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Building a new rig - early choices

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January 26, 2011 1:11:58 PM

I've decided that for once I should have a nice, top-of-the line PC, and not one built with middle-of-the-road hardware. The top-of-the-line Intel i7-2600K processor is just too well-priced.

My previous PC was a much slower dual-core coming in with a WEI of about 5.3. What I hate about it is the amount of dust it collects inside. I've read that this is a result of negative case pressure. So this is one factor I'd like to eliminate. The case is an Apevia case. It had a fan on the top of the case, which I assumed would be great for keeping the case cool - I guess it is, but it causes the case to have negative air pressure and thus the dust.

For the new build I don't really care about the looks of the case, I'll be sticking it in a space under a desk - all I need is for it to be moderately quiet, not collect a lot of dust and not get too hot.

I use at most one optical drive and have little need for more than one largish harddrive - I run a network and back up to the server and keep a lot of files on the server so that they are accessible from the other PCs in the house. And I really don't like SSD drives, from everything I hear they have limited lifetimes, and I doubt I'll be noticing the difference between it and a good hard drive.

I usually stick quite a few cards in it, though, A wireless card (due to my old house layout I can only connect my server to the router with Ethernet), I guess a couple of graphics cards (although I believe with the newer cards I might be able to drive two monitors with a single card. I know I have at least 5 cards in there, but now I can't recall what the other are.

What I need in this new one is one that is good for developing (and running) flash games. So I need dual monitors (and hopefully a little way down the road I can get a 3rd monitor hooked up as well).

I don't really intend overclocking the PC, and I'd like to stick with stock cooling fans, if possible.

Is the BTX specification dead for all intents and purposes? If so then I assume the surviving specification is ATX? Are all ATX case layout similar with the power supply at the top?

For me to build a pressure-positive case that will keep dust out, the case should be sealed relatively tight and then the "in" fans should be larger than the "out" fans.

Once I get this part sorted, I'll start asking questions about the motherboard.

Thanks for all and any opinions y'all might share.

Oh yea, toolless case would be good, I'm tired of fiddling in the case with screwdrivers and stuff. But again ,this is not critical, since I don't go in there much.



a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2011 2:40:37 PM

BTX standard has been history for years...

mainboards, think Asus/Asrock/MSI/Gigabyte P67-based.....

Just about any graphics card built within the last 5-6 years supports two monitors...
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2011 3:00:33 PM

Might want to follow the guidelines from the link in my signature. You've given a lot of info, but little of it is much use to helping you spec out a system.

Here's what I can give you to start with.

The i7-2600K is a great choice, but the i5-2500K is just as good for most people. Unless the programs you use most really make use of hyperthreading, you won't see a big difference between the two CPUs. You should definitely rethink overclocking. It's really simple with the Sandy Bridge CPUs, and you get a massive boost from them. Botht he new i5 and i7 can reach 4.0 GHz without even trying. I've heard that 5.0 GHz is possible using air cooling, but I don't think that's too stable or safe.

As for the SSDs, they don't have a limited life, at least not more limited than mechanical drives. They do get a little slower with age, but that process can be slowed down significantly through changing some settings. The best part about their longevity is that once the SSD does "break", it becomes a read only drive. You don't lose everything like you do with a mechanical drive. Still, I find SSDs a little too expensive ($200 for a 120 GB) to be included in a vast majority of builds. Of course, once you've already got dual GTX 580s (the biggest GPUs out there), the i7-2600K, lots of RAM and everything else basically maxed out, then you should definitely get a SSD.

As for the GPUs, all newer models can run two monitors at once. nVidia cards require SLI to run three, while ATI cards can do that with a single card.

You're probably going to run into issues fitting such a large number of cards into a machine and still trying to get triple monitor support. You may want to consider sliming that down. A wireless card can be swapped for a wireless USB dongle with little performance difference. A sound card (I'm assuming you have one) is completely unnecessary these days (onboard sound is excellent). That would get you down to only three cards.

The BTX spec is in fact dead. ATX is the only thing left in the mainstream. Not all ATX cases have similar layouts. The higher end cases tend to have a bottom mounted PSU. The cheap cases still have a top mounted PSU. Some of the real high end cases even have an inverted motherboard. The board is rotated so that all the ports are on the top of the case.

I personally think too big of a deal is made of positive vs. negative pressure. Ideally, you'd want neutral pressure. Really, the only difference between positive and negative is how many dust filters you need.

The top fan doesn't automatically have negative pressure, it depends on if it's exhaust or intake. I'm willing to bet that the pressure wasn't causing the dust issue, it was the fact that the case didn't have air filters on the fans and was stuck under a desk.

The benefits of positive pressure can only work when there is room to expel the air and dust. If the fans are pushing the air right into the bottom of a desk, once the fans stop blowing (when you shut the computer down or it goes to sleep), all that dust falls right back into the case. Try placing the case outside of the desk, and I bet you'll see a big difference.

And all you really need to do to get one pressure or another is either adjust the fan speeds or flip a fan. Both are very easy.
January 26, 2011 5:41:33 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Might want to follow the guidelines fromt he link in my signature. You've given a lot of info, but little of it is much use to helping you spec out a system.


Well, thank you. I know I was being vague, and your reply is more than adequate in that light. Not only have you given me some great links, you also helped me clarify my thinking in a number of areas where my own research was slow and cumbersome.

Again, thank you.

I'll be back after reading some of those linked articles (and the links they contain)!
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