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 Post subject: New to SPCR, help appreciated, quiet PC for HOT environment
PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:06 pm 
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Location: Ohio
Hi, this is my first post on SPCR. My current PC is an old Dell Dimension 8300. It's way past time to upgrade, the noise from my Dell led me to investigate quieter parts, and that's how I found this great Forum. I have never built a PC before, so I'm trying to do my homework.

Intended Use:
My current main usage, besides researching for a new PC build, is for Internet research related to the restoration of an old car. This means having about 15-30 tabs open in a Firefox browser at any given time, posting on a couple of car Forums and checking many parts & restoration service websites, with two or three Word documents open for notes (I'm looking into MicroSoft's OneNote program). Also printing frequently to Adobe PDF (restoration articles), searching through resource books that I have scanned to PDF via Fujitsu ScanSnap, and using a photo editor like Photoshop Elements or the old JASC Paint Shop Photo Album that came with the Dell in 2004, cataloging pictures of all the different car parts and various stages of the restoration, posting pictures to Forums with questions, etc. With all of these programs running at once, plus WinXP Professional (service pack 3) OS and other junk running in the background, this old Pentium 3GHz with 1GB of RAM has slowed to a crawl. Just closing (not opening!) an application often takes 20-25 seconds with so many programs running simultaneously. Loading pages in Firefox is often the same, to the point that sometimes I'm not sure if the system is frozen. I check "TaskManager" (ctrl+alt+delete) several times a day to find out if one or more of my programs is no longer responding, or if it's just thinking... I just checked TaskManager right now, it took about 15 seconds to pop up the dialog-box...


Goals:

1. A quiet computer. This Dell is LOUD.

2. A PC capable of running multiple applications without slowdown

3. A PC that will last me a while. I seem to use a computer for about 5-6 years before I am forced to upgrade. I'm going to try building it myself, and learn how to upgrade individual parts over time to keep up with technology, instead of starting from scratch (again).

4. A PC that would do well with games, if I can find time to play a few. I used to play Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, but it has been a long time. That game doesn't work since I got the NEC flat-screen monitor.

5. Needs cooling measures in order to work well in a hot environment. It's cool in the winter, but room temperatures are often in the upper 80s (close to outside temps) from June through August. My poor old Dell (250w psu!) howls like a leaf-blower in summer, I have to open the case to help cool it down.


Plans for new build:

Case: Antec P182 or similar case with good air-flow and silent qualities
PSU: Seasonic X-650
CPU: Intel i7-920 2.67GHz quad-core, 130W, 8MB L36 cache
CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems (or MegaShadow) with 120mm Nexus Real Silent D12SL-12 fan (will one fan be good enough, or do I need to 'push-pull' with two?)
Motherboard: Asus P6X58D ATX SATA 6GB/s USB 3.0
Memory/RAM: 6GB (3 x 2GB) Crucial PC3 12800 240-pin SDRAM CAS 8-8-8-24 DDR3 1600
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-Bit PCI Express 2.0x16
VGA Cooler: Is a cooler necessary with the 5850, either for sound or heat issues? I'm considering the Prolimatech Mark-13, Scythe SCVSG-1000 Setsugen Universal Ultra-Thin VGA Cooler with Speed Control and Arctic Cooling Accelero L2 Pro VGA Cooler (all 3 should be Radeon ATI 5850 compatible)
Primary Hard Drive: Crucial 128GB SSD, with ICY Dock converter (2.5" to 3.5" bay)
Secondary Hard Drive: WD Caviar Black 1TB 7,200rpm 32MB cache
Operating System: Windows7 (Home or Professional? 32-bit or 64-bit?)


Current components that I hope to use with new PC & Win7 OS:
1. 20" NEC 20WMGX2 monitor, at 1680 x 1050
2. CD/DVD: My 2 year old Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-112 should be fine
3. fairly new WD 640GB external HD for back-ups, and to unload some data from my nearly full 111GB original Dell primary "C: drive".
4. Fujitsu S1500 ScanSnap
5. Epson Perfection 4990 Photo flat-bed scanner
6. one old HP Laserjet 3100 multi-function printer that is still going strong :)

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated, and thank you,

Scott


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:10 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:39 pm
Posts: 109
Location: The insane State of California
Welcome to the board! :D

Your old Dell uses the flaming hot P4 chips. Almost *anything* will be easier to keep quiet than those, and probably will help keep the room cooler in the summer as well!

I'd bet that you have a LOT of parasitic processes running in background, and probably also have a ton of detrius on your HDD and in the registry. At this point it may not be worth bothering with trying to clean that up, but for your new build please do yourself a favor and get tools (good ones are free) that help you control your startup sequence and garbage collection. With a mechanical HDD, a good defragmenter like PerfectDisk is also essential (however with a good SSD for an OS drive this is obviously not the case).

