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$1,500 Research First Build, Compatibility and HDD/SSD Options/Advice

Last response: in Systems
July 14, 2010 10:15:04 PM

Hello all. This will be my first build, and it has been a steep learning curve getting to the point where I felt like this was even feasible. I have been putting together a list of parts for this prospective first build, based in large part on what I have read on this forum. Despite most of the advice on this site being geared towards gamers, my build is intended primarily for research- handling large data sets, and number crunching with maximum ease. That said, this will also be a home computer, so fluid multi-tasking and smooth overall performance are a priority as well. Thanks to everybody who puts the energy into helping the supper-green like me. The advice on this sight has been a huge help. I think I would have given up long ago and opted for an overpriced Dell workstation if it had not been for the hugely helpful stickies and many relevant posts on this sight. Forgive the length of this post, I was biased toward being thorough over concise.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as possible. But can be patient if it’s worth it

BUDGET RANGE: $1,500- or as close as possible After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Processing large datasets using MATLAB and Stats packages (SPSS and/or SAS and/or R); MS Office, multi-tasking (web-browsing), multimedia (movies/music), no games for me.

-Video Card, GeForce 9800 GTX+
Wanting an NVIDIA card to for potential future experimenting with CUDA based programming in MATLAB, I recently bought this at a very reasonable price from Newegg.
-Sound card, speakers.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Have been looking mostly on Newegg but am open to suggestions.


PARTS PREFERENCES: Prefer to build this system around Intel I7 quad core.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, slight.


MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 - 1920x1200.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I will not be doing any gaming on this computer and am primarily interested in something stable, solid, and upgradeable. Something that will perform well with lots of applications running, including, at times, MATLAB running batch processing scripts. My primary concern is overall performance at a reasonable price, not leading edge, but not far behind. The following build is based in part on combo deals currently available through Newegg. It is also (mostly) based on parts that where repeatedly vetted and recommended by folks who contribute to this sight

CPU & MOBO (Combo) - $494
I am wondering if the increased bandwidth provided by triple channel setup will help when performing operations with larger datasets? From what I have read the performance boost is negligible for many operations. Also, I assume the 1366 will be around for a while longer than many other cheaper setups? I may experiment with overclocking to 3.6 Ghz. I will not be taking advantage of SATA 6gb/s or USB 3.0 for now but assume I likely will in the future.
ASUS P6X58D-E LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
I could not decide between this and the GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R. Either would likely more than meet my needs, but with the combo the prices are matched. I am wondering about the real world advantage of 16 vs 8 phases for the P6X58D-E? Any opinions on which board will provided greatest stability and reliability over time (I am sure there is :wahoo:  )?
CASE & PSU (Combo) - $179
-SeaSonic X650 Gold 650W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
A little more power then I need and excellent efficiency. Also, I think the modular design might make the first build a little easier.
-LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58W Black 0.8 mm SECC, Plastic + Mesh ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Anyone familiar with this case who could provide suggestions for additional fans for this case, and priority placement for additional fans? I live in Tucson, and will have this machine running during the day in up to 82 degree room. Scary :o  ?
-COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
For a little more and a loss on the Combo savings above, I was considering this case as will. Mostly interested in functionality- Would this case or another provide superior ventilation/cooling, and/or significantly greater ease for first time build.

-COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 [...] 6835103065
I know this one has become pretty popular, with an increased price gouge. Is this still the best buy in this range? Sufficient for a 3.6 Ghz overclock?

RAM - $170
-G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI [...] 6820231335
-Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 998832
From what I understand lower latency is the priority for the LGA 1366 systems. Both seem like a good deal for CAS 7 but I am open to suggestions. Any benefit in the 1333 (Mushkin Enhanced Blackline) over 1600 (G.SKILL PI Series) given I will never take advantage of the 1600 speed? Any possible incompatibility issues with either of these kits and the P6X58D-E?

HD (Here is where I am most stuck).
I was interested in the suggestion made by many on these boards to add a smaller boot drive consisting either of SSD, High RPM HDD, for OS and high use applications; or the option of several smaller drives in RAID-0 with no separate boot drive. I really do want a setup that will require minimal tweaking and trouble-shooting once everything is dialed. These are my thoughts for potential setups for each option.

HD Setup-1
-2x SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive- $110 [...] 20f3%201tb
500GB will likely more than suffice for all my needs. I would run these drives in RAID-0 and keep a regularly updated system image (using Win7 or Acronis) on an external drive. My concern is the increase likelihood of failure (particularly as my OS would be on this configuration). I have looked into imaging options, but restoring RAID-0 sounds tricky and inconsistent. I do not want to risk data loss for a performance boost, but would be comfortable with the risk if I could ensure that recovery was guaranteed. Any experience? Any issues with backup and recovery, and/or overall reliability , using ICH10R “Fake RAID” over true hardware RAID?
HD Setup-2
-OCZ Agility Series OCZSSD2-1AGT60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) -$120
-ICY DOCK MB882SP-1S-1B 2.5" to 3.5" SSD & SATA Hard Drive Converter – Black -$15
-SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive- $55
A great deal right now for the SSD, and hopefully based on what I have read, 60 GB would be just large enough for my OS and a few programs (MS Office, MATLAB). The SAMSUNG drive would take care of bulk storage. Still I am thinking that it may be worth holding off on the SSD for the time being, and sticking with the RAID-0 setup assuming I can insure a safe backup.
HD Setup-3
-Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive -$140
-SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive- $55
In this case I would use the VelociRaptor HDD for bootup. Seems like a safe setup, but likely minimal performance gain and the priciest option.

