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Point of diminishing returns on Inspiron 570 or worth further work?

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September 9, 2012 11:49:45 AM

Hey guys- I'm having a hard time deciding if my primary system (modified Dell Inspiron 570) is too handicap by the SATA II interface and limited BIOS control- not to mention whatever bottleneck the motherboard itself may be creating. I have a couple of newer built systems, but none that have been optimized to this point yet.

The two that I'd be shifting my time/money into bringing up to speed by replacing the placeholder components used during the builds are both newer AM3+ boards that are much easier to overclock. First is running a Phenom 965 with HD6850 GPU, 180gb Intel 520 + 120gb Kingston HyperX 3k, 16gb DDR3 1866mhz. Second is running a X3 455 with HD6770 GPU, Intel 330 120gb + 320gb Caviar Blue, 8gb 1333mhz (mATX w/ only 2 RAM slots).

My Dell Inspiron 570 specs:

Mobo: Dell OEM
PSU: Seasonic M12 520w
CPU: Phenom II X4 965 @4.2ghz (stable)
GPU: HD 6870
RAM: 16gb 1333mhz
SSD: Intel 330 180gb
HDD: Caviar Blue 500gb
Optical: Pioneer BD-R

Passmark checks the CPU score at 5545 and graphics at 803 for 2D, 3278 for 3D. Disk score only 2227 with SATA II issue (185mbp/s write, 225mbp/s read).

I would look at moving to a newer 7870 or equal graphics card primarily, but would also look at adding a second 120gb SSD to add Ubuntu without borrowing from the current Windows 7 disk space.

Thoughts?
September 9, 2012 12:12:54 PM

You will not notice the difference between a ssd running on SATA II and SATA III. It is bottlenecked in speed yes, but not worth upgrading your motherboard just for SATA III.
You have your Phenom OCed to 4.2 GHz? That is a very good overclock for that processor, and am confused when you say you have limited BIOS control. I would think that on Dell motherboards you could not overclock at all.
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September 9, 2012 12:28:26 PM

Sooth1 said:

You have your Phenom OCed to 4.2 GHz? That is a very good overclock for that processor, and am confused when you say you have limited BIOS control. I would think that on Dell motherboards you could not overclock at all.


Heh.... yeah, technically it's not supposed to be possible. But neither is >8gb of memory if you go by Dell's published specs. The BIOS is locked, but I was part of an effort with another Inspiron 570 owner to find a work-around that would allow CPU overclocking. Never did succeed in modifying the FSB, but did find a way to change the multiplier on unlocked processors like the 965 BE I'm running. I am slightly tempted to upgrade from my 92mm CPU cooler for a more effective model, but I really doubt I'll improve upon 4.2ghz that is stable enough to run full-time. I don't know what frequency my co-guinea pig found stable for the 965 in his Inspiron, but I should check back in and compare I imagine.
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September 9, 2012 1:12:08 PM

Yea if it were me, I wouldnt waste money on a new motherboard, when you are getting that much overclock with that one. How do your games run? Do you feel like you need a performance upgrade? If so, what is your budget?
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September 11, 2012 6:35:04 AM

Sooth1 said:
Yea if it were me, I wouldnt waste money on a new motherboard, when you are getting that much overclock with that one. How do your games run? Do you feel like you need a performance upgrade? If so, what is your budget?


This makes me feel like a poser here considering that everyone else seems to build their systems to run games, but actually I use mine mostly to edit video and manage high-res photography. For that I don't *need* to have a machine that even runs to the standards of the i570 rig (my X3 455 rig is actually capable and only scores about half as high on synthetic benchmark tests). I am more driven to system tweaking as a hobby itself, but do appreciate the added ease with which I am able to handle the things I do use the computer for. So, I don't *need* a peformance upgrade, but a noticeable one would be nice. I am sure things could always feel more snappy- I thought that running the X4 965 at stock speeds felt responsive, but then I worked out the overclocking trick and the extra 800mhz made an amazing difference in overall feel. When I started getting the desktop to load before the animated Windows 7 logo even had time to finish forming, it was a great afternoon. :D 

Speaking of gaming though, if you have a suggestion for a graphics-heavy PC game that would be good for someone who has never ventured into anything beyond sports or racing games on his PS3, I'd like to start getting into that world a bit. The "mechwar" game concept seems interesting, as do combat flight sims- but I have no idea what specific titles to consider. It would be nice to have something fun to use the computer projects for when they are done. I was going to start a thread in the right forum asking that very question, but feel free if you have a suggestion. :hello: 
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September 11, 2012 1:05:03 PM

PS- got to 4.3ghz tonight with some care. Up and running for an hour after a short stress test that went okay. We'll see how this holds!
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September 13, 2012 12:19:53 AM

1st -- "... but I was part of an effort with another Inspiron 570 owner to find a work-around that would allow CPU overclocking. Never did succeed in modifying the FSB, but did find a way to change the multiplier on unlocked processors like the 965 BE I'm running. ...." OK, how?

