What do you think about it?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by m00nbl00d, Mar 11, 2010.

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  1. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    (First allow me to say is good to be back at this forum, and to the Internet, etc... :-* )

    I hope to assemble my new system very soon. I already have a few things in mind. Some decisions are pending whether or not the products manufacturers release or not upgraded versions (I have contacted some manufacturers and they will have it under consideration.).

    So, this new system will be a desktop. What tasks will I perform in this system? As follows:

    1. Networking simulation, using VMware. Most of my tasks will be working with this, since this is my area. With time will also be simulation CISCO networks.

    2. Then, well, besides surfing the web, I have two hobbies: Music creation and image editing.

    3. I'll also considering to take a course regarding programming.


    In a few days I'll be posting a complete list of what I have chosen (still am looking at some stuff), but I'd like to know what you think about this:

    I'm thinking of getting this HDDBoost (http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_contents.php?pno=HDDBOOST) and this way make use of a hybrid disk (SSD + HDD). This will enhance the performance of the HDD. SSDs are too expensive to have a full system running those.

    I'm also thinking to have an extra HDD to backup and save stuff over there, like for example the VMware hard disk files.

    The system will be Windows 7 64 bit, because, considering that I will be simulating networks in VMware, I'll make use of quite a few RAM memory to make things very stable (Host and Guest operating systems).

    As of now, the biggest issue is being the motherboard. Since I would also like this system for music creation and image editing, I was thinking, sometime ago, about these two motherboards, since they allow for 8 core CPU (two), and for music creation and image edition these 8 core would be welcome:

    Intel Skulltrail (http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/d5400xs/d5400xs-overview.htm)

    Asus Z7S WS (http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=tjBioAZTBRuSpOHj&content=specifications)

    The problem? Both make use of FB-DIMM memory. This type of memory has a higher latency than the rest, and also consumes more energy.

    I'm looking for other motherboards alike these two, but so far I haven't had much time to look properly.
     
  2. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    You really need a dual CPU motherboard for it?
    You could save a lot! By going single slot :)
     
  3. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Sorry this massive delay, but since I don't own a computer for a long time, it is quite hard to keep in touch and also researching a bit regarding the hardware I'm looking for.

    So, the reason why I had in mind to build an eight-core system, is that I have in mind to take a multimedia degree - not very soon, but will have to take it, because I'll need it, because it will be also very useful for a project I've got in mind.

    I've recently found out that Intel has released a new Intel Xeon processor 5600 series, which is a hex-core CPU.

    I'm guessing that a hex-core system would be more than fine to work with several virtual machines simulating computer networks, and also working with Multimedia.

    I still need to search more about this new Xeon series, because I still haven't seen any on-line stores in here selling them. Nor do I know what prices would they have.

    Anyway, for now, this is what I've gathered, using the few time I have to research:

    Cooler Master Cosmos S case - it allows E-ATX motherboards.

    http://www.coolermaster.com/product.php?category_id=18&product_id=3947

    For what I could see it only allows 4 hard disks to be installed. Over time I would need more, so that I can run each virtual machine in individual hard disks.

    This Silverstone RV01 case (http://www.silverstonetek.com/raven/products/r-spec.php?model=RV01&area=usa), which also allows E-ATX motherboards, will allow for 6 hard disks. Which is great. But, it practically costs twice as much as the Cosmos S in some on-line stores I've seen.

    Screen - Asus MS246H - I find it to be a cheap 24" screen and without all that crap like speakers, web-cams, etc. I don't need those. It also has a nice design

    http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=lZh89jeJUW0lsTnS

    (Sound card, speakers, mice and keyboard will later be picked.)

    Now, I have to wait and see the prices of the Intel Xeon 5600 series processors over here.

    But, considering I'd get an Intel Xeon 5600 (just one CPU) over the two Intel Xeon 5500 series, would anyone recommend a good motherboard for a single CPU? I once saw in some forum (I don't remember) saying that for workstations either an Intel workstation board or a Tyan.

    What do you guys think about it? I've checked those Tyans, but I don't seem to find any reseller over here.

    What do you guys think about Enermax's power supplies? Long time ago, I've read an article from a computer magazine in here saying great things about those power supplies.

    Would an 850W be more than enough for what I have in mind?

    Regarding the graphics, and considering that I have a Multimedia interest in mind, what would you think of an ATI 5000 series?

    For now is all I could research. Tell me your opinions, please.

