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Audley's Upgrade Build Project


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Hey guys, 


I know this is definitely NOT the "tech forums" or whatever and I had originally posted this both over on PC Part Picker and the Linus Tech Tips forums however I had not gotten replies after several days and I had minimal views at best. While everyone around me was getting replies and views within minutes of posting so my post quickly was drowned in the sea of "Can you help me?" posts. 


Anyhow, as the title suggests I am initiating a project to upgrade my current computer and turn it into a mid-level workstation/gaming PC. I figured because I am much better known here on the STEP forums I would have a good chance of getting a reply. Also because everyone did such a good job with recommendations with Grant's project I thought that people could help me too. 


My current budget is about $1500 US dollars (I live in the United States) and I figure that is a good budget amount to spend. My current computer is alright but not quite what I need and I am having trouble deciding on what parts to pick out. I am a graphics artist so I need something that can chew through rendering scenes and also can have multiple applications running at once. It also needs to be a pretty good gaming PC. 


Thanks in advance guys. Cheers, Audley



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My advice is pretty general, but hopefully informative:


I am admittedly not up to date on latest/greatest hardware ... but ...

  • I never go with any hardware that is latest/greatest, because the markup is so ridiculously high. Usually after one year or so on the market, today's latest hardware is priced between 25%-50% cheaper ... today's latest/greatest will always be obsolete within 6 months to a year, so it never makes sense to get it. If you really love something recently marketed and need to have it, you should wait 6 months to a year to get it. This applies mostly to processor and GPU, but also to mobo and other hardware.
  • I always go with CoolerMaster brand for Case and power supply (but I am intrigued by BeQuiet now, as mentioned here). Go with a full tower and don't skimp on the case ($200 - $500 for a good one) ... it is hugely convenient to get yesterday's premium case (large fans for quiet & cool in one, handy drive bays, lots of room for processor fan and add-on drives). I use the CoolerMaster HAF, and I love it.
  • I always go with Intel chipsets, and would opt for Asus or Gigabyte mobos (but I am not a fan of Gigabyte's CMOS software).
  • As DY says, SSD is a no-brainer. Get one 100 GB for OS (and only OS) and at least one other 250+ GB for files, media, backup (one for each if you have the need ... ideally two each for RAID1 mirror so that you never need to worry about data loss ... there are even better RAID configs, but that gets costly with more than 2x drives per RAID config). Don't bother RAID0 with SSD.
  • Also, go with a mobo that does not integrate sound or GPU, because both consume resources otherwise best partitioned onto independent expansion boards. This also wastes mobo real estate to allow for better things. Mobo/processor should be OC friendly, IMO.
  • Obviously, be certain that mobo supports USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 (unless there is better SATA now)
  • Others can speak to the best GPU for the buck to go with right now (Nvidia versus AMD and what model for each). I would lay off SLI or CrossfireX (but not sure if they are more applicable now or better engineered for use with your software)
  • Get a premium CPU cooler (I use the CoolerMaster V8, but there are lots of good ones). Skip water cooling unless you like dealing with potential issues with that and a lot of monkeying around.
  • See grant's thread for power supply (I use a CoolerMaster 800W, but see above note)
  • Corsair memory modules are good (among others; 8+ GB for gaming, 16+ GB for graphic art & big video conversion)
  • Consider Newegg or TigerDirect (not sure how they price internationally though). Mwave is another I often check.

My main specs are in my sig.



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All of  z929669 recommendation are spot on.


Your case choice will last you a lifetime. Coolmaster was also my choice. HAF series. Dead quiet. Lots of air flow.

These also have the option for water cooling kits. 


Power supply. As big as your budget will allow. 500W+ Another possible lifetime buy. Easy to replace with a good case.


Memory, pick a good brand name. Make sure it's on the motherboards recommended list. 


Buy from some place with a good RMA policy. NewEgg was my vendor of choice. 


CPU choice, Intel vs AMD, changes. Review the latest reports from Toms hardware and see which is leading the pack. This will impact you motherboard choice. Most quality vendors provide motherboards for both.


Hypertreading, make sure that the motherboard BIOS supports this. Most modern one do.


Extending this a bit into accessories. An external SATA case with drive for backup. Hot swappable. Relatively inexpensive. You can recycle an old drive for a backup device.   


More than one monitor if your desktop can handle it. Work flow can be drastically improved with multimonitor. The only drawback is it's really hard to go back to one.


CPU speeds are reaching their physical limits. More core and as fast as your budget allows.


Last, talk with the other graphic artist and see what they like or don't like about their setup.


GPU's come with sticker shock if you get the latest and greatest. Budget and need drives this choice. 


