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~$1500 gaming/music new build & questions about storage/backup

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February 3, 2010 8:45:50 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next couple weeks-month
BUDGET RANGE: Around $1,500 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, music recording, listening to music, websurfing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, possibly monitor(s), maybe case

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: no preference

OVERCLOCKING: maybe (will run as default speed unless overclocking is easy)

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: no

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Currently have 2 monitors, both of which are fairly old:
Viewsonic VP191b 19-inch Black LCD Monitor 1280 x 1024 5:4 aspect
Apple Cinema Display (20-inch) 1680 x 1050 16:10 aspect

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Here are my current system specs:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+ 2.41 GHz
3GB RAM

Windows XP Pro

A8N-32 SLI Deluxe
GeForce 7800 GT
WD 70GB Raptor

LIAN LI PC-65B Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Currently I am running two computers, the PC listed above and a Apple desktop a year or two older than that. The Mac has mainly been used for recording and listening to music with the PC for gaming and storage space. I'm thinking that I want to consolidate down to just using 1 machine and the flexibility of selectable parts has made me think about it being a PC. My gaming has mostly consisted of WoW, FFXI online, just started Mass Effect, soon to be Mass Effect 2, and eventually probably some other mmorpg (clearly not a cutting-edge gamer). My current PC struggles during 25m raids and also some screen tearing/artifacts have been showing up when I play Mass Effect even at it's lowest graphical settings (I'm aware it's system-intensive) and some other games now as well.

I have looked at other recommendations in the forums here and put together a couple potential options for systems, but I'm not sure if it's worth it to go "all out" and get top of the line or just to get parts somewhere near the top end that aren't quite so pricey. Any advice you can offer would be really helpful. Typically I run my computers for 4-5 years without upgrading much (provided components don't die along the way). Below are a couple of my thoughts on some builds with current prices for reference:

Socket 1156 system
$200 Intel Core i5 750, Quad Core, 2.66GHz, 8MB L3 Cache, 95W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
$280 Intel Core i7 860, Quad Core, 2.8GHz, 8MB L3 Cache, 95W, HT
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$170 EVGA P55 LE, P55, 1 PCI-e 2.0 x16/2 PCI-e 2.0 x8, ATX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$115 G.Skill Ripjaws, 4GB, 2 x 2GB, DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
=$485-565

Socket 1366
$290 Intel Core i7 920, 2.66GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$290 GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD5, 2 PCI-e 2.0 x16/2 PCI-e x8
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$180 G.Skill PI Series, 6GB, 3 x 2GB, DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
=$760


$30 COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$140 ($20 mail-in rebate) CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$400 Diamond Radeon HD 5870, GDDR5, 256-bit, 1200MHz Memory, 1600 Shaders, 850 Core, 40nm, DX11
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$50 SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3, 7200RPM, 500GB, 500GB/Platter, 16MB Cache
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
$290 Intel X25-M, 80GB, SSD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$140 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

=$760-1000


Questions:
Is my current case sufficient for this new hardware or would it be worth getting a new one?

Regarding storage and backups, what is the best way to back up data?
I recently lost about 500GB of my media when both my RAID1 hard drives started making clicking noises. As a possible solution I looked at some NAS devices like the Drobo, but those seem to have similar problems in terms of making sure data is safe. Some people have recommended a RAID5 with 5 or 6 drives, but that seems excessive to me. The best solution I've thought of is to have several drives that backup through software (Acronis) where 1 internal drive backs up daily/weekly and an external drive that backs up weekly/monthly. Any thoughts? How can you make sure your data is safe?

I've seen some people mention now is not the time to buy cpu stuff and was just curious as to why? Also there are some new 32nm chips coming out soon and it's unclear if it would be worth waiting another couple months or not for this tech. I'm in the same boat about the SSD's; they are intriguingly fast but also expensive and not so big, is it worth waiting for those to drop in price or go wait for a next gen to get one for an OS drive?

Are my monitors still usable if I plan to play games at resolutions higher than what they are listed at, or should I look at getting a better monitor or less expensive graphics card? Monitor, desktop, and game resolutions confuse me for some reason. I'd like to run my games with all the settings on, just not sure how that ties into the resolutions.
February 3, 2010 9:12:59 PM

3 drives is suffisent to recover data lost from one drive.
So if you buy 1500 bites, you will use in reality 1000 bites because the third disk got parts of the two drives.
It's an hydrid array so you get data safety + higher data write/read rate (as in RAID 0 array).

