Ask The Readers: New Computer System Suggestions

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 14, 2009
Updated • Nov 29, 2012

My plan is to build a new computer system after Windows 7 is released to install the new operating system on it and retire my old Windows XP system. I have done little research until now and decided to tap into the best possible resource of computer knowledge there is: the Ghacks readers. I do know what I want to do with the computer system and I also know some minimum specs that I would like to see. It would be nice if everyone with a firm opinion could weight in and give me their take on which hardware components I should buy for the new PC.

I'm usually favoring the "second-best" part or device over the best, e.g. not the latest and greatest video card for $600+ but one for $300 that is not super fast but still fast enough for everything.


I need the PC for blogging and research on the Internet mainly. I want to view movies and listen to music. I also want to work with Visual Studio and play some games with friends every now and then.


CPU: Intel I7 9xx or 8xx. If you have other suggestions or favor a specific processor let me know
Computer Memory: 8GB or more
Motherboard: No favorite yet. Do not need a lot of extras like firewire, bluetooth, infrared connections on the board. Should have a fast network connection build in.
Video Card: No idea. Do not want to pay more than $300 for the video card. I currently have a ATI 4870. Are there any DirectX 11 cards out there yet? Video card should not make a lot of noise.
Hard Drives: I need at least 2 Terabyte. No more than two hard drives. Currently thinking about getting two 1.5 Terabyte drives. Hard drives should not make lots of noise. More important than speed to me. I do not need Raid but I though about having a faster boot hard drive and two slower data drives. Would you favor a fast hard drive (or two in Raid) or SSD drive for that task?
SSD Drives: I'm not sure if I want an SSD drive. Are there any next gen SSD drives out there that do not get slower over time?
Sound Card: Not necessarily needed but if there is a good one for little money I take it. Otherwise it should be onboard sound.
Case: Mid-tower is fine. I do not care about color but it should have a few connectors on the front (e.g. USB)
Power Unit: It has to be quiet. Should supply enough power though for the computer system.
Computer Monitor: Do not need one

Did I leave anything out? I'm keen to read your suggestions. I also do not have a problem waiting another few months before I build the system in case some ubercool hardware comes out in that time that is worth waiting for.


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  1. Dotan Cohen said on September 17, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    > I need the PC for blogging and research on the Internet
    > mainly. I want to view movies and listen to music.

    So use Ubuntu on your existing hardware. It will run faster than Windows 7 on new hardwre. Costs less and is easier to use, too. Probably safer, though that is a matter of opinion (no, Linux is _not_ absolute security).

    > I also want to work with Visual Studio and play some games
    > with friends every now and then.

    Visual Studio exclusively? Then I guess you are stuck with Windows.

    1. Martin said on September 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm

      Dotan I do need windows for work (ghacks and other blogs) and I also need to run Visual Studio. And most games won’t work either so I’m currently sticking to Windows 7.

  2. Brian said on September 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I got lazy and ordered a Dell XPS 630, Intel Core2 processorE8400 for $800 and while I only had 2 Gb’s of RAM and a 500 Gb HDD, you could up both of those for very little and come out under $1000. I used to advocate doing it yourself but the deal I get by ordering through the company I work for makes this a much easier and efficient way to go, IMO. Plus if anything breaks you’re not stuck fixing it, just send it in for repair.

    1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:57 am

      Brian I agree that ordering a PC has many advantages. I prefer to build my own and there are several reasons for that. I like to know what’s inside. That’s definitely the main reason. I want to pick excellent hardware and put it into my PC. Hardware that is fast, silent and does exactly what I expect it to do. That’s usually not possible when you buy a full PC from Dell.

      Second, I like to build PCs to stay in the game. Take a look at what has changed since the last time I bought a PC. The thrill of pressing the Power button for the first time praying that everything will work right.

  3. Rush said on September 14, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I built one not to long ago and put it in the NZXT Hush 2 case. Looks good and the sound proofing works well without spiking the temp. I dig it.

  4. Jeff said on September 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Whatever you decide, use a SSD for your boot drive ….

    1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:54 am

      I actually have a SSD in my computer as the boot drive right now. It loads slow but whenever you initiate write processes the computer almost comes to an halt. You usually recognize that when a software installs itself on that drive.

      That’s why I said that I will only consider SSDs if they have improved and will not slow down over time. I have to check on this and see if there are any out there or in the pipeline that with a solution for that problem.

