Current (October 2013) Desktop Buying Advice Needed

I’m sorry for creating a new thread, but I need some advice. My current desktop (2008) and laptop (2009) have decided to crap out simultaneously, leaving me in the happy position of needing a new machine. My days of building a PC are long gone, even though I know most gamers suggest it and I’ve done it before. Gone too, are the days of my spending 4-8 thousand on a top of the line custom built rig. The one that failed was a sweet HP Blackbird and it lasted a long time with only one video card upgrade.

I’m looking for something that will last a few years, and I guess anything from $1700-2500 or so would do based on my current budget. Anything in the sub-one-thousand range looks pretty weak, but I’m open to suggestions if it means replacing it in a year and a half. I have no problem with disposable technology as long as the long-term costs are the same.

I’ve tried to convince myself to go mass market and look at a Dell, but they offer very little customization, and their more adjustable gaming rigs are for the most part Alienware, which I’ve had long ago. In addition, getting a decent machine puts the prices above $3000. I’ve also gone to NewEgg where I have an account, but the selection there seems to be mostly companies that I used to question (iBuyPower, Cyberpower, ASUS, etc.) the quality of. They have some machines that look okay, but I’m not sure of their reputation lately. Have you guys heard anything recent about these companies and what they offer?

Lastly, I remembered being interested in Puget Systems. Looking at the highly custom-built machines there, I may be able to build a decent machine for within my price range that has what I think are mid-range parts. With the amount of options available, I have no idea what technology is on the way out, what’s current, and what’s relatively future-proof for a few years. I’m swimming in a sea of choices and I’m lost.

I guess this comes down to me asking the group what kind of specs would be good for something that will last 2 years, requiring only maybe a video card upgrade to extend it out a bit? Does this seem decent?

Asus Rampage IV Gene (i7 Sandy Bridge-E)
Core i7 4930K
16GB DDR3 Low Voltage memory
128 GB SSD
500GB 7200RPM HDD
Standard 24x DVD-RW
Basic Black Mid-Tower (oooh with a window)
650W Power Supply
A CPU only Liquid cooling solution (Corsair Hydro H60)
Windows 8.1

That’s the main stuff, runs right around $2500 when thrown together on Puget’s site. I haven’t seen much comparable on the other sites I’ve mentioned. I’d have to get a new monitor that’ll add a bunch more, but my current one died also with everything else. Could I go with cheaper parts, or should I spend a bit more for a longer life later? Should I wait a few months, is something happening that will change the landscape soon?

Here’s a cheap BestBuy HP Envy that I saw, but I’m concerned with the off-the-shelf aspect:

Any help is appreciated in advance! If you know of any good buys, point me to them.

I question the need for Ivy Bridge Extreme.

  1. The performance delta over quad-core Haswell is minor in most things. It’s almost nil in games. About the only real gain is if you’re running stuff with very high memory bandwidth requirements, but you can run higher speed dual channel memory on a Haswell system.

  2. Power consumption is higher than Haswell.

  3. LGA 1150 motherboards often have more usable USB 3.0 and SATA 6gbps ports than most X79 boards. And you won’t ever get Thunderbolt on X79.

  4. Cost will be higher.

I’d go for a reasonably high end Haswell-based system. You’ll save money, get very nearly the same performance. And if you goal is a long lifespan, an LGA 1150 system will outlive an X79-based system, which is getting very long in the tooth.

I wouldn’t even go for high-end, unless you need the CPU power for large compiles or something. Get a mid-range core i5, 8GB or so of RAM, and a 760 (if your monitor is 1080p) or a 770 (if you have a 27" 1440p monitor). Spring for a 256GB SSD and a 3TB storage drive.

For the monitor, either get an el-cheapo 27" korean 1440p for ~$350 or so or wait for the new monitors with nvidia’s G-SYNC technology.

I was about to say the same thing. The 4770k is $250 cheaper than the 4930k, and it can be used in cheaper motherboards. You could use part of that money on a new monitor, better video card, or bigger ssd.

Really? So there’s no need to go for an i7 at all, and the 4770k should be good for a few years? And I’m surprised at only needing 8GB of RAM, I thought for sure 16GB was a sweet-spot these days. I’m SO out of touch. That’ll bring my costs WAY down.

Is there any disadvantage to shooting lower from a gaming perspective? I won’t be doing any development or anything, it’s pure entertainment. I was thinking the newer consoles would increase the need for more powerful PCs. One of the things I noticed is that the PC landscape was a bit limited by the old consoles the past few years. But I thought that would change with the next-gen.

