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23-01-2015


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Computer choice in 2015. Winter

After a long break we decided to continue the publication of analytical materials devoted to the choice of components. Of course, the situation in the country has affected the domestic IT-market and the purchasing power of citizens. However, according to the comments to the reviews and posts on relevant forums, questions about building the optimal configuration are still relevant. In addition, since the release of the article "Computer choice in 2014. Winter" was already a year. During this seemingly insignificant period in numerous changes appeared in IT-industry: appeared several new platforms, technologies and standards, many components of PC stepped onto a higher level of performance. In this maelstrom of events, and with constant exchange rate fluctuations, sometimes difficult to keep track of wall changes even for experienced users. And what we can say about those who are interested in the world of digital technology on the level of a layman. Naturally, in such circumstances, the choice of the optimal PC may turn into a real horror. We hope that this material will help to simplify this task, as well as to assess the state of the domestic market of components at the beginning of 2015.

 

EasyCOM GECID PC Winter 2015

As before, making configuration for different tasks first of all we will consider the following components: motherboard + CPU + graphics card + RAM + drives + power supply + cooling system + case. The remaining components (monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.) are not included in the list because their choice is influenced by subjective factors. In this case we cannot give a proper advice.

Also, we will continue to put aside any brand, and if somewhere we will meet specific names, they should be considered only as an example, but not as a call to purchase. However, if any of the models will be much better than analogue, of course, this point will be certainly noted in the article. All prices were taken from popular online stores and provided average value. It is quite possible that in your town the cost of some components will be higher or lower. And in today's conditions this situation is more than real, especially if we talk about the same components imported into the country at different times. Therefore, guided by this material when choosing a PC, you need to understand that prices are approximate and are only indicative.

Well, the official part is finished, so now we can move on to the configuration. In order to enhance the functionality and cost they can be placed as follows:

  • computer for study and Internet surfing;
  • office computer;
  • HTPC;
  • HTPC that combines the functions of a mini-PC;
  • home computer to run the latest games at the minimum/low graphics settings;
  • home computer to run modern games at low/medium graphics settings;
  • home computer to run modern games at medium/high graphics settings;
  • home computer to run the latest games at high/maximum graphics settings and high resolutions;
  • home computer to run modern games at ultra-high graphics settings and high resolutions;
  • computer for multi-monitor systems and workstations.

Computers for study and Internet surfing

These types of systems often can be found found in schools, libraries, or at the workplace of the secretary, in general, where you want to perform trivial tasks. Obviously, here a priority factor may be low final cost of the building. There is no need to specify any specific requirements for the components, because today the market is fulled with components that can cope with the tasks listed above. Taking into account the above said, we offer to pay attention to the energy efficient platforms Intel Bay Trail-D and AMD AM1.

EasyCOM GECID PC Winter 2015

 

Intel Bay Trail-D 

AMD AM1 

Motherboard

$74 - 87

$37 - 41

CPU

Intel Celeron J1800

(-)

AMD Sempron 2650

($42)

Graphics subsystem

Integrated graphics core Intel HD Graphics

(-)

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon R3

(-)

RAM

1 x 2 GB DDR3 (DIMM / SO-DIMM) with frequency 1333 / 1600 MHz

($24)

Drive

HDD with capacity of 160 GB

($34)

Cooling system

Regular

(-)

PSU with case

Any model of format Mini Tower

($30)

Total cost

$162 - 175

$167 - 171

Average cost

$169 

$169 

In both cases we got the same average cost about $ 170. And in terms of performance between the two buildings will be parity. However, the platform AMD AM1 has certain advantages. Firstly, it is an opportunity of "painless" replacement of CPU while updating the PC (in the case of Intel Bay Trail-D you have to buy a new card because a processor is soldered on it). Secondly, the graphics core AMD Radeon R3 even in the minimal variant performs better than Intel HD Graphics.

