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Help build a Java Crunching Beast - Mini ITX

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April 13, 2010 8:17:59 PM

Please help me build a computer solely for developing Java applications off-line. No network connection and no 3D gaming. There will be almost no multi-tasking either. Just Java, Java, Java and I want decent compilation speed.

An example of an ideal form factor:



APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week

BUDGET RANGE: Max. $1,000

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Java programming - compile speed is the biggest concern.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I need nothing other than a basic computer with a few USB ports.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, ncix.com, any website

PARTS PREFERENCES: Whatever compiles Java and C/C++ fast. Small Mini ITX form.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, if applicable.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 or higher

========

Final Build List:

Case: M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure - $40

Motherboard with onboard GPU: ZOTAC H55ITX-A-E LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $135

CPU: Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - Retail - $120

CPU cooler: Dynatron K199 80mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler - $29.99

Hard drive: Kingston SSDNow V Series 30GB 2.5IN SATA Solid State Disk Flash Drive - $69.99 on sale

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail - $109

PSU kit (discounted combo deal):
150w AC-DC Power Adapter, 12v 12.5A - $39.95 *BARREL CONNECTOR VERSION
PICOPSU-150-XT - $29.00

Total: $592.95
April 13, 2010 8:24:56 PM

I wouldn't build around the dead-end LGA 775 socket. Any new build deserves to use modern technology. Here's my suggestions:

Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - Retail $119.99

ZOTAC H55ITX-A-E LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard - Retail $134.99

You should also really think about getting 4GB of RAM even if you don't think you need it right now.

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail $108.99
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April 13, 2010 8:28:16 PM

That motherboard appears to have no onboard video (according to specs).. which means that I have to use a case 3x larger to accommodate a video card.

Or am I wrong? I do see a DVI port on that mobo.

Thanks!
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April 13, 2010 8:29:21 PM

The motherboard DOES have onboard video. All H55 motherboards have onboard video.
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April 13, 2010 8:46:03 PM

Thanks. Apparently the onboard video won't function with some CPUs, but the one you suggested (Intel i3-530) should work. Updated build list below. Will order tomorrow unless anyone has further suggestions.

Case: M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure - $40

Motherboard with onboard GPU: ZOTAC H55ITX-A-E LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $135

CPU: Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - Retail - $120

Hard drive: OCZ Vertex Turbo 30GB SSD - $120 after MIR

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail - $109

PSU: picoPSU-120 + 80W Adapter - $50

Total: $574

Good stuff. I assume that I still don't need a Quad-Core CPU.
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April 13, 2010 8:49:15 PM

No Intel quad cores have an integrated GPU. If you went with a quad core you would also have to buy a separate GPU and a larger case.
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April 13, 2010 8:49:16 PM

Looks good, BUT why mITX? Why not mATX? Imo, I'd go with a decent AMD X4 for Java work.
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April 13, 2010 8:53:42 PM

I helped a friend build a PC for scientific calculations. We used a 32nm clarkdale i5-660. It was a burner. Stock speed is 3.33, with a turbo up to 3.6ghz.
The nehalem series cpu's are about 15% faster than the core2 cpu's on a clock for clock basis.
I see no benefit to a Quad in your environment. Note that the i7-660 is a duo that has hyperthreading.

We used a gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would suggest a 4gb kit of 2 x 2gb. I can't talk to java, but compilers I know of can take advantage of all the ram they can get. Ram is cheap, and I see no downside to 4gb.

I do not know how the performance of the OCZ vertex turbo SSD compares to the intel offerings. In general, it has been my observation that the Intel offerings are better across the board today.
For the best performance, look th the intel X25-E 32gb drive:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It is pricey, at $369 but there is nothing better out there.
I think you would be safe with the intel X25-M gen2 80gb drive, or possibly the intel X25-V 40gb drive.
Research this carefully, and look for real performance of application numbers, not synthetic benchmarks. Also look for tests done in a well used environment.