A 4770K is, in fact, a Core i7 CPU. Four cores, eight threads. And it will be a fine gaming CPU – probably more than most games need.

Okay, based on the bit of feedback from you guys, something more like this?

Asus Z87-A (Haswell)
Core i5 3.4GHz 4670k
128 GB SSD
500GB 7200RPM HDD
Standard 24x DVD-RW
Basic Black Mid-Tower (oooh with a window)
650W Power Supply
A CPU only Liquid cooling solution (Corsair Hydro H60)
Windows 8.1

Brings me under $2k

Upgrading to the 4770k i7 gets me to just over $2000.

Ahh, sorry - I was going off of Stussers notes and mis-numbered. So I could bump the i5 above for like a hundred bucks more.

I’d bump the GTX 760 to a 770 before I’d bump the CPU from i5 to i7. I’d probably also bump the SSD to a ~256G Samsung unit before I’d bump the CPU.

Monitor - Tempting to go for the Korean one, but what’s a reputable site to buy them from? I definitely want a 27", and at that price it would be easy to decide to upgrade to the G-SYNC in a year and a half or something. I can always find another use for the Korean one.

Yeah, these small changes are where it gets complex for me. I need to check some benchmarks. I’m not sure of the performance difference between the different options you list. Also, I’m not sure if I need the larger SSD. I have the second drive in the case for local storage, and then I have NAS set up in the house. The SSD for me is going to be dedicated to the OS, and maybe 4 games I plan to play regularly.

The good news is that with the advice here, no matter what options I go with it’s looking like my budget is okay, ranging from $2000 to $2200. Knowing I don’t need the newest stuff really is a big help.

$2k seems like a pretty hefty markup. I would go with something like this from

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($35.98 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: MSI Z87-G45 Gaming ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($179.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital WD Green 2TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($86.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 770 2GB Video Card ($404.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Corsair 400R ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($104.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1361.88

For the monitor, search for “QX2710” on eBay and purchase from a highly-rated seller. It should be under $350. I personally purchased from this guy and had no problems.

If you’re nervous about warranties, Monoprice has essentially the same display for about $50-$75 more, and offers a US-based warranty.

Interestingly, the Korean display resellers have also popped up on Amazon, so you don’t need to deal with Ebay weirdness.

That’s $474 while the link I posted was $304. So it’s 50% more expensive, a hefty premium just to avoid eBay. I was uncomfortable using eBay too, as I hadn’t used it for over a decade, but really I had no problems at all.

I do see the QNIX 2710 on Amazon starting around $330, which is a reasonable price premium to avoid eBay. That wasn’t available when I purchased 6 months or so back.

Also for anyone else reading this, note that the QX2710’s dual DVI does not work on Macs for some reason, even using an active adapter (which itself costs $100). If you have a mac you need to purchase a model with displayport. In that case, the monoprice makes a lot more sense.

It’s always soooo tempting, but then I’d have to build the thing. I don’t know why I got so tired of that as I got older, but I’m willing to pay for convenience, labor, and support. The individual parts are better than what I had listed for the most part though. Don’t tempt me with that :)

As for the monitors, both you and Case gave good places to look, thanks!

OK, in that case you’re accepting the $500 markup for the build, and that’s perfectly fine. Puget is supposed to be very good. Note they charge $550 for the 770, so you can save almost $150 just installing the videocard yourself.

I suggest also looking at Maingear, I configured a mini-ITX “Portenza” system for a couple hundred bucks less. They’re very cute. Only problem is you can’t fit a 3.5" hard drive, but with a NAS on your network and a 256GB SSD, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Maingear is one I looked at some time back, and had forgotten about. Thanks for reminding me!

Is the Haswell i7 worth the extra money over an i5 for gaming? There is a chance that one game I will play will have Arma in the title (could be 2 more than 3 though).


No, it’s not. In fact, Haswell isn’t worth much of a price premium over Ivy Bridge either, at the same speeds.

You don’t want the i3 though, as it doesn’t have turbo boost.

Historically, games have not made much use of the i7’s Hyperthreading (which is largely what distinguishes it from an i5). However, Battlefield 4 will use all eight threads evenly. An i5 is usually swamped by this game, but gameplay remains smooth. An i7 seems like it gets you about 10% FPS. Arma III requires a lot of horsepower too, but officially they recommend an i5-2300 or a Phenom II X4 940. You can always dig around Bohemia’s forums to get the community’s sentiment.