[SOLVED] Looking to build a desktop PC for office use

Cats869

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Hello everyone, it's been a while since I last posted here. I used to follow PC hardware a lot when I was active on Tom's Hardware but lately have been busy so I'm somewhat out of the loop. One area that I'm lacking is knowing which parts is suitable for what usage. I have a general idea but I figured you guys who closely follow the new CPU releases would know better.

So anyway, I've been tasked to build or buy a pre-built suitable for office work for someone. The desktop will need to be able to handle opening 30+ Microsoft Word/Excel documents in addition to numerous browser tabs (e.g. Chrome). It will also need to be able to support 4 monitors for work. Monitor resolutions listed below. I know not providing the exact monitor resolution will get me a vague answer for most suitable graphics card so I will try to get that information.

Approximate Purchase Date: No Rush

Budget Range: Money is not a problem but please nothing too crazy like the new Threadrippers for example or 512GB of RAM lol. My goal is to build a fast computer for a reasonable price that offers nearly best bang for buck (since buying the top of the line components have higher diminishing returns).

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Office work (Microsoft Word/Excel - at least be able to handle up to 30 instances running at any given time as well as handle running many tabs of Chrome), watching videos/movies possibly

Are you buying a monitor: No - They already have the monitors but I need to check with them what monitors they have exactly... at least it would be 1080p

Your Monitor Resolution: 1080p / 2560x1440 / 4K

Additional Comments: If there is a good deal on a pre-built computer that can handle that, then I wouldn't mind getting that. (Will save me time in having to build, setup, and test the machine though I do like to build computers but haven't in almost 7 years). The person that I am building the computer currently uses a Surface Pro 6 and does not provide enough CPU power for their needs.

So far, what I came up with is this...

CPU: AMD Ryzen 3700 or 3800 | Intel i7 10700
GPU: At least something that can support 4 monitors (maybe x4 4K monitors or x4 1440p monitors).
RAM: 32GB (or 64GB)
Main Storage - SSD: 512GB
Secondary Storage - HDD: 4TB+

And I might consider RAID 1 for backup storage or some external drive that they can do frequent backups.

Thanks in advance!
 
Chrome is a notorious user of ram.
From your description, buy a 64gb ram kit up front.
Do not plan on adding ram in the future.
Ram, to work properly must come from the same matched kit.
Not all motherboards will support more than 65gb of ram.
Pay a bit more for a motherboard capable of using 128gb.
In the event that you need more than 64gb in the future, the 64gb kit will need to be replaced, not added to. Consider carefully what your ram needs will be. There is no negative to extra ram other than cost.

While there are going to be many open tasks floating about, the user has only one keyboard and is likely to interact with them one at a time. For that, I would opt for fast single thread performance.
The single thread performance of a i5-10600K, i7-10700K and i9-10900K hardly differ at all. maxing at a clock around 5.0.
The difference is in how many threads each processor has. 12/16/20 respectively.
Considering the total cost of this project, the cpu cost is not that important.
I think the i7-10700K is about right.
With a i9-10900K you would have to be careful about heat and I would avoid going to liquid cooling if possible.

I am no expert on servers which you are probably going to need for distributed access.
 

Cats869

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For office work, you could build a $500 PC with a R3 3400G inbuilt graphics.
See https://www.windowscentral.com/amd-ryzen-5-3400g-review

You certainly wouldn't need 32gb ram - 16 would be heaps.

Your storage is OK. I've gone away from HDD because of failure problems. I use SSDs for all my storage.
Hello,

So I'm not sure how much faster the R5 3400G will be when it comes to running so many office programs? They told me that their current computer could not handle running so many office programs and possibly the browser at the same time. I think their current configuration of the Surface Pro 6 is an i7-8650U which I do see is slower than the R5 3400G but not much slower? (I guess that is with the assumption that i7-8650U is running in turbo mode. Looking at UserBenchmark, it is 17% faster overall but 54% faster in multicore speed). Also, the surface pro 6 has 16GB of ram and they were complaining that it was somehow not enough RAM for all those documents/spreadsheets + chrome tabs.