In terms of your HW...

The P182 is a great case if you can handle the size, cost & are OK with a door. IMO, the Solo is a close runner-up, depending on what you want.

I think the 1156 CPUs (i5-750 or i7-860) and motherboards are a much better value than the 1366 chips, and should have similar legs. The low idle power and turbo mode are also very nice enhancements for normal desktop use. The added memory bandwidth of the 1366 CPUs is only apparent during benchmark runs or apparently some scientific applications. With your emphasis on longevity, you should probably look closely at the i7-860. Most applications will not be able to take advantage of more than 8 threads for many years. There are *lots* of good P55 motherboards with a wide range of features. I happen to like the Gigabyte UD4, but ASUS, EVGA & MSI all make good stuff.

For the CPU cooler, any decent tower works fine unless you are mad over-clocking. Really. The i7-860 TDP is only 95W, and it self-throttles to stay under that limit. I prefer the Thermalright HR-01 for ease of installation (and because with kits it will basically upgrade forever), but you do NOT need anything fancy here. I run a single 800 RPM Scythe on our moderately over-clocked i5 systems, and temps never exceed ~55C on an OCCT run. Note that the CoGage True Spirit is basically a 4-pipe version of the Thermalright TRUE with a decent PWM fan included. CoGage is Thermalright's 'value' brand, and almost all of Thermalright's coolers will work with socket 1156 via a cheap kit.

For the HD5850 cooler, I put an AC S1 on mine. It required a very minor modification, but works great and is very cost-effective. The stock cooler is definitely *not* silent, especially when things get toasty. However, compared to the howler that is likely on your P4, you may be perfectly happy with the stock cooler. You might try stock and see if it is good enough for your needs.

For the secondary drive, I'd go with a 5400 RPM model. Sequential read/write is almost the same, and they are quieter/cooler/cheaper.

For Windows OS, unless:
1) you are connecting to an Active Directory (didn't think so...), or
2) want the no-extra-cost 'XP-Mode' for older non-gaming applications or 64-bit work-arounds,
go with Home Premium x64.

Be aware that 64-bit may cause problems with older peripherals (scanners & printers), and also makes it less likely that Win7 will run older games. However you *must* use 64-bit if you want more than ~3.5GB of usable DRAM, and in my experience it also seems more stable than 32-bit. Within the 5+ year time-frame you are discussing, 64-bit will be completely dominant. FYI, I use a ScanSnap S1500 with Win7 64-bit and it works fine. I don't know anything about the LJ3100, but if HP's Universal Drivers support the 3100 you will be fine.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:44 am 
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Your new build lloks fine.
Quote:
Case: Antec P182 or similar case with good air-flow and silent qualities

The P182 is a good case, but imho the fans are just ok. The Antec Solo will feel cramped with a graphics card as long as the 5850.

Quote:
CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems (or MegaShadow) with 120mm Nexus Real Silent D12SL-12 fan (will one fan be good enough, or do I need to 'push-pull' with two?)

A Prolimatech Megahalem with one low-med speed fan at 800+ RPM should work fine unless you want to overclock.

Quote:
GA Cooler: Is a cooler necessary with the 5850, either for sound or heat issues? I'm considering the Prolimatech Mark-13, Scythe SCVSG-1000 Setsugen Universal Ultra-Thin VGA Cooler with Speed Control and Arctic Cooling Accelero L2 Pro VGA Cooler (all 3 should be Radeon ATI 5850 compatible)

A cooler is necessary, I would suggest a two parter. The L2 Pro is too weak. The Setsugen or the Mk-13 work well. You should buy an additional VRM cooler, the Thermalright 5850/5870 VRM R4 heatsink will keep the VRM temperatures down and it doesn't need a fan.

Quote:
Secondary Hard Drive: WD Caviar Black 1TB 7,200rpm 32MB cache

You should get a Scythe Quiet Drive for the hard disk.

Quote:
Operating System: Windows7 (Home or Professional? 32-bit or 64-bit?)

You need 64 Bit if you want to use more than ~3.2GB of Ram. Win 7 Pro has XP mode and backup. I'd get Pro.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:04 pm
Posts: 136
Location: Ohio
Hi cb95014,

cb95014 wrote:
I'd bet that you have a LOT of parasitic processes running in background, and probably also have a ton of detrius on your HDD and in the registry. At this point it may not be worth bothering with trying to clean that up, but for your new build please do yourself a favor and get tools (good ones are free) that help you control your startup sequence and garbage collection. With a mechanical HDD, a good defragmenter like PerfectDisk is also essential (however with a good SSD for an OS drive this is obviously not the case).


