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First home build for multitasker (non gamer)

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May 1, 2010 5:34:07 AM

OK, so after a few weeks of constantly agonizing over this, and adding/subtracting items from my newegg cart daily, I think it's time to put it out there and ask for some opinions.

I am not a gamer. I repeat: I am not a gamer. I do work in the database/content management field and I want to be able to install open-source enterprise-level software at home to test and learn. This means lots of virtualization, ability to move large amounts of data around quickly, and heavy database work.

I'm aiming for a machine that has enough connectivity options so I'm not left hanging in the near future. Firewire, eSATA, USB 2.0/3.0 for data and HDMI/D-sub/DVI for video...maybe it's overkill but I often find myself wishing I had x connector or y port.

The thing I'm most unsure about is the GPU. Everyone has an opinion and I'm not a gamer (though I will be doing Photoshop work) so this one seemed as good as any, and had the ports I want. I should mention that I don't have a TV, but I am planning on getting a 1080p HDTV soon and in the long run will probably use that as my display device instead of a standard monitor.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP

BUDGET RANGE: as close to 1000 as possible - definitely under 1200

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Nah

So here is what I have so far:
CASE: COOLER MASTER CM690 II Advanced - $100 - I am in love with this case. HDD slot in the top, eSata/Firewire front connectors, 3 fans, great cooling potential, cable management, easy drive installation/removal, solid construction...for $100 bucks I don't know why anyone would get another case, gamer or not.

MOBO: ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $190 - I like that it has SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0, the wealth of I/O ports, and it's popular for good reasons.

CPU: i7 860 - $280 - right now it's the same price as the 920, but it clocks faster. The combo deal I have is bringing the price down a bit anyhow.

CPU COOLING: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus - $30 - wasn't sure if I needed this, but I read a forum post at some point which said that whether you're overclocking or not (and I may at some point after learning more) the stock cooling is not enough. This one is cost effective and well-liked.

HDD: Wd Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s - $100

RAM: OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) - $130 - Actually I'd like to have 8GB but I guess it's ok if I start out with 4 to keep costs down.

GPU: HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 - $90 - ok I have no idea if this is the right choice. It has HDMI/D-sub/DVI and I think it's powerful enough for a non-gamer, but you might have to give me some suggestions here.

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V - $90 - I don't think I'll go over 500W but better safe than sorry.

OPTICAL: LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support - $30

WIRELESS ADAPTER: ASUS PCE-N13 PCI Express Wireless Adapter - $30 - I'm putting this in because in my current apartment there is no LAN access in my living room where I do all of my work, and I don't think my landlord would be happy with my drilling a hole. In the future I may not need this, but for now wireless is how I want to be connecting to the Web. Yes it's slower but it's out of necessity and I'm dealing with it fine now.

OS: Windows 7 64-bit for system builders - $100

So subtract some dough for combo deals and mail-in rebates and the total is $1,125 plus shipping. That's acceptable to me, but if you can see major mistakes in terms of overkill, underkill, or compatibility I'm open to suggestions. Wouldn't mind shaving a few bucks here and there.

Thanks in advance!

May 1, 2010 6:29:01 AM

Go with the 1366 platform for virtualization. Get a i7-930 from microcenter.com. Check out the GA-X58A-UD3R. ($200). Best case for a virt PC. Also, get a Seagate 7200.12 or a Samsung Spinpoint F3 instead of a WD HDD.

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May 1, 2010 6:53:11 AM

Well, the i7 930 even for $200 would probably be too expensive for a ~ $1100 on average setup which includes everything, and for a LGA 1366 platform OP would need 6GB of RAM, around $50 - $100 extra.

OK, a lot of suggestions for you:

Get the ASUS P7P55D-E LX motherboard instead for around $60 cheaper, it just doesn't include another PCI-e 16x slot, but for you that wouldn't matter.
A Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB would be a better option for your HDD for $10 less.
Your PSU is overkill, considering that the HD 4670 doesn't even use a 6-pin PCI-e power connector. Go for the Corsair CX400W for $34.99 after rebate, IIRC.
The HD 4670 is a pretty good price/perf card. Photoshop does support video acceleration, although I'm not sure how much of a help it would be. The HD 4670 is fine for now.

Other comments:
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus will help later on if you want to do some decent overclocking later on, although I wouldn't think it would hit 4.0GHz. Just remember that if overclock later on, make sure that for safety reasons do not go past 1.365V, and make sure temperatures are below 70°C.
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May 1, 2010 1:42:01 PM

Wow. Thanks.

It looks like the only other difference between the LX and PRO is Firewire, but since I have eSATA and USB3.0, you're right it's not worth the extra $60. Are there other things besides video cards that can go in PCI-e x16 slots? Just want to make sure that if i lose the extra one I won't be shooting myself in the foot when it comes to expansion down the road.

Thanks for the suggestion on the PSU, and the comment on the 4670.

As for OC, I imagine I won't go up past 3.5 GHz, but honestly I've never done it before and while I like the idea I need to learn a LOT more before actually doing it.

Re: 930 vs. 860 - why would 930 be better, just because of the 1366 socket? I believe these clock the same OOB.

Thanks for responding guys.

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