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06/25/2010 12:33:58 AM · #1
It's about time for me to think about a new PC; mine is pretty good, but I'm sure it could be a lot faster. (I have a quad 2.66 from Sept 2008.) Not bad, but I have 6 GB and LR is slow for some reason. And I also run a lot of XML processing on this, and right now it takes about 24 hours to run all my data (including lookups in a large mySQL database.)

I've been buying off the shelf computers for the last two or three of them, the last one an HP, two before that Dell Precisions. But I think I might be able to better rip the bottlenecks of a PC if I self configure it. I used to do that, but have a system builder put it together...like KC computers.

I was considering Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Velocity Micro. But I found one that had more configuration options, and also some of what I was thinking to break the bottlenecks.

So here we go...

For speed of access on the database side, and maybe as a boot disk, I've been looking at SSDs.
Alternatively, and/or in addition, moving to a 10,000 RPM drive like the Velociraptor. I wasn't sure which, so I put them both in my config!

I picked a quad core overclockable CPU, but on alternative sites, I was looking at the Extreme 6 core processor at 3.33, which doesn't need overclocking (though I think it can be overclocked.) Actually, reliability is very important to me, so I would only overclock if I still had ultimate stability. Comments on processor choice (or any config issue below welcome).

The drives configured are my "speed drives" for my database and XML data. This mid-tower has enough bays I'll be adding at least 4GB more for photos and such.

I'm looking for any config comments, but especially choice of motherboard, CPU, best drive choices for SPEED, memory choice. I think (hope) the motherboard has 6 memory slots, because I was actually considering 24GB of memory. (I have Windows 7 ultimate; I know that Home Premium only goes to 16GB). What worries me about this configurator, is there are TOO MANY choices.

With a coupon, the system below is $2232, with free shipping. Company has good reviews on Resellerratings. It's http://www.cyberpowerpc.com

CD: 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive (BLACK COLOR)
CAS: Apevia X-Dreamer 3 Mid-Tower Gaming Case w/ Side-Panel Window & Temperature Display (Black Color with Black Ring & Blue LED Fan)
CS_FAN: Default case fans
CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-875K 2.93 GHz 8M Intel Smart Cache LGA 1156 [+144]
FAN: Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan (Enhanced Cooling Performance + Extreme Silent at 20dBA)
FLASHMEDIA: INTERNAL 12in1 Flash Media Reader/Writer (BLACK COLOR)
HDD: * 64 GB Kingston 2.5 inch SATA Gaming MLC Solid State Disk [+33] (Single Hard Drive)
HDD2: 600GB Gaming Western Digital VelociRaptor 10,000RPM SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 32MB Cache WD6000HLHX [+340] (Single Hard Drive)
MOTHERBOARD: * [CrossFireX] GigaByte GA-P55A-UD3 Intel P55 Chipset DDR3 ATX Mainboard w/ 7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, USB3.0, 2 x SATA-III RAID, 2 Gen2 PCIe, 2 PCIe X1, & 3 PCI
MEMORY: 16GB (4GBx4) DDR3/1333MHz Dual Channel Memory [+812] (Corsair or Major Brand)
MULTIVIEW: Non-SLI/Non-CrossFireX Mode Supports Multiple Monitors
NETWORK: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
NOISEREDUCE1: Sound Absorbing Foam on Side, Top And Bottom panels [+29]
OVERCLOCK: Pro OC (Performance Overclock 10% or more) [+19]
OS: Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium (64-bit Edition)
POWERSUPPLY: 700 Watts - XtremeGear SLI/CrossFireX Ready Power Supply
SERVICE: STANDARD WARRANTY: 3-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY PLUS LIFE-TIME TECHNICAL SUPPORT
SOUND: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
USB: Built-in USB 2.0 Ports
VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce GT 220 1GB 16X PCI Express [-90] (Major Brand Powered by NVIDIA)

Thanks in advance for any comments.

Message edited by author 2010-06-25 00:36:57.
06/25/2010 01:02:52 AM · #2
With a quick look I'd say the setup is pretty sweet - but from a software tech perspective I'd change a couple of things... first - switch the OS to business instead of home premium - the networking bottlenecks alone will cause a lot of grief with the home version. For the HDD - SSD has great random access reads and writes, but if this drive is going to store data that is going to be constantly written over flash RAM has a limit on the number of rewrites it can take before it starts to have random block errors. While the newer ones are much better, for a production machine I wouldn't trust it to last as long as long as your current machine if it's used for a lot of transaction type data - you might be better off with a RAID 1+0 configuration with four fast 10K drives for about the same price with more space to work with.

