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New i7 Build #1 (Do all good things have to come in 3's)

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January 12, 2010 7:17:01 PM

I need to build two new work systems to replace our 2 aging ASUS P4P800 SE boxes.


I will be building 1 now and one in March, 2010. This is a significant investment for our small firm and we need to get it right. Any help or pointers would greatly appreciated.

I want the new system to be stable, responsive, powerful, and economical in terms of power consumption.
Since the system is left on 24-7, I want excellent power management and minimal cooling requirements - my office is not air conditioned and it can get quite warm (for Canada) in summer (~90F)


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: (Today or as soon as I can see clearly what my alternatives are)

BUDGET RANGE: (900-1500 CAD)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
programming and testing (C#, C++, VB - Visual Studio 2008: 32 and 64 bit code
webpage coding and testing (Dreamweaver)
document design(Acrobat, Office 2007)
database design(MySQL)
invoicing and accounting(Simply Accounting)
music(while coding - over 200GB MP3 collection 1960-80 B-52s, Beatles, Band, Cars, Clash, U2, MWH...)
games(rarely - when depressed, fatigued or bored, mostly old games such as Eragon, Baldurs Gate, etc)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED (Hopefully):

Keyboard, Mouse
Logitech Mx 3200 Keyboard/Mouse Combo Wireless
http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/support_downloads/dow...

Enclosure
Antec Sonata case True380 watt power supply (I plan on replacing the power supply only)

Hard Drives
1.5 TB Seagate ST31500341AS
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...
0.5 TB Western Digital WD5000AAKS-00A7B0
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?DriveID=301

Monitors
SOYO 23" LCD Widescreen x 2

Speakers
Logitech X-540 5:1 Speaker system
http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-X-530-5-1-Speaker-System...

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: BestDirect.ca, TigerDirect.ca, NewEgg.ca

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: prefer Canada, USA, Taiwan, Japan in that order but ultimately will settle for China, I guess.

PARTS PREFERENCES: INTEL, ASUS, SEAGATE, WD, ATI, OCZ, Kingston, Crucial, CORSAIR, ANTEC

OVERCLOCKING: Rarely
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: (1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
My Dual 23" LCD Monitors support VGA or DVI connections only ( max 1680 x 1050)
I'd prefer to use 64 Bit Windows 7 and 12GB memory but I also have Win XP 64 bit and Vista 64 Bit
OS versions available. I plan on using Virtual PC 2007 to support my 32 bit apps.

SYSTEM TO BE REPLACED:
It is old and slow and it's O/S software is outdated and ....

Antec Sonata case True380 watt power supply
Win XP 32BIT
ASUS P4P800
INTEL S478 P4 3.4 GHZ HT
4 x 1GB OCZ PC3200 Memory (800 2.5-3-2-5)
Current System Graphics Card: ATI ALL-IN_WONDER 9600

HDD
1.5 TB Seagate ST31500341AS
0.5 TB Western Digital WD5000AAKS-00A7B0

Software
Visual Studio 2008
TestComplete 7.5
Dreamweaver CS3
Adobe Acrobat 9.0
Office 2007 Enterprise
Simply Accounting 2010 Enterprise
Acronis True Image 11
TrendMicro Internet Security Pro


My initial cut at this build is as follows after reading the sticky:

Nothing has been purchased yet, except for the items from my old box.

CPU: Intel i7 920 x 1
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

Motherboard: ASUS P6T x 1
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/204729/P6T/ASUS/

Memory (12GB) OCZ3XG1600V6GK x 2
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/210068/OCZ3G1600LV6GK...

Graphics Cards Sapphire Radeon HD 5750 x 2
Sapphire Radeon HD 5750 700MHZ 1GB 4.6GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDMI Display Port Lite Retail Video Card x 2

Power Supply
Corsair TX750W 750W ATX 12V 60A 24PIN ATX Power Supply Active PFC 140MM Fan

DVD Drive
DVD-RW x4 Lite-on or LG (no blu-ray)

Cooling
2 Additional 80 mm Case fans to move air through the case
Stock CPU Cooler

WHY I'M ASKING ABOUT THIS BUILD

In summary, I clearly have way too much uncertainty here to purchase $1200 x 2 worth of hardware.

I have 0 experience with i7 architecture.

I feel really uncertain about the ASUS P6T mobo because there were 15% 1-star ratings on NewEgg.

I'm also uncertain about populating all 6 memory slots and how much heat that might generate as well as how much I might benefit from it and why should I cut myself off from upgrading to 24GB by using 6 x 2GB sticks instead of 3 x 4GB sticks. Does anyone actually make 4GB sticks in kits of 3 and did ASUS certify any of them?

I don't even know why I need two graphics cards but the home brew guide says that multiple graphics cards are good.
I don't know why there are 3 PCI-e16 slots (should I have 3 5850s?) even though the last one seems not to be as efficient as the other two.

I don't know why I chose the Sapphire AMD/ATI 5850 - I just have a vague impression that the 5850 is better than most of NVidia's current offerings and Sapphire produces good cards.

Finally, I just assumed the PSU at 600 watts (80% of 750) would be more than enough at load unless I need a 3rd 5850.

