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  1. #1
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    Question I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Number crunching that is, not the sound the cooling fan makes. I think my goal is a hybrid of the low, mid and high systems but I havenít built a machine in close to 15 years so Iím sure I need some clarification on things. Here are my thoughts and you all can tell me where Iím delusional. My main activities in addition to standard web, email and office work will be writing code (C#/.NET/SQL Server), editing photos and eventually video (CS5?) as well as ripping movies to my NAS; absolutely no gaming.

    So, Iím thinking CPU/MoBo from the mid range spec but add the SSD w/1.5TB HDD and 8GB (at least) RAM like the high range and use on board sound and a lower end video card (maybe even on board for that too?) like the low range. My thinking on the video card is that Iím never gaming and the CPU is what does all the work for photo/video stuff but that is one of the things Iím confused about considering all the newer technologies like DirectX 11 and what Iíve heard about offloading work to the GPU. Even with that, itís not like Iíll be multitasking to the point Iím editing video AND photos AND have four or five other applications actively open at the same time so if I can save $100-$200 on a video card to spend elsewhere (more RAM?), wouldnít that be better? As long as I can get two, maybe three, monitors hooked up, that is one important requirement.

    If I donít care about being able to add multiple video cards and a bunch of peripherals, can I save a little on the MoBo too but still get things like the newest USB and SATA specs? The low end option looks like it will take the X6 processors and up to 16GB RAM, what do I gain for over double the price with the mid range option? DDR2/DDR3, does it matter?

    Will the 300GB partition on the HD be fine for working space for photo/video editing versus two smaller drives in a RAID 0 configuration? This is just occasional home movie stuff eventually, maybe a big project one day?

    I have no idea on cooling and case, can someone make a recommendation? I donít need a fancy, see through, neon-glowing case, something basic and just ok is fine with me as long it does what it is supposed to (keep things cool?). Iíd like the machine to be moderately quiet and not heat up my office, does that mean liquid cooling or will a couple of larger fans be fine? Do I need to cool the RAM too? Iím not going try to squeeze every possible clock cycle I can out the machine but maybe a little overclocking for performance? Power supply? Even though the high end option is probably overkill, itís only $1 w/MIR, is that a no-brainer or will that be wasteful when the PC is idle?

    Is AMD the way to go or should I consider the new Sandy Bridge stuff. When does Bulldozer come out, could that be a drop in upgrade with the right MoBo? I donít need the fastest bleeding edge tech, Iím after best performance for value. Iím replacing a Pentium4 with 2GB RAM so ANYTHING will be an upgrade and I donít plan on doing a major upgrade for years.

    What else do I need to know/get to put it all together, stuff that someone that isnít always building PCs might not think about; I need a checklist.

    I know thatís a lot of questions and if I can get it all answered in one spot that would be great but any bit of info will be helpful.

  2. #2
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    I looked. Honestly. But I can't find a mention of a budget anywhere in your post.

  3. #3
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Good point. I suppose I'm not really locked into a specific budget, I'm more interested in a certain performance level and I think I described that pretty well (performance, not budget). The mid range system is priced about $900 so I was hoping my upgrades and downgrades would cancel each other out and I could stay around that level, I know that doesn't include everything either and I'm not sure what the rest will cost? If its a matter of saying I have a $1200 budget and I spec out a system that comes in at $1150 but for and extra $100 I could add xyz that would make the system so much better for me, I'll spend the extra $100 but I'm not going to buy $90 sound card so I can hear my default beep in 3D audio. Maybe not the best example since I eventually want to do some video stuff but that can be added when I get there and I think you get what I'm trying to communicate.

  4. #4
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    I put this together:

    Parts you almost definitely want:

    Intel Core i7-2600k - $315
    G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1600 - $75
    Asus P8P67 - $155
    Corsair 650TXv2 - $80 after MIR
    Coolermaster Hyper 212+ CPU Cooler - $35

    Parts you might want:

    XFX 6950 1GB - $210 after MIR
    Corsair 600T Mid-Tower case - $135 after MIR
    Samsung F3J 1TB 7200RPM - $65

    Mobo/Ram/CPU Combo: The Ram PSU and HSF are solid choices. The mobo is at the low-end of the Asus P67 lineup, but the essentials are all there (USB3, SATA6). This is a solid board if you're considering overclocking at all. In the past, overclocking was something that took a little skill. With Sandy Bridge its ridiculously easy and I highly recommend you do it. even at stock voltage you can get a pretty healthy overclock just by bumping the multiplier up a bit. If you're dead set against it, drop to the 2600 (non-k), and an H67 motherboard.

