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Old 12-23-2005, 06:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I am not a gamer. I need a system that will allow me strong multitasking ability and power. I work out of both Windows and Linux; primary application suite is ArcGIS Desktop. I also work with remote sensing imaging processing. I work in a university research lab, but need a smaller system for private use. I don't want to break the bank on the system, but am willing to spend 2 grand or so. Any suggestions on the build below and your reasoning for the suggestion would be great!

Be forewarned: I have little clue about hardware.

Case: Thermaltake Kandalf Super Tower E-ATX Case Black
Power Supply: Suggestions?
Case Fan: Do I need this?
Mother boards: Tyan S2865AG2NRF nForce Audio/GB-Lan/IEEE-1394/PCI-E/SATA3G/DDR/ATX 939
Processors: AMD Opteron 180 Dual-Core
Thermal Grease: Yes
Heat Sink: Thermaltake A1772
Memory: 4 GB Corsair w/ Heatsink
Hard Drives: 2 SATA - Western Digital 74GB/10k-RPM/8MB-Cache (Windows going on one and Linux on the other)
CD-RW/DVD-RW: Suggestions?
Floppies: Is this even needed?
Sound Card: None
Video Card: No clue. I work with ArcGis. I am not a gamer. It needs to support 2 20" monitors. Suggestions?
Add on Cards: Fire wire - SIIG NN - 83M012 Firewire 800 M-64 PCI Adapter

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Old 12-23-2005, 08:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Antec truepower w/ EPS (needed for motherboard)
or get an OCZ powerstream

No need for case fans

Get a XP-90 cooler (heatsink) w/ 92mm panaflo (fan)
comes w/ thermal greece

Don't go over 2GB. 4GB will not be utilized - wait for Vista and a native 64bit CPUs.

Linux and Windows can be used on 1 hard drive if you use partition magic

NEC DVD RW is good

No floppy is needed

Sound card is uneeded

I'm not sure what your doing with that program. If your viewing it, all you need is a simple entry level card. If your developing it you should get a Quadro or FireGL card.

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Old 12-23-2005, 10:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I thought the AMD dual-core Opteron was a native 64 CPU. Is it not? Is the 64 X2 4800?

I do some development... I'm wanting something to play on and perhaps do some contract work. What is the difference between the Quadro and the FireGL card?

And do you think the motherboard I selected is a quality one? Something better out there?
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Old 12-23-2005, 11:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hard Drives
WDs and Maxtors are not very reliable from history.
Seagates are among the most reliable but there a little behind(probably because the take time to test their tech).
Also, you may want to think about getting SCSI320 drives+controller for processing and using regular 7200 rpm sata drives.
You may also want to think about raid.
I use 1 SCSI drive specifically just for OSes.
Note: Sata data cables are flimsy and I recommend getting 90 degree cables.

You may want a removable enclosure with sata support.
Sata is hot swappable which means you can plug it in while the computer is on.....just like USB or FireWire.

The opterons are nice(since the xeon dual core is a flop).
You may want to invest in 2 processor because they usually produce better results(especially with dual cores).

You can google dual processor vs dual core and you'll see that dual processors perform better. If your going with 2 single core processors, I recommend xeons.

Also, you may want to wait for the next opteron(which will be released q1 2006) which will support DDR2.

Power Supply
I would choose a turbo cool unit by pc power and cooling.
From the comparisons I've seen they have the most stable and efficient supplys on the market. They specialize in power supplies. They make a wide range of power supply ranging from 310-1100 watts. You probably need something around 400 watts.

There was a comparison between antecs, oczs and other power supplies online.

Heavier usually means better because it means more solid which translates into more stable and reliable power supplies.

I would either choose plextor or pioneer. Pioneer gives you the ability to read and write to dvdram with the new DVR-110\A10. Plextor gives you very high read\write speeds(I'm not sure what that new model is called that can do 18x).

Since your not a gamer, you may want a workstation card from Nvidia, ATI, or even Matrox. That is....if you develop...

Its good to have one, especially when your system dies....some diagnostic apps still use the floppy disk.... USB floppy drives wont due because they usually get assigned a different drive letter. Preinstalled environments for data recovery are mostly on cds but you never know when you will encounter a prog that only want floppy. Zip,klik,jaz,ls, and 5.25floppies came and went but floppies are still used. You may not need a floppy drive if you have another computer using an FDD floppy.

DELL UltraSharp 2005FPW 20.1-inch if you want 2 widescreens.
Or a Samsung or viewsonic

Case fans
You really should have something ejecting the heat from the case. There should really be a flow of air going through the case.
Depending on how much you have left....a watercooling kit could be an option. No cpu cooler needed...replaced by waterblock. Use fluidXP+ for coolant because its non-conductive. There are many diffent options for watercooling which even include ram shims.

Thermal Grease
There are slight difference in chemical compositions of these conductors. See the below link to figure out what you need.....

Depending on how you balance you budget you may have to settle for lower brands or parts, but dont skimp out and go for the bottom of the list with no name brands. I learned this the hard way with a 400w power supply that did not have a known manufacturer label.
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Old 12-23-2005, 11:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Tyan is a major board manufacturer for server and workstation cases. I know how hard it can be to find a good workstation board. I'm not familiar with Tyan beyond that because I never owned a Tyan board. I usually pick Asus or MSI.
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Old 12-24-2005, 09:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Funny you mentioned hard drive reliability... A couple of us were talking about this the other day. The other hard drive recommended to me was a Seagate. It was the Cheetah 73.4 GB/15KRPM/Ultra-320/68-pin/SCSI. However, it's expensive. Not sure if the budget will allow this.

I hadn't read that the new Opterons were being released Q1 2006. Good to know if true. I have read that Opterons won't be available for the general consumer after the new year. Too much competition with the 64X2. I've thought about going with the dual CPU, but think it might be overkill for my needs. I am curious: Is it better to go with a screaming CPU or two low/moderate CPUs?

Any thoughts on the Tyran motherboard? I've appreciated the responses.
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The 939 AMDs arent actually natively 64bit. They are but aren't at the same time. The chipsets don't support what is needed for 64 bit.

The socket 940 (opterons) will support 64bit really good. Their chipsets are designed for it.

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