Question Choosing Prebuild with weird wants

bmgoodman

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So I'd like to buy a new computer to replace my 6 year old Dell XPS Core i7 4th gen. My needs are modest, but my wants are irregular. I like the idea of having new tech included where possible, like PCI 4 and USB-C, but I like power efficiency as well.

*I want a 65W TDP CPU cause I don't want to just suck down power when I don't need to. I don't want a video card that sounds like a jet engine, nor one that tends to suck power even when not under load.
*I don't game.
*I want TPM 2.0 and I want to run BitLocker on all my drives.
*I'd like a PCIe SSD for running Win 10 Pro
*I want to move my 6 TB HDD and a 2.5" SATA SSD to the new computer.
*I want to run my single monitor at 4K resolution.
*I'd like to move my Blu-Ray burner to the new computer, but I'm willing to leave it behind
*I like a QUIET system
*Mostly I run email and browsers and MS Office apps, but I like to be able to run 1 or 2 VMs to specialized purposes, like Tivo Deskop or PlayOn or FaceBook, which I don't always want running.
*I might on occasion want to transcode high def video or watch a 4K movie
*I don't need Bluetooth or wireless, really
*I'm a bit concerned with the many unfixable Intel flaws, but if I can't get TPM with AMD I guess I can live with the newest flawed Intel 10th gen desktop CPUs.

I got close on an Alienware R10 Ryzen edition but I was told it lacks a TPM. I've built my own computer once before, but I always felt like I could have done x, y, or z a bit better. So I'd rather just buy something, but I also want reliable. I want to use it more than tinker with it.

Have I just specified an impossible computer?
 
It should be quite possible for a self-build, though finding a prebuilt that checks every box above would be challenging. As far as basic questions, I'll go over some groundwork. AMD Ryzen chips feature built-in TPM 2.0 which would support BitLocker. This is a firmware TPM, not quite as secure as a physical chip but some boards have a header to support a separate TPM chip (purchased separately).

So I can get together a Ryzen build though it would help to know your budget.
 

bmgoodman

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It should be quite possible for a self-build, though finding a prebuilt that checks every box above would be challenging. As far as basic questions, I'll go over some groundwork. AMD Ryzen chips feature built-in TPM 2.0 which would support BitLocker. This is a firmware TPM, not quite as secure as a physical chip but some boards have a header to support a separate TPM chip (purchased separately).

So I can get together a Ryzen build though it would help to know your budget.
So wouldn't the Alienware R10 Ryzen with the Ryzen 7 3700 support TPM for my purposes? I can customize that for under $1500.

Yes, I'd say my budget is roughly $1500.

Thanks!
 
As far as noise, that big cooler isn't particularly loud at full tilt but given that there's no overclock nor are heavy loads routinely expected, it's sheer bulk means the fans won't need to spin at high speed most of the time. Similar logic for the vid card (needed just because Ryzen doesn't support onboard graphics); it has two fans to spread the load but since it won't really be stressed it should be quiet effectively all the time. The case has a type C port, and the board selected has a compatible header.

If you feel line more RAM is in order, the 16 can be bumped to 32.
 

bmgoodman

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I have one, but I'd like a PCIe or NVMe SSD as my Windows boot drive. I haven't really kept on up the difference between the PCIe and NVMe, but I believe both are faster than SATA implementations.
 

kanewolf

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So I wasn't sure about your intentions for an SSD. Re-reading the OP you request a PCIE SSD but mention a 2.5". DO you already have this 2.5?

Adding in a good value/ performance SSD:

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/PbPv7T
The problem with DIY is getting a TPM module. Boxed motherboards have a TPM slot but DO NOT include the TPM module. This parts list does not meet the original requirements.
 

bmgoodman

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A Dell SFF should meet all your needs, especially the 7xxx series once you load it up with 4x ram and your drives.
I'll look at these also, but it's not easy to find TPM answers. If I decide to stay with Intel, I guess I have to wait for the 10th gen to make it into Dell's mainstream computers.

As for the Gigabyte motherboards, it looks like they have an add-on TPM module for $24 (https://www.newegg.com/p/1B4-0116-00023?Description=gigabyte tpm module&cm_re=gigabyte_tpm_module-_-1B4-0116-00023-_-Product&quicklink=true)

I guess with that the earlier build would meet my stated wants.
 
