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Windows 7: Please help me narrow down some components for a new PC

25 Feb 2016   #1
tgfyhre

Windows 7 32bit Home Premium
 
 
Please help me narrow down some components for a new PC

I'm having lots of issues these days with my PC and I'm thinking it's time to build a new one. My current one is the first PC I've ever built but it's 5 years old and running 32bit so memory is limited and the hardware is aging.

I don't really follow the market for all the newer hardware, so I'm a bit lost on what components to consider. Any help would be greatly appreciated - even if I can just narrow it down to a few choices it would help a lot. I don't even know what size motherboards and cases to look for currently. My budget is around $1,000. I won't need to buy an OS as I still have my Windows 7 retail disc and I may upgrade to Windows 10 possibly.

I know I want a fast Intel core I7. I know it used to be that some CPUs were more desirable for overclocking - I'd prefer a fast CPU so I don't have to deal with overclocking, but I wouldn't mind it being an option if I choose to later. Cost is a factor though so I can't afford an insanely expensive processor just for an option to overclock it.

Video Cards - I'm lost here. I have no idea what is out there now. What should I be looking at? Right now I have an EVGA Nvidia 570 factory overclocked, and I'd like to stick with Nvidia. I will be gaming with a 1080p monitor - racing, FPS, etc. - so I'd like a video card that can keep up with newer games for a while and have a good amount of video RAM without breaking the bank. I would like for it to support Dolby True HD and DTS-HDMA through HDMI - my current card doesn't support those. I also have a 4k TV and I would love to be able to output 4k resolution over HDMI for my TV on occasion - I won't be playing any games in 4k anytime soon, but for viewing slideshows, video, etc., I'd like the option if possible, but I'm not sure if that would cause the cost to skyrocket.

Motherboards - lost here too. I'd like it to have Japanese capacitors like my current ASUS, though it doesn't have to be ASUS. A good BIOS is very useful. The more USB 3.0 ports the better. I have a couple esata external drives so esata would be very helpful. My external esata box requires port multiplier to be supported so I guess that's important also - not sure if that is even included any more. I have no idea what features or options are important to watch for with current motherboards. Is there anything I want to make sure it has or anything I want to avoid?

Power supply - a few hard drives, DVD drive, blu-ray drive, and video card. Quality is important, so all Japanese capacitors, Gold 90+, etc. Modular is also important. I won't be doing SLI but I'd like to be able to have enough overhead to add components later if necessary. My current one is 800W.

I'm guessing I want DDR4. Any suggestions here? Any brand to avoid? I want reliable fast memory.

Cooler - Something effective without being a 3lb. monster. No CoolerMaster - I've had nothing but bad luck with my old CM V8 so I won't be buying their brand coolers again. My apartment gets real warm in the summer - easily 80+ degrees, as the air conditioner is only somewhat effective, and it's noisy so sometimes I shut it down to give my ears a break. Right now my PC runs way too hot - it idles around 50-55 and gets close to 80 when stress testing. So I want a good cooler.

I'm all set with DVD/BD-R drives. Also all set on Hard Drives.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Are there newer/better/cooler Intel chips around the corner and I should wait? My PC desperately needs replacing though, and I'd like to have the option to take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade option if I choose, since I still have my original Windows 7 retail install disc. That will save on the cost of buying Windows.

I'll be buying primarily from Newegg - maybe Amazon, TigerDirect or Microcenter if they offer a better price. I'll be gaming and also doing some video encoding,archiving to .rar format, etc.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 Feb 2016   #2
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

In lieu of building you might want to consider a model like this. I have an earlier model of this series and am very happy with it - both performance and reliability. You can still configure it.

XPS 8900 Desktop | Dell
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2016   #3
tgfyhre

Windows 7 32bit Home Premium
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
In lieu of building you might want to consider a model like this. I have an earlier model of this series and am very happy with it - both performance and reliability. You can still configure it.

XPS 8900 Desktop | Dell
I considered that actually, but I decided against it because the power supply is a weak 460w, with no option to upgrade. I have no idea what motherboard they include - likely a custom. Ditto for video card - their video card choice is abysmal and is a weak custom card. So right away I would need to buy a new video card, plus a new power supply to handle the card. Also, how is the cooling when you max out the CPU with video processing/archiving? And how would the cooling be when I throw a new video card in it?

It just seems like I wouldn't be happy with the limitations. Now, if they offered flexibility and offered good video cards as an option, with better power supplies, and good cooling options, then maybe I'd consider it. But from what I saw when I looked at their site last week, there was very little to choose from.

