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£1200/($2000) High-End Workstation upgrade

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June 15, 2011 3:31:20 PM

I have been waiting for a progression to the "i7" generation to make a significant/worthy upgrade but I would like to know if now is a good time for me to bite the bullet or if I would be better off waiting for Intels new technology in ~Q1 2012. It is a long time to go without upgrading and my current build (see below) is struggling to keep up with what I do and limiting my productivity (definately with regards to multi tasking and video encoding).

Budget Range: £1200 while being sensible (I do not wish to pay twice as much for 10-20% performance improvements but if it is significant then I am willing to use up all of my budget)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Video editing and encoding, music production, EXTREME MULTI-TASKING, gaming

Parts Not Required: I will be using the following in my new build and they will not be required:

Coolermaster Silent pro Gold 1000W PSU
Asus Xonar DX soundcard
Dell U2711 + Samsung SyncMaster 245B
Gigabyte GTX 560ti
Keyboard/Mouse/Speakers/Hard drives
Coolermaster CM690 II Advanced Case

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: any reliable website including Ebay sellers. Ebuyer and Amazon are my favourites

Country of Origin: UK

Parts Preferences: I've had my eyes on the i7 2600K, at least 16GB RAM and adding another GTX 560ti to my computer. This is well under my budget! if I can get significant extra performance I would be happy to spend more.

Overclocking: FINE as long as it does not affect the stability.

SLI or Crossfire: I want to get a second GTX 560ti but I'm interested in other options (if there are any)

Monitor Resolution: Dual displays @2560x1440 & 1920x1200

Additional Comments: I am upgrading from the following:

Q6600 @ 3.0Ghz
4GB DDR2 RAM @800mhz
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3R

I had 6GB of memory but two 1GB modules become faulty, 4GB is not enough for video editing in Adobe After Effects and multi-tasking effectively. New DDR2 memory is expensive and not worth investing in. I cannot add a second 560ti to my current build as the motherboard only supports crossfire. I am interested in new processor technologies such as "QUICKSYNC" for video encoding. Lastly are fancy hard drives (i.e. solid state drives) worth considering for faster OS performance and loading times to compliment the upgrade? Does anyone use one in their workstation PC? Are the advantages worth it?
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June 15, 2011 5:16:19 PM

ocz's ssd's are not the most reliable but they are the fastest. i would look around and try to find a corsair force 3. corsair's are more reliable and run on the same controller
June 15, 2011 6:28:16 PM

I love these forums thanks for the help. I need to do more research on SSDs, I would love direct feedback from other multimedia developers who use them. If the OCZ SSD's have a reputation for poor reliability I'd be inclined to look at other options.

Any input on the new "ivybridge" processors from intel? Is it wise to upgrade to Sandybridge when these are on the horizon? This is my dilemma. Maybe not considering there is always new techology being developed. I have been waiting a year to upgrade and hope to do so at the "optimal" moment as I did when I invested in the Q6600 build.
June 15, 2011 6:50:15 PM

ivy bridge will probably run on the 1155 socket
June 15, 2011 6:53:34 PM

Generally if you want the highest reliability with the SSD's you should look into getting an Intel drive, just don't go overboard with the size. Since all it really has to do is store windows and your Editing SW possibly games.

Video editing usually requires such huge amounts of disk space that you are probably using regular hard drives anyway possibly in a raid configuration for speed.

Otherwise the idea seems to be there, i7 2600k and a Z68 based mobo that lets you use the video encoder on the i7 chip.

June 15, 2011 10:04:48 PM

rvilkman said:
Generally if you want the highest reliability with the SSD's you should look into getting an Intel drive, just don't go overboard with the size. Since all it really has to do is store windows and your Editing SW possibly games.

Video editing usually requires such huge amounts of disk space that you are probably using regular hard drives anyway possibly in a raid configuration for speed.

Otherwise the idea seems to be there, i7 2600k and a Z68 based mobo that lets you use the video encoder on the i7 chip.


I'm thinking OS, Adobe Creative suite and FL Studio on a solid state drive. I use regular HDD's to store all my source/production files. What kind of performance improvement can I expect using a solid state drive?

mjmjpfaff said:
ivy bridge will probably run on the 1155 socket


this would give me peace of mind, but I thought intel change to a new socket each generation
June 15, 2011 11:19:20 PM

i think they are finally figuring out that people dont want to do that. ;) 
June 16, 2011 3:31:45 PM

^ lets hope so, could you quote any evidence supporting this I would like to see it.