I have never even “wipedâ€


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:33 pm 
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This is my third post so I can include the link I was trying to reference in the next post.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:34 pm 
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Location: Ohio
cb95014 wrote:
The P182 is a great case if you can handle the size, cost & are OK with a door. IMO, the Solo is a close runner-up, depending on what you want.


I prefer an understated appearance, simple & functional vs. unique shapes and bright lights everywhere. A “windowâ€


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:51 pm 
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Posts: 136
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cb95014 wrote:
I think the 1156 CPUs (i5-750 or i7-860) and motherboards are a much better value than the 1366 chips, and should have similar legs. The low idle power and turbo mode are also very nice enhancements for normal desktop use. The added memory bandwidth of the 1366 CPUs is only apparent during benchmark runs or apparently some scientific applications. With your emphasis on longevity, you should probably look closely at the i7-860. Most applications will not be able to take advantage of more than 8 threads for many years. There are *lots* of good P55 motherboards with a wide range of features. I happen to like the Gigabyte UD4, but ASUS, EVGA & MSI all make good stuff.



I don’t claim to understand the current pricing models, but at the moment, the i7-860 and the i7-920 are practically the same price:

i7-860 = $280 (at the egg and Tiger)

i7-920 is $289 (at the egg and Tiger)

i5-750 = $195 (at the egg)

So if I understand correctly (that's always a gamble when it comes to computers and me), for less than $100 more I can upgrade from an i5-750 to the lower end of the top-tier Intel processors (i7-920) with what might be future upgrade-ability using the Asus P6X58D 1366 motherboard, which I read will support the next generation Intel hexa-core processors.

That was my thinking, but if I’m missing something, please say so!

Money/Budget is always part of the consideration. It’s not a small purchase, that’s probably part of the reason I try to only do it every 5 or 6 years. My Dell cost about $1,850 back in 2004, and I was hoping to come in at around $2K on this build, but it looks like I might overshoot that by about 10%. I don’t think I’ll regret getting a little too much computer for my current needs, but I might regret not getting enough. I'm trying to avoid doing anything that would only save a few dollars but which might be shooting myself in the foot by not building a system that will be reasonably high-performing and/or upgradable for several years. It seems like it's six of one, a half-dozen of the other. If I build it right it will always be upgradeable I guess, I just don't like having to do it any more often than absolutely necessary. I know a lot of people enjoy building computers and making them work, but for me it's an exercise in frustration. Something is bound to go wrong, and when it does, I don't know anyone who has any more experience than I do to help me. That means I'll be using my old computer to get online to ask questions, and in many cases I don't even have the vocabulary to explain what the problem is, so while I'll be glad when it's done, this isn't something I'm looking forward to...

My old strategy was to avoid the very best/newest technology due to the price premium, in favor of the lower level of the upper tier, if that makes sense. Prices in that area were usually much lower with not too much less performance.

When it comes to the SS hard drive, that goes against my ‘wait until it’s not so new’ approach, but if the performance is even half of what I read, then it’s the kind of instantaneous response that I’ve always looked forward to and thought computers should be capable of. For around $300 (80GB Intel) to $400 (128GB Crucial), I almost have to try it.

Compared to what I'm used to, it should be HUGE :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:52 pm 
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cb95014 wrote:
For the CPU cooler, any decent tower works fine unless you are mad over-clocking. Really. The i7-860 TDP is only 95W, and it self-throttles to stay under that limit. I prefer the Thermalright HR-01 for ease of installation (and because with kits it will basically upgrade forever), but you do NOT need anything fancy here. I run a single 800 RPM Scythe on our moderately over-clocked i5 systems, and temps never exceed ~55C on an OCCT run. Note that the CoGage True Spirit is basically a 4-pipe version of the Thermalright TRUE with a decent PWM fan included. CoGage is Thermalright's 'value' brand, and almost all of Thermalright's coolers will work with socket 1156 via a cheap kit.


Since I probably won’t have a see-through case, I’m just looking for what works best in a hot environment (during the summer). The Thermalright HR-01 was rated up with the Prolimatech Megahalems here on SPCR, and is a little less expensive, but isn’t compatible with the 1366 socket. I don’t know anything about overclocking, I’ve never tried it and nobody has ever shown me how. If it makes more heat, that’s going the wrong direction, but if I could offset the heat and make more power, more power is always good!

