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Developer system on a budget

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April 3, 2011 2:46:47 AM

Hey guys,

I always read these forums and they are always extremely helpful. I am a web developer and use several different apps at a time. Photoshop cs4, Dreamweaver cs4, winamp and usually some type of music player. I am wanting to upgrade from my current system which is a 32-bit Pentium D 3.0Ghz with 4gb ram running windows 7. I'm looking for some suggestions on building a new rig or purchasing a workstation. I have read ALOT od stuff online as well as this very site about the pros and cons of Xeon vs core i7 cpus and ecc vs non-ecc ram. My head is about to burst so I figured I would just start my own thread and let you guys inform me.

I am looking at purchasing a dual dual core (4 total) 3.0 Ghz Xeon CPU with 8GB of ecc ram. It is a Dell workstation. I also have the option of buying a workstation with almost the same stats but with 2 core 2 duo cpu's.

I have always heard that ECC ram is good for servers, but would it not benefit me as well? Should I not look at buying a workstation and just go with a peppy desktop setup like an i7 with a ton of ram.

Thanks in advance.
April 3, 2011 5:53:01 AM

The athlonIIx4/phenomII is based on the old opteron cpu core. It is slower than the i5-2500k, but still beats all the core2 quads. Your current cpu has two pentium 4 cores and is slower than the sempron140, amd's cheapest cpu.
The single core socket 940 fx51 beat the dual core pentium D back in the day, it was clocked at 2.6ghz. The sempron 140 is clocked at 2.7, both use a opteron64 core.

Ecc ram was mostly when ram often had errors, today's ram if you don't overclock the memory it is pretty stable. You need ecc ram for a server but not for a workstation. A lot of boards support ecc ram but you would have to look.

First of all i would pick a cpu that is under 100 watts cause you are not gaming so having a quiet cpu is more important. Stay away from the 125watt cpus.

Here are my suggestions:
1. If the core2 dual cpu server is a deal and is cheap its almost as fast as the lower end athlonIIx4 or core2 quad, it would be ok.
2. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$189.99 Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core
It beats the phenomIIx4/x6 and athlonIIx4. You do not need the more expensive 2500K if you are not overclocking.
3. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$89.99 Phenom II X4 820 Deneb 2.8GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 4MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Its a OEM so it needs a cpu cooler, hopefully the cpu pins don't come bent.
4. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$69.99 AMD Athlon II X3 435 Rana 2.9GHz retail box, comes with a cooler, no chance of having to rma it over bent cpu pins. Its about 3x the speed of your current cpu.
5. alternative retail cpu to the phenomII oem, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $109.99 Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core, Not really a phenomII core but a propus core, no L3 cache but the higher clock makes up for it, about the same speed as the 2.8ghz oem phenomII 820. It comes with a cooler and is a retail box so no bent cpu pins. Its the fastest amd cpu that stays under 100 watts.

6. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$199.99 Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor
Its a "poor man's 6 core", slower in gaming than the i5-2400 quad, but it has 6 cpu cores and is basically amd's 6 core server chip. It is a better server cpu than a gaming cpu. It is a black edition cpu, so the multiplier is unlocked, To make it into a server cpu you can underclock it to 2.8ghz and make it run quieter.

For a workstation you will want to run onboard video, make sure the board you pick has onboard vid, most do.

well good luck.
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April 3, 2011 6:11:58 AM

The motherboard/memory is cheaper with the amd cpus than with the intel socket 1155 cpus. so the amd's end up being quite a bit cheaper once you add the cost of the board/memory.
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April 3, 2011 6:35:09 AM

If your current system has ddr2-533, ddr2-667 or ddr2-800 mem, then get this board and a amd cpu..

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$44.99 ASRock N68C-S UCC AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 7025 / nForce 630a Micro ATX AMD Motherboard it supports both ddr2 and ddr3 memory (not at the same time however).

If you can reuse your current memory then that saves some cash.
Check your memory, most pentium D socket 775 boards had ddr2 memory. Some were ddr-400 so check to see.

Most pentium D socket 775 boards do not work with core2 based cpus.
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April 3, 2011 6:36:14 AM

what's your budget?
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April 3, 2011 7:15:39 AM

Are you looking to buy a system or build one yourself? You can save a lot building it yourself, if you think you can do it. Either way, you don't need to spend extra on a server CPU with ECC RAM. A build around an i7-2600K would be ideal. Also, those apps would benefit from an SSD over a regular hard drive.
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April 3, 2011 5:20:22 PM

A Dual Xeon system is not a budget machine -_-. You're better off with a desktop quad core than a dual Core2Duo setup. I'm guessing that version with Xeons is an older model based on the C2Duos as well. As far as ECC that's really only important for mission critical machines that need optimal uptime.

