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Thread: New PC specification - opinions wanted

  1. #1

    New PC specification - opinions wanted

    I need to specify a new PC to run Windows 10. In an effort to future-proof it, I'm thinking of running the OS from a 120GB SSD and keeping the data on a separate 1TB HHD (both internal). I hope this will give better performance and boot times while avoiding the cost of a large SSD. Do you think this is a good approach?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    I need to specify a new PC to run Windows 10. In an effort to future-proof it, I'm thinking of running the OS from a 120GB SSD and keeping the data on a separate 1TB HHD (both internal). I hope this will give better performance and boot times while avoiding the cost of a large SSD. Do you think this is a good approach?
    That's a good approach and I do the same.

    What I would say though, for the sake of £15 (depending on which SSD model you go for), go for a 240 GB SSD as a minimum instead. I mean, it all depends on which software you use apart from Windows 10, but if you want to 'future proof' it, I don't think 120 GB will cut it.

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    Master Tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asteclaru View Post
    That's a good approach and I do the same.

    What I would say though, for the sake of £15 (depending on which SSD model you go for), go for a 240 GB SSD as a minimum instead. I mean, it all depends on which software you use apart from Windows 10, but if you want to 'future proof' it, I don't think 120 GB will cut it.
    I would agree. I do boot from a 120GB SSD but I need to discipline myself to avoid filling it. If I was starting again, given what they cost now, I'd definitely invest a bit more for a 240GB.

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    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    I need to specify a new PC to run Windows 10. In an effort to future-proof it, I'm thinking of running the OS from a 120GB SSD and keeping the data on a separate 1TB HHD (both internal). I hope this will give better performance and boot times while avoiding the cost of a large SSD. Do you think this is a good approach?
    Large SSDs don't cost much at all nowadays. Just get a 512GB one. 128GB is really only just large enough for W10 and possibly not large enough, depending on what else you intend to run.

    Also a 1TB is really small by today's standards (although it depends of course on what you need to store). I'd recommend 4TB or larger.

    Your principle is fine, just go bigger. :-)

    And make sure you haver an adequate backup regime. Make sure you do backups to some separate device that is not permanently connected to your main PC.
    Last edited by markrlondon; 13th August 2019 at 12:08.

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    Master Tony's Avatar
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    If in doubt, quadruple it.

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    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony View Post
    If in doubt, quadruple it.
    Indeed. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    I need to specify a new PC to run Windows 10. In an effort to future-proof it, I'm thinking of running the OS from a 120GB SSD and keeping the data on a separate 1TB HHD (both internal). I hope this will give better performance and boot times while avoiding the cost of a large SSD. Do you think this is a good approach?
    What do you use the PC for?

    Go for a quality 250Gb SSD such as this:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-MZ-.../dp/B078WQJXNF

    If you can afford the extra £17 then you could go for the 500Gb version. Don't forget it's not just holding the OS, all the programs are loaded on there as well. Don't be tempted by cheap SSDs.

    For the data drive the size depends on what you store on it. Normal use, 1TB is adequate. If you do a lot of photo or video work then maybe go bigger.
    1TB: £42
    2TB: £60
    4TB: £100

    Spend the money on a smaller good quality drive & a backup solution rather than a bigger drive, unless cost is no object.

  8. #8
    Craftsman Wyvern971's Avatar
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    With the SSD, the bigger the better really.

    If you're speccing up a new PC, I'd also try to for NVME over sata as the performance levels are better as well.

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  9. #9
    I agree with everyone. Very common strategy. You'll want enough space on the SSD for all your applications so they start fast, keep data on the HDD. Stuff like video files are huge but don't need a lot of read speed anyway.

