Author Topic: What would you look for now in a new PC?  (Read 673 times)

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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What would you look for now in a new PC?
« on: July 26, 2020, 11:20:27 PM »
Bonsoir,

My 6.5 year-old Asus desktop PC ("grandpa box") is having plenty of strange problems lately: going ape ejecting USB devices I never asked to be ejected; not waking up from sleep; going into a black-screen-of-death spiral when any USB 3.0 --supposedly backward compatible with 2.0--is inserted. etc.

I am going to have a talk with my tech tomorrow to see what can be done. (Remote diagnosis, my first choice given the COVID situation!) Partly this will be to save money, and partly because I am not excited with any of the new offerings I see, and it will take me a month to get everything back to where it was. I have a brand new Dell at work, with all the latest bells and whistles (except no SSD), and it seems barely faster than this old Asus (I did install another 8 Gb recently to bring it to 16 total--8 Gb is LAUGHABLE with Adobe Lightroom, which I use fairly regularly). 

I would actually like to build my own, but I have lot of other stuff on my plate now and cannot afford much downtime.

Anywhoo, I am wondering what you would look for in a new PC? I would like to configure my own, but in doing that with Dell, it starts getting expensive very quickly!

I deal with Lightroom fairly regularly as well as Camtasia, and these are resource intensive.

Here are a few questions:

1.) Will the latest i7 processor with eight cores buy me much speed--over, say an i5, which is what I have now? (most of my applications are not multi-threaded)

2.) How much of an impact will an SSD have in terms of speed, and how reliable are they long-term vs. an HDD? I would like an SSD for software and a larger HDD for my many music and image files.

3.) I still think 16 GB is not enough for what I do and will install more to at least 32. BUt I am not sure what beyond 32 will get me. Lightroom is PAINFULLY slow no matter what you do I understand--but I will very, very likely ditch it because I have ZERO interest in paying Adobe every damn month for the CC service. I am sorry to see it go, but I am sure I can get good results with RawTherapee or DarkTable. What does going beyond 32 get you? When would this be noticeable?

4.) What about video cards--I know very little about this because I have been a stills photographer exclusively for decades, and have little interest in video. In any case, I have zero interest in going above 4K anytime soon. What video cards would you look at? (I am tempted to get back into flight-sim, but that is a rabbithole in terms of time and money!)

5.) Any preference between ASUS, Acer, Dell, HP, etc? Actually, for the specs I want, the HPs look pretty good, but I have not owned one in ages and am not sure of the quality. THey will never equal my old HP 11C scientific calculator I used in calculus and physics classes many years ago! (still works!)

Thanks for any thoughts.






« Last Edit: July 26, 2020, 11:29:32 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2020, 02:07:16 AM »
1.) Will the latest i7 processor with eight cores buy me much speed--over, say an i5, which is what I have now? (most of my applications are not multi-threaded)

2.) How much of an impact will an SSD have in terms of speed, and how reliable are they long-term vs. an HDD? I would like an SSD for software and a larger HDD for my many music and image files.

3.) I still think 16 GB is not enough for what I do and will install more to at least 32. BUt I am not sure what beyond 32 will get me. Lightroom is PAINFULLY slow no matter what you do I understand--but I will very, very likely ditch it because I have ZERO interest in paying Adobe every damn month for the CC service. I am sorry to see it go, but I am sure I can get good results with RawTherapee or DarkTable. What does going beyond 32 get you? When would this be noticeable?

4.) What about video cards--I know very little about this because I have been a stills photographer exclusively for decades, and have little interest in video. In any case, I have zero interest in going above 4K anytime soon. What video cards would you look at? (I am tempted to get back into flight-sim, but that is a rabbithole in terms of time and money!)

5.) Any preference between ASUS, Acer, Dell, HP, etc? Actually, for the specs I want, the HPs look pretty good, but I have not owned one in ages and am not sure of the quality. THey will never equal my old HP 11C scientific calculator I used in calculus and physics classes many years ago! (still works!)

