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<£1200 Workstation/Gaming PC

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April 27, 2010 7:00:17 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as possible, within 1 month.

BUDGET RANGE: <£1200

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Work(compiling/analysis/GPU programming), Gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS, monitor

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/
http://www.ebuyer.com
Any others that deliver to UK

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England

PARTS PREFERENCES: No preference

OVERCLOCKING: Yes: I want best performance for my money (who doesn't) but not on the cost of CPU lifetime. Prefer easy overclocking:
http://techgage.com/article/overclocking_intels_core_i5...

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, in the future. Since it might get work related (if I can prove that it is useful). Would like to have 2x( 3x?) ATI Radeon 5870

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1900x1200 (three monitors)

GPU: I was thinking of getting ATI 5850, but ATI recommended the 5870 model for GPU computing. The perfect solution for me would be to buy a 5850 (privately) and get the 5870 sponsored by my employer. However, I doubt both cards will work together in Crossfire, right?

CASE: something where I can fit everything in, big fans (more quiet), handles for easier transport, screw-less access


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Would prefer (though it isn't essential) to have it as quiet as possible, but water cooling is NOT an option (too risky they say ;)  ).

I think it would be good at this point to describe what I need for my work:
- fast compilation (make -jX)
- fast I/O (fast read but not write) and much storage. Backup will be done on an external HDD (eSATA)
- fast number crunching/memory access: I am reading several 100GB of data and analyzing it. Recommendations for RAM are: 2GB per CPU core, although I never reach this limit (~1GB).
- OpenCL compatible GPU(experimental for now, if it proves useful we will get a specialized system from AMD/NVIDIA

This said, most of this work will be done on a external workstation anyway.

OS: Linux 64bit and Windows 7 Professional 64bit

Gaming part:
Since it would be a shame to leave a graphics card like ATI 5870 not to be used for gaming, I will of course use the computer for games as well (Crysis as the most demanding game I own so far). One of my fears is to have a CPU which is not fast enough for the 2 graphics cards (in the final not in the initial configuration).

What I have so far in mind
from http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/285139-31-%C2-1000-ga...:
3 possible configurations:
Option 1
Intel i5-750 http://www.ebuyer.com/product/194854 £156
Asus P7P55D-E Pro http://www.ebuyer.com/product/194854 £162
G-Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz/PC3-12800 Ripjaw Memory Kit CL7(7-8-7-24) 1.65V http://www.ebuyer.com/product/180490 £106
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB http://www.ebuyer.com/product/158860 £37 (+ SSD?)
Seasonic S12D 750W http://www.ebuyer.com/product/190306 £93
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1024MB ~ £300
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2 CPU Cooler http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HS... £16 (is this enough for OC?) Other options for cooing:
Quote:
* Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus £20

Probably not the best option for quiet.

* Titan TTC-NK85TZ/V2 Fenrir £30
* Scythe Mugen 2 £39

Would need to buy a retention kit for LGA1156

* Prolimatech Megahalems Rev B £46

Would have to buy fans, thermal paste and AM retention kit with this one (if you stick with an AMD build). Probably the one I'd pick.

* Noctua NH-U12P SE2 £54

= £870 + case

Option 2
i7 920 D0 Stepping (SLBEJ) 2.66GHz (Nehalem) http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP... £167.99
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R http://www.overclockers.co.uk/show [...] =MB-235-GI £157
+ Memory Tri-kit
= £877 + 2GB RAM + case

Option 3:
AMD Phenom II X6 configuration?
1090T http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP... £245
The problem here, that the benchmark results are not great and only the 1090T is shown:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-phenom-ii-x6-10...
Furthermore this is more expensive than the i7 920 option, but of course this depends on how OC-able the systems are.

April 27, 2010 8:57:19 PM

I just found this overclocked bundle:
http://www.aria.co.uk/Systems/Bundles/Motherboard+Bundl...

With the offer it is the same price as getting all parts without overclocking.
However, this option has one year warranty only. What do you think of that bundle?
Is it possible that running the i7 920 @4GHz decreases its lifetime?
April 28, 2010 12:19:51 AM

"GPU: I was thinking of getting ATI 5850, but ATI recommended the 5870 model for GPU computing. The perfect solution for me would be to buy a 5850 (privately) and get the 5870 sponsored by my employer. However, I doubt both cards will work together in Crossfire, right?"
It would work, but the 5870 would downclock to the speed of the lower card and I don't think you would retain any of the features that the 5870 has that the other might not have.

"CASE: something where I can fit everything in, big fans (more quiet), handles for easier transport, screw-less access"
Two cases that I know of that have handles are the Cooler Master Storm Scout and Cosmos series. Both should have plenty of space for a 5870.

"Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2 CPU Cooler http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HS... £16 (is this enough for OC?) Other options for cooing:"
I don't really think this is a good one for OCing or keeping temps down as it is an older design, the only thing it would be any good at imo is being quiet.

Option 2
i7 920 D0 Stepping (SLBEJ) 2.66GHz (Nehalem) http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP... £167.99
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R http://www.overclockers.co.uk/show [...] =MB-235-GI £157
+ Memory Tri-kit
= £877 + 2GB RAM + case
This is the other set of RAM that I would recommend for an X58 build: Crucial 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz/PC3-10600 Ballistix Memory CL7 1.65V £139

"I just found this overclocked bundle:
http://www.aria.co.uk/Systems/Bundles/Motherboard+Bundl...

With the offer it is the same price as getting all parts without overclocking.
However, this option has one year warranty only. What do you think of that bundle?
Is it possible that running the i7 920 @4GHz decreases its lifetime?"
The cooler is decent. A downside is that the motherboard doesn't have SATA 6Gbps, which I consider to be an important upgrade option, of course if you did need it then you could get a PCI-E card that could provide that feature. I'm under the impression that overclocking does reduce the lifespan of a chip, however as long as it's cooled adequately then you should not worry about it dying while it is useful.

After looking at two reviews of the AMD 1090T, it seems like it's value is in a system that uses heavily multi-threaded applications. It does seem like it holds back fast graphics cards as well, and it doesn't seem to have a significant lead over the mainstream Intel quads in anything else. One of the reviews I read mentioned that they could get their chip to 4Ghz stable, they didn't indicate what impact this had on performance tho. So atm it looks like Intel is the better option.

If you do get an SSD then I'd suggest either one of these Intel X25-M 80GB Retail £170, or two of these: Intel X-25V 40GB Retail seeing as trim is supported in raid on Intel drives now and they provide very good performance. Personally I'm not going to consider getting one for myself until 2011, as price per GB is still very high and reliability in terms of drives failing, altho you won't lose your data. But then I don't do anything that justifies the cost.
Related resources
May 6, 2010 4:38:33 PM

Probably 1600 CL8 would be faster than 1333 CL7, altho not by much imo, probably worth the £5 difference in price tho. I've also heard that 1600 is more preferable for overclocking the CPU, long time ago (late last year), don't know how true this is or what impact it has.
May 6, 2010 4:41:26 PM

Another things I just stumbled across:
The CPU cooler I want to buy is the Thermalright Venomous X,Size: 127x 63 x 160mm (L x W x H)

The case I want to get Coolermaster Storm Scout
Dimensions: (L)48.768 x (W)21.844 x (H)49.53 cm

I am a bit concerned about the height of the CPU cooler. 21.8-16= 5.8cm is not much room left for mainboard + CPU + side fan, is it?
May 6, 2010 4:52:21 PM

Yes, you're right, you might just have to leave the top side fan out. Altho I think there's a good chance it will fit, even if it's a tight squeeze.
May 6, 2010 6:07:55 PM

I guess, I will give it a go then. The case seems to have additional space on the side which might not be mentioned in the dimensions.

Here is my setup so far, which I will order tomorrow/the day after:
Case: Coolermaster Storm Scout £75.99
PSU: Cooler Master GX 750W £75.99
CPU: Intel Core i7 920 D0 Stepping £167.99
CPU Cooler: Thermalright Venomous X £44.99
CPU Cooler Fan: Akasa AK-183-L2B Amber Ultra Quiet 120mm Fan £10.99
Thermal Grease: Zalman ZM-STG1 Super Thermal £4.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R Intel X58 £156.98
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tracer 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C8 (1600MHz) £139.99
Graphics: XFX ATI Radeon HD 5870 "AVP Edition" 1024MB £319.99
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA-II 16MB Cache £42.99
= £1,040.89

This is the best I could find on overclockers (prefer to buy everything from one shop).
PSU should be fine with 2x Radeon 5870

I have an old IDE DVD drive here, so I will use it until the BlueRay drives get cheaper.
Doesn't make much difference for me, since I like to keep an image of most DVDs on my HDD

Monitor: BenQ G2420HDBL 24" Widescreen LED £169.99
May 14, 2010 4:05:39 PM

Ok, some first conclusions:

DON'T by the XFX ATI Radeon HD 5870 "AVP Edition" 1024MB IF you are going for the Coolermaster Storm Scout.
The graphics card has the power supply on the back and since it quite long you will get problems fitting it in.

The case has, in my opinion, a design flaw:
The front fan could be located inside the front cover and the rack for the HDDs shifted towards it. This would give extra 5cm, which would be useful.
Also I could find the control plugs for the case fans to plug in into the motherboard. Which means they run at full speed all the time.


I will do some tests on the weekend and try to overclock it bit by bit.
!