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Quiet i7, SSD, $1500-$2000

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September 2, 2009 8:23:02 AM

My boyfriend has said he would help me build my PC, but I had to research and buy the parts myself, so sorry if some of these questions are a bit basic. Im trying to build a computer for primarily Photoshop/Lightroom and video editing and rendering. It has to be very quiet, and ideally pretty energy efficient as I leave my computer on idle a lot. Price isn’t particularly important, maybe $1500-2000.

Thanks so much for any advice or suggestions you can give me.


*Casing
Looking for a case that is very quiet, with adjustable fan speeds, and ideally can fit larger video cards. I have read good things about the Antec 900, just wanted to make sure it was as quiet as people say and that it can hold large cards and large heatsinks like the Scythe Zipang (which apparently is very quiet).

*Processor
Im torn between the i7 920 and the 950. I hear that you can overclock the 920 such that it is close to as fast at the 950, but is that an easy or relatively difficult overclock. Also, can the 950 be overclocked to be even faster still? This would be my first attempts at overclocking, so it would all be pretty basic.

*System Drive
Im really interested in getting a top SSD for my system drive. At first I was looking at getting 2 Ocz Vertex 30gb and put them in a RAID 0 for $280. I was reading on Anandtech though that he thinks RAID 0 will make less of a difference for SSD drives, and will run into problems when switched to TRIM.

So I have also been looking at the Intel X-25M 80 GB Generation 2. Quick question, is there any way to identify the Gen 2s from the Gen 1s? Do the 2's use 'Mainstream' in the title? Also the only place I can find it is Amazon for $339 in the retail package. I had heard it was going for as little as $240 on Newegg before supplies started running low and since then everyone has been ramping up the price. Is there a lot of value in the ‘retail’ version? I definitely appreciate things like having supplied cables and installation software. And I was ready to pay $280 for 2x30gb Ocz, so $340 for 80 GB Intel isn’t a budget buster. But I do feel ripped off a bit.

*Data Drive
I need about 1.5 TB of space for videos, and performance is important. I also leave my computer on 24/7 so wouldn’t mind something energy efficient and cool (to save on fan use).

Which would be faster (and ideally more efficient), 2 smaller (640-750) ‘green’ drives (like the WD Caviar Green) in a RAID 0, or just a single 1TB or 2 TB performance drive (like the WD Caviar Black).

Also, when buying OEM drives, should I get some cables or anything like that?

*Backup Drives
I was planning on getting a eSata docking station (like the Thermaltake) and a couple of drives that I would backup my system and store remotely. I was just going to grab a couple of WD Caviar Green as speed is not hugely important, but if Im missing something let me know.

*Graphics Card
I read in an article that GTS 250 had very low power consumption and reasonably good performance. One thing that concerns me is I hear this is a very long card. What should I look for in a case to make sure this card will fit, or are there smaller cards that have decent performance and energy efficiency. I am limited to Nvidia cards as they have Physx and play well with Adobe.

*RAM
Corsair 12 GB Triple Channel 1333

*Power supply
I am happy to pay up for a good power supply, but don’t want to overbuy. It is unlikely that I would upgrade this system in the future, except maybe to add more SSDs. There is a small chance I guess that I would upgrade the graphics card to something more gaming capable. But the most important thing is that its quiet and efficient. It will also need to be autoranging, if that is a problem anymore.


Thanks so much again for any help that you can give me.

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September 2, 2009 9:05:02 AM

It seems that you have done your research well...
As for the parts,..

1. Casing - The Antec 900 is a very good case but I dont think it would be a Quiet one...
Here is a good option if you want to take into the noise factor into account...
This case also has very good airflow...1 x 120mm front fan,1 x 140mm rear fan, 1 x 230mm top fan
Thermaltake ElementS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. CPU - No doubt the i7 920 is the better option...Make sure you get the D0 stepping and it will happily overclock as good as the i7 950.
But instead of that CPU cooler, the Xig Dark Kinght or the Scythe Mugen 2 would be better for the i7 overclock...

3. I would vote for the intel 80GB SSD...You can identify them by 1) Color - They are silver colored whereas the G1 are Black colored. 2) Model number - Gen 1 - SSDSA2MH080G1 Gen 2 - SSDSA2MH080G2 Notice the G1 and G2 at the end ???
Maybe its better to wait till they restock them and then make the purchase...

4. For data drives, 2x WD Black 640GB in RAID 0 would be a very good option.

5. Backup drives are fine...

6. The GTS 250 is a good option for you usage and is actually a overkill but still it would last you long...Get the 1GB version as extra memory would help...