As for the SSD drives, they are really expensive and most of the time over rated. I suggest you to look for better composent for your computer or more HDD if you really need more space/speed.
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February 3, 2010 10:08:02 PM

Bites? Really?

Anyway, I wouldn't consider a motherboard-based RAID solution truly foolproof, whether it's RAID 1 or RAID 5. Probably fun to mess around with, but I wouldn't rely on it being perfectly dependable.

Your idea about using backup software to 2 (logical) locations is probably the way to go. THG just did an article recently on Acronis vs. Win 7 built-in vs. something else, you might try searching for that.

Assuming 3 drives (or more), you might do the following if you're really paranoid. Back up from primary data drive to secondary data drive once an hour. Back up from secondary to external drive nightly. A to B nightly and B to C weekly with a full backup once or twice a month is a little more realistic though.

If you went with a NAS solution, typically the NAS would be the external/backup target, it wouldn't be the only place the data was stored. (Well, it could be, but then it's not a backup.)

SSDs are expensive, though the perceived performance improvement is very noticable. However, at a $1500 budget, it's probably not in the cards. I would consider one for a $2K+ build, but not at your budget.

You will be unable to play games at resolutions higher than what your monitors are listed at, they are physically (electronically?) incapable of displaying higher resolutions.
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Related resources
February 3, 2010 11:02:24 PM

Thanks for the input so far. Just to clarify I'm planning on using the SSD just for the OS and having other TB drives as scratch disks and for storage
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February 4, 2010 4:28:52 PM

Any thoughts on a socket 1156 vs 1366 build? I'm leaning towards the 1366 but I'm not sure if my performance needs justify the extra cost, especially considering probably any one of these builds would be good upgrade from what I have currently.

coldsleep said:
Bites? Really?

Anyway, I wouldn't consider a motherboard-based RAID solution truly foolproof, whether it's RAID 1 or RAID 5. Probably fun to mess around with, but I wouldn't rely on it being perfectly dependable.

Your idea about using backup software to 2 (logical) locations is probably the way to go. THG just did an article recently on Acronis vs. Win 7 built-in vs. something else, you might try searching for that.

Assuming 3 drives (or more), you might do the following if you're really paranoid. Back up from primary data drive to secondary data drive once an hour. Back up from secondary to external drive nightly. A to B nightly and B to C weekly with a full backup once or twice a month is a little more realistic though.

If you went with a NAS solution, typically the NAS would be the external/backup target, it wouldn't be the only place the data was stored. (Well, it could be, but then it's not a backup.)


I'll take a look at the Win 7 backup vs Acronis article. Had a copy of Acronis laying around already, but if Win 7 does the job then great.

I also already have a couple of 1TB drives I grabbed as my RAID1 drives were crashing in hopes I could save some of the data before they gave out that I'm now planning to use as backup space for the new computer whether it be in a NAS/raid/software backup situation. When I set up my RAID1 a couple years ago I guess I thought that would be an ideal backup, the original data plus a mirror of everything on a 2nd drive. Live and learn I guess.

coldsleep said:
You will be unable to play games at resolutions higher than what your monitors are listed at, they are physically (electronically?) incapable of displaying higher resolutions.


So even though the cpu/graphics card might be set to display in a very high resolution, the monitor will only display at its max resolution correct? If that's the case then would it be better to buy a less expensive graphics card or look for a new monitor?
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February 4, 2010 5:06:36 PM

If you do a lot of music recording, you might see a benefit with going to 1366 and an i7-920. Alternatively, you could just go with the i7-860 to get hyperthreading on the 1156 socket. If you're only recording casually or not that frequently, I'd stick with the i5-750. Under $1500, it's hard to recommend going to 1366, since you end up spending an additional $200-300 on mobo/CPU/RAM. Between $1500-2k it's a toss-up, and above $2k, it's almost a no-brainer to go with 1366 (almost).

The THG article actually suggested that Acronis was very good and had a lot of options that power users would appreciate, I've been thinking of picking it up for a bit and that article may have convinced me to do it.