    One thing to note about SSDs is that bigger = faster. Typically, if you see a benchmark for a particular 500GB SSD, the 250GB version of the exact same model will be roughly half as fast. This is because larger SSDs use more chips, which can be parallelised internally for higher throughput. This is a huge difference compared to HDDs, often overlooked when people compare benchmarks. A given model of HDD will be approximately the same speed regardless of the size, because the whole range usually has the same number of platters. People incorrectly assume SSDs are the same, read a benchmark for the latest SSD and think they will get the same performance improvement over an HDD when they buy one a quarter the size. Not so, except in rare instances when the interface is the bottleneck. Most SSDs cannot max out SATA, so the drive speed is still important.

    Personally I tend to stick to Samsung Evo drives for balance of speed, reliability and sensible pricing. Stay away from cheap "no brand" options. Cheap SSDs often fail early and since an SSD failure is usually unrecoverable (unlike most HDD failures) that is best avoided, for all the difference in price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asteclaru View Post
    That's a good approach and I do the same.

    What I would say though, for the sake of £15 (depending on which SSD model you go for), go for a 240 GB SSD as a minimum instead. I mean, it all depends on which software you use apart from Windows 10, but if you want to 'future proof' it, I don't think 120 GB will cut it.
    Made me smile - how times change. My first PC (around 1992 IIRC) had 30MB hard disc and I never came close to filling it up (though the only things stored back then were Wordperfect files).

    I have finally migrated to a Chromebook and so far haven't used up the 'free' 15GB - the OP's system sounds like it will be a beast!

  11. #11
    Thanks all for the advice, some interesting points there; I hadn't realised larger SSDs were faster than small ones and I hadn't heard of NVME. I won't be using tbe new PC much but will have to sort out any issues so it will be good to get it right.

    Does NVME capability depend on a particular type of motherboard?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonRA View Post
    Made me smile - how times change. My first PC (around 1992 IIRC) had 30MB hard disc and I never came close to filling it up (though the only things stored back then were Wordperfect files).

    I have finally migrated to a Chromebook and so far haven't used up the 'free' 15GB - the OP's system sounds like it will be a beast!
    A Chromebook is a different type of beast all together. A Windows 10 installation on its own will be between 20 and 40 GB, depending on which version you go for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    I hadn't realised larger SSDs were faster than small ones and I hadn't heard of NVME.
    Not necessarily true. Some larger SSDs may be faster than smaller ones in the same product line-up. It doesn't mean that all larger SSDs will be faster than all smaller SSDs.

    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    Does NVME capability depend on a particular type of motherboard?
    Yes.

  14. #14
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    I think I'd just put a 1TB SSD in there and have done with it.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    I think I'd just put a 1TB SSD in there and have done with it.
    That's fine if you are sure you have a very good backup plan as SSDs fail without warning & usually the data is unrecoverable. In theory if you only have the OS & programmes on the SSD then you should be able to reinstall & nothing is lost. Putting your data on a HDD gives you some chance of recovering it should the drive fail (not always of course & it should always be backed up).

  16. #16
    I store all data and working files, pics, vids, everything, on a NAS. Quite a few years (and laptops) ago I bought a Synology ds215j and itís great. I think it has twin (mirrored) 3T HDís. I connect everything to it and donít need to worry whatís on what machine or whether itís safe. Buy once, be happy.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I store all data and working files, pics, vids, everything, on a NAS. Quite a few years (and laptops) ago I bought a Synology ds215j and itís great. I think it has twin (mirrored) 3T HDís. I connect everything to it and donít need to worry whatís on what machine or whether itís safe. Buy once, be happy.

  17. #17
    Craftsman Wyvern971's Avatar
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    With regards to the potential for failure, depending on how much data you are talking about, you could get an online backup set up as well. I have the business essential office365 subscription which gives me the ability to use my own domain, as well as 1Tb storage on OneDrive which I've set to auto sync. There are of course other options such as Google drive, drop box to name some of the well known options

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    Quote Originally Posted by asteclaru View Post
    A Chromebook is a different type of beast all together. A Windows 10 installation on its own will be between 20 and 40 GB, depending on which version you go for.
    Definitely - for a low end user like me (email, web browsing and photos via my android phone) the cloud and a constantly updated and speedy laptop/tablet is a good way to go