Well if a hardware TPM is required, that will work. The Ryzen chip does feature a (software/firmware) TPM compatible with TPM spec 2.0 though. As the OP indicated the use of the TPM was to enable bitlocker it's my understanding this should be sufficient, though a hardware TPM is certainly the more hardened solution (and doesn't add much to the cost, relatively speaking).

I don't mean for the tone to come off as argumentative, I just want to make clear I did a lot to try to help the OP.
 

bmgoodman

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Well if a hardware TPM is required, that will work. The Ryzen chip does feature a (software/firmware) TPM compatible with TPM spec 2.0 though. As the OP indicated the use of the TPM was to enable bitlocker it's my understanding this should be sufficient, though a hardware TPM is certainly the more hardened solution (and doesn't add much to the cost, relatively speaking).

I don't mean for the tone to come off as argumentative, I just want to make clear I did a lot to try to help the OP.
Yes, you definitely have helped me, and I'm grateful! I've been reading a bit more as well.
Since the Ryzen chip has fTPM, why wouldn't the Alienware R10 Ryzen feature make use of it? I don't understand why Dell would tell me only the Intel-based Alienware R11 has TPM. I specifically asked if the R10 Ryzen has fTPM and after a lengthy wait I was told it does not.

I'm not trying to keep governments out of my computer, but if a burglar carries off my desktop, I don't want it to be trivial to get my tax returns, bank statements, etc. I don't want to use a flash drive to decrypt as it will fail the Wife Acceptance Test. I'd either always have to have the flash drive in the computer (so it would get stolen with the computer) or I have to always remember to hide it away after every boot.
 
One note is that the Ryzen fTPM may have to be enabled in the BIOS; Dell may have chosen not to expose that option in their Alienware BIOS (prebuilt PCs tend to have much less configurability in the BIOS) which is why they say no TPM is available.

Om my Asus PRIME X470-Pro Windows Hello works without it enabled (I just have Win 10 Home, with a USB fingerprint reader)
 
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While I don't know what exact configuration you were looking at for the Alienware system, the Alienware line tends to be more gaming focused, so you would probably be spending more on a graphics card than you really need for a non-gaming system. Looking at Dell's Aurora R10 configurator, the lowest option they offer is a Radon RX 5600 (or if you select the $1529 build that defaults to a 3700X, they don't go below an RTX 2060 SUPER, a $400 card). If you are not gaming, you probably won't need a card in that performance range.

And of course, Ryzen performs best on faster RAM, but they charge a lot to upgrade from the default DDR4-2666 up to DDR4-3200. An extra $100, despite both of those speeds costing about the same if you build a system yourself. That's one problem with these configurable built-to-order systems is that they often charge significantly more for upgrades than they are actually worth.

Adding in a good value/ performance SSD:

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/PbPv7T
That seems like a pretty good build, though if one heavily values a silent system and doesn't care much about gaming performance, something with passive cooling like a fanless GT 1030 might be a better fit. They offer less VRAM and about a third less performance than an RX 560 - 896, though that probably won't be too important if not gaming. Like this one that features both a DisplayPort and HDMI connection...

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/KmM323/msi-geforce-gt-1030-2gb-2gh-lp-oc-video-card-gt-1030-2gh-lp-oc

Alternately, a semi-passive card that shuts off its fans when not under load could also be a good option. I'm not sure if any RX 560s fit that bill, but some GTX 1650s do. They also offer significantly more graphics performance than an RX 560, though again, that's probably not too important if one is not gaming. They do cost a bit more though, like this one from Gigabyte that's currently $150 after a $10 rebate...

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/tJvbt6/gigabyte-geforce-gtx-1650-4-gb-windforce-oc-video-card-gv-n1650wf2oc-4gd

As for the power draw and heat output of these cards at idle, it tends to be pretty low, generally under 10 watts. Modern cards do a pretty good job of keep their power use to a minimum during general desktop use, and will only ramp up their power draw when it is needed for things like games. That RX 560 is probably fine too, though I don't know how low it turns its fan down at idle.

Another thing that might be worth considering would be faster RAM, since as previously stated, it helps Ryzen run a little faster and doesn't cost much more. It's possible to get DDR4-3600 for around the price of that Corsair kit, and there are some decent DDR4-3200 kits for less.
 