    Case: The case is a little pricey, and I don't even like the look all that much, but its a great case. I have the 800D, a full tower Corsair case, and its a dream to work in. Most of the things that make the 800D a great case are built into the 600T, including cable management and tool-less design. For the money you'll have a hard time beating it. The build quality is great and its come down a ton in price. Almost anything cheaper is plastic crap. If you really don't care that much, this is a place to save some cash.

    HDD: The samsung F3J is a good performer for a platter drive, better than the WD black in some benchmarks and 25$ cheaper. I don't think its worth trying to squeeze an SSD into your budget. Avoid RAID 0

    GPU: Now, the wildcard is the GPU. Some programs will use the GPU to perform some calculations and do some acceleration. I don't know if yours do or don't. If none of them do, go with something like a 5670 or 6570. If some do, then you're going to want to check if they perform better on nVidia or ATI hardware. On the AMD front the 6950 is a great performer at a nice price (~210). For nVidia its a little less clear cut, though the 560Ti is a good choice. Suitable options might also include the 5850 or GTX460.


    TOTAL: $1139.92 ($1069.92 after MIRs)

    switching to a cheaper GPU and case would easily get this below $1000, but I'm deliberately spending a little extra on the GPU in case it turns out that your programs can use it.


    Trust me, I do science
    My Hardware, Past and Present

  5. #5
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Good choices. If you have a Microcenter near you, they have the I 5 2500k for $179, down from $249. I just picked one up for the GF's computer, coupled with an Asus mATX board, and 8 gig of RAM for $425 or so.

  6. #6
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Quote Originally Posted by John C View Post
    Good choices. If you have a Microcenter near you, they have the I 5 2500k for $179, down from $249. I just picked one up for the GF's computer, coupled with an Asus mATX board, and 8 gig of RAM for $425 or so.
    yea, if you have a microcenter you can easily save 30-40$ on the 2600k, or get the 2500k for $180 like John says. The 2500k is very similar to the 2600k but lacks hyperthreading


    Trust me, I do science
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  7. #7
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Activate:

    Thanks for the list. After seeing the i7-2600k suggestion, I started doing a little actual research and price comparison. Yes, the intel rout is more expensive than the AMD option but not really that much relative to the total system and definately worth it for the performance gain.

    GPU would be a plus as well for CS5, specifically nVidia. From what I briefly scanned through, potentially 20x gain with GPU hardware rendering vs. CPU software rendering. 560Ti seems like a good middle of the road nVidia option.

    Reason you suggest Samsung HD over the often reccomended Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS?

    The MB is one thing I'm really not sure on. The Asus you sugest seems very nice but I'm wondering if I can save a little here? Some extra cool features on it but not stuff I need, Crossfire suport. Is multiple GPU support par for the course now or can a find a MB without that still has things like USB3 and SATA6 and save a little. Of course if it's take away a bunch of features and save $10 then forget it.

    Case does sound spendy but I'm sure you get what you pay for. I don't plan on being in it after everything is put together, cable management, tool-less design all sound great but what is a (good) piece of crap option?

    I also think I'll be adding an SSD anyway and doubling up to 16GB RAM. Is there something particular about the RAM you selected that makes it a good choice, is there something specific I make sure any RAM I end up going with has?

    I know these things will bump me over $1200 but that was just a loose strarting point and it seems like RAM prices are really good now so good opportunity.

    If I said my budget was $1500, would you change any of your sugestions?

  8. #8
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Quote Originally Posted by jdcook72 View Post
    Activate:

    Thanks for the list. After seeing the i7-2600k suggestion, I started doing a little actual research and price comparison. Yes, the intel rout is more expensive than the AMD option but not really that much relative to the total system and definately worth it for the performance gain.

