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What components does a new PC need to be future friendly?

Within the next year I will need to replace a main pc. I anticipate using windows 8. Want large form w plenty of expansion bays and pcie/memory slots. Would like fotward looking motherboard design ready for whatever innovations may become common in the next few years.  It will be used for +_ 600 Gig Music file storage (raid 1 protected), Photoshop CS edits, and general computer chores. Would like some integrated internal/external backup solution as well.

Every few years we have purchased new pcs, leaving us with a household of useful but dated electronics to which we have given mild updates (ie PCI cards , new OS's, Better memory, and in one case faster CPU).  Have held back on upgrades lately because it looks like it's time to start over.

Now it's time to plan for the next big purchase. There is so much that is in development and looks imminent, or that is here already but really pricey: (ie SSD's, SAS, a variety of 3rd and 4th generation i/o ports, etc). The idea would be, for example, a system to which I could add SATA drives now, replace w/ SAS or SSD when the prices fall. Is this possible? If so,  I have 2 questions:

1. What new or breaking technology should I keep in mind while working on new configuration?
2. Is there a branded solution you would rec, or should I look for something custom? (I've never done that hefore and would have no idea how to find one)

Know this won't be cheap, but I remember that my first "loaded" Dell cost over $10,000 many years ago, so I guess it's all relative.
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oliviajones
Asked:
oliviajones
3 Solutions
 
DavidCommented:
There are two philosophies ... Pay more for what you MAY need in the future, or go cheap and get what you need today, and bet that whatever you need in the future will come down in price.

This has proven true with disk drives, memory, and CPUs.   It has not proven true with I/O bus & slots & power  (Graphics controller families come both ways)

So my advice is to buy something with high speed PCIe slots, and sufficient power, and leave room to grow.
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oliviajonesAuthor Commented:
Is anyone allowed to make specific recs? I'm having trouble finding samples. For example, what's sufficient power? Do I want on board raid and sas ports, or rely on PCI express cards later? Is there a branded pc that already has better i/o bus design? Is there a motherboard that you could rec, and then how can I find a pc that uses this mbo? Sorry I am so dense about how to research this. I've even had trouble searching for PC's by the number of PCI express slots they have.  Maybe you can guide me to a reliable website that discusses all this? Thanks.
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DavidCommented:
I suggest you go to dell.com and hp.com  Don't take this the wrong way, you have no obligation to buy from them, but there are so many variables you really need to know a lot more things before you are ready for such questions.  

If you go there, you can get pricing, know how much a 1TB HDD in a PC costs vs maybe 2 x 2 TB drives that are combined in a RAID1 (they both have same data so if you lose a disk your data is still safe)

Plus they have systems designed for gaming, (lots of cpu & expensive graphics), or little-old-lady-who-balances-her-checkbook-once-a-month computers are are bare-bones;

Do you want something that will run Windows 7 and windows 8?  Or are you looking for a server that can handle email for 500 users?   Laptop? Desktop?  Media center with HDMI and Dolby 7 channel as an entertainment and DVR ?

If you check out the retailer sites, they've spent millions on walking an end-user through all the types of PCs, cost, options, and then you know what you want, budget, and THEN we can address specific questions.
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Gerald ConnollyCommented:
I agree with @dlethe.

You need to understand much better where PC technology is today and understand the difference between consumer PC technology and professional/business/enterprise PC technology.

Is there a need for a system with lots of expansion bays anymore? I dont think so!
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CallandorCommented:
This sounds like a home office setup, so enterprise solutions would probably be overkill.  If you are looking to buy, then Dell or HP both allow you to configure a desktop or workstation to do what you want (or mostly what you want).  I don't think you need server-class hardware for the applications, since you are running them from a home.

You probably want USB3.0 and SATA 6Gb ports to handle the newest storage media.  A dedicated video card might be warranted, but this depends on what you use the PC for - certain tasks like gaming, CAD, and photo editing require better hardware; otherwise, the onboard video in an i7 cpu might be good enough and you can add a dedicated card later.

An i7-3770K cpu is a very good performer for its price, and does a good job at handling multiple tasks and cpu-intensive applications like video editing/compression.  You don't necessarily need a RAID controller if you set up automated backups to an external or second drive, and you don't need more than six bays for storage with today's high capacity 2-3TB drives.   RAID is usually recommended for situations where you can't be down for the time it takes to restore from backups.

You can get SSDs now for a reasonable price.  I recently bought a Crucial m4 120GB drive for about $1/GB, and they make booting very fast, and they would serve well as temporary workspace.
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oliviajonesAuthor Commented:
working on these suggestions. will report back. thanks.
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oliviajonesAuthor Commented:
Am deep into research with dell, hp, and puget systems. They transfer me from consumer department to workstation department  due to audio/visual editing and desire for upgrade/expandability. Thanks to your good advice I have refined my search. When I come to issues that have more focus I will be back with more targeted questions. meanwhile, thanks for getting me started.
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DavidCommented:
Great.  You might also seriously consider a mac, especially if you want AV.  I run Win7 in a virtual machine when necessary, and it is so well integrated that I can double click on an attachment in my email, and if it is a .doc it opens up microsoft word.   You can drag and drop files between the mac and windows sides with ease.
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