email he said it would cost 902.99 not sure if it was a mistake)

Even though they did take a while to get back to me they did provide me with some advise (if you agree that it's good advice then I'll add that fact on to the cougar-extreme thread). As I had emailed them asking whether the standard 450watt fan would be powerful enough for my configuration but that I had no more money to spend.

Their answer...

You will need at least a 650 watt power cool PSU to power such a high end system. In order to incorporate this into your price you have a few options. I would alter the motherboard to the ASUS P6T SE, remove the firewire card as there is firewire on the motherboard, i would downgrade the memory to 6GB as I7 Processors are triple channel memory boards and work better in either 3gb / 6gb / 12gb options. I would upgrade the processor to the i7 950 as i know the i7 930 is being discontinued and customers are being made to upgrade to the i7 950 model. This will bring your end total out at £902.99 with all the modifications.

Good advice?

Thanks

J

  GaT7 17:58 19 Nov 2010

A good quality 500W PSU (with at least 2x 6pin PCIE connectors) will be enough, but as their choice is little better than a generic brand, 650W is the one to go for.

What's the difference in price between the i7 930 & i7 950 in your quoted spec? If it is significant, I'd drop back to the former, as you will not be able to tell the difference. Then use this difference to get a better graphics card if possible - i.e. within your budget.

I'd also consider splitting the 1Tb into 2 smaller 500Gb drives, & use the 2nd for backups only. But if you have hard drives spare from dismantling your previous system, you could use them if large enough. G

  jhwhite 18:52 19 Nov 2010

Thanks very much for the reply...

The difference between the two i7s is only about £13 but it would cost about £58 to step up to the next price 1280Mb GTX470 PCI Express Nvidia DDR DVI DX11 which unfortunately is a bit too expensive. Though I am thinking of adding a 2nd graphics card sometime in the future (if that's the right thing to do).

Games wise I usually play total war stuff on the PC and plan to play the Star wars old republic game when that's out. I leave the more acade style shoot em ups etc for the xbox 360. Would these games require a better graphics card?

As for the hard drive, this is the cheapest that comes with the computer, though I do have a 1tb external.

  GaT7 19:16 19 Nov 2010

OK, then leave most of it as it is.

Note that the motherboard is not SLI-capable (click here), but if you swap it for something suitable, one GTX 460 now & another in the future (if necessary) seems a sensible way to go.

Yes, the GTX 460 will be more than enough for those games.

And yes, the single 1Tb drive will be the one to go for, unless the 1Tb external is running out of space. G

  I am Spartacus 19:52 19 Nov 2010

I think I'd spend a bit extra and get a motherboard with USB3 and SATA6. You won't notice much of a difference with the SATA 6 ports unless you go for a high speed SSD but USB3 would be a lot faster for disk copying.

Either the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R Intel X58 - 6 DDR3 2200 - USB3 - SATA6 - 4 SLI/CF (add £15.95)

or the

ASUS P6X58D-E, X58 - 6 DDR3 2000 - 3 PCIEX16 - SATA6G - USB3 (add £21.26)

I'd also think about a good quality branded PSU and as Crossbow suggests 500W would be enough with your chosen components. However a decent one will cost quite a lot more than the Powercool one. You'd have to pay quite a bit more for a quality PSU with 4 PCIE connectors should you decide to add another graphics card at a later date.

  jhwhite 21:36 19 Nov 2010

Looks like upgrading the motherboard seems to be a popular move so I run it by them when I call them tomorrow.

I'd like to consider a branded PSU but it seems a little out of reach unfortunately. I'll make sure I remember to upgrade when/if I get a 2nd graphics card (which won't be too soon while I'm studying).

Is OCZ a good name brand for a PSU or am looking at the Corsair?

  I am Spartacus 23:09 19 Nov 2010

Although I've had an OCZ PSU which was OK it failed after just over 2 years as did 2 x Xilence PSUs which lasted 12 and 15 months respectively. I only use Corsair or Be Quiet (in preference) now. Many of Corsair PSU are made by Seasonic so they're also worth considering.

When you're deciding on a PSU with a new PC bear in mind that a defective one can destroy other components when it fails so it does pay to get the best branded one you can afford or stretch to that bit extra.

  jhwhite 01:11 20 Nov 2010

Yeah the Corsair is definitely out of my price range and will probably have to wait until I invest in an additional graphics card.

I'm guessing these components are a bit better than you're likely to get from pcworld but I've never known anyone to have problem with their PSU breaking down over years and years. Why would that be? (Apologies if this is a stupid question)

  carver 10:02 20 Nov 2010

Some of the PSU sold by that company are adequate for the job and will happily plod along for 18 months without a problem, if after that time they fail the company are not concerned because it's out of warranty, the customer thinks nothing about it because he has gone well over the 12 months.

The PSU's mentioned by I am Spartacus carry at least a 3 year warranty.

If you have the time read this click here tells you who makes which PSU.

  jhwhite 10:59 20 Nov 2010

Thanks again for the help

My budget allows be to either...

a) Improve the motherboard from the ASUS P6T to the P6X58D-E X58 and upgrade the PSU from Powercool 650w to OCZ 650w.

or

b) Keep with the original motherboard and upgrade the PSU to the corsair 650w.

What's the wise move here?

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