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UATX compatibility question - first time build

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August 23, 2011 12:39:45 AM

I'm an experienced programmer but this is my first foray into building my own rig. I have a couple of quick questions about the following proposed build:

AMD A8-3850 Llano 2.9GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU
ASRock A75M FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory
APEX TX-381-C Black Steel Micro ATX Tower Computer Case
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

I'm not sure I have all this uATX stuff straight. I'm getting a uATX mobo and a uATX case (which is very large for being micro? 16x7.2x16). The comments about the case seem to indicate that it takes a regular ATX power supply. Are these items all properly compatible? I'm looking for a regular desktop type computer and I don't want to suddenly discover that I need uATX RAM or something else I've never heard of before.

Secondly, I'd like to skip the optical drive because I most likely will never use it. Does anyone care to rate my chances of successfully installing my (already purchased) windows 7 CD via USB key using this: Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool?

Thanks in advance -

Approximate Purchase Date: This week (Aug 22-26)

Budget Range: $400-$500 After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: General programming (probably nothing bigger than the spring engine), moderate gaming (20-30 fps for TF2 is plenty), netflix-style streaming of movies/videos.

Parts Not Required: Mouse/Keyboard/Monitor/Speakers, Optical drive, Windoze

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: AMD APU, I'm pretty sure that's the way I want to go.

Overclocking: Probably not

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

Best solution

August 23, 2011 1:30:30 AM

Hello Skreeg;

uATX MB, uATX case and standard PSU are all a good match and fully compatible.
That APEX uATX Tower is not small, just a bit shorter. If a small case is essential to your workspace make sure you double check the fit.

In fact all your parts are fully compatible. And look to be a good match with your performance requirements based on those things you mentioned.

I've had really good success installing Win7 (slip-streamed with SP1) via USB thumb drive. But then I always have a spare DVD drive along for the ride anyway. Want to bet the first time I don't bring it along the USB install will fail? I think as long as Win7 can find a set of drivers it can work with the install goes smoothly. I haven't heard either way that the Llano hardware is, or isn't, a smooth ride.
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August 23, 2011 1:37:56 AM

Be sure to let us know how things work out. We'd like to know your thoughts on that Llano system and how well it runs TF2 @ 1680x1050.

Here is a Step-by-Step Guide to Building a PC

Look over the forum's "System won't boot" checklist to see some of the common build errors and how to avoid them.

-> The usual advice; read the manual / install guide; look at the parts, read the manual again and if everything makes sense and looks right - then go ahead with the install.

While you're waiting for delivery you can download the online version of the motherboard manual and start getting familiar with it. Same for the other parts you want to order if they have install guides or manuals available.
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August 23, 2011 2:25:14 AM

Thanks for the replies. Based on this, I'm putting my order in to newegg right now :D  I'll be sure to post about the results (in this thread I guess) once I have them. I've always been interested in programming for new and unusual processors; I bought a PS3 so I could play around with the cell SPUs, although I haven't yet had much chance. Llano should prove interesting...time to figure out what else can I speed up with 400 stream processors sitting right there on the die!
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August 23, 2011 3:07:38 AM

Some points:

1) The AMD APU is a nice chipset, however because the graphics and CPU are completely integrated its my understanding that you are severely limited if you wish to choose a better addon graphics card. i think there may be only one choice of graphics card which matches the graphics on the APU and that will disappear.

Just to inform. Not sure of your wishes. If in doubt, you should consider maybe a motherboard with integrated video which can be disabled in BIOS if you wish a different graphics card in the future.

2) For about the same price, the Dell Zino HD is a nice, small quiet computer. http://www.dell.com/us/en/corp/desktops/inspiron-zino-h...

3) 8GB is in general overkill. you'd see very little benefit over 4GB unless you had some very specific needs. That's not just me, a massive test was conducted which could only find some benefit in certain multi-tasking scenarios using Photoshop and LARGE RAW pictures being edited.

4) You can likely get an APU laptop for under $600.

5) If you have videos, consider the free Boxee software. It's available now, but is receiving a MAJOR update within the next few months. For example, it will scan the folder or folders you designate then search for videos that match your titles (TV or Movies). You then get a nice thumbnail and description. I was REALLY impressed with how it handled TV shows.

If you use Boxee turn ON the hardware acceleration, however be advised that my colour was all messed up until I discovered that certain settings in my Catalyst Control Panel were causing this. The problems were under CCC-> Video-> Video Settings. I turned OFF things like "Flesh Tone Correction"; just compare your videos using hardware acceleration enabled and then disabled. They should look IDENTICAL.


Summary:
Just a few points you can completely disregard if you wish.
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August 23, 2011 3:47:00 AM

photonboy said:
3) 8GB is in general overkill. you'd see very little benefit over 4GB unless you had some very specific needs. That's not just me, a massive test was conducted which could only find some benefit in certain multi-tasking scenarios using Photoshop and LARGE RAW pictures being edited.
I agree. But with the price difference between top rated 4GB and 8GB sets of RAM down to under $10 it's not really worth our time pointing that out.

I don't believe the A75 boards are limited in GPU choices, not even to just AMD products.
If you don't want to do hybrid Crossfire you only need to adjust the BIOS to default to a PCI-e Primary VGA Controller.


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August 23, 2011 4:49:35 AM

@photonboy:
Interesting comments. From what I understand (as WR2 mentioned) I can still pretty much tack on whatever card I want in the future and use it instead of the Llano graphics. This board doesn't appear to do Crossfire, but it does seem to have some sort of AMD dual somethingorother (bottom of WR2's image) if I want to add another Radeon HD 6xxx.

The Zeno is an interesting option, I hadn't found it before. It seems like it would cook itself trying to game in that tiny case, but I could be wrong.

On the 8GB, the price difference was only $20, so I jumped for it for two reasons. Firstly, I might be doing some interesting things with virtual machines, so it might come in handy there. Secondly, I'm hoping that I'll be able to pop 4GB sticks of DDR3 into computers for at least a few years to come, so I'll be able to migrate those over in the future.

Nice point about Boxee, I'll definitely have a look into that, thanks!
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August 23, 2011 5:12:02 AM

photonboy said:
Some points:

1) The AMD APU is a nice chipset, however because the graphics and CPU are completely integrated its my understanding that you are severely limited if you wish to choose a better addon graphics card. i think there may be only one choice of graphics card which matches the graphics on the APU and that will disappear.




This is completely wrong .
Any pci-e graphics card can be used in an FM1 [ Llano ] motherboard

Some AMD cards can crossfire x , but this will not be important for most users
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August 23, 2011 6:09:39 AM

photonboy said:
i think there may be only one choice of graphics card which matches the graphics on the APU and that will disappear.
It's probably going to be quite awhile before any shortage of hybrid compatible HD 6xxx ever becomes an issue.
I just checked and found @ NewEgg you can even still get a HD 3450 PCI-e card if anyone ever got the urge to try Hybrid CrossfireX with a 785G motherboard and it's HD 4200 IGP.
Not that we'd let anyone go that route if they stopped by here and asked first.

For a real CrossfireX set up with, for example, 2x HD 6770 or 2x HD 6870 all you'd need is a properly equipped motherboard. Like the ASUS F1A75-V EVO FM1 A75 (Hudson D3) Motherboard
Again, most around here would probably be against that type of setup. But there are no limitations should someone be set on going ahead with it.
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August 23, 2011 7:02:06 AM

Best answer selected by Skreeg.
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