It sounds like overclocking is simple these days with built-in software to help, I’ve just never done it before.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:54 pm 
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cb95014 wrote:
For the HD5850 cooler, I put an AC S1 on mine. It required a very minor modification, but works great and is very cost-effective. The stock cooler is definitely *not* silent, especially when things get toasty. However, compared to the howler that is likely on your P4, you may be perfectly happy with the stock cooler. You might try stock and see if it is good enough for your needs.


I looked at the Accelero S1, if you mean the fanless large radiator, and it rated highly if I remember correctly. But since it wasn’t listed as compatible with the 5850, started looking at other solutions. What kind of mod was necessary? Is it something a rookie like me could (or should) attempt?

I really want to make the PC as quiet as I reasonably can. It’s not loud during winter months, but it’s a constant drone about two feet away from me in an otherwise quiet environment. It begins to wear on me, like Chinese water torture. It’s just a small thing at first, but it’s relentless, and the cumulative effect over hours of PC use is aggravating.

I realize I’m working at cross-purposes, with the newer technology usually putting out more heat, which requires better airflow/fans in order to have as silent of a PC as I can get, and I’ll be in a hot ambient temperature situation for part of the year to begin with. I was looking at the Radeon 5850 for a couple of reasons:

1. because it was reported to run cooler than any of the Radeon 4000 series cards, and yet was less expensive than the 5870 or 5900 series.

2. the 256-bit cards were recommended over the 128-bit for running a 1680 x 1050 screen resolution on my 20â€


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:03 pm 
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cb95014 wrote:
For the secondary drive, I'd go with a 5400 RPM model. Sequential read/write is almost the same, and they are quieter/cooler/cheaper.

For Windows OS, unless:
1) you are connecting to an Active Directory (didn't think so...), or
2) want the no-extra-cost 'XP-Mode' for older non-gaming applications or 64-bit work-arounds,
go with Home Premium x64.

Be aware that 64-bit may cause problems with older peripherals (scanners & printers), and also makes it less likely that Win7 will run older games. However you *must* use 64-bit if you want more than ~3.5GB of usable DRAM, and in my experience it also seems more stable than 32-bit. Within the 5+ year time-frame you are discussing, 64-bit will be completely dominant. FYI, I use a ScanSnap S1500 with Win7 64-bit and it works fine. I don't know anything about the LJ3100, but if HP's Universal Drivers support the 3100 you will be fine.

Good luck!




I’ll look into the 5400rpm drives. As far as the OS, I have some questions there, some of which were answered by boost in the post after yours.

1. I don’t know what “Active Directoryâ€


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:07 pm 
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boost wrote:
Your new build lloks fine.
Quote:
Case: Antec P182 or similar case with good air-flow and silent qualities

The P182 is a good case, but imho the fans are just ok. The Antec Solo will feel cramped with a graphics card as long as the 5850.


I checked the Antec Solo dimensions, (L x W x H) 18.50" x 8.10" x 17.00", and it’s basically the same size as my other “mid-sizeâ€


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:10 pm 
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I'll add my $0.02 in here as well.

as for the hardware reccomendationss -- if your buying more than 3.5GB of ram, you will need a 64bit OS to take advantage of that. Since you listed 6GB of ram.. a 64bit OS is a must unless you want 2.5gb to goto waste.

On the whole 64 vs 32bit thing.
I jumped onto the 64bit bandwagon 4yrs ago when I got xp 64bit on my new (at the time) PC. It wasnt flawless as drivers were still being created - but I verified the important ones were available (video, sound, motherboard). The overall trip has been worth it but its not without its issues.
The main issue is that really OLD windows and DOS apps just plain wont run. But this is where win7 XP mode comes in. I tried xp mode on my win7 laptop and it worked well enough to fool our corporate vpn software to allow me to login to the office.
For your older hardware - id go out to the manufacture sites and see if they have 64bit drivers available. it may take a lot of searching or a call to tech support, but it can give you some concrete answers before you order anything.


It also sounds like you build your PCs a lot like I do. since they are expensive you want them to last. Over time ive come across a few tips that still hold true:
1) dont get cheap parts, pay for good quality name brands, but dont throw your money away.
2) get as much RAM as you can afford, but leave room for LOTS more. (windows x64 gave me that option).
3) leave room to add more HDD space (in whatever form it takes) -- this means a mid to large sized case.
4) Dont overclock - it shortens the lifespan if your stuff.
5) More cores will last longer. (Id get a quad core over a dual core cpu)

as to the target "Tier" of stuff - you have that nailed already, so no need to try and explain.

