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Old 10-01-2009, 10:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question $1000 - go to town

I'm actually copying my exact post from the Tomshardware forum. I didn't get any answers from those clowns, figured I'd give you nerds a go.

--

Alright guys, my four year old 3200+ Winchester and 6800GT are old enough to be stealing my social security, thought it's about time to make a new build. I haven't read up on computer hardware since so excuse me for being completely ignorant. =)

Figure you have ~$1000 to waste on a completely new build.

What do I need this computer for? It's mostly going to be used as a workstation. I'm a big photographer and need RAWs to be drawn/processed rather quickly. I spend plenty of time in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. I already own a 360 so I don't anticipate too much PC gaming albeit I want to try the likes of Crysis and such. I know I'll be playing games on occassion so I'm not dropping down to some integrated graphics nonsense.

I've currently been doing all of my work on my laptop. It has a 2.2ghz Core 2 Duo T7500, 2x2GB (only 3GB found by windows, 4GB in BIOS - fail) and an nVidia 570m, which is actually pretty decent. But I can only assume that current spec hardware would run circles around this ***. I got the laptop through school, went mech eng so they gave everyone ****** rendering laptops.

I need some kind of backup drive system. Losing originals is not an option. I need my photos to be in two locations. I don't really know much about RAID, only that RAID 0 is haul *** mode. Apparently that's not what I need though since RAID 1 only protects against drive failure. Burning to DVDs is not an option, and I know nothing of these online backup services. Opinions?

I overclock albeit I wouldn't consider myself an overclocker. I'm not going to spend hours and hours and hours tweaking voltages and timings and *** just to squeeze out a lousy hertz. Anyway, I hear these Intels seem like they come underclocked.

Anyway, here's with what I've come up with so far:

CPU:
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail

Motherboard:
ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

RAM:
OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G1600LV6GK - Retail

GPU:
PNY VCGGTX260CXPB GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

PSU:
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ700MXSP 700W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC ... - Retail

HDD(s):
2x Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

Case:
LIAN LI Lancool PC-K56W Black 0.8 mm SECC, Plastic + Mesh ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Total: $1066.39 (after shipping)

Budget is expandable to $1150, but I'd like to keep it as close to $1000 as possible.

I was initially considering the i7 860 Lynnfield given the uber reviews it's been getting. But after doing some reading, most people seem to suggest the i7 920 (1366) over the i7 860 (1156) because of triple channel memory. Some also say the 920 would be a better path for upgrading in the future, which is obviously important. I'd imagine the 920 vs 860 debate could be beat to death. Could anyone provide some opinions on this?

To take advantage of the 6GB RAM, I think I need 64-bit Vista, correct?

I know nothing of the current generation GPUs. All I know is that way back when SLI came out, it didn't make any sense. Pay double the price for less than a 50% performance increase? I don't know if SLI/Crossfire has improved since then, but I'm not yet convinced. I'm somewhat partial to nVidia, but I've been seeing ATI (are they still ATI?) all over the place.

I already have a DVD burner, mouse/keyboard, monitor. Am I forgetting anything? Ixnay the OS of course. =)

That's the deal folks. I'd greatly appreciate any advice or opinions. Thanks guys!
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

What are the size of the files you are working with, and how many do you work with at once?

Should solve for you how much ram is ideal. If you keep those photos in ram, you will be working much faster.

Yes, you need 64 bit for the RAM. Make sure you buy a vista with the free upgrade to 7, I've seen them around, and I think 7 will be much better than Vista.
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Old 10-01-2009, 12:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brinson View Post
What are the size of the files you are working with, and how many do you work with at once?

Should solve for you how much ram is ideal. If you keep those photos in ram, you will be working much faster.

Yes, you need 64 bit for the RAM. Make sure you buy a vista with the free upgrade to 7, I've seen them around, and I think 7 will be much better than Vista.
Thanks for the reply!

I mostly use Adobe Lightroom 2 for batch processing and then move to PS CS4 if I need to edit an individual shot. They're 10.1 megapixel RAWs which can be as large as 16 megs a piece. LR definitely eats up a lot of memory, and I'm really not happy with how quick it draws on my laptop. I wouldn't consider the laptop a slouch either.

I was actually thinking of geting 2x2GB sticks instead of 3x2GB sticks just to save some cash and then just buy another stick later if I felt like I needed it. From my understanding, dual/triple channel works best if all the sticks are the same brand/speed/size/etc. Would that idea still be feasible?

Will I be able to run that RAM at 1600 with my motherboard? Or will it need to be overclocked? I suspect the latter but all of these different ratings can make things rather confusing.

Thanks for the suggestion on the OS. I'll definitely be going that route.

