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At least two simultaneous builds - any secret to saving on OS costs?

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July 1, 2012 8:27:50 AM

Heyo everyone,

I am working on the 3-part project I've put off for ages. The details are below if it matters to anyone, but the main point is that at least two of the three will require installation of an OS. All three will be running AMD processors, and as I understand it, that probably makes just picking up the Snow Leopard family-pack a bad direction to go.

1. Build a high-end system around the current components (chassis, mobo, cpu, gpu, RAM) that I've set aside already.

2. Upgrade my current system's PSU and move the entire system "as is" to a larger tower. This is primarily to allow the cooling situation to be controlled without running multiple 92mm fans at 40-50db each. It's also to allow space for a more tidy wiring situation. Would consider moving to new mobo, but don't want to pay for the new board PLUS the cost of Windows 7 since the recovery partition will be useless.

3. Use the scraps from past work and the cheapest possible components to build a dedicated rig that will be left running 24/7 to receive, store, and allow online access to the video from our home surveillance system. Ideally it would be compact in form and as quiet as possible.

So, the question I can't seem to find a clear answer on is if Microsoft offers any way to save money when purchasing the W7 OS to use across multiple platforms at the same time, by the same user? I know the "system builder" lets you verify the OS with multiple systems, but not at the same time from what I can understand (ie. you can tear apart your first system, build another from scratch, and install the same W7 OS onto system #2 so long as you don't need system #1 to be verified as authentic anymore).

Thoughts?
July 1, 2012 11:22:27 AM

i dont think microsoft does that. i dont see the hassle of just setting up windows 7 from scratch onto the other system. you can just clone the hard drive from the old system to the new one. one windows 7 disc can be used for many systems

for your first build, id suggest going intel. they have much more performance all while using less power. what is the budget for the first system?

for your second build, what are the specs. i will suggest a power supply and a good case

for your third build, id go xeon but then they are quite expensive. so i will get this instead

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/baMx

this build is virtually silent
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July 1, 2012 11:39:35 AM

first off, you're wrong. the "system builder" or OEM version can only be installed on one system ever according to the license. it is locked to the motherboard.

You can get 3 packs of windows 7 OEM but you'll only save maybe 10 bucks apiece. I would consider using a free Linux build, like freeNAS as a home server to store the video/do backups. or you.could use windows home server. its about half the cost of 7
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July 1, 2012 11:42:54 AM

unksol said:
first off, you're wrong. the "system builder" or OEM version can only be installed on one system ever according to the license. it is locked to the motherboard.

You can get 3 packs of windows 7 OEM but you'll only save maybe 10 bucks apiece. I would consider using a free Linux build, like freeNAS as a home server to store the video/do backups. or you.could use windows home server. its about half the cost of 7


ive been using the same windows 7 disc for all my builds. it never once locked me out of another build.
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July 1, 2012 11:48:06 AM

OSX and AMD processors don't mix. Supposedly there's a workaround but its experimental and very finicky. If you want to run a hackintosh, best go with Intel.
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July 1, 2012 12:02:13 PM

Pinhedd said:
OSX and AMD processors don't mix. Supposedly there's a workaround but its experimental and very finicky. If you want to run a hackintosh, best go with Intel.


AMD video cards do :D 
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July 1, 2012 1:18:36 PM

TheBigTroll said:
ive been using the same windows 7 disc for all my builds. it never once locked me out of another build.


So there is no issue with using the same product key over and over on different systems- even say, if there is a critical system update you need to download through their website on all the units? Is this the case with the basic $109 home version you can buy on virtually any of the major websites? I obviously don't need to have their tech support if that's all I'd be missing out on.

As for the processor choice- I got a break on the motherboard and CPU from a friend who purchased them, never opened either item, and then decided to just buy a new PC instead of taking the time to finish a build. So, I have a pretty solid Asus M5A97 motherboard installed in a brand new case, ready for the components to go on. It's not a world-beater, but it has the 32gb RAM, dual PCI-e slots, and SATA III features I wanted. It's compatible with AM3 or AM3+ chips up to 140w... the boxed CPU I have is a Phenom II X4 965 black edition. It's not top of the line, but I picked up both for $125 still in shrink-wrap, so I can't complain. I figure I can dump more money elsewhere and down the road, I can always go to an AM3+ CPU. I also have a HD 6870 that didn't fit my current case that I had planned on starting out with. I'll probably go up to a HD 7870 when I get an idea where the performance baseline is at with the parts I have now. For the PSU, a pair of 120gb SSD's, 1tb HHD, plus either 2x8gb or 4x8gb DDR3-15000, I figured a budget of ~$400-500. That's flexible if there is an obvious place where I shouldn't cut corners.

The second build is (was at one point) a Dell Inspiron 570. It now has the dell mobo can case- that's about it. It's running a Phenom II X4 965 black, HD 6850 GPU, 16gb of DDR3 1333mhz memory, an Intel 330 120gb SSD for the system and a 500gb WD Caviar Blue for file storage. Also, I swapped out the cheap factory DVD burner for a pair of optical drives- one BD-R DL burner and one DVD-RW DL burner. This'll end up getting the HD 6870 when I have the new case and eventually upgrade the performance build. I also plan on pulling the second DVD drive to open room on the board for a SATA connector, then will add a cheap SSD to keep some free space on the primary drive, and give me the ability to use the slow HDD less. That is down the road stuff though just so you can guess what wattage PSU I should look at. It's running a poor choice of Cooler Master 500w eXtreme right now (this was my very first project- live and learn).

