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 Post subject: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:55 pm
Posts: 2
Longtime lurker, first-time poster, soon-to-be builder of an updated desktop system.

I've been reading the about Intel's new Sandy Bridge chipset, AMD Fusion, and the recent SPCR build guides, and I'm suffering from CPU / mobo information overload!

I'm mainly after the best bang-for-the-buck CPU/mobo/RAM/video configuration. My goal is upper-middle-class performance (some photoshopping but no gaming, no overclocking needed, brute speed is not a priority), reasonable price, and high efficiency (to minimize cooling and therefore noise).

The plan is to use an Antec P183 mini case and, in addition to the lower-compartment power supply fan, I'd like to get away with just one, very quiet, main case fan. With well-chosen, efficient components and my existing Scythe Ninja Mini heatsink, it seems very do-able.

Based on the Sandy Bridge Pt. 2 article, that new Intel DH67BL $100 motherboard sounds promising, paired with an i5-2500K CPU. The "K" series' only benefit for me would be the integrated HD graphics 3000 instead of the 2000 of the non-K processor.

On the other hand, last month's "silent mid gaming" build guide recommends the Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H, also with integrated graphics and for the same price at NewEgg but taking an older and possibly cheaper CPU.

Would something less up-to-the-minute give me equally-good performance and low heat at a lower price? It sounds as though AMD's Fusion isn't quite ready for prime time yet.

Is there a clear answer or are the differences small?

Any wisdom will be much appreciated, I'm paralyzed by too many choices.


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 Post subject: Re: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:55 pm
Posts: 2
Whether on the motherboard or in the CPU, is integrated graphics plenty good for the non-gamer or merely adequate?

There seems to be a general disdain for integrated graphics. Is that only because most people who pay attention to computers' innards will settle for nothing less than the highest possible gaming performance or is integrated graphics a dog, to be avoided?


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 Post subject: Re: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11970
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Snobbery against integrated video is a long tradition among performance-oriented users, but not nearly as justified as before. If you are not a gamer, current integrated video from either AMD or Intel work perfectly well for just about everything. Sandy Bridge HD2000 is now the best performance integrated graphics available, and identical to HD3000 except for 3D (gaming), so you can save your $ if that's the only reason you consider the 2500K.

Current Fusion products are meant to compete with Atom/Intel or Atom/nvidia combos. Not up to discrete CPU boards from either AMD or Intel.

Probably the very best bang for the buck is a cheap Phenom2 4-core + 890G chipset AMD board. You could even opt for a $99 AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition 3.2 GHz -- a dualcore, but the extra 2 cores already on it can be unlocked simply in the BIOS of many boards.

I've got one that I unlocked, so 4 cores are active, and minor overclock to 3.4 GHz on an Asus M4A89GTD-PRO/USB3. The board is slightly pricey at ~$135 but very full featured. Combined it with 4GB RAM, WD Green 2TB drive, Noctua NH-C14 heatsink and Seasonic X400. This is my current HTPC. I've set up the BIOS fan controller so the CPU fan hardly ever runs. It handle every type of video file / resolution without any hiccup, works beautifully, very consistently, better than the older slower dualcore Athlon2 and 785G board I was using before. Power consumption is minuscule still -- something like 40W at idle and 50~55W in HD video play.

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Support SPCR by buying your gear through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:06 pm
Posts: 3395
Location: US
This is very interesting info.

Can anyone tell me how to look at a review and understand what kinds of non-gaming performance an integrated or non-integrated video chip set will do. I have not seen info in reviews that would let me in on what aspects of performance are non-gaming related. I had thought in fact that the Sandy Bridge HD3000 was all around faster than the Sandy Bridge HD2000... not just in gaming.

Can anyone help me under stand this?

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 Post subject: Re: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:44 pm
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Location: Seattle
A dual core AMD and integrated graphics with 4 GB of RAM should be plenty.

I have that setup in my Windows 7 HTPC. (CPU at 2.2GHz and ATI 785g chipset) It plays blu-rays and downloaded TV/movies without hassle at 1080p.


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 Post subject: Re: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:35 pm
Posts: 488
Location: Israel
CarbonBasedUnit wrote:
Whether on the motherboard or in the CPU, is integrated graphics plenty good for the non-gamer or merely adequate?

There seems to be a general disdain for integrated graphics. Is that only because most people who pay attention to computers' innards will settle for nothing less than the highest possible gaming performance or is integrated graphics a dog, to be avoided?


Unless you plan on using your computer for 3D gaming, I see no reason to avoid integrated GPU. Any current iGPU will work very well with anything 2D including movie playback and Photoshop.

As far as bang for the buck goes, I think you should set a budget for that. Some AMD CPUs @ low price point are a sweet spot (what Mike said). But i5 2500/2400 (K or not) will get you significantly more bang per $ (and per Watt) even if you do need to pay a bit more. Then again if light Photoshop work is as demanding as your work gets, you might not need it.

Also consider the motherboard's features you'll need - USB3, SATA3. Then price all you part (RAM, mounting kit for your Minja, SSD?...) as a package. once you see the total sum of each platform it will be much easier to decide.

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DAW - Antec P150, i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz , Intel DP67BG, Crucial C300 SATA 3 SSD, Passive Geforce 8500GT, Samsung F1 1TB audio drive, Seasonic S12II520, TRUE+AC PWM@500RPM, Noctua 120@700 RPM
Video Edit- Antec P183, i7 2600, Intel DP67BG, Quadro 2000, Samsung 500GB system, 2*WB 1TB RAID 0, TRUE, Seasonic S12II620


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 Post subject: Re: In search of the "sweet spot"
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:41 am
Posts: 709
Location: Denmark
agree with ame, set a budget for the CPU/mobo.

CPU-wise, in general, it seems that:
at lower price points (below approx. 100 $) go AMD. I'd personally recommend the athlon II x3, REALLY bang for buck & chance for unlock. Athlon x4 or unlocked phenom x2 are also viable alternatives. The current pricing of the phenom x4's are too close to the mind-blowing Sandy Bridge, which is the only viable option at higher price points. Performance & efficiency simply cannot be beat! Any review will agree with me on this one!

at lower price points, you might want to consider waiting for lower-end Sandy Bridge. The dual-core should be out any day now.

Best regards.

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