    Thank you
     
  4. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    I don't know what you're asking precisely or how big your budget is, but if you're going to really heavy media editing and manipulation, I would:

    A powerful cpu (4 cores), 2 cpus is a good idea as well, possibly i7.

    Populate only the first or first two memory banks to keep in the high range of memory bus speeds, as they drop from 1333 to 1066 to 800 with each bank, therefore choose high-density dimms, although they are expensive.

    A small disk for os - velociraptor or ssd, plus at least 2-3 more disks for normal. In your case, I would go for 4+ disks, a data disk, a stripe for music, a virtualization disk, and if you can afford 1-2 backup disks at least. You can keep virtual machines on external disk, btw.

    See if you can buy 10gbit network cards.

    Don't forget a powerful and high-quality psu, then a ups, too. I have come to a conclusion that you should go for two of everything, including spares - nics, dvd-burners, ups, even graphic cards, and a spare mobo for future emergency.

    Mrk
     
  5. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I think you are making a mistake buying this now, if don't need that kind of horsepower now. But that's just my personal opinion. For my technical opinion, I have several concerns - not in any particular order.

    You stated your intended use for this system and that is great - I wish everybody spelled it out as you did. But as noted, you did not mention your budget.

    I applaud you again for looking for a good case. IMO, a solid case and good PSU from a reputable maker form a solid foundation for a computer set to last, and evolve through many years of service and upgrades. But I don't like either of those you list. Both would provide excellent cooling - a top priority, but neither have washable filters. The Coolermaster has no filters at all, and the Silverstone only has side mesh filters, but they are screwed in.

    Your intended uses for this system are as demanding, if not more so, than today's 3D animated gaming. That means you will need LOTS of front to back air flow through the case and unless your computer room is dust free, the interior of your case will become your room's air filter. I will never have a case without removable, washable air filters again. So again, if not in an environmentally controlled and filtered room, removable, washable front panel filters are a must - this is especially true if the computer is located in a high traffic area where dust is frequently stirred up, and even more true if there are pets in the house. I like Antecs. I don't like fancy faceplates or flashing lights. Fancy facades go out of style and flashing lights do nothing for performance, add some heat, consume some power, and do nothing for performance - worth repeating. A good cases sits discretely, and quietly, out of the way, and does not draw attention to itself. Besides, I tend to pay attention to what's on my monitors.

    I agree with Mrkvonic, a Core i7, with lots of RAM, 64-bit Win7, and a top graphics card is likely to serve your needs very well. Remember, much of what you will be doing, like everything today, is graphics oriented. The more capable the graphics solution, the more tasks the CPU can hand off to it. And it takes very little CPU horsepower to hand off tasks. Using a high-end single CPU board will free up some money for a better graphics card, RAM, and a good drive solution too.

    The graphics solution often does (or should) take the largest single chunk of the budget. And the best gaming cards do not make the best designing cards. (on sale! - only $3,050!)

    As for a PSU, here's my canned text on sizing, and selecting a maker.

    Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine your minimum power supply unit (PSU) requirements. Plug in all the hardware you think you might have in 2 or 3 years (extra drives, bigger or 2nd video card, more RAM, etc.). Be sure to read and heed the notes at the bottom of the page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 30%, and if you participate in distributive computing projects (e.g. BOINC or Folding@Home) or extreme 3D animated gaming, I recommend setting both TDP and system load to 100%. These steps ensure the supply has adequate head room for stress free (and perhaps quieter) operation, and future hardware demands. Research your video card and pay particular attention to the power supply requirements for your card listed on your video card maker's website. If not listed, check a comparable card (same graphics engine and RAM) from a different maker. The key specifications, in order of importance are:
    1. Current (amperage or amps) on the +12V rail,
    2. Efficiency,
    3. Total wattage.
    Don’t try to save a few dollars by getting a cheap supply! Digital electronics, including CPUs, RAM, and today's advanced graphics cards, need clean, stable power. A good, well chosen supply will provide years of service and upgrade wiggle room. Look for power supply brands listed under the "Good" column of PC Mechanic's PSU Reference List.

    Most PSUs have an efficiency rating of around 70%. This means for every 100 watts of power a PSU draws from the wall, only 70 watts is delivered to the motherboard, with the rest wasted in the form of heat. The best supplies are 85 to 90% efficient, and as expected, cost more. I strongly recommend you pick a quality supply with an efficiency rating equal to or greater than 80%. Look for 80 Plus - EnergyStar Compliant labels.