_________________
1: Asus P6X58D, i7 980x (stock), GTX285 2gb (stock), 12GB ram
2: Tyan k8we, SC742S-B case, 2x Opteron 280, GTX210 (stock), 6GB ram, 2x zalman cps9700 - no fan, Sythe ultra-kaze
3: Thinkpad T500


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:21 pm 
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So many topics in this thread... :D

Re: 32/64-bit
The memory limit is an OS issue, due to the maximum address available using 32-bits. The # of memory channels has nothing to do with this. There are tricks to sort-of get around this using mapping techniques, but only if you have access to the kernel (didn't think so), and they don't work very well.

Re: Scythe Quiet Drive
This is not a HDD, but an accessory which can muffle drive sounds. I prefer to suspend already-quiet drives, but if you want to re-use a noisy HDD the Scythe is a good alternative.

Re: HD5850 cooling & the S1 mod
I do not know of any way to cool the 5850 w/o a fan. It draws >150W under load!
You *will* need stick-on heatsinks for the memory and VRMs.
The S1 mod is trivial. If you can assemble the computer, you can do the mod. I'll see if I can find a picture. I usually use an 800 RPM 120mm S-Flex zip-tied to one end of the S1, which is essentially silent and cools the entire GPU. The S-Flex handles horizontal mounting better (/longer) than sleeve bearings.

Re: CPU cooler
The Megahalems is a great cooler. IMO there are cheaper alternatives, but its not a big deal. For silent, the HR-01+ is excellent. For mad-overclockers, the Thermalright TRUE is usually the air-cooling gold standard.

Re: P182 case
I agree the fans should be replaced. There are lots of alternatives. Be sure to use isolation grommets. Also, most people block to top vent completely.

Re: XP mode
The main difference between the 'free' XP mode in Pro & Ult is that you don't need a separate XP license key. If you already have an extra copy of XP, then you simply download Virtual PC (or w/e Microsoft is calling it now), and install XP. The virtual XP installation works the same in both 32 & 64-bit. The key difference (other than memory addressability) is that *outside* of the virtual XP, older games often don't play nice with 64-bit, even in compatibility mode (which is completely different than the virtualized XP-mode).

Re: 1156 vs. 1366
Yes, the 1366 boards will be upgradeable to 6-core CPUs (plus 6 hyper-threads). However, the i7-860 has 4 physical cores today, plus the 4 hyper-threads (just like the i7-920). IMO, there will be very few desktop applications that will even take advantage of 8 threads in the next several years, much less 12. In addition, AFAIK the current 1366 chips don't have turbo mode (which auto-overclocks for single-threaded apps). But the biggest advantages of the i5 chips are the substantially lower power consumption & much lower cost motherboards. I just don't see any reason to use the 1366 chips in a 'normal' desktop.

Re: SSDs
From my experience, the benefit in a desktop is much less pronounced than in a laptop (where the change is just unbelievable). A good, well de-fragmented 7200 RPM HDD is quite fast for normal use. Boot times, for example, will be virtually the same. The major change will be for simultaneous use. For example, when an A-V scan kicks-off, you really won't notice with a SSD, while with a standard HDD your system crawls.

Hope this helps!


Last edited by cb95014 on Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:34 pm 
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kittle wrote:
4) Dont overclock - it shortens the lifespan if your stuff.

Over-*Volt* could possibly shorten lifespan (depending on how crazy one gets). But over-clock at stock voltage (and keeping temps under control) is completely safe.

kittle wrote:
5) More cores will last longer. (Id get a quad core over a dual core cpu)

Yes, within limits. Programming multi-threaded applications is very hard, and massively multi-threaded apps are not happening any time soon.

The great thing about turbo-mode is that it gives you very fast performance for both single and multi-threaded apps, without needing to constantly run your CPU at max clock rates (& consuming lots of power).


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:19 pm 
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Hi kittle, thanks very much for your reply.

kittle wrote:
I'll add my $0.02 in here as well.

as for the hardware reccomendationss -- if your buying more than 3.5GB of ram, you will need a 64bit OS to take advantage of that. Since you listed 6GB of ram.. a 64bit OS is a must unless you want 2.5gb to goto waste.


It sounds like the "triple channel RAM" aspect of the i7-920 doesn't get me around the 3.5GB of useable RAM if I go with a 32-bit version of Windows7. So, if I go with 32-bit, I could save a few $$$ by getting 4GB of RAM instead of 6GB. I'm leaning toward the 64-bit, I just have to do a little more research on it first.



kittle wrote:
On the whole 64 vs 32bit thing.
I jumped onto the 64bit bandwagon 4yrs ago when I got xp 64bit on my new (at the time) PC. It wasnt flawless as drivers were still being created - but I verified the important ones were available (video, sound, motherboard). The overall trip has been worth it but its not without its issues.


