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Advice on New LGA2011 Build (HTPC & Moderate Gaming)

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April 15, 2012 8:53:37 AM

Hi there,

I need some advice on which direction to go with my next build. I mainly use it for HTPC/Music, heavy internet use and moderate gaming.

Reason to upgrade:
RAM seems to be a huge limiting factor when using multiple applications and when gaming or maybe it's the PSU with so many devices connected. Storage is also an issue as I'm running out of space with large Video MKV files and Audio (Flac).
Therefore, planning to upgrade to the new LGA2011 platform adn Windows 7 64-bit, recycling as many parts as I can from the current system then adding an external storage solution later.


Current Spec
Quad Core Q9300 2.5ghz OC'ed to3ghz
2GB Corsair PC3-12800 DDR3 2X1GB Cas7
XFX Radeon 5850 Black Edition (Dual displays - DVI to Monitor and HDMI to TV)
650W Corsair PSU (modular)
XFI XtremeMusic (PCI -oldest one) - Bitstreaming audio to AV Receiver via S-PDIF for films/music and Line Out to headphone amp for games (wife doesn't like constant gunshots sounds for some reason while watching TV in the same room).

Drives
2X Seagate 2tb drives
1X WD 300GB Raptor
1X WD 750GB
1X LG DVD Writer

Case: Antec p180 - nice and quiet

OS
Win7 Ultimate 32 bit


Here's what I am thinking of getting to run Windows 7 64 bit:

Mobo: Asrock X79 Extreme9 or Asus P9X79 DELUXE

CPU: Core i7 3820 BOX or Core i7 3930K BOX (C2)

CPU cooler: Corsair Hydro H80 or ZALMAN CNPS20LQ (to keep quiet)

RAM: 8GB or 16GB kit (need advice)

GPU: Recycle the Radeon 5850 (may upgrade later but will not use SLI or Crossfire setups)

HD: Would need advice for a good SDD drive for OS and main programs
Recycle the 300gb raptor and install games here
Set up Raid 1 with the two 2TB drives to store Photos/Music/Files and get and external storage solution for Video (looking at Lian-Li EX503)

Main questions:

1. Which CPU would be best? The 3820 is half the price of the 3930K but has fewer cores. I will overclock this system and don't mind spending extra if the cores will be worth it long term.

2. Which Mobo would be best? I'm thinking of going with Asrock as it has the additional Sound Board and features but would the Asus on board sound be just as good?

3. Would 16GB be worth it and which kit would be best for overclocking. I'll need advice on which kit to choose.

4. Would I need a new PSU if I use an external storage solution like the Lian-Li or NAS?

5. Can you recommend a good SSD for the OS?

6. Am I going about this the wrong way? Would I be better off building a completely new but less powerful rig then use the current system as a separate NAS connected over Wi-Fi to stream HD video rather than doing this upgrade and getting separate external storage?

Budget is not so much of an issue but I want this new set up to require minimum future upgrades, only adding extra storage when needed and possibly upgrade the GPU later.

I plan on choosing the components and building the new system in around 2 weeks when I'll get some time off work and your help choosing the components is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!


April 20, 2012 11:31:40 PM

Considering the current specs of your PC and what you use it for, LGA2011 is an EXTREME jump in specs.

1. Intel i7-2600k with a Noctua Cooler (the H80 isn't as quiet as you think)

2. High End Z77

3. If you want to save money, then 8gb is all you'll need. If you really want to OC 16gb, then go for it.

4. External devices usually provide their own power useless otherwise stated. The Lian-Li EX-503 comes with a 120V DC adapter.

5. Intel 520 or Vertex 3/4

6. Wrong way...maybe a slight detour.

6a. It would be (SUPER)cool to do a DIY NAS project (and you would save money), although it wouldn't be as easy as an off the shelf system (and you wouldn't be able to reuse you PSU. Multiple flavors of ServerOS's out there:

WHS 2011(not free),
Amahi (free..app store,
Ubuntu (free,),
FreeNAS (free,) etc.


6b. ...use the current system as a separate NAS connected over Wi-Fi to stream HD video...

...if by this you mean should you connect you nas to your router via wifi, then NOOOOO!!!. You should hardwire your nas to your router, preferrably from a Gigabit NIC on your NAS (see 6c) to a Gigabit LAN port on your router via cat5e/cat6 ethernet. if your old rig doesn't have gigabit, 10/100 should be fine, or you could pick up a gigabit nic pcie x1 card for $30.

6c. The Lian-Li EX-503 is an external RAID enclosure that connects via USB 2/3 and eSATA. If you want to utilize it as a NAS, you'll need a router equipped with either USB (preferably USB 3) or eSata (which I haven't seen yet). There are also RAID/RAID-like enclosures that are equipped with Gigabit Ethernet (the DroboFS).

My suggested parts:

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 54.4 CFM CPU Cooler ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($207.86 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($134.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Intel 520 Series Cherryville 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($182.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Lian-Li PC-A70F ATX Full Tower Case ($179.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 850W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1355.79
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-20 19:29 EDT-0400)


As you see above, I only added an SSD, as you intend to reuse your old drives. On the new case and PSU, I may have overkilled it a bit, but considering your request of very few future upgrades and the motherboard I've chosen, I think a full tower and 850w power supply will suffice for quite a time to come. GPU upgrades shouldn't cause you any trouble. A rule of thumb for power supplies is to buy enough power for the next 2 or 3 builds/upgrades.

On the CPU, I chose a SandyB 2600K.

On Your RAID setup, the Asus P8Z77-V raid settings are 2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports with RAID 0,1,5,10 support and 4 x SATA 3Gb/s ports with RAID 0,1,5,10 support.

A quick note on the OS: you have listed above a 32-bit Version of Win7 Ultimate (awesome). If you want to utilize a higher RAM above 4GB, then you'll need a 64-Bit verson of HomePrem (which I included) for up to 16GB and Win7 Pro 64-Bit for over 16GB.

Anywho, these are just my suggestions. If you truly want the X79 , then I say go for it. Also if you want to downgrade the case and psu to a "sane" level, that would be completely understandable. These are just my (not so) quick thoughts.
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April 21, 2012 10:53:59 PM

I think you're going to want to do some more research first. I've never needed to try this, but I think with Windows 7, they removed the ability to stream audio to two different audio devices simultaneously. I'd also check to make sure Windows 7 Drivers are available for your PCI XFI XtremeMusic sound card. You really don't want to commit to this upgrade before finding out you can't use the sound card like you used to. WAF is NOT something you want to face (so I hear).

Aside from all that, I really don't see anything that you're doing that a simple RAM upgrade couldn't resolve. If you're sticking with 32bit XP, upgrade to 4GB of RAM. If you're upgrading to Windows 7 - 64bit, the install 8GB into your current system and call it a day.

Just because your components are older doesn't mean they can't do everything you need them to do. Sure, newer components will do your tasks faster, but is it really worth the cost of a full system build?

-Wolf sends
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April 22, 2012 1:29:23 AM

Go for Ivy bridge/Sandy birdge. LGA 2011 is too extreme. Yo will not be able to utilise the 6 cores for gaming and video/etc. Go for LGA 1155.
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