    GPU would be a plus as well for CS5, specifically nVidia. From what I briefly scanned through, potentially 20x gain with GPU hardware rendering vs. CPU software rendering. 560Ti seems like a good middle of the road nVidia option.

    Reason you suggest Samsung HD over the often reccomended Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS?

    The MB is one thing I'm really not sure on. The Asus you sugest seems very nice but I'm wondering if I can save a little here? Some extra cool features on it but not stuff I need, Crossfire suport. Is multiple GPU support par for the course now or can a find a MB without that still has things like USB3 and SATA6 and save a little. Of course if it's take away a bunch of features and save $10 then forget it.

    Case does sound spendy but I'm sure you get what you pay for. I don't plan on being in it after everything is put together, cable management, tool-less design all sound great but what is a (good) piece of crap option?

    I also think I'll be adding an SSD anyway and doubling up to 16GB RAM. Is there something particular about the RAM you selected that makes it a good choice, is there something specific I make sure any RAM I end up going with has?

    I know these things will bump me over $1200 but that was just a loose strarting point and it seems like RAM prices are really good now so good opportunity.

    If I said my budget was $1500, would you change any of your sugestions?
    I wouldn't really go too much lower on the motherboard. Another option might be the MSI P67-G43 at $125. I've heard the gigabyte boards aren't as polished as the MSI/Asus ones. The Asus is actually $145 right now with a code, which is quite cheap these days for what amounts to a high-end motherboard. SLI and CF compatibility are built into the P67 chipset, so anything using that chipset has it and its not like some special feature thats costing you more money over any other P67 board. For example, the MSI P67-C43 only has a single x16 slot (no SLI) and its only 5$ less than the G43 which has it. The price differential from the bottom of the P67 market to the mid-range is pretty much 50$, so its not all that much.

    The Samsung F3J is one of the fastest conventional 7200RPM platter drives out there, along with the WD Black, but the black is $90. Its a good bang-for-the buck drive. I believe the Seagate is slower. I also haven't heard the kindest comments coming from Seagate owners in the last couple years, so I've just been tending to stay away.

    maybe something like this would be ok for the case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811129042

    definitely giving up quite a few nice features, but if all you want is a box to put it all in, I don't really blame you. I don't have too many recommendations on the case, since aesthetics play a big part. Maybe somebody else can chime in here with something they've owned in the past.

    For the ram: I picked something fairly inexpensive primarily. G. Skill seems to be a solid manufacturer and I know a lot of people around here are very happy with them, including me. Look for ram rated at 1.5v, not 1.65v. I've heard some reports saying that the sandy bridge mem controller likes the lower volts better. other than that its pretty open-ended. if I could get tighter (8-8-8) timings for a similar price I would, but its not worth spending too much money on.

    If you were to up the budget to $1500 I don't think i'd change very much. I think I'd add an SSD and call it a day. I feel pretty confident that this is a very very nice rig that will serve you well for a long time. I'd be happy to own it if I was building a brand new system right now.
    Last edited by Activate: AMD; 04-26-2011 at 11:48 AM.


    Trust me, I do science
    My Hardware, Past and Present

  9. #9
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    Apr 2011
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    7

    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Thanks for all of your input, very constructive and good at pointing me in the directions I need to look to research and make a final decision.

    Regarding the HD, I've read that the Seagates perfance can be boosted for smaller 300GB partition, thus the benifit. However, allusions you make regarding reliability are key. Does anyone know if the same technique mentioned for the Seagate drive of creating a smaller, high performance partion could be applied to the Samsung or any drive for that matter. I'm thinking I would be able to take advantage of having a partition like that available for editing photos and whatnot.

    I'll a little more into case options to see what there is. I am just after a box and I don't care what it looks like but I think some minimum requirements of good ventilation and such are important.

    I'm quickly going from the tedious research phase (I research EVERYTHING before I pull the trigger on something, ask my wife) to the short lived satisfied decision made phase which is quickly followed by the equally tedious order and wait for everything to show up phase

  10. #10
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Quote Originally Posted by jdcook72 View Post
    Thanks for all of your input, very constructive and good at pointing me in the directions I need to look to research and make a final decision.