Cooling is a best guess only - I see comments that the i7 920 is ok with the stock cooler, even if OC'd.






More about : build good things

January 12, 2010 7:26:18 PM

First, if you were running fine with 4GB before, I dont see why you would start with over 6GB. Unless you know you are going to fill over 6GB up that is wasteful in terms of power, heat and money.

I also dont understand the need for twin 5750s. If you are playing old games and doing other general stuff a single 5750 or 5770 would be perfectly adequite. The 5770 is around 50% faster for not much more money so IMO its a better value.

If you are sticking to a single 5750 or 5770 then a corsair 550 will be plenty of power. Both are low power usage, low heat cards.
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Best solution

January 12, 2010 7:55:27 PM

here are my suggestions based on they uses you specified:
One 5750 or possibly a 5770-plenty for old games and the other programs you specified are not gpu intensive

6 gigs of ram for now and add another 6 gigs (per tower) when you need more

a 500watt OCZ 80 plus silver psu- if its on 24/7 it will save you money and last longer Heres a good one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

A good cooler to keep those temps low and maybe enable a bit of an overclock with out hurting the longevity of the system:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

you need this mounting bracket to use that cooler on a lga 1366 cpu:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would go for a cheaper mobo since you wont be going for insane overclocks or running multi gpu setups. maybe this gigabyte. i have always had great luck with gigabyte boards and this one will save you 40 dollars:
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/206754/GA-EX58-UD3R/G...

in summary: sorry for the newegg links, look for comparable parts on a site you will be using. dont get too big a psu, people do this way too often and it kills the efficiency of the system. 500 watts if AFTER the 85% not before and if you dont overclock and have only one gpu you should not get close to that, especially with a 5770 which is very easy on power consumption. in my opinion go for a decent heatsink. while the stock one may be fine, low temps are cheap insurance.

good luck!
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January 13, 2010 6:31:00 PM

dndhatcher said:
First, if you were running fine with 4GB before, I dont see why you would start with over 6GB. Unless you know you are going to fill over 6GB up that is wasteful in terms of power, heat and money.

I also dont understand the need for twin 5750s. If you are playing old games and doing other general stuff a single 5750 or 5770 would be perfectly adequite. The 5770 is around 50% faster for not much more money so IMO its a better value.

If you are sticking to a single 5750 or 5770 then a corsair 550 will be plenty of power. Both are low power usage, low heat cards.


Hi:
Great suggestions:
Memory: Although I'm going to run Virtual PC to support my 32 bit apps, I couldn't use more than 3GB in XP so 6 GB should be perfectly adequate.
Video Card: The 5770 was $25.00 more but since it was faster, I went with that.
Thanks for your effort and time. I believe the end-result will be better more effective systems for us
Cliff
A.C.E.S.S.
cliff@acess.ca
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January 13, 2010 6:58:48 PM

Um, if you're concerned with power go with a P55 build. Much less power usage.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i5,2410-...

Also, overall platform cost is lower with P55. That PSU you're considering is way overpowered for your needs. A 550TX is enough.

Also, still not sure y you want 6gb of RAM. If you're using a 32 bit OS then no point going over 4gb.
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January 13, 2010 7:18:05 PM

banthracis said:
Also, still not sure y you want 6gb of RAM. If you're using a 32 bit OS then no point going over 4gb.


The OP mentioned that multiple OS versions were available, leaning towards W7 64-bit.
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January 13, 2010 7:49:59 PM

Here's a P55 bases i7-860 build from Newegg's Cananda website (you guys have much fewer options and no combo deals >.<).

CPU i7-860 $304.99
Easily beats i7-920 in any benchmark.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

MOBO ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA $199.99
Cheapest MOBO on newegg.ca with USB 3.0/SATA 6.0 and no x4 PICE slots.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

RAM 4gb Gskill Eco DDR3 1333 7-7-7-21 $113.49
low voltage RAM.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

PSU Antec Earthwatts 500W $87.99
PSU's are most efficient at ~50% load and I'm guessing your system will run ~230-270 W under normal use.
The OCZ StealthXStream 700w is only $7 more, but it won't be very efficient at those loads. Still worth considering though if you wanna use more powerful GPU's.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

GPU 5770 $176.99 w/ $10 MIR
Great overall GPU, uses much less power than previous generation stuff. Will fulfill all your non high res gaming needs.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

HSF Hyper 212 Plus $29.99
If you plan on keeping systems on 24/7 and want them to stay low temps, you'll needs a nice HSF. This is cheap, yet one of the best performing in the world.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...

Optical Drive Sony CD/DVD burner $30.99
Cheap SATA drive
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Total Cost $944.43

I would also strongly recommend a new HD and case as you'll see a significant performance increase from the HD, and much better temps with a new case.

Case HAF 922 $109.99 w/ $20 MIR
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

HD
Seagate 7200.12 500gb $79.99
Uses a 500gb platter and outside the Spinpoint F3 (not available in ca), is the best mainstream HD.

