PC Upgrade- bit the bullet

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009

As we have talked the PC vs Console thing alot and price/upgrade/compatibility and simply just plug in game and go.. I thought I would muss over my latest upgrade. In the past I have been on about a 2 year Upgrade path, every 2 years a New MB and CPU at the very least. My last upgrade on this machine was 3 years ago, almost to the day. My old rig is a e8400 OC'ed to 4.2 with 4 gigs ram, and 5870 Video card (Video cards is a sore spot with me and PC so I wont go to much into that). Since Intel came out with the new Sandybridge stuff earlier this month I have been reading on it alot. Needless to say after much reading and compareing reviews. I DONT NEED AN UPGRADE as my current system will play anything at the settings I want. But as the console user buys a new console I had to have a new PC. I spent over 2 weeks mulling this over. I finally decided if i can get anotehr 3 years our of the new one.. its not a bad deal for somebody who uses his PC as much as I do.

it sounds like the early crop of MB is still a bit "exciting" as they are not yet solid in all repsects, the average user will have almost no issues but us hardcore users seem to find a few rouhg spots when OC'ing and tweeking. I went with a mid level HARDCORE (enthusist is the name they like to use) board. a gigabyte P76a-UD4, a 2600K Intel CPU, Gskill Ripjaw ram (8 gigs) a Crucial 64GB SSD, new case, Corsiar 750 PSU, some parts and etc.. basicly everything but the Video card and HD's. When it was all said and done with some discounts, rebates etc.. it was about $830 shipped (note, total price for new one with my carry over parts if purchased new would be closer to $1200). Not to bad a investment compared to the last gen consoles and there original prices. Mine is 100% backwards compatible, plays pretty much every system up till about 8 years ago (console and pc).
But I know its not user freindly, and to make it do all that fun stuff will take alot of tweeking. And no Im not making this into a console PC thing, we have done that.. I was just excited to have ordered all the parts and wanted to type about it :) there was some talk about MAME and the new chips and how pretty much every game plays full speed with no video acceleration now. That excites me a bit, not that my old dedicated MAME machine didnt, there where a few games I was in the 70-90% area.. gauntlet Ledgends was just sqweeking 102-105% (but voice still had glitchs). Should be fun to test some of those out. I have heard Blue Ray ripping is incredibly fast, and even RAR and such make it very much a worthwhile upgrade. As for PC gameing I'm not going to notice to much , but it might give me an excuse to finally go with one of those 3 monitor setups.

I honesly thing i will have buyers remorse when I see the little difference it makes in my gaming, but as a PC guy, 3 years has been an eternity.. I needed to get my fix of PC upgradeing :)

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Well MAtt if you ever get in

Well MAtt if you ever get in the market for a NEW PC down the road, be glad to put one togther for you, I love tinkering with um.

My NEW PC build has been honeslty the most "problems" of any build.. not in the normal ways.. the Chipset issue, being the big one.. but in the end other then downtime to replace a board in a couple months I guess its not a HUGE deal. The SSD is amazing, i just cant state that enough... Ihave installed and seen them in use, but never in MY OWN machine.. just like a new car, its fun to test drive, but when you own it and can really do as you please its just not the same.

I am a bit concerned, I know only what I read on SSD and used a Zdnet artical to set up mine
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/windows-7-and-ssds-cutting-your-system-dr...

Im a bit concerned about pageing file I set it up pretty much as this guy did but Im having a really strange issue. Installs- I was installing LIVE games for windows and the install stalled about 3/4 way in.. i cancled and reran it and it installed. I rebooted just in case. I then Installed VUZE and same exact issue. 3/4 way in it just hangs... kill it and start over, works fine. I repeated this 4 times as I installed programs...

I think some of my pageing and VM settings are maybe not up to snuff.. I figured 12GB of ram would be enough.. but I think Im going to swap my paging file back and see if this changes it.. its really the only thing I can think of to do.. 100% clean install of win 7 Ultimate

but otherwise its been a BEAST 100% happy... even went out and picked up some Klipsh ProMedia 2.1 speakers.. I had a Logitech surrond sound sytem, but when you cant place the surrond sound speakers behind you... why have um? I did some BO testing before and after with the 2 sets.. and I gotta say its a wash (to me) for directional sound.. seems pretty much the same. SOUND wise.. the Klipsh seem to be a tad better in music.. games.. I would say a wash again.. Kinda sad to trade out a $300 set for a $130 set.. but the desk room and quite honestly, sound is much better (desk room great, sound, just a tiny bit better i think). If I could have ran my surrond sound behind me I would have kept um, but just not possible.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Unfortunately, the bloatware

Unfortunately, the bloatware is a positive and a negative. They actually get PAID to put it on the computers, which defrays some of the cost and makes them cheaper. Imagine how much software SUCKS when the publishers PAY to shove it down your throat. I'd almost rather pay an extra $50 or so and not have to mess with it. I've come to expect a few hours un-installing the crap whenever I get a new PC, which is sadly very seldom.