In theory, RAID 1 is great. The primary problem is that if you're doing it based on a motherboard, it's not likely to be portable to a new system. If you want foolproof RAID, buy a RAID card. It sounds like you were incredibly unlucky to have both drives fail at the same time, and that generally won't happen, but that's what backups are for. :) 

I'd buy the more expensive graphics card now and game as is, and then consider buying a new monitor in a couple of months. Decent monitors can be had for under $200.
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February 4, 2010 5:37:11 PM

I agree with Coldsleep. It's hard to justify the 1366 over the 1156 for your purposes as the improvement in performance will not be noticeable. The i5-750 is a particularly good value for the performance, you should consider it. In terms of your monitors, your card will handle 1680 x 1050 gaming with ease. If you do not plan to upgrade your monitor in the future, then you can easily drop down to a 5850. Your chosen mobo has crossfire capability, if you're not planning on using it why not drop down to a cheaper single slot board?
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February 4, 2010 7:16:03 PM

SSD Drives are worth the money when it comes to security. Especially for Music Recording!!
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February 4, 2010 8:04:34 PM

Security? I'm not sure how you think SSDs affect security. Are you just trying to drive your post count up? :p 

They're great for a boot/application drive. They're not so great for any other aspect of recording. They're terrible for a scratch space, as rewriting is a very (relatively speaking) time-consuming operation. They're terrible for storage, as the $/GB is comparatively high compared to traditional disks, and again, rewriting/overwriting is time-consuming.
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February 5, 2010 1:53:27 AM

When I say security, I mean that they don't fail near as much as regular drives. When you are recording music, losing a drive sucks. But yeah, a RAID 5 with some 500GB HDDs will be less expensive for sure.
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February 5, 2010 10:28:53 AM

Thought we used to put main applications on SSD for fast load.
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February 5, 2010 7:57:05 PM

Weighed my options some thanks to the good advice posted here and came up with a more refined build. Hard to beat the performance/price of the i5-750. I'd like to grab an SSD, but it looks to me like they are still a bit pricey right now so I might pick one up next time around. I debated about the GPU down-step to a 5850, but if I drop the SSD I could grab a monitor with better resolution and still come in under $1500.

How do you figure out what kind of voltage you need for a PSU? I had originally specced for a 850W, but so I can probably to a 750W. Is 650W or even lower possible? I might get a modular PSU as well, it's a couple extra bucks but much less cable management hassle.

Also have been reading other posts in this forum and several people have mentioned new stuff and potential price drops later this month and in March. Buy now or wait?

Thanks!

$50 SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$120 CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$115 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$200 Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$30 COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$280 EVGA P55 LE 123-LF-E653-KR LGA1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

= $795

$400 ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/A Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$190 ASUS VH236H Black 23" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

= $1385 before rebates
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February 11, 2010 1:56:29 PM

sonarzero said:
Weighed my options some thanks to the good advice posted here and came up with a more refined build. Hard to beat the performance/price of the i5-750. I'd like to grab an SSD, but it looks to me like they are still a bit pricey right now so I might pick one up next time around. I debated about the GPU down-step to a 5850, but if I drop the SSD I could grab a monitor with better resolution and still come in under $1500.

How do you figure out what kind of voltage you need for a PSU? I had originally specced for a 850W, but so I can probably to a 750W. Is 650W or even lower possible? I might get a modular PSU as well, it's a couple extra bucks but much less cable management hassle.

Also have been reading other posts in this forum and several people have mentioned new stuff and potential price drops later this month and in March. Buy now or wait?

Thanks!

$50 SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$120 CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$115 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$200 Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$30 COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$280 EVGA P55 LE 123-LF-E653-KR LGA1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

= $795

$400 ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/A Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$190 ASUS VH236H Black 23" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

= $1385 before rebates


Looks good. Nothing to add.
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February 11, 2010 2:00:34 PM

sonarzero said:
Also have been reading other posts in this forum and several people have mentioned new stuff and potential price drops later this month and in March. Buy now or wait?


I believe there's a wattage calculator in the build threads here in this forum.

If you're not absolutely dying for a new computer, I would wait. Prices may shift a little, and hey, you might even be able to save a little more money for a minor upgrade.
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