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$800 build for software development and VMs

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October 13, 2010 4:42:56 AM

I am gearing up for my first build. I currently have an aging 15" MacBook Pro from late '07 and a Pentium 4 Shuttle with a Dell U2311H monitor (which I will use for this computer instead). I write software (ranging from web applications to artificial intelligence systems), surf the web and use ftp a lot, and will probably use this as a low volume server with a VM running often or perhaps always. Occasional photo editing and music creation, but not professionally. It'll probably run Windows 7 and Linux, one as the host and the other as the VM. I have no plans to overclock but let me know if I should :wahoo: 

I do not care about gaming or video as long as HD content looks good at 1920x1080 on the U2311H. Most sub-$1000 builds just use the built-in sound card, correct?

I purchased a Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB SATA2 7200rpm 32MB hard drive for $53. I believe I can build a reasonable computer for $750 not including the hard drive, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Parts that I'm considering are:
GeForce GTX 460 768MB
Intel Core i7-930 ($200 at MicroCenter)
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R, ASUS P6X58D-E, or similar (~$200)
6 GB RAM (Corsair XMS3 for $110 or Mushkin Enhanced Silverline for $88)
HAF 912, Antec 300 ($30-$70 budgeted)
Corsair CMPSU-650TX 80 Plus Certified (~$60 budgeted)


Questions:
1. How does this graphics card sound given that I won't be running games, lots of monitors, or particularly huge monitors? I have done some CAD work in the past so I would ideally like to be able to do that relatively fluidly but it won't be a frequent thing. I don't know much about graphics card but I thought this might be a place where I could save some more money.

2. Is the i7 build a better idea for my purposes than an i5 or an AMD? The MicroCenter price is good so I'm not sure there's tremendous savings with those other options, but I don't know enough to really compare. Once again, I won't be gaming but I will run VMs and computational programming.

3. Any advice on whether to get the Corsair or Mushkin RAM or something else entirely. The Mushkin Silverline is 1333 and 9-9-9-24 while the Corsair is 1600 and 9-9-9-24. Worth it to get one of these or do I need faster latency?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4. I am tempted to get a $30 case as I don't really care if it's painted inside, has LEDs, etc. but I do see the cases get nicer in lots of little ways as you spend more. I would prefer something on the smaller side and I won't have tons of drives or graphics cards. The HAF 912 for $53 looks like a great deal but I'd be happy to spend less and it's a bit aggressive looking. The Antec 300 is frequently mentioned and it seems like it has its pros and cons. Any opinions on these or other cases?

5. The PSUEngine recommends 406 for the PSU wattage once I put in my build and add a DVD drive, 4 USB devices, a second drive, and three fans. Should I aim for a smaller power supply?

Best solution

October 13, 2010 5:21:17 AM

1. For what you need the GTX 460 is an overkill. The new GT430 would fit the bill nice...
It can play 1080p videos without any issues, supports OpenGL 4.0, which helps in speeding up work in many CAD softwares...

2. i7 no doubt is a very fast CPU, but if you want value for money, reduce the unnecessary platform cost it commands, then AMD would better suit, also if you are fine with overclocking, then the 6-Core 1055T offers very good value for money...

As for rest of the questions, check the config below...

CPU + Mobo
AMD 1055T + ASUS 870A
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

RAM - Get more RAM - 8GB
Free 16GB flash drive w/ purchase, ends 10/15
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE + PSU -
Antec 300 + Antec EA 380
The Antec 300 is a very good option if you want a simple looking yet very good performing case...
PSU - If you go with a lower powered graphic card like the GT430, then a high quality lower powered PSU like this EA380 would suffice...Actually it can even power HD 5750/ GTS 450 too...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

DVD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphic card -
GT430
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler - Even a moderate overclock to 3.2-3.4GHz would offer very good performance increase...
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-RR-B10-212P-G1-Univ...
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October 13, 2010 10:19:04 AM

Since Linux in on the cards


AMD Phenom II X6 1090T reviewed (for Linux developers) | What Digital Revolution?
Quote:
As anyone who does Linux development knows, going multithreaded is usually as simple as typing “make -jN”, where N is the number of parallel jobs that you want to execute while building your app (normally N = number of cores/processors + 1). At $200/$300 per processor, that would make the X6 a bargain-basement priced high-power workstation (Intel’s current six-core offering, the Core i7 9xx series, is actually faster than the X6 but also costs +$1000, out of the reach of mortals and students like myself).
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October 13, 2010 10:33:03 AM

My vote is for the Phenom x6 too , but I wouldnt use a discreet graphics card at all .

AMD's 880G or 890G motherboard chipsets will play HD video no problem
IMO
ASUS M4A88T-V EVO/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G $109
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
is the pick of the bunch with simple and stable overclocking

You lose the combo but gain by not needing a graphics card at all

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October 13, 2010 1:49:54 PM

Thanks for the replies and the new direction! I've spent a few hours looking at parts to accompany the Phenom X6 1055T. I found the processor itself for $180 with a deal at superwiiz. Am I unlikely to see this below $200 again for a while or does anyone expect processors to get cheap soon as we heads towards Black Friday?

The reviews of the GT430 made it seem like the ATI cards are probably better in that price range. I'm intrigued by the idea of no graphics card at all. I also have two All-In-Wonder 9700 cards if either or both of those would be compatible and better than the built-in option. The built-in graphics would be enough to play a not-so-demanding game like Civ 5 on low-to-medium settings, right? What about the PowerColor AX3450 256MD2-HV2 Radeon HD 3450 256MB 64-bit DDR2 that Newegg is having a shell shocker on?