    Too big of a PSU hurts nothing but your budget. Your computer will draw from the PSU only what it needs, not what the PSU is capable of delivering. If a computer needs 300 watts it will draw 300 watts regardless if the PSU is a 350W, 650W, or 1000W PSU. In turn, the PSU, regardless its size will draw from the wall only what it needs to support the computer. In this example, 300 watts plus 45 – 90 watts, depending on PSU inefficiency.

    As noted, the eXtreme Calculator determines the minimum requirements. If the calculator (with the changes I suggested) recommends a 400 watt minimum, a quality 400W supply will serve you just fine. But a quality 550W – 600W supply will have, among other things, larger heat sinks to dissipate potentially more heat. It might have a larger fan too. The 400W supply will run most of the time closer to capacity, while the larger supply will be loafing along, rarely breaking a sweat. To help the smaller heat sinks get rid of the wasted 80 watts (20% of 400) of heat, the fan in the 400W supply may need to run full speed, while the fan in the larger supply, with bigger sinks just loafs along too – but in near silence.

    Don't forget to budget for a good UPS with AVR (automatic voltage regulation). Surge and spike protectors are inadequate.
     
  6. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    Are you aware of any i7 dual-cpu motherboard? I've been trying to look, but didn't find any so far. Hence the reason of picking the Intel Xeon's processors.

    I was initially thinking of getting the Silverstone device that allows to make an hybrid disk (hdd + ssd), but it would be a waste of money, so I'll check whether I'll pick a ssd or a hdd. I'm leaning towards the ssd to have the operating system running from it.

    I get what you mean by having two more disk for data and music/movies, but why an extra virtualization disk? I'm guessing you mean an extra virtualization disk for some other reason, like banking, for example? Or am I misinterpreting you?

    Yes, I total disregarded the fact that there are external usb hdds! :D

    Thanks for the reminder.

    I was considering of an Enermax PSU. That's one kick-ass PSU manufacturer, so I've always heard.

    @ Bill_Bright

    Thank you for you detailed information. I'll check all that out.

    About the dust, not much of a problem. The Cooler Master chassis are great and not too expensive, and whether or not they have washable air filters it's not important. The system will be placed at a closed room, and there are other alternatives to keep the room dust free. I'll make the balance between getting a case from other manufacturers, like Antec, compare their prices with Cooler Master Cosmos S, and then see if it gets cheaper to get one of those cases.

    Edit:

    I've been looking for a single Intel i7 CPU compatible motherboard and since I've always been a fan of Asus, I went to the web site, and liked this one very much, and there are also great reviews about it: http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=jy0uafxYBCrJwksC&templete=2

    What do you think about it? Would it be a great choice? What do guys think about XFX or EVGA?
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  7. robertoa81

    robertoa81 Registered Member

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    Sounds incredibly expensive! You'd be better of building a dedicated VM box using Vmware ESXi (free btw) and building a secondary box for video\audio editing and general computing. Bare metal Hypervisors like ESX run better than a VM Server installed on top of a running OS. Disk I/O is where VM's do not perform well so if plan on running those vm's while editing HD video you can just forget about it.
     
  8. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    Oh, virtualization disk - I meant a disk that will store virtual machines :)
    This will give you a tremendous performance boost, since I/O is almost always the virtualization bottleneck.
    Mrk
     
  9. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    My input would be to go to sites like JohnnyGuru, which is a site devoted to psu's, and gives indepth reviews (or did in the past). Finding true specs on a psu is IMO an important facet of a new high end rig.

    I have been very happy with my intel motherboard and cpu. No issues whatsoever. That being said, I personally have had issues with Asus more than any other board. Not that it need sway your opinion, because many love Asus. I personally would either choose intel, gigabyte or evga, in that order.

    Concerning hdds, my thoughts would be to get an ssd for the OS. 80gb should be sufficient even with the amount of space todays OS requires. House the programs you need there, but house the data/projects on other drives. Terabyte or better is now common and actually affordable. Raptors of course does give you the extra speed. You might also look into a nice SAS card and drives. Now you get into some $$, but you also can get 15k rpm drives as well as an interface that work with either SAS or SATA. Of course with SATAIII (or 6, whatever) coming out, and usb 3.0, you might put your purchase off for just a bit longer, as those are still early in the lifecycle, but definately should offer a nice performance boost.