What are the differences between the two motherboards I have been recommended?

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/267506 - Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 Z68

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/267129 - Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3

one is more expensive and has extra features; "ITE IT8728" & "intel extreme memory profiles" I'm not sure what I'll get investing in the more expensive motherboard.

It also has "dolby home theatre" which will not required at all since I use a dedicated sound card! Definately don't want to pay extra for onboard sound.
________________________________

Will these motherboards fully support both 16gb of RAM, decent overclocking and the quicksync technology? What about P67 motherboards? I remember reading about how the Z68's support some features and the P67's support others. Which would work best with my requirements?
________________________________

Also after googling "8gb vs 16gb RAM" to death, the general response is negative - most people claim that 8gb is enough.

I have read articles on these forums with users swearing by how there is little benefit to using over 4gb of RAM:

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/264478-11-16gb-ddr3...

This is insane. My system performed much faster while multitasking with 6GB of RAM. With 4gb I am seeing my memory usage in the 90's constantly unless I use one program at a time and even then switching between that program and my web browser will take 15 seconds now instead of happening instantly.

JUST wanted to spark some discussion on this, I'd love to hear from other people using 16GB's of memory
June 16, 2011 3:54:15 PM

wildpluckings said:
^ lets hope so, could you quote any evidence supporting this I would like to see it.

What are the differences between the two motherboards I have been recommended?

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/267506 - Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 Z68

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/267129 - Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3

one is more expensive and has extra features; "ITE IT8728" & "intel extreme memory profiles" I'm not sure what I'll get investing in the more expensive motherboard.

It also has "dolby home theatre" which will not required at all since I use a dedicated sound card! Definately don't want to pay extra for onboard sound.
________________________________

Will these motherboards fully support both 16gb of RAM, decent overclocking and the quicksync technology? What about P67 motherboards? I remember reading about how the Z68's support some features and the P67's support others. Which would work best with my requirements?
________________________________

Also after googling "8gb vs 16gb RAM" to death, the general response is negative - most people claim that 8gb is enough.

I have read articles on these forums with users swearing by how there is little benefit to using over 4gb of RAM:

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/264478-11-16gb-ddr3...

This is insane. My system performed much faster while multitasking with 6GB of RAM. With 4gb I am seeing my memory usage in the 90's constantly unless I use one program at a time and even then switching between that program and my web browser will take 15 seconds now instead of happening instantly.

JUST wanted to spark some discussion on this, I'd love to hear from other people using 16GB's of memory


well the second of the two mobos (the more expensive one) has Intel Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP), an ITE IT8728 chipset, Dolby Home Theater it has more sata connectors but less PCI-E slots (x16).
June 16, 2011 8:38:46 PM

the Dolby Home Theater won't be of any advantage to me, I don't know about the other two features. I looked them up on google and couldn't find any clear definitions. Will they make my hardware perform better/provide better compatibility for upgrades? I'm happy to pay extra if there are gains to be had.

Also I need to learn more about P67/Z68 boards and their "exclusive" features. I don't want to be kicking myself in a weeks time because my motherboard falls short in some way i.e.

doesn't properly support more than 8gbs of memory
doesn't overclock as well as another motherboard
does not support the quicksync function

Perhaps my concerns are irrelevant? I like to be as confident when I am selecting new components for my computer as I don't upgrade very often :) 
June 17, 2011 3:45:29 PM

I've just done a ton of research on P67 boards vs Z68. As far as I understand, Z68 is newer technology and has all the features of P67 PLUS features like quicksync. Is this true?

