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Thread: Critique my build - £2000 budget

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    Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for people to suggest improvements to my new rig. I'd hugely appreciate any help, desktops aren't my strong point.

    • Budget: £2000 - Not going to complain if you can get it cheaper though!
    • Purpose: Development - I'm a sysadmin so develop on a huge cluster of VMs that I'd like to run on my desktop.
    • Gaming: Not currently but I'd like to leave flexibility to allow some mild gaming in future - hence the semi-decent graphics card.
    • Do you really need that much memory?!? Yes
    • Do you really need that CPU?!? Unsure. But I'd like to make my PC as future proof as possible.
    • AMD? Unsure. I really like the idea of 8 Intel threads.
    • Size? Not an issue.
    • Good looking? Certainly not willing to pay extra for a physically good looking PC - it'll sit under my desk, no one will see it. I'm after a purely practical PC.
    • Silent? Would be nice, this PC lives in my bedroom and I might occasionally leave it on while I sleep. Not willing to pay a huge amount for this benefit though.
    • OS? Linux. I might dual boot Windows 7 though would only boot into it once in a blue moon.


    The build so far:
    Code:
    https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=tt-0eBRNZFUUeNok97A1tDg&hl=en&authkey=CNi4xs0C
    Sorry for the un-clickable link, I have less than 5 posts so can't make it a URL.

    Please suggest improvements, price cuts (without massively affecting the performance) and anything else you can think of.

    Things I'm unsure on:
    • The Case - bottom mounted PSU is something that concerns me. It'll be sitting on a wooden floor that gets very dusty. Seems to be hard to find top mounted cases now adays though.
    • Hitachi (significantly cheaper) or WD drives (double cache)


    Justification:
    4GB modules not 2 so I can expand to 24GB easier in future.
    3 drives to put into RAID5 (software).

    Thanks!

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    Mostly Me Lucio's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    My first suggestion would be to get a smaller OS Disc, Flash memory is still expensive and if you're strict on it being only the OS disc, you can easily get away with a 40Gb or 64Gb drive saving a couple of hundred pounds.

    Bottom mounted PSU is fine as the fans generally keep the dust out of them (my PSU is usually dust free in my machine, as it gets trapped on the dust filters)

    You don't need the 3 bay internal HDD clip, nor the SSD mounting kit.




    Personally if I had this kind of money, I'd consider using a NAS box for my storage needs and an external DVD drive, along with cutting the graphics card back to one that can be passively cooled. What's left will still make a noise, but not that much.

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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    My first suggestion would be to get a smaller OS Disc, Flash memory is still expensive and if you're strict on it being only the OS disc, you can easily get away with a 40Gb or 64Gb drive saving a couple of hundred pounds.
    Whoop is running linix. If he is strict then he can easily get away with a 8Gb OS disc, so even 40Gb would be far more than is needed.

    If I where him, I would go for a 64Gb SSD for the OS, and home directory, but setup another partition on spinning media for music and the like, as that gives a bit of headroom. If he finds he is running out of space on the SSD, he can move some more home directory stuff out onto spinning media.

    Also, I have been following developments of the btrfs filing system, and I saw a patch in the past few days, that allows you to setup a file-system spread across both fast SSD devices and slower HDDs, and the file-system will automatically put the frequently accessed data on the SSD, so in the future these sorts of speed optimizations will be automatic.

    I don't think Whoop should put his swap partition on SSD. As he has so much memory, his OS is unlikey to touch it very often, so it is only needed as a safety net. Instead I think he should setup a huge (~64Gb) swap partition as a big safety net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    Personally if I had this kind of money, I'd consider using a NAS box for my storage needs and an external DVD drive, along with cutting the graphics card back to one that can be passively cooled. What's left will still make a noise, but not that much.
    If Whoop is doing lots of Vitalization, then he may need much faster I/O than a NAS can provide. Remember that each VM will have a virtual disc image somewhere, and each is the OS drive for that VM. If they are on a slow external NAS, then the VMs will be slow.