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Total $1134.41 Canadian before shipping and MIR (which should pretty much negate each other, unless shipping is MUCH more in CA than US).
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January 13, 2010 8:00:39 PM

coldsleep said:
The OP mentioned that multiple OS versions were available, leaning towards W7 64-bit.



Oops, missed that part in the OP.
Looking at your software list though, I don't see anything there that would really benefit from lots of RAM. Getting 4gb with the P55 should be sufficient for the foreseeable future. Of course you could always just pop in another 4gb down the road if you need more.

Generally it's those in audio/video editing that will actually use tons of RAM. The exception is VirtualBox or VMware or w/e you're using. Still, for your needs 4gb is sufficient.
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January 15, 2010 12:47:28 PM

ewood said:
here are my suggestions based on they uses you specified:
One 5750 or possibly a 5770-plenty for old games and the other programs you specified are not gpu intensive

6 gigs of ram for now and add another 6 gigs (per tower) when you need more

a 500watt OCZ 80 plus silver psu- if its on 24/7 it will save you money and last longer Heres a good one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

A good cooler to keep those temps low and maybe enable a bit of an overclock with out hurting the longevity of the system:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

you need this mounting bracket to use that cooler on a lga 1366 cpu:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would go for a cheaper mobo since you wont be going for insane overclocks or running multi gpu setups. maybe this gigabyte. i have always had great luck with gigabyte boards and this one will save you 40 dollars:
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/206754/GA-EX58-UD3R/G...

in summary: sorry for the newegg links, look for comparable parts on a site you will be using. dont get too big a psu, people do this way too often and it kills the efficiency of the system. 500 watts if AFTER the 85% not before and if you dont overclock and have only one gpu you should not get close to that, especially with a 5770 which is very easy on power consumption. in my opinion go for a decent heatsink. while the stock one may be fine, low temps are cheap insurance.

good luck!


I've read your suggestions very carefully - did the research on the gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R mobo. It really is a neat mobo. It doesn't have that 3rd crippled PCI-e 4X slot and has pretty much everything the P6T has . If I ever need dual x-fire video cards, it is certainly there. The memory slots are a bit of a limitation with 4 rather than 6 but I've read a lot of negative comments about using all 6 slots on the ASUS board. The only real strangeness I encountered with the gigabyte mobo was that 4th RAM slot. The docs indicate that if you populate that with a 4th stick of compatible ram, it will act as a 8GB Tri-Channel memory set. How can that work?
At any rate, I purchased the gigabyte mobo last evening. Also the 500 watt OCZ PSU and 6GB of OCZ Ram and a Sapphire 5770 with a i7 920. I'll advise later how the build performs when all the bits arrive and I've had time to assemble it.

www.newegg.ca is Canada's NewEgg store and I value them for their reviews and generally good pricing. I bought a new case (The Antec Skeleton) from them so I won't need additional cooling on this build although I am concerned about dust.

I did buy the cooler and bracket you suggested for my second build later on which will use the Antec Solitude case that will be available once I've got the first build working.

Thanks for all of the work you put into your excellent reply.

all the best.
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January 15, 2010 6:14:50 PM

banthracis said:
Oops, missed that part in the OP.
Looking at your software list though, I don't see anything there that would really benefit from lots of RAM. Getting 4gb with the P55 should be sufficient for the foreseeable future. Of course you could always just pop in another 4gb down the road if you need more.

Generally it's those in audio/video editing that will actually use tons of RAM. The exception is VirtualBox or VMware or w/e you're using. Still, for your needs 4gb is sufficient.


Thanks for your well-considered and well researched suggestions - Unfortunately, I'd already pulled the trigger on my orders at bestdirect.ca and newegg.ca by the time I'd read it. I will probably spring for the i7 850 for my 2nd build depending on how the first one works out, the total damage to my wallet so far has been:

Intel Core i7 920 Quad Core Processor LGA1366 2.66GHZ Bloomfield 8MB 4.8GT/S ... $304.79
OCZ Gold OCZ3G1600LV6GK 6GB DDR3 3X2GB DDR3-1600 PC3-12800 CL 8-8-8-24 Triple Channel Memory Kit ... $180.18
Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 Vapor-X 860MHZ 1GB 1.2GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDMI DisplayPort Lite Video Card ... $194.70
OCZ Z-SERIES 550W 80+ Silver Certified 24PIN ATX 12V Afc Power Supply W/ 120MM Fan ... $80.41
Gigabyte EX58-UD3R ATX LGA1366 X58 DDR3 2PCI-E 2PCI SATA2 RAID Sound GLAN CrossFireX Motherboard ... $202.67
CASE ANTEC|SKELETON BK RT - Retail ... $169.99 (eliminated the need for anything but stock cooling)

Total $1132.75 although I'm reusing my 1.5 TB Seagate ST31500341AS and an HP i940 DVD-RW drive that was in the old system. Your idea about the new case got me thinking about the old Antec cases I'm currently using - decided to surplus 1 and maybe use the other for the 2nd build.

Thanks again for your help



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January 23, 2010 9:53:38 AM

Best answer selected by kleverkliff.
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January 24, 2010 1:13:24 AM

good build that should be a solid platform for a long time.
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