Mind you, this is just an opinion, your mileage may vary...
06/25/2010 03:30:23 AM · #3
i lean more toward Asus motherboards myself, not saying i know anything about the one you have there. its just me
06/25/2010 07:36:12 AM · #4
I could probably build you a better one for less.
06/25/2010 07:46:54 AM · #5
No comment re: your configuration, I'm not knowledgeable enough to do so, but another custom builder to consider is Puget Custom Computers. Very helpful, and an even better resellerrating score.
07/11/2010 03:05:33 PM · #6
Originally posted by nova:

No comment re: your configuration, I'm not knowledgeable enough to do so, but another custom builder to consider is Puget Custom Computers. Very helpful, and an even better resellerrating score.


Shopping again...and getting serious. This looks like a great place, but the price was way out there with Alienware. Here's a system example:

System Core
Motherboard Asus P6X58D Premium Edit
CPU Intel Core i7 SIX CORE 980X 3.33GHz 12MB 130W (Socket 1366 32nm) Edit
Ram Kingston 12GB DDR3-1333 (3x4GB) Edit
Video Card Zotac GeForce GTS 250 1GB Edit
Hard Drive Intel X25-M 34nm Gen 2 160GB SATA II 2.5inch SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 2.0TB
CD / DVD Pioneer 22X DVD-RW SATA (black) Edit
Case / Cooling
Case Antec P183 (Gunmetal Finish) Edit
Power Supply Seasonic X-Series 750W Power Supply Edit
CPU Cooling Stock Intel Core i7 1366 CPU Fan (for 965) Edit
Case Mods 2-port eSATA bracket Edit
Software
OS Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM Edit
Accessories

Subtotal: $4232.32
Shipping: $128.78
(Fedex Express Saver 1-3 days)
07/11/2010 03:26:04 PM · #7
And a new Cyberlink quote. Sale ends today.

Notes from comments below:

I have my own copy of Windows 7 ultimate I can install, but Erik, I'm curious: what bottlenecks for a home gigabit network would I see in Home Premium?

Here's a new config I'm considering buying tonight (sale ends tonight).

Configuration *BASE_PRICE: [+1089]
CD: 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive (BLACK COLOR)
CAS: Apevia X-Dreamer 3 Mid-Tower Gaming Case w/ Side-Panel Window & Temperature Display (Black Color with Black Ring & Blue LED Fan)
CASUPGRADE: 12in (Blue Color) Cold Cathode Neon Light [+10]
CS_FAN: Default case fans
CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-975 Extreme Edition 3.33 GHz 8M Intel Smart Cache LGA1366 [+296]
FAN: Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan (Enhanced Cooling Performance + Extreme Silent at 20dBA)
FLASHMEDIA: INTERNAL 12in1 Flash Media Reader/Writer (BLACK COLOR)
HDD: 64 GB Kingston 2.5 inch SATA Gaming MLC Solid State Disk [+33] (Single Hard Drive)
HDD2: 1TB SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [+112] (Single Hard Drive)
KEYBOARD: Xtreme Gear (Black Color) Multimedia/Internet USB Keyboard
MOUSE: * GigaByte GM-M6800 Dual Lens Optical Gaming Mouse [+13]
MOTHERBOARD: * (3-Way SLI Support) GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Chipset SLI/CrossFireX Ultra Durable™3 Triple-Channel DDR3/1600 ATX Mainboard w/ 7.1 Dolby Audio, eSATA, GbLAN, USB3.0, 2 x SATA-III RAID, IEEE1394a, 4 Gen2 PCIe, 2 PCIe X1 & 1 PCI
MEMORY: 12GB (2GBx6) DDR3/1600MHz Triple Channel Memory Module [+278] (A-Data Gaming Series with Heat Spreader [+59])
MULTIVIEW: Non-SLI/Non-CrossFireX Mode Supports Multiple Monitors
NOISEREDUCE1: Anti-Vibration Fan Mounts [+9]
NETWORK: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
OVERCLOCK: Pro OC (Performance Overclock 10% or more) [+19]
OS: Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium [+104] (64-bit Edition)
POWERSUPPLY: 700 Watts - XtremeGear SLI/CrossFireX Ready Power Supply
SERVICE: STANDARD WARRANTY: 3-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY PLUS LIFE-TIME TECHNICAL SUPPORT
SOUND: Creative Labs SB Audigy SE [+30]
TVRC: AverMedia AVerTV Dual Tuner (ATSC/QAM/NTSC) Combo PCIE Media Center with Remote Control (Watch one channel and record on the other channel) [+129]
USB: Built-in USB 2.0 Ports
VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250 1GB 16X PCI Express (EVGA Powered by NVIDIA [+5])

PRICE: (+2186)

Found motherboard review here: http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/gigabyte_ga_x58a_ud3r/22.htm
SSD Reviews:


Message edited by author 2010-07-11 15:36:52.
07/12/2010 11:11:45 PM · #8
Having read through all the "low" marked comments on reseller ratings has made me rethink CyberpowerPC.

And getting tired enough that I'm considering raising the ceiling a bit at a custom vendor to get just what I "at least think" will make the system rock. What do you think of this. My concerns are: is this enough in the PS, and what about cooling? (It says nothing about that.).