It's the "issues" that I'm concerned about. As a general rule, I take the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. Besides the 6GB of RAM situation, I don't really understand what the pros and cons of the 32-bit vs. 64-bit decision are. It sounds like the 32-bit OS would be more than adequate for my non-bleeding edge-of-technology purposes, and being able to use 3.5GB of RAM (compared to the six year old 2 x 512MB sticks I have now) would probably be plenty for my application, certainly much better than my current situation.

What would I be missing as far as daily usage goes, if I skipped the 64-bit OS for now and stuck with the 32-bit?


kittle wrote:
The main issue is that really OLD windows and DOS apps just plain wont run. But this is where win7 XP mode comes in. I tried xp mode on my win7 laptop and it worked well enough to fool our corporate vpn software to allow me to login to the office.
For your older hardware - id go out to the manufacture sites and see if they have 64bit drivers available. it may take a lot of searching or a call to tech support, but it can give you some concrete answers before you order anything.


I will do some checking. I thought it would be easy, and just spent the last hour skimming through a Thread via a Google search that was talking about my monitor (NEC 20WMGX2 with IPS panel). I read 6 pages worth of posts, and followed links to "www.tftcentral.com" with some great information/reviews on monitors, but no mentions about whether my monitor works with a 64-bit OS... and that WAS the point of my search... it can't be this difficult! LOL!


kittle wrote:
It also sounds like you build your PCs a lot like I do. since they are expensive you want them to last. Over time ive come across a few tips that still hold true:
1) dont get cheap parts, pay for good quality name brands, but dont throw your money away.
2) get as much RAM as you can afford, but leave room for LOTS more. (windows x64 gave me that option).


I agree very much. In almost everything, I would rather have less quantity and better quality, rather than the other way around. I try to figure out what the best quality parts are, and then find/negotiate the best price, or wait until the price comes down to my target. That's what I try to do. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes, not so much.


kittle wrote:
3) leave room to add more HDD space (in whatever form it takes) -- this means a mid to large sized case.
4) Dont overclock - it shortens the lifespan if your stuff.
5) More cores will last longer. (Id get a quad core over a dual core cpu)

as to the target "Tier" of stuff - you have that nailed already, so no need to try and explain.



If I was a serious gamer, the overclocking would probably be important for all the obvious reasons, but at the moment I don't really need to, so if it helps the longevity of my parts, that's good to know.

Thanks again for the reply,

Scott


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:21 pm 
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Scott J wrote:
It sounds like the "triple channel RAM" aspect of the i7-920 doesn't get me around the 3.5GB of useable RAM if I go with a 32-bit version of Windows7. So, if I go with 32-bit, I could save a few $$$ by getting 4GB of RAM instead of 6GB. I'm leaning toward the 64-bit, I just have to do a little more research on it first.

the "tripple channel" feature has nothing to do with the amount of ram the OS can use, its a feature of the motherboard and Its about the speed of memory access.

Scott J wrote:
It's the "issues" that I'm concerned about. As a general rule, I take the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. Besides the 6GB of RAM situation, I don't really understand what the pros and cons of the 32-bit vs. 64-bit decision are. It sounds like the 32-bit OS would be more than adequate for my non-bleeding edge-of-technology purposes, and being able to use 3.5GB of RAM (compared to the six year old 2 x 512MB sticks I have now) would probably be plenty for my application, certainly much better than my current situation.

most of the issues have gone away by now. most of my issues were due to xp x64 being very new, and the ONLY 64bit OS out there. nowdays you have 3 of them (xp, vista, win7), so the incentive for vendors to make 64bit drivers is much more than it used to be.

Scott J wrote:
What would I be missing as far as daily usage goes, if I skipped the 64-bit OS for now and stuck with the 32-bit?

in the short run - you probably wont see any differences.
but 3-4 years down the road when 6-12GB of ram is the norm for current systems, and programs come to expect that much -- you will be severly limited with only being able to use 3.5gb max.

Your monitor should work fine regardless of OS. My issue with samsung monitors was their sofware based onscreen controll. Theres no button to adjust brightness, etc.. you have to use their own utility. if your monitor has buttons, you should be fine.

_________________
1: Asus P6X58D, i7 980x (stock), GTX285 2gb (stock), 12GB ram
2: Tyan k8we, SC742S-B case, 2x Opteron 280, GTX210 (stock), 6GB ram, 2x zalman cps9700 - no fan, Sythe ultra-kaze
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:42 pm 
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Quote:
n addition, AFAIK the current 1366 chips don't have turbo mode (which auto-overclocks for single-threaded apps).

They do, they just don't have as big a margin of increase as the Lynnfield models.