Also, it seems that the R5 3400G supports up to 3 monitors which might be OK though would be cool to support up to 4 monitors unless I should just invest in one of those USB to video adapters. (https://community.amd.com/thread/249982)

I will consider using more SSDs, thanks. I guess we are reaching a point where SSD has come down in price so much that it just might be a no brainer to get those anyway over HDD mostly for storage.

Thanks.
 
Your first problem is how to attach 4 monitors.
Do you already own the 4 monitors?
If so, what connections can they support.
Many graphics cards can support 4 monitors, but they will have a mix of outputs.
If you do not own such monitors, I suggest looking at a single large 43" 4k monitor that can display 4 1080P images without borders.
If you can use a single 4k monitor, then intel HD630 integrated graphics can do the job.
A simple i3-10100 processor has 8 threads and would likely do the job.
I built one for my son and it is quick.
Since budget is not a big issue, you could use a 12 thread i5-10400 or a 16 thread i7-10700 as you indicated. Most any B460 based motherboard will do.

The key to snappy performance is a strong ssd.
I used a Samsung 970 evo plus.

A HDD is best used for external backup.

You can buy a ssd in most any reasonable size.
A 4tb 2.5" samsung 860 QVO is around $450 and is vastly faster than any HDD.

I would not base any backup on raid 1 or any other raid.
Raid protects only from a failure if the device itself. A very unlikely(but possible) occurrence.
You need External backup to be safe from fire, virus, malware or even simple user error.
That is a whole different subject.

I would think a 2 x 16gb ram is fine.
You need to hold all of the active tasks in ram.
ram speed is not important to Intel performance.
If you have any thought that 32gb is not enough, buy the 64gb up front.
Ram to work properly must come from the same matched kit.
Adding ram later is likely to work, but is not guaranteed.
 
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Cats869

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Your first problem is how to attach 4 monitors.
Do you already own the 4 monitors?
If so, what connections can they support.
.
.
.
If you have any thought that 32gb is not enough, buy the 64gb up front.
Ram to work properly must come from the same matched kit.
Adding ram later is likely to work, but is not guaranteed.
Yeah, just confirmed that they already have 4 monitors and they are ALL 4K monitors. Since they will mostly be handling documents and not a lot of media, I might go with 2TB SSD for now and they can always upgrade later. I will need to double check and ask them how are they doing storage wise on their Surface Pro but I don't think Surface Pro has anything larger than a 1TB SSD. Good point about RAID 1 and also costs more energy since that will be running every time the computer is on. I believe they may already have external storage so I will have to double check.

Another thing is they want to be able to access their documents when they are away so maybe I will need to set up a NAS or have it so they can remote into their desktop.

I will probably start with 32GB of RAM and later have them upgrade in the future.

Thank you!

Yeah, was looking at this earlier and mentioned how the Ryzen 5 is 54% faster in multicore speeds. That should definitely help though I don't know for sure how much when it comes to running 30+ instances of Office/Chrome. I will need to ask the person more information on when does it get slow and if they remember the exact number of programs they opened to get a better idea. Since budget is kind of unlimited, I'm not too hesitant to get a better processor as long as it is reasonable as well. Thank you though for bringing up the budget option as I originally ignored them but I will definitely consider them more seeing they are worth looking into and are capable enough these days compared to back when I last experienced them :). Thanks!
 
What inputs do the 4k monitors have?
The best connection will be displayport if that is available. You can then run the monitors at 60Hz vs 30.
It makes for a smoother and better display. If the connection is hdmi, then, I think it needs to be hdmi 2 for 60hz.
You are going to need a discrete graphics card to connect all 4 monitors.
It need not be expensive since there is no fast action gaming. HD movie playback on youtube at most.

4 displayport connections are available on some workstation cards, but their performance is limited and not likely to run at 60hz.

You could buy a card with 3 displayport connections like this:
https://www.newegg.com/msi-geforce-gtx-1650-super-gtx-1650-super-gaming-x/p/N82E16814137484?&quicklink=true

And use the intel integrated adapter on the motherboard for the fourth.

