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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Building a PC for a difficult customer

    There's this guy who's PCs I've fixed MANY times in the past, but he's a difficult customer because he installs all manner of junk onto his PCs and then wonders why they run like crap.

    He's decided - much to my chagrin - that he wants me to build him a "new and powerful desktop PC". He won't budge from a desktop and he won't tell me exactly what he wants to do with it either! I can surmise from experience that he'll browse the web, watch videos, organise photos, play the odd game - and he wants it to be bullet-fast and stay that way!!

    When I started to suggest alternative ideas, he just started sending me eBay listings for 600 whoteboxes which are neither nowt-nor-something (and not worth their asking price!!)

    He's 100% convinced he wants 'the best' e.g. he's noticed that an i7 is 'better than' an i5 and so he wants an i7. He "knows" he wants a 'good sound card' despite my telling him he neither needs one, nor will I install and manage the disaster which is usually unleashed by soundcard driver discs and so on

    Then I thought "Hey - RPS can do this for me!!"

    Your only parameters are that he wants 'the best'. It must be a 'powerful desktop system', it needs to be low maintenance and your budget is 600ish. Oh and everything you choose I'll need a short, sharp and GOOD reason for choosing it rather than something with a BIGGER NUMBER attached to it

    Plz - Thx ;)

  2. #2
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    I'll start my own question with an idea (which is probably overbudget)

    i5-3xxx processor in a decent mobo which supports RAID
    8GB RAM
    2x 120Gb 840 Evos in RAID0 (because I don't want to deal with total system disc failure)
    1x 2Tb HDD
    a soundcard of some description I guess
    Windows 8 (I guess - he doesn't want 8 but I'm not paying for 7 at this point in time)
    Case and PSU

    I need suggestions on the mobo, soundcard, case, PSU in particular.

    Note: overclocking isn't something he'd do but we could if we wanted to

    Can't really see the need for a GPU at this point - no budget left anyway ;)

    Ideas?
    Last edited by trjp; 12-10-2013 at 08:47 PM.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    2x 120Gb 840 Evos in RAID0 (because WHEN one fails, all we have to do is replace it - no data lost)
    When one drive in a RAID 0 array fails, ALL data is lost. Go for RAID 1 or 5 instead.

  4. #4
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    If you want to keep the price down and get something decent, the Asus Xonar DG (or more likley for a modern system, DGX, the PICE 1x variant) is your best bet.

    Asus themselves make a fairly complelling argument involving signal to noise ratios etc for picking it over built in sound (and they aren't talking crap, the difference is there). Just don't let him know about the rest of the Xonar range.

    You're also going to have to decide if he'll throw a strop at only having built in graphics or not.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    I actually demand a "good sound card" in my build because on-board nearly always has trace crackle and interference. put headphones on and toggle fullscreen on a window, you'll hear pops, its the graphics leaking into the sound.. And annoying!
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  6. #6
    Can someone please post a link to RPS article about mechanical keyboards?
    P.S. what is a good mechanical keyboard?

  7. #7
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    Raid1 yes, that's a typo - and it's OTT but I'm not putting an SSD system disc into his PC otherwise because it WILL fail and he WON'T have backed-anything-up.

    Asus cards - I'll take a peek, I've heard they have the same '3 tonnes of bloatware' issues that Creative cards have tho and I know for a 100% solid fact he won't be able to hear any difference.

    I think he really just wants to spend some money on a PC - I know he will baulk at the likely cost (850 at RRP for the stuff I listed) but I've set-out my case :)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1911Fantomas View Post
    Can someone please post a link to RPS article about mechanical keyboards?
    P.S. what is a good mechanical keyboard?
    You'll be wanting a keyboard made with Cherry switches or 'collapsing springs'??