I would use windows-7. It knows how to manage ssd's with trim, and also how to manage cpu's with hyperthreading.
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April 13, 2010 8:54:19 PM

shortstuff_mt: I see.

shadow: I probably won't even save more than $40 if I go the mATX route. The specs posted here are probably good enough for my needs. I like the small form factor and it will be mounted under my desk (with $2.50 mounts designed for this M350 case).
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April 13, 2010 9:19:42 PM

geofelt: Thanks for the info!

shadow: Since you mentioned AMD, I did a bit of research out of curiosity and wow.. there's a $45 Zotac mITX motherboard with a AM2+ and AM3 compatible socket:

ZOTAC GF6100-E-E AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA nForce 430 MCP Mini ITX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $45

AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX250OCGQBOX - Retail - $65

Not only it has a slightly faster clock speed than the Intel i3-530 2.93GHz, it also consumes less power (65W vs. 73W). Is this AMD a good alternative? I've always had this feeling that the more expensive Intel processors are better for crunching math and sciencey stuff, or is this a myth?

Stronger AMD Dual-Core processors:

AMD Athlon II X2 255 Regor 3.1GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - Retail - $75

This one will require a PSU upgrade. With the same clock speed is it even worth it?:

AMD Phenom II X2 550 Callisto 3.1GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - Retail - $88
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April 13, 2010 9:26:41 PM

The Intel chip will outperform those AMD chips because they're faster clock-for-clock. There are also faster i3 and i5 dual core Intel chips available, but I have a hard time justifying the higher price. I would stick with the i3 530 if it was me.
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April 13, 2010 9:41:34 PM

For a mini-atx H55/H57 motherboard, there are few choices, but Intel should be good:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If this application is for your livelihood, and your budget is $1000, consider spending it.

Remorse over what could have been lasts much longer than the sweetness of a cheap price.
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April 13, 2010 9:49:31 PM

I saw that Intel board, but Intel doesn't use the highest quality components on their motherboards. I would much rather spend the extra $15 on the Zotac board.
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April 13, 2010 9:53:55 PM

I have a Zotac miniITX Atom CPU board for my HTPC and my only complaint is that its BIOS does not support >3GB RAM. Other people have the same problems.

However this Zotac 1156 Intel board apparently supports up to 8GB RAM.

I was looking at that Intel mITX board too. I'll stick with Zotac I think.
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April 13, 2010 9:53:59 PM

Interesting: Intel's compiler deliberately and knowingly cripples performance for non-Intel (AMD/VIA) processors

Anyway, I googled for benchmarks and the Intel i3-530 CPU appears faster than the AMD 3.1GHz. That's for encoding videos, WinRAR compression, and pretty much everything else. Even the i3-530 CPU's power consumption is supposedly lower. I think it's safer to stick with Intel for this project.

This forum is the best. After only 1 hour of posting this, I gained all the information and confidence I need to purchase the build tonight. Thank you!
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April 13, 2010 9:57:43 PM

No problem. Good luck with the build! Let us know how it turns out. I wouldn't mind building something like that for my next HTPC.
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April 13, 2010 10:20:54 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
The Intel chip will outperform those AMD chips because they're faster clock-for-clock. There are also faster i3 and i5 dual core Intel chips available, but I have a hard time justifying the higher price. I would stick with the i3 530 if it was me.

Indeed, just took a look at the benches :lol:  And +1 for the i3.

@OP: Go with 4GB, I'm assuming you will be using NetBeans, where the 4GB will help if doing multi-tasking. Anyways, how complex are your programs going to be?
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April 13, 2010 10:23:36 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
No problem. Good luck with the build! Let us know how it turns out. I wouldn't mind building something like that for my next HTPC.

+1. My Atom HTPCs showing it's age with what I'm doing with it lol. I plan to turn this in to another NAS and get a i3 (like this set up, except mATX and different case) with a 5750.
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April 14, 2010 12:15:25 AM

Shadow703793 said:
@OP: Go with 4GB, I'm assuming you will be using NetBeans, where the 4GB will help if doing multi-tasking. Anyways, how complex are your programs going to be?