Any idea what I can do regarding a backup system of some kind? That's one of my primary concerns as I've been bringing around an internal drive w/ enclosure everywhere as it has all of my ****. I almost roasted the drive the other day, left it under a pile of clothes. I came back to it fifteen hours later only to find that the enclosure case was way too hot to touch, assumed the insides were charred inside-out. My laptop didn't pick it up until it cooled down, but those few minutes were nothing short of frantic.
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

I wouldn't store important data on an external alone as, while they might experence extreme heat and be fine, they will prolly not be fine if they are so much as bumped in the wrong way when running. A cat knocked one of my externals over once when I was putting things on it, and the drive was dead.

I use externals as backups but not for the originals. Back everything up every night before bed. Seems the best way to go to me. Online backup is too slow even with the fastest of connections for most things.
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Old 10-02-2009, 12:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brinson View Post
I wouldn't store important data on an external alone as, while they might experence extreme heat and be fine, they will prolly not be fine if they are so much as bumped in the wrong way when running. A cat knocked one of my externals over once when I was putting things on it, and the drive was dead.

I use externals as backups but not for the originals. Back everything up every night before bed. Seems the best way to go to me. Online backup is too slow even with the fastest of connections for most things.
I figured the online backups wouldn't be that efficient, especially for the volume of files I'm working with.

You'd be really surprised how much abuse my external has taken. It's a 320gb Seagate which I use with a Rosewill enclosure. I've bumped it, dropped it, spun it around in circles cause centripetal forces are kick ***. But of course you're absolutely right, one move in just the wrong direction and you're toasted.

Looks like I'll be getting an external and then just doing a backup after each shoot.

Thanks for all the help! I'll be ordering pretty soon. Do you see any problems with the build or think everything is lookin' good?
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

This card is cheaper after MIR.
Newegg.com - EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards

I am generally not a fan of asrock boards but that one is a nice price. Look at some of the lower priced offerings from Asus and Evga as well.

Besides that it is looking nice. You could also save some cash if you do not need a modular psu.
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Old 10-02-2009, 03:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

What you have seems fine. I always end up saying this, but change the OCZ Golds for the Platinums. And id say stick with 1366 and not 1156. If your rendering and processing a lot of stuff youll get the advantage of tripple channel memory and the fact that that socket is meant to support the higher spec processors for the future. The GTX260+ is a solid choice for computational work without having to fork out for a GTX285, and the 7200.12 drives are also a good choice, especially the 500gb model because its a single platter.

PS: You probably have 32bit Windows on your laptop, thats why it looks as if youre running only 3gb...
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hefemeister View Post
This card is cheaper after MIR.
Newegg.com - EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards

I am generally not a fan of asrock boards but that one is a nice price. Look at some of the lower priced offerings from Asus and Evga as well.

Besides that it is looking nice. You could also save some cash if you do not need a modular psu.
Hmpf, thanks, I'm going to go with that eVGA vcard instead actually! I know they offer reliable products albeit not always at the lowest prices.

Like I said in my OP, excuse my ignorance but I'm not even entirely sure what a modular PSU is. I just went to see what PSUs OCZ had to offer because I bought their 520w PowerStream four years ago when I last did a build. I've been really happy with it since. Could you suggest another one? I have no problem spending the extra bucks for a solid, reliable PSU. I've always felt like that was an item never to skimp out on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zedman3d View Post
What you have seems fine. I always end up saying this, but change the OCZ Golds for the Platinums. And id say stick with 1366 and not 1156. If your rendering and processing a lot of stuff youll get the advantage of tripple channel memory and the fact that that socket is meant to support the higher spec processors for the future. The GTX260+ is a solid choice for computational work without having to fork out for a GTX285, and the 7200.12 drives are also a good choice, especially the 500gb model because its a single platter.

PS: You probably have 32bit Windows on your laptop, thats why it looks as if youre running only 3gb...
What's the difference between the OCZ Golds and Platinums? Just timings? Would you say it would even make a noticeable difference when working?

Regarding the hard drive, I've been seeing the Samsung Spinpoint T3 pop up a lot because it's a single 500gb platter while some others are two 250gb platters. While I'm not even sure what that all means , I assume that Seagate I picked is a single platter as well? I kinda swear by Seagate now after seeing how much abuse my old 320gb has handled.

Yep, my laptop has 32-bit Vista. I thought 32-bit OSes can handle up to 4GB, but upon further reading, apparently some of that memory is allocated to hardware like your sound card or something. I was just shocked to see such a big chunk of it disappear.

Thanks again for the help guys!
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

You are correct that the platinum have better timings. They should overclock better than the golds. If that is not your game then save the money.

Looking at prices that OCZ is a pretty good deal.

A modular psu allows you do only connect the power cables you need:


A non modular has all of the cable already connected.


Modulars are great for wire management but do have one more connection that could go bad. Given the price I would stick with the one you chose.
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: $1000 - go to town

You can save even more money by going with the 4870. It has practically the same performance as the core 216.

Newegg.com - XFX HD-487A-ZWFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Desktop Graphics / Video Cards
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