Idea is to boot from the SSD, maybe use it for swap space, maybe for data, or if that seems slow, run it from the Velociraptor. Pics of course go on the slower HD.

Configured at: http://www.pcsforeveryone.com

Processor Six-Core Intel® Core™ i7-980X 3.33GHz 6.4GT/s QPI 12MB Smart Cache - Extreme Edition (VT)
Motherboard ASUS P6X58D Premium - ATX - Intel® X58 Chipset
Memory 3 x Crucial 4GB PC3-10600 1333MHz DDR3
Chassis Antec Sonata III 500 - ATX Mid Tower - 500 Watt Power Supply - Black - Silent Design
Power Supply Included Power Supply (Chassis must include power to select this option)
Hard Drive
2TB SATA 6.0Gbps 7200RPM - 3.5" - Seagate Barracuda® XT
600GB SATA 6.0Gbps 10000RPM - 3.5" - Western Digital VelociRaptor™ WD6000HLHX
80GB Intel® X25-M 2.5" SATA Solid State Drive (Multi Cell) (MLC) (34nm)
5.25" Bay Samsung 22x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer LightScribe (SATA)
3.5" Bay 19-in-1 3.5" Card Reader (Black)
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 1GB GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 (1xDVI, 1xHDMI, 1xVGA)
PCI Express Expansion Hauppauge Win TV-HVR-1800 MC PCI Express TV Tuner Card
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
Warranty Three Year Warranty

Message edited by author 2010-07-12 23:14:06.
07/13/2010 02:02:39 AM · #9
Looks good, but how good is that video card? I thought ATI had some better stuff out for not too much more. Also, the power supply is good, but not great.

ETA: How much?

Message edited by author 2010-07-13 02:03:19.
07/13/2010 02:06:02 AM · #10
I'm not an expert, but I built my system fairly recently. I find it powerful and quite capable.

I like the i7 with 1366 structure based on reading up I did before. I know what you mean about feeling tired by the whole thing.

Get the fastest CPU that makes sense financially. I got the i7 920 at a time when the only thing faster was the 965, but the price was basically double. For a few % difference, I saved some $$$.

For mobo, I got an MSI, but Asus is generally a tiny bit faster. Again, cost vs benefit. I believe that the only significant difference was 1 extra SATA port and the ability to do something with crossfire with ATI or something. Since I'm not a gamer, it was irrelevant.

Also, make sure you have enough power.

For cooling, I went with air. I got the ThermalRight IFX14, but that's just what I was able to find locally. Air isn't very popular around here (Taiwan) for the OC crowd. I'm not doing the OC thing, so I'm happy with this. I have 2 Noctua 140mm fans on it and the temps stay very low even under heavy load. There is another air super cooler that is better now though, I think it's the Thermaltake something. Google will find it.

I lucked out and got a really good deal on an SSD made by PCI that was their "Intel" model. Write speed is slower, but read speed is 250 mb/s. it also came with a 3 year warranty instead of a 2 year, but I took that to mean that they are probably giving higher level of QC on the product, rather than anything different in manufacturing. I am happy with that.

I just picked up a 2TB drive last weekend that is 120-140MB/s and it's one of the better ones. The SSD will eat it for breakfast. Your 2TB SATA 6.0GBPS 10k drive won't actually deliver 6.0Gbps. That's just the throughput for Sata III. (Sata I - 1.5gbps, Sata II = 3.0GBPS, Sata III = 6.0GBPS) Read speed is probably 150-160MB/s if my memory is accurate. I SPECIFICALLY chose a medium sized SSD. I got an 80GB and I am quite content with that size. Good balance on the budget.

It is because of this that I actually decided NOT to get the 10k drive. I just stick with all my big programs (Vegas Pro, PS, Bridge etc) and the OS on the SSD and the rest on my 2TB. This saved me a fair bit of cash and has probably given me only a tiny performance knock.

I transferred 180GB from my old drive to my new drive when I got it and all I did was start it before lunch. It was done when I got back. I rarely have to transfer that much at one go. Usually, it's going to be a matter of a fraction of a second difference (IE opening some files in PS).

For drives, I've always found WD to be excellent. I have had troubles with several Fujitsu and Hitachi drives. I've not owned a Seagate yet.

I think the video card is fine. I have a GT260 that I picked up 2nd hand. It's fine.

As to RAM, a couple of months ago, 4GB sticks were not cost effective. That may have changed (2TB drives weren't either, but are now). I ended up doing 8GB. Doing a LOT of research discovered that some of the old knowledge isn't accurate anymore. Apparently, the older mobos needed to have channels matched to perform their best. My MSI board manual says that this is no longer the case. I have slots 1 2 and 3 with 2GB and added a 4th 2GB for a total of 8GB.