An alternative would be to use two discrete graphics cards.
This would not be a "sli" setup, but two independent graphics cards, each managing two or more displays.
You will need a motherboard with two pcie x 16 graphics slots. This is very common on upscale motherboards.
 

SteveRX4

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That should definitely help though I don't know for sure how much when it comes to running 30+ instances of Office/Chrome.

Why would you run Chrome or Office more than once on your PC?
 

Cats869

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So just talked with them and it seems they usually pull like 20 instances of Adobe Acrobat/Reader, 50 Chrome tabs, 10 excel spreadsheets and 10 word documents for example. I guess they were planning to have 4x 4K monitors and have all or most of that information displayed at one time (with some minimized or in the background).

They were telling me that 16GB was not enough. I was thinking 32GB but now I'm wondering if 64GB is safer bet though I feel like if 32GB could not handle 20 Adobe Acrobat/Reader instances, 50 chrome tabs, 10 excel spreadsheets and 10 word documents, then I'm a bit shocked but I do know Chrome likes to munch through RAM. Definitely will need a i5 or Ryzen 5 for this scenario at least. Also, not exactly sure how big the Excel spreadsheets are but I'm going to assume some are big.

Edit: forgot to mention the "at least" part
 
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Chrome is a notorious user of ram.
From your description, buy a 64gb ram kit up front.
Do not plan on adding ram in the future.
Ram, to work properly must come from the same matched kit.
Not all motherboards will support more than 65gb of ram.
Pay a bit more for a motherboard capable of using 128gb.
In the event that you need more than 64gb in the future, the 64gb kit will need to be replaced, not added to. Consider carefully what your ram needs will be. There is no negative to extra ram other than cost.

While there are going to be many open tasks floating about, the user has only one keyboard and is likely to interact with them one at a time. For that, I would opt for fast single thread performance.
The single thread performance of a i5-10600K, i7-10700K and i9-10900K hardly differ at all. maxing at a clock around 5.0.
The difference is in how many threads each processor has. 12/16/20 respectively.
Considering the total cost of this project, the cpu cost is not that important.
I think the i7-10700K is about right.
With a i9-10900K you would have to be careful about heat and I would avoid going to liquid cooling if possible.

I am no expert on servers which you are probably going to need for distributed access.
 

Cats869

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Thanks, So probably Ryzen 7 or i7 and 64GB of RAM then. Not sure if it is important to get the "K" to overclock via the multiplier and may jsut get the regular i7-10700. Kind of funny now that I think about it if I have to overclock a computer for office work :)

And in a sense, yes, it could be set up as a server but just for 1 client connecting to it really when they are not on site. So they will use their Surface Pro laptop and connect to it (mostly to access some files). But when being accessed remotely, I doubt all those programs will be running since they told me they would just need to access some files (and not always rely on the cloud).

I probably won't go with i9 unless there is a really strong case for needing it just for office work. Thanks.
 
FWIW, the value of a i7-10700K vs. a I7-10700 is the higher base clock(3.8 vs/ 2.9)
and the better boost clock(5.1 vs.4.8)
Boost clock applies to one thread when thermals are good and the other workload is light.
The value in overclocking is that you can get all threads to operate at a consistently higher rate, perhaps 4.8
 

Cats869

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I see. I somehow did not realize that the base clock speeds are different... I must be confusing it and thinking that they were the same like they did back in the old days with the i7-2600k which I'm still using :) .

In that case, I think I might go with the i7-10700K or AMD equivalent. I guess it's probably better to overspend a little bit and get a more powerful computer than needed than underspend and having to go through the effort of upgrading the PC and hassle of returning and buying the better CPU later.

I will consider overclocking if needed but I may not unless I need the performance for sure. Other goal besides keeping costs minimal is to also make sure power consumption and total system heat output is minimal and no unnecessary heat generated.

Thanks for your help, geofelt, and also thank you, SteveRX4!
 
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SteveRX4

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