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What if money didn't matter?--advice on a future-proof build

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January 15, 2008 1:11:40 AM

Hi all--this is my first post to Tom's, and I just want to say that I've been pretty impressed by the site & hopefully you all can give me some good advice on my upcoming build.

So a li'l background on my needs. I *was* a techie, but I would say I've recovered from the affliction (mostly) ;)  I'm a pretty busy guy, and I haven't really kept apace with technology over the last 5 years. However, the slowness of my home PC is just too much to bear in my applications today--high-powered math and financial modeling, some video editing and graphical rendering, no games--and it's clearly time for a new machine. So I've dove back in (EDO RAM was pretty sweet when I stopped paying attention...), and have been doing my homework to catch up as much as possible.

Now comes the fun part: for this build, money is no object. I am not interested in price/performance ratios, nor whether things are just embarrassingly expensive due to their early adoption status. I'm interested in performance, features, noise and heat, in that order. I want a machine I can be happy with for as long as possible, as I do not intend to upgrade as the years go on. (I'm convinced that it would not be a good use of time for me to continuously stay abreast of hardware changes enough to make smart upgrade decisions.) Also, overclocking holds zero appeal for me, so OC'ing potential will not be a factor in my decision-making.

NOW THEN, here's what I have in mind right now:

  • CPU: QX9650 or QX9770
  • Mobo: x38 chipset, or something with a fast FSB?
  • RAM: 4GB of DDR3-1800
  • Graphics: 1 GeForce 9800, high-end flavor
  • Storage: ioDrive (if/when available); failing that, Mtrons RAID 0
  • All the clear winners for cooling, PSU's, etc...

    Here are my thoughts on these components. For CPUs, the more throughput of a QX9770 is enticing, but everything I've read seems to suggest to me it will be much hotter (and with air cooling, louder) than a QX9650 for not terribly impressive performance gains. For the RAM--bigger, better, faster, etc, costs be damned, provided I have a mobo with FSB enough to take advantage. For the graphics card, I do think the GeForce 8800 GTS G92 is attractive, but it also seems like we're on the cusp of a generation-shift in nVidia cards, so it might be worth it to hold out for that. And the speed promises of the ioDrive are just thrilling (we'll see how it plays out, of course). If it doesn't measure up of course, the Mtrons have been getting rave reviews as well. (I lust after those boot times...)

    I was set to do a build after New Years, but on account of delays in the ioDrive, I am waiting to see how that resolves for a bit. I understand that there's always "the next big thing" on the horizon, but I think one could make a fair argument for some pretty cool upcoming equipment right now. So it looks like I'm in a holding pattern of sorts.

    Anyway, my biggest issues are with the CPU and motherboard. What are your guys' opinions about the QX9770? And the x38 boards? Something in the back of my head tells me that these boards are going to be quickly superseded and won't have a long market life--I don't want to get stuck with that kind of product for the long haul. Should I cast my eye at future x48 boards?

    Thanks for any and all feedback guys, it'll be very helpful!

    Lac
    January 15, 2008 1:42:15 AM

    There is no such thing as a future proof build.

    The best one can do is aim for the best price/perfromance ratio with an anticipated usage as a guideline. Spending more than that is a waste, unless bragging rights is something one aspires to.
    January 15, 2008 1:45:35 AM

    Get a hardware raid card and don't use on board software raid.
    Related resources
    January 15, 2008 2:00:32 AM

    If you want future proofing, you ain't going to get it. Yes you can get the latest, but it's almost outdated when you bring it home. I would go with a x38/x48 mobo, since it'll probably be supported longer and since it was released recently. I'm not one to jump on the DDR3 rage, since there isn't really any major benefit, that I can see. Yes DDR2 will phase out sooner than DDR3, but right now it just doesn't seem to have really an advantage (none that I've read about).
    January 15, 2008 2:09:25 AM

    Why even bother asking about it if price/performance isn't an issue? Just buy the components with the highest specs. and likely highest price. You'll just be wasting $$$$, but that sounds like what you're shooting for.
    January 15, 2008 2:15:32 AM

    Get an X48 MB.
    Get the fastest CPU you can get by the time you choose to buy.
    Get as much DDR3 as you can handle.
    See how the next ATI cards and Nvidia cards handle by the end of this first quarter and choose one.
    Look for the best and quietest cooling for your hardware.

    This is kind of contrary to many people's needs as far as budgeting and normal upgrades are concerned here at Tom's but I think it focuses on your requirements without wasting too much of your time.
    I apologize for my fellow humans here who insist on making stupid comments when people are interested in spending money for whatever reasons they choose. Suddenly - everyone becomes a financial adviser.

    Oh yeah. Consider playing the occasional game or two. It's a cool way to enjoy the other benefits that such a computer build can offer.

    Good Luck and above all in my opinion - have fun. :bounce: 
    January 15, 2008 2:16:41 AM

    future proof for how long?
    I'm speculating that most things today, at consumer level, aren't going to keep up with the latest offerings in 2010

    something like this in the far-off(?) future will make that system mentioned in your post look slow

    mobo
    some TYAN board that supports 4 cpus, 4 memory slots with each
    (TYAN has been doing this for a long time)
    (in addition, we will likely be seeing USB 3.0 (or better) and better chipsets)
    (all for faster I/O)

    cpu
    octo cores * 4
    (seeing in the direction of where we are going with cpus, yep)

    memory
    2GB (or more) DDR4 (or better) sticks * 16
    (Micron has already announced finding a tech that packs more memory per chip)

    optical drive
    holographic storage disks
    (I believe they already exist, don't know when it will hit the consumer market)

    storage
    RAM drives
    (already out and they kill the performance of the best motorized drives)
    (but we might still live with the old HDDs or solid state drives as additional storage or back up)

    video card
    multiple cards in a separate enclosure
    (already in the workings, need to give it some more time or it can be a flop or it will be in its own niche market)

    video and sound output
    dunno, some visor that has built in HD projection and virtual surround sound?
    January 15, 2008 4:49:05 AM

    Thanks for the postings guys. A few thoughts...

    There's no such thing as "future-proof." Trust me, as someone who's pretty computer savvy (though not up on all new trends), I have seen technologies rise, fall and give way many, many times. I think those of you that saw fit to dissect "future-proof" took it a bit too seriously. My point isn't some kind of fantasy of outclassing the consumer hardware of tomorrow with the elite components of today. My point is to put together a fun build that I can enjoy _today_ that will keep a competitive edge at least for some time to come.

    And I do financial advising (of a sort) for a living, so I know well how to waste money :)  Anyway, there's a value to be had for just putting lots of shiny parts together in a shiny package for some; it may not satisfy most people's metrics of value, but it's not a waste to me.

    [How many manufacturers would love to hear a customer say that!]

    ANYWAY, I totally agree with the x48 point. You guys don't think that DDR3 will deliver performance benefits once we're several BIOS'es into x48 boards? And what do you guys think of the ioDrive (http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2007/09/iodrive_the_new_storage_architecture_1000_hard_drives_in_the_palm_of_your_hand.html) over the Mtron (http://www.nextlevelhardware.com/storage/battleship/)? One reason I'm keen on these parts is that the SSD promise of super-high read/writes would seem to finally be upon us... If this is going to happen now, it would be nuts for me to "lock in" with some Raptors if these things work as advertised. (Big *IF* there.)
    January 15, 2008 5:15:02 AM

    Can you tell me how you got so rich?

    If you are concerned about noise and heat, and money isn't a problem, water cool a QX9770. It would be pointless to not overclock with that setup, though. You really should consider that, since overclocking will extend the life of your system, something you clearly aspire to achieve.
    !