As for the other components of the system, 2 GB of RAM and a 160-gigabyte drive is more than enough for voiced above tasks. Don’t think too much about the choice of the motherboard and the case, take the cheaper option. But make sure that all the components are compatible with each other. As for the case, you can use any version with built-in power supply. Characteristics of the latter are not particularly important, since energy consumption does not exceed 50 W.

Office computers

As a rule the office computer has higher demands than in the previous case. The working with tablets and databases while running multiple applications require more system resources and, consequently, more productive Also you can consider energy-efficient platforms with 4-core processors.

As is the case with the configuration for study and internet surfing, here we cannot talk about any discrete graphics card. Office workers do not use it, but the money saving is quite significant, especially if the company purchased several machines.

Thus, the two above-mentioned platforms Intel Bay Trail-D and AMD AM1 added another Socket LGA1150, Socket FM2+ and Socket AM3+. In the latter case the graphics core is not integrated into the processor but into the motherboard, and it does not prevent provide output image on the screen without using a discrete graphics card.

EasyCOM GECID PC Winter 2015

 

Intel Bay Trail-D 

AMD AM1 

Socket FM2+

Socket LGA1150

Socket AM3+

Motherboard

$136 - 137

$37 - 41

Model based on chipsets AMD A55 / A58

($50 - 61)

Model based on chipset Intel H81

($52 - 69)

Model based on chipset AMD 760G

($48 – 64)

CPU

Intel Pentium J2900

(-)

AMD Athlon 5350

($76)

AMD A4-4000 / 4020 / 5300 / 6300

($38 - 47)

Intel Celeron G1820 / G1830 / G1840

($52 - 53)

AMD FX-4300 / 6100

($102 - 118)

Graphics subsystem

Integrated graphics core Intel HD Graphics

(-)

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon R3

(-)

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon HD 7480D / 8370D

(-)

Integrated graphics core Intel HD Graphics

(-)

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon HD 3000

(-)

RAM

1 x 2 GB DDR3 (DIMM / SO-DIMM) with frequency 1333 / 1600 MHz

($24)

1 x 2 GB DDR3 (DIMM) with frequency 1333 / 1600 MHz

($24)

Drive

HDD with capacity of 320 GB

($42 - 45)

Cooling system

Regular

(-)

PSU with case

Any model of format Mini Tower

($30)

Total cost

$232 - 236

$209 - 216

$184 - 207

$200 - 221

$246 - 281

Average cost

$234

$213

$196

$211

$264

So, what conclusion can be done from this table? Firstly, the platform Socket AM3+ is totally unsuitable for building the office computer, because it costs significantly more expensive than others and is extremely unbalanced. Besides after buying a motherboard equipped with chipset AMD 760G, you get pretty slow integrated graphics core and in most cases lose the advantages of modern models (x SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0, HDMI, etc.).

Secondly, the configuration based on the energy efficient platforms Intel Bay Trail-D and AMD AM1 although has a comparable cost to competitive solutions, but in most applications, they are inferior in performance (by approximately 20 - 50%). Moreover, these buildings have top-end processors. I.e. further increase of system performance by upgrading is virtually impossible. Thus, the ideal option for the building of an office computer will be the remaining two platforms - Socket FM2+ and Socket LGA1150. It is difficult to single out any one better, because each of them has its advantages. Thus, the building based on Socket FM2+ will cost you $ 15 - 20 cheaper, and it has a much greater choice of processors in the lower price segment. The connector Socket FM2+ is suitable for family of all desktop APU AMD, from AMD Trinity to AMD Kaveri. In addition, even the entry-level solutions (all models with the index AMD A4-xxxx) have much more powerful integrated graphics core than their competitors out of the "blue" camp. In terms of the index "price/capabilities" the best is 2-core AMD A4-6300 with a nominal frequency of 3700 MHz.  

