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Windows 7: Looking for an easy guide to high-performance computer shopping

11 Feb 2011   #1

windows 7
Looking for an easy guide to high-performance computer shopping

Hi, I currently have the following laptop:

Asus F3Series (purchased in Winter 2008)
Intel Core 2 Duo (Centrino) T7500 @ 2.20 GHz 2.20 GHz
160 GB HD, 5400 rpm
ATI Mobility Radeon 512 MB
15.4" WXGA Screen
Windows 7 Home Premium

The laptop is serving my purposes well, but I am thinking whether its worth it to purchase a high performance desktop system and then use my current laptop while I'm away at work or school, using LogMeIn (or any other Remote Access program) to perform tasks that would take advantage of the capabilities of the desktop sitting home.

If this is a good idea, then I do not know how to shop for this high performance desktop system. I have looked around online, but it is hard for me to determine which features I should get and which features are cutting-edge, but I don't really need or would probably not notice any difference in performance.

Some of the tasks I would need/like to do:

- Heavy Multi-Tasking: Multiple windows of internet browsers, word processors, pdf viewers, image editing programs, media players, email clients, chat clients, explorer folders, all open and running at the same time.

- Heavy use of Microsoft Office programs to make large reports, vivid presentations, etc.

- Use of multiple 3D Modeling and Image Rendering/Editing Programs (Photoshop, Cinema4D, CorelDraw, Sketchup Pro) at the same time.

- Possible use of calculation intensive programs related to Engineering studies

Here are some tasks that I am not interested in:

- Playing movies or dvds or making them

- Gaming


I am really interested in speed, graphics, and multi-tasking. I want the system to do what I need it to do, without turning my mouse pointer into a blue-green waiting ring. If possible, I never want to see that waiting ring again.

I have no idea on whether computers have even reached that level. I see mention of quad-cores, six-cores, high-end graphics cards, hyper-threading, overclocking, and I found difficulty in finding information on whether these features are useful for me.

I would be interested on guidance on how to approach this issue, where I can find reliable information, and on whether the idea of remote accessing a high-performance desktop over a wifi connection is practical.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #2

Windows 7 pro 64bit

The only requirement you have that would stretch a computer is the 3D modelling, and only if it's complex. I use Sketch up too and it's not testing for my system. I doubt any desktop would need to have more than four cores as that would keep your cost down while allowing ample multi tasking. Remote accessing over a network or homegroup is possible. Reducing the time you see the waiting ring is obviously proportional to what you spend on your system, you don't mention budget. Unless you are doing really complex modelling or multi screen stuff you wont require a mega graphics card. Your best bet for research is forums like this or talking to your friends in the same industry as you for recommendations.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #3

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot

A quad core i5 would fit the bill I think. One with hyper-threading will give an additional boost in some multi-threaded applications. That with at least 6 GB of memory, and SSD for the system disk (optional). If you get a motherboard that can overclock, you can go pretty far with and i5 (4 GHz) without much risk or effort - which will benefit your compute intensive work.

As for the SSD, I doubt you care if your program starts instantly the first time. However if any of the programs cache data to disk, you will want an SSD that has both read AND write performance for the cache.. Some SSDs write performance are not any better than a hard disk.
As an example, Photoshop has some conversion operations that cache large chunks of data to disk - on a normal HDD it takes 4-5 seconds because of this, on an SSD with slower write speed, same thing, on a high write speed SSD it isn't noticeable.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

11 Feb 2011   #4
The Howling Wolves

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

If I were to buy a new system I would look at Costco or Sam's Club.
Reason being:
Return policy............90 trial period and no questions asked. Other's like Fry's or Best Buy charge 15% restock fee
Extended warranty.................Both Costco and Sam's extended warranties are cheaper there

Staples and Office Depot would be other stores to check out.
Make out a shopping list of items you want or would like your computer to come with.

Caution: These stores sometimes come loaded with trial software and items you may not need or ever use so do a system recovery disk and then remove all the bloated junk they come with.

Have fun shopping!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #5


If you change you mind and decide to get another laptop (rather than a desktop), there's an excellent forum with a What Notebook Should I Buy? section. Great discussions and advice. Take a look. The forum also discusses desktop in another section.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #6

windows 7

Thank you for all your beneficial comments,

I had no idea Sams/Costco have a trial period for computers, that's excellent. I didn't even know they sold computers.

About SSD, I've noticed they have less storage than HDD for the same price. Is there much difference between that and a 7200 rpm for my purposes?

As for 3D Modeling, when I do use Sketchup, my models can get complex, but my current laptop has been able to handle the workload in most cases. With Cinema4D, I'm usually rendering images which takes a while. I don't use those programs on a regular basis, but when I do use them, it can be intense.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Feb 2011   #7

windows 7

As for budget, I don't want to spend anything too extremely high or low. If I can achieve all my goals for under $1000 that would be nice, but I'm not sure how possible that is until I actually start shopping.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Feb 2011   #8

windows 7

I could use some help on the following issue:

For my purposes mentioned in this thread, is there really a significant difference in performance between using an Intel i5 processor and its competing AMD processor?

Should I disregard AMD altogether?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Feb 2011   #9
society misfit

Windows 7 Professional

I wouldn’t write off a AMD CPU. You can get a great CPU for much lower cost than the competing Intel. Performance wise both a high end AMD and a Intel i5 will be pretty much the same. One may do something a “little” faster than the other but in the end there is not really much difference. I would concentrate more on the motherboard and which one will fit your needs. Personally I find AMD based boards offer more for the price than their Intel counterparts.

As for SSD’s, yes they are more expensive than HDD but the performance increase is well worth it. You can grab a small 80GB SSD just for your OS and programs then a larger HDD for files.

With a budget of $1000 you can definitely build a very nice AMD system with a SSD OS drive and a reg- large capacity HDD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Feb 2011   #10

Windows 7 pro 64bit

Like the man above said, theres probably not much between them. With the new AMD 8 core coming out and the Intel Sandybridge out now, theres great value to be had in the slightly older 4 cores, particularly the I7 9xx L1366 x-58 chips. With a $1000 budget I would definitely try to include an SSD even if it was a cheaper low capacity model, like Kingston, not the best but a big step up from a HDD. If you get a good MoBo you can easily overclock to give you a bit more performance in the future when your systems older. If you went for a 5770 graphics card, it might suffice while still having HDMI output at a low price and you could double up in the future if you needed more power. Cheers
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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