Thanks for any thoughts.

1) The i5-10600 is 6 cores/12 threads, the i7-10700 is 8 cores/16 threads, and retails at $A200 extra at the store I checked. It depends on your workload. I'm not sure if Lightroom etc needs quite as much CPU power as editing video. Definitely consider AMD Ryzen processors as well, they represent very good value for money. If a 6 year old box is doing the graphic editing stuff sufficiently, an i5 should be fine.

2) Night and day in terms of response times. Who still uses a HDD as their main boot drive? I don't know about how they'll be longer-term (I've replaced the SSD after a few years), but nothing is 100% reliable so keep backups.

3) I can't answer this one.

4) Again I can't answer this one, but the higher end cards might be excessive. I don't know if integrated video is going to suffice.

5) I've always had a good run recommending Dell to family members, I use an Asus, and I've had HP machines fail on me. Your mileage may vary.

If you're building, my tip is don't cheap out on the power supply.

Also, would reinstalling Windows sort out any of your issues with the existing machine? Although at 6.5 years old replacing the thing isn't such a bad idea.

Daley

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2020, 08:31:44 AM »
Some thoughts to consider from the repair end:

If I were to hazard a guess given the behavior, the power supply is dying on the old Asus box, or more specifically the capacitors in the power supply are swollen and dying. Unfortunately, I don't know if Asus botherd using industry standardized ATX specs on the mounting, pinout and connectors or not as I tend not to recommend machines built for the consumer space for this very reason... not that Dell hasn't unfortunately reverted back to using proprietary PSUs on their business machines, again, as well. I also can't discount capacitor death on the motherboard itself, but that's a lot easier to check for on your own. For an idea of what to look for, look over the photos on the Wikipedia entry on the "Capacitor Plague". (Oh, technology... bad caps are no longer considered a plague, but planned obsolescence. That's one way to fix the problem!)

But seriously, check for bad caps on the motherboard, and have your support dude(ette) research and find out if your current machine will take an off-the-shelf ATX power supply or not. If the motherboard's caps are looking rough, I'd just replace the machine, but if they look fine and given the symptoms? I'd bet hard that the power supply just needs replacing, or possibly upgrading. Most screwball symptoms like this are old PSUs with failing capacitors or a machine overloaded on power draw. Assuming IF an off the shelf model can be used, I'd go with a Corsair or Seasonic, with at least +20% on the wattage rating over stock or ~450-550W, whichever is higher, with a budget of no more than $100. Even higher if you've heavily modified the machine and added extra RAM or a video card without minding power draw. Otherwise, if it's worth it to you, see if a replacement OEM part can be found and steer towards a seller with a good warranty.

If part of the PSU problem is also due to power draw of added RAM, GPU, USB accessories (especially if you have to use an OEM PSU)... try adding an externally powered USB hub with a beefy power rating to plug external hard drives and peripherals other than keyboards and mice that draw amperage into it instead, and finding a low power (sub 50W) graphics card that doesn't require a separate power connector to replace the current one with.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 08:41:43 AM by Daley »

bacchi

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2020, 12:36:03 PM »
4) Do a dxdiag. What video card do you have now?

GPUs for Lightroom: https://community.adobe.com/t5/lightroom-classic/best-graphics-card-for-2020/td-p/10973656

You can see where the recommended GTX 1060 6GB is ranked here: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gpus,4380.html

Buy something at or above that level (6Gb min). It doesn't have to be a tier 1 card; I bought an RX 580 last year and it's fine for modern gaming.


If you build your own, which I recommend, use a site like this to pick compatible components: https://buildmypc.net/list/

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2020, 02:36:09 PM »
Thanks guys. The power-supply/caps-as-culprit theory certainly makes sense. Given that the machine is 6.5 years old, and there are other minor/intermittent (but irritating) issues, i'm leaning toward replacement. I could have a tech intstall an SSD on this one, and fix everything else, etc., but it's like an old car with a lot of accumulating problems. Likely something else will pop up soon.

