Components for Building Computers From Scratch/Performance balancing

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Hi Bobbert. I'm going to build a computer, which needs to have balanced excels in both processing performance and graphics performance.

The primary component that must be there is the graphics card, GeForce GTX 750 Ti. The rest is following the graphics card. I read on some websites that I have to balance the other hardware peripherals so as I don't run into performance bottleneck (where one or more component is too slow and make overall performance down to their level and waste the faster components' performance). The problem is I don't know how to build a balanced hardware profile that match and works together in similar speed with the VGA, that is, a top of the low end budget machine profile.

I'm going to use my machine mainly for (in order of importance):
1. running Windows 7 64 bit.
2. running virtual machine of Windows XP to develop website.
3. running graphics design program such as photo editing, video editing, or 3D renderer (like Blender). sometimes I can open document as big as 500 MB - 1GB.
4. browsing.
5. writing documents, spreadsheet, and presentation.
6. gaming.

Out of these activities, the first 3 are the most important. I also need the performance within the virtual machine is also in the not-so-bad level, as I run heavy server program as a localhost for development, and heavy GUI for code editor.

So I'm thinking that I'm going to build something like this:
VGA: GeForce GTX 750 Ti (~$135)
Processor: Intel Core i7 950 @ 3.07GHz (~$150)
Memory: 8GB DDR?
Motherboard: Intel / Gigabyte something?
Harddisk: Ordinary 1TB harddisk (not SSD, as SSD is pretty expensive at my country)
And for the rest I supposed it doesn't quite contributing to the speed, right? Or it is?

So, can you give recommendation about my build? There are some factors I still vague about as you can see, which I also need advice of (like which DDR I should use, which motherboard and type I should use, etc). But the bottom line is, only two factor weigh the most: the VGA card must be it, and the build aims for top of low end budget desktop computer. Please advise.

Thanks!

Answer
I wouldn't worry so much about "performance balancing" - bottlenecks are going to occur no matter what hardware you have, as it is always possible to create computational requests (e.g. applications, specific workloads, etc) that exceed what a given computer can accomplish in real-time or in a reasonable amount of time. For what you're describing you should look to purchase a fairly powerful CPU - a Core i7 is not a bad choice, although the 950 is multiple generations behind the curve, so you will be limited to relatively older motherboards for such a build. I would suggest going with a more modern Core i7 4xxx series or an equivalent AMD FX (which will have better multi-tasking performance, as they offer more processing cores) - a system with an FX-8350 and 8-16GB of memory (type will be dictated by the motherboard you choose, although for modern hardware it will be DDR3) in dual-channel would be very competent.

I would suggest going with Windows 7 Professional, as it will include Microsoft's WindowsXP Mode VM: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/install-and-use-windows-xp-mode-in-w

Alternately you could use another utility, like VirtualBox or what-have-you. I would only undertake virtualization after attempting to run the application under Windows 7 and finding that it is wholly incompatible, AND if there is not a newer/updated version of the application that will work in Windows 7 available. In general a number of applications that were designed for Windows XP will work in Windows 7 with minimal intervention, and anything substantial (e.g. Adobe applications) will often have an upgraded/updated variant that better supports the new operating system.

For the motherboard, Gigabyte is a fine choice - you should also look at ASRock, Biostar, and Asus as well. First select whatever processor you would like (and again, I would suggest a 4xxx sequence Intel Core i7 or AMD FX 6xxx or 8xxx series), determine what socket it uses, and then find a compatible board from your chosen manufacturer. From there you can determine what type of memory you need to purchase - ensure that whatever you purchase is not a single module of your desired capacity, for example if you select 8GB, you should purchase it as a 2x4GB kit (as opposed to an 1x8GB module) to ensure that it can run in dual-channel (this will increase memory throughput/performance).

For the graphics card, I would suggest PNY, Gigabyte, or EVGA.

For the hard-disk, it's hard to go wrong with currently available manufacturers - Seagate and Western Digital both make good drives, and 1TB capacity isn't all that expensive or hard to find these days. Since it sounds like you're building a machine that will be used for both work and leisure, I would suggest you invest in some sort of back-up solution as well - an external hard-drive would be the easiest route.

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

-bob

Components for Building Computers From Scratch

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Bobbert

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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.

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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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15+ years of experience

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