    Regarding the HD, I've read that the Seagates perfance can be boosted for smaller 300GB partition, thus the benifit. However, allusions you make regarding reliability are key. Does anyone know if the same technique mentioned for the Seagate drive of creating a smaller, high performance partion could be applied to the Samsung or any drive for that matter. I'm thinking I would be able to take advantage of having a partition like that available for editing photos and whatnot.

    I'll a little more into case options to see what there is. I am just after a box and I don't care what it looks like but I think some minimum requirements of good ventilation and such are important.

    I'm quickly going from the tedious research phase (I research EVERYTHING before I pull the trigger on something, ask my wife) to the short lived satisfied decision made phase which is quickly followed by the equally tedious order and wait for everything to show up phase
    I'm glad we could be of assistance, thats why this forum exists

    TBH I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to with the seagate.. Could be that the higher density platters are faster when short-stroked to 300GB due to the faster relative speed at the edge of the platter than towards the middle. I know that there are some drives that don't use the full platter and have faster sequential writes as a result, but don't know if you can take advantage of it just through a format. If you're seriously considering an SSD then its kind of irrelevant since your OS partition will be on there and the platter would just get used for storage.

    Like I said, I really don't blame you on the case. When I saw it was only $135 (down from almost $200 at release), I felt I had to throw it out there. A good case is something you can always re-use and for someone who tinkers regularly a good case makes the process that much more enjoyable. In your situation, its sounds like a bang-for-the-buck, fire-and-forget, form following function type of thing is what you want. Unfortunately I don't have much recent experience with the sub-$100 case market to give you a fully informed insight


    Trust me, I do science
    My Hardware, Past and Present

  11. #11
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    You might want to look at a Biostar MB. Really nice quality, and features, and generally lower price than the "big" names. I have been running mine for a couple of years now 24/7, without a hiccup.

  12. #12
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Quote Originally Posted by John C View Post
    You might want to look at a Biostar MB. Really nice quality, and features, and generally lower price than the "big" names. I have been running mine for a couple of years now 24/7, without a hiccup.
    Thank you for the suggestion. I took a quick look and the price would be a little lower for the comprable Asus board I'm considering. But, for the extra $15 there's a LOT to be gained on the Asus board.

  13. #13
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    Apr 2011
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    Exclamation Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    I finished up my research last night and placed my order:

    Code:
    MoBo	ASUS P8P67 (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
    CPU	Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core
    Cooler	COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus (w/2 120mm fans)
    Mem	G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) (4 x 4GB)
    GPU	MSI N560GTX-TI Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16
    SSD	OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) 
    HD	SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
    BRD	LG Black 10X Blu-ray Burner - Bulk SATA WH10LS30 LightScribe Support - OEM 
    Case	Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 
    PS	CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V
    I did a little price shopping and figure I could have saved $10-$15 by ordering from a combination of places but it was late, I was tired and for simplicity I got it all at newegg. Total after all the discounts and mail in rebates is $1403. For an original budget estimate of $1200 I'd say that is pretty good considering without the SSD I threw in as a what the heck would have put me at $1193 and that's still with 16GB of RAM and a decent GPU I wasn't sure I was going to get.

    Thanks for all the help!

    I got a Y cable for the two fans on my cooler and some shmutz to stick it on the CPU. Can anyone think of any things I might need or should have on hand so I won't have to run to the store or wait to order some extra stuff when it's time to put it all together?

  14. #14
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    Great! Definitely glad to help. i hope your build goes smoothly and don't hesitate to come for help if you need any, or better yet, stick around and maybe learn a few things that you wouldn't have known otherwise

    You should have pretty much everything you need if you've got some thermal paste too. Should be a nice rig when its all said and done!


    Trust me, I do science
    My Hardware, Past and Present

  15. #15
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    Re: I want a lean, mean crunching machine

    How much room does that 650W power supply have in this system? I've been trying to make a power consumption table for a very similar system to get an idea of the power supply size. For that CPU and mobo combination I've seen builds that use everything from 500W to 1000W.

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