2nd -- For your work, "...edit video and manage high-res photography...." add that second SSD and then run it RAID 0 with the first SSD. This gives you 2X the speed of the SSD and allows you to run both 3gb Sata pipes at the same time.
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September 13, 2012 8:35:22 AM

tsnor said:
1st -- "... but I was part of an effort with another Inspiron 570 owner to find a work-around that would allow CPU overclocking. Never did succeed in modifying the FSB, but did find a way to change the multiplier on unlocked processors like the 965 BE I'm running. ...." OK, how?

2nd -- For your work, "...edit video and manage high-res photography...." add that second SSD and then run it RAID 0 with the first SSD. This gives you 2X the speed of the SSD and allows you to run both 3gb Sata pipes at the same time.


First- Well, it's been a month or two now and I think he's let the cat out of the bag, so there is probably no harm in explaining now. It isn't that there is some ingenious secret to protect; the whole thing is actually embarrassingly simple compared to what some owners with experience in program coding have tried. Initially I just wasn't explaining on the Dell forums after seeing too many inexperienced members attempt "how-to" posts only to find themselves without a working system.

I realized that changing the BIOS interface probably wasn't going to be possible, so I started looking for solutions that were possible from within the OS. Nothing worked, until I recalled that older versions of AMD Catalyst enabled overclocking of both the GPU and unlocked AMD CPU's on most computers. I kept going back until I found a version that looked like it was going to work (12.1), but something was still preventing any response to the settings Control Center would attempt to apply.

I decided to go out on a wing and assume it was some part of the extra 10gb of clutter that Dell adds to the factory OS install that was intercepting any commands to alter the CPU settings. I went through the steps to do a clean install of Windows 7 from an ISO disc and then activated it by telephone using the OEM key provided on the COA sticker (this is perfectly fine and legal for anyone who hasn't done it before- just has to be the same version as the COA sticker was originally issued for). Sure enough, after doing this I could go right into AMD Control Center and change the CPU speed using the overdrive tab. Verified with different monitoring programs, the processor will run at that speed either full time or only under heavy load, depending on whether or not I have "Cool 'N Quiet" enabled in the system BIOS. Since I was running a version of the software for my GPU anyway, I haven't tried other clock-setting programs, but apparently they do work once the Dell version of Win7 has been cleared out for a clean version.

Not quite as efficient as BIOS overclocking on the Asus motherboards in my homebuilt rigs, but still a nice improvement.

Second- I had actually considered doing an SSD RAID array before, but in the limited research I did on the subject, I had been under the impression that TRIM functionality would be lost in doing so. I've seen benchmarks of RAID 0 configurations using SSD's and they were quite impressive- if I could operate that way without burning through the drive's life expectancy at an exponentially increased rate, I'd definitely give it consideration.

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September 13, 2012 11:31:05 AM

re overclock -- Nice! re Trim -- makes sense. Not sure I'd worry about the life, but the performance would definitely suffer. good point.
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September 13, 2012 12:26:53 PM

tsnor said:
re overclock -- Nice! re Trim -- makes sense. Not sure I'd worry about the life, but the performance would definitely suffer. good point.


Overclock: thanks! I know software OCing is usually considered a bit of a newbie move, but I thought in this case it was pretty resourceful. Trim: I may just buy a pair of Intel 520's (240gb) and enjoy it for whatever the lifespan is. The one benchmark I've seen for that exact drive in RAID 0 was over 1gb/s (1000mbps!) sequential read and 800mbps sequential write! That was back when they were each $500 drives. At $225, it's almost worth it to see an entire hour of HD video capable of being accessed faster than you can check the transfer status. :D 
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Best solution

September 15, 2012 12:09:17 AM

ocmusicjunkie said:
.. Trim: I may just buy a pair of Intel 520's (240gb) and enjoy it for whatever the lifespan is. The one benchmark I've seen for that exact drive in RAID 0 was over 1gb/s (1000mbps!) sequential read and 800mbps sequential write! ... :D 


FWIW apple shipped a lot of SSDs. The apple OS went years without trim support. No wear issues (that i've read about).

None of the enterprise class SSDs are using trim -- because they all use RAID10 or RAID5 and current raid controllers do not pass trim support. Some of these drives are really hammered. The SLC ones you can understand -- but the eMLC ones seem to be able to take a 24x7 load.

You will not see anywhere near 1GB/sec from the raid 0 config (unless you mean bgigbit vs. gigabytes). After the first couple of write cycles the intels should settle into 100 MB/sec each for 50% compressible data at 32K block size. SF 2281 based. (this article says more, but they didn't write long enough. You'll still see degradation for about 4 hours of 100% random writes before the drive hits it's final rate http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-520-sandforce-r... )
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October 29, 2012 3:22:30 PM

Best answer selected by ocmusicjunkie.
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