I've been using an ARM-built FX-53 for a bit over a week now (and am expecting to get a couple of A64 3400+ into the lab any day now). Working with Steve and Roy was a great pleasure during the ordering process. They are friendly, helpful, and very knowledgeable. So far, I'm quite pleased with the process; while I usually like to build my own, this time I'm very glad to let someone else take the time and effort to create a quiet box to my specs. That, plus a 3-year warranty from a single source (rather potentially than dealing with individual manufacturers/vendors) made the deal worth the extra $$.
I assume I should spring for the 400 watt PS as I'm planning on picking up a GeForce 6800 within the next few months.
As you'll see in other parts of SPCR (see an excellent article on the matter
and a good pointer to relevant PSU threads
), most systems would be hard-pressed to need more than a 300W PSU. On the other hand, the price increment for the 400W is small and gives you a bit more headroom in case you add many more disks, several graphics cards, etc.
- What is the real difference between the level 2 and level 3 noise reduction packages? I'm having a damn hard time figuring it out based on the info available on the ARM site. Is it worth the extra money?
I cannot comment directly. I chose the Level 4 to maximize quiet; level 5 really only adds some sorbothane-like feet (that we'll actually use elsewhere). My rationale is that I didn't want to do anything extra after I got the box.
- Any comments on the difference between the Hitachi and Samsung Spinpoint hard drive mechanisms?
As has been reported in innumerable places, the Hitachi drives have a quasi-periodic chirp/growl/meow that can be quite annoying and loud, even while their normal operations are quiet. Their performance on benchmarks are nominally better than the Samsungs, they tend to run hotter, and are spec'ed slightly louder. For the quietest operations, at the expense of slight performance, the SPCR consensus (and my personal experience) goes with the Samsungs. Related is that Samsung drives appear to have two types of motors in the current stock--NIDEC and JVC; if/when you talk with ARM, you might want to specify the NIDEC for the Samsungs.
- Any one willing to share their impressions of ARM rigs for those that have used/own them?
So far, I've been very impressed. The insides are lovely and neat. The system was nearly ready to run straight out of the box. It's noise level is less than many of the systems I've built (at least in part, thanks to the extra acoustic packing inside the case). The specs were pretty much what I would have bought through the usual suspects (though I really like their case).