    Collapsing springs are the old IBM switches - they're rare now, expect to pay a FORTUNE for one (and it will be VERY noisy!) :)

    Cherry Switches are more common - there are 4 main types of Cherry switch - Red, Black, Blue and Brown. Red and Black are 'gaming' keys with consistent weight and feedback wheras Blue and Brown switches are 'typist' keys and are more tactile. More details (and other switch types) here

    http://www.keyboardco.com/blog/index...ical-switches/

    Razer and Corsair's mech. keyboards tend to use Red/Black switches wheras the 'hardcore' mech keyboard companies like Filco, Ducky etc. offer the full range. As a typist more than a game player I favour Browns myself - I'd not waste money on Reds/Black but YMMV

    No mech kb is cheap so you may as well choose the one you really want - Ducky offer backlit keyboards, Filco do 'Ninja' (logos on the front of the keys) keyboards and Das Keyboard offer no logos AT ALL as an option :)

    Just pray you don't get the 'Filco Ping' - it would drive you crackers...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNND9kaWP6s
    Last edited by trjp; 14-10-2013 at 12:03 AM.

  9. #9
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    He's back to browsing eBay again - he listed this earlier

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NEW-Intel-...item2583d6ec51

    I'll be honest, I can't really see much to hate - it will have a crappy PSU and gord-knows what the SSD is but that's not my problem,

    Anyone care to set-off an alarm or 5??

  10. #10
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    For my Xonar DSX, I've got a little system tray icon that lets you adjust some basic settings. That's it. (There may be other bloatware on the CD, but I imagine that I simply got the latest driver and nothing else from the net).

    It strikes me that Online-tek don't have a clue what they are talking about. However, it also strikes me that if this guy is really that difficult, you should pprobably be glad he's buying from elsewhere.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Cephas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CMaster View Post
    However, it also strikes me that if this guy is really that difficult, you should pprobably be glad he's buying from elsewhere.
    Maybe, but if he's that sort of tough customer I have no doubt if it doesn't meet his high standards, trjp will receive the grief for it!

    As far as soundcards go, I have an old X-Fi Titanium and there's not huge amounts of bloat. On the upside, I use the custom PAX drivers as opposed to Creative's and it performs better imho.

  12. #12
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    I think he wants a 'new powerful PC' because he thinks it's what he needs - the fact he's convinced he needs a 'good sound card' when his list of things he uses a PC for does not include movies or music (the odd game is hardly soundcard-required territory) tells you quite a lot...

    I don't really want to build a PC for him because EVERYTHING which happens to it will be my fault - and there's really not that many places will sell you an off-the-shelf custom full-sized desktop AND support it (Dell do one non-XPS/AW desktop and it has almost zero customisation - most of the other PC builders sell on eBay anyway!)

    I think the trick here is passing-the-buck on the hardware but getting something halfway-decent with someone else to blame if anything goes bang - and that PC he sent isn't the worst deal I've ever seen, truth be told (all eBay ads are like that!!)

  13. #13
    Obscure Node Geebs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    He's 100% convinced he wants 'the best' e.g. he's noticed that an i7 is 'better than' an i5 and so he wants an i7. He "knows" he wants a 'good sound card' despite my telling him he neither needs one, nor will I install and manage the disaster which is usually unleashed by soundcard driver discs and so on
    I guess you could put in one of the new Radeons with integrated audio if he must have a sound card? Sounds like equal-or-less pain than going for a discrete card

    Edit: lol at "extreme gaming" with a Geforce 660 Ti. More like "medium" gaming...
    Last edited by Geebs; 14-10-2013 at 04:36 PM.

  14. #14
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    eBay sellers are caught between a rock and a hard place - everyone overstates things - everyone multiplies core frequencies by number of cores - everything is 'extreme'.

    If you don't do it, your listing looks crap and relying on people seeing your 'more honest' listing inamongst the noise probably isn't good business sense.

    I've dealt with a few eBay whitebox PCs now. Some have been quite decent, a few were warcrimes (power supplies which died in a week, HDDs which were years old or even unbranded!) - I think I can usually tell which is coming (tho I've not stared at that listing too hard yet).

    End of the day you're hoping to take advantage of a bit of bulk buying discount, someone else building it and someone else taking the flak for any faults. The parts are all warranted as-is anyway and in this case (and indeed many cases) it's more about perception than reality.