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    Grand Master Glamdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    I need to specify a new PC to run Windows 10. In an effort to future-proof it, I'm thinking of running the OS from a 120GB SSD and keeping the data on a separate 1TB HHD (both internal). I hope this will give better performance and boot times while avoiding the cost of a large SSD. Do you think this is a good approach?
    Future proofing a PC is a contradiction in terms.
    So.
    Intel i5 Kaby Lake quad core CPU
    500GB Samsung 560 SSD
    1TB hard drive
    Mini ATX motherboard, Asus, Asrock
    Nvidia 1050 GTX graphics card
    8GB DDR4 RAM
    450w Bronze standard PSU, nothing less.

    That'll keep you going for years. And in a cloud account for data backups, an external drive with a system backup and you're fixed.

  20. #20
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    The specifications for the machine very much depends on what the machine is even for.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Glamdring View Post
    Future proofing a PC is a contradiction in terms.
    So.
    Intel i5 Kaby Lake quad core CPU
    500GB Samsung 560 SSD
    1TB hard drive
    Mini ATX motherboard, Asus, Asrock
    Nvidia 1050 GTX graphics card
    8GB DDR4 RAM
    450w Bronze standard PSU, nothing less.

    That'll keep you going for years. And in a cloud account for data backups, an external drive with a system backup and you're fixed.
    That's not far off what I've come up with but I don't think it will need the graphics card and I'll probably use a 250GB SSD. I'm not much of a hardware expert, why do I need a 450w Bronze standard PSU?

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by hafle View Post
    The specifications for the machine very much depends on what the machine is even for.
    It'll be used for home working. I might use it for software development occasionally but I mostly use an old laptop running linux. It does need to boot quickly as SWMBO isn't known for her patience and I don't want to be fettling it all the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    That's not far off what I've come up with but I don't think it will need the graphics card and I'll probably use a 250GB SSD. I'm not much of a hardware expert, why do I need a 450w Bronze standard PSU?
    To be honest i don't bother with new PCs any more. The last one I bought was a Dell Optiplex 7010 from ebay which came with an i7 processor & 250GB SSD. It cost me around £250 & runs Office 365 & AutoCad just fine. It will last five years & I'll do the same again.

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    Craftsman Wyvern971's Avatar
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    Not sure which brand that PSU is, but don't cheap out on that. Years ago, but I've seen a PSU take a motherboard with it when giving up the ghost.
    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    That's not far off what I've come up with but I don't think it will need the graphics card and I'll probably use a 250GB SSD. I'm not much of a hardware expert, why do I need a 450w Bronze standard PSU?
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  25. #25
    Craftsman Wyvern971's Avatar
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    To be fair this may even be the easiest option, and probably the cheapest.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pointy View Post
    To be honest i don't bother with new PCs any more. The last one I bought was a Dell Optiplex 7010 from ebay which came with an i7 processor & 250GB SSD. It cost me around £250 & runs Office 365 & AutoCad just fine. It will last five years & I'll do the same again.
    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6003 using TZ-UK mobile app

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    Quote Originally Posted by markrlondon View Post
    And make sure you haver an adequate backup regime. Make sure you do backups to some separate device that is not permanently connected to your main PC.
    I'd suggest that at least one backup needs to be kept in a physically separate location - there are many scenarios (e.g., theft, fire, flood) where a single event could destroy both the primary and backup copies of the data if they are in the same place.

    While the cloud may have a place in a backup strategy, I personally chose not to trust my data - even encrypted - to "somebody else's computer". There's also the risk that if you automatically synchronise your data with the cloud, a ransomware attack could impact your backup data as well as your primary data before you can stop it.

    I'm probably a bit paranoid, but a lifetime spent in IT means that I keep 5 copies of all my data (primary disk on PC + NAS + 3 x 2Tb external disks), at least one of which is always off site.