Given you plan on using a resolution of 1680x1050, an HD5850 may be overkill and a quieter, cooler & cheaper HD5770 would probably be enough. If it isn't you can always buy a 2nd one later and crossfire them for the same price as a 5850.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:33 am 
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Hi Kittle, thanks again for the comments. I understand now about the 3.5GB limitation with 32-bit systems regardless of cpu architecture, and based on the comments here, it sounds like the 64-bit Win7 OS is the way to go.

Also, my monitor does have front panel buttons, so no problems there. Thanks for the good news!

Scott


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:45 am 
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RBBOT wrote:
Quote:
n addition, AFAIK the current 1366 chips don't have turbo mode (which auto-overclocks for single-threaded apps).

They do, they just don't have as big a margin of increase as the Lynnfield models.

Given you plan on using a resolution of 1680x1050, an HD5850 may be overkill and a quieter, cooler & cheaper HD5770 would probably be enough. If it isn't you can always buy a 2nd one later and crossfire them for the same price as a 5850.


Hi RBBOT,

I think 1680x1050 is as high as my NEC 20WMGX2 monitor will go. The main reason I was looking at the Radeon 5850 isn't for games, but because I read somewhere that a 256-bit video card would make a noticeable difference/improvement at a screen resolution of of 1680x1050 or higher. I spend a lot of hours each day in front of the computer screen, mostly reading and research, so anything that helps reduce eye-strain is something I'm willing to pay a premium for.

In the 256-bit VGA card category, the Radeon 5850 seemed like "right" one to get. I really don't play games much (although having the hardware capability would be nice), I'm just trying to get whatever will be easiest on my eyes over long hours of screen-time.

If I'm wrong about the need for a 256-bit card for best picture at 1680x1050 resolution, or if there are less expensive options in the 256-bit category, I would be happy to take a look at other possibilities.

Thanks,

Scott


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:11 am 
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cb95014 wrote:
So many topics in this thread... :D


Sorry I've made it a confusing mess, it has been several years since I kept up with all the changes in technology, everything has changed, so I'm trying to figure everything out again. I appreciate ALL the replies here very much.


cb95014 wrote:
Re: 32/64-bit
The memory limit is an OS issue, due to the maximum address available using 32-bits.


I think I'll be okay with the 64-bit OS.


cb95014 wrote:
Re: Scythe Quiet Drive
This is not a HDD, but an accessory which can muffle drive sounds. I prefer to suspend already-quiet drives, but if you want to re-use a noisy HDD the Scythe is a good alternative.


I won't be re-using my 6 year old 111GB "C" drive, I think I'm going to let it rest :D The old Dell will be my emergency back-up, just in case.


cb95014 wrote:
Re: HD5850 cooling & the S1 mod
I do not know of any way to cool the 5850 w/o a fan. It draws >150W under load!
You *will* need stick-on heatsinks for the memory and VRMs.
The S1 mod is trivial. If you can assemble the computer, you can do the mod. I'll see if I can find a picture. I usually use an 800 RPM 120mm S-Flex zip-tied to one end of the S1, which is essentially silent and cools the entire GPU. The S-Flex handles horizontal mounting better (/longer) than sleeve bearings.


IF I can assemble the computer... that's the big question. Guess I'm going to find out. Hopefully it will be a good experience and I will learn a lot in the process.



cb95014 wrote:
Re: XP mode
The main difference between the 'free' XP mode in Pro & Ult is that you don't need a separate XP license key. If you already have an extra copy of XP, then you simply download Virtual PC (or w/e Microsoft is calling it now), and install XP. The virtual XP installation works the same in both 32 & 64-bit. The key difference (other than memory addressability) is that *outside* of the virtual XP, older games often don't play nice with 64-bit, even in compatibility mode (which is completely different than the virtualized XP-mode).


I'm not sure I followed that. I don't remember if my Dell came with the OEM installation discs for XP or not, and I'm not even sure where to look for them after 6 years and a move/change of address. Sounds like Billy Gates is setting me up for a copy of Windows7 Ultimate...


cb95014 wrote:
Re: 1156 vs. 1366
Yes, the 1366 boards will be upgradeable to 6-core CPUs (plus 6 hyper-threads). However, the i7-860 has 4 physical cores today, plus the 4 hyper-threads (just like the i7-920). IMO, there will be very few desktop applications that will even take advantage of 8 threads in the next several years, much less 12. In addition, AFAIK the current 1366 chips don't have turbo mode (which auto-overclocks for single-threaded apps). But the biggest advantages of the i5 chips are the substantially lower power consumption & much lower cost motherboards. I just don't see any reason to use the 1366 chips in a 'normal' desktop.