    If this guy cared as much about the exact parts, we'd not be having this discussion :)

  15. #15
    Network Hub spacein_vader's Avatar
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    If the guy is that much of a pain in the arse you could just advise him to purchase elsewhere? Some customers aren't worth the hassle.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CMaster View Post
    For my Xonar DSX, I've got a little system tray icon that lets you adjust some basic settings. That's it. (There may be other bloatware on the CD, but I imagine that I simply got the latest driver and nothing else from the net).

    It strikes me that Online-tek don't have a clue what they are talking about. However, it also strikes me that if this guy is really that difficult, you should pprobably be glad he's buying from elsewhere.
    My own Xonar DX had some driver installation issues, and the power cable doesn't connect properly so I have to keep it in place with a cable tie, but now that it works I'm super happy with it. The downside is that a lot of free indie games don't play well with it (Wasteland Kings for example) so the sound is either absent or very distorted, but that's pretty uncommon.

    The first time I put on my headphones with the sound card installed I took them off again to check if the sound wasn't actually coming from the speakers. With the soundcard's spatial emulation, it's hard to tell the difference. Every time I boot up my laptop and play music, I miss how much nicer the sound card makes it sound. It also really helps me in first-person games because it simulates sound reflection, and since I'm deaf in one ear, that allows me some rudimentary source localisation. Now I can discriminate the sound of a zombie to my left from one on my right. Usually.

    So, trjp, is this guy paying you anything?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacein_vader View Post
    If the guy is that much of a pain in the arse you could just advise him to purchase elsewhere? Some customers aren't worth the hassle.
    I don't really make PCs - I just fix em - but he asked for advice or whether I could make him a PC and so I'm sort-of trying to do that - tho I'm fast being tied-in-knots by his not knowing what he wants and not really listening to anything I say.

    Someone find me a shiny shiny shiny PC which isn't shit for about 550 please :)

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    He wants an i7 based god-box for 550? You can't get 'the best' for 550. Not even close. You can get 'just ok' though. You can even get 'good' if you don't need a GPU and agree that you don't need the soundcard.

    If he's the kind of person that needs constant PC assistance and can get ridiculous ideas about what he 'needs' I suggest he gets a mac mini for 580. They're harder to fuck up, they're plenty fast (if he's prepared to part with 680 he can even get an i7, but personally I would not do that and instead have them put 8GB of memory in there) and they are shiny.

  19. #19
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    Update - he just took my carefully adjusted version of his 'build' at Dino-PC (anyone used them?) and decided to edit it a bit.

    He "needs" 16Gb RAM because 8Gb "isn't enough" - he "needs" a soundcard because the onboard won't be 'good enough quality' and - and this is where I stopped replying to his emails - he wants a 550W power supply because "it has to last a long time and be strong enough" (I'd specced a 450W Corsair for a system with no GPU)

    I think he just wants a "lot of integers" - I can't be bothered with it anymore. He thinks spending "more" on "bigger numbers" will mean it won't be a creaking slug in 6-12 months - but I know it will because 'shitware and clicking everything in sight'.

    In reality, he needs a nice AMD 'A' integrated CPU with 4+ cores, a decent budget board and 8Gb RAM - spice with an SSD (perhaps) and an HDD, season with a DVD and sprinkle-on case and power supply and he's home - 300ish+OS - but there are nowhere near enough 'integers' in that for him - it won't "last for years" (what will?)

    If only they made a device which was immune to 'crap creep' as I'm calling it (tasktray bloat? junkrash? clickitis??) - oh yeah, they do, an iPad :)

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Or a mac mini. You could point him to this thread though, maybe that will help. But I doubt it.

    What he wants and for what money he wants it is just not possible. Plus he seems to have stupid ideas (guy, if you're reading this, yeah I think it's stupid) about soundcards and what he really needs. If you care about sound quality to the level that onboard cards aren't good enough, I seriously hope you at least have the $2000 professional monitor speakerset to back that up. Like a set of PMC speakers.

    Anyway, my advice would be to lose the customer. Those are the guys that take tens of hours of your time and give nothing in return.

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