Feb/Mar 2009: Building Mid to High End Computer Rig parts recommendations wanted - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Feb/Mar 2009: Building Mid to High End Computer Rig parts recommendations wanted

Okay, I am looking to put together a new machine in the next month or two. I am looking for a computer that can serve several purposes.

For everyday work, I will run Windows and would like to have a virtual Linux (Centos) container.

More demanding apps would require a leading edge (but not bleeding edge) graphics card, Blu-ray Drive. I'll be doing a fair bit of video recoding and editing my camcorder files while streaming iTunes music to my Apple TV

Here is where my heads at in terms of possible hardware:

  • MB: ?????
  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 9550, 9650 or Core I7 920.
  • Memory: 8 GB (maybe more?)
  • OS: Windows 64bit
  • HDD: 1 TB partitioned into 2 logical drives (maybe 3 if virtualization requires)
  • Graphics: Nvidia 9800GT
  • Case: Antec Sonata III with 500W Earthwatt PS


P.S. I am not worried about cost. Obviously I don't want to overspend but this will be my primary computer for several years and I use my computer a lot so the key is the right mix of components.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 02:04 PM
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i got a nice unit from Dell,

Studio XPS
Core i7 920
6 gb ram
blue ray burner
4850 512mb video
24" monitor(optional)
for about $1500.

You didn't say how much you wanted to spend.
So far a very good unit.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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kevsim, I guess I was unclear. (I have edited my subject)

I am looking to build. Off the shelf machines are too laden with crapware and peripherals that I am uninterested in.

I'm looking for feedback on specific motherboards, CPU, graphics cards etc.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 02:53 PM
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Have you considered a local RAID for the hard disks for both failure and performance reasons?
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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jvincent, not bothering with RAID. Years ago, I installed mirrored drives in my computer but nowadays, I have automated nightly backup's on my computer so I am not worried about failure.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 03:13 PM
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the GIGABYTE GA-E7AUM-DS2H seems to be a good mobo for the core 2 quad
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 03:41 PM
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On a performance per dollar basis, the core i7's are still a little bit too pricey relative to the Core 2 Duo/Quad lineup. Not only in terms of the CPU, but also the socket 1366 Motherboards and the DDR3 RAM. Unless you are the type that must have the absolute latest and greatest, I would save some money and get a high performing C2Q/775 MB, and you can spend that savings elsewhere such as upgrading to a quieter case and PSU.

I would personally go with one of the Core 2 Quad's, a regular P45 chipset motherboard such as the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R. Overclocking is extremely easy with a MB like that.

Most benchmarks have shown that the performance gains are huge from 1GB to 2GB to 4GB RAM, but going from 4 to 8GB has less of an effect for most use. If you are doing substantial amounts of video encoding though, it may be worth it to you.

The 9800 Videocard should handle anything you want to throw at it. I admit I don't know a lot in this area as my gaming is via console.

If you want a quiet case, you might consider the Antect SOLO instead of the Sonata III. The SOLO is much more quiet, but is a little more expensive. It doesn't come with a PSU either, so you would have to pick up one of those as well - the Corsair HX and VX lineups with 120mm fans are extremely quiet and high quality.

I just built a rig after Christmas with the above mentioned MB and a C2D E8400. Overclocked the CPU from regular 3.00 GHz to 3.78 with zero effort. Cool and quiet.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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rasambuca, good feedback. I see the added memory memory beyond 4GB as being more important virtual machines. The computer will be in my office (as opposed to a home theatre) so I'm not sure the added expense of the SOLO with PS is worth it. The 9800 GT can be had for under $200 so it seems to be the sweet spot for price and performance and should be more than adequate for my needs although if I get a 1920 x 1080 monitor, the extra processing power should handle most anything i throw at it.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 07:28 PM
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Have you considered an AMD Phenom II system. The reviews I have read are good and say that they compete well with the C2D's and C2Q's. I'm actually building a system with a Phenom II 940 as it did better than a Core 2 Quad Q9400 in most benchmarks, but costs less. And I think that the upgrade path may be better since faster Phenom II's will come out that will (hopefully) drop into a current motherboard, whereas the C2D's and C2Q's will not be developed any further AFAIK.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-19, 09:50 PM
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CPU, I will go with the C2Quad, I agree with rsambuca that these offer the best bang for the buck. Also this means you need to spend less on DDR2 RAM.

