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Find the weak spots in my new build

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May 10, 2011 8:11:46 AM

Trying to build a new system for ~$1200. No gaming - mostly multitrack audio recording & mixing, some minor video editing, smooth 1080p file playback (files from my new Panasonic HDC TM-90 camcorder). Whaddya think?

Intel Core i7 950
ASUS P6x58D-E
2x4GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1333MHz Dual Channel (reading that Triple Channel isn't that much better, wanted 8GB)
ASUS EAH6850 (Radeon HD6850)
WD Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB (larger drives to be added)
Black Cooler Master CM690 II case
Antec TruePower 650W (may ultimately have 3-4 HDDs total installed)
ASUS DRW-24B1ST DVD burner

Should I replace anything?

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May 10, 2011 8:29:27 AM

If I were you I'd wait a week or 2 and buy a z68+i7 2600k. The z68 boards will allow you to use quick sync and the HD3000 graphics from the 2600k so you could get by without the 6850. Then you can get a SSD to speed up your boot/programs.

article on quick sync.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sandy-bridge-core-i...
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May 10, 2011 8:51:46 AM

I would go with a cheaper video card if you are not into gaming
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May 10, 2011 9:01:56 AM

Hmm, I'll have to check out this Quick Sync thing.

Regarding a cheaper video card, I was actually going to go with a Radeon 5750 originally, about $60 cheaper. Then I started thinking that I might want to go dual monitor at some point...could be nice for multitrack recording. So the $60 seemed worth it.
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May 10, 2011 9:50:25 AM

Hi, I would stick with the 6850 because you are doing video. The ATI cards perform better than GTX cards when it comes to video (according to reviews). The Z68 platform with an the 2600K chip would give you Intel's on-board video transcribing which pretty much kicks every other transcribing software and high-end graphic card transcribing's butt (do a Google search of Intel transcribing).

While you don't need a the best discrete GPU card for transcribing when you have Intel's built-in transcribing (with the Z68 platform) the quality of the video you view on your monitor WILL be affected by the quality of your video card and the quality of your monitor. The 6850 really doesn't cost that much more than say an ATI 5770 which would be as low as you would want to go as far as a card to process video. A quality video card does make a difference when you are viewing HD video or HDTV but it won't matter if you have a cheap monitor. For your needs the 6850 is an excellent choice and it is cheap right now.

I would also not go with the 950 - I owned an I-7 950 and it was slower than an I-7 920 I previously owned. The previous suggestion to go with the I 2600K and the Z68 mother board gives you the best of both worlds and the 2600K is about the same price as the 950 and literally eats it for lunch - especially if you overclock it. It also has the video transcribing feature I spoke about.

While a 650 PSU will certainly carry your system, it could be a problem if you upgrade to say add another 6850 in crossfire. Many people on this forum suggest a PSU that will carry your system at 50%. I don't know if that is really necessary but a high quality PSU is universally agreed upon as necessary. If you went to a 750 or an 850 the cost difference would not be that great and it would give you more headroom to upgrade.

Antec makes good PSUs. Corsair has an 80 plus certified 750 W PSU here for $99.00 after rebate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

A Corsair 850 W is $125.00 after rebate here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The Corsair PSUs are rated very highly and generally they cost less than the Antec PSUs. Both brands are good though. If you have extra money the Corsair HX 750 or HX 850 only cost about $20-$40 more than the TX series and are considered to be exceptional in many professional reviews (they have won several review awards). I own the 850 HX and did own the 750 HX.

If you watch NewEgg, you can get Corsair 1600 DDR3 RAM (2 x 4GB) kits CL9 for $75.00 and either the 1600 or the 1866 RAM is the sweet spot for price versus performance. There is a superb Bit-Tech article for Sandy Bridge memory here: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/memory/2011/01/11/the-...

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May 10, 2011 11:50:51 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions! It looks like the 2600K would be about $50 more, plus I imagine a mobo with a newly-released chipset (z68) will probably run quite a bit more than $200. I'd have to figure out if the speed increase justifies the increased cost. I assume the video transcribing aspect wouldn't matter much if I have a 6850? Or am I misunderstanding that? I wonder if maybe spending an extra ~$40 on on an i7 960 would be a good compromise?
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May 10, 2011 7:49:06 PM

The extra you pay for the cpu and mobo will be from not getting a video card as you won't need that since you have everything you need from a solid cpu.
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May 11, 2011 12:55:33 AM

OK, I see what you're saying. I see that the benchmarks are great for video rendering, I wonder if they're as strong for other video applications? I'll have to research that, since I do plan to do a bit of video editing. Also, I just read somewhere that the higher number of cores in the 950 would be beneficial for processing high numbers of audio plug-ins, etc. during multitracking. But I do like the fact that Sandy Bridge processors run cooler.

More research needed...
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May 11, 2011 2:11:42 AM

sound-asleep said:
Thanks for all the suggestions! It looks like the 2600K would be about $50 more, plus I imagine a mobo with a newly-released chipset (z68) will probably run quite a bit more than $200. I'd have to figure out if the speed increase justifies the increased cost. I assume the video transcribing aspect wouldn't matter much if I have a 6850? Or am I misunderstanding that? I wonder if maybe spending an extra ~$40 on on an i7 960 would be a good compromise?