Mark wrote:

Tinkering in a HP, Compaq, Dell is always more problematic than trying to modify a generic system as most of the big PC companies use their own specific subset of hardware and upgrading can be littered with hurdles as often the components are tuned with little margins so even accommodating a new graphics-card in a 'brand' system can be somewhat of a nightmare.

Man, that is so true. I actually did have a generic case that I worked with for awhile; it was quite roomy, but the little back panel didn't fit the motherboard (it had a lot of onboard stuff) so I had to take it off. That made it a dusty nightmare. Also, there was some issue with the power connection, so my friend Rob came over, dismantled the plug, separated out the individual wires, and got it to work somehow like that. I knew at that point I just lacked the knowledge to do anything like this. It always SEEMS like it's just going to be plug and play; just buy the components, put them in, and power up. Put there's always some bullshit like that; hours upon hours wasted on crummy tech forums and the like trying to isolate why X is happening or why Z isn't recognized. It's almost like an adventure game just trying to get the damn thing to work.

If somebody could guarantee that everything would as advertised (and if you followed the instructions) I'd be all about it. But as is, it's something best left to experts or at least people who love tinkering and have a great deal of patience and time on their hands.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Well as a tech who put

Well as a tech who put togther DELL/HP builds I hate um.. Some are just fine and I still like DELL support (HP's SUCKS!) but the components are just kinda "good enough" in most. Foxcon MB's in most, seldom do they have an extra SATA port for more then the installed equipment. Onboard graphics have came a long way, but its still pretty crap. And buying video cards from a PC retialer (dell, etcc) is like saying I want to pay double (I know we get dedicated on all our rigs, i could save $100 on each PC and get a 10X better card if they would let me). Pre built machines have there place, no doubt about it. But as a stingy old bugger I prefer the most bag for my buck.. and I enjoy building um.. had that problem all my life, I wanna know why it ticks.

Sadly after a couple days away (home to see parents) my rig would not turn on when i came home.. so the NEW machine was put into use much quicker than i planned. With zero tuning and windows drivers my win score was 7.8..sadly and suprisingly i was 7.9's across the board except my new SSD ? it scored 7.8...strange but oh well.

Unforntantly I have hours of setup and work yet. I got basics going last night, email, and updates... but after pulling the old machine out the tangel mess of wires... I am going to redo my computer desk.. and its a job I dont wanna do...

Rob Daviau
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Joined: 05/19/2006
I hear ya....

I agree with your points but I would say you can bet if I DID buy pre-built, first if the option exists I would get without an OS as I like installing that myself. Also, I would never buy from someplace like DELL or Gateway or anyone who uses custom hardware or drivers. More likely I would buy from NCIX (great for us Canadians) where again I would still personally choose each and every piece from power supply to hard drive to video card. Basically all the benefit of DIY but having it shipped already pre-tested and assembled. So in this way I still get the quality parts but save the time putting it together. No custom drivers or bloatware for me for sure. Still, as I said previously I would really suggest to anyone to build there own at least once, the experience and knowledge gained is very valuable even if it proves to someone they are better off leaving it to somebody else. I DO like to tinker so I am constantly imaging my OS, trying another etc, I just do not feel there is anymore need or benefit for myself assembling the parts anymore.

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Benefits

While there are advantages to buying some of these machines that are "pre-made," there are also a lot of disadvantages.

1 - These companies just LOVE loading a computer down with bloatware. Some of these companies put so much junk on the computer that even buying a pre-built means that the best thing you can do is wipe it as soon as you get it and do a clean install of the operating system. Sometimes the company will even have their own custom installation disc, and you cannot do a clean install - you can only use their system restore disk.

2 - Prolonged use. Why should your computer last a long time when you can just go out a buy a new one? In the nineties (and in my gaming days), I accepted the fact that I would have to upgrade quite often. In fact, I want to say the upgrade window was less than two years.

In this day and age, that is unheard of. Sure, you can always upgrade your video card for gaming reasons, but you shouldn't *have* to upgrade your computer all that often for general use. My sister is due for an upgrade because she shoots digital photography on a professional camera, but it otherwise keeps going. A little upgrade here, a little upgrade there, and she is still running a single core Pentium 4 2.53 Ghz machine. The computer is 9 years old!

