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Advice On PC Parts (mainly for CFD use)

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May 29, 2010 6:29:56 PM

I'm an engineer and I do a lot of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) work and it usually tends to use a lot of PC power. I used to have a laptop to run this, but I fear that my laptop is no longer capable of running the simulations efficiently and I'm forced to switch over to a desktop. I would really like to build a full-on work station, but I do not have the resources to pay for such a beast. I've put together a list of components that I think would be decent for my application and I wanted to get your opinions on whether or not the parts are the right choice for what I want to do and also on how I can optimize the parts by picking brands that are more compatible with one another.

The system is going to be run for the majority of the day and I definitely plan on overclocking the system, if possible. I will do a bit of gaming on it from time to time as well, but I assume that shouldn't be a problem. I will also most likely do SLI once I can afford a second video card. Here are the parts:

Essentials:

Casing: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119160

I'm not sure how I feel about this case because it's made out of steel (I'd prefer aluminum or composite, if available), but I hear it's a great case and it's liquid-cooling friendly.

Motherboard: ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131614

Processor: Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition Gulftown 3.33GHz LGA 1366 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor Model BX80613I7980X
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115223

I was debating between this and the AMD six-core processor because AMD is WAY cheaper, but from what I understand Intel performs better with CFD applications.

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231315

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1501FASS 1.5TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136592

I want a solid state drive, but there's no way in hell I can afford that LOL.

Power Supply: Antec TPQ-1200 1200W Continuous Power with PowerCache Technology SLI Ready CrossFire Certified
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371032

Video Card: EVGA 015-P3-1482-AR GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi) SuperClocked 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130551

I was debating between this and ATI, and I decided to go with Nvidia because from what I understand nVidia is more compatible with Intel processors.

Sound Card: HT | OMEGA CLARO Plus+ 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271003

Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204



Non-essentials: Stuff I don't need, but would be nice to add on. :-)

Monitor: ASUS MS238H Glossy Black 23" 2ms Ring stand & Ergo-fit LED backlight HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236075

I picked this monitor purely for its high contrast ratio because I do some photo editing as a hobby and would love to get a screen that can display nice high-dynamic range photos.

Speakers: Logitech Z-2300 200 watts RMS 2.1 Speaker System
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836121122



I didn't add a cooling system because I wasn't sure what to pick. I'm going to be overclocking this PC and running it for the majority of the day, so I would like a cooling system that can keep the computer at the lowest temperature possible. I would like to go with liquid cooling but I don't know much about it, so if you guys have any recommendations, please let me know.

Again, I'm trying to optimize my setup to get the most efficient desktop possible. If you guys have any suggestions as to a part that might be better for the system, please let me know. I would like to keep my budget around $4000, but I wouldn't be adverse to letting it go over slightly.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

- Ali

More about : advice parts cfd

May 29, 2010 7:35:15 PM

Ali_M said:
Casing: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119160

I'm not sure how I feel about this case because it's made out of steel (I'd prefer aluminum or composite, if available), but I hear it's a great case and it's liquid-cooling friendly.

Power Supply: Antec TPQ-1200 1200W Continuous Power with PowerCache Technology SLI Ready CrossFire Certified
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371032

Video Card: EVGA 015-P3-1482-AR GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi) SuperClocked 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130551

I was debating between this and ATI, and I decided to go with Nvidia because from what I understand nVidia is more compatible with Intel processors.

Sound Card: HT | OMEGA CLARO Plus+ 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271003
There is no truth to Nvidia graphics cards having greater compatibility with Intel CPUs. If Nvidia doesn't have a specific benefit to the work you do then I'd strongly suggest getting an ATI card as they are much cooler, quieter and less power hungry. If you did get a 5870 then you could probably do a good 750W PSU for your system without watercooling. I'm not exactly sure how much power a water cooling setup requires.

You don't have to make special considerations for brands based on compatibility.

Onboard sound these days is pretty good. A dedicated soundcard is only really useful or necessary for someone who works professionally with audio or has very high standards for their sound. I would guess that CFD doesn't require good audio, which is why I bought it up. You can of course buy the soundcard later if you find that the onboard isn't good enough.

I can't help you with watercooling, however you could probably do what you want with a decent aircooler and good airflow in your case. If you decided to stick with air cooling for CPU then you could get the 932's little brother HAF 922 as it is much cheaper for one less 3.5" bay. Have a look at the Prolimatech Megahalems for a good CPU heatsink if you're interested.
May 29, 2010 8:41:48 PM

Thanks for the input. Yeah, there's really no need for a dedicated sound card in CFD. The only reason that I had selected it was for music listening purposes as I like really high-quality sounding music. I suspect you're right, however, I should probably leave the sound card for future purchase so that I can spend the extra money on more essential things.

As far as the video card, I was recently referred towards the nvidia Quadro series on a different forum because they are much better for openGL work. The only problem is that the Quadros are far more expensive than their desktop cards. Do you know how the workstation ATI compare to the workstation nvidia cards?

My computers tend to get really hot as I use them A LOT. I also live in Arizona and dust is EVERYWHERE. I was hoping that with the liquid cooling system, I could minimize the dust collection. Though, I'm sure the fans that come with the tower will circulate that dust regardless. Another reason for wanting to use liquid cooled system is that I hear that they're more efficient at keeping things at lower temperatures.

I haven't built a computer for about 5 years now and I'm still trying to catch up on any missed technologies. Any corrections and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Thanks again!

- Ali
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May 29, 2010 8:48:43 PM

I would save some money, and buy the Asus P6X58D-E motherboard. The higher price of the Premium is not really worth it unless your water cooling, or need that 2nd on-board LAN port. I own the P6X58D-E and have owned the Premium, and the on-board sound is fantastic on both. So, I agree its a good idea to try it first, and then buy the sound card if it's not up to snuff.
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