Building on a platform Socket LGA1150, as mentioned above, is a bit more expensive. However, the additional costs are compensated by a high level of performance of processor cores. In more or less intensive tasks the difference in performance between Intel Celeron G18xx and AMD A4-xxxx can even reach 50%. It is important to note that you should only look in the direction of solutions Intel Celeron G1820 / G1830 / G1840. Model Intel Celeron G1850 is unreasonably expensive, while it does not provide significant advantage.

As for the other components, it is still possible to use 2 GB of RAM, standard cooling system and the cheapest case with integrated power supply. The only change in the periphery was at the level of the disk subsystem. In our view, even for an office employee the capacity of 160 GB will be not enough. Therefore, the drive has been replaced with a more powerful capacity of 320 GB. You can certainly pay another $ 5-10 and get a 500-gigabyte version. However, in this case, this amount is likely to be redundant, so it's best to save.

HTPC

Every year the concept of HTPC (home theater) gains the popularity. In fact, if you plan to use the computer as a multimedia center, why make unnecessary cumbersome system? It is possible to have a compact PC with low power consumption. And here is the platforms Intel Bay Trail-D and AMD AM1 may demonstrate its advantages.

 

EasyCOM GECID PC Winter 2015

 

Intel Bay Trail-D 

AMD AM1 

Motherboard

$87 - 110

$37 - 41

CPU

Intel Celeron J1900

(-)

AMD Athlon 5150

($60)

Graphics subsystem

Integrated graphics core Intel HD Graphics

(-)

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon R3

(-)

RAM

2 x 2GB DDR3 (DIMM / SO-DIMM) with frequency 1333 / 1600 MHz

($48)

Drive

HDD with capacity of 2 ТB

($96 - 106)

Cooling system

Regulat

(-)

PSU with case

External adapter for 80-120 W + case Mini-ITX / Desktop

($47- 73)

Total cost

$278 - 337

$288 - 328

Average cost

$308

$308

In this case we’ve chose the more powerful processors, which are useful when viewing high-definition movies. The amount of memory is better to build up to 4 GB, as modern software interfaces require more resources for media centers. In addition, it is often necessary to keep a few simultaneously folded processes. Again you can use the cheapest modules with speed of 1333 or 1600 MHz. Storage capacity of 2 TB not chosen by chance. HTPC is primarily associated with the movies and they take too much space. 

As for the motherboards, it is obvious that they should be Mini-ITX solutions, equipped with digital video output and high quality audio path. The power consumption of both building will be small, so we recommend buying a compact case made in the form factor Mini-ITX or Desktop, and the external adapter for 80 - 120 W. Power supplies for format SFX / TFX characterized by a greater capacity here will be unclaimed.

As can be seen from the table, both configurations will cost about the same amount. The only thing is that the platform AMD AM1 will have slightly better capabilities (ports SATA 3.0, more interfaces USB 3.0, easy upgrade), and the Intel Bay Trail-D provides the best energy efficiency (lower TDP, less noise due to the use of passive systems cooling).

HTPC that combines the functions of mini-PC

Above we have provided examples of classical HTPC. But it happened that for the majority of the concept of home theater borders with mini-PC. Well, let's see what configuration will be in this case. Note that here is a basic requirement in the form of compactness, the notion of "efficiency" is on the background.

EasyCOM GECID PC Winter 2015

 

Socket FM2+

Socket FM2+

(option of APU with locked graphics core)

Socket LGA1150

Motherboard

Model based on chipsets AMD A78 / A88X

($79 - 117)

Model based on chipset Intel H81

($79 - 96)

CPU

AMD A8-6500 / 6600K / 7600, AMD A10-5700 / 5800K

($120 - 125)

AMD Athlon X4 750K / 760K / 860K

($89 - 100)

Intel Pentium G3220 / 3240 / 3250 / 3258

($69 - 86)

Graphics subsystem

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon 7660D / 8570D / R7

(-)

Low-profile graphics based on card GPU NVIDIA GeForce GT720

($60 - 70)