3 - Driver support. This can oftentimes be a killer. This problem can stem from either end - either the company doesn't want to bother with driver support (ex: You can't upgrade to Windows 7 because well...we would rather you just buy a new computer). Or the other side - A company takes waaaay too many revisions to get something right. I am absolutely amazed that my DELL laptop at work has needed so many driver revisions. Laptops are different beasts, but my *goodness.*

So purchasing a pre-built computer can help save money and a little pain of building it, but ultimately saves you money in the long run as well as gives you better performance because the aftermarket parts are going to be better quality.

I do fully acknowledge the fact that you have to make the right selections when choosing your parts.

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Rob Daviau
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Joined: 05/19/2006
I will only say

Though I only built this rig a few years ago I did make up my mind after years of talking about it and advising others with PC advice I almost felt that I had to at least build one system form scratch. I ordered each and every part and component a slowly and carefully built this desktop that I am proud to say booted perfectly the first time and has served me well. There is certainly something be gained by doing it from scratch so that you really get a better idea about how it all works, it really helps when having to isolate future issues. So I feel I have deservedly obtained my "Geek" status by doing so. That said would I do it all again? Most definitely.....not. I feel there is no more to gain by doing so, the farther you go back certainly the more benefit and money to be saved but I just do not think that is the case any longer. I know I can certainly troubleshoot and service my own rig, and I do recommend going through the process just for the sake of it and the knowledge to be gained at least one time. Today though with the buying power of big companies I would actually prefer to save myself the time and headache, most likely I would buy from a company that odes let me tailor my own selections but I am pretty happy to let them do the work from this point on. I DO plan to build a 2nd machine at some point, a dedicated "emulation" box if you will but that is simply because I have many extra parts and if I upgrade this machine even the second machine built form the "left overs" will still be a pretty decent machine.

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
I have to say, I'm with you,

I have to say, I'm with you, Matt. There are so many incredibly priced pre-configured gamer rigs and general power rigs that unless you actually enjoy doing it all from scratch, there is little-to-no benefit, particularly in regards to cost savings. It's funny, we recently bought (as in January) Christina a new desktop PC and all she really needed was a reasonable rig because she doesn't do much with it, but one of the things I wanted was a dedicated video card since I don't like how onboard video affects performance anymore. Anyway, long story short, I was able to get her a loaded Dell 23.9" touch screen all-in-one system for $1176.99 (tax, shipping, etc., included) loaded with 8GB, 1TB HD, 1GB video card, video input, tuner card, etc. I didn't want to get a touch screen (I don't use that feature on mine) or even an all-in-one PC (thinking I could get away cheaper doing it separate), but I couldn't match that overall feature-set for that price any other way, so the "useless" extras were gravy. It definitely pays to shop around.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Main stream systems...

Matt,
Tinkering in a HP, Compaq, Dell is always more problematic than trying to modify a generic system as most of the big PC companies use their own specific subset of hardware and upgrading can be littered with hurdles as often the components are tuned with little margins so even accommodating a new graphics-card in a 'brand' system can be somewhat of a nightmare.

But if you build your own system with a decent tower, good power supply and a decent motherboard and good airflow/cooling system then it is much easier actually :P

I used to build my own systems all the time. Then I grew tired of it thinking Acer, Dell and HP would be just fine. And that was the case - until I got the upgrade bug. It seemed that my Acer just quit on me, the Dell is very resistant to any alterations and the HP - well I just leave it be and will eventually move my current gaming rig (self built) which is the most flexible and compatible into the games room.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Nah, I hate building systems.

Nah, I hate building systems. I had a hard enough time just putting in a new power supply and graphics card into my HP Pavilion.

The problem for me is always in the details. I follow the instructions the best I can, but still something doesn't work. Then there are the nightmarish little bugs and glitches that pop up and have no obvious cause (much less solution). I know that I wasn't 100% sure what I was doing, so there's no way to discount the grave possibilities of human error at every stage of the setup.

I'd rather just buy a decent system so that I can at least assume they knew what they were doing and the problems are caused by something else.

Plus, while putting the system together might not be so hard, making good selections is a dissertation project. My friend was talking about building a system a few months ago and I didn't even know where to begin. Dual SLI huh?? Man, I don't have time for all that crap anymore.

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Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Building
Matt Barton wrote:

Can I just give one of you guys money next time and have you build a system for me?

I dunno, Matt. You should give it a try! It is a lot of fun to build a system.

No matter how affordable retail PCs become, I will always be a fan of building my own computer.

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