I had an issue that saw me doing extensive testing on my RAM and I discovered that the guys at one of the top OC forums (overclockers.net or something, I was referred by someone knowledgeable) were actually wrong with their advice. They told me that you can't actually run the RAM at the speed listed on the package (mine is all 1333), and that having it not channel matched (4 sticks in a 6 stick mobo) would make it impossible to use the RAM at full capacity. All shown to be wrong in real world testing. The RAM (2 different brands, but otherwise totally identical, same OEM manufacturer) all runs exactly as advertised.

Still, it is best to pick good quality RAM and keep it all in the same brand.

Note that some boards can't actually use the crazy OC'd speeds in real life. 1333mhz should be just fine.

My mobo is capable of 1066 plus an overclock which allows a max of 1333. The RAM is all running in triple channel at 1333MHZ.

I'd recommend just grabbing 12GB or whatever fits your mobo in 2GB sticks (if that is still cost effective).

Even with 8GB, I find it pretty tough to actually use the RAM up. Even with Bridge and PS open, working on 500MB+ individual files, the most I've ever seen is 64% usage. There is a point at which it just doesn't really help to have more RAM.

My system, without monitor, cost me almost exactly 1000 USD. Add to that about 150 bucks for my 2TB drive.

i7 920 1366 pin - not overclocked
8GB Adata and G.skill triple channel DDR3
MSI something mobo (mid-range)
NVidia GT 260 896MB (OC)
Intel 80GB SSD
(old hard drive from another comp) - 320GB IDE
2TB WD HD (SATA II
Standard optical drive
Multi card reader with Firewire, USB2.0 and E-Sata and temp monitor display (not as useful as it sounds, but the throughput it fast enough)
750W PSU
Cooler Master Centurion case.

As to your choices, I like the Mobo and CPU choices.
07/13/2010 10:55:43 AM · #11
Thanks George, and especially thanks Keiran for that very detailed answer.

I'm ready to buy, but still torn. The configuration I showed is around $3400, plus tax and shipping. Not out of the ballpark for what I used to spend, but my last PC was only $1100 and it was quite a bit of bang for the buck. Still I can see my two limitations on my current PC are disk and memory.

Windows Experience Index: 5.9 Determined by lowest subscore
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Quad CPU Q9400 @ 2.66GHz 7.2
Memory (RAM) 6.00 GB 7.2
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GS 6.8
Gaming graphics 3327 MB Total available graphics memory 6.8
Primary hard disk 85GB Free (454GB Total) 5.9

Still, I am trying to optimize it to handle my particular processing needs, which includes:

1) Lightroom3 and PS CS5 together. Last night, my 6GB machine again demonstrated that LR and PS take up too much memory (on top of my usual running processes, which includes MySQL, NAV, XMPlay, Postbox, Skype, and Chrome) and cannot operate efficiently together. Lightroom alone had alocated 1 GB of private memory, and had a 1.5GB working set, Photoshop was trying to get up to a GB or so and having some difficulties -- took forever to start it as called from LR, and all I was trying to do was soft proof some colors. Chrome does take up a lot of memory too, especially since I tend to run with a lot of different things/tabs open.

2) Fast XML processing. I run very long data processing tasks against a heck of a lot of XML files (about 75,000) and a large MySQL database. Right now, it can take between 8 and 12 hours to run--and I usually run three or four in parallel to speed it up, trying to take advantage of the 4 cores in my processor. I'd like to speed that up by at least an order of magnitude.

Here's my dilemma. I can buy another HP (like my current one), with more memory and the six core 3.33GHz i7-980X for around $2K right now. That would not include any real enhancements in the realm of SSD, and there's no SATA III, so no bandwidth speedup. The question is whether or not I could expand the box sufficiently: it only has two 3.5" internal bays. But I could buy a pretty good SSD anyway and replace the boot disk for $130-$250. I could add a 600GB Sata II velociraptor drive to that for $225. Other than the memory speed then, and the fact that it has two drive bays, that's $1000 less for a somewhat similar computer. Just missing SATA III, the faster memory, and more bays. And a lot more unknowns (whose motherboard, is it triple channel etc.) Actually, I note that my $2K config has 10GB memory rather than 12; I did that to leave two slots open. I presume that means it has 2GB, 2GB, 2GB and 4GB. That may not be efficient for triple channel, but then I can eventually add two more 4GB modules. Decisions, decisions!

ETA: And I wonder if I can squeeze in another HD using one of the 5.25" external bays? I do note that the HP has eSata too. So if that's almost as fast as SATA, I can also add some drives via external enclosure. I actually already have a few multi-interface drives with eSata, but I'd want to get a multidrive enclosure rather than having a hodge podge of drives and bricks as I currently have!

