Installing New MB, CPU & RAM and would love advice.

So my PC at work has become an infamous bottleneck for production, and I've ordered a few parts to try and fix that but would love the forum's advice and guidance. I'm starting with an IBM ThinkCentre 8187...

Current Spec's:

Pentium 4 3GHz
NVidia GeForce 6200
ATA-100 40GB HDD 7200rpm
230W Power Supply, PS3 form factor, APM 1.2 and ACPI 1.0b compliant
Windows XP Pro SP3

Primary Uses:
AlphaCAM Version 8 (CNC programming software similar to Solidworks, Inventor etc...)
AutoCAD 2007 LT
General Office software

What I've purchased:

ASUS M4A87TD EVO AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor

CORSAIR XMS 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

Intel Solid-State Drive 320 Series 120GB

I plan on installing Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit SP1 to help with the SSD trim, and hence the 8GB of RAM will be usable.

SO, what all do I need to plan for?
I've read it may be smart to update the BIOS before I install Windows, would anyone agree?
Will my 230 watt power supply be sufficient? A co-worker says it will work fine.
Will the GeForce 6200 work on this MB? Same co-worker is confident.
Do I need to change any settings to make my RAM work well? I've read about voltage settings in BIOS could be helpful.
I know to prep for the SSD, use AHCI, confirm trim is on, defrag is off etc... most of which I learned here,
Anything else?

AlphaCAM is where I'm getting the bottleneck. There are two functions it does "automatically" called nesting and multidrilling that are CPU hogs. Either will literally max out CPU usage to 100% until it finishes, which can be a few seconds or several hours depending on the size of the project. I've never seen it use more than 500MB of memory in the task manager, and I know it only runs on one CPU core. I'm hoping the combination of the quad-core and SSD will both reduce the time it needs to nest or multidrill, as well as leave plenty of CPU leftover to run other applications, i.e. let CAM nest while I work in CAD or another instance of CAM. Actually, I've proven the multi-tasking on my personal i7 quad core laptop.

Thanks All,
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  1. Best answer
    Hey Cooper, welcome to the forums.
    I normally deal with things like gaming PC's and HTPC's, but this sounds like an interesting project. I wish you would have gone with a Sandy Bridge CPU, but it's to late for that.

    So to run down the questions, I'm only going to answer one's I'm confident about ok?
    "Will my 230 watt power supply be sufficient?" It depends on efficiency/brand. Chances are yes, but it could burn out if not a quality piece of equipment.

    "Will the GeForce 6200 work on this MB?" Chances are no. You need to find out if it's AGP or PCI-e. It's most likely AGP, which is an older standard and not compatible with modern PC's.

    "Do I need to change any settings to make my RAM work well?" The only thing you should have to change in order to let it run optimally is the MHz. It will probably default to 1333MHz, but it's an easy fix to get it up to speed.

    You also should worry about the motherboard fitting in the case. Most PC's are microATX in order to stay small, but your motherboard is full ATX.

    Last thing is SSD. I wish you came here sooner, because the Intel 320 is no longer the best value drive. But no matter.

    Hope that helps you out.

    Cheers, Striker.
  2. Striker,

    Thanks for the quick reply and advice.

    See the very bottom... I think I'll be returning the MB and CPU and getting something else. :ange:

    My arrival at this upgrade was rather non-ideal. My original hard drive was giving me problems, and my plan was just to replace the HDD with a SSD and not do anything else for quite a while... which is why I was OK with trading SATA III speeds for reliability.

    What do you consider to be the best value SSD? If I do it very quickly, I could order that for this PC, and use the Intel in my laptop, that's only SATA II anyway.

    So, right after the SSD arrived we're hit with more work than we've had in years, back when I was managing 3 guys that were doing everything I'm doing myself now. Anyway, since I'd spent $200 on the SSD I needed to finish the upgrade inexpensively, and very quickly.

    What would the Sandy Bridge have done differently for me?

    Will running this power supply put anything else at risk (outside of losing files when it crashes)? If not, I'll run it 'till it dies and upgrade then.

