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Need help deciding what to build
06-04-2014, 11:38 PM,
#1
Need help deciding what to build
Hello all,

I found this site when a Google search about CPUs brought up Mathieu's article about them. Looked around a bit, and liked it enough to join. Smile I'm considering building a desktop computer at some point, and would like a little advice. I'm not sure whether this should go in the "Talk & Deals" sub-forum or "Questions," so feel free to move as necessary. I'll share a little about me, and hopefully that will help you point me in the right direction.

My current machine is a Toshiba Satellite P850 laptop. It has 8 Gb of RAM, an i7-3610QM CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce GT630M GPU. My thought process is that the equivalent desktop processors would offer better performance, plus the fact that heat can be an issue with the cramped form factor of a laptop.

I don't play modern games, with the rare exceptions of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Cabela's Trophy Hunter. I don't use high-end programs like Adobe to edit photos or videos. My main uses of the machine would be, not necessarily in order of importance, web browsing/online video streaming, word document/spreadsheet creating and editing, audio recording and editing (mainly using Audacity), and analog video capture with a USB box (digitizing VHS tapes), and enough minor editing to export as a video file.

I want something that allows good multitasking and maximizes CPU usage to get each job done ASAP. (This is something I've noticed on my current laptop; maybe it's a setting I need to change somewhere, but jobs will often take a fair amount of time, but the CPU isn't going as hard as it can, and I think "Why go slower, the job isn't done yet.") For the most part I think a machine for my needs would be mostly CPU-dependent, although I'm not sure whether the video jobs would utilize the CPU or GPU more.

I use Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I would like a system whose components play nicely with Linux, as it's my understanding that not all do. Smile I would go with not less than 8 Gb of RAM. In terms of hard drives, I'm thinking of doing a small SSD (60-120 Gb or so) for OS essential programs, and a large HDD for the rest.

I haven't decided on a budget. This is just in the idea stage so far. I'm thinking perhaps something in the HTPC Tier 4 or 5 range would suit me, though.

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Deer Hunter
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06-05-2014, 11:35 PM,
#2
RE: Need help deciding what to build
To quickly add a couple things, I live in Canada and have done most of my looking for parts on Newegg.ca. Amazon.ca is an option too.

Also, I already have a mouse and keyboard, but not a monitor. I would probably be looking to install a Blu-ray drive.

Anyone have any input?

Deer Hunter
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06-06-2014, 02:08 AM,
#3
RE: Need help deciding what to build
One option is to not get a desktop and improve your current laptop.

My guess is if you ran resource monitor (resmon) you'll find your cpu's are not busy and are waiting on disk IO and your disk is hammered at nearly 100% utilization.

amazon has samsung evo 840 250 GB for 135 US right now.

I would drop a nice SSD into that laptop, notice how well it performs and reconsider if you want a desktop. Then I'd connect a nice 1920x1080 monitor

Then consider a 1-2 terrabyte USB passport or two to hold digitized media for longer term storage.
CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K 4.7Ghz Mobo: Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5 GPU: MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G HSF: Cryorig R1 Ultimate
Mem: 2 x 8GB G.Skill TridentX DDR3 2400 SSD: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB + a few spinners
PSU: Seasonic SS-760XP Platinum Case: Fractal Design Define R5 Monitors: 2 x Dell 2007FP 1600x1200
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06-09-2014, 03:34 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-09-2014, 03:36 PM by Rapajez.)
#4
RE: Need help deciding what to build
I'd second that, as you can move the 840 EVO Solid State Drive to a new desktop, if you still built one. If you're not familiar with SSDs, check out the latest "best drives for your money" article on this site.

I'm not an expert on VHS conversion, but if your bottleneck isn't the CPU or the GPU, I'd guess it's the USB device itself. Does it use a USB 3.0 connection, and does your laptop have USB 3.0 ports? They're usually yellow, and most PCs manufactured in the last few years should have them. USB 3.0 is about 10x faster than the previous gen, USB 2.0.

The HTPC articles are very dated; although, some of the principles still apply. If you were to build a new desktop, I'd start with the Budget "Gaming" Tier 1 Rig, with the addition of the Solid State Drive.
GPU: NVIDIA Titan X, CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz OC'd @ 4.5GHz, Mobo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4, Mem: 2x Corsair Dominator 2133MHz 8GB, SSD: Samsung 850 EVO, Case: Corsair Carbide 500R, PSU: Corsair TX850M, CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14, Case Fans: 4x Cooler Master Excalibur 120mm PWM, Monitors: 3x ViewSonic VX2270SMH-LED in NVIDIA Surround
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06-12-2014, 02:52 PM,
#5
RE: Need help deciding what to build
Hi guys, sounds like the SSD idea could be a good thought. Newegg has some Samsung EVO 240 GB units for $150 or so CAD. Does that sound good, or is that basically up to me and dependent on how much I put on it? Also, can you give me some pointers on how to upgrade to the SSD and still import everything from the old drive, like files/folders, programs, web history and settings, etc?