I also have a lot of brief and not so brief interruptions in my web connectivity. When I'm streaming something, there are sometimes breaks ranging from a fraction of a second to minutes. The laptop in the same room seems to suffer few of these issues simultaneously. And the optical drive does not like ripping my CDs to FLAC and I have to use an external drive for this.     

So, probably better to start over with a clean slate.

I am looking at this, which checks most of my boxes except that it has a maximum RAM of 32 GB. I was hoping for 64, but 32 with an SSD would certainly be screamingly faster than what I have now.

Whaddya think of this (HP ENVY TE01-0020) ?? https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1511622-REG/hp_6yq52aa_aba_envy_i7_9700_16gb_1tb_7200.html/specs

The issue is not so much the money--we can afford it--but the hassle of getting everything back to where it needs to be...

EDIT: Hmmm one reviewer on Amazon who seems very knowledgeable really rips this a new one (most really like it). (I do not buy electronics, camera, computer stuff from Amazon for a variety of reasons)
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 02:59:06 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

Daley

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2020, 03:15:19 PM »
Maybe consider looking into a refurbished Dell Precision workstation if you want a pre-built solution instead. The HP Envy, although "high end" is still consumer electronics, and built far lower quality. Look at the license version of Windows 10, the warranty length, and the PSU wattage. That often tells you all you need to know. That Envy runs Win10 Home edition and only has a one year warranty, and a 190W power supply. Good luck with stability throwing in a real graphics card if the Intel integrated graphics aren't enough for you. Cheap parts, no headroom for hardware upgrades, and geared towards home users with more money than sense. If you're not concerned about money, and you're already willing to drop $900, spend the money for the right tools.

Enterprise gear is always designed to last longer and typically easier to repair and upgrade, and Radeon Pro or Quadro GPUs will far better serve you for Adobe acceleration support and stability than gamer GPUs. Give the Dell Outlet a look, there's a couple Precision T3630 models available with Xeon processors, 32GB of RAM, and SSDs with discrete pro GPUs for under $1200. Power supply starts at 300W, and probably actually at least the 460W model given the discrete graphics card configuration. Comes with a standard three year warranty, too. It'll absolutely spank that HP for the money, because it's spec'd and geared towards actual professional graphics work.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 03:18:32 PM by Daley »

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2020, 03:55:04 PM »
Thanks very much. The HP is off my list.

I am looking at Dell 7070 Optiplex series--much better quality from what I'm reading. Also, it is what I have at work and seems pretty bulletproof. No wi-fi card though--I am currently using a USB antenna wi-fi adaptor, so I assume I could just use that or get something better...

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1494815-REG/dell_r46vk_optiplex_7070_ssf_i7_9700.html/specs
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 04:02:54 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

Daley

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2020, 07:50:58 PM »
Again, give the Dell Outlet a look, and the Precision workstations specifically. Like this one (they're running out on this configuration): Precision T3630 - $1,191.00

That Optiplex is still way overpriced for what you're actually getting, especially given the specs. The i7 processor might be "twice as fast" on maxed out eight core multi-threading, but the Xeon E-2224G, core for core, holds its own...

...this said, that's only a fraction of it. Xeon processors use ECC RAM, which is far more stable. The Optiplex linked is also still using Intel integrated graphics for its GPU, and GPU performance is one of the bottlenecks for Adobe CS, as throwing more CPU processing power at Adobe's software has diminishing returns. Worse, the Optiplex's PSU is still spec'd out to the smallest power supply Dell can get away with throwing into the system (200W), in addition to being a small form factor box which uses half-height expansion cards, deeply limiting your GPU upgrade options now or in the future just like the HP Envy.