I recommend the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P (UD3P has 2 PCI-X Video Card slots, UD3R I believe has one) for the motherboard. I just used this board for a build for my son. The only caveat is that there are quite a few BIOS options to watch out for. I found out that it was overclocking (overvolting) the RAM chips by default... I noticed the RAM chips getting way too hot after touching these. I had to change the BIOS settings and set the RAM voltage to 1.8... I also had to change the CPU multiplier so it does not overclock the CPU. I was more after stability and component longevity than speed although I like the options available for overclocking just in case I want to play with these in the future.

For the video card, the nVidia 260 series cards are pretty good. What I like about them is the low power consumption when they operate in what nVidia calls "2D" or non-3D graphics (gaming) mode. They also run cool and quiet when in this "2D" mode.

PSU: I have had good experience with Corsair PSUs, a 620HX and a 450VX. Both these units are actually manufactured by Seasonic which is well known to produce quality power supplies.

Hard Drive: For bang for the buck get the Western Digital 640 GB Blacks (get 2 of these if you need capacity or get a 640 Black for the OS and a 1 TB Black for data). Fast and very quiet (almost inaudible even during heavy seek activity). The 640 GB Blacks are also only 2 platters which means they are efficient and run cool.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-20, 08:00 AM
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What O/S will you be using? With XP (32bit), you're pretty much limited to 4GB of physical RAM (including video card RAM) so the amount the O/S will actually use will be in the 3.xx area, typically 3.2 or as high as 3.5, depending on your video card.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-20, 11:09 AM
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thats going to be tough. if you have no problems with vista (like the millions of sheep that go along with the hate vista bandwagon) then vista 64 is the way to go if money is no option then maybe business ediition would be for your needs just stay away from home basic (MS is saying this is not even considered vista now). as for XP 64 i don't know if the support for it has improved
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-20, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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john_ertw, I use to be a big AMD fan but the Phenom's don't impress me.

cyclo, the nivdia 260 is an interesting idea but at a $150 more than a 9800GT, I can't see how I could justify the extra cost

sleemo, I will use 64 bit version

Thanks for input guys, I am investigating many of these options
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-20, 01:06 PM
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hugh: The new Phenom II processors actually do compete favorably with the Intel chips that cost the same amount now (especially since they ended up lowering the price a bit about a week after the CPUs came out).
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 2009-02-20, 01:32 PM
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I try to replace one of our home computers each year over the holidays. This year was my turn (home office).

Built using ASUS P6T X58 Deluxe, Core i7 920 with 6GB Corsair XMS3 1333 RAM, WD Velociraptor 300Gb as boot drive and a spare 500GB as additional drive (main storage in WHS). Used an ANTEC 900 case (lots of room, very easy to work in) and a corsair 620W Modular PS. 64Bit Vista Ultimate as OS and a single VisionTek Radeon HD4870 for video. Using on-board audio (still sounds great). 1 x Samsung SH-S223 and 1 x GGC-H20L optical drives. All in about $2K - should be a tad less now with sales galore and a cheaper video card.

All and all, extremely easy build. Everything went together first try. Easily the easiest build I have ever completed and by far the fastest most capable system I have ever owned. Extremely satisfied with all components and system is incredibly quiet great airflow through the case and the case fans are very quiet as well. ASUS board has been rock solid - absolutely no issues as yet (9 weeks strong). That said, we are always our best critics.
Things I would change. Used stock cooler as 1366 coolers were still hard to come by at the time. Would install Zalman's new CNPS9900 (includes 1366 bracket) if I were building now. Not that the Intel cooler isn't doing the trick (36 degrees idle - 52 degrees highest seen - no over clocking), just that cooler is always better when pushing your system. Only other change would be the video card. It is overkill for what I currently need so concur with previous comments but then again I remember thinking that I would never ever be able to fill my mammoth 8GB Hard Drive not terribly that long ago. Figure I could have saved about $300 to 400 if I went with Core 2 - cpu about the same really (i7 920 vs C2 9550) but mobo about $150 to 200 less depending on model and DDR2 about $150 or so cheaper as well (assuming 4GB) but again, the i7 is as fast as they get at this time for not a whole lot more.

My 2 cents,
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