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Please help on my new development machine build

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February 6, 2008 3:26:37 AM

I haven’t built any systems for more than 10 years so I need some help and advice from all gurus here. This is a development machine which I will use Visual Studio 2005 (2008) and MS SQL 2005 (2008). VMWare will put in there and maybe have 2 or 3 VM running at the same time. As well as gaming, video editing etc. But main purpose for this machine is doing software development and research. I will load XP sp2 (32bits). Budget: 1500 – 2000.

Here are the components that I have in mind:

CPU
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600

MotherBoards
ASUS Maximus Formula
ASUS PK5-E/WiFi-AP
ASUS P5E-VM
Need advises here: performance first, then price. RAID is optional but good to have. Any suggestions are welcome.

Case
Antec Nine Hundred ATX Mid Tower
Antec P182 or P182
Coolermaster CM Stacker 832
Need advises here: easy to work with. Any suggestions are welcome.

PSU
PC Power & C Silencer 750 Quad 750W
Corsair CMPSU-620HX 620W
Need advices here: need to have enough powers, many hard drives (SATA) will be added later. Any suggestions are welcome.

Video Card
8800GTS ????

CPU Heatsink ????

Memory – 4G DDR2 800 / 1066, I know XP 32bit limit to 3G but I may load other OS later.

Others I don’t care much at this point.

Thanks in advance.
February 6, 2008 4:06:51 AM

I'd go with this:
* q6600 good choice here. Can always OC later if you think you need it and still use the stock HSF. For mild OC's use the Arctic Freezer 7 Pro and if your going to do insane OC's on air go with Thermalright Ultra 120 and Scythe 120mm cooling fan.
* Antec 900 is a solid and cool (temperature wise) case. Has room for more fans if really needed and is easy to pop in/out a HD or DVD drive, if needed, due to the tooless design. PSU is at the bottom of the case so it'll run cooler and thus last longer.
* PCP&C 750w PSU is awesome and is one of the best in it's price range. The Corsair hx520w is all that you'd really need, since it's modular (nice for cable management and less clutter, which means cooler case) and has plenty of power for around $100.
* 8800gts 512mb (g92) is probably a very nice GPU for the $ at around $300. If you really want to push your GPU level up you could go with a 3870 x2 GPU, but that will cost you about $150 more, don't know if this is an issue or not.
* As far as the RAM is concerned, you could just stick with DDR2 800mHz stuff, just make sure you get the CAS 4 stuff. It'll OC more, if you do that later, and is really cheap right now at about $50 for 2gb's. Since your going to be doing alot of development stuff I'd probably go with a 64bit OS and 4gb's of RAM, so you can take advantage of the more addressable memory. 4 gb's of RAM isn't a bad idea either, especially if you upgrade from XP 32bit OS to a 64bit OS later.
* If your not OC'ing much, than any of the mobo's you listed will be fine. If you stay stock or do mild OC's than I'd go with the cheapest one listed that has all of the options that you need.
February 6, 2008 4:27:57 AM

Great, thanks for the fast respond. This forum is awesome.
I will do mild OC for now and will get Arctic Freezer 7 Pro. PCP&C 750w will be my first choice also 880gts 512 (G92) sound good. And should I worry about the size of this card and will it fit in Antec 900?
Yes, I may upgrade to 64bit and get more memory later. But just concern about the drivers issues for 64bits.
Thanks lunyone.
Related resources
February 6, 2008 5:31:07 AM

First off, your welcome. :)  We have all been in similar situations ourselves in the past, so when I can help out, I do.
Back to the ?'s. If your software is fairly recent than more than likely the 64bit OS system won't have any affect on you. AFAIK there isn't any issues with the 8800gts 512mb (g92) fitting into the Antec 900 case. It is quite roomy and has good cooling properties.
February 6, 2008 6:54:58 AM

What are you thinking of developing???
And what SQL Server version are you going to run (Express, Standard etc...)???
Are you just wanting to run the database engine, or do you also want the other tools??? SSIS, Analysis and reporting services etc...???
I was at a MS seminar today - was told running some of these services in a VM is a BAD idea (though that was in PROD - maybe not such an issue for a small dev team).
What is your budget???
You could look at a no frills box with lots of RAM and CPU to run SQL Server and VMs and run Visual Studio on a nice dev box that can run games...
February 6, 2008 2:56:50 PM

