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Quiet and fast i7 rig

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December 31, 2009 3:37:52 AM

I asked earlier in the year for thoughts on a new homebuilt system. Since then, I got a better idea on exactly what I want and what my budget can be. So now I am pitching a slightly altered build and would like to hear some thoughts or suggestions for improvement.

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: January 2010

BUDGET RANGE: 1200

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: multiple Adobe and MS Office applications in parallel, video editing+encoding, music, legacy gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard and mouse, monitors

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: any online dealer is fine with me

PARTS PREFERENCES: i7 920 and X58 board for best future upgrade potential

OVERCLOCKING: NO

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: NO

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 2x 1280x1024

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

-- Ideally, this system is supposed to be quiet, stable and capable of some decent number crunching. I mainly use it for work (running multiple Adobe and Office products at the same time) and it should be capable of doing some other chores in the background without interfering with my work. In addition, I will use it to edit home HD movies.

-- I would like to use a sound proofed case and if possible a fanless graphics card to keep it as quiet as possible.

-- I currently run two 19 inch screens, so I would like to have a graphics card that has a dual DVI output.

-- I definitely want to add a mid-sized SSD to the system to improve start-up times and performance of the Adobe products when working with large files.

-- Gaming is really not an issue, so there is no need for any kind of overclocking or SLI/Crossfire.

-- I would like this rig to be upgradable and reasonably future proofed (my current desktop lasted me about 5 years with some minor upgrades from time to time).

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Potential list of parts

CPU: core i7 920 ~$280

Motherboard: Gigabyte or Asus X58 ~$140

GPU: SCS3 HD5750 Powercolor with passive cooling ~$155

Memory: OCX Gold (3x2GB) ~$130

Case: Antec Performance One P183 Black Midsize Tower ~$150

PSU: Antec Earthwatts 500 Watt ~$75

SSD: Intel X25 G2 80 GB ~$240

HDD: WD Caviar Green 1TB ~$90

DVD: ? ~$30

Quiet Case Fans+CPU cooler: ? ~$40

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So with the parts list I have, I'm about $150 over budget (not counting tax and shipping). I have a couple of questions:

1) Does this seem like a reasonable build?
2) Will this build serve the purpose I have for it?
3) How can I improve (or better balance) this build?
4) Where can I save some money without compromising my requirements for the system?

Thanks very much for your help.

More about : quiet fast rig

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December 31, 2009 1:43:06 PM

1) Yes for your usage.

2) Sure.

3) Green drive needs to go if you want performance. Get a Black one.

4) 3 things: CASE, PSU & SSD.
- I wouldn't spend more than $80 for a case regardless of what space material it is made of.
- $75 for 500W. Can't they just shoot me in the head?
- 250MB/s read & 70MB/s write? I'd get a Vertex 60GB with 230 MB/s read & 135 MB/s write for LESS.
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January 1, 2010 5:34:39 PM

p55ibexpeak said:
1) Yes for your usage.

2) Sure.

3) Green drive needs to go if you want performance. Get a Black one.

4) 3 things: CASE, PSU & SSD.
- I wouldn't spend more than $80 for a case regardless of what space material it is made of.
- $75 for 500W. Can't they just shoot me in the head?
- 250MB/s read & 70MB/s write? I'd get a Vertex 60GB with 230 MB/s read & 135 MB/s write for LESS.


Thanks for your reply. To cut down on the price point I switched from the P183 case to the Antec Sonata III 500. It was available on Newegg for $100 and free shipping -- and it included the 500W Antec Earthwatts PSU that Newegg sells by itself for $75. Seemed like a good deal. If after a while I don't like the case, I can still upgrade to something that is better soundproofed. That alone cut $100 from the final price.

In addition, after poring over a number of reviews, I think that the Core i5 should be sufficient for pretty much all my needs. In most tests, there is virtually no speed difference to the low-end Core i7. So opting to go with the i5 cuts about another $100.

So my revised build looks as follows:

CPU: core i5 750 ~$200

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA ~$135

GPU: SCS3 HD5750 Powercolor with passive cooling ~$155

Memory: OCX Gold (2x2GB) ~$90

Case+PSU: Antec Sonata III 500 + Antec Earthwatts 500 Watt ~$100

SSD: Intel X25 G2 80 GB ~$240

HDD: WD Caviar Black 1TB ~$100

DVD: ? ~$30

Quiet Case Fans+CPU cooler: ? ~$40
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Related resources
January 1, 2010 5:58:27 PM

Hi Niklas, so I was trying to figure out which applications really benefit from the Hyperthreading. Could you let me know specifically, why you think I would benefit from Hyperthreading?
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January 1, 2010 6:00:48 PM

posted a link above
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January 1, 2010 10:31:40 PM

It's funny I recommend Sonata III every chance I get. Someone actually questioned me. lol. The 500W Earthwatts is worth 75 bucks, so the well made low-maintenance quiet case is $25. Absolute steal. You can't even get a used one at that price.

The i7 860 is a better buy than i7 920 for most everyone, except those who read up on i7 and bang they can't not have an i7 920 + overpriced mobo + whimpy gpu and call it a gaming rig. Anandtech summed it up best:

Quote:

In terms of cost effectiveness however - the Core i7 860 is the way to go. With cheaper motherboards and higher operating frequencies than a Core i7 920, for the majority of users the 860 will be the better pick. Here's where the discussion gets interesting however.


