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Figuring out how to rebuild my machine. I need your advice, please.

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February 27, 2012 8:25:16 PM

Hardware newbie here. I need your advice!

So, my motherboard died last week. This sucks. The good news is that my wife said I can rebuild or buy a new computer (yay!!). I really want to keep my case, RAID controller, hard drives, PSU. Everything else I'm willing to replace. I need help figuring out which option is best. Here are my computer specs:

Processor: 2x Intel Xeon E5410
RAM: 16GB Kingston DDR2 FB-DIMM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) ECC (4x4GB)
Graphics: XFX nVidia GeForce 8600 GTS
Mainboard: ASUS Z7S WS Dual LGA 771 Intel 5400 SSI CEB Server Motherboard
Computer Case: Lian-Li Classic Series PC-A70B / Black / Full Tower Case
Power Supply: ZALMAN ZM1000-HP 1000W
Cooling: 2x Noctua NH-U12DX heatsinks; 3x Noctua NF-P12 120mm fans; etc.
3x Seagate Barracuda ES.2 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
RAID Controller: 3ware 9650SE-8LPML KIT PCI Express x4 SATA II (3.0Gb/s)
8x 500GB Seagate RAID-5 for 3.17TB usable space

For context, I did consistently use a substantial portion of the power of my now defunct machine, and so I want a machine with similar (perhaps slightly lower) power. I have some programs that really only use 1-core, so I wouldn't mind if the strength of a single core was higher, but I don't really need 8-cores.

In addition to this computer's previous duties, I'm going to rebuild with gaming in mind (Tribes Ascend and Diablo 3). It doesn't need to be godly (I sometimes bring graphics settings in games down on purpose), but I want it to be very smooth.

Unless you convince me otherwise, I'm picking up a Radeon HD 6850. According to Passmark, this is the best bang for my buck. I could also crossfire these down the road if I wanted to improve the graphics (assuming whatever motherboard I get allows for this).

I think this video card would handle my needs. I had also considered a GeForce GTX 480, which for $100 more seems to benchmark well and still be a fairly efficient use of money according to the passmark benchmark(although, not as efficient as the Radeon).

Now, I need to figure out what to do about this motherboard. The dead motherboard is very expensive to replace (if you can even find it), and frankly, while it is a great motherboard when it works, it is known for failing and being a pain to install and get working. It lacks Win 7 support also. Unless you can convince me otherwise, I will not be buying an identical motherboard. I need to revamp my system. Here are what I believe are my options:


Possible Option 1)

Newegg.com - SUPERMICRO MBD-X7DWA-N Extended ATX Server Motherboard Dual LGA 771 Intel 5400 DDR2 800"]SUPERMICRO MBD-X7DWA-N Extended ATX Server Motherboard Dual LGA 771 Intel 5400 DDR2 800

I think this will fit a my raid controller (see specs) and a new video card. I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure I'd need to buy new RAM also. If I have to buy new RAM, I think Newegg.com - Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model KVR800D2E6K2/4G"]this is the cheapest option. I'd pick up 8GBs, although, I would prefer more (I do spike above 8GB often enough).

~$520 for this.


Possible Option 2)

Since a Dual Xeon motherboard is going to be so expensive, I was thinking about just ditching the Xeons and going for a different processor altogether. I can also sell the parts.

  • Newegg.com - Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I72600K (which should overclock nicely, even for a newbie like me)
  • Newegg.com - ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard (which should help me overclock) - It appears to have all the PCI-Express slots I need.
  • Newegg.com - CORSAIR XMS3 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory Model CMX16GX3M4A1333C9 - I'm guessing these will work.

    ~$560 for this.


    I think these options are sound and compatible. Am I missing anything? Perhaps there are other great options which I haven't considered. I am all ears.

    What should I do?



    peace,
    4eak
    a b B Homebuilt system
    February 27, 2012 8:49:47 PM

    Go for the new ddr3 i7 setup and sell off your old stuff. I switched from explorer to chrome; explorer has some issues with flash player 11.0 with windows 7 64; don't expect too much from wndows 7; it's bloated with files so the 8 gb of ram is needed just to keep up with older machines with less ram. The four cores with the i7 should be adequate for your needs.
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    February 27, 2012 9:10:45 PM

    Thank you!

    I have been using Win 7. I have to say, I'm far more impressed by a streamlined, stripped down "performance" version of XP (e.g. 12-second bootup on my netbook!). Unfortunately, XP has real hardware limits, and it is seeing less and less support.
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    !