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New Desktop, CS major

Big CatBig Cat Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
edited March 2011 in College Computers
Hi guys,
I was needing some advice on buying a new desktop computer. i'm a comp sci major and I was wondering exactly how much power i should look for in computer since ill be going into this major. I'm currently specializing in programming which isn't really processor intensive but i don't want to buy something that is really underpowered if something comes up down the line school wise that requires a fast pc. I got a budget up to $500, doesn't sound like much but this isn't meant to be a gaming rig or anything. I just want it to a computer for me to do my programming work on and to watch some netflix and stuff on it. I'd also like to be able to open it up and upgrade parts when it comes time, so a mid size case is probably the way to go. Sorry to put you guys through this, I know it gets old searching for computers for people all the time. I would do it myself, but i've looked through a ton of computers lately and i can't diversify one from the next. They all look the same. thanks alot, bc.
Post edited by Big Cat on

Replies to: New Desktop, CS major

  • pascal12pascal12 Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    If you want to have it easily upgradeable, then build your own. If you get a prebuilt one, unless it's on the expensive side, they usually use older generation parts and have bare minimum ability to expand.

    Oh, and does the $500 budget include monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, etc?
  • excelblueexcelblue Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    CS major here, do a lot of programming.

    Main pieces of advise:

    - Spend your money on getting two decent-sized monitors. They will make a world of difference.
    - The i3 540 is an excellent choice in terms of price/performance ratio and is at just the right level for compiling stuff / programming. You might be able to benefit from more powerful processors for compiling giant, complicated projects, but they won't be anything you'd touch in an academic setting. Even then, the i3 540 still gives more than satisfactory performance on those projects.
    - Get 8GB RAM; IDEs generally tend to be memory-intensive, and you'll probably write some bad apps that use lots of RAM. It's cheap these days, so why not?
    - Stick with the integrated video; it does most games fine at low settings.

    Your computer will run ~$350.
  • Big CatBig Cat Registered User Posts: 198 Junior Member
    thanks alot guys. That helps out alot especially coming from someone also in CS. I'll be taking your recommendations and building my very first machine. Wish me luck lol.
  • HitManHitMan Registered User Posts: 798 Member
    Definitely build your own. It's more fun and you get to use better components.

    Also, I would suggest dual booting windows (for games) and ubuntu (for programming).

    Linux is a lot easier to program with.
  • pascal12pascal12 Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    General tips (if you haven't started looking for parts yet):
    Don't go cheap on the power supply!! Don't get fooled by merely a high wattage, you gotta look at the 12V load as well.
    Motherboard, just get something that has everything you need, plus has stuff that you may want to expand in the future.
    I would actually suggest getting an AMD processor if it's not extremely high-end, since at low-mid range, AMD is much better price/performance ratio.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Registered User Posts: 22,762 Senior Member
    You could go with an Ubuntu VM instead of going with Dual boot. This will allow you the luxury of running Windows and Linux at the same time. Schools typically have a bias on the operating systems of Linux or Windows and if you're running only Windows when your school wants assignments on Linux, then you'll either have to install Linux (via dual-boot or VM) or use the university lab computers. I run Ubuntu VMs on my systems using Oracle VirtualBox and it's nice to have the flexibility of two operating systems. I also recommend getting two monitors. 2x1920x1080 would be nice but that would also break your budget. Perhaps you can reuse monitors from home that aren't in use.
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