Hardware New PC (again !)


Addon Developer
Addon Developer
Mar 5, 2010
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Hello guys, :tiphat:

I'm currently beginning a quite intensive network management training course, and we're going to use network simulators such as CISCO Packet Tracker Student, which can eat quite a lot of resources.

I spoke with the network engineer (a very cool guy) that gives us the course, and he told me that the essentials to have the tools - we spend 95% of our time on - run perfectly were :

- an i5 core processor, as the simulation of some networking protocols (like OSPF 100) can require a lot of computing power.
- 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, no less as networking applications are notorious memory predators.
- a 250 GB SSD, because it is nice and also because it is very nice.
- a motherboard compatible with the previous items and good enough in the memory buses area.
- a 24' screen in order to avoid scrolling across network schematics all the time.
- In general, Microsoft-compatible stuff. Well, to be honest the guy has an impressive list of Microsoft certifications, so he is not going to promote Linux (another guy will teach us on Linux later ;). Both like to have fun hacking the other guy DNS and messing small things like Google.fr IP address (that kind of joke make hurried students cry when they try a simple search and get lost !).
- Let's add a 2TB SATA conventional hard-drive for storage and applications that do not require extreme performance. I'm currently running on 2 HDD (roughly 0,8 TB of total storage space) which are reliable but getting old.

As we are only going to have to run networking simulations at home, the physical networking hardware in the machine is not an issue. It's all about emulating virtual hardware.

The other point that scares me is Windows. I heard horror stories about it. I do own a genuine copy of Windows 7, that I upgraded to Windows 10 for free. How much in trouble am I going to be ? I can boot on my current system HDD but the MAC address of the motherboard is obviously going to be the issue, of course. I don't want to have to buy a brand new Windows 10 while I already have it. Please.

Now, of course, I'm not going to invest in that kind of stuff without gaming applications in mind ! One game I can't run on my old PC that I really want to play is Fallout 4, which is quite demanding. I played the 1, 2, 3a & 3b episodes probably more than any other game, so I'm not going to miss the 4. Fallout 4 is has rather high hardware requirements, here's what I can read on the official site (I'm posting the recommended requirement, not the minimal ones, as I want to enjoy high graphic quality AND a half-decent FPS - above 30) :

  • Operating system: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 4790 3.6GHz / AMD FX-9590 4.7GHz or equivalent
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Hard disk space: 30 GB free HDD space
  • Video: NVIDIA GTX 780 3GB / AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB or equivalent

Max. budget is 1,000€. 800€ would be much better, but well, we're not into cheap stuff. My current screen is still decent so that upgrade can wait a bit. I have a very reliable 600W power supply that I bought after severe problems you guys helped me to solve :thumbup: The case is a bit old but will do, and I scavenge extra fans on discarded processors. A bit noisy but the airflow is acceptable.

Here is where I am going to order my hardware, those guys have proven to be really reliable : http://www.materiel.net/

Sadly there is no english version of the site, but well "16 Go RAM DDR4 CAS 15..... 150€" means the same in any langage :lol:

So any suggestions/help are very welcome. I only have a few days to send my order, because I'm going to need that stuff very soon. :coffee:



Aperiodic traveller
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Jan 7, 2008
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Well, what i have right now fits your list, almost:

Intel NUC 6i5syh, $400
i5-6260U, 2 cores, HT, 1.8-2.7GHz (2.9GHz single core), Q3'15, 14nm, TDP: 15W, VT-X, SSE4.1/4.2, AVX 2.0
Intel Iris Graphics 540 300.00 MHz - 950.00 MHz

Add to that:
RAM: DDR4-2133, 2x16Gb x $100
SSD: PH240GPM280SSDR, 250Gb, $140
HDD: 2Tb, 2.5", $100

Total: $750-$850 worth of top quality, in a nice little box averaging 20-30W of power, that boots in 10 seconds from cold to desktop.

Sadly you want a video card that is 5 times faster, so that little box is not an option...
Like i said, almost.

How much in trouble am I going to be ?
Have you considered not using software from a company that went braindead over a decade ago?
...Yes, yes, i know.

Sadly, i can't give any serious advice here any more - i quit at Win 7, and being from Russia i never encountered a bought windows anyway.


Jan 26, 2014
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CISCO Packet Tracker doesn't use many resources, I used to run it on very old machines just a few years ago fine. They probably were mixing packet tracer up with GNS3 which emulates the actual Cisco router roms and you need a powerful computer for that.


Jun 2, 2008
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You might want to build a machine using an ITX motherboard instead of a full-size ATX one. The same goes for the case. Desktop PCs do not need to be huge monoliths anymore unless you need multiple expansion cards or have loads of USB attached devices (>6 or so).

This would be a good compromise between a laptop-hardware NUC as Artlave suggested in terms of size while still using full-fledged desktop components.

I've thrown this together on pcpartpicker, an excellent site that takes into account the local retailer price and checks for possible incompatibilities.

It's probably possible to shave off a good amount of money by going with only 8GB of RAM if it's ok since right now it's insanely expensive, and for now I've included a "safe" motherboard choice with integrated wifi and H270 chipset which is guaranteed to work with the new Kaby Lake CPUs (i.e. intel 7xxx processors): by going with an older H110 motherboard you could save a good 50€ by having a lot more choice, but they need a UEFI update to work with the newer processors. Speaking of which, the differences between 7xxx and 6xxx CPUs is quite low, since it was mostly a refresh, so going with an older model would be viable.

EDIT: it goes without saying that all mini ITX boards have one PCI-express 16x slot, so should you choose to install a discrete graphics card you can do so with no hassle.
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