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To dual or not to dual; to raid or not to raid?

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July 12, 2005 9:07:32 PM

Hello everyone,

First of all, thanks to everyone who responded to my first thread, <A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?nam..." target="_new">Mo' money, mo' problems</A>. Sorry I did not respond, as I was out of town. Consider this a follow-up to that post.

I am building a gaming / photoshop editing rig, and have settled on the following components (newegg links):
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681..." target="_new">CoolerMaster Centurion 5</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681..." target="_new">500W Fortran Bluestorm</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681..." target="_new">Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682..." target="_new">2GB Corsair Value-Select DDR-3200</A>
<A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681..." target="_new">Gigabyte Geforce 6800 GT PCI-Express</A>
250GB 7,200RPM External USB 2.0 Hard Disk (already own this)

My first question is: should I get an <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681..." target="_new">Athlon 64 4000+</A> or an <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681..." target="_new">Athlon 64 X2 4200+</A>? I am dropping about 2 grand on this system, so my primary concern is how long it will last. Looking at the benchmarks for the two processors, the 4200+ seems to be slower than the 4000+ in most circumstances, but will dual-core pay off in the future? And should I buy the dual-core in the interest of fulfilling my photoshop/web development/e-mail/internet/file-sharing needs more than my gaming needs? Your advice is appreciated.

Secondly, I planned to purchase a <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682..." target="_new">74GB Raptor</A> to use as a system/games drive, and use my external 250GB for photo and music storage; that is, until I found out I could purchase two <A HREF="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682..." target="_new">120GB Seagate 7200.7's</A> and mirror them in RAID1 for the exact same price. My question is: will the Epox board be capable of a RAID1 hardware configuration with Windows XP Professional? I use my hard disks to store my photography and other valuable data, and I want a backup strategy that I can essentially ignore: exactly the data security RAID1 provides. However, Microsoft states that Windows XP is incompatible with a <i>software</i> RAID1 configuration; so is RAID1 even possible with Windows XP?

Your help and advice are greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

--Francis

More about : dual dual raid raid

July 12, 2005 9:32:22 PM

You could get a slower CPU and a 7800 video card. And when the prices for dual core go down you can upgrade if you feel the need for dual core, because any Athlon 64 with a 7800 should be enough for some time.

<font color=red>It's impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious<font color=red>
July 12, 2005 9:34:39 PM

Quote:
Consider this a follow-up to that post.

Usually best to follow up in the same thread unless its a different question/problem.

The 4200+ runs at 2.2ghz, but there's 2 cores. The 4000+ runs at 2.4ghz, and it has twice the cache as the 4200 (giving a bit more performance). Either will game adequately (pretty good actually), so the big question is; is photoshop able to use dual core (I don't actually know - I think so, but I'm not certain)?

Also, in a year or so, games should start taking advantage of dual cores, and I'm sure Photoshop will. So, I would get the dual core even though you're going a tad slower today. But... another thought is get the 4000+ today, and in a year or so a 4800+ (4000+ speed in dual core) or even a faster version is going to cost significantly less, so you could upgrade to that then. If you want the performance now, get the 4000+ and upgrade later. If you want to set it up and forget it, get the 4200+ (or see if you can squeeze enough extra cash for a 4400 or 4600 if possible).

I'm pretty sure the Epox board can do hardware RAID 1. I don't know of anyone that does it, but nForce RAID is supposed to do RAID 1, and that's in hardware. The manual on Epox's site has specific instructions, and there's no mention of a problem with XP.

Mike.

<font color=blue>Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside the dog its too dark to read.
-- Groucho Marx</font color=blue>
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July 12, 2005 10:01:42 PM

okay, as far as dual cores go, i say get it now. most ppl will say something like "get faster, single core now, and dual core later" but since ur dishing out a good 2 grand, i would assume you don't want to upgrade like a year from now. dual core will mature very fast, and the fact of the matter is, if a 4200+ drops its price in a year, it'll be old junk by then anyways! it'll fall out of ur performance bracket and therefore wouldn't be an option anymore. so get the 4200+ now, and utilize its dual core features for many years to come. as far as RAID goes, it all depends on YOU. my ideal setup would be raptor+2 WD RE 120gb in RAID 0. why would you want RAID 1? its the biggest waste of money since the chipset block. drives these days are getting so reliable, that RAID 1 isn't neccesary anymore. so if you want RAID 1, its like buying one hard drive and throwing another away. buy the WD RE drives, as i said NUMEROUS times before, they are VERY VERY reliable(more so than today's very reliable drives), as they are DESIGNED for RAIDs.

<font color=red>gforce mx100/200 @ 230/440 =]</font color=red>
July 12, 2005 11:01:08 PM

My reasoning goes something like this: with both disks in RAID1, I will have a total of 370GB of storage--way more than I need for the time being. I've lost all my documents, my website, and my photographs once already, and I don't want to risk it again. So I'll keep all the important stuff on the RAID array, keep the less important stuff on the external, and if I ever need more space, I can erase the second disk and use it as a storage drive. Dig?
July 12, 2005 11:08:30 PM

it really depends on what drives ur using, they might be very unstable, so yeah. you can do RAID1 if u want, but make sure u get reliable drives so in teh future when u RAID 0, it'll still work.

<font color=red>gforce mx100/200 @ 230/440 =]</font color=red>
July 12, 2005 11:30:48 PM

Photoshop is multi-processor enabled. The question is wether it would be usefull for you. I hate getting "program completed" messages while gaming, so will probably never do encoding while gaming.
If you find yourself sitting in front of the computer, rocking back and forth, and trying to get a photoshop task to complete by shear willpower, dual cores are for you. If you just hang out here while waiting, or leave it running while you head out for a brew, maybe not.
Anyone who thinks dual core will help in games, in the near future, or have a major impact in the next 3 years, is not being very realistic.
Personally, I will take a pass on dual cores for a while, and will not recommend taking such a large price/performance hit unless you are running a server type prog.
As far as raid1 goes, hardware versions run fine on xp, but do cause a lag in perf, and are seceptable to certain types of failure. DVD backups are safer.
July 12, 2005 11:45:37 PM

games are gonna start to have multi thread abilities in the comming year

<font color=red>gforce mx100/200 @ 230/440 =]</font color=red>
July 12, 2005 11:57:15 PM

Quote:
If you find yourself sitting in front of the computer, rocking back and forth, and trying to get a photoshop task to complete by shear willpower, dual cores are for you.

I frequently find myself doing just that as I apply multiple sharpening routines to 30 or more 130mb TIFF files at a time... So I think I'll go with the 4200+.

Thanks for the help everyone--I think I'll place my order tonight. =)
July 13, 2005 12:11:26 AM

Read up on RAID carefully... dual 170Gb drives in a RAID1 configuration will give you some protection against data loss, but it will NOT give you 340Gb of capacity. You will get only 170Gb capacity, as the drives are mirrored.
July 13, 2005 12:14:13 AM

You seem to have misread my post.

I will be running dual 120GB hard drives in RAID1 (mirrored.)

I also have a 250GB external drive. Thus, I will have 370GB total storage space (120GB internal + 250GB external). I do not need the amount of space RAID0 offers; I would rather have the data security afforded by RAID1.
!