Is this a PC I should buy?

It’s three years, THREE YEARS since I bought a new desktop box, so I’m going to get a new one. My motives are partly to have faster new shinyness so that I compile faster and render quicker (I’m a game developer) but also partly to increase the variety of hardware I have to test my games on.

Currently my PC is a 32bit Vista intel core 2 duo with an nvidia 8800 GTS and 2 gig of RAM. For maximum variety, I’m thinking of getting a quad core AMD chip, windows 7, 64 bit and an ATI card. hence this:

(from meshcomputers in the UK)
[li]Midi Tower Black / Black Mesh + 550W PSU
[/li][li]ASUS M4A77TD Pro Mainboard- AMD 770 CrossFireX- AM3 Phenom™ II, DDR3 - ATX
[/li][li]Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium Edition - 64bit English
[/li][li]AMD Phenom™ II X4 965 Black Quad Core Processor AM3 (3.40GHz, 8MB Cache)
[/li][li]8GB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM
[/li][li]1GB ATI Radeon 5670 Graphics Accelerator GDDR5
[/li][li]1TB Serial ATA 2 Hard Drive with 32MB Buffer
[/li][li]7.1 High Definition onboard sound card - for 8 Channel Cinema sound
£741 inc VAT.

Any comments on what I should change or upgrade in all that? This is without a monitor, I’ll keep my existing ones. I’m out of the loop regarding hardware so don’t know if this rig is good or not. I like my O/S to run really fast and be responsive. Will this do that?

Radeon 5670 is very very lowend. It is worse than that nvidia you have right now.I would go with 5850 at least…assuming you want to play games of course. And myself I would go with intel as well, but that is more about subjective preferences.

How fast is your Core 2 Duo? Chances are, a cheap ram upgrade to 4GB and a new video card will suit you very well.

The 5670 isn’t all-around slower than your 8800GTS, but it certainly isn’t an upgrade either:

AMD is pretty crappy these days

Just pick up a dell with a quadcore core i5 CPU and drop in a radeon 5850. They have deals all the time at the usual sites.

Yes, get a Core i5/i7 PC. The performance on them is just ridiculous.

Yeah don’t do this.

Get a i7 with a 5850.

I don’t know about the rendering and compiling, but the AMD is not going to have a noticeable difference on gameplaying.

While the Intels are much better processors if price is no object, the AMD’s are still probably a better value, dollar for dollar, when compared to the low end Intels (which are the Intels one should be comparing them against).

I think way too many people are paying for more processor than they need. Also, for the stated purpose of having some differentiation in his testing platforms, the AMD suits his needs better.

For gaming, you’re probably right. Everything but supreme commander is graphics-bound, not CPU bound. But he specifically said he needs to compile code, and that use is indeed CPU bound.

I’m assuming that in compatibility terms, AMD vs Intel is pretty much a minor issue though? In which case it sounds like intel might be the way to go. I had no idea that the chosen card was so crappy. I want some variety, but I also want some shiny, so I’ll get a better vid card methinks.

New spec. better?

Intel® Core™ i7 860 Quad Core Processor (2.80GHz, 8MB Cache)
8GB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM
1GB ATI Radeon 5750 Graphics Accelerator GDDR5


Yes, that looks much better.

If you really want it to scream, add a SSD as well. OCZ vertex or intel X25-M G2. Actually, for everything but CPU-hungry applications like compiling code, sticking with your old computer and just adding on a SSD would be a more significant upgrade. You can really feel the difference.

I’m very tempted by an SSD just to put windows on, but im wary of this ‘limited writes’ thing. Surely thats like having a hard drive thats effectively disposable. It scares me!

Intel rates their SSD MTBF at 5 years of usage assuming 100GB written per day. Very heavy usage, like if you used it for a HD tivo storage drive, or very heavy swapping to disk. They have tons of extra space that’s automatically used when the wear-weathering algorithm determines a block is about to degrade and turn read-only. All that stuff happens in the background.

I’ve had my SSD for a couple of months now as my OS drive with swapfile on the SSD (but my machine isn’t memory-starved) and according to intel’s little application I’ve written around 840GB total.

They also degrade much more gracefully than hard drives. Hard drives just fail, you can no longer detect them in the BIOS or end up with physical corruption causing the OS to show partitions as raw data rather than NTFS or EXT4 or whatever. When SSDs fail, they simply go read-only. Your data is retrievable.

I think the cost of an SSD would better be spent on upgrading that 5750 to a 5850. The 5850 will last quite a bit longer performance-wise than the 5750.

As a fellow developer cliffski I’d go for the i5 or i7, simply because multiple cores are probably the way forward for games now. You may as well get a rig that allows you to explore concurrency to the fullest. I would personally choose an i5 or i7 because IntelliJ is a bit of a CPU whore and I love it too much to switch to a more efficient IDE.

Oh and get the best video card you can afford if you plan to play games on the rig.

How often do you change a boot drive? If it’s once in a blue moon, I’d go down the SSD route when you get your new machine. Yes it’s expensive, but if it’s going to be Windows 9 before you next have an opportunity, I’d bite that bullet. Most other things are much simpler upgrades.

+1 vote for an Intel SSD over here. I put one in when I upgraded to Windows 7, and it’s orgasmically nice to work with. It makes the operating system run like butter - such a joy.

Drop down to an i5 CPU, and get an SSD. Highly Recommended. As above, the ‘limited lifespan’ is no more limited than a normal disk drive.

I prefer getting average video cards more often rather than great video cards less often too. The cost is quite similar but you spend less time with too much / too little GPU power.