I am using that for .Net development and also as you mentioned, SSIS, SSAS and reporting services. Also Sharepoint, CRM, PerformancePoint etc... That's why I need a machine that can run VM so I can take and keep different images. I may load SQL Standard edition on a different box (my old PC) if necessary. It is a development environment so performance for SQL is not an issue for now. Do you think I need to change my system configuration? My Budget is 1500-2000. In the next few months, I may add extra machines if I have more budget. I like rurnning VM on the development machine becasue I can take snapshots in different stage and sometime if system crashed and I can reload the image in no time.
February 6, 2008 3:07:16 PM

You could probably build 2 machines on $2k budget, so don't know if that is where your wanting to go with it or not. Most $1k systems these days are quite nice. Would this be a complete build from the ground up?
February 6, 2008 3:19:00 PM

Yes, I was thinking to build two machines. But I am also thinking to get a laptop after this purchase. So I hope the first build can do the most of what I want.
February 6, 2008 3:54:57 PM

NICE!! Well with the $2k budget you should get a nice Desktop for around $1k and a decent laptop (not as fast as the desktop) for about $1k or so, depending on your requirements for the laptop. Your up to about $900 with CPU/GPU/RAM/Case. You could adjust PSU down to Corsair hx520w PSU and still be fine and it would save you about $50-80 over the PCP&C 750w one. The Corsair hx520w has plenty of power and has a 5 yr. warranty to boot! What were you plans on the laptop?
February 6, 2008 4:25:21 PM

Will Corsair hx520w PSU handle many hard drives? I saw someone mentioned that it requires extra extensions to reach mobo with Antec 900 case, is that true? And what do you think of CM 690 case? It can save me a few $$$.
I had been using number of Dell Latitude laptops in the past. And they were fine. I may get one myself. I don’t mind trying others. Any good suggestions?
February 6, 2008 6:01:10 PM

+1 on the CoolerMaster 690. Large, easy to work with and great cooling setup/design.

You might want to look into getting XP64 bit just due to the fact that you stated that you might be running 2-3 VM's. If not I would get a second HDD and use the second disk for your Scratch Disk/Virtual Memory. If you have to run all VM's at the same time you will get a little edge here if you go with XP 32 due to the lower memory.

I would also definitely look into RAID, especially since you are most likely be under your budget of 2k. A 2 disk RAID 0 will help with performance. You can also look into a RAID 10 (0+1) for redundancy since you are a developer and probably don't want to do everything twice. If you go with the Intel chipset, make sure it has ICH9R for the Southbridge.
February 6, 2008 6:28:29 PM

I agree with supreemlaw on the parts he recommended. What i would recomend is that you get a x64 OS either Vista or XP. Then upgrade to 4GB+ RAM. VM is a very RAM intensive application so you will defenently see the difference between 2GB and 4GB.
February 6, 2008 6:45:56 PM

As a fellow VS2005/SQL 2005 developer, here's my $0.02...

I just put together a machine quite similar to what you're proposing, except I used the E8400 processor. Might switch over to the Q9450 when they're out. But I used the P182 case, the P5E-K wi-fi board, 4GB of PC2-6400 memory, and the 8800GTS (G92) Evga board.

The P182 case with my Seagate 7200.11 drive is incredibly quiet. I'm VERY happy with that combination; it's much quieter than my previous Sonata II case. That case seemed to reveberate the hard drive noises in particular. Now, I have to use the HD light to see if it's active.

The case also keeps things nice and cool with all the fans turned to their lowest settings.

I'd recommend going with 4GB or more of memory right off the bat, and putting on a 64 bit version of Vista. If you need to run XP for anything, throw it on a virtual machine. Having the extra memory for virtual machines is incredibly nice, and I just run one at a time. I've been thinking of investing another $100 for another 8GB just because it's so cheap! :)  I realize that Vista isn't for everyone, but I've been using it since the RTM came out, and am quite used to it and it's quirks.

BTW, the E8400 easily overclocked to 3.6GHz on that board without any changes beyond raising the FSB to 400MHz. To get up to 3.8, all I did was raise the voltage of the memory to it's 2.1v spec, and bump the FSB to 425. I'm not going to push it beyond that at all; it's not worth the effort. Fast enough, and all that. :) 

Hope this helps,

Clint
February 6, 2008 7:11:15 PM

^Agreed.

Quote:
Ditto that, Shadow703793!

