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Unique Performance System with 3 Monitor Array

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November 30, 2011 6:40:53 AM

First I will tell you what I'm looking for according to this forums' guidelines. Then I will explain what I have and why I'm not satisfied as that will help you understand where I need to focus on upgrading.

Approximate Purchase Date: Starting ASAP I would like to buy one or two components at a time until I have everything in. Then I will build the system. With Xmas coming up soon I don't want to spend too much money on myself.

Budget Range: $2000-3000 based on sale prices, hopefully. May not include extended warranty options.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: 1) Mostly for business applications and serious multitasking. It's not uncommon for me to have 15+ applications and/or windows open at a time, spread across 3 large hi-res monitors. 2) Graphics intensive applications such as PhotoShop, Dreamweaver (not that bad), After Effects and Premiere Pro. 3) HD Streaming video via in-house networked media server and Netflix plus full 1080p Blu-Ray movie playback. My center monitor is an HD 30" so it makes a nice TV. 4) Occasional gaming. The only types of games I like are RPG's like newer D&D style games and the new Diablo III coming out. I'm not a big gamer so I don't know how demanding these types of games are compared to others but when I do want to play them I want them to run smoothly at the highest settings. 5) This might sound picky but I have some nice OpenGL screensavers that look like crap with my existing video cards. Probably because I run a high resolution and these are workstation video cards. Nevertheless, this is on my list of wants.

Parts Not Required: I do not need a keyboard, mouse, OS, speakers, or monitors. Also don't need any switches or routers or a printer. Basically the case and everything inside it is what I need.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I prefer Amazon and Newegg. I have a Prime account with Amazon and a ShopRunner account that works with NewEgg and I like NewEgg's extended warranty options and prices.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Not sure I have any personal preferences other than to say I try to stay away from some brands that are low quality or which companies don't support their products very well, like HP for example. I don't think this would apply as I'm building a performance system and have the budget available and it's flexible. I haven't used an AMD processor in a long time but I do have the Intel Core i7 920 right now and love it. If you honestly feel that AMD can perform at least as well or better with a long life then I'm open to suggestions. I haven't kept up with AMD products for a while so consider me ignorant.

Overclocking: Maybe - May not be necessary for this system.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe now or at least as a future proof option, yes.

Monitor Resolution: I currently run 3 monitors. A 30" center display at 2560 x 1600 and two side monitors that are rotated 20" each running at 1200 x 1600.

Additional Comments: I have lots of comments! See below...

The main thing I'm not pleased with in my current system is the video cards. I bought them out of necessity because my Dell system only has one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. But even the primary video card is lacking in performance and 3D or OpenGL apps. My current video cards are both Nvidia. One Quadro FX 380 (the x16 card) and one Quadro NVS 295 (the x1 card). Both are low profile and run somewhat hot with just the heatsink it came with. I need either one good video card that will run all 3 monitors at different resolutions or 2 separate (still good quality) video cards. The video card I realize could determine the case, motherboard, and power supply that I will need so I figure this is a good starting point.

Crossfire/SLI is optional but I think it should be figured in as a future upgrade option so the system needs to support up to two large video cards and the power requirements.

One other thing to think about is a way to overcome the a kind of restriction with the BIOS and the order it looks for video devices to boot with. For example, with my current system it always boots off the right monitor that's rotated. I think that's because that's the only video card (the NVS 295) that uses a DVI port. The other 2 use a Display Port, and the BIOS will find the DVI port first and use it. If I can set this up so the main center display uses the DVI port and that doesn't hurt my resolution or anything that would be great. Of course you know that once Windows starts loading it sets the primary monitor anyway but when there are system problems it's no fund tilting my head for hours.

The case is very important to me. If I can get a mid tower case to work that's my preference as it takes up less space where my knees are under my desk. But I am not opposed to going with a full tower. I also have dogs that shed so filter traps that are easy to access and clean would be a nice option. I've seen some cases that have that option. Not a requirement though. One thing that I do want is the extra cooling. I also prefer to have at least 2 USB ports and maybe a eSATA port on the front or top front of the case with at least one USB supporting 3.0. I've also seen some newer cases that have 3 layers of siding to eliminate most of the noise. Since this is my main work PC that would be nice. I'm willing to spend the extra money on the case to get everything I want if such a case exists.

For storage I intend to go with a SSD for my boot/OS device and then have either 2 1Tb drives or 2 2Tb drives. I use a WD MyBook 1Tb USB 3.0 drive right now for backing up data, which is ok but not as fast as I would like so if you have a better suggestion I'm all ears. For media I have a networked media server with 18Tb of storage so I don't need massive storage in my main PC. What's a good size to use for the SSD boot/OS device?

I'd like to go with a faster processor than what I have now, which is the 2.67GHz i7 920 which is actually 8 cores. Technically it's more like 4 dual core processors from what I've read but the system sees it as 8 separate processors it can use. I don't think there's anything out there with more cores but faster would be nice. Maybe not going as far as the new i7 Extreme though. They run over $1000 just for the CPU.

For RAM, I need a monster. I use up just about all of my 9 gigs as it is. Not sure how much more I need but I do need more.