    I agree about the graphics card. I think Whoop would be better served by a fully linux compatible card (with OSS) drivers, which means integrated intel G45 graphics.

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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    My first suggestion would be to get a smaller OS Disc, Flash memory is still expensive and if you're strict on it being only the OS disc, you can easily get away with a 40Gb or 64Gb drive saving a couple of hundred pounds.
    I really don't wish to skimp here. Fast IO is an absolute need for me and is something i'm willing to invest greatly in. Getting too small an SSD would drive me crazy, trying to squeeze everything in. It won't just be holding my OS, it'll be any heavy VMs I have also. Perhaps also Windows7 if I decide to dual boot.[/quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    Bottom mounted PSU is fine as the fans generally keep the dust out of them (my PSU is usually dust free in my machine, as it gets trapped on the dust filters)
    Good to know, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    You don't need the 3 bay internal HDD clip, nor the SSD mounting kit.
    Hmm are you sure? Someone said I'd need the 3 bay, is that not the case? Also was under the view I need the SSD mount as the SSD I have listed is OEM so won't be coming with one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucio View Post
    Personally if I had this kind of money, I'd consider using a NAS box for my storage needs and an external DVD drive, along with cutting the graphics card back to one that can be passively cooled. What's left will still make a noise, but not that much.
    NAS box seems kind of redundant, this data will only be accessed from a single PC (the one I'm building) so seems silly to move the data off to someone else where it'll eat power - might as well put it all in one box and save money.

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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by chrestomanci View Post
    Whoop is running linix. If he is strict then he can easily get away with a 8Gb OS disc, so even 40Gb would be far more than is needed.
    Thanks or the suggestion, although read above - I really would like to leave some leg room.
    On cutting costs though, was thinking of one of these instead of the Intel:

    Anyone any experience with these?
    Grr, I can't post links. 120GB Corsair SSD 2.5" Force Series 285MB/s Read 275MB/s Write, includes 2.5” to 3.5” bracket - 257.01

    Quote Originally Posted by chrestomanci View Post
    Also, I have been following developments of the btrfs filing system, and I saw a patch in the past few days, that allows you to setup a file-system spread across both fast SSD devices and slower HDDs, and the file-system will automatically put the frequently accessed data on the SSD, so in the future these sorts of speed optimizations will be automatic.

    I don't think Whoop should put his swap partition on SSD. As he has so much memory, his OS is unlikey to touch it very often, so it is only needed as a safety net. Instead I think he should setup a huge (~64Gb) swap partition as a big safety net.
    Agreed, but this is all for me to worry about not you I'm after hardware advise not software, thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by chrestomanci View Post
    I agree about the graphics card. I think Whoop would be better served by a fully linux compatible card (with OSS) drivers, which means integrated intel G45 graphics.
    Do you have recommendations for integrated? and a fully Linux compatible card, I know nothing of graphics and very little of motherboards. A scan link would be most appreciated.

  6. #6
    Fried Chip Extremist alsenior's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    i would swap the video card out atm as nvdias current lnux drivers dont show support for it.

    also would go with the hitachi drives as they are faster drives
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Can you recommend a graphics card please? I know absolutely zilch about cards - if I picked one its bound to be the wrong one.
    I need nothing but dual monitors and light gaming e.g. L4D.

    Are you sure about the Hitachi drives? Multiple people have warned me against them for some reason - is this purely due to Seagate/WD fanboyism and the old now non-existant "deathstar" issues?

    Also, Corsair or Intel SSD? And Antec 1200 or LianLu case?
    Last edited by Whoop; 30-07-2010 at 02:19 PM.

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    Senior Member oolon's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    If you are really into VMs why not get a w35xx series processor, they are the same as the i7s however they support ECC memory. You could also consider 6 2GB dimms to pull the price down. Guess it depends if you feel you will be moving up from 12GB of memory. Have a look at my system to the left.
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Don't really wish to go with a Xeon and ECC memory - thats heading towards the server market there. I already have servers, I don't really consider it worth that huge additional cost just for development.

