New Developer build (SQL, VS, VM, CS)


I'd really appreciate any help you guys can give....

Looking to build a developer machine. I don't do much gaming but might play something like MineCraft occasionally. I currently run 2 monitors but am considering bumping up to 3 at some point.

I really am not sure I'd overclock but would like the ability. I am a tinkerer so i'd like the chance to tinker.

I use a lot of software:

SQL Server
VS 2010/ VS 2012
2-3 Virtual Machines
Adobe CS 6 (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc).
office, web, music, etc., video editing...

I don't want to upgrade for at least 3 yrs. (yeah right...)

My questions:

1. Will this config be stable enough to run under fairly heavy loads for days at a time?
2. Do I need the external video card if I'm not really gaming?
3. Should i just go with a non-overclocking processor if I'm not really planning to overclock?
4. Can i get similar memory performance with 2 - 8gb sticks of RAM? - in case I end up wanting 32 GB (most of my work is very memory intensive).

Money's kind of tight (I'm a freelancer) so I need to save where I can...

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($219.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($25.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($122.62 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.98 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB Video Card ($169.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 430 ATX Mid Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec Basiq Plus 550W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On IHBS112-29 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($117.98 @ Mwave)
Total: $991.51
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

Thanks for looking/helping!
8 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Ok... I am trying to figure out how to approach your build here. As soon as you say SQL I want to know what you are doing and what your databases are doing. What SQL version are you running and what are the requirements for it? SQL likes RAM and SQL like disk I/O. So if you are running VM's you may want even 32GB of RAM depending on what you are doing. I'm a SQL admin at work so I plan systems all the time. Below are a few things to think about.

    - How much RAM are you going to need? SQL will use whatever you throw at it and allocate to each instance of SQL, although you can configure the max RAM it will use. Is it just SQL databases or are you doing SSAS or SSRS? How many SQL instances are you intending to run, or just a single default?
    - Good practice with SQL is to separate out DATA, Transaction Logs, and TempDB to separate spindles or disk arrays for better IO. This way they are not battling for the same disks. You can always keep the TempDB on the same spindles as your Databases, but at least separate your transaction logs to another disk.
    - Consider SSD's. However depending on how much space you need this might be cost prohibitive. Another thing to consider is that consumer hard drives are MLC and SQL will read/write alot so it could reduce the life of your drives. Although with newer drives it might be fine for several years. Intel SSDs come with the SSD toolbox that will check your estimated drive life. With a 120GB SSD running like $90 it may not be within your means to get a small drive for logs, assuming you are using a simple recovery method. Then get a larger drive for databases. The 240GB Intel 330 drive is just under $200. SQL jobs will just so much faster under an SSD. However, if you need capacity, I would suggest small RAID 0's. Just remember to backup.

    Video editing:
    - I don't think you need a 6950 if you are not doing much gaming. However, a small card I believe helps with certain graphic items and Adobe will actually recognize your GPU and take advantage of it.
    -Video editing can also take advantage of alot of RAM and if you are running VMs with SQL you want all the RAM you can muster. I say 32GB.
    -Video editing will also like fast disks. So it may not be a bad idea to have a separate disk just for your video files.

    Ok so in addition to the above rambling here are my answers to your numbered questions. I am sure everyone else will have a different take.
    1) It will be stable, but slow. I think you will run into slow disk IO. Your PC sounds like you are going to multi-task the living poop out of it.
    2) No you don't need a dedicated video card, but it may help with Adobe and will not use RAM for video ram, which will be precious to you.
    3) If you have no intention to overclock, you don't need the "k" version. You can still overclock a "non-K" CPU, you just can't change the multiplier.
    4) I still say you should get 32GB of RAM right out of the gate. I agree with your memory intensive apps. If you do go with 16GB, get the 2 8GB sticks. I have a feeling you will run it a week or two and want to double up.

    BTW. What is your budget? Or are you just being cost effective, but practice and budget is flexible?
  2. Thanks for the quick response.

    HAHA... yes, I plan to multitask the crap out of it.

    -SQL will mainly be used for design work and code testing (perhaps 1 small production database that won't use SSAS/SSRS). Anything else would not be production related. Analysis and reporting only as they relate to the design work. Once a project is really off the ground it will be moved to the clients systems. All projects won't use SSAS/SSRS.
    -I will run a couple instances of SQL (2-3).
    -I'm planning to only use about 4-6 GB ram for SQL. Think that's enough?
    - probably looking at total space for databases around 20-30 gb.
    -Adding another drive for the Trans logs makes total sense. just missed it.

    Virtual Machines:
    -my virtual machines are mainly for a couple of old xp machines & code testing. they won't be heavily used; i just get frustrated when i constantly have to boot them up, so i want to leave them booted.
    - this is why i want the 1 TB HDD


    -This is where I feel the most unsure... I thought that GPU was probably overkill. What would you suggest?
    - 32 gb ram sounds good.
    - videos are stored on an external drive except when being edited.

    Practice and budget are definitely flexible but my goal is to keep it under $1300-1400.
  3. Yeah, if you aren't gaming you can get away with a low end card. I am not really sure if adobe favors AMD or Nvidia. I know it does well with Nvidia, and may so with AMD GPU's. A $100 should be fine, or even a lesser card. You really just want the dedicated GPU and vRAM. The Nvidia GTX 650 is a nice card and you could do some lite gaming with it if you really wanted to. THe AMD 7750 and 7770 are also around that same performance point. They should also get the job done with graphics apps that can utilize the GPU.

    DDR3 ram is pretty cheap, I'd just go for 32 if you are running all these VM's and even remotely think you will use it. Heck, you could even carve some out as a RAM drive and use it for temporary REALLY fast storage. I've heard of people doing that as well. Not sure what software they use to create the RAM drive though.

    If the databases are not that large you could totally go for some small SSD's. 120GB seems to be the sweet spot. I just upgraded my PC to an Intel 330 240GB when they had a $60 off code so I got it for $140. Once you get to the 300GB is why you stat paying that $1 per GB. Just a thought. Not sure how disk performance is to you and if it would save you a lot of time sitting around waiting for things to complete. You have to sorta know what types of databases you are working with and if they are disk IO intensive. I have found for even mundane tasks the SSD I bought just makes life happy. I never thought it would, but it does. I find myself mad at my work laptop a lot now. I tend to remote in to faster servers to do some tasks.
  4. Thanks so much for your help.

    I'm definitely going to add a couple 120 ssd's

    I will also play some with graphics cards & get 32 gb ram

    Your help is MUCH appreciated!!! Thank you.
  5. Best answer selected by qwertyyp.
  6. No problem. Nothing worse than sitting around waiting for slow servers to run jobs. We always quote departments for servers and they are always blown away by how little their money really gets them. Now this is all enterprise class stuff, but out the idea. I would always at the very least make sure your system has room to grow. Make sure your motherboard has a bunch of SATA connectors for drives, and get a case that has room for more drives. Just a thought. Good luck. This sounds like it could be a fun build. A nice break from all the gaming pc's people are looking for.
  7. Thanks @jay2tall

    I might end up replacing the monitors as well... haven't decided. This is what I finally came up with for the tower itself.

    Now if all the parts will hurry up and get here.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($19.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($129.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Intel 330 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Intel 330 Series 240GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($185.82 @ NCIX US)
    Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 1GB Video Card ($131.97 @ Newegg)
    Case: NZXT Phantom 410 (Red) ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
    Optical Drive: LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($74.98 @ Newegg)
    Total: $1197.69
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
  8. That's a wicked looking case. Nice build. Enjoy.
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