    For cases, I have owned/used/installed many. Since I have been using LianLi cases, I will never buy another for my main machine. I have some spare machines that use lots of other brands, both big name and unknown. I never used to put much weight on a case other than how many drives I could stick in it. But after purchasing my last LianLi, I have not one doubt that because of the case, my computer stays the coolest of any I have ever had. Precision fits are nice and all, but I like how quiet it is and how cool it stays. Top notch in my book.

    I have also bought many optical drives. High end Plextors, some samsungs and pioneers. LG, Hitachi, toshiba, etc etc. The ones that still work, after years of use, are the Lite Ons. They are not the quietest, nor the best rated. But of all the drives I have owned, they are able to read the most damaged disks for some reason, and have the longest lifespan. I will no longer waste my money on any other brand until LiteOn fails me.

    Video card wise, I used to use Gainward, but they no longer sell them in the states AFAIK. I tried a few other brands, but the one that impresses me the most is EVGA. I know people who have had to RMA thier cards after 3 years of use, and they all ended up with higher end cards instead of a replacement. Mine is 3 years old (8800gtx), has had countless hours of use, and has given me flawless performance.

    Again, many people will have choises and preferences, most of them different. But I like to hear from people myself and how they rate different manufacturers based on years of experience, so that is what I am passing along.

    Hopefully you can make some use of some of it.

    Sul.
     
  10. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    Hello,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I was at VMware site 2 days ago and took a look at VMware ESXi. It seems great, and free! All the money I can save is welcome.

    About the VMs, well disk I/O was actually one of my main concerns, hence my initially thought of saving each virtual machine in a separated hard disk. This would be the best choice, even when only working with the networked VMs, for better performance.

    @ Mrkvonic

    Sorry for my misunderstanding. You're right, hence my initial thought for separated VMs hard disks, rather than having just one for all VMs. I believe it would be a better aproach?

    @ Sully

    Thank you for replying as well. Will take under advisement your suggestions.

    I was leaning towards an Intel board, or a Tyan. But, Intel has a first option. I'm just waiting to see how much the new Intel Xeon 5600 series will cost over here. Then, I'll see if I'll go with one of those or an i7. For my main purpose (networking simulation and other related issues) Xeon would be a better approach.

    About the graphic card. An nVidia Quadro was already mentioned, but I forgot to mention - my failure - that I won't be working with 3D graphics or anything like that, so my doubts on which card to get. I always had an impression that a high quality game card would do the required job quite well.

    The fact that USB 3.0 is nearby and other technologies, is what has also kept me on standby.
     
  11. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I have used perhaps a half dozen Tyan boards. I would not hesitate to use on at all. Very solid boards from my experience.

    Sul.
     
  12. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    I think I'll go for the Intel workstation boards with chipset 5520. I'll take a look at these ones, and see the one that fits my needs better, and then ask your opinions.

    What are your (everyone) opinions about Intel's SSDs? I'm considering an INTEL SSD 160GB X25-M MAINSTREAM 34NM.

    160GB would give more stability to the system compared to the 80GB.


    Thank you, again.

    Edit: I don't seem to be finding any Intel workstation board for a single Intel Xeon 5500/5600 CPU. Only dual-cpu boards. Are you familiar with any? I'll take a look at the Tyan's meanwhile.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2010
  13. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I have been contemplating one of those Intel SSD drives. I talked to a guy the other day who bought one, I think an 80gig model. He said it feels about as fast as his raptor raid 0 setup did. He is planning on a second one for raid. If this is true, for the price-point a couple raptors might be better. But I like the idea of fast installs and fast startups, which I personally think he is hallucinating about those raptors keeping up, but who knows.

    Sul.
     
  14. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    I've found this front to front match between Western Digital VelociRaptor and Intel's 80GB SSD. It's not in English, but from the images it is quite understandable that VelociRaptor is no match for a SSD, except when it comes to the writing, which seems to be the down side of SSDs, at the moment. http://forum.zwame.pt/showthread.php?t=514457

    Edit: A doubt about the ethernet cards. As you all may have guessed by now, I'm a networking person, and whenever I think of networking hardware CISCO crosses my mind. Since what I pretend to do is not enterprise related, but home related (studies), I took a look at Linksys (sub-division of Cisco) network cards, but for my surprise I don't see any. I do remember that about 1,5 year or 2 years I did see network cards on Linksys official site. What the heck has happened? Decided not to manufacture more network cards?

