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first time builder- advice please?

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August 12, 2006 7:45:18 PM

Hi all-

I'm going to building my own gaming computer (first time builder) within the next couple of weeks, so I'm starting to gather a parts list. A few questions for the experts.......

1) I was looking at using an Athlon 64 processor. When I go to a site like NewEgg, they show two processors that are their high end. They are both AMD Athlon 64 processors, but one is a FX-60 Toledo socket 939 and the other is a FX-62 Windsor but with a socket I've never heard of AM2. It looks like the FX-62 is a little more powerful, but there seems to be a lot less motherboards for this FX-62 processor. What's the difference?

2) From what I've read on these forums so far, the SCSI hard drive is the fastest hard drive. I've read that one has to make sure that the SCSI drive is compatible with the motherboard. How do I know if a motherboard is SCSI compatible? I've looked at motherboards on line but I can't seem to find a specification that shows whether or not the board is SCSI compatible or not. Is it "harder" to build a computer with a SCSI drive vs. the more "standard" types? What's the significance of the 68 or 80 pin SCSI drives?

3) What should I be looking for in ATX cases? There seems to be a huge variation in price points on these types of cases!

So far, I'm looking at a AMD Athlon 64 Fx-60 or FX-62, a ASUS A8n32 motherboard, and the Hitachi Ultrastar SCSI drive. See any problems with my first 3 choices so far?

Thanks for your advice......

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August 12, 2006 7:57:51 PM

AM2 is the replacement for Socket 939. AM2 requires DDR2 Memory.
August 12, 2006 8:54:01 PM

Quote:
...
2) From what I've read on these forums so far, the SCSI hard drive is the fastest hard drive. I've read that one has to make sure that the SCSI drive is compatible with the motherboard. How do I know if a motherboard is SCSI compatible? I've looked at motherboards on line but I can't seem to find a specification that shows whether or not the board is SCSI compatible or not. Is it "harder" to build a computer with a SCSI drive vs. the more "standard" types? What's the significance of the 68 or 80 pin SCSI drives?....

It's not quite that simple. SCSI is a fancy high-end (and expensive) interface that's been around in various flavors for more than 20 years. Because it is an expensive interface designed for sustained high-throughput performance on servers etc., nobody makes cheap drives for it, and few or none of the MBs you look at will have built-in SCSI controllers. Given current interface speeds, the limit on sustained hard disk transfers comes from how fast the disk spins, not from a limit in the interface (whether SCSI or SATA). Thus, a 7200rpm drive sould give faster sustained transfer speeds than a 5400rpm drive. 7200rpm drives are standard for the consumer market, but some faster consumer-oriented (i.e. SATA) drives have been appearing (e.g. WD Raptors). They tend to be much more expensive than 7200rpm drives, and may require extra cooling.
If you want to spend extra money for really fast drives, stick with the 10krpm SATA drives and think about setting up a RAID array.

PS - The different pin number on scsi connectors are for different "flavors" of SCSI, usually involving different widths of the parallel data bus. Obviously, the SCSI controller, cable, and drive all need to be of the same "flavor."
Related resources
August 12, 2006 9:23:22 PM

Quote:
...
2) From what I've read on these forums so far, the SCSI hard drive is the fastest hard drive....... board is SCSI compatible or not. Is it "harder" to build a computer with a SCSI drive vs. the more "standard" types? What's the significance of the 68 or 80 pin SCSI drives?....

It's not quite that simple. SCSI is a fancy high-end (and expensive) interface that's been around in various flavors for more than 20 years. Because it is an expensive interface designed for sustained high-throughput performance on servers etc., nobody makes cheap drives for it, and few or none of the MBs you look at will have built-in SCSI controllers. Given current interface speeds, the limit on sustained hard disk transfers comes from how fast the disk spins, not from a limit in the interface (whether SCSI or SATA). Thus, a 7200rpm drive sould give faster sustained transfer speeds than a 5400rpm drive. 7200rpm drives are standard for the consumer market, but some faster consumer-oriented (i.e. SATA) drives have been appearing (e.g. WD Raptors). They tend to be much more expensive than 7200rpm drives, and may require extra cooling.
If you want to spend extra money for really fast drives, stick with the 10krpm SATA drives and think about setting up a RAID array.

PS - The different pin number on scsi connectors are for different "flavors" of SCSI, usually involving different widths of the parallel data bus. Obviously, the SCSI controller, cable, and drive all need to be of the same "flavor."



OK, that explains alot. To take this one step further, suppose I am looking at this example SCSI drive : http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...

So I can't just buy this drive and plug it in like hard drives I've done in the past? I would have to buy that example SCSI hard drive, plus find a controller, and then find a motherboard that would accept the hard drive and the controller? Is there somplace on the internet that would explain that process or would you be willing to?

Further, if I look at different non-SCSI hard drives, how do I know which hard drives are compatible with a given motherboard, like this one for example?: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Thanks for your help!
August 12, 2006 9:38:10 PM

1) AM2 is the brand new socket interface for AMD which requires DD2 memory.

2)scsi is the fastest, but why do you need this? a SATAII interface will meet all your needs and is common now on all mb's meaning you dont need to buy an adapter and most motherboards come with raid controllers.

3) for a case its basically what you think looks good, but im gonna say that since this your first build a case with a removable motherboard tray would be best(its just easier to install the mobo with one), ill also say stay away from plastic cases or steel casesw they tend to overheat your components and need more cooling(prepering to be flamed) i would recommend aluminium cases but they are more expensive and people will argue that they are flimsy compared to steel cases, but they offer better cooling.
August 12, 2006 9:45:23 PM

Quote:
1) AM2 is the brand new socket interface for AMD which requires DD2 memory.