Yes I'm using NetBeans, and the app will be slightly more complex than MS Word. It also draws 3D using OpenGL but I don't really need hardware acceleration for that. I'm currently developing it on my desktop computer which is a mini-itx Atom and with hardware accel. turned off, the 3D stuff runs smooth enough.
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April 14, 2010 12:18:13 AM

Quote:
pp will be slightly more complex than MS Word. It also draws 3D using OpenGL

Oh? Why do I have the feeling this is not as "simple" as it sound.... :lol: 

PS: If possible, use multi threading! It's the future! :D 
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April 14, 2010 12:23:16 AM

Shadow703793 said:
+1. My Atom HTPCs showing it's age with what I'm doing with it lol. I plan to turn this in to another NAS and get a i3 (like this set up, except mATX and different case) with a 5750.


I have two Atom-based HTPCs, both with identical 30GB SSDs and identical or similar onboard GPU if I remember correctly. One is a Acer Revo desktop computer with a single-core Atom running Windows 7 and the other is a Zotac mini-itx with dual-core N330 or something (it's been several months since I built it), with Windows XP. The Zotac version runs 1080p much smoother, I believe mostly due to part of Windows XP and better software configuration. I'd rate it a 9.5 out of 10. A straight BD rip is a 9.0 out of 10 (a little more jitter but not really that noticeable). I might be able to perfect it, but I spent 5+ hours configuring software and I had enough. BTW I tested both XP and Win7 on exact same hardware with exact same drivers, etc. and Win7 always had about at least 5% more CPU load with noticeably reduced movie performace.

With a i3 Intel or whatever and a decent video card it'll be plug-n-play for 100% smooth 1080p playback. They consume a lot more power but that's not a big deal if you're only watching 2-4 hours of video a week.
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April 14, 2010 12:30:46 AM

^ I rip a lot of DVDs/BD and the Atom just doesn't have the speed that I want :lol: 
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April 16, 2010 3:41:02 PM

Important Update

All parts have been ordered except for a SSD.

Cheaper SSDs are poorly suited for compiling/building projects. They are slower at writing small files.

An average .java or .c file may be 1KB-10KB in size so the 2-8KB write tests on the web may be a good way to determine build performance with various hard drives.

According to benchmarks the OCZ Vertex Turbo 30GB SSD has a marginally higher write speed (4kb test) than a Velocirator 10,000 RPM HD. So this drive should be OK.

However, the best possible solution is to use RAMDisk, which reserves a portion of RAM space as a virtual drive for build projects. This blows the pants off any hard drive for performance and a minimum of 4GB RAM is a good idea. I'm glad I bought 4GB instead of 2GB as suggested here!

I'm still going to get a SSD as it will make my desktop environment more responsive. I'll probably purchase the cheaper Kingston 30GB SSD ($75) with TRIM support in Windows 7. It has a low 50MB/sec write speed with large files (OCZ Vertex SSD is 140mb/s and Velociraptor 10,000RPM is ~100mb/s), but RAMDisk will keep my Java build performance at its peak. I'll look into OC'ing RAM if it helps :) 

I hope this info helps others who are looking to do a similar build.
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April 16, 2010 5:58:06 PM

Not to worry. Benchmarks of real application throughput(vs. synthetic benchmarks) show that there is perhaps a 1-3% difference between the fastest 1600 ram and slower 1066 ram. That's not enough to get excited about. If 4gb gives you enough ramdisk for your work, fine. But consider 8gb if it gives you enough to hold all your work in the ramdisk. There is no performance negative to having too much ram, and ram is relatively cheap.
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April 16, 2010 8:09:14 PM

Quote:
However, the best possible solution is to use RAMDisk, which reserves a portion of RAM space as a virtual drive for build projects. This blows the pants off any hard drive for performance and a minimum of 4GB RAM is a good idea. I'm glad I bought 4GB instead of 2GB as suggested here!

That my friend is an EXCELLENT idea.

I my self have moved the JDK/JRE and Netbeans (with project folders) to the RAM drive. To give you an idea:

To put that in perspective, this is about the same/faster than the PCIe OCZ Z-Drive (at least $900+).
This is the software that I used to create the RAM disk: http://memory.dataram.com/products-and-services/softwar...