For the last computer, I really don't need much processing power or even memory. I mostly just need a large HD- looking at the 2-3tb range. The GPU doesn't need to be anything elaborate either. I am hoping to have some sort of setup with a CPU that has a low power draw (<65w) and a graphics card that can get by with passive cooling, then run as high of flow exhaust fan as I can under ~20dB from someone like Noctua. This is going to be the last of the priorities though- right now the DVR I have running the system is sufficient, other than having to yank it out from it's storage spot to watch anything it records.

Thanks for the input everyone!


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July 1, 2012 1:25:20 PM

ocmusicjunkie said:
So there is no issue with using the same product key over and over on different systems- even say, if there is a critical system update you need to download through their website on all the units?


You mean besides it being illegal and the OS locking itself to the motherboard when you activate it?
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July 1, 2012 1:27:16 PM

TheBigTroll said:
ive been using the same windows 7 disc for all my builds. it never once locked me out of another build.


You can use the same disk all you want. the disk is irrelevant. if you're using the same key... all I have to say is you should know better than to advocate piracy on Tom's
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July 1, 2012 3:11:00 PM

You can buy a windows 7 home premium upgrade family pack. It allows you a license good on up to three different pc's It usually sells for $130 or so.
http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Windows-Premium-Upgrade...

It is an upgrade package with 32 and 64 bit dvd's. Upgrade is considered as retail, which means that you can freely transfer the license to a different pc in the future.
As an upgrade, you need technically to own a previous version of windows. But, since many previous versions can't be upgraded in place for various reasons, the package allows you to do a clean install without actually needing a windows os present.
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July 1, 2012 4:01:43 PM

unksol said:
You can use the same disk all you want. the disk is irrelevant. if you're using the same key... all I have to say is you should know better than to advocate piracy on Tom's



i wasnt trying advocate piracy.
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July 1, 2012 4:07:45 PM

TheBigTroll said:
i wasnt trying advocate piracy.


The thing is, using the same product key on multiple systems (all functioning at the same time) is piracy. Even reusing the same product key on sequential systems (dismantle the first and reuse on a new system with new MB) is piracy.

Pony up the $ and go legal if you want Tom's advice
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July 1, 2012 4:22:15 PM

well then, i just learned something new
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July 2, 2012 3:22:40 AM

geofelt said:
You can buy a windows 7 home premium upgrade family pack. It allows you a license good on up to three different pc's It usually sells for $130 or so.
http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Windows-Premium-Upgrade...

It is an upgrade package with 32 and 64 bit dvd's. Upgrade is considered as retail, which means that you can freely transfer the license to a different pc in the future.
As an upgrade, you need technically to own a previous version of windows. But, since many previous versions can't be upgraded in place for various reasons, the package allows you to do a clean install without actually needing a windows os present.


Thanks!! This was the info I had hoped for. I wasn't trying to find a way to cheat microsoft- I just figured there had to be a logical option for multi-system households. I saw the family upgrade pack but just assumed a clean install onto empty drives would be an issue. Now I think that price for three computers is fair.

BTW, I will ask here since I'm only pondering a change, but is building a performance rig around a X4 965 and HD6870 starting off too far behind the newer gen processors to be successful? I am thinking now maybe I should unload the cpu for a 6 or 8 core AM3+ and grab atleast a 7800, if not 7900 series card if I'm going to invest the other time and cost..
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July 2, 2012 6:07:59 AM

ocmusicjunkie said:
Thanks!! This was the info I had hoped for. I wasn't trying to find a way to cheat microsoft- I just figured there had to be a logical option for multi-system households. I saw the family upgrade pack but just assumed a clean install onto empty drives would be an issue. Now I think that price for three computers is fair.

BTW, I will ask here since I'm only pondering a change, but is building a performance rig around a X4 965 and HD6870 starting off too far behind the newer gen processors to be successful? I am thinking now maybe I should unload the cpu for a 6 or 8 core AM3+ and grab atleast a 7800, if not 7900 series card if I'm going to invest the other time and cost..


For gaming, a X4-965 is about as good as it gets using amd cpu's. The 6 and 8 core bulldozer chips were a disappointment for gamers. The reason is that few games use more than 2 or 3 cores, making the extra cores on 6 and 8 core cpu's irrelevant.
The newer Intel cores do more work per clock too.

On the graphics side, the 28nm 7xxx series cards from amd have been a winner. They are faster, quieter, run cooler, and take less power. Today, the 28nm GTX670 and GTX680 are very competitive at the top end.
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July 2, 2012 6:12:57 AM

Traildriver said:
The thing is, using the same product key on multiple systems (all functioning at the same time) is piracy. Even reusing the same product key on sequential systems (dismantle the first and reuse on a new system with new MB) is piracy.

Pony up the $ and go legal if you want Tom's advice

Not exactly.

The family pack offers the same product code that is valid on up to three concurrent pc's.

Reusing oem licenses on subsequent pc's is not supported with oem licenses, but IS supported with retail licences.
A windows upgrade is considered as retail.
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