Message edited by author 2010-07-13 11:06:42.
07/13/2010 11:46:00 AM · #12
Holy cow Neil... I'd be torn too if I hit $3400 on a quote for a system. My last build ran to $1400, but I did it myself, so I spent less than having a reseller build it.
I think you are right be looking at the new Intel six-core processor, and I too would look at SSD, however *really* do your reading as they are not all created equal! I suspect your XML task performance is being gated by HDD performance, so certainly that is an area you want to address. The XML task completion time on i7 should be faster than on your current box, but gaining an order of magnitude is going to be a very tall order. With the 980, you should be able to run twelve parallel tasks (six processors, each with two virtual cores). Performance should scale pretty well with the number of parallel tasks, as long as HDD I/O performance doesn't impede things.
I'm currently running 8GB on my Win7 box and I have no real memory issues with running Lr and Ps concurrently, however if I were also running the amount of background tasks that you are, I would also consider 12GB.
For graphics, my mind is in a little different place. IMHO, you do not need the gaming-tailored performance of the mainstream graphics cards; all they are going to do for you is gulp power and produce *lots* of heat. A good alternative is a "workstation" card. Look at the QuadroFX series from nVidia. They will not save you any money up front but they will in the long run on power consumption. My QuadroFX 570 graphics card uses only 38 watts, but provides very adequate performance, including support for GPU acceleration in Ps. Of the current models you might look at the 580 or 1800. Do note however that the new models have only one DualLink DVI connector, as they are migrating to DisplayPort.
07/13/2010 11:54:54 AM · #13
dont waste your money on a veloci raptor* they are not as good as you imagine, the new WD 1tb are 64mb cache and they hold there own to the raptor, the raptor @ 10000 is just about equal to a WD black 7600 @ 32 mb cache, so youd be set going with the 64mb cache 1tb drive. also did you put any thought into the amd Phenom 6 core that just came out? I heard it screams, and if you like that idea, they are releasing their 8 core (ture eight cores not this hyperthreading mumbojumbo from intel) at the end of this year. if you can hold out that long i would do that. Also get a radeon 5770 for the price of the geforce. if you can afford the 5850 get that. It whoops alota cards out there. i can set you up a great amd build for 1/2 the cost of the intel and it will perform equally or greater
07/13/2010 04:04:52 PM · #14
It's gonna sound like I'm picking apart 21.gif eschelar's post, but I'm really not. I'm just trying to add what I've learned to what he's learned.

Originally posted by eschelar:

For mobo, I got an MSI, but Asus is generally a tiny bit faster. Again, cost vs benefit. I believe that the only significant difference was 1 extra SATA port and the ability to do something with crossfire with ATI or something. Since I'm not a gamer, it was irrelevant.

Not trying to argue, but comparisons of specific models by different sites (e.g. AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, etc.) are generally better than "Manufacturer A is better than Manufacturer B" conclusions. Sometimes, it's MSI that's on top; sometimes, it's Asus; sometimes, it's some unknown brand. Sure, Asus wins a lot, but it usually depends on the specific model.

Originally posted by eschelar:

Also, make sure you have enough power.

Good point. Neil, you can go here to calculate how much you need. Although CPUs never run at 100% TDP and capacitors nowadays are high-quality solid ones, set CPU Utilization to 100% TDP and capacitor aging to 20% for a worst-case scenario. I'd swap the power supply for one that you're sure can support the video card (# Amps on the 12V rails is what matters - check PSU specs versus Video Card requirements and remember that with a lot of other things on the 12V rail, you may want a few extra Amps).

Originally posted by eschelar:

For cooling, I went with air. I got the ThermalRight IFX14, but that's just what I was able to find locally. Air isn't very popular around here (Taiwan) for the OC crowd. I'm not doing the OC thing, so I'm happy with this. I have 2 Noctua 140mm fans on it and the temps stay very low even under heavy load. There is another air super cooler that is better now though, I think it's the Thermaltake something. Google will find it.

On a 125W AMD processor, I'm using a near-silent Evercool Transformer 4 that cost me about $50, and I've never seen temps over 60C (the only reason it even goes above 55 is because when installed on the AM2/AM3 platform, it's mounted sideways and blows air straight up into the power supply rather than directly out the back). It has two 120mm fans running at 1000 RPM, but you can easily swap them with higher-speed fans for better cooling... According to these guys, an i7-920 won't run above 55C using that thing with those fans, but if you're concerned, you can swap them with 2000 RPM fans. The only problem is that it's gigantic (in the perpendicular-to-the-motherboard direction)... so make sure it fits in the case. It may also block a memory slot, but that wasn't the case on the MicroATX motherboard I'm using here, so I'm 95% sure it won't be a problem on most ATX motherboards.

Originally posted by eschelar:

Apparently, the older mobos needed to have channels matched to perform their best. My MSI board manual says that this is no longer the case. I have slots 1 2 and 3 with 2GB and added a 4th 2GB for a total of 8GB.

I thought the i7's did 3-channel memory. In that case, you'd want three sticks of #GB, and it's probably best to go with 3x4GB.

Originally posted by eschelar:

Even with 8GB, I find it pretty tough to actually use the RAM up. Even with Bridge and PS open, working on 500MB+ individual files, the most I've ever seen is 64% usage. There is a point at which it just doesn't really help to have more RAM.