RAM

2 x 2 GB DDR3 (DIMM) with frequency of 1333 / 1600 MHz

($48)

Drive

HDD with capacity of 2 ТB

($96 - 106)

Cooling system

Regular

(-)

PSU

SFX / TFX, with capacity from 150 W

($43 - 68)

AExetrnal adapter for 120 W + case Mini-ITX / Desktop

($60 - 73)

Case

Mini-ITX / Desktop

($47- 80)

Total cost

$433 - 544

$462 - 589

$412 - 479

Average cost

$489 

$526

$446 

When analyzing presented buildings APU provided good performance. With a powerful graphics core, they eliminate the need for external low-profile graphics card. Moreover, in most cases iGPU AMD Radeon 7660D / 8570D / R7 Series will leave behind discrete solutions based on GPU.

With respect to the processor part, the quad-core options AMD A8-xxxx/A10-xxxx will also demonstrate better results compared with models from the family of Intel Pentium. Apart is the Intel Pentium G3258, which has an unlocked multiplier. On the other hand, among APU are many devices with similar capabilities. In case to increase the performance of system based on the platform Socket LGA1150 by selecting the more powerful components, then its price tag will quickly fly up and it is not the best option.

The configuration of options based on AMD Athlon X4 750K / 760K / 860K with disabled graphics core have the similar situation. The building is expensive and less effective than option with full APU.

But when using the Socket LGA1150 platform you can save on the power supply, since Intel Pentium models have relatively low power consumption and this fact doesn’t refer to the hybrid processors from AMD. In the latter case, most likely, an external adapter is not enough, and you will need to buy a solution of format SFX/TFX and appropriate case. But, even despite this feature, we would like to recommend primarily look towards the platform Socket FM2+ during the building of productive HTPC. The only pity is that the selection of Mini-ITX motherboard is very scarce and mainly consists of top solutions.

Home computer to run the latest games at the minimum/low graphics settings

Well, now let’s go to the most interesting part, desktop configurations. Traditionally, we do bind to the games, because most users when buying a home PC are focused on them.

Let's start with the configuration to run modern games on minimal/low graphics settings. In fact, it's a bit modernized office PC, where special attention is paid to the graphical part. It is obvious that energy-efficient platforms Intel Bay Trail-D and AMD AM1 will be less demand and the productivity will be insufficient, and further modernization is very difficult or even impossible. But desktop APU can cope with the requirements of a given configuration. 

EasyCOM GECID PC Winter 2015

 

Socket FM2+ 

Socket FM2+

(option of APU with locked graphics core)

Socket LGA1150

Socket AM3+

Motherboard

Model based on chipsets AMD A78 / A88X

($58 - 74)

Model based on chipset AMD A78

($58 - 68)

Model based on chipset Intel H81

($52 - 76)

Model based on chipset AMD AMD 970 + SB950

($81 - 87)

CPU

AMD A10-7700K / 7800 / 7850K

($157 - 180)

AMD Athlon X2 370K

($57)

Intel Celeron G1820 / G1830 / G1840

($52 - 53)

AMD FX-4300 / 6100

($102 - 118)

Graphics subsystem

Integrated graphics core AMD Radeon R7

(-)

Discrete graphics card based on GPU NVIDIA GeForce GT730 with 1 GB GDDR5

($71 - 82)

RAM

1 x 4 GB DDR3 (DIMM) with frequency of 1866 MHz

($48 - 52)

1 x 4 GB DDR3 (DIMM) with frequency of 1600 MHz

($44)

Drive

HDD with capacity of 1 ТB

($69 - 72)

Cooling system

Regular

(-)

PSU

With capacity of 400 - 500 W of budget series but supplied by reliable producers

($42 - 53)

Case

$27 - 35

Total cost

$401 - 466

$368 - 411

$357 - 415

$436 - 491

Average cost

$434 

$390


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