Gigabit for Network speed. Wireless is not necessary although Bluetooth might come in handy. Anybody doing that with PC's these days?

I think that's it. Some of you PC whiz's would probably love to design this one, huh? Appreciate your help and guidance with this.

Oh, one last thing. I intend to run Windows 7 Enterprise x64 on this new system in case compatibility is an issue with any hardware recommendations.


Clay M.
November 30, 2011 7:44:10 AM

Here is what I got for you

You can reduce the SSD if you want but it should be able to hold the OS and atleast 3 RPGs that you play since there are a lot of loading in those types of games.

Went with AMD GPUs since your using multiple monitors

RAM if you want fill them all up but I wouldnt be able to tell you what difference it would make for rendering and what not.

CPU isnt OC'able but if you want you can get the 'K' version

For noise reduction if the case doesnt have it just buy the sound reduction foam online get the glue used for it if needed and be happy

Again sorry wasnt able to find any mid-towers maybe someone else can


Case: Here are some ones I picked out couldn’t really find any good Mid-Towers
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

Intel Core i7-2600 - $300.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock Z68 Extreme4 - $175.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $44.00 ($88.00)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x Radeon HD 6970 2GB - $360.00 ($720.00)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LITE-ON Black 12X BD-ROM - $65.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200 RPM - $200.00 ($400.00)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD - $170.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR Professional Series HX850 (CMPSU-850HX) 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular - $165.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $2083 (not including case, shipping, taxes, or MIRs)
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November 30, 2011 7:58:06 PM

Questions... I'm worried about ASRock motherboards because of the reviews. Looks like I have a 1 in 5 chance of having some kind of problem and their support isn't very good. I like this mobo http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... by Asus but it doesn't say specifically if it support Intel Turbo Boost technology. I also don't see where it might support the K processor for overclocking. Any suggestions? Maybe on other mobo's that have everything this ASRock board does but not that brand?

The case in the middle, out of the ones you setup as a comparison, says it is a mid tower case but the dimensions are almost identical to the full tower cases. I like that one but also like the Rosewill case. A little while ago I got an email from Newegg with a coupon for 15% off all Rosewill cases so that made my decision for me!

On the hard drives, is it worth the extra cost to go with 10,000 rpm drives? Are they noticeably faster?
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December 1, 2011 1:44:32 AM

The Asus motherboard will work out fine as well, and it will support the overclocking. All motherboards now of days support OCing it just that on some boards you will be able to OC a little higher than others

Glad I was able to help out with the cases, I love blue LEDs so I try to lean towards them as much possible. I also have 1 eSATA external HDD which I see to be faster than USB 3.0, that I would like to use on my desktop. I was personally looking at the HAF X or 932 Blue Editions
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December 1, 2011 2:33:14 AM

You've helped a lot, Emelth, and I really appreciate it. And super fast too.

So are you in the USMC? Still active duty? My son just went in the Navy back in April. He's at nuke school now. Pins on E-4 in a few days. That took me 3 years in the AF! I'm a strong patriot, disabled veteran, and very very proud of our young military men and women.

Back to the PC. I looked at the video card you recommended. Looks like one card could drive all 3 monitors. Thinking about doing that at first and getting a second one later so I can put more money into some 8Gb fast memory modules and maybe some 10k rpm hard drives and an external eSATA drive and enclosure. Did you see that question? Not sure if it's worth the extra cost or not.
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December 1, 2011 2:37:45 AM

Navy 8404 Corpsman a Marines best friend

Oh okay so about that HDDs yes with 10k RPM you will see a difference but for gamers its not really a need for you since your going to be having a lot of apps open sure why not I guess but I think the 7200 RPM will do just fine as well

Yes since you are not gonna be gaming on all 3 monitors, 1 GPU should do but I dont do much CAD/rendering or anything like that so no real experience in it.

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December 1, 2011 2:45:38 AM

Emelth said:
Here is what I got for you

You can reduce the SSD if you want but it should be able to hold the OS and atleast 3 RPGs that you play since there are a lot of loading in those types of games.

Went with AMD GPUs since your using multiple monitors

RAM if you want fill them all up but I wouldnt be able to tell you what difference it would make for rendering and what not.

CPU isnt OC'able but if you want you can get the 'K' version

For noise reduction if the case doesnt have it just buy the sound reduction foam online get the glue used for it if needed and be happy

Again sorry wasnt able to find any mid-towers maybe someone else can


Case: Here are some ones I picked out couldn’t really find any good Mid-Towers
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

Intel Core i7-2600 - $300.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock Z68 Extreme4 - $175.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $44.00 ($88.00)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x Radeon HD 6970 2GB - $360.00 ($720.00)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LITE-ON Black 12X BD-ROM - $65.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200 RPM - $200.00 ($400.00)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD - $170.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR Professional Series HX850 (CMPSU-850HX) 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular - $165.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $2083 (not including case, shipping, taxes, or MIRs)


why would you choose 2 gaming gpus over a workstation gpu for workstation type application. dont buy a car to hual firewood.
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December 1, 2011 2:58:21 AM

cbrunnem said:
why would you choose 2 gaming gpus over a workstation gpu for workstation type application. dont buy a car to hual firewood.


