I'm thinking of getting an EVGA 680i motherboard with an Intel Q6700 CPU for multitrack audio and 3D rendering. (Not gaming.) Does this sound like it would be a good choice? Known issues with this hardware? Is there any reason I can't seem to find a new (non-recertified) EVGA motherboard out there?
Also, for that processor, what sort of RAM would give the best performance? And what wattage PS is needed to support that stuff plus my 8800GTX?
Skip on the 680i motherboard.
Nvidia chipsets are known to have many issues including overheating, data corruption, low overclocking capabilities, slow USB performance, etc.
The reason you can not locate a new 680i motherboard is because the chipset has been retired and replaced first by the 780i and later by the 790i.
I am assuming that you already have the Q6700, if not you should consider a different CPU.
Look into a P45 based motherboard like the ASUS P5Q-E.
A P45 based board will give you a stable, speedy and feature full platform at a decent price.
For the RAM, get 4-8Gb of DDR2 with 4-4-4-x timings.
Anything faster will give you absolute minimal real world performance gains and cost quite a bit more.
For the PSU, look into a QUALITY 500w+ Corsair, PCP&C, Seasonic, Enermax or Antec Earthwatts PSU.
Particularly as this sounds like a business machine, not likely to be overclocked, get DDR2-800 RAM that runs at the JEDEC standard 1.8V. It will probably run at 5-5-5-12, which is not remarkably different from 4-4-4-12, but doesn't require the manual factory overclock settings.
A G0 Q6600 will have no problems running at 3Ghz or faster on stock voltage with a CNPS9700 and the above hardware.
With luck you can push a Q6600 to 3.6Ghz, although you would need better cooling at that point.
A P45 based motherboard is fully capable of running at 400Mhz FSB which gives you the possibility to run at 3.6Ghz with out overclocking the motherboard or RAM, only the CPU.
If you are sticking with Xp, you will only be able to address a total of 4Gb.
In this case, 8Gb would be a waste.
You may be surprised with Vista 64 however.
The OS has made major improvements since the release of SP1 and now is just as good/stable as Xp.
Yes, 400Mhz would be the base clock speed.
To get the MT/s speed, multiply the base clock by four.
To get the minimum usable RAM speed, multiply it by two.
The CPU frequency is derived from the base clock * the CPU multiplier.
As such, at 3.6Ghz (400Mhz*9) your motherboard and DDR2 800 RAM (400Mhz * 2) will still be within their specified range.
Nice! I'll double check my apps support Vista 64. Does vista 64 have the driver issues XP 64 had? And is there an effective way to turn off the "OS second guessing me" dialogs and useless services bloat? (My bad, I'll change the subject back to hardware now.)
Driver support in Vista 64 is MUCH better than XP 64.
Just as good as in Xp in my experience unless you are still using a 10 year old printer...
Yes, you can turn off UAC and everything else but it is really just a minor annoyance.
It does give some healthy security improvements leaving everything turned on though.
The 'bloat' is Vista actually using the extra RAM you have installed to preload your most commonly used apps.
As soon as another app requires the resources, Vista will automatically free them up.
I'll post the specs below. I'm not sure how to determine the base clock speed of this board when using a Q6600. If the base is 800 MHz, that sounds like I'd be stuck with a top CPU speed of 3.2 GHz as I suspect 4 GHz is unstable/risky with this chip?
In any event, I'm curious to know if I'm sacrificing/benefiting anything by going with this motherboard over a Asus P5Q-E with DDR2 support?
I did some checking around and so far I don't see any articles that suggest the latency picture is any better with DDR3 right now as opposed to DDR2. Presumably DDR3 uses less power and leaves the door open to future improvements in latency that are not yet available? Meanwhile the price of DDR2 remains quite small compared to DDR3.
Looks like I'm getting a P5Q-E. I just checked out the corsair website... Do RAM chips "really need" heat sinks? When is this advisable? When not?