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Looking for a $1800-2500 build suggestion

Last response: in Systems
February 22, 2011 12:14:12 PM


I'm looking for some suggestions on builds on a workstation. I haven't been up to date concerning recent manufacturers technologies so I am looking for some help. This will be my primary workstation so I am looking for a bit of beef but I also do tend to play a game or two once in while. My focus of work is ever changing but I deal a lot with these particulars -

- System virtualization
- Database administration
- General development/programming
- Graphic/Web design
- 3d modeling
- Motion graphics/Video editing

I am guessing around $1800-2500 would suffice, less or more would be fine as long it's within means. I was looking at dual Xeons but I am unsure if it would be called for or not in this instance.

I would greatly appreciate any help/advice, Thanks.

- Kristoffer
February 22, 2011 2:42:50 PM

Hello dynamik;
Thats a great budget range to get a very good workstation/gaming build.
Naturally a dual CPU Xeon build will be at the top end of that range.

Is this a work system for you? One that you'll use to earn a income? Or is this more like a hobby/recreational system?

What do you have in the way of monitors / screen resolution that you'd want to support with a gaming graphics card?

And how soon do you want to have the system built? We're about four weeks or so away from being able to suggest a Sandy Bridge CPU build here in the US.
February 22, 2011 3:05:06 PM

I appreciate the response back.

This will be a multipurpose machine but yes, I would put more of an emphasis towards work. 80% work 20% hobby/recreational.

Right now, I am using a set of 2 HannsĀ·G 28" LCD's at a resolution of 1920x1200. If a game can run at 1280x1024, that would be adequate for me.

I'm in no immediate need for the machine but would of course would like to get it done sooner than later. I heard something about a recall of the Sandy Bridge CPU's a month or so ago, are there no concerns with that anymore?
Related resources
February 22, 2011 3:29:21 PM

The issue was with the Sandy Bridge P67/H67 motherboards.
The SATA 3GB/s controller was found to have an engineering fault that could lead to failure over time with heavy usage. The SATA 6GB/s controller is unaffected.
It's the re-release of the SB motherboads that is holding things up at the moment.

Out of that 80% work slice how much motion graphics/video editing work, especially rendering, will you be doing? This looks like the one area where a dual CPU setup would be worth looking at.
For the rest of the work tasks a fast single quad core would be adequate IMO. A single core system would let you add a nicely sized SSD that should help overall productivity.

Have you checked your software packages to see if there is any preference (or requirements) for graphics support?
We should be able to slip a graphics card into the build that will let you game @ 1920x1200 at least on medium settings.
You'd want one anyway if your workload and software can make use of Nvidia CUDA /ATI Stream general purpose graphics (GPGPU) accelerated processing.
February 22, 2011 4:04:03 PM

I see.

Not a terrible amount of rendering/video work being done. Maybe 5-10% out of that 80% slice.

I agree concerning the SSD. How would you have the HD architecture laid out? How would you suggest having the file system/structures applied?

My workflow doesn't indicate much usage for a graphics card really unless I am doing minor 3D/Video work or playing the slight game.
February 22, 2011 4:33:05 PM

Here is suggested Core i7-2600K build as suggested by the forums Recommended Builds by Usage sticky topic.
(there is also a AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban build if you want to look that over)

Enthusiast: $1,332.89 (est)
CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) 1155 95W Quad-Core CPU
MOBO: ASUS P8P67 PRO LGA 1155 l P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Motherboard
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBXM
HSF: COOLER MASTER Intel Core i7 compatible Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
PSU: XFX Black Edition XPS-850W-BES 850W SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Modular PSU
GPU: EVGA 012-P3-1570-AR GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi) 1280MB Video Card
DVD: SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support
Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case

For your purposes we could tweak that to include:
PSU: Some excellent 650W model
GPU: GTX 560 Ti
Case: Something that suits your personal preferences

And add a good SSD.

February 22, 2011 4:51:36 PM

At the current moment a couple leading contenders for SSDs would be OCZ Agility 2 120GB / OCZ Vertex 2 / Crucial RealSSD C300
Benchmark tests: Crucial RealSSD C300 (128GB) - Marvell controller vs OCZ Vertex 2 (100GB) - Sand Force-1200 controller You can also plug in the OCZ Agility 2 if you want.

By the time you're ready to pull out the credit card you'll have a couple new SSD options to consider.
The next gen Intel and Marvell controllers should be out and reviewed. And the new Sand Force 2000 isn't far behind either.
A couple previews:
Corsair Performance Series 3 SSD Benchmarks
OCZ'z Vertex 3 Pro Demo: World's First SandForce SF-2000
Intel's 3rd Generation X25-M SSD Specs
February 22, 2011 5:45:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestion/s. I'm still contemplating Sandy Bridge / Dual Xeons with myself but that just involves evaluating my exact needs. I don't like the way Sandy Bridge markets itself with a subsidiary focus on video processing - it makes me feel like it's not as optimized for performance and geared towards home users although reviews for it do seem very confident with it.

Also - Why did you state "We're about four weeks or so away from being able to suggest a Sandy Bridge CPU build here in the US" I see them on the market right now. Is there a new product coming out in 4 weeks?
February 22, 2011 6:36:14 PM

I am kinda torn between a 1366 build and a 1155 build (latter one come April when boards are re-released .... the CPU's are still here but the MoBo's have been recalled due to a chipset defect affecting 2 of the 6 SATA ports .... new parts shipping now, expected in channel in about 6 weeks).