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I'll look at these also, but it's not easy to find TPM answers. If I decide to stay with Intel, I guess I have to wait for the 10th gen to make it into Dell's mainstream computers.

As for the Gigabyte motherboards, it looks like they have an add-on TPM module for $24 (https://www.newegg.com/p/1B4-0116-00023?Description=gigabyte tpm module&cm_re=gigabyte_tpm_module--1B4-0116-00023--Product&quicklink=true)

I guess with that the earlier build would meet my stated wants.
TPM is a common requirement for business. I'm sure they would have it as an option in the mid and upper end of the Optiplex line.
 

bmgoodman

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So, I found this statement:
Windows 10 for desktop editions (Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education)

  • Since July 28, 2016, all new device models, lines or series (or if you are updating the hardware configuration of a existing model, line or series with a major update, such as CPU, graphic cards) must implement and enable by default TPM 2.0 (details in section 3.7 of the Minimum hardware requirements page). The requirement to enable TPM 2.0 only applies to the manufacturing of new devices. For TPM recommendations for specific Windows features, see TPM and Windows Features.
(Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security/information-protection/tpm/tpm-recommendations)

So, it would seem that Microsoft has been requiring this for nearly 4 years for all new devices. So it seems that the Alienware R10 Ryzen edition should have fTPM or a discrete TPM, though I'm suspecting the former. Notice "must implement and enable by default TPM 2.0". I bought a $300 small Dell notebook 2 years ago and it has a TPM, despite shipping with Win 10 Home. So maybe all of these computers is using some form of TPM. It seems like this should be true.
 

bmgoodman

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I was thinking back on my first and only PC build about a decade ago and how it went fairly well, but I found myself spending time tinkering with memory timing issues and trying to adjust fan speeds, and other nuisance things. So I think I've decided to forego a second attempt and buy something as I was initially inclined to do.

I think I've narrowed it down to an Alienware R10 Ryzen an Alienware R11 with Core i7.

The Ryzen version, $1323:
AMD Ryzen™ 7 3700X (8-Core, 32MB L3 Cache, Max Boost Clock of 4.4GHz)
Windows 10 Home 64-bit English
AMD Radeon™ RX 5600 6GB GDDR6
16GB Dual Channel HyperX™ FURY DDR4 XMP at 2933MHz; up to 64GB
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Dark side of the moon chassis w High-Performance CPU Liquid Cooling & 550W PS
Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5.0

The Intel version, $1176:
10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-10700 (8-Core, 16MB Cache,up to 4.8GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
Windows 10 Home, 64-bit, English
NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 6GB GDDR5
16GB Dual Channel HyperX™ FURY DDR4 XMP at 2933MHz; up to 64GB
512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Dark Side of the Moon chassis w High-Performance CPU Liquid Cooling & 550W PS
Killer™ Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2x2) 802.11ax Wireless and Bluetooth 5.1

Since I can't get any idea of noise levels of either model, it's probably safest for me to just go with Intel. Save $147 and probably have a quieter system.
 
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Since I can't get any idea of noise levels of either model, it's probably safest for me to just go with Intel. Save $147 and probably have a quieter system.
Intel's current CPUs actually tend to be more power-hungry than AMD's 3000-series under heavy load, though I can't say whether there might be any differences in terms of the cooling setups installed in each system that could affect noise output.

In any case, ignoring noise levels, from a pure performance-per-dollar standpoint, that Intel system might be better suited to your needs than the AMD one, simply because you are not paying $150 extra for a higher-end gaming graphics card that you probably don't need. Even a 1650 is probably way more graphics performance than you will need for desktop use.

However, the case is not designed to hold an optical drive, so you would require something like an external USB 3.0 optical drive enclosure to use a Blu-Ray burner with the system. I'm not sure what sort of room for additional drives these cases have either. There is apparently room for at least one 3.5" hard drive in addition to the NVMe SSD though.
 
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bmgoodman

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So I just ordered the Dell Alienware R11 for $1223 including tax. Thanks for all who offered suggestions. Building it myself was close in price, and though it checked a few more of my quirky wants, the possible extra time assembling and "fine tuning" made me finally decide against do that again.
 

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