  27. #27
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipK View Post
    I'd suggest that at least one backup needs to be kept in a physically separate location - there are many scenarios (e.g., theft, fire, flood) where a single event could destroy both the primary and backup copies of the data if they are in the same place.

    While the cloud may have a place in a backup strategy, I personally chose not to trust my data - even encrypted - to "somebody else's computer". There's also the risk that if you automatically synchronise your data with the cloud, a ransomware attack could impact your backup data as well as your primary data before you can stop it.

    I'm probably a bit paranoid, but a lifetime spent in IT means that I keep 5 copies of all my data (primary disk on PC + NAS + 3 x 2Tb external disks), at least one of which is always off site.
    Yes, I agree fully with this.

    Cloud can be useful but keeping one's own multiple physical backups, including at least one off site as you say, is critical. People often think this is overkill. It is not overkill; it is genuinely necessary. One's data is more precious than one can imagine until it's been lost.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    I don't think it will need the graphics card and I'll probably use a 250GB SSD. I'm not much of a hardware expert, why do I need a 450w Bronze standard PSU?
    If you don't do any gaming, photo/video editing or 3D modelling, you don't need a dedicated GPU, but make sure that either the motherboard comes with on board graphics or that you get an APU (processor and graphics card combined).

    Regarding PSU, I don't know where he's getting 450 W from, but you can use a PSU calculator to see what's the minimum power your PC needs.

    https://outervision.com/power-supply-calculator
    https://www.bequiet.com/en/psucalculator

    Both calculators above are well regarded, the Outervision one is more complex. Just input all the parts you intend to get (also parts that you think you might upgrade with in the near future) and hit calculate.

    Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum standard refers to how efficient the PSU is. I think Bronze is around 80%, so a 450 W Bronze standard PSU will actually only provide 360 W. The spec sheet will tell you how efficient the PSU is and I would probably aim for 10-15% over what the calculator tells you that you need (just in case).
    Last edited by asteclaru; 14th August 2019 at 08:50.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by asteclaru View Post
    If you don't do any gaming, photo/video editing or 3D modelling, you don't need a dedicated GPU, but make sure that either the motherboard comes with on board graphics or that you get an APU (processor and graphics card combined).

    Regarding PSU, I don't know where he's getting 450 W from, but you can use a PSU calculator to see what's the minimum power your PC needs.

    https://outervision.com/power-supply-calculator
    https://www.bequiet.com/en/psucalculator

    Both calculators above are well regarded, the Outervision one is more complex. Just input all the parts you intend to get (also parts that you think you might upgrade with in the near future) and hit calculate.

    Bronze/Silver/Gold/Platinum standard refers to how efficient the PSU is. I think Bronze is around 80%, so a 450 W Bronze standard PSU will actually only provide 360 W. The spec sheet will tell you how efficient the PSU is and I would probably aim for 10-15% over what the calculator tells you that you need (just in case).
    Thanks for the PSU info, I'll run my proposed configuration through the calculators.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyvern971 View Post
    To be fair this may even be the easiest option, and probably the cheapest.
    A few examples of what is on ebay:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dell-Opti...o/123847033764
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Cheap-Fas...r/253923773199
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dell-Opti...C/264041466639

    Perfectly ok for most use, although obviously not if you're editing 4K video.

  31. #31
    I last built a complete system in 2011. Still using the case (mini-itx), although everything else has changed. I think the CPU is a Ivy Bridge i5 (started as Sandy Bridge i3). The mother board has been upgraded as I needed both Display Port and HDMI output and my previous one didn't have both. I'm happy with the Intel graphics. RAM is now 16 GB (started at 4 GB).

    Storage is a hodgepodge.

    Boot/system - 60 GB msata ssd
    User - 250 GB ssd (encrypted)
    Slower access / long term storage 3 TB (2.5 hd) , with
    -- 1.7 TB media
    -- 0.5 TB encrypted backup
    -- 0.7 TB android build system

    I'm reasonably happy with the processing power and graphics. Since I build my own Android ROMs (phone/tablets), the 16 GB RAM comes in handy. Storage is the the thing. I've plenty here, and have 2 backups. One on a NAS and one out of the house (sneaker net). For stuff I might want on various devices, I have a private cloud (Nextcloud, hosted on my website).