I hadn't considered power consumption/wattage before your post here, that shows how much I have to learn. If I understand correctly, the i7-860 is 95watts vs. the i7-920's 130watts. All other things being equal, having to dissipate 35watts less heat would certainly be helpful.


cb95014 wrote:
Hope this helps!


Very much!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:33 am 
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Quote:
In the 256-bit VGA card category, the Radeon 5850 seemed like "right" one to get. I really don't play games much (although having the hardware capability would be nice), I'm just trying to get whatever will be easiest on my eyes over long hours of screen-time.

If I'm wrong about the need for a 256-bit card for best picture at 1680x1050 resolution, or if there are less expensive options in the 256-bit category, I would be happy to take a look at other possibilities.

No, you've got your wires crossed there. When not in a 3d game, the only difference between displays that comes from the graphics card is whether they support Windows Aero or not, and these days, even the onboard motherboard vga chips do that. "256-bit" refers to the width of the bus between the memory and GPU on the card, and again only affects 3d rendering speed, not the normal windows desktop.

You will only notice a difference between graphics cards during gameplay and the 5850 is a very high end component (3rd most powerful available) and thus has a premium price for something it sounds like you wont use much. It is targetted at those that play game a lot and have very high resolution monitors. At medium resolutions like 1680x1050 mid-range GPUs have enough power to play games at high enough frame rates. Sounds like the Sapphire Vapor-X cards may suit you - they have a factory custom cooling solution that makes them run about 10c cooler than normal Radeons.

In fact, you could take half the money saved on the graphics card and upgrade that Crucial SSD to a 160Gb Intel X25 M which is slightly bigger and much faster than any other model of SSD.

Also, you may want to look at the Noctua NH-14 cooler - its the current performance king and comes with decent fans.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:50 am 
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Location: The insane State of California
cb95014 wrote:
Re: HD5850 cooling & the S1 mod
The S1 mod is trivial. If you can assemble the computer, you can do the mod. I'll see if I can find a picture. I usually use an 800 RPM 120mm S-Flex zip-tied to one end of the S1, which is essentially silent and cools the entire GPU. The S-Flex handles horizontal mounting better (/longer) than sleeve bearings.

Scott J wrote:
IF I can assemble the computer... that's the big question. Guess I'm going to find out. Hopefully it will be a good experience and I will learn a lot in the process.

As long as you are patient and know which end of a screwdriver to grasp, assembly is really very straightforward. The improvements with Windows 7 make the OS installation almost embarrassingly easy. I don't really miss the dark ages, but in some masochistic way it used to be more satisfying!


Scott J wrote:
cb95014 wrote:
Re: XP mode
The main difference between the 'free' XP mode in Pro & Ult is that you don't need a separate XP license key. If you already have an extra copy of XP, then you simply download Virtual PC (or w/e Microsoft is calling it now), and install XP. The virtual XP installation works the same in both 32 & 64-bit. The key difference (other than memory addressability) is that *outside* of the virtual XP, older games often don't play nice with 64-bit, even in compatibility mode (which is completely different than the virtualized XP-mode).


I'm not sure I followed that. I don't remember if my Dell came with the OEM installation discs for XP or not, and I'm not even sure where to look for them after 6 years and a move/change of address. Sounds like Billy Gates is setting me up for a copy of Windows7 Ultimate...

Sorry. I made this too confusing. Based on what you have described, I think you will want Win7 Pro, 64-bit.

Here is the decision flow:
If you want to run old programs using a virtual Windows XP, and do *not* own a separate license for XP, then buy Win7 Pro (or Ultimate if you light money on fire for entertainment. :D ). If you already own an XP license, then you can add the equivalent of XP mode to Win7 Home Premium at no extra cost. The installation process is only slightly more complicated, mainly because of the added license key. Even if you find them, the Dell OEM discs would not grant you a license for this XP mode. The OEM license is legally tied to the Dell HW (motherboard).


Scott J wrote:
If I understand correctly, the i7-860 is 95watts vs. the i7-920's 130watts. All other things being equal, having to dissipate 35watts less heat would certainly be helpful.

Yes. In addition, the 1156 *boards* also consume noticeably less power. The total difference is substantial.


BTW, you mentioned Jasc's Photo Album early in this thread. Please take a look at the latest version of Picasa (free on Google's site). This is an intuitive and extremely easy-to-use program that will transform how you collect and manage images. It includes a handful of "one-button" fixes in the simple interface, and is very clever about never changing the original files unless specifically directed to do so. The latest version now includes the ability to recognize and semi-automatically categorize faces. With a modest amount of 'training,' Picasa is stunningly accurate in identifying people - even linking childhood images with adolescence and adulthood. The face identification requires a powerful computer, but is just amazing. Please check it out!


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