In the 1366 build I'd used a Quadro rendering GFX board. But , for the most part, I think you'd be best served by a a Sandy Bridge build. 'm going to try and spend ya whole $2500 budget, cut out whatever you think is extravagant

Case - $180 - Antec P193
Case Fans - $15 - Antec Red 120 mm
PSU - $120 - Antec CP-850
MoBo - $390 - ASUS P8P67 Pro
CPU - incl above - Intel Core i5-2500K
Cooler - $80 - Antec Kuhler 620
RAM - $155 - (2 x 4GB) Mushkin CAS 7
RAM - $155 - Same
GFX - $370 - EVGA GTX 570 SC
GFX - $370 - Same
HD - $65 - Spinpoint F3
HD - $65 - Same
SSD - $245 - Crucual C300 2.5" 128GB
Card Reader $35 AFT XM-35U
DVD Writer - $120 - ASUS BR Model BW-12B1LT
OS - $140 - Win 7-64 Pro OEM

That's $2,510 .... told ya I was gonna try and spend all ya money :) 

Things you might wanna change:

1. I made the assumption of it being a "work machine" so went with the "understated look". If ya want something more snazzy, the Antec DF-85 could be substituted at $20 less. Another would be the HAF-X but w/ a non Antec case, ya wouldn't fit the CPX form factor CPU in, so I'd go with another 10.0 rated unit and put in a XFX Black EDition 850 .

2. Another $100 will get ya a 2600k

3. The self contained water cooler avoids any heat sink interference issues between the air cooler and the RAM modules. A scythe SCMG 2100 w/ Shin Etsu TIM would cost just $45 if ya went air.

4. For what you're planning low CAS RAM is recommended ..... doubt ya need 2 sets but since cash was there, I went w/ 16 GB ..... might wanna try it w/ 8 and add later if ya think ya need.

5. GFX - Same deal ..... you don't need the 2nd card but the case and PSU are sized to handle it. For occasional gaming, you'll be more than happy w/one 570.

6. HD's - Another "same deal". If ya don't need two hard drives in RAIF 0 or RAID 1, don't bother.

7. SSD - Since waiting till April I'd wait for the 3rd generation Sandforce units.

8. Card Reader - For importing graphics .... also note that if ya go with the DF-85 it has an external 2.5" hot swappable drive bay which is very cool and convenient for just that purpose.

9. Need Blue Ray ? If not spend $22 for a DVD Writer ...again,m budget was there so included the otpion

The above deducts would cut ya down to about $1800.
February 22, 2011 8:15:00 PM

dynamik said:
I don't like the way Sandy Bridge markets itself with a subsidiary focus on video processing - it makes me feel like it's not as optimized for performance and geared towards home users although reviews for it do seem very confident with it.
Subsidiary focus? Can you explain what makes you think that?
What marketing material are you looking at?

Here is a pre-built 'pro' workstation for comparison.
HP Z600 workstation @ $1810
Xeon E5506 2.13 4MB / 1GB DDR3 ECC RAM / 160 GB 7200 rpm SATA HDD / ATI FirePro V3800 512MB graphic card
That Nehalem-based Xeon E5506 is in the same socket 1366 family as the Nehalem-based Core i7-950 mentioned earlier, just running @ 2.13Ghz vs 3.06Ghz. The Xeon equivalent of the i7-950 is the Xeon X5667 3.06Ghz CPU.
You can use the configuration tool to look at the price changes for upgrades, including adding a 2nd CPU.

February 22, 2011 8:31:06 PM

dynamik said:
Also - Why did you state "We're about four weeks or so away from being able to suggest a Sandy Bridge CPU build here in the US" I see them on the market right now. Is there a new product coming out in 4 weeks?
Finding any motherboard at the major outlets like NewEgg?
Right now Intel has been shipping the replacement chipsets to the motherboard MFGRs. They will be replacing or making new motherboards working with current owners directly, OEMs like Dell, Apple, HP etc and probably then releasing Rev2 1155 motherboards into the retail channels. You'll see Sandy Bridge desktops and laptops from the big OEMs first and then into the retail chain - exactly when is unknown, but late March/early April seems reasonable.
Apple Said to Launch Sandy Bridge-based MacBook Pro by end of Feb.

Specifics on the motherboard problemIntel Discovers Bug in 6-Series Chipset: Our Analysis

THG: Sandy Bridge Debacle: What It Means for You

Here is the Asus position on the MB replacement program.
February 23, 2011 4:26:24 AM

Im in the same boat as dynamic. I am a motion graphic designer who loves to game on his free time.

Why would you choose the i5 over the i7? is 16gb of ram overkill?

Liquid cooling has always been something I've wanted to try but have been overly scared of the installation.

Is Nvidia leading the pack in gaming PCs or is ATI still around?

Intel vs AMD - who leads the pack now?

I've looked into the but have read that CyberPower uses many generic brands that are just out right faulty.

P.S. I dont mean to bum rush your thread, just that there are hundreds of these posts a day and you were in my price range and seem to need the same style computer.