Optical - $24
-LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD Writer LightScribe Support
Its what was referenced most on these boards.

Monitor - $220
-ASUS VW246H Glossy Black 24" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 ASCR 20000:1 (1000:1) Built-in Speakers
-ASUS VE246H Black 24" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 50000 :1 (ASCR) Built-in Speakers
Trying to decide between these two monitors. The first has better specs except for cd/m2. The second has all the customer choice awards from Newegg, and is referenced here a lot. Any significant reason for choosing one over the other?

Keyboard - $15
-Logitech K300 Black 101 Normal Keys USB Wired Compact Keyboard
I am used to laptop style keyboard layout and shallow key travel.

Mouse - $24
-Logitech LX3 Gray/Black 3 Buttons Tilt Wheel USB or PS/2 Wired Optical 1000 dpi Mouse
Standard wired USB mouse. Looks nice.

Windows 7 - $100
-Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM [...] -_-Product
I may opt for Pro if I decide to use the system imaging feature, but from what I have read there is free-ware that is equal or better in terms of flexibility, and likely money would be better spent on an Acronis license.

Total price before shipping, mail-in rebates, taxes, etc: $1,454.04 - $1,505.88 (depending on HD setup)

I know I included lots of questions. I don’t expect they will all be answered, but advice and experience on any of this is greatly appreciated. Specifically, I would most appreciate feedback on my HD setup options. More generally, I am most concerned about making sure there is no obvious or well known incompatibility with any of the components I have listed. Once again, reliability is the priority. Also, leads on any good deals for similar components are greatly appreciated.
July 15, 2010 12:19:05 AM

CPU/MOBO: I would go with the ASUS setup myself.

Case & PSU: I would go with your combo deal!! The SeaSonic is one of the BEST PSU you can buy and a great choice. Lain LI is a top teir case, so you are good to go there.

HSF: No the Cooler Master Hyper 212 + is not a good deal from Newegg. You can either pick it up from for half price or go with either of these two HSF, instead.... Scythe SCMG-2100 Sleeve CPU Cooler or Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283V

HDD Setup: I can say don't get setup #3... It isn't worth it. I would go with Setup 2 myself do to the speed increase with a SSD, even compared to a RAID0 setup. I'm not a fan of RAID0's for the fear of lossing all my data if there is an error.

RAM: With all things equal, the G.SKILL is the better RAM at the DDR3 1600 speeds

Monitor: Either monitor is good. Really is comes down to do you want a "Glossy" monitor or a "Matte" monitor frame, as both will perform pretty much on par with each other.

OS: Stick with the Windows 7 Home Premium
July 15, 2010 6:55:19 AM

HSF: No the Cooler Master Hyper 212 + is not a good deal from Newegg. You can either pick it up from for half price or go with either of these two HSF, instead.... Scythe SCMG-2100 Sleeve CPU Cooler or Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283V

Thanks for the quick response and the heat sink suggestions, I will go with the Scythe SCMG-2100. It will be tight but should fit in my case.

HDD Setup: I can say don't get setup #3... It isn't worth it. I would go with Setup 2 myself do to the speed increase with a SSD, even compared to a RAID0 setup. I'm not a fan of RAID0's for the fear of lossing all my data if there is an error.

I think you are right about going with the SSD setup. The SSD is sold out again (no supprise). Would you have any suggestions for comperable alternatives at that size and price point? I would like something TRIM compatible. I really appreciate the feedback.
Related resources

Best solution

July 15, 2010 8:38:35 PM

For an additional $30, the OCZ Agility 2 gets better performance than the original Agility.

For $25 more, Corsair Nova 64 GB or $15 more for the Crucial C300 RealSSD 64 GB, though the Agility 2 offers somewhat better write performance (at a higher cost) due to the SandForce controller.

My personal preference would be to have 80 GB or more, but if you can control your data habits (I have trouble :)  ), 64 GB should be fine.

Here are a couple of good, recent articles on SSDs:
July 15, 2010 8:42:08 PM

^+1 on the OCZ Agility 2 recommendation. I would stick with the OCZ Agility 2 or Vertex 2, along with Intel's X25-M G2 80GB model (they are still one of the best overall SSD's you can buy)
July 15, 2010 8:51:48 PM

Yeah, at larger sizes (128 GB+), I would think about switching to the Crucial C300, but at around 60-64 GB, it's looking like Agility2/Vertex2 are the way to go.
July 16, 2010 4:54:10 AM


Thanks guys. Very useful feedback. I think I have decided that the Intel X23-M is worth the added cost. 80 gigs seems to be the consensus sweet spot for a minimal hasstle boot drive, so I will take your advice on that (still going to do all the suggested tweaks and have a 1TB bulk drive). Also, this drive seems to do very well compared to other drives based on the benchmarks from Tech Report article you passed along.

I think I am going to take the plunge and put in the order on all this before I loose my nerve. Thanks again for the suggestions and resources, very big help.
July 23, 2010 6:32:47 AM

Best answer selected by poserguru.