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier View Post
    I last built a complete system in 2011. Still using the case (mini-itx), although everything else has changed. I think the CPU is a Ivy Bridge i5 (started as Sandy Bridge i3). The mother board has been upgraded as I needed both Display Port and HDMI output and my previous one didn't have both. I'm happy with the Intel graphics. RAM is now 16 GB (started at 4 GB).

    Storage is a hodgepodge.

    Boot/system - 60 GB msata ssd
    User - 250 GB ssd (encrypted)
    Slower access / long term storage 3 TB (2.5 hd) , with
    -- 1.7 TB media
    -- 0.5 TB encrypted backup
    -- 0.7 TB android build system

    I'm reasonably happy with the processing power and graphics. Since I build my own Android ROMs (phone/tablets), the 16 GB RAM comes in handy. Storage is the the thing. I've plenty here, and have 2 backups. One on a NAS and one out of the house (sneaker net). For stuff I might want on various devices, I have a private cloud (Nextcloud, hosted on my website).

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    Hi Bob,
    That's an interesting system, how long does it take to boot? I'm guessing you're running linux. The PC I'm replacing is about 8 years old but uses a small footprint case with no scope for expansion, that's why I'm going for a tower case this time which should allow me to replace bits more easily in future. I too have two backup's but they are both local which is a bit of a risk. I had to google sneaker net :-). If it were only for my use I'd go with linux but my wife needs Windows 10. Cheers.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by jools View Post
    Hi Bob,
    That's an interesting system, how long does it take to boot? I'm guessing you're running linux. The PC I'm replacing is about 8 years old but uses a small footprint case with no scope for expansion, that's why I'm going for a tower case this time which should allow me to replace bits more easily in future. I too have two backup's but they are both local which is a bit of a risk. I had to google sneaker net :-). If it were only for my use I'd go with linux but my wife needs Windows 10. Cheers.
    It is linux. 32 seconds to login (first time I've ever timed it). The case I use is a Lian Li PC-Q09FB, although I no longer use the power supply that came with it.

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier View Post
    It is linux. 32 seconds to login (first time I've ever timed it). The case I use is a Lian Li PC-Q09FB, although I no longer use the power supply that came with it.

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    32 seconds is okay. I find Windows 10 takes more than that (over a minute and even longer if updates are being applied) and then another wait after logging in. I'm hoping to improve on this with the OS on an SSD.

  35. #35
    Grand Master Glamdring's Avatar
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    I find with my 500GB M.2 SSD, Windows 10 loads fast, but then I have to wait for my NAS unit to boot, for OneDrive to load and for my main cloud app, Dropbox, to arrange itself. That can be a nuisance.

  36. #36
    My last build was a m.2 form NVMe 500gb ssd, 32gb ram and windows 10.

    11 seconds from cold boot to being logged in on the home screen.

    I have another with a sata m.2 ssd and its double that.

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Glamdring View Post
    I find with my 500GB M.2 SSD, Windows 10 loads fast, but then I have to wait for my NAS unit to boot, for OneDrive to load and for my main cloud app, Dropbox, to arrange itself. That can be a nuisance.
    Similar here. As I said, I've never timed the boot before. I only need to think of the services that are starting up, including connections to my cloud, NAS, various encrypted devices, gps system, web server, print server, ubiquiti's unifi AP controller (slow to fire up), .... I always think of it being like a large ship getting underway, not a little speedboat.

    Of course, some of the services are being fired up and are making connections in the background, but some are foreground. Actually, I'm old enough to still find it ordinary to schedule jobs to run overnight. For example, when I want a new Android ROM, I usually schedule that for overnight (update source -> add my local changes -> build -> if successful, move the ROM to my OTA server).

    Best wishes,
    Bob

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