Need a new PC

Discussion in 'Small Form Factor Systems' started by Zero_Distortion, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. Zero_Distortion

    Zero_Distortion Gawd

    Aug 5, 2004
    Been out of the PC game for quite some time, don't play video games or do anything CPU intensive.

    Hell, I'm currently on a shuttle SS40 with an AMD 2500+ Barton, I am however running 4 monitors, 2 using the Shuttle's on board graphics and 2 using a cheap ATI card (an nvidia card will not work in this rig whilst still allowing the onboard GFX to run).

    Anyway here goes.

    1. What will you be doing with this PC? Browsing mostly, some movies, I don't play video games or do any photo or music editing. I would like it to be a decent HTPC machine though.

    2. What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included in this budget? Is your budget flexible? Is cost a driving factor in component selection?
    Cheap, a few hundred bucks. I have cases, old hard drives, optical drives, e.t.c. So really I just need a mobo and cpu (if the mobo does not have onboard GFX then a vidcard too).

    3. Where do you live? Do you have any big B&M (brick and mortar) computer chains nearby (e.g. Microcenter, Fry's, etc)?

    4. What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need.
    GPU but I would be willing to live with onboard GFX for the time being.

    5. If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. For reused parts, list brands, model #s, and, if applicable, firmware revisions.
    Have PSU, HD, monitors, optical drives, e.t.c.

    6. What specific features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? USB 3.0? SATA 6Gb/s? etc. Which is more important, size of the system or having the particular feature? Make sure you indicate *required* vs. *wanted* for each feature you list.
    USB 3 would be nice but not necessary. My current PC has 1.1!!! I connect stuff to another PC on my lan the few times I need to move massive amounts of data via USB.

    7. What resolution output do you need? 1080p, 720p, DVD quality, etc for HTPC or list Vertical/horizontal resolution for non-HTPC SFF rigs. Do you need multiple monitor output?
    I def need multi monitor support, currently driving 3 monitors plus a TV. New TV is a 50" plasma and would need to drive that, my current PC is not doing it for this, been playing around with setting for a few days now and nada.

    8. Does this system need to fit into a particular space? Think entertainment center shelves, closet space, rackmount, etc.
    No, but I prefer SFF, need not be miniitx, actual I would prefer a microATX which would allow me the option of changing cases later as well as giving me more room to work with.

    9. How comfortable are you with custom case design/modification and electrical wiring? What tools do you have (Screwdrivers/Leatherman, Drill, Dremel, Metal snips, Soldering Iron, Bending Brake, CNC/Welding machines/Plasma cutter, etc...)?
    I've got and have experience with all of the above, except the plasma cutter, but I do have access to one. But, umm, I'm not building a custom case for this.

    10. How important is the noise/silence of this sytem? HTPCs typically want to be quiet while all-out SFF gaming rigs don't care
    Don't care, middle of the road is fine. I can always upgrade the heatsinks and fans later.

    11. How mobile does this system need to be? Need a carrying handle or carrying straps? Is weight important (carry-on bag, etc)? Water cooling quick disconnects, etc?
    It won't be moving about.

    12. Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit? Remember that OEM copies of Win7 have issues with new motherboards

    13. When do you plan on building/buying the PC? Immediately, in a couple weeks, 3-5 years?
    Would like to do it sooner rather than later, but can wait till Black Friday.
  2. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

    Jun 14, 2006
    My initial impression is that an AMD llano-based system + an additional graphics card might do the trick but it would probably need to be a graphics card that could specifically support 3 monitors. I'm assuming your new 50" plasma requires an HDMI input? If so, that would tend to limit what a person can do with the rest of the ports on that graphics card. A llano system can normally support 2 monitors all by itself on the VGA/DVI outs, but I think the HDMI operates in solo mode if you use it (limiting you to one display from the onboard video)? Someone should correct me if I'm wrong on that. So that would yield one HDMI monitor off of the onboard video and whatever your video card can supply.

    I guess display port can support up to 3 monitors all by itself, but then that requires that a person has compatible monitors. I think there are a few trick graphics cards out there that can support 3 or 4 monitors all by themselves, but I think those are more premium models.
  3. Zap

    Zap [H]ard|Gawd

    Apr 1, 2004
    Memory is easy. DDR3 of 1.5v at 1333-1600MHz would work fine with either AMD or Intel platforms.

    Motherboard will depend on the CPU/socket used, and of course choose one that has USB 3.0 (not all do) and the video ports you want. I've seen boards go overkill with VGA, HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort all on one motherboard though you can only use any two at a time. You should be able to use onboard video + PCIe video to go more than two monitors.

    For PCIe video card (GPU) you just need one with the outputs you need, such as HDMI for the HDTV, or DVI for monitors.

    For CPU, anything that is current would be so much faster than your old Barton that it wouldn't matter what you got. The AMD Llano (CPUs that start with model numbers A4, A6, A8) are always great choices for HTPC and normal desktop use. They use socket FM1. On the Intel side, probably anything for socket 1155 that is a dual core would be great. For motherboard I would suggest going a bit higher end with the Z68 chipset just because that is the latest/greatest with the possibility of future CPU support, plus more flexible integrated graphics support (Virtu).
  4. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

    Jun 14, 2006
  5. wtourist

    wtourist [H]ard|Gawd

    Dec 2, 2010
    MicroCenter usually has the lowest CPU, and CPU with motherboard prices.
    Almost all Sandy Bridge motherboards DO NOT support IDE components, so an AMD build makes sense (if I understand your implications).
    Yonkers has a MicroCenter, as does Westbury.
    AMS A8 3860 ($130) will crossfire with onboard video, check specifications, 6470 or 6570 video I think. A6 $110, A4 X3 $90, A4 X2 $70. FM1 Mmotherboard.