With plenty of RAM and x64 OS,
you can really FLY with RamDisk Plus
from www.superspeed.com .

There is no RAID in existence that
can do this:

http://www.supremelaw.org/systems/superspeed/raw.read.Corsair.PC2-6400.GIF

... using widely available DDR2-800.


And, only $50!!



Sincerely yours,
/s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell
Webmaster, Supreme Law Library
http://www.supremelaw.org/

True but the disk itself is like $250+. The DDR2 prices are negligible.
http://www.superspeed.com/servers/ramdisk.php
February 6, 2008 7:15:09 PM

I think I will go with ASUS PK5-E/WiFi-AP since it has ICH9R. I will do more research on RAID and the HDDs that I will get.

Also I will load 64bit XP Pro and get 4G RAM now and get another 4G later.

About the HSF, I want a stable and reliable system. Mild OC is nice but don’t want any risk. I read the review on Asus VR Guard in Newegg, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And I could not find this in local store. Should I forget OC at all?

Love the suggestion on CM 690. Will get CM 690.

Q6600 vs E8400, since I am running 2-3 VM at a time, will Q6600 perform better?

>1333 FSB/4 = 333 MHz raw CPU bus speed
>675 DDR2/2 = 333 MHz raw DRAM bus speed
>--> 1:1 FSB:D RAM ratio (the sweet spot)

FSB / 4 is it because CPU is Quad??? Need more reading….

Thanks everyone.
February 6, 2008 7:24:22 PM

Thanks Clint, did you put HSF for your CPU???
February 6, 2008 7:28:36 PM

With everything I've read, I'd recommend against the 64 bit version of XP. It wasn't well supported at all with regards to drivers and software. Either go with XP Pro (32 bit) or Vista (64 bit).

IMHO.

Clint
February 6, 2008 7:39:35 PM

I used the stock HSF for a bit in my Sonata case, and it actually did pretty good when I wasn't overclocking at all. When I rebuilt things in my new P182 case, I used my old Scythe Ninja cooler, but I'm overclocking it. So I don't have direct comparables, although I could set the processor back to stock speeds and see if you're really interested. But the Ninja keeps the CPU under 42 degrees, even under heavy load (2 instances of Prime95). The stock cooler was maybe a degree or two warmer, but again, it wasn't overclocked. It was very quiet, though, and MUCH easier to mount.

I knew I was going to be rebuilding everything (the case was on order when I got my processor) so I used the stock HS for a week or so just for giggles, and because I was tired of slicing up my knuckles on the Ninja. If I didn't have the Ninja already, I suspect the stock one would still be on there as it seemed "good enough" even for the level of overclocking I do.

Clint
February 6, 2008 11:59:25 PM

BTW, I've got a P5K-E board, not P5E-K :) 

Anyway, I came home, and set my E8400 back to stock speed and re-ran 2 instances of Prime95. It started at 27C, and didn't budge over 5 minutes of running. That was weird to see... Then I overclocked it back to the 3.825GHz, and it started again at 27C, but quite quickly it increased up to 40C. After 5 minutes, it was still level at 40C.

All these temps are measured using SpeedFan with no tweaks to it, using my Scythe Ninja cooler. The fan on it reports running at about 1200rpm.

I think next time I take my computer apart, I'll try turning the fan off the Ninja, and see how it does... When I bought it, it says it can run fanless in some situations. Perhaps at stock CPU speed, it could keep up.

Clint
February 7, 2008 12:20:57 AM

Actually, I would recommend XP-64 for this build.
It's one of the rare cases I would recommend this.

#1) XP is quite a bit faster than Vista for hosting VMWare.
#2) You can run a 32-Bit Client OS under XP-64, but you can't have a 64-bit Client OS under an XP-32 Host.

For Testing, you will want to be able to test your software under both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

The Extra RAM is important, especially if you will be running multiple VMs. 3gb is really not that much.
February 7, 2008 12:55:24 AM

Clint, be careful by turning off the fan. Don’t want to see you CPU burnt. I will start my build without OC and use the stock HS.
Thanks Zenmater for the recommendation. I will go with 64bit for sure. I am still thinking should I get Vista or XP Pro? In term of gamming, which is better?
February 7, 2008 1:03:41 AM

I have been using VM on XP 32 bit and never try on Vista. Interesting blogs. I am thinking more Vista now....since I will get more RAM.
!