To top that off, the 860 turbo is up to 3.53GHz, as opposite to 3.2Ghz for 750 & 2.93 GHz for 920. Yes, it's better than 750. So what? You can't afford it. You can't not downgrade the overpriced SSD to Vertex. The 2 SSD's make no difference to the naked eyes.
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January 2, 2010 3:33:09 AM

p55ibexpeak said:
It's funny I recommend Sonata III every chance I get. Someone actually questioned me. lol. The 500W Earthwatts is worth 75 bucks, so the well made low-maintenance quiet case is $25. Absolute steal. You can't even get a used one at that price.


It sounded like a great deal. Pounced on it immediately.

p55ibexpeak said:
To top that off, the 860 turbo is up to 3.53GHz, as opposite to 3.2Ghz for 750 & 2.93 GHz for 920. Yes, it's better than 750. So what? You can't afford it. You can't not downgrade the overpriced SSD to Vertex. The 2 SSD's make no difference to the naked eyes.


Seeing that I am currently working on a Athlon 3400+ processor, I think the performance jump to the i5 750 will be quite stunning (especially coupled with the SSD). I might upgrade the processor in a couple of years, depending on how the prices look then.
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January 2, 2010 3:43:26 AM

Okay. Here are the final specs, prices and links to the rig I decided on.

Case+PSU -- Antec Sonata III + 500w Earthwatts PSU -- $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quiet Case Fans -- 2x Zalman ZM-F3 120mm Quiet Case Fan with Silicone Pins -- $20
http://www.amazon.com/Zalman-ZM-F3-120mm-Quiet-Silicone...

SSD -- OCZ OCZSSD2-1SUM60G Summit 60GB 2.5-Inch SATA II Solid State Drive -- $182
http://www.amazon.com/OCZ-OCZSSD2-1SUM60G-Summit-2-5-In...

CPU+GPU -- Core i5 750 ($195) + SCS3 HD5750 Powercolor with passive cooling ($155) -- COMBO DEAL -- $335
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Motherboard -- GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA -- $135
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory -- CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 -- $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD -- WD Caviar black 1TB -- $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD -- LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R 24X DVD-R SATA Black 24X DVD Writer -- $32
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU cooler -- ZALMAN CNPS7000C-AlCu 2 Ball CPU Cooler + ZALMAN ZM-CS5B Clip -- $26
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Card reader -- SABRENT CRW-UINB 68-in-1 USB 2.0 Internal Card Reader -- $13
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabit Switch -- D-Link DGS-2208 10/100/1000Mbps 8-Port Desktop Green Ethernet Switch -- $45
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Shipping/Mail-in-Rebates -- $15-$15

Total Cost (including shipping and tax): $1082
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January 2, 2010 12:26:42 PM

You need a 3.5-Inch Adaptor Bracket. Amazon got one for $12. I'm still amazed that no cheap knock-offs from China yet. IMO, it should cost no more than $5.

Also, I got a bunch of internal card readers off ebay for $5 each shipped. Works like a champ. Looks exactly like this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-All-In-1-Internal-Card-Reader-3...

Ironically, I got a $10+ one locally that has a melted USB plug. I had to replace it with one from a dead mobo.
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January 4, 2010 1:03:15 PM

Final update: After reading up on the OCZ Summit, I decided to go with a 120gb OCZ Agility SSD. I found it on ZipZoomFly.com for $325 after rebates (http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...). It just seemed like OCZ was treating the OCZ Summit like the unloved stepchild (possibly due to it being the only OCZ SSD with a Samsung controller). The price for the Agility seemed pretty good to me and I think I can put up with the small performance penalty due to the slightly slower NAND used.

p55ibexpeak: Thanks for mentioning the bracket. I had indeed ordered one (from Amazon) but had failed to list it.
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January 11, 2010 2:52:13 PM

Well, here is the update after the final update:

I put the system together over the weekend. The most severe snag I hit was that the holes for the second case fan are too small for the Zalman silicon fan holders. So I opted (for now) to just go with one case fan. Everything else installed without any problems and I got a successful post on the first try.

Installing Windows 7 Professional (clean install using an upgrade version and the Registry "hack") was superfast on the OCZ SSD. The install was finished in 14 minutes flat.

Since then, the system has been temperature/stability tested using the OCCT utility. With the case fan running on low (7V) and the CPU cooler running at its lowest setting, the idle temps are in the mid twenties and the load temps reach the low sixties. The rig is snappy like nothing I've worked on before (software starts up in 1-2 secs), wake from sleep takes about 5 secs and full boot less than 30 secs. In addition, with the passively cooled GPU and both fans set to low, the rig is whisper quiet. Unless the secondary harddrive or the DVD drive are running, I can't hear a sound.

Thanks everybody for your help. This went off with much less headache than I had anticipated.
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January 12, 2010 2:04:12 PM

That's why I recommend a small SSD for OS & apps if the budget allows. I haven't had one personally, but I've seen the numbers in benchmarks. It's crazy fast.

Good to hear. If the case has only 1 fan, it should be the rear exhaust.

You're welcome. Have fun.
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January 12, 2010 2:17:50 PM

p55ibexpeak said:
That's why I recommend a small SSD for OS
& apps if the budget allows. I haven't had one personally, but I've
seen the numbers in benchmarks. It's crazy fast.

Good to hear. If the case has only 1 fan, it should be the rear exhaust.

You're welcome. Have fun.


Yes, SSD is worth every penny so far.

And I did install the rear-exhaust fan. The attachment site for the
internal fan is the one that has smaller holes, that don't allow fit
the Zalman silicone fan attachments. Since the temps are fine and I
don't plan to OC, I will leave it at that and simply run a stress test
every now and then to make sure that things are still cooled properly.
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