2)scsi is the fastest, but why do you need this? a SATAII interface will meet all your needs and is common now on all mb's meaning you dont need to buy an adapter and most motherboards come with raid controllers.

3) for a case its basically what you think looks good, but im gonna say that since this your first build a case with a removable motherboard tray would be best(its just easier to install the mobo with one), ill also say stay away from plastic cases or steel casesw they tend to overheat your components and need more cooling(prepering to be flamed) i would recommend aluminium cases but they are more expensive and people will argue that they are flimsy compared to steel cases, but they offer better cooling.


Thanks for that info. Concerning #2 above, I guess I'm a little confused about all these different hard drive interfaces, SCSI or otherwise. You mentioned a SATAII interface but when I look at a high end, popular ASUS mobo, these are its specs under the storage devices section:

Storage Devices
PATA 1 x ATA100 up to 2 Devices
PATA RAID NV RAID 0/1/0+1 JBOD
SATA 3Gb/s 8
SATA RAID NV RAID 0/1/0+1/5 JBOD
Additional RAID Controller Sil 3132

It doesn't say SATAII interface. What is a SATAII interface? I was looking at the Raptor drives as someone suggested, but the Raptor drive interface says Serial ATA 150 in its description, so I assume since the storage devices specs on the above motherboard don't say "Serial ATA 150" that this drive would be not compatible with this mobo either? I'm confused!
August 12, 2006 9:55:16 PM

ah ok, heres a rundown

PATA = the old IDE interface
SATA = new interface has bandwith of 1.5GBs(i think)
SATAII = better bandwith of 3GBs.

SATA supports NCQ(Native Command Queuing) which i wont go into here.

that motherboard supports RAID with the SATA HDDs, RAID 0 is data striping where two disks are seen as one, this increases the read speed therefore making games and apps load faster, but it also increases the risk of you losing your data.

RAID 0+1 will give you faster read times but will also protect you from data loss if a HDD fails, you will be able to replace the broken disk and still have all your data.

RAID 1 uses two drives and basically keeps an exact copy of your data on the second drive so if one drive fails you data will be safe.

RAID 5 is similiar to RAID 0+1 but requires 4 HDDs

edit

that raptor uses the SATA interface but not SATAII hence the sata 150, please note that a SATA 150 will work in a SATAII interface which is what that asus mobo has hence the SATA 3GBs.
August 12, 2006 10:06:37 PM

The others covered AM2 fine. I's suggest sticking to AM2 if you want an AMD proc, although Conroe is better.

SCSI is generally considered specialized workstation and server hardware. There is nothing to prevent you from using SCSI at home - if you want to pay the premium for it. Most server and some workstation bords have a SCSI controller intergrated, but this is rarely RAID ready; you need to buy an additional 0-channel RAID controller if you want to have a RAID with those boards. Tyan and Supermicro both have a good selection of SCSI boards.

You can also buy a SCSI or SCSI-RAID controller separately, but pay attention to the intreface, os they may be PCI-e x16, PCIX or PCI. You need the correct slot for it. I haven't seen any boards with three x16 PCIe slots yet (if you want SCSI and SLI).

80-pin (SCA) discs are generally meant for hot-swap enclosures (you need to buy those separately as well), while 68-pins are attached directly to the normal SCSI ribbon cable and are mounted intrenally. You also have 50-pins, generally now only used for optical drives.


But there is almost no reason I can think of to use SCSI @home.
August 12, 2006 10:08:13 PM

Thanks Flakes. I read the sticky FAQ about the different RAID configurations, but I figured for my first build, I was going to keep things simple and just use one drive, and that's looking like a RAPTOR drive now as that seems to be the fastest single drive that doesn't need a "complicated" SCSI or RAID interface.

Concerning your comment about SATA/SATAII/SATA150 at the end of your previous post.......basically what you're saying is that if a hard drive (like the Raptor) is a Serial ATA150 type drive, it will work in any motherboard that has "SATAII" or "SATA 3GB" in its specs for storage devices? Is that correct?
August 12, 2006 10:13:56 PM

yep

SATAII is the same as SATA 3GBs and SATA is the same as SATA 150. basically aslong as its a SATA drive it will work with any SATA interface.
August 12, 2006 10:14:30 PM

Thanks Calyn. I think since this is my first build and I want to keep things "simple" I'm going to stick with a more conventional hard drive set-up and avoid the RAID configurations with just a single Raptor drive........for now. I'm just trying to figure out now which motherboards these ATA150 Raptor drives are compatible with by looking at the motherboard specs. As I mentioned in a post above, I'm trying to figure out which "spec" I need to see on a mobo specification sheet which would make it compatible with ATA 150.

Thanks again everyone!
August 12, 2006 10:17:26 PM

Quote:
yep

SATAII is the same as SATA 3GBs and SATA is the same as SATA 150. basically aslong as its a SATA drive it will work with any SATA interface.


OK Flakes, thanks for that. That seems a HECK of a lot easier to figure out than the SCSI and RAID stuff for now. And I think I just figured out that "SATA" and "serial ATA" are the same thing. It's all coming together like a rich tapestry :) 
August 12, 2006 10:28:02 PM

yeah thats the one thing about the computer industry lots of words to describe the same thing, it keeps the simple minded busy and the IT techs rich...computing is easy really but the first thing they tell you when you learn about computers at uni or such is, make sure your customer doesnt kno just how easy computing really is, otherwise everyone would be an expert and you wont make any money :D 
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