Since it seems you have the money go with an i7 system. Since I'm guessing you're also a heavy Adobe user you will want to go with an nVidia GPU like a GTS 450. You will appreciate the CUDA acceleration in Photoshop. I prefer fireworks to Photoshop myself :p . If you still have a budget for it after that then get an SSD drive as your boot drive and a separate 1TB or so for file storage.

I think that for your needs you could of course go for something less like an I5 or Phenom II system, but it looks like you want your systems to last for a while since you're still rocking a Pentium D. An i7 with some SSDs and plenty of RAM should last you at least as long. I don't know if Dell has any Sandy Bridge 2600 or 2500 systems available yet. You can always get a better value building a high end system yourself, but since I'm guessing you don't want to deal with it, you just want to web develop, so a Dell isn't a bad choice for you. I would also recommend you turn your old system into a file server and test web server ^_^.
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April 4, 2011 6:34:39 PM

Thanks for everyone's help so far, as i had expected I would receive a wealth of good information and expert help. I'm going to try and answer all of your questions so we can continue to work on this.

My budget: Under 1k for the tower

I'm not opposed to using a specific chip set or cpu type, I just want it to be fast! (that's what everybody wants, right?)

I'll be upgrading from 2-22" Dell ultra sharps to 4 22's so I was thinking of going dedicated video cards as opposed to the onboard video solution. Since I develop alot of times I am working with encoding video's for sites as well as using flash which really pounds my current setup. Alot of choppy video and shitty load times. This is what has prompted me to upgrade

I am not opposed to building a system from scratch. I have just come up on several good deals on off lease workstations with the stats I had originally posted and thought it was a better use of my time and money of they were worthwhile.

I am looking for something with a huge fsb 1333 or better. I know this will help out alot with the systems overall speed.

I'm not looking to salvage anything from my old tower. I will hand it down to a family memeber. I already have an HP proliant server I am using to test my scripts before they get uploaded to my work environment.

I plan on running windows 7 64 bit in case anyone needs to know.

And I really appreciate needforspeeds effort. You went out of your way to provide timely important information about the situation. Everyone here is wonderful and I am looking forward to hearing more. Thanks!
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Best solution

April 4, 2011 10:37:03 PM

I think I got something for you, but it is $100 over budget :(  The tricky part is the SSD and 2 Video cards eat about 50% of the budget.

I5-2500K + MSI P67A-G43 Motherboard: $326.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
The board does x8/x8 crossfire. the CPU should overclock to 4.3/4.4 GHz on the stock fan.

G.Skill 8 GB DDR3-1333 RAM: $79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
basic, but you aren't messing with it much

2x HIS HD6850: $329.98 ($164.99 ea)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
solid, yet power saving.

XFX 550W PSU 80+ Bronze: $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This has an impressive 44a on the 12v rail, plenty for the crossfire and overclocking.

OCZ Agility 2 90GB SSD 3.5": $169.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ist $10 cheaper than the 2.5" model, and 90GB should be enough for your photoshop needs.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB Hard drive: $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
your main storage drive.

HEC Blitz mid-tower case: $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a simple case, with 2 120mm fans. add a third in the back and it's good to go.

and that 120mm fan: $4.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total is $1081.90
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April 5, 2011 12:56:59 AM

Wow, Thanks for the leg work. I probably won't be using the vid cards you selected. I feel they are overkill for what I do. I'm not crazy about overclocking anymore as I personally have fried a couple of components and since I use my PC for work I really can't afford to worry about that. Otherwise this is a really sick system.

At first I was looking strictly at Intel CPU's but now through some of the posts others have submitted I have started looking into AMD's again. I haven't found any that support the 1333 FSB unless I am just completely overlooking them, which is possible.

I'm not sure I'm completely sold on the SSD either. I usually put my drives in a mirrored array. This adds to the complexity since my idea is to have two separate arrays, one with the OS drives and the other with storage drives. I haven't been able to find a quality raid card that supports the 6GB sata speed drives yet. If my idea can work then I have to purchase 2 SSD's making it a really expensive idea.

Whatcha think?
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April 5, 2011 1:08:30 AM

Oh, I'm sure you mentioned overclocking since I suggested I wanted a FSB of 1333 or greater. I appreciate your attention to detail and the suggestions you made.
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April 5, 2011 1:16:25 AM

FSB of 1333 is VERY old and slow now. AMD uses FSB that are the equivalent of 2600, at double data rate (so 5200)
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April 5, 2011 7:16:05 AM

So consider the intel core i5 you suggested above. Without overclocking the ram, what is the maximum FSB speed for that model motherboard?