    What are your impressions about D-Link?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2010
  15. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    If you are speaking of dlink for routers, I like them a lot. Linksys has always been very solid for me in the router line, although lacking for my tastes in the firmware features.

    Dlink has been good to me, using perhaps a half dozen different models. I really like the firmware in them, much more complex with features, just how I like it. I did have one dlink router that gave some issues though.

    Dlink NICs, I have not had too many to play with, but I was not particularily impressed. I also had a few linksys nics if memory serves that were average.

    I am a big fan of intel nics myself. I used to be into seeing what sort of tweaks could be made to a system to get the most out of a card, and quite often it was setting dependent. But overall I have been able to push an intel nic more sucessfully than any other.

    I do have some realtek chip gigabit nics that perform ok, but I would prefer intel over them any day.

    HTH.

    Sul.
     
  16. robertoa81

    robertoa81 Registered Member

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    I've never run Dlink routers but i have used lots of their gigabit switches with much success. I've used linksys in the past and im currently running a belkin N+ router which works fine for wifi plus it's got gigabit. I have a WRT54g loaded with dd-wrt and that works fantastic. Sully is on the money when it comes to intel nics. They are way better than anything else out there.
     
  17. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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  18. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    If it helps, I have used boards with intel 1000 pl chips, and they work great. I also have some intel 1000mt cards as well that are top notch.

    Sul.
     
  19. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    I'll keep looking at the NICs, and see which one will fit my needs. It doesn't have to be the most expensive one, only one that does the job and offers quality.

    Meanwhile, I've decided to go for a Intel Core i7 CPU. 4-cores are more than I need. Useful for the virtual machines, and the video work I'll be doing won't be that demanding, and it will be content for the Internet; I just need enough to allow me to provide a decent quality work, without Hollywood quality.

    I'll compare the prices.

    Regarding the motherboard, I'll take a look at those from Intel and EVGA.

    Also, considering that the video work I'll be doing won't be that demanding, I believe that a pretty decent game card will suffice. Maybe a nVidia supporting CUDA.

    Now, as I've already mentioned, regarding SSD disk I'll choose the INTEL SSD 160GB X25-M MAINSTREAM 34NM to install the operating system and applications.

    Now, I took a look at HDDs for saving data, music, documents, etc., and I was considering the Western Digital VelociRaptor, but there's no 1 TB option, and they're also expensive for the capacity they offer. The only advantage I see would be speed.
    I'll rather get 1 TB HDD at 7200 rpm. It's more than enough and they're cheap. Now, I'm deciding between Western Digital and Seagate. I'll compare specifications and prices, then will decide based on those two factors.

    For the separa virtual machines HDDs, I'll lean towards external ones, for the internal ones offer too much capacity. 80-100 GB is more than enough for each VM, so I hope there are external HDDs with that capacity. This disks will be bought in phases. I won't need them all at once. Not even right away.

    I'll keep you posted of what I decide on those components, and I'll ask your opinions about them.


    Regards

    Edit: I just saw this USB 3.0 hdd from Western Digital http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=777 Maybe I could save the VMs in this one. It would provide enough speed, wouldn't it? And, considering that it offers USB 3.0, it is quite cheap.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
  20. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    o_O Did I miss something? If you are going to get a new motherboard, why look at getting a new NIC?
     
  21. m00nbl00d

    m00nbl00d Registered Member

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    The reason is due to VMware ESXi compatibility, but I'll check to see whether or not it will work fine with it.

    I mentioned I decided to go for the Intel Core i7, but I've found this workstation board from EVGA which accepts two Intel Xeon 5500/5600 series, and is a real monster. I really like the overall features and a maximum of 48GB of DDR3 1333MHz+ is more than enough for my needs. It also has USB 3.0 support, which is great.

    More in here http://www.evga.com/products/moreIn...rboard Family&series=Intel 5520 Series Family

    VMware ESXi also accepts 8-cores.

    For the video editing, I'm contacting the manufacturers of the tools I'll be using, but one that I've seen so far recommends at least 2 core or better. So, at least 4 cores for the video editing.

    Having the motherboard in mind, then I believe I'll rather make use of the USB 3.0 Western Digital 1 TB external HDD to place the VMs files. But, I'll still check whether or not will be a better approach.

    Edit: This motherboard has HPTX Form Factor. At first sight it appeared to be E-ATX. My guess is cases for it would be lacking! lol
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
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