    It looks like the graphics card is AGP too, which you're correct will not work with that MB.

    And I assume uATX stands for microATX, which means the dang thing won't fit! I guess I won't be asking my co-worker for PC help anymore. I know where to go now.

    So mid-post I called NewEgg to see if I could cancel and it's too late, but that does afford me the time to change my mind on the MB and CPU since I can return them as soon as they arrive. Any downfalls with the RAM? It was a steal at $69 after mail-in rebate.

    I guess from here, I need to find a MB that fits, might have a way to run my AGP video card if possible or has one on-board, and houses a Sandy Bridge CPU, all for under $230. HELP!
  3. Ahh I see your conundrum. Let's go from bottom to top ok?

    First off you won't be using that AGP card :lol: New card with 10x the power literally cost $30. It won't be an issue.
    No issues on the ram. excellent deal.

    No problem, we can go micro ATX easily.
    And I would upgrade the PSU. When a PSU burns out, it can take other parts with it. Let's not risk it.

    And Sandy bridge will give you superior speeds for the money. It's quite a deal.

    And for an SSD, there is no doubt in my mind this is the best value for your budget: Look at those speeds! About a 35% speed boost from the Intel 320.

    So, $230 for mobo, cpu, and graphics. No prob.

    CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz 2 x 256KB L2 Cache 3MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor $125

    Mobo: ASRock H67M (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard $84

    Vide: Onboard

    If you can stretch your budget $30, we could get the much stronger i5-2400. But this dual core features Hyper Threading, making it faster than a normal quad! But seriously, try and stretch the budget a little.
  4. OK, I'm feeling a bit better now. I'll look closer at these when I get home, and I'm sure I'll have more questions. Thanks for all the help!
  5. OK, so I'll scrap that AGP card along with the MB and CPU. Now that I think of it, I bet the guy who "helped" me pick out the first batch of returns could use it, :lol:

    As for the Sandy Bridge, could you explain or point me to a link that shows how it gives superior speeds for the money? It's critical that a program that will only use a single core (AlphaCAM) can run as fast as possible within my budget. The reason I ask...

    Intel i3-2100, $124.99 -$10 w/ coupon
    3.1GHz Dual Core w/ HT
    2x 256KB L2 Cache
    3MB L3 Cache


    AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE, $129.99
    3.4GHz Quad Core
    4x 512KB L2 Cache
    6MB L3 Cache

    Now for personal use, I've never purchased AMD. I guess the marketing gurus at Intel suceeded in giving me that warm fuzzy feeling when buying their product. But from the above, I have to wonder if now's a good time to try AMD.

    If I went AMD, would this MB be a good option?

    Striker, thanks again for your help. Hopefully I can get this thing together soon.

    P.S. I got the Intel SSD running tonight on my laptop and OMG! AlphaCAM cut nesting and multidrilling at least in half!
  6. Ahh sorry, I should have included benchmarks in my previous post. For a single threaded app, the i3-2100 is going to smoke the 965. Here's what I'm talking about: Now they are pretty even overall, but I want you to look at the "Cinebench 10 Single-Threaded" where it only utilizes one core.
    As you can see, the results are significantly slanted in the favor of the i3. The power consumption levels are also WAY lower.

    That is because the i3 has speed. In a situation where it uses 4 cores or more, I would not hesitate to suggest the 965. But in your situation, you only need a single core.

    And haha, nice! I bet you saw some pretty crazy bootup times too right?

    P.S. What is the res on your work monitor? This is important.
  7. OK, that makes more sense now. I have a new curiosity though. I've been saying AlphaCAM will only use one core, because that's what the manufacturer told me. Now I'm not so sure... Last night when I was timing it to see the difference in HDD vs SSD (SSD stole the show!) on my laptop (Qosmio X505 Q896), i opened task manager and saw that 4 of my 8 threads were seeing good use (~15% total CPU), the other 4 were near idle. Thinking that was odd, I opened another instance of AlphaCAM and made them both multi-drill (what maxes out my single processor at work) and the same 4 threads increased usage, leaving the other 4 near idle. For some reason, I assumed I would have seen one thread go to 100% per instance of CAM.