I also considered CyberpowerPC but decided against that for multiple reasons (too many horror stories about used parts being passed off as new, not telling you if you pick a configuration that isn't ideal, you have to pay for shipping and it's not cheap, if there's an issue, you have to ship it back on your own dime, if you get a refund for a defective PC they won't refund shipping, etc.).

So I feel like the only way to go is to build my own. Honestly, I'd rather not. CyberpowerPC seemed ideal with the options to pick from a good range of products and let them do the building, but I just don't trust them. And it probably would cost more also, especially with shipping. I know there are some very reputable gaming stores online for custom builds but I don't have $1,500-$2,000 for a PC.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 Feb 2016   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

I see where you come from. I do not play games. So my requirements are modest. I just need a powerful CPU for the video encoding. Other than that it is all vanilla office stuff.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2016   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

see comments in bold:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by tgfyhre View Post
I don't even know what size motherboards and cases to look for currently. My budget is around $1,000.

You can do very well for 1,000.

Do you need a monitor within that budget?

The default case would be mid-tower ATX case and a standard ATX motherboard. Very little reason for a full tower. Fractal Design is one often recommended case brand. Cases are mostly a matter of choice. Some are flashier than others. If noise is an issue, stay away from mesh or a lot of openings for fans that you won't use. Lots of decent choices in the 75 to 125 bracket, but you can often save 25 to 50 on a sale. I'd probably go with mid-tower rather than smaller due to more room inside, easier to work with, and future expandability, unless your budget demand a smaller case. A case typically has a much longer useful lifetime than most components.

I'd avoid any case that had fan mounts smaller than 120 mm and I'd likely avoid cases that had more than 3 or 4 fan mounts. Some fanaholics won't buy a case with less than 6 or 8 mounts, but they are, well, fanaholics and don't want to hear about the law of diminishing returns.

Nothing at all wrong with a "micro ATX" motherboard. Might save you 50 bucks and be perfectly fine unless you need a bunch of slots for cards. They will work fine in a mid-tower.

No reason to go hog wild on a motherboard. Something above 100 and below 200 would be candidates. Concentrate on the chipset and desired features. You may or may not get reliable info on capacitors.

You'd need a "Z170" motherboard if you have any intention of overclocking to any noticeable degree. If you have no interest in over-clocking, an H170 motherboard would be fine.

Standard good brands are Asus, Asrock, and Gigabyte. They are all a crapshoot to some extent and you may end up tearing your hair out with any of them if you have to deal with customer service or returns.


I know I want a fast Intel core I7. I know it used to be that some CPUs were more desirable for overclocking - I'd prefer a fast CPU so I don't have to deal with overclocking, but I wouldn't mind it being an option if I choose to later. Cost is a factor though so I can't afford an insanely expensive processor just for an option to overclock it.

If you want to overclock much at all, you need a CPU with a K suffix, whether that's an i7 or an i5.

An i7 has only marginal advantages over a top level i5 in most scenarios. The hyper-threading advantage of an i7 is most useful in something like video encoding. If you do that for a living or semi-constantly, an i7 is a plausible choice if doing a job in 50 minutes rather than an hour matters to you.

Upper level CPUs have gotten way out in front of software over the last 10 years, so a higher and higher percentage of users have decided an upper mid-level GHZ is plenty fast enough for the vast majority of situations. But maybe you have an unusual situation or like bragging rights?


Video Cards - I'm lost here. I have no idea what is out there now.

I don't use video cards, so won't comment.

Motherboards - lost here too. I'd like it to have Japanese capacitors like my current ASUS, though it doesn't have to be ASUS. A good BIOS is very useful. The more USB 3.0 ports the better. I have a couple esata external drives so esata would be very helpful. My external esata box requires port multiplier to be supported so I guess that's important also - not sure if that is even included any more. I have no idea what features or options are important to watch for with current motherboards. Is there anything I want to make sure it has or anything I want to avoid?


See earlier comments on boards.

eSATA is getting to be quite uncommon. Most are going to USB 3 and USB 3.1. If you absolutely must have eSATA, you'll find more choices in the previous Z97 generation motherboards. The 4970K i7 CPU from that generation is still VERY strong (4.4 ghz).

I'd try to get an Intel NIC if possible. That's fairly common.

Decide what drive interface you need. The last I heard, the new slot interfaces for SSDs have minimal advantage, but you might like "cool" rather than advantageous.

Research at each of the 3 brands I mentioned, looking at spec sheets for number of ports, audio chip, NIC chip, and whatever other features you think you need. When you get beyond say $180 or $200, you are mostly buying looks or coolness or whiz-bang dubious features, rather than reliability and sufficient useful features.

The crapshoot factor is so high that I wouldn't get bogged down and indecisive. You can have bad luck regardless of your choice, even if you spend 100 hours on research.