Did you set Bridge and PS to use more than that in Preferences? And as far as I know, whatever you set in preferences is based on available RAM when the program opens, which may be less than when you're working with the massive files. You may be freeing up memory by closing background tasks while the two programs are open, and they won't know to use it. Also, Windows will free up some memory from background tasks when they see a huge program devouring it.

Originally posted by eschelar:

Cooler Master Centurion case

What a great case. I used that case for my first "commercial" build (okay, quasi-commercial: he offered me money, but I refused it), and it's still my favorite. I'm not sure if the cooler I recommended would fit, but there are other quiet coolers with great performance out there.

PS: 21.gif eschelar got his PC at a great price. $3400 is way too much for what you're getting.

ETA: I see you're not getting the i7-920, but i7-980X. Intel's Extreme Edition processors are notorious for being grossly overpriced. Unless you're burning DVDs, converting video files, playing an HD movie on one monitor, playing a state-of-the-art game* on another, breaking 256-bit encryption, and finding the next Mersenne prime at the same time, you probably don't need the Extreme Edition processor. The 960 looks nice, so why not go with that?
*Yes, the state-of-the-art game would also require a super graphics card, but you get my drift...

ETA2: The GTX 460 is supposedly about $200. From the $400 you'd save by dropping from the 980X to the 960,you could take out $130 and invest it in a better graphics card (the GTX 460 is $130 more expensive than the GT 240). You'd still save $270 (8%), lose maybe 5% of CPU performance, and have way better graphics performance. That $270 could go toward a better case and power supply.

ETA3 (this is getting ridiculous): This configuration looks pretty good. If you build one like that yourself, it should cost you a bit less than what they're charging. Add more HDDs (+$200?), change the memory to 3x4GB (+$100?), get the GTX 460 graphics card instead (-$300), and you're set. Oh, and you could go for a more understated case.

Message edited by author 2010-07-13 16:29:09.
07/14/2010 07:03:59 AM · #15
:) Not arguing, just explaining.......

I usually find ASUS keeps themselves at or near the top end of things and they usually put a higher priority on staying near the top end. MSI has top end stuff too, but I find that they tend to try to put a higher priority on value. If speed is the priority over value, ASUS is probably the better choice in general terms.

For a strong system, you are probably looking at a minimum of 750W. Safer to go 900W IMHO if you are going 6 core.

You will probably have a bit higher general power consumption than me.

Cooler prices are never very high, so it's always best to find out the best and go for it. The IFX 14 is a massive beast too and can take 3x140mm fans. My ambient room temp is 34 degrees in the summer and the temps seldom approach 50 deg, even under load (heavy use, not prime95).

All of my memory is running in triple channel mode. I have 6 slots and 4 are occupied. I did extensive testing with various different configurations (with 1, 2, 3 and 4 slots occupied) and found absolutely no memory performance difference between 3 and 4 slots occupied with 2 memory test programs that each applied a barrage of tests on the entire set of memory. 48+ hours total of testing.

I was told that you have to have either 3 slots or 6 slots occupied in order to run triple channel mode and I quite firmly believe that this is not accurate. The mobo manual also indicates this.

Either way, for nshapiro, I'd recommend just filling it up with sticks of 2GB.

For memory usage with Bridge and PS, PS is set to use 70% and the Bridge is set to use less. I had no problems using 500MB for Bridge when I had 2GB on my laptop. It now has something like 2GB it may use. Point is that even memory hogs like PS and Bridge are barely able to tax my RAM and I only have 8GB. I was all set to make the switch to 2 sets of 3x2GB too. The aforementioned memory testing led me to believe that it would give me no actual benefits.

George is absolutely right that you can probably get very good performance with a more affordable i7 processor and still keep the 6 cores.

From what I read, the higher end cores are basically made on the same dies, but ended up testing in a higher category. This makes them more tolerant to higher clock speeds. This is why overclockers tend to use lower end processors and OC them simply by adding better cooling.

I'd stick with whatever you can get before the chip+mobo price starts to skyrocket. When I bought mine, it was the 920. If it's the 960 now, go for that.

As far as HD performance, I'd skip the special names, just grab 2 hard drives of whatever is a reasonable deal out there right now. Probably 2 2TB WD drives.

I don't know anything about xml processes and if you can arrange it to output to a different drive, but the general rule of thumb is to read from one physical drive and output to another. Because of the way computers allocate bandwidth, even when your HD is writing a small amount of information, this will drastically reduce your bandwidth on the read. (So I have read... I am not an authority on this)

This is something that I picked up in reference to PS, Batches, page files and scratch disks.

That in itself should yield an improvement. You might even be able to try this on your current rig. Just pick up the extra HD early.

As far as the Video card, it's only lightly used by PS. High end workstation video cards are generally only required for heavy 3D editing programs.