  5. Yonatan Amir said on September 14, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Instead of getting a closed SSD drive, you can get an IDE to CF converter and use one or two CF cards. When the price drops, you can replace them for larger capacity cards. I’m not sure whether there are SATA to CF converters. If you like, you can get a card reader and keep a ready-boost CF card in there while not using it for anything else.
    Make sure you get an optical SPDIF out, not all boards have it.

  6. DanTe said on September 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I would personally avoid any motherboards with built-in Nvidia chipsets. I can never get them to work right with mixed EIDE & SATA devices.

    1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:58 am

      Dante I actually never had a motherboard with nForce chipset ;)

  7. Falcon1986 said on September 14, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    ArsTechnica usually has some good PC building guides for different price/performance tiers.

    Also, check out the TomsHardware performance charts and their ‘Best graphics Cards for the Money’ series.,2404.html

    1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:52 am

      Falcon that’s a great tip, will check it out

  8. Paul McMaster said on September 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Coolermaster Midi Chassis, RC-600 Gladiator Front eSATA/USB/Audio, ATX
    Coolermaster 650W PSU, eXtreme Power Plus, 24pin, Dual 12V Rail, 3xSATA, 2x6pin PCI-E,
    MSI X58 PRO-E, 8CH Audio, GB Lan, 1394a, No VGA – CF/SLI x3
    Intel Core I 7-920â„¢ – 2.66GHz, FSB 1600MHz, 8MB CACHE
    Corsair TR3X6G1600C9 , XMS 3 , with heatsink , 3 x 2Gb/2048mb kit – support Intel XMP ( eXtreme Memory Profiles ) , ddr3-1600 lifetime warranty
    ATI 4890 1Gb Card
    2 x Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB Serial ATA Hard Drive

  9. Ray said on September 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Have you considered a card reader? Very handy for photos.
    I check your RSS feed at least twice daily, it’s one of my favourite reads.

    1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:59 am

      Ray my digital camera has a USB connector and Windows 7 recognizes it without any additional software. So, no need for a card reader on my side.

  10. Ste_95 said on September 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    What about Phenom CPUs? They’re cheaper and quite fast. Motherboard: altough you don’t need firewire and other additional components, I suggest you to take one with firewire at least, you may need it some time.

    1. Enigma said on September 14, 2009 at 1:15 pm

      I agree if all he is doing it playing music, blogging and internet research a phenom II is more than enough. No need to go down the expensive I7 route at all.

      1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:52 am

        Well I also play games every now and then, the latest and greatest with my friends over the Internet. Intel is faster and AMD is cheaper. I prefer Intel at the moment.

  11. yogi said on September 14, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    If you are concerned about noise from the computer then you should try special cases that are built to minimize noise.

    I got my wife an Antec case and the noise reduction compared to my own generic computer was very impressive. But the design of the case made it difficult to build the computer. This was a few years ago so that may have changed. It also had a lock on it so that children or nosy friends can’t get into the case.

    1. Martin said on September 15, 2009 at 9:51 am

      Yogi I actually have an Antec case in my current PC and like it very much. I have no problem paying more for a high quality computer case, so Antec is definitely an option.

  12. Nicolas said on September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am

    for a good start here what i would choose

    EVGA P55 FTW Motherboard
    Intel Core i7 860 Processor
    Corsair PC12800 RAM
    Hitachi 7K1000.B Hard Drive
    Ultra M923 ATX Black Full Tower Case
    Ultra LSP750 750-Watt Power Supply
    GeForce GTX 275 Video Card

  13. Ian MacGregor said on September 14, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I built my computer back in 2006 (it was easier than I thought) and I spent about $350.00 for the entire system:
    CPU: AMD Sempron 2800+
    RAM: 1GB
    Hard disk: 2 x 80MB
    Video: nVidia GeForce 6200

    I use this machine for watching movies, listening to music, editing graphics, creating DVD’s, surfing the internet, processing email, transferring files, chatting on AOL/Yahoo/MSN/Jabber, office work, playing games, processing photos, computer programming and more.

    I’ve never filled up either hard disk and I’ve never used more than half of my available RAM. The difference between your planned system and my current system is I run Linux – which doesn’t require an expensive, high-end machine like Windows does.

    You might want to switch to Linux after reading these articles:
    How NSA access was built into Windows:

    What is linux?

    Why I use Linux:

    Why are Linux and Mac OS X safer?:

    Ian MacGregor

    1. Martin said on September 14, 2009 at 10:11 am

      Ian I need Windows for work :)

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