The ASUS M4A88T-V does seem to have the best mix of features of the boards that I looked through on Newegg. Thanks for the suggestion! Similarly, thanks for pointing out "make -jN". I can't wait to build this thing and experiment with six core madness :p 
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October 13, 2010 7:10:05 PM

well, the shell-shocker sold out, so nevermind that :)  Your 9700s are probably AGP and not compatable, but even if they were, the 4250 on that 880 motherboard is more powerful (It has a built in 128M of DDR3). Its not great for even minor gaming at your resolutions though.

Since you mentioned photo manipulation, a dedicated GPU will speed that up considerably, so a 450/5750/460 768MB model will help.
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October 14, 2010 9:09:24 AM

scienceminded said:
The built-in graphics would be enough to play a not-so-demanding game like Civ 5 on low-to-medium settings, right? What about the PowerColor AX3450 256MD2-HV2 Radeon HD 3450 256MB 64-bit DDR2 that Newegg is having a shell shocker on?

The ASUS M4A88T-V does seem to have the best mix of features of the boards that I looked through on Newegg. Thanks for the suggestion! Similarly, thanks for pointing out "make -jN". I can't wait to build this thing and experiment with six core madness :p 


Hmm the bottom line is: if u want to play games at say above 1024 x 768 low/medium the best move is a dedicated/discrete GPU Yep u are welcomed :D 
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October 14, 2010 8:17:57 PM

And the GT430 seems like a better bet versus an ATI 5670, GTS250, or similar? In particular I'm concerned after reading that the GT430 has DDR3 instead of GDDR5 which forum-goers seem to be up in arms about. I didn't think I wanted to play games but maybe I'll play them just infrequently enough to warrant a cheap graphics card. Is the GT430 better for computational work than the other options? The ATIs won't have CUDA but what about the speed of the GT250 with CUDA?

Newegg has a sale on some PNY RAM so I could get 8 GB for $126. Is this okay RAM for the build or should I be concerned by either the brand or the fact that it's 1600 instead of 1333? From what I read, it sounds like the X6 will run it at 1333 but it still seems like a good deal on sale. Other RAM deals I saw were on Mushkin Silverline 9-9-9-24 1333 (2x2GB for ~$55 but only eligible for rebate on one package). Is Mushkin the better name here? I couldn't find too many reviews of PNY RAM.
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October 14, 2010 8:35:58 PM

1333 and 1600 are both standard DDR3 RAM types. 99.99% of motherboards that can use one, can use the other.

PNY is an ok low-cost ram, Mushkin is probably a bit better quality. G.Skill is also a good quality brand.

The GTS 250 will be faster than the 430, which is a good deal cheaper (the DDR5 250 runs around $99, which the 430 is $79) but slower than the $120 GTS450
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October 14, 2010 9:08:34 PM

Ah I was looking at the DDR3 GTS 250 and I didn't realize it. That one is currently $70 at Microcenter if that compares favorably to the GT430.

I'm also looking at the deals on the GTX 460 768 MB ($130 at Newegg) but I'm likely just throwing money away at this point :)  I do have a feeling it would be relatively future proof though, which is nice
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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October 15, 2010 4:02:06 AM

^ Frankly for your usage, I feel the GT430 would suffice, but that deal on the GTS 250 or the GTX 460 are very good, so going with either of those are good IMO...
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October 15, 2010 8:50:08 AM

Once gaming is on the table dun waste time on a GT430 - I would pounce on minimum a GTS 250
Even something long in the tooth like a HD 4670/9600GT is a superior choice for raw frames @@


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October 16, 2010 8:15:20 PM

Okay, I picked up a few parts today.

Lian Li PC-7FN (case)
Corsair CMPSU-450VX (PSU)

And I'm thinking this weekend I should head over to Microcenter and pick up the underclocked GTS 250 1GB for $70+tax. It sounds like it can handle games and graphics programs at reasonable settings and I can't imagine I'm going to want DirectX 11 or any of these new 3DTV features that NVIDIA has been adding to the newer GPUs.

Since it seems like the consensus is that I should go with the Phenom II X6, that mostly leaves the decision of which motherboard to get. Any advice? I don't plan to use multiple graphics cards. I would be fine with or without integrated GPU, whichever is on sale or makes more sense. I don't have a clear preference between ATX and mini ATX.

Thanks!
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October 17, 2010 12:01:39 AM

if you don't plan to use multiple GPUs and have a discrete card, I'd say the AS Rock 770 Extreme 3 would be fine (Its $74.99)
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October 17, 2010 3:03:04 AM

Thank goodness u went GTS 250 and not GT 430 lol
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October 17, 2010 5:00:49 AM

ScrewySqrl said:
if you don't plan to use multiple GPUs and have a discrete card, I'd say the AS Rock 770 Extreme 3 would be fine (Its $74.99)


What do you all think about the ASRock vs the Asus M4A77TD (currently $65). I know ASUS seems to get top reviews in general but obviously these are lower end boards. (edit: I see now that ASRock is off-branded Asus. Worse warranty but fewer DOA reviews. One less SATA port but 6.0Gb/s)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=13-131-...

The 8GB Mushkin Silverline kit ended up going on sale today so I got that (no rebates!), which seemed like a good deal. $132 for 2x4GB. Hopefully I won't be sad about the fact that it is CAS 9 later!
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October 18, 2010 4:12:57 AM

^ If you are fine with No USB3.0/ SATA 6GB/s, then that ASUS board is fine...
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October 25, 2010 1:46:38 AM

Best answer selected by scienceminded.
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