This week I decided to follow in Jared’s footsteps, so I set off to configure a computer with a $1,000 price cap to see if I could build a powerful PC on a reasonable budget. The system I had in mind however, is specifically designed for video and photo editing.
Most photo and video editing software packages now take advantage of multiple CPU cores and the unbeatable floating-point crunching abilities of the latest GPUs on the market. With that in mind, this is what I put together, all for less than $1,000:
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT55TFBGRBOX
[$199.99 plus a $10 Instant Rebate - Newegg]
AMD packed six cores into their latest Phenom II chip, which should give you plenty of CPU power to play with. I could have gone with a slightly faster model that boasts a 3.2Ghz clock speed, but this processor could easily be overclocked to match. There is no reason to pay more money for something that you can easily get for free.
ASUS M4N98TD EVO AM3 NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI ATX AMD Motherboard
[$139.99 - Newegg]
If you are serious about power, you’re going to need a board like this. It can handle both the hexa-core CPU and the potential overclocking that you may be considering. It is also SLI-ready so you can beef up operations in the graphics department a little further down the road at a nominal cost. Asus is a solid brand with a great reputation, so this motherboard choice was a no-brainer.
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9Q-8GBR
[$189.99 - Newegg]
Will all the processing you’ll be doing, I figured it would be best to just start off with 8GB of memory. However, building on a budget has its trade-offs. To save a bit of money, I opted for a kit with four 2GB memory chips rather than a kit with two 4GB DIMMs. In the end, you get the same amount of memory, but there is no room left for any expansion as all four memory slots are already occupied.
ZOTAC ZT-40402-10P GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
[$229.99 - Newegg]
Here I have selected a Fermi-based NVIDIA card, which was actually a suggestion from Jared. I couldn’t quite decide which card would be the best as there are several packing 1GB of memory, all all based on the same chipset. For whatever reason, ZOTAC has embedded a faster shader unit, and I figure we might as well have it in our computer if it doesn’t cost any more than the competition. A second card can be grabbed further down the road if you feel the need to go the SLI route.
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS 1.5TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
[$89.99 - Newegg]
This seems to be a great choice for hard drive space right now. It has a reasonable spindle speed of 7200 RPMs, whereas some other “Green” units have slowed their spin rate down to 5400 RPMs. The drive has a good sized cache and a max transfer rate of 3.0Gb/s that works with our board. With this drive, it should be quite some time before you will need to add more storage to house your collection of videos and photos.
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC
[$69.99 plus a $30.00 Instant Rebate - Newegg]
This PSU should pump out enough power to keep the system stable, and it also has enough modular connectors for all of our various components. It is 80+ Certified, and it boasts two +12v rails which will come in handy if you choose to connect a second video card down the road.
LITE-ON CD/DVD Burner – Bulk Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 – OEM
[$19.99 - Newegg]
GIGABYTE gz-ph2a3 Black SGCC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
[$14.99 plus a $25.00 Instant Rebate - Newegg]
Last and least, this case probably is not the finest choice for air flow or looks. However, it does the job and it beats building a case from Popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue.
The total cost comes to $954.92 before shipping
Newegg is pretty reasonable when it comes to shipping, so depending on your location you will likely pay less than $20 to get all the components delivered to your door via UPS ground.