You are right the I-7 950 is dropping in price because the 2600k blows its doors off and doesn't cost that much more. You could also go to the I-7 2500K which is still has Quick Sync and it is also screaming fast CPU - it almost keeps up with the 2600K. It is about $100.00 cheaper than the 2600K and Tom's Hardware recommends it as the best CPU for the buck.

Concerning the ATI 6850 there are two different video issues to keep track of.

1. Which is better to use the 6850 or Quick Sync to transcribe your video? Hands down, Quick Sync decisively beats ANY video card when transcribing

2. When you WATCH the HD video that you have transcribed, that is where you need a good quality discrete video card. The 6850 should do a wonderful job in getting a great picture to your monitor (you do need a decent monitor also to appreciate the quality of the signal that the card is producing)

I read a review that rated the video (when you watch video on your monitor quality) quality of all of the current ATI video cards and GTX cards. Any ATI card from the 5770 up beat all of the GTX cards. ATI simply produces better video to watch than GTX (Nvidia). However, since there is very little cost difference between the 5770 and the 6850, the 6850 is a great choice and gives you plenty of power to process HD video.

We don't know what the Z68 mobos will cost but I am willing to bet that there will be an ASUS Z68 mobo in the $200 - $250 range. Just make sure that you get Lucid Logic's software with it because it will let you use both Quick Sync and the 6850 discrete GPU. Their website is here: http://www.lucidlogix.com/product-virtu.html Tom's Hardware has a review that explains what it is. You absolutely need it with the Z68 platform. Many mobo manufacturers are including it with their motherboards. I think ASUS is going to include it with its Z68 mobos.

It is better to get the 2500K or the 2600K CPUs because you can overclock these CPUs fairly easily (especially with an ASUS mobo) and make them screaming fast. The 2500K beats the $1000.00 Intel I-7 990 in most benchmarks when it is overclocked and yet it costs only $225.00.
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May 11, 2011 4:10:56 AM

Thanks for all of you suggestions, lots of good info.

OK, this may sound stupid but I'm not sure I understand what "transcribe video" means. I'm assuming it means encode or transcode, i.e. compress one format into another? I will be doing those things to some extent (after I'm done editing, for example), but it's not my primary use.

Also, I will not be overclocking. I know it's not that difficult, it's just something I don't want to deal with (possible heat, monitoring stability, etc.). For my needs, stability is equal to processing power, followed closely by "I don't have time to mess around with stuff".

Anyway, it does sound like I need to price out a Sandy Bridge option. I'm going to check on some multitrack recording forums and see what the word on CPUs is. That's gonna be my primary usage.
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May 11, 2011 7:53:22 AM

OK this link was posted earlier in this thread by crewton: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sandy-bridge-core-i... - make sure you read it.

It is an excellent Tom's Hardware article that explains the Intel's integrated graphics in the 2500K and 2600K chips. I am not a video guy and so I am not qualified to explain the article - but it says that they are "encoding" the video to different formats.

As far as overclocking, you don't need to OC to get great performance from the Sandy Bridge chips. But if you do a mild OC which will not require exotic cooling - going to something like 4.0 - 4.2 Ghtz you will see dramatic improvement results. A simple after-market cooler like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 or the Noctua DH-14 (if your case has room) will provide more than enough cooling. But as I said you don't have to overclock. When you buy the "K" chips you have that option to overclock which is nice.

I'm not a video person but from what I've heard from video people, the faster the computer the better because it saves you time. So at some point, you may choose to overclock. Keep in mind that overclocking the 2500K or the 2600K to the 4.0 - 4.2 Ghtz that I mentioned is described as fairly simple by almost everyone who has worked with the chips. So buy a good aftermarket CPU cooler and pop it in on your mother board, then about 15 minutes of working with the BIOS and your up and running with a wicked fast computer. The Sandy Bridge CPUs run much cooler than the 1366 socket CPUs (the 950 runs much hotter) and don' t require as much cooling. You do not have to OC to use Quick Sync.
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May 11, 2011 8:10:39 AM

sound-asleep said:
OK, I see what you're saying. I see that the benchmarks are great for video rendering, I wonder if they're as strong for other video applications? I'll have to research that, since I do plan to do a bit of video editing. Also, I just read somewhere that the higher number of cores in the 950 would be beneficial for processing high numbers of audio plug-ins, etc. during multitracking. But I do like the fact that Sandy Bridge processors run cooler.

More research needed...


Just a quick note on the # of cores in the 1366 sockets. The 2600K chip outperforms the six core I-7 990 in most benchmarks when it is overclocked to 4.6 Ghtz. The 2600K chip also supports hyper threading, which helps multi-tasking. The 2500K does not support hyper threading. Based on the reviews, the 4-core 2600K is still faster than the 6-core I-7 CPUs (1366 socket).
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May 11, 2011 8:17:40 AM

Concerning the CM 690 II, CM is putting USB 3.0 in several of its mid tower cases right now. USB 3.0 is significantly faster than USB 2.0 and it is convenient to have a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case. Since this option is available you may want to select a CM mid tower case that has USB 3.0 front ports - they don't cost more.
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