Note: I have 6GB of RAM. Benchmark run on OCed i7 920 system with Server 2008 R2.

edit:
Also note, I also have my Windows Temp files, Firefox and a few other small programs installed on my RAM drive.
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April 16, 2010 8:14:51 PM

Thanks for the info guys.
Nice one shadow.. I'm however this --> <-- close to kicking your ass for not mentioning the RAM drive earlier :p  I'm debating whether I should return the 2x2GB to newegg and buy 2x3GB. How much RAM do you have and how much do you reserve for all your Java stuff?
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April 16, 2010 8:30:50 PM

^ I didn't mention a RAM drive due to the fact you only have 4GB. I personally wouldn't run a RAM drive on a system at 4GB. Perhaps at 5GB minimum.

I have 6GB on this system, and use 2GB for the RAM drive. With the temp files, JRE, JDK (note: only the x64 version installed), Fire Fox 3.7a5, Netbeans,Paint.NET,etc, I have 1005MB free space left on that RAM drive.
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April 16, 2010 8:31:53 PM

smittyline said:
Thanks for the info guys.
Nice one shadow.. I'm however this --> <-- close to kicking your ass for not mentioning the RAM drive earlier :p  I'm debating whether I should return the 2x2GB to newegg and buy 2x3GB. How much RAM do you have and how much do you reserve for all your Java stuff?


As far as I know, there are no 2 x 3gb kits. You may be thinking of a 3 x 2gb kit which would be appropriate for a X58 motherboard. For best performance, you can get a second 2 x 2gb kit giving you a total of 8gb of ram. Kits with 4gb sticks are available, but they cost about twice as much.
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April 16, 2010 8:38:28 PM

^Agreed on getting a second 2x2GB (for a total of 4x2GB = 8GB).

@OP:
Before you go out an buy more RAM, I HIGHLY recommend you Download the RAM disk software I linked you to and see how you will do with a 1-1.5GB RAM drive. Realize, that I'm recommending a min of 4GB for a fully loaded system with a bunch of other software running in the back ground (and yes, I multi task like a daemon, 2x LCDs FTW!)
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April 20, 2010 1:21:49 AM

I took a picture of the Intel i3-530 CPU fan text to the M350 case. The fan is unfortunately too wide and tall and it will interfere with the HD mount.



A lower profile CPU fan will easily solve the problem.

I'll report back after I have the system together and running.
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April 20, 2010 2:38:26 AM

IIRC the stock Intel CPU fan is around 61mm height.

Might get this fan (45mm height): ThermoLab Nano Silencer Low Profile CPU Cooler for Intel Socket 775 CPUs - $34.95 + $8.97 shipping. Will this fit the Intel 1156 CPU?

Another option is the heatsink only (26.5mm height): Dynatron K129 LGA1156 Intel Core i5 i7 Xeon 3400 Series Copper CPU Heatsink for 1U Server - $29.99 + $3.60 tax (pick-up). I already have two 40x40mm case fans, which can be set up like this:



This picture shows the location of CPU:



The 2 fans won't be directly on top of the CPU but it'll be close.

What do you think?
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April 20, 2010 5:16:11 AM

Did you try the stock cooler? I know it looks to big, but I remember reading in the case specs that a stock Intel cooler would fit.
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April 29, 2010 7:49:20 AM

Got it all together and it runs great. The stock CPU cooler won't fit so a lower profile CPU cooler was necessary. I haven't tried RAMDrive yet. I'll post pictures in a few days.

In the meantime I have a new Mini ITX build - a desktop and mild gaming PC. Check it out here.
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May 2, 2010 9:47:24 PM

Updated first post with the final build list.



The computers will be mounted on the backs of my monitors or under my desk.



I can't fit my pinky finger in between the CPU fan and the SSD mounted above, but it's pretty roomy there:


I'm a bit concerned about the LGA 1156 mount for the Dynatron K199 CPU fan:



Another concern is that the Pico PSU 150 is pressing against a RAM stick, and the RAM stick is leaning (it's bit of a strain on the RAM socket). My computer is running fine at the moment.



The DFI Lanparty H55 board would be much better as the power socket for the PSU is positioned far away from the RAM.
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May 2, 2010 9:58:04 PM

CPU temp is 45C idle

PRIME95 test results:
72C during the first 30 seconds then it settles at 67C once the fan kicks in at high speed. This continued for 30 minutes until I stopped the test.

The fan is loud at full speed, but that only happened during Prime95 so far.
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