As for VHS conversion, the device is USB 2. My laptop has all USB 3 ports (not sure where you live, but here the common color for them is blue, BTW). I'm not sure the bottleneck lies in capturing, but rather more in processing.

Thanks for the help so far.

Deer Hunter
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06-12-2014, 04:22 PM,
#6
RE: Need help deciding what to build
If your asking if that 240GB capacity is enough, just look at how much space you're using now. It helps if you have cheap external storage for all the video, like an external USB HDD or a big desktop on the network.

I would wager that your processor isn't the bottleneck, as you said yourself, you don't see it ramping up to 100%, and that's a pretty decent processor. Again, I'm no video expert, but it seems like it's either the USB connections, or the hard drive, which the SSD would alleviate. Even if it doesn't, an SSD is a godsend for ANYONE who uses a PC. Faster boot, faster application loading, you wouldn't even see a loading screen on those older games.

As far as the HOW, you can buy the "Notebook Kit" version of the EVO, which comes with an adapter and software to help you clone your old drive to your new SSD. If you want more info, look at the Amazon link here: http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Electronic...B00E3W19CE
GPU: NVIDIA Titan X, CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz OC'd @ 4.5GHz, Mobo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4, Mem: 2x Corsair Dominator 2133MHz 8GB, SSD: Samsung 850 EVO, Case: Corsair Carbide 500R, PSU: Corsair TX850M, CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14, Case Fans: 4x Cooler Master Excalibur 120mm PWM, Monitors: 3x ViewSonic VX2270SMH-LED in NVIDIA Surround
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06-12-2014, 11:13 PM,
#7
RE: Need help deciding what to build
I should clarify, what I meant in my most recent post above was not specifically that the processor was the bottleneck. I meant that it is during the processing part of the project that things seem to show to a crawl; this could obviously be the fault of the slow HDD.
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06-13-2014, 10:19 AM,
#8
RE: Need help deciding what to build
Gotcha. Have you looked at Windows Power Options? Under "plan settings", it may be set to throttle it down the CPU, especially if you're only running on battery power.

If you look at the Performance tab of the Task Manager, does it look like all of the cores are near 100% usage?
GPU: NVIDIA Titan X, CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz OC'd @ 4.5GHz, Mobo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4, Mem: 2x Corsair Dominator 2133MHz 8GB, SSD: Samsung 850 EVO, Case: Corsair Carbide 500R, PSU: Corsair TX850M, CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14, Case Fans: 4x Cooler Master Excalibur 120mm PWM, Monitors: 3x ViewSonic VX2270SMH-LED in NVIDIA Surround
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06-13-2014, 12:24 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-13-2014, 12:25 PM by Rapajez.)
#9
RE: Need help deciding what to build
Should have asked up front. What is the software(s) you use to convert and export everything from VHS? What format are you usually converting to? What's the usual process, start to finish? That may help us give more specific recommendations.

Most of my experience is with gaming computer and servers, so maybe one of the other vets like MathieuB, mwhals, or PwnBroker can chime in here; as they have more experience with Workstations and HTPCs. Not sure how much experience they have with this particular requirement.

In the meantime, I think we're on the right path.
GPU: NVIDIA Titan X, CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz OC'd @ 4.5GHz, Mobo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4, Mem: 2x Corsair Dominator 2133MHz 8GB, SSD: Samsung 850 EVO, Case: Corsair Carbide 500R, PSU: Corsair TX850M, CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14, Case Fans: 4x Cooler Master Excalibur 120mm PWM, Monitors: 3x ViewSonic VX2270SMH-LED in NVIDIA Surround
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06-17-2014, 10:48 PM,
#10
RE: Need help deciding what to build
Sorry for the delayed reply. The program for VHS conversion is Honestech VHS to DVD 5.0 Deluxe. While I haven't done any work with it recently, I plan to do so in the next little while, and I will check on CPU usage at that time. The format would be WMV, highest quality available (it doesn't give specifics). The usual process would be like this: 1. Set up program on computer, run composite RCA cables from player to USB box, and run USB cable to computer. 2. Play the VHS video in real time for video capture. 3. Edit the resultant video file if desired, and export.

I checked the other settings, and it doesn't look like anything should be throttling the CPU, either in the performance options or in the BIOS.
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