    Does this mean I should reconsider AlphaCAM as a multi-threaded program? I know it wasn't written with the intentions of using multiple cores, but should I consider the multi-threaded benchmark more now than before?

    Also, do I have any hope of finding a MB with P-ATA for my DVD burner, or would i have to get a controller card?

    Monitor maxes at 1680x1050
  8. Ok, well what we need to do is find out if it uses more than 2-3 threads. If it uses 4 full threads, we should probably go AMD. There are several versions of AlphaCAM, and I can't find the system reqs. Your assignment is to find the system reqs, and dig up any info you can on this issue.

    And we may be able to find a mobo with an IDE slot, but DVD burners are $20 so we won't be striving for it.
  9. OK, here are the 2011 System Requirements. They're very minimal so I can't imagine an older version needing anything more than what's shown. As for digging up stuff on it, I've called Planit and all they can tell me is that it was not designed for multiple threads, but my results last night show that it will use them anway, at least on the i7 740QM. My guess is that it doesn't recognize hyperthreading which is why it only used 4 of my 8 threads, in which case the AMD is the way to go right? It's a quad-core but no hyper threading if I read that correctly.

    Planit also suggests I not try to nest or multi-drill such large jobs... :lol: That's where the $$$ is! I can break jobs up into parts, but it's nearly as much hassle as waiting for it to finish.

    So, for AMD I found this bundle, and the MB does have 1P-ATA as well as SATA6Gb/s for $208

    Thanks again for all the help!

    Alphacam Minimum System Requirements

    1.0GHz, 32 bit Intel Pentium compatible processor (2.0GHz Intel Pentium 4 or better recommended)

    Operating System
    Windows XP (XP Professional recommended), Windows Vista (Vista Business or Vista Ultimate recommended), Windows 7 (Professional or Ultimate recommended)

    Alphacam will install and run on the 'Home' editions of the above operating systems. However, this is not recommended and we cannot guarantee to fix any Alphacam issues specifically related to these operating systems.

    Alphacam is not supported on Windows 7 Starter Edition.

    1GB RAM (2GB or more highly recommended)

    Video Card
    OpenGL® compatible with 64MB on-board memory (256MB or more recommended)

    1024x768 resolution (1280x1024 or higher recommended)

    Hard Disk Space
    700MB free hard disk space (minimum)

    Disk Drive
    DVD drive for software installation

    Pointing Device
    2 button, 3 button, or 2 button with wheel (recommended) Windows compatible mouse

    USB 1.1 or 2.0 port for single user security key support

    TCP/IP required for network security support
  10. Hmm.... I am not sure. It's going to depend. We will have to do some more testing.

    But excellent deal on the mobo! Believe it or not, I was going to recommend that very board :lol:

    So yeah, I'll do some research and I suggest you do the same.
  11. I really appreciate your help, and offer to do some more research but with the time issue at hand, I think I'm just going to order the AMD bundle. That with the SSD should certainly at least double my productivity, and I think the difference between the AMD and Intel would be negligible in comparison.

    That being said, if you don't agree or found something already that would change my mind, I bet it will be Monday at least before anything arrives ;).

  12. Yeah, I haven't been able to turn anything up. Best go with the AMD, it will be the safe choice.

    Glad to help, and happy you got it worked out.
  13. So it's far from extensive testing but, I'm pleased to say the results look very good!

    Multi-drilling the same group of parts on all 3 machines with the same settings, we have

    Old Desktop took about 2 hours
    MY laptop (i7 740QM) took 24 minutes
    Desktop with new hardware took 35 seconds!!

    I honestly thought I made a mistake somewhere at first, but I've run it 3 times now and it's just amazing!

    Striker, thanks again for your help. I'm no longer the bottleneck in production =D

    P.S. I got a new PSU as well just to be safe.
  14. Just to chime in; Just about an hour ago I dropped in a Tt 430w PSU in it. Rather over kill but I have 2 of them that are new. I figured, why not use one of them!? :)
  15. Best answer selected by Cooper_81.
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