I use PS and such at home and there is 3D software at work. My home comp uses a gaming card and the work comp uses a built in AMD card. From my experience with these two comps, I feel that you would need to be doing some pretty ridiculously advanced 3D work to require such a card. 3D work in the office involves CAD stuff for bicycle frames and such, NOT Maya or Bryce or anything like that. Still, with the on board AMD graphics card, it has no problem. PS with OpenGL cannot keep up with the on board AMD card. It never has a problem with my NVidia 260 (1920x1080 monitor). I cannot speak for power consumption.

I was told by quite a few people that those cards often give poor value for the money.

I'd be surprised if you couldn't build yourself a VERY decent system for $1500-1600.

07/14/2010 07:41:45 AM · #16
@21.gif eschelar $1500-1600 is not top-end. It's an enthusiast system, which means that you don't necessarily need that $300 ASUS motherboard.

@21.gif eschelar, 12253.gif nshapiro Also, I'd recommend less sticks of RAM of a higher capacity. Why fill up all 6 banks with 2GB sticks, and have to swap them out later? Just get 3x4GB now, and upgrade later to 6x4GB.

@12253.gif nshapiro Once you have your components set, you should use the PSU calculator to find out how much power you need. Go a bit above what's recommended.

In terms of video cards, just get a GT(X) 200-or-above-series card. Whichever one you get, properly formatted HD movies should run straight from the video card and tax your processor no more than 5%. The higher-end ones will give better game/3D modeling performance, but may also use up more power even when idle. Up to the $200 mark, they all should give you plenty of bang for the buck. GTX 400-series cards are out now, and getting the latest generation ones is not that bad of an idea... The GTX 460 is $200 and uses a lot less power than both the higher-end GTX's and its ATI counterparts. Also runs cooler... Just don't get the Zotac one, it's very noisy compared to the other GTX 460's.

Pleaaaaase don't waste money on an "extreme edition" processor.

Message edited by author 2010-07-14 07:49:37.
07/14/2010 10:40:07 AM · #17
You should also consider a 'proper' RAID card. Something like this with a battery backup unit. An SSD for boot and applications and 4 disk RAID 5 or 4 disk RAID 1+0. Software RAID is nice and cheap, but not very fast. Here is a comparison I did between an Intel RAID (built into motherboard) and a 3Ware 9650SE RAID card. The four disks were in a RAID 5 configuration. The same disks were used in both tests. A nice improvement.
07/14/2010 11:00:37 AM · #18
Originally posted by George:

@21.gif eschelar $1500-1600 is not top-end. It's an enthusiast system, which means that you don't necessarily need that $300 ASUS motherboard.

Agreed. But he could still get something very decent in that ballpark. As you pointed out, not everything has to be top end (ie Extreme Processors), but you can still get very good performance.
07/14/2010 12:07:48 PM · #19
I build pc's a lot so this is my advice....

Take the OCing off your price tag you can do that yourself. seriously

Second ditch that case and get an Antec or something. Apevia cases are terrible.

third an h50 is a better liquid cooling option. I have one and my cpu sits just above 20c

DO NOT pay for extreme edition processors. Big waste of money.

Also like others have said ditch the ssd and the velociraptors and get a couple 1tb western digital blacks.

Asus/EVGA/gigabite for your mobo. Spending a lot on your mobo is NOT a bad thing. The premium boards are supported far longer than the cheap ones.
because I spent the extra 100 on my mobo 4 years ago it just got support for a new cpu socket that saved me 1500 in my latest upgrade.

As others have said put the largest sticks of memory you can in the mobo. and more sticks later if need. Don't fill all the slots till you need to.

It is DPC sooooo

PICS!

35798_407573801995_663791995_4971443_5770302_n.jpg

35798_407573806995_663791995_4971444_7912896_n.jpg

35798_407573811995_663791995_4971445_3999979_n.jpg

My Rig

945 x4 with lite OC to 3.44ghz
corsair h50 wc
ASUS m2n32 sli deluxe wireless mobo
8gigs of ocz ram
2x nvidia 480gtx in SLI
1000 watt kingston mach 1 psu
2x wd 1tb hdd
antec 900 case (modified)
07/14/2010 03:18:53 PM · #20
A lot of great info everyone. Thanks.

I was about to pull the switch on the HP, but once again, had second thoughts. Main issue there is

1) slower memory (the memory is 1066 rather than 1333 (anyone think this would make a difference?)
2) I'd have to use more external drives.

I agree about the Extreme processors--probably not worth the extra money. But in fact, this is the only 6 core intel currently. The others are 4 core. But I tried one config over at PCs For Everyone:

Still $3K. I used the money from the processor to up the memory to 18GB; Added a third drive--though I would reconsider that if I see a WD Black SATA III drive for the same or less. I used the i7 960; I'd rather use the 975, which is overclockable, but they don't seem to offer it (I guess I could ask.) Reupgrading the config below to the 980 Extreme would add $520. Probably not worth it, but it would give me two more cores (and hence two more dedicated processes going through my data).

Their site calcs power requirements on the fly as you change the config. They said the 500W supply was enough, and nominally, it seems to be.

