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$1000 MicroATX Developer PC

Last response: in Systems
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November 24, 2009 6:51:19 AM

Hi All. I am building a new workstation to handle my day-to-day development/school work. Since Black Friday is a couple of days away and I saved enough money, it seems to be the right time to get my new machine.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: November 25-27 (Black Friday)
BUDGET: ~$1000 +/- $150

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Development (non-web), Running Simulations (like Folding@Home), Internet Surfing, Watching Movies, Simple Home Movie Editing, Gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, OS (will be using Linux)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: NewEgg.com, Fry's Electronics (in store pick-up), MicroCenter (in store pick-up)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: microATX Case, Intel Core i7-860, NVidia Video Card

OVERCLOCKING: No
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 (although may upgrade in a year to a 24")

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
  • My machine will be be running 24/7.
  • It is a requirement to have a mATX case.
  • I prefer NVidia cards over ATI because the have much better Linux support.

    Suggested System Components:
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-860
  • MoBo: GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD4
  • RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600
  • HDD: 2x SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA - (RAID-0 configuration)
  • PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W ATX12V V2.2 - (80+ certified & modular)
  • Video: EVGA GeForce GT 220 SSC Edition 1GB DDR3 01G-P3-1227-LR - (no power connector needed, excellent HD playback)
  • Optical: Sony Optiarc DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA
  • Case: LIAN LI PC-V351B Black Aluminum MicroATX Desktop Case
  • Thermal Compound: ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound

    Discussion Points
  • Is the stock Intel cooler good enough, or I need to purchase one? If yes, which HSF/CPU-cooler would you suggest (given it fits in the case)
  • I have no idea which optical drive to pick. Would you suggest another one?
  • Many readers may object to the NVidia GT220. I chose it for its performance/power-consumption ratio and the fact that I will hardly ever play 3D games on this machine. Would you suggest a replacement?
  • Although there is a voltage difference, many people (in the forum and NewEgg reviews) are pairing Gigabyte P55M motherboards (1.5v) with the Ripjaws 1600 (1.6v). I just want to double check that it works.

    Price: This order from NewEgg will come to $902.00 before taxes and after incorporating the site-wide 10% discount during Black Friday. I will save $60 on the i7-860 if I pick it up from the local MicroCenter.

    So, what do you think?
    November 24, 2009 2:37:41 PM

    If you don't overclock you don't need an aftermarket cooler. Wait for reviews on that socket.
    A nice burner:

    PLEXTOR Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD/CD Writer LightScribe Support - OEM

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    November 24, 2009 2:42:51 PM

    Nvidia drivers are better under Linux, than the open source ATI drivers.
    You may actually take a performance hit using open source drivers.
    the ATI Radeon HD 4670 costs the same as the GeForce GT 220 and from our tests have shown it offers significantly better performance in many areas, but does not support VDPAU. NVIDIA hardware at this time is the superior choice for video playback on Linux. When it comes to the Linux support with the GeForce GT 220, the latest proprietary driver from NVIDIA works quite well with this PCI Express graphics card, but do not expect any viable open-source support soon. The xf86-video-nv 2D driver will end up working with the GT216 GPU at some point, but the only open-source 3D support for this graphics card is likely to come through the Nouveau project, but that is still heavily being developed. The ATI Radeon HD 4670 is certainly a better choice over the NVIDIA GeForce GT 220 for open-source fans.
    Related resources
    November 24, 2009 4:23:06 PM

    @evongugg:
  • Thanks for the suggesting the Plextor. It seems like a very good drive, but given that I only use my optical drive once to twice a month it may not be worth paying that much on a non-blue ray drive.

  • Although I an advocate for open-source, I admit/advise to use closed-source products when they do the job right/better than their open source alternatives. Drivers definitely fall within that category. GT220 it is.

  • Any comment on the Thermal Compound and RAM <-> Mobo compatibility?

    Your help is highly appreciated.
    November 25, 2009 2:40:36 AM

    Thanks for the tips @Sonic-Boom.

    Are the MX-2 & Arctic Silver 5 the same? I recall reading that the MX-2 is a higher-end thermal and gives better results. Correct me if I am wrong.

    I agree the 600w is overkill, but I want to keep my future options open. Since I am planning to use this machine for the next 5 years (may retire it after 3 years to be an HTPC) Here are some future additions and I do not want to change the PSU:
  • Blue-Ray Drive
  • SSD
  • TV Tuner Card
  • More RAM
    !