Keep posting your questions. We may not have the answers but some one in our community does.

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Thanks for the responses guys. All great tips and ideas. An SSD is definitely a must for me at this point. As for now I cannot even decide which CPU manufacturer to go with. I know Intel is the standard but I feel like the i7 is out of budget. And if it is the FX 8350 against the i5 4670k then I think the multiple cores on the AMD side will be more beneficial to me from a media standpoint even though Intel has the higher single-core performance. I will not be going the Skylake/DDR4 route because it's out of budget. DDR3 should be just fine for me still.   

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Most of what all has been recommended is spot on. But as most people actually over look it the most important part of a PC is the Power supply and don't skimp in that area. And sorry ahead of time z929669 but don't waste your money on a Cooler Master Power supply their garbage. They make awesome cases and other parts but there power supplies are usaully something you try to avoid.


Here is a few quality brand PSU's to look over. Enermax, Seasonic, Silverstone, Certain models of Corsair, be Quiet, Certain models of EVGA, 


And when it comes down to CPU. I wouldn't worry too much between Intel or AMD. When it comes to real world performance and everyday general usage they both are pretty close  to the same in performance. Don't trust most of the reviews out there as most of them use synthetic benchmarks and never look at the real numbers of how the CPU performs  in most day to day real life performance. Or the performance difference between the two is so small you won't even notice any real difference.


Also when it comes to computer hardware the old saying "You get what you pay for" actually rings pretty true. Like Video cards you try to spend the most your budget allows.


Brands a personally recommend for video cards would be Gigabyte, Asus, EVGA, XFX, and Sappphire.

Motherboards I would look at would be from ASUS, Or gigabyte. Both awesome quality and there customer service is awesome.


Most other stuff like keyboards and mice and other things like that mostly comes down to personal preference. 

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I actually am being very careful in determining my next PSU. I want to go with either Silverstone or Seasonic. I have a Rosewill Hive but I don't like it very much. The cables are too short for my mid-tower to route behind the back and the screw holes don't match up with the case for whatever reason so it's being held in with only one screw. I think it is definitely one of the most important parts as I know if your PSU goes then your entire computer could go too. 

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My CoolerMaster PSU has been going steady since 2009 ... almost continuous use with no power issues at all. Not sure if you are speaking from experience or based on hearsay, but I am not familiar with this generalization. Many brands (like all hardware manufacturing) are just labels and rebrand PSU made by various designers/OEMs, so saying any one brand is 'garbage' is an over generalization (CM is a label with a pretty good rep).


These articles go into some good detail, but unfortunately, some dinglebob posted the thumbnail images of certain tables rather than the full images, so they are useless. Use a combo of the two to get a better idea of who is who:




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Mind the promo codes for many of those items on your prices! EMCAXNS73 takes $9 off the SSD. SS10FF takes $15 off the PSU. 0922BYESC106 takes $5 off the HDD. EMCAXNS42 takes $20 off the monitor. Just type in codes and you save $49.

Also, get better RAM for cheaper. You should be able to get better than that for ~$75.

Mind the rebates too. I see $70 in rebates.

Brings that down from $1610 to $1546 - $70 in rebates = $1476

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Yes the odd Cooler master PSU can last years. Just cuz the odd person has had good luck with a certain PSU dosen't make it a good brand. My personal experience I have had 2 Cooler master PSUs and both of them popped and both times taking my whole system with it. And this is also a general conseencis of cooler master by most people and most trusted reviewers. And when it comes to trusted reviewers that do quality reviews of PSU's there isen't much. And really the only guy i personally trust for PSU reviews is jonnyguru. He does real reviews on PSU's and thats all he does.


Yes some are good. But the problem with cooler master is they switch there PSU OEM way to much. Even the same model with in the same year will have 2 to 3 different OEM's. You have gotten one of their odd quality OEM's. I on the other hand have gotten bad ones.


But anyways Audley that system you have listed with DoubleYou's RAM recommendation is a solid quality rig and should serve you well for quite a few years actually.

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I initially shied away from Skylake CPUs but since the one I have now purchased (Core i5-6600) was only AU$10 more than a Core i5-4690 I figured I can now get better performance from DDR4 RAM. So check around you may just find some specials on the latest chips, especially if you get the non-K variants (ie. not good for over-clocking)


Is your current monitor really in need of an upgrade? Seems like a reasonable monitor to me and you get to save $100.


Your RAM, is that 1x16GB, 2x8GB or 4x4GB? It looks like a good price to me. I would need to pay close to AU$200 for that. Way above exchange rate markups.


Check out the Toshiba HDDs if you can. I read good reports about them and they were much cheaper than the WD/Seagate options.

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