Power supply - a few hard drives, DVD drive, blu-ray drive, and video card. Quality is important, so all Japanese capacitors, Gold 90+, etc. Modular is also important. I won't be doing SLI but I'd like to be able to have enough overhead to add components later if necessary. My current one is 800W.


The general trend in power requirements is down, not up.

A pile of drives, the motherboard, and RAM use very little. Power usage is mostly in the video card and CPU. Excluding the video card, you'd probably idle at 50 to 80 watts somewhere.

For a single graphics card setup, 500 to 600 watts is plenty. Good brand: Seasonic. Good brands for some but not all models: Corsair, EVGA, Super Flower, XFX.

Decide if you must have full modular or if semi-modular is acceptable. If semi is OK, that opens up quite a few more possibilities.

Decide if PSU noise is a significant issue. If yes, many models from good brands have fans that don't spin at all until the PSU is under a significant load. And there are a few good PSUs with no fan at all.

Don't obsess over the bronze/silver/gold/platinum thing. That has little to do with build quality. A difference of 5 percent in efficiency might make a 5 dollar a year difference in your power bill at typical USA power rates per KWH if your PSU is running 12 hours a day.

Look at jonnyguru.com for PSU reviews.

You can get a high quality 500 to 600 watt PSU every day of the week for under 100 and for under 70 or so on sale.


I'm guessing I want DDR4. Any suggestions here? Any brand to avoid? I want reliable fast memory.

Yeah, DDR4 for the current generation Intel CPUs.

The payoff for going with faster speeds is minimal, but you can sometimes get a faster speed for the same price as standard. Or maybe you like bragging rights. Other than that, you aren't likely to notice a difference other than in benchmarks.

There are horror stories from all brands, particularly regarding customer service.

Generally good brands: Crucial, Kingston, HyperX, Corsair, and G Skill.

I'd try to avoid tall heatsinks on RAM as they can interfere with CPU cooler mounting.

I'd try to get 2 sticks if you are going to use a socket 1151 current generation motherboard. 2 x 4 GB sticks if you want 8 total, 2 x 8 GB sticks if you want 16 total.

Only a small chance you will benefit from 16 rather than 8 unless you have an unusual situation like running a lot of VMs.



Cooler - Something effective without being a 3lb. monster. No CoolerMaster - I've had nothing but bad luck with my old CM V8 so I won't be buying their brand coolers again. My apartment gets real warm in the summer - easily 80+ degrees, as the air conditioner is only somewhat effective, and it's noisy so sometimes I shut it down to give my ears a break. Right now my PC runs way too hot - it idles around 50-55 and gets close to 80 when stress testing. So I want a good cooler.


Don't decide on the cooler until you decide on the case. If your case is too narrow, your tallish cooler may be too tall and won't fit.

Decide again on whether or not noise is an issue. The default fan on a given cooler might be too noisy for you.

Two good default brands: Scythe and Noctua. The Noctuas tend to be quiet and have excellent mounting systems. Research online at those two websites.

You can also look at web sites like Frostytech for reviews. Smallish differences in temps or noise in DB aren't significant.

I use a Noctua NH-U12S. Single tower, not heavy. Among the best single tower coolers. Scythe Kotetsu is another good choice if it will fit.

The Noctua NH-U12S does NOT overhang any RAM slots, so you know that tall RAM heatsinks will NOT be a factor.

I don't think going "monster" is worthwhile unless you want extremely high overclocks and are fussy about temps. I wouldn't be at all concerned with temps in the 70s. Stress test temps are rarely encountered in real world usage.

My ambient temps are circa 80 to 82 F six months per year. Even under stress testing, I can't get over mid-60s Celsius with a Noctua U12S, one slow Noctua 120mm intake fan, and one slow Scythe 120mm exhaust fan. Very quiet.


I'm all set with DVD/BD-R drives. Also all set on Hard Drives.

OK; make sure you have an SSD, at least for the OS.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Are there newer/better/cooler Intel chips around the corner and I should wait?

The current Skylake generation will be updated to Kabylake later this year, but I don't hear anyone saying it's a major improvement. More of the same---a bit more performance, a bit less power, etc. I wouldn't wait for it in your case.

My PC desperately needs replacing though, and I'd like to have the option to take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade option if I choose, since I still have my original Windows 7 retail install disc. That will save on the cost of buying Windows.


Yeah, that gives you till late July. I'm kinda in the same boat as you and have decided that the "freeness" of Win 10 is NOT sufficient to make me jump on it. There are some issues with 10. I'd rather pay for it in 2019 than get it for nothing tomorrow, hoping that some of the issues are dealt with between now and then.