I have my reason, you can put your 2 cents down if you want to just like i did...
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December 1, 2011 7:06:04 AM

Alright now, I'm no expert in professional GPUs nor do I know much about what you really can do with all those programs.

I know ones a web designer program, photoshop is pretty simple, the others have to do with movie editting and what not.

If it was me I would stick with the cheaper gaming GPUs cause to me it sounds like they will be able to handle all those programs
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December 3, 2011 8:56:07 AM

cbrunnem said:
firepro gpu 700
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

while dominate any gaming gpu in the type of programs your doing.



Ok guys, so I'm a little confused. cbrunnem, you seem to know your stuff about video cards. Hopefully you read my criteria above. My new system will be mostly for work which includes serious multitasking, some graphics and video work with some demanding Adobe products.

I went through the specs on that FirePro care you recommended. I see lots of benefits for business applications and multitasking and they look great.

Question is, I want a well rounded video card for Blu-ray playback and HD streaming video plus the occasional gaming. The cost of one FirePro V7900 is very close to 2 of the Radeon HD 6970's. Both support Crossfire but getting the 2 6970's would give me that Crossfire capability. The thing is, I will seldom run a game that will benefit from Crossfire technology. I will always be running multiple applications, working with graphics, and rendering videos with special effects. Would the FirePro card give me that high performance with gaming when I need it, even without a second card using Crossfire?

I just don't see a lot of details in the description or features where it supports today's demanding games. I spent some money on the workstation cards I have now and they don't even do well with OpenGL screensavers, much less games.

By the way, Emelth, I have decided to go with the OCZ Vertex 3 SSD because it's faster. Costs about $50 more normally but there's a $20 rebate on it now so I'll be ordering it this weekend.

I have also decided on the 2 Barracuda HD's you recommended and the Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard, the K version of the processor (only $20 more), the next step up on the LiteOn DVDRW drive (24x) for a few bucks more (also has a small rebate right now), 2 of the 8Gb Ripjaws DIMMs for now (so I can easily move up to 32Gb), and I'm considering the AFT PRO-55U All-in-one USB 2.0 Card Reader as well. I will need a memory card reader on this new system and this one supports the new SDXC cards so there's a little future proofing in it.

I ordered the case and power supply first because they were both on sale. I went with the power supply you recommended above and the Rosewill full tower case. I did like the 2 you like but the Rosewill had two things going for it. The sale and no clear panels and from what I've read it's quieter for that reason.

Just undecided on the video card for now. Help me out guys. It's not so much the cost. I want to do this right the first time.
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December 3, 2011 9:27:34 AM

Yeah I tried researching more about professional GPUs but came up empty handed when he first brought it up. I wasnt able to find any benchmarks or people that have used it. Hopefully he comes back to assist you further
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December 3, 2011 10:57:51 AM

Workstation cards are designed to work well with certain graphics intensive application. I know that workstation cards are worth it for CAD application (e.g. autodesk, Maya), but I'm not sure about Adobe products. I did find the following article which seemed to suggest that Adobe Products do not benefit dramatically from workstation cards, but again I can't be sure.

http://www.cgchannel.com/2011/03/review-gpu-acceleratio...
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December 3, 2011 9:43:00 PM

Thank you for that article. I just read the whole thing and it appears you are correct.

The difference with workstation video cards using Adobe products is 'negligible' with the one exception being Premiere Pro and only when working with hi-res (2k+) feature length projects. What I use Premiere Pro for is 1 to 5 minute marketing videos with a max resolution of 720p.

From what I've learned, with your help of course, the best all around video card for my purposes would be using 2 of the HD 6970's. If money were no object, and I can't really say that, using 2 FirePro's in Crossfire might give me the best of both worlds but I don't think the FirePro would perform any better with games and at twice the cost it's not worth it. If I were into CAD it would be different but I'm not.
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December 3, 2011 10:24:42 PM

Yeah really good article even I learned more about professional cards
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December 9, 2011 7:22:44 PM

Hey I just realized you didn't include a CPU Fan/Cooler in your list. It's been a long time since I built my own system but I believe that's still a necessity isn't it? So for the i7 processor and considering the Asus mobo I selected, which is the best for cooling, lasts the longest, and preferably not like having a turbine in my case?
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December 16, 2011 12:53:23 AM

cbrunnem said:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
best air cooler hands down


Thanks but I didn't get an answer fast enough so I did some research and ended up ordering this one...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Just installed it last night. It wasn't easy but wasn't as bad as some of the reviews. I was extra careful though and read through all the instructions before I did anything (I'm kind of weird that way).

Just waiting on some SATA III cables and my 2 Sapphire HD 6970 video cards to come in now. The last 2 things I need to complete this new system. They will be in tomorrow. Everything else is assembled. My next step of course will be to do another system backup, clone my C drive, and start migrating everything over to the new system.
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December 16, 2011 2:39:11 AM

should be fine
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!