Buying a computer system/Desktop computer


QUESTION: Greetings! Is it a good idea to buy this computer set with this CPU?
CPU specifications:
MSI A55M-E33 FM2 mobo
AMD A4-5400K 3.6 GHz Dual-core processor
4GB DDR3 1333MHz dual-channel
Nvidia GT430 2GB DDR3 128-bit card
500 GB Samsung SATA III
-This CPU, in a micro or MID ATX case w/ 600W PSU, an Acer S200HQL BD 20" LED monitor, A4tech ps2 KB, and mouse, XStyle USB Speakers, and a Huntkey SZM-304 2500W Surge Protector
I am going to use this for AutoCAD, SketchUp, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Flash, Video editing using Cyberlink powerdirector, web browsing, and I would like to use Windows 8.1 Pro. Do you think this is a computer good enough to grant me all of these? The whole set is for 388 USD.

ANSWER: The computer will struggle with the CAD/CAM applications with the GeForce graphics card, however professional-level graphics cards will cost more than this entire computer (and in general I would only suggest them to users who are using the machine commercially/professionally - that is, does your paycheck ride on how quickly or accurately the machine can model something, or is this just a hobby?). For the price I think it would be quite competent as long as the power supply is of good quality (600W is certainly sufficient, but if it's a poorly made unit it may fail earlier than expected). For Photoshop, Flash, Cyberlink, web browsing, etc it shouldn't have any problems.

You may consider adding more memory and additional hard-disk space (either with a larger disk or additional disks in the future), if your budget permits; the extra memory will help more demanding creative applications (like video editing and CAD), while the extra disk space will allow you to store more finished projects. If any of these projects are extremely important (that is, you can't afford to lose them), you should probably have multiple hard-drives as opposed to one large disk, and keep copies of your data on them to minimize the losses due to potential hardware failure (it would also be wise to periodically commit various data to disc or other form of storage that is kept in a physically separate location from the computer, to keep the data safe in the event of a disaster that damages wherever the computer is kept (for example flooding)).

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Sorry for not telling you that I will only use AutoCAD for 2D drawings, and just for practice. I will only use it for drawing floor plans and not for 3D and texture rendering. Can the GT430 give me good performance for 2D drafting with autocad? Storage is actually not a problem, but I would also like to ask if it's safe to add a solid state drive for the operating system and programs? I've also got an external storage, a big one for my files. And for the RAM, I think I can include an additional RAM the same one as the preloaded RAM. (mobo's got 2 memory slots. And also, are MSI motherboards of good quality? Hey, Thanks for your response! Have a nice day!

ANSWER: It shouldn't be a problem for practice in 2D - I can't speak to actual performance numbers, but it should at least be functional enough to use (I've seen GeForce 8400GS cards do fairly well for floor-plans and other "light" use, and save a considerable amount of money and power over their Quadro FX brethren).

Adding a solid-state drive is a somewhat contentious question - popular opinion would tell you to do it, but personally I'd say it isn't worth it unless you've got the money to burn. It will not improve processing performance of the system, nor will it benefit any data that isn't stored upon it; basically you can expect faster load times for certain applications and that's about it (e.g. you might see Photoshop start in half the time, but completing intensive batch operations within Photoshop will not be significantly improved because it's still waiting on the CPU or system memory to complete). The price of the SSD would be better put into additional RAM or a faster CPU in most cases.

As far as the memory - as long as the motherboard is only using 1 of its DIMM banks for the 4GB (which is entirely possible), you can add the additional 4GB. This will also allow the system to run the memory in dual-channel, which confers a considerable boost to memory bandwidth (and system performance). I would absolutely suggest this upgrade if possible.

As far as MSI being good or not - generally they're not my first choice in motherboards. I'd regard them as being on the lower-half of the top-end choices - you shouldn't expect the board to blow up or burst into flames during normal operation, but their drivers and support aren't as top-notch as you may expect from other manufacturers. If you're looking for alternatives, I'd steer towards Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte, or Biostar.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: So the graphics card will be okay for my operations right (acad, ps, flash, clpd) ? I think 2GB vram is enough. But I don't know the frequency of that card or whether it is enough to perform multiple tasks well and simultaneously, excluding gaming, I'm not gonna play anymore.^^ and I'm not using multiple display.

I think, the RPM thing had something to do with the speed I'm asking you about the storage?

Right, I've listed an additional 4GB ram for a total of 8GB.

Reviews say that MSI mobos are, good, next to asus & gigabyte. I'm not sure, but that's what they're saying.

Sorry for asking too much questions, I really want to know these things so I can handle them myself in the future. Thank you very much. Nice day.

Video memory isn't the only consideration, but yes 2GB of VRAM should be more than enough for your needs (things like Photoshop and Flash don't use much, if anything, from the graphics card - there are some plug-ins with CS5/6 that can take advantage of GPU computing, but the majority of the work is still done by your CPU). CAD is the only thing I'd be somewhat concerned about, but it shouldn't be too much of a problem with 2D workloads.

On the hard-drive question - I'm not following what you want to know; sorry. If you could try re-phrasing the question, that would help.

As far as MSI - like I said, they're not a "bad" choice, they're just generally not the absolute *best* choice in most cases; you shouldn't have any problems with what you've selected.


Buying a computer system

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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner.


I have been an enthusiast of PC's for many years, and can answer questions about the purchase/use of a new computer or the purchase, installation, and use of upgrades for existing computers. There probably isn't a whole lot related to the home computer that I haven't seen over the years.

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