7. RAM - If you can get lower timing on the RAM...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

8. PSU - You can go for a modular PSUs as you can get rid of unwanted cables from the PSU...
SILVERSTONE ST60F 600W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or

CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX 520W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anything above these PSU is just an overkill for your configuration...These PSU can handle upto GTX 285...
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September 2, 2009 2:40:15 PM

You may also want to consider a workstation card instead of a gaming card. I see that you plan on gaming on the machine so that may not be an option, but a workstation card usually beats a gaming card hands down in rendering and functions utilizing image software. Check out the following forum on Tom's:

It also provides a link to a review of an Nvidia workstation card and I think it does a comparison to a gaming card as well.
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September 4, 2009 11:38:59 PM

Thronsen said:
My boyfriend has said he would help me build my PC, but I had to research and buy the parts myself, so sorry if some of these questions are a bit basic. Im trying to build a computer for primarily Photoshop/Lightroom and video editing and rendering. It has to be very quiet, and ideally pretty energy efficient as I leave my computer on idle a lot. Price isn’t particularly important, maybe $1500-2000.


I'm in a similar situation .... see my thread here ....http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/270740-31-college-bou...

Case - Look at the Antec 1200 w/ either the Antec 650w PSU's. Signature series is tops but Quattro and TruePower are also decent lines.

CPU - My thinking mirrors yours

HD's - Experience pushes me to Seagates HD's.....the 7200.12's for top performance and the LP series for energy savings and 5 year warranty. I'd prefer RAID 5 over RAID 0 tho so if a drive fails you don't lose everything.
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September 4, 2009 11:48:29 PM

The i7 920 and 950 both have the same overclocking ceiling. The only thing the 950 does is make your wallet lighter. I would definitely stick with the 920.
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September 8, 2009 7:33:37 AM

Thanks everyone so much for helping me out. I have read all your replies and done more reading up on some of these parts. I had a couple of follow up questions if you dont mind.

Casing and PSU:

Ive read some reviews of the p183, including on silentpcreview.com. I was thinking of combining that with the CP 850 which apparently only fits in the p183. Most concerned about the quiet.

Also though concerned that apparently power supply efficiency is reduced if the draw gets too low? Is that something I have to worry about with my configuration, that it will use too little power for the power supply to be efficient?

Processor:

Thanks for all the advice, Ill definitely get the 920 with D0 stepping.

SSD:

I managed to get one of the G2 from mwave.com. Thanks for letting me know how to differentiate them. BTW does anyone know what the letters after the G2 in the ID number mean? Ive seen things like C2 and R4.

Graphics Card:

Trying to decide now between then 9600 low watt, as I hate to kill the environment, and the 260 GTX as it has Physx. Is the 9600 really so bad?

RAM:

The Ram suggested isnt available from Amazon (Newegg charges sales tax to NJ which makes it not competitive, and I get free 2 day shipping from Amazon).

If anyone can give me some generic rules for picking cheap ram, or can suggest something that is sold Prime at Amazon, that would be great. I really have no idea what Im looking for, other then the amount (12 GB).

BTW is overclocking your RAM independent of OC your processor? Im never sure about why to get 1600 instead of 1333.

Thanks again everyone.
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September 8, 2009 4:21:48 PM

Newegg was charging me tax for a while, then they stopped (NY'er). Seems 3 states are still getting charged. I know they have a warehouse in NJ so that's prolly why:

"Does Newegg charge sales tax?

http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/FAQDetail.aspx?Module=2

"Newegg charges the appropriate state and/or local sales tax for any order shipping to California, New Jersey, and Tennessee. Sales tax for cell phone orders shipping to California and Tennessee are calculated before any instant savings are applied.

Tennessee and New Jersey residents are charged according to their state and/or local tax rate. Please note that the sales tax for New Jersey and Tennessee orders is calculated based upon the total price of the order, including shipping and handling. The tax imposed by these states on shipping and handling is part of the state sales tax, not a separate tax."

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September 9, 2009 7:09:49 AM

Bump. Can anyone suggest some good RAM? Need 6x2GB, and ideally available from Amazon.
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September 9, 2009 7:20:33 AM

2 Of these kits...It has XMP profiles so you wont have to overclock it to the required settings...And dont worry about the 1333MHz speed...It has lower timings to compensate for that...and this is one of the cheapest good quality kits available...
OCZ DDR3 PC3-10666 1333MHz Intel Extreme Edition XMP Ready Series 6GB
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LK7ZTM/ref=s9_simz...
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September 9, 2009 7:36:07 AM

Wow thanks so much Gkay. Is that accurate, that the $90 RAM you linked to is as or close to as good as the more expensive stuff? The next cheapest I saw was like $120, wasnt sure how a competing brand could be so much cheaper yet similar?
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September 11, 2009 4:17:59 AM

Thanks again Gkay and everyone else for all your help.
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