That linked Precision workstation I have at the top here? For an extra $92, you're doubling the memory to 32GB of ECC RAM, still getting a 256GB SSD, plus a 2TB 7200RPM HDD, plus a dedicated 4GB Radeon Pro WX 3100 GPU which will run circles around the Intel integrated graphics of the Optiplex and give you far better performance in your Adobe software, plus you're getting a 460W PSU while only using about half the capacity, and it's in a full-size tower... which means if you want to upgrade/replace the graphics card in the future, or add more RAM even five years down the road, the power supply will still have plenty of unused capacity left, avoiding the same situation you're in currently. This is way more machine for the money, better designed for the sorts of work you're after than even the Optiplex.

Additionally, there may be a coupon code for the Dell Outlet floating around somewhere that might take even more off.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 07:57:48 PM by Daley »

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2020, 08:01:23 PM »
Wow, that does look like much more machine for the (a little more) money. Can you see any downsides to buying refurbished? It seems the warranty is still the same three years. Thanks again!!

Daley

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2020, 08:35:37 PM »
Wow, that does look like much more machine for the (a little more) money. Can you see any downsides to buying refurbished? It seems the warranty is still the same three years. Thanks again!!

The outlet store is basically their scratch-n-dent or returns... but yeah, still a three year warranty with onsite tech after phone support (and buying an Optiplex, Latitude or Precision workstation guarantees you'll get Dell's domestic corporate, enterprise and government phone support instead of the consumer support out of the international call centers). Zero downside, and personally I always buy refurb over new just for the savings. If you're ready to buy, get it before it's gone.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 08:37:32 PM by Daley »

Daley

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2020, 09:51:11 PM »
Added benefit I forgot to mention, that you might find interesting... especially given how sweet MS Flight Simulator 2020 is looking given that itch you may not want to indulge. Normally, pro graphics cards historically haven't done great for gaming, however both AMD and Nvidia now provide gaming tuned alternative drivers for their Pro cards, though apparently AMD's Adrenalin drivers are a bit more mature and robust than Nvidia's QNF drivers, currently.

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2020, 04:01:18 PM »
Bought the Dell Precision you linked to. I phoned in to ask a few questions, and the sales guy told me it was the last one (suuuuure). He asked if I wanted to put it in my cart so I agreed. After purchase, I went back to check this and sure enough, it says "currently out of stock". Maybe I did call just in time. In any case, he also gave me a 50$ discount on top of it with free 3-5 day shipping. So, overall a very good deal, especially compared to what that amount would buy in a new device.

I am now looking at that 27" 4K monitor and some type of wireless keyboard and mouse--not terribly mustacian of me as my old monitor and keyboard/mouse combo still work (With a few minor issues). However these items will certainly be a nice upgrade and worth the money considering I spend several hours a day at this machine.

The Dell Ultrasharp monitors look good and seem to get very good reviews--not sure you're going to notice 4K on a 27" monitor, but nevertheless, still a nice upgrade over what I have now. I used to have a 30" at work, but found it a bit tooo large. 

As for keyboard/mouse combo, it MUST be wireless. I like some of the backlit/gaming ones I see, but these all seem to be wired and/or needing to be recharged. I also like a lot of hard buttons--I have a button to summon the calculator as well as volume, mute, track advance, play pause, etc on my current one, and would like those and more on a new one. I also like the keyboard and mouse to be as quiet as possible.

As for Sasquatch, I have been fascinated with this since I was a little kid. When I was in second grade, I borrowed a book from the library called Nobody Meets Bigfoot (should track down a copy). No, I don't believe they exist, nor do I discount it entirely. (I do have a Ph.D. in bio BTW FWIW) However, I would highly recommend this book by John Zada--In The Valleys Of THe Noble Beyond. Author takes a very dispassionate approach, interviewing many native people in coastal British Columbia, sasquatch researchers, etc. His descriptions of the terrain, people, culture, history, and natural history of the area make the book worth reading even if you think Sasquatch is total BS. Perhaps you would enjoy!







« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 04:05:47 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

Daley

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Re: What would you look for now in a new PC?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2020, 05:56:38 PM »
Bought the Dell Precision you linked to. I phoned in to ask a few questions, and the sales guy told me it was the last one (suuuuure). He asked if I wanted to put it in my cart so I agreed. After purchase, I went back to check this and sure enough, it says "currently out of stock". Maybe I did call just in time. In any case, he also gave me a 50$ discount on top of it with free 3-5 day shipping. So, overall a very good deal, especially compared to what that amount would buy in a new device.

Glad you were able to snag the last one of that configuration, one of the best configurations they had available at the time at that price point, that hit all the key targeted specs you were after. That's part of the reason for the deep discount, as the machines sold are already pre-configured. They're returns, scratch-n-dent, overstock, etc. What you basically bought was a machine from a lot of pre-configured models that got sent back or over-produced. It's why I was encouraging you to pull the handle if you really needed the machine and was satisfied with the specs and price, because between first finding it and linking it last night, two of the three had sold. So yes, for future reference, believe the quantity available with outlet stock. Glad you got an additional discount, too.

I am now looking at that 27" 4K monitor and some type of wireless keyboard and mouse--not terribly mustacian of me as my old monitor and keyboard/mouse combo still work (With a few minor issues). However these items will certainly be a nice upgrade and worth the money considering I spend several hours a day at this machine.

The Dell Ultrasharp monitors look good and seem to get very good reviews--not sure you're going to notice 4K on a 27" monitor, but nevertheless, still a nice upgrade over what I have now. I used to have a 30" at work, but found it a bit tooo large.

Be aware that some apps scale better than others under Windows 10 with a 4k monitor, and Windows has a bit of a time past about 150% scaling. I've got a cheap knock-around 8" Win10 tablet that the screen actually runs 1920x1080, and I have to run it at 200% to make anything readable. There've been... UI glitches... especially with older, non-UWP Windows applications. YMMV, but be aware going in.

It's also worth noting that the 4k monitors are really more geared toward gamers. I'd rather a lower resolution LED backlit AH-IPS screen with good grayscale and color reproduction running without UI scaling. Maybe look at QHD 25" IPS monitors instead with HDR support. You might be able to get away without UI scaling, but still increase workspace for less money than a 4K monitor. Something from the U2518D or U2520D line. Don't be afraid to buy used/refurbished or new old stock for some savings, provided there's at least a 90 day warranty and dead pixel policy. I'd encourage you to just keep going with your current monitor, but if you must... that should save you a bit more. It's worth noting B&H has a used grade 9 U2518D available for $264.

As for keyboard/mouse combo, it MUST be wireless. I like some of the backlit/gaming ones I see, but these all seem to be wired and/or needing to be recharged. I also like a lot of hard buttons--I have a button to summon the calculator as well as volume, mute, track advance, play pause, etc on my current one, and would like those and more on a new one. I also like the keyboard and mouse to be as quiet as possible.

Input devices can be very personal. My speed is more Model M, Trackpoint, and Intellimouse Explorer, all wired... but some of that may change with arthritis.

As for Sasquatch, I have been fascinated with this since I was a little kid. When I was in second grade, I borrowed a book from the library called Nobody Meets Bigfoot (should track down a copy). No, I don't believe they exist, nor do I discount it entirely. (I do have a Ph.D. in bio BTW FWIW) However, I would highly recommend this book by John Zada--In The Valleys Of THe Noble Beyond. Author takes a very dispassionate approach, interviewing many native people in coastal British Columbia, sasquatch researchers, etc. His descriptions of the terrain, people, culture, history, and natural history of the area make the book worth reading even if you think Sasquatch is total BS. Perhaps you would enjoy!

Appreciate the recommendation!

Hope the workstation gives you many years of stable performance.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 06:06:58 PM by Daley »