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Seeking help to build an i7 PC for heavy network simulation

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August 3, 2009 6:06:10 PM

Hello everyone,

I have never ever built a PC before but I would like to try it this time since I am planning to buy a new PC.

I am preparing for my Cisco Certified Network Professional(CCNP) and hopefully for CCIE in the future. I am using the Graphical Network Simulator 3(GNS3) for simulation. This emulator requires powerful processing power, huge memory and extremely fast hard disk to be able to emulate many routers and switiches at the same time or to built multi-segments networks.

In short, I need a PC with powerful processing power, huge memory and fast hard disk.

I also would like this PC to be future-ready for Blu-ray burner, Full HD graphics card and TrueSurround sound card. I do not need these features right now but perhaps in a year time when the prices drop.

Money is an issue for me which means I am looking for a budget i7 PC.

I am thinking about the following components and I need your help and direction to fine-tune and add any other components I will need.

1) Asus P6T6WS-REVOLUTION = $353.50
2)Intel i7-920 = $275.00
3)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB, 32MB Cache Memory, 7200RPM = $119.00
or would 2 x 500GB RAID 0 configuration be better and faster for my emulation applications?
4)OCZ OCZ3P1333LV12GS DDR3 PC3-1066, 12GB Platinum Low-Voltage Triple = $140.80
5)Corsair CMPSU-750TX = $105.74
6)PowerColor Radeon HD4670 PCS 1GB Graphics Card = $74.52
7)Heatsink = ?
8)Case = ?
9)Windows = ?

Your help and direction would be highly appreciated.

Supernova1973


August 3, 2009 6:30:54 PM

Blu-ray is still expensive and I'm a bit skeptical that it will ever become a mainstream item on desktop PCs. If you have no immediate need I'd suggest getting a DVD burner for now and waiting to see if you really need one and for prices to drop. Changing the optical drive is just about the easiest upgrade you can do to a computer system.

I just built a system with the P6T6 WS Revolution motherboard, but I chose it specifically because it supports ECC memory (I also bought the Xeon W3520, which is the ECC-capable version of the Core i7 920). The board works just fine, but if you don't have a particular need for it then I doubt you'd see any advantage to it over over a desktop board.

You don't say what kind of I/O load your emulation applications require and what their storage capacity is. If it's within your budget and storage needs, you might well consider a Solid State Disk (SSD). It may not be the best solution if the I/O load is write-intensive or if you need a lot of capacity, but in terms of performance you can't beat them.
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August 4, 2009 7:04:53 PM

Thank you so much sminlal for your prompt reply to my post.

to answer your question about the kind of I/O load the emulation application I am using, I will briefly describe GNS3( www.gns3.net ) for you here.

This software emulates the functions of Cisco routers, switches, firewalls, etc. By loading the Cisco Internetwork Operating System(IOS) for the specific router or firewall to the software, you can configure and set up the router or the switch as if you are doing it with a real physical router or switch.

The problem is that once I build a a network using 3 or 4 routers and switches, my Core 2 Duo PC becomes sooooooooooo sluggish and slow that you can't even move the mouse across the screen smoothly. Eveything becomes slow and jerky.

It is very well known that this emulation GNS3 is a CPU and memory killer and that is why I want to build a much better and powerful PC for my current preperation which will require me to use so many routers and switches.

Initially I wanted to order this PC from HP:

1) Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 1 (64-bit)
2)Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-920 processor (2.66GHz, 1MB L2 + 8MB shared L3 cache with QPI Technology)
3)FREE UPGRADE! 6GB DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM [3 DIMMs] from 4GB
4)1TB RAID 0 (2 x 500GB SATA HDDs) - performance
5)1GB ATI Radeon HD 4650 [DVI, HDMI, VGA]
6)LightScribe 16X max. DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive

which would cost me $1069.99 + $94.96(Tax) = $1164.95

If you guys think I am much better off building my own PC for less than the price above or for the same price but better specifications, please help me with the right items I am supposed to order to build an equivalent PC.

Thanks.

m
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l
August 4, 2009 8:35:32 PM

When you're running your 4-router simulation and your PC becomes sluggish, is there much disk activity (ie, is your disk light flashing a lot)? If so, then you may have an I/O bottleneck and an SSD or a RAID configuration may help. If not, then sticking with stock disks would be the simpler approach, perhaps only going to the length of separating the OS and everything else on separate disks.

As for buy vs. build - that's really a personal decision. The benefits in building your own are a potentially cheaper price or components more suited to your needs, as well as an excellent familiarity with your system which would come in handy should you decide you want to upgrade something down the road.

The benefits in buying a pre-built system are that there's less hassle, easier warranty recourse should something not work (depending on who you buy from), and supposedly no integration issues (such as: "oops, that heatsink doesn't fit in this case").
m
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!