Watts: 294.8
Volt-Amps: 302.2
BTU/h: 1006
Amps 110V: 2.68
Amps 208V: 1.42

I think the biggest speedups I might see in my daily work will come from the SSD; if I can't run my mySQL database from it efficiently or safely, I'll use the velociraptor. And it's possible that putting my XML files there might offer a speed advantage as my program goes through. I am going to pass on RAID--I don't like the increased possibility of problems in Raid 0, and the redundant raid options that also offer speedups require 4 disks for the space of 1.

I originally also put in a copy of Windows 7 Pro there; but I have my own copy of Ultimate that should be transferable to this PC because I hosted a Windows 7 party and got a free full copy. That saves $150 (though, I'll have to see if that will impact any burn in they do, and I'll have to figure out the config on the boot SSD myself.) Also, I'll have to revert my current machine to Vista; that's a little problem because I'll really need to keep them both up for a few weeks until I'm fully transitioned. And I don't know if Windows will complain if it sees the same copy twice on the network during the transition.

Processor.......Quad-Core Intel® Core™ i7-960 3.20GHz 4.8GT/s QPI 8MB L3 Cache (VT)
Motherboard.....ASUS P6X58D Premium - ATX - Intel® X58 Chipset
Memory..........3 x Crucial 2GB PC3-10600 1333MHz DDR3
................3 x Crucial 4GB PC3-10600 1333MHz DDR3
Chassis Antec Sonata III 500 - ATX Mid Tower - 500 Watt Power Supply - Black - Silent Design
Power Supply....Included Power Supply (Chassis must include power to select this option)
Hard Drive......2TB SATA 6.0Gbps 7200RPM - 3.5" - Seagate Barracuda® XT
................600GB SATA 6.0Gbps 10000RPM - 3.5" - Western Digital VelociRaptor™ WD6000HLHX
................80GB Intel® X25-M 2.5" SATA Solid State Drive (Multi Cell) (MLC) (34nm)
5.25" Bay.......Samsung 22x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer LightScribe (SATA)
3.5" Bay........19-in-1 3.5" Card Reader (Black)
Video Card......NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 1GB GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 (1xDVI, 1xHDMI, 1xVGA)
PCI Express.....Hauppauge Win TV-HVR-2250 PCI Express Dual TV Tuner Card
Operating Sys...No Windows Operating System (Hardware Warranty Only, No Software Support)
Warranty........Three Year Warranty

Message edited by author 2010-07-14 15:19:40.
07/14/2010 04:29:00 PM · #21
^ I like that, but 18GB of RAM seems to be overkill. Get 12 GB, and add another 12 when you can afford them. If they guarantee the "this power supply is good enough" thing, go with what they say; otherwise, 750W.

ETA: I'd stick with the higher-end memory.

Message edited by author 2010-07-14 16:29:51.
07/14/2010 05:11:32 PM · #22
Neil,
With regard to your transition, you should be able to install Win7 and just not activate it, I think you have 30 days of "trial" to do so.

ETA: I also think that 18GB is a really big memory space... I don't know if you need to go more than 12. You might reconsider running RAID0; it's easy to set up, fast, and yes, you do have some additional risk because if either drive fails, you lose the array... but, you can effectively mitigate that risk by periodically imaging the array to an external drive. If it crashes, replace the drive and re-load from the image.

Message edited by author 2010-07-14 17:15:48.
07/14/2010 07:08:53 PM · #23
^What he said. Write stuff to the RAID0 array, and back up to something else every once in a while.
07/14/2010 09:03:34 PM · #24
Heck, I was originally going to get 24GB. I decided to tweak it down to 18 though and save. The 4GB RAM is very expensive! About $50 per GB. Right now, my machine has 6GB, and I'm always running out of RAM--at least for Lightroom and PS. As I mentioned, they cannot even run well together on my machine in 6GB.

I'm not that worried about the total price--I spend about 16 hours a day on the computer between programming work and photography. So it's not like the money goes to waste, as long as it makes my life easier and more efficient when I'm on it!

That's why I may still decide to go with the extreme chip. 6 cores should be faster than 4, especially when I do so much multitasking. (And I believe the 980 can be overclocked--I don't think the 960 can (I seem to recall reading that the ones that end in "5", like the 975, are the ones that are not locked and can be overclocked. But the 980 is an exception.) Of course, I'd need to change the cooling I think if I were going to do that.


07/14/2010 09:11:25 PM · #25
Originally posted by nshapiro:

...That's why I may still decide to go with the extreme chip. 6 cores should be faster than 4, especially when I do so much multitasking. (And I believe the 980 can be overclocked--I don't think the 960 can (I seem to recall reading that the ones that end in "5", like the 975, are the ones that are not locked and can be overclocked. But the 980 is an exception.) Of course, I'd need to change the cooling I think if I were going to do that.


The others are overclockable, you just have to do so by adjusting the FSB frequency. I do think the 980 is a good choice though, since you will by definition be using the cores with multiple parallel tasks.
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