I saw an AMD Phenom II : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

for 199.99. This is a higher power cpu (wattage) so I am a little concerned about noise. What do you think about that CPU versus the i5?

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April 5, 2011 1:33:00 PM

the i5-2500 blows Phenom II away. a 2500 has 50% more computing power at 50% of the energy use of a Phenom II 970.

everything in the Sandy Bridge system is integrated (and there aren't released FSB numbers), but the Sandy Bridge has an effective FSB of at least 6400.


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April 5, 2011 6:42:43 PM

Sounds good. I appreciate the info you have given me. It looks like I will be getting the system you suggested. Do you know of a single video card that support 4 monitors? I don't want to skimp on the video cards and not get what i want but I really don't want to spend 350 on them and I don't even game.
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April 5, 2011 8:14:30 PM

the only ones that support 4 on one card are the dual-chip systems GTX 590, HD 6990. Eyefinity handles 3 on one card. NVidia up to 2 on one card. for 4 monitors, you have to use 2 cards. the 6850 solution I offered will handle your 4 monitors 1920x1080 well enough
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April 7, 2011 3:51:54 PM

You can run a pci card with a pcie-16 card, something like a hd-5350 and a pci geforce 6200 with dual monitor support to get 4 monitors.


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April 9, 2011 3:32:23 AM

ngentile said:
I was on newegg and saw this combo. I was thinking about getting it and adding a couple of things. The core i7 is better if I can afford it, right?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...


Did you even look at the build suggested by screwysqrl?? The combo price for that i7-950 build is $960 with NO VIDEO CARD and a crappy way over-priced PSU.

Screwy's build is a mere $121 more but has dual HD 6850's, an SSD, and better quality components. Drop the SSD, and you will have a much better system for less $$$!!!!

Here it is again:

ScrewySqrl said:
I think I got something for you, but it is $100 over budget :(  The tricky part is the SSD and 2 Video cards eat about 50% of the budget.

I5-2500K + MSI P67A-G43 Motherboard: $326.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
The board does x8/x8 crossfire. the CPU should overclock to 4.3/4.4 GHz on the stock fan.

G.Skill 8 GB DDR3-1333 RAM: $79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
basic, but you aren't messing with it much

2x HIS HD6850: $329.98 ($164.99 ea)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
solid, yet power saving.

XFX 550W PSU 80+ Bronze: $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This has an impressive 44a on the 12v rail, plenty for the crossfire and overclocking.

OCZ Agility 2 90GB SSD 3.5": $169.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ist $10 cheaper than the 2.5" model, and 90GB should be enough for your photoshop needs.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB Hard drive: $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
your main storage drive.

HEC Blitz mid-tower case: $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a simple case, with 2 120mm fans. add a third in the back and it's good to go.

and that 120mm fan: $4.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total is $1081.90


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April 10, 2011 2:06:23 AM

Yes, I did read his suggestion and I also thanked him for the amount of work he did to provide that information to me. If you re-read the thread we were talking about different processors and the FSB speed. His suggestion included a core i5. I was merely asking "The core i7 is better if I can afford it, right?"

Thank you for trying to make sure I didn't overlook a great deal. I really think I am going to purchase all of his suggestions, but I mentioned I really don't think I need the high end video cards he suggested. I need 4 monitor support but I don't game and rarely watch movies. Perhaps you can help me. Since you read the whole thread and know what I am looking for could you suggest a video card or two. Thank you in advance.
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April 10, 2011 2:18:46 AM

the i7 is a little better than the 2500, but not hugely. If you don't want the higher end GPUs, you can get 4 monitor support with a pair of almost any two GPUs. 2x GT440 or 2xHD6450 would do.
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April 10, 2011 7:38:52 AM

ScrewySqrl said:
the i7 is a little better than the 2500, but not hugely. If you don't want the higher end GPUs, you can get 4 monitor support with a pair of almost any two GPUs. 2x GT440 or 2xHD6450 would do.


I wish! I built an i7-950 system near the end of last year. The 2500K trades blows with the i7-950. Go here, select the two processors and click the compare button yourself. The 2500K is faster at gaming and Photoshop.

Here is another link: Anandtech: The Sandy Bridge Review, showing the 2500K beating the i7-950 at Photoshop CS5.

Today, I would go with a 2600K, which is around $30 more than I spent for the i7-950.

Here is my current NewEgg Wishlist.
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April 11, 2011 5:17:55 PM

Best answer selected by ngentile.
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