I don't understand what I would gain from "EXTREME MEMORY PROFILES" and "ITE IT8728 chipset" like I said if there are advantages to these I'm more than up for investing in the more expensive motherboard but otherwise I've got no idea what I'd be paying for.

ok here's where I'm at so far:

CPU

Intel Core i7 2600k 3.4GHz Socket 1155 8MB Cache Retail Boxed Processor £235.65

RAM

G-Skill 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz Ripjaws Memory Module CL9 (9-9-9-24) 1.5V £32.99 x4 - £131.96

OR

Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4x4GB) DDDR3 1600Mhz Memory Module CL9 1.5V £151.96

MOTHERBOARD

Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 Z68 Socket 1155 8 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard £108.69

OR

Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3 Socket 1155 onboard 7.1 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard £148.85

SSD DRIVE

OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 SSD 2.5" SATA-III 6Gb/s Read 550MB/s Write 500MB/s 60k IOPS £209.99
June 17, 2011 4:55:43 PM

For an SSD you might want to have a look at the Corsair Force 3 with 85k IOPS and it's cheaper at £169.99.
June 17, 2011 7:52:11 PM

CasualNinja said:
It's in stock here:

http://www.dabs.com/products/corsair-memory-120gb-force...

Should be free delivery (it is where i live) :D 


that is a big saving. I will look at product reviews for SSD's. I wasn't confident about the OCZ SSD because it has a reputation for poor stability. I would hope that the read speeds on the corsair SSD aren't too much slower though. I think that read speeds will be the key factor for me, I can live with slower write speeds.
June 17, 2011 8:18:31 PM

It seems that all of the 'super fast' SSD's (Corsair Force 3, OCZ Vertex 3, OCZ Agility 3) are having massive driver problems. If you can't allow slower read/write speeds, it may be worth waiting for an update to either the software or the technology of these SSD's.
June 17, 2011 10:10:04 PM

CasualNinja said:
It seems that all of the 'super fast' SSD's (Corsair Force 3, OCZ Vertex 3, OCZ Agility 3) are having massive driver problems. If you can't allow slower read/write speeds, it may be worth waiting for an update to either the software or the technology of these SSD's.


that is unfortunate. It would be good if I can start a clean OS installation to go with my new components. Although, stability is definately a top priority. Thankfully I don't think I've seen enough evidence to put myself off upgrading to an SSD at this time. If the next generation of SSD's are right around the corner then I would be happy to wait though.
June 18, 2011 8:47:04 AM

I think i'm now inclined to suggest the Crucial M4 128Gb for £169.98. It's much more reliable than the others and with 415MB/s read and 175MB/s write speeds, the only place that takes much of a knock is the write speed, but you said you didn't mind that too much :D 

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/266526
June 18, 2011 8:53:39 AM

wildpluckings said:
that is unfortunate. It would be good if I can start a clean OS installation to go with my new components. Although, stability is definately a top priority. Thankfully I don't think I've seen enough evidence to put myself off upgrading to an SSD at this time. If the next generation of SSD's are right around the corner then I would be happy to wait though.


Sorry, i didn't mean that the next gen is coming soon, in fact it's just arrived with the Force 3 and Vertex 3, it's just that something similar to the B3 revision of the P67 Chipset needs to occur to make these SSD's more reliable.

With the Cruscial M4 i posted above you will still see huge speed increases in terms of productivity and so at the moment i definitely think it's worth getting.
June 18, 2011 3:37:29 PM

Actually, I didn't know much about SSD's before I started hunting new components for my upgrade. I'm slightly intimidated by some of the buzz words being thrown around i.e. "SATA 3", "6GBPS controllers". Will modern motherboards support all of these features or will I be bottlenecking the performance of my SSD? Future-proofing for the next few years will be important and I will pay extra for a motherboard with these features.

I've been looking up comparisons/product reviews on SSD's. The crucial m4 is a top candidate for sure. It is disappointing to see so many "issues" topics regarding the ocz vertex 3, that SSD hit the market as soon as I started planning my upgrade and it would have been amazing to jump right into the fast lane with my new build. BUT, stability is a key element for me ... damn.
June 19, 2011 12:36:39 AM

this is excellent! I had a long read through it and looked into most of the benchmarks they were discussing too. Thanks. In benchmarking tests, the OCZ SSD is the king but in real world performance (i.e. launching software) I'm not going to notice much difference with the Crucial M4. The corsair force series 3 and OCZ vertex 3 SSD's seem to be it's only competition and as it seems they aren't a match for the M4's stability.

I think I'll put together a new thread tomorrow listing all of the components I intend on buying next week for my upgrade. I am quite decided on all the parts I'll be getting now.
!