I'll be buying primarily from Newegg - maybe Amazon, TigerDirect or Microcenter if they offer a better price. I'll be gaming and also doing some video encoding,archiving to .rar format, etc.

Microcenter is usually advantageous for it's CPU/mobo bundles.

I think Tiger Direct is fading and about gone, based on what I've read in the last 2 or 3 months.

If you buy from Amazon, try to buy from Amazon direct as opposed to a third party that sells through Amazon.

Do a price comparison on your tentative components at pcpartpicker.com.



My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Feb 2016   #6
ThrashZone

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit
 
 

Hi,
If you want ddr4 ram which Corsair dominator is cool you'll be in the x99 or z170 mother boards
Of which the z170's are cheaper
i5 6600k or i7 6700k both are quad core :/

Your psu might be fine as is although might need upgrading later I missed the brand...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Feb 2016   #7
tgfyhre

Windows 7 32bit Home Premium
 
 

Wow, thanks a ton for the advice. Lots of very helpful information for sure.

One thing I'm hesitant on - after reading about about Kaby Lake, I'm wondering if it's worth it to hold off until then (it's been delayed apparently until the fall I guess?)? Here's what I saw listed about Kaby Lake for new features:

"- Kaby Lake will add native USB 3.1 support, whereas Skylake motherboards require a third-party add-on chip in order to provide USB 3.1 ports. It will also feature a new graphics architecture to improve performance in 3D graphics and 4K video playback.

- Kaby Lake will add native HDCP 2.2 support.

- Kaby Lake will add full fixed function HEVC Main10/10-bit and VP9 10-bit hardware decoding."


"Intel's latest Skylake processors have full hardware support for 8-bit HEVC video streams (a substantial improvement over the prior-generation Broadwell chips).

However, 10-bit HEVC video playback isn't fully hardware accelerated, nor is VP9; in order to playback videos encoded in those formats, the media engine onboard Skylake needs to work in concert with the computing resources found in the graphics processor, leading to greater power consumption.

With Kaby Lake, however, Intel is expected to add in full hardware support to encode both 10-bit HEVC as well as VP9 video streams. In other words, Kaby Lake should be much more efficient at playing back high-definition videos. Further, support for 10-bit streams should come in handy as PCs (and in particular, all-in-ones and notebooks) transition from panels with 8-bit color depth to 10-bit color depth."

So I'm wondering if it's wiser to wait for the Kaby Lake chips? The benefit seems to be better/native support for next-generation video playback, which I will want. I have a 4k TV and I already have some HEVC 10-bit demo clips that my TV can play but my current PC can't. So I'd hate to build a new PC right out of the gate that has hardware limitations with HEVC/4k/HDCP 2.2 video support.

On the other hand, I imagine the new Kaby Lake processors will launch at a premium price? And then it says Kaby Lake will only support Windows 10:

"On January 15, 2016, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform for Kaby Lake processors."

So I'd be restricted to Windows 10 which would mean I'd also need to buy Windows 10 as opposed to installing Windows 7 and doing the free upgrade if I buy now.

So I guess the question is will a good video card handle the shortcomings of Skylake? I read the Nvidia 960 card supports 4k HEVC 10-bit main-10 profile, so it sounds like that should be sufficient to handle next-generation video?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Feb 2016   #8
ThrashZone

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit
 
 

Not sure but I've read and it has not been confirmed by anyone in the u.s. not sure where you're located but upgrading a retail license to 10 keeps it's portability to another mother board
You can contact M$ directly and see
Also update your location to at least the country

If you wait for technology you'll never upgrade = every new generation adds another perk or sells pitch

Otherwise I'd just keep it simple and get the awesome x99
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Feb 2016   #9
tgfyhre

Windows 7 32bit Home Premium
 
 

True about waiting to upgrade. I guess there's always something new on the horizon. With Koby Lake just around the corner I just want to make sure I'm not making a mistake by waiting a few extra months, but again cost is something to consider and as long as a new video card can handle the HEVC decoding I guess I'm okay. Koby Lake brings USB 3.1 but I don't know how important that is.

I'm in the US.

That x99 motherboard looks awesome but wow the deluxe is expensive. What's the difference between the X99-A and X99 deluxe? Quite a big leap in price for the deluxe.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Feb 2016   #10
ThrashZone

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit
 
 

Unless you have usb3.1 devices it brings nothing additional
usb3 devices are just now getting released

Yea mostly priced based but the most important factor I believe is cpu's and amount of cores
Which I already stated 6 cores minimum baby on the 5820k

Otherwise z170 sabertooth and skylake 6600k or 6700k pick your poison for win-7 you can always dual boot with win-10 or upgrade 7 by July
Deal with win-10 later 7 still has 4 years support left.
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 Please help me narrow down some components for a new PC




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