    As mentioned in the OP: "4GB modules not 2 so I can expand to 24GB easier in future." Cost between 2 and 4GB modules wasn't *that* huge so not too much an issue on the price side. Gives me that flexibility in future should I need it.

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    Mostly Me Lucio's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Whoop View Post

    Hmm are you sure? Someone said I'd need the 3 bay, is that not the case? Also was under the view I need the SSD mount as the SSD I have listed is OEM so won't be coming with one?


    NAS box seems kind of redundant, this data will only be accessed from a single PC (the one I'm building) so seems silly to move the data off to someone else where it'll eat power - might as well put it all in one box and save money.
    Ahh, the reason you need the second bay is because it only comes with 1 HDD cage as standard, allowing 3 drives to fit at most. To fit the 4, you need the second cage. You definately won't need the mounting kit from what I can see.


    The NAS idea was to move one of the noiser parts of the PC (namely the HDD) out of your tower and well away from your bedroom. They could then sit by the router and make their strange clicky noises in piece (alternatively you could get 3 very good HDD drive holders, I've got a Samsung aluminium one that muffles all the noise of my HDD)

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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    OK, I'll get the drive bay but not the mounting kit for the moment.
    Good thinking with the NAS, but the sound isn't that much of an issue that I can justify that cost currently. I might well change my mind once its all built and I hear it running
    I'll look into the driver holders, if you have a link for a decent one that would be appreciated. Whats your thoughts on this case, will it make a huge difference to the sound levels? http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/NZXT-...t-Case-w-o-PSU

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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Quote Originally Posted by Whoop View Post
    Don't really wish to go with a Xeon and ECC memory - thats heading towards the server market there. I already have servers, I don't really consider it worth that huge additional cost just for development.
    Really? Mine cost me 50 quid more than the i7 equivalent at the time. The W35xx series do not support multiprocessor so don't have much premium at all, you can use normal X58 boards as well, though only some "formally" support ECC.
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    OK appears you're right, I must have looked at a hire one last time.
    i7 930 is £216.40
    Xeon W3530 is £234.80

    Xeon is currently out of stock though, don't wish to wait too long
    Is there any advantages for the Xeon other than the ECC?

    Edit: This benchmark seems to suggest it performs worse: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?...30+%40+2.80GHz

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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    No, memory seems to be run on safer settings though, mine runs at 1066 rather than 1333 which might explain the slight performance difference. You have however noticed the problem of availability in the UK! Personally I bought mine on amazon.com (yes they stock it there grrr damn you .co.uk!) had it delivered to the US and got a friend to post it to me here.... You can check out my build log for all the details. It "only" took 6 weeks to get it.

    insight claim they will order one for you for £252.

    Much better you can pre-order with scan these w35xx processors these days, not an option when I bought mine. That good to know, might get my dad one for his new system.
    Last edited by oolon; 30-07-2010 at 03:51 PM.
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    Yeah, don't think the memory speed is going to be a bottleneck in my system though, suspect it'll be the CPU - and I don't fancy paying ~£300 more for the next best CPU.

    Think I'll stick with what I have and see how it goes memory and CPU wise. Still undecided on the case + SSD though

    Also, a graphics card that is flawless in Linux - good performance and allows me to rotate one monitor but not the other.

  16. #16
    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    Re: Critique my build - £2000 budget

    In terms of your graphics card choice (GTX 460) it certainly is the card of the moment, winning current awards etc etc so in that sense it is a good choice.

    However... (and you wanted some advice on this) i would suggest that given what you have described doing, this is actually overkill, and for the 99% of the time it is active but not working in 3d mode it'll be using more power and generating more heat than you would want. (To put this into perspective though, these modern cards are actually quite good in contrast to older generations about proportionate power saving).

    Something like an AMD Radeon 5750 or 5770 might be a better purchase, despite giving lower 3d framerates, due to the above.
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    Sennheiser RS160 wireless headphones. Creative Gigaworks T40 SII. My wife.
    My Hexus Trust

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