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 Post subject: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:43 pm
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Location: Hampshire, UK
After experiencing an extraordinarily noisey PC in the past, I've decided to build my next PC myself, with more than a not towards making it quiet, and a nod towards speed.

It is really a general purpose, not gaming, PC. It will be used for photo and video editing, and some video streaming, but, not much more taxing than that.

Case: Antec Solo II -- I was thinking of the V1 of this case, but, then saw the review of the new one.
PSU: Silverstone ST40NF (fanless) -- I've used a power calculator that indicates 400W should be enough.
CPU: AMD a8-3850 (being a 32nm architecture, it should use less power)
CPU Cooler: I was thinking of a heatpipe fan, such as a Scythe Mugen 3, but don't have a real view on this -- I would appreciate suggestions.
Motherboard: Asus F1A75-V PRO
Memory: 2 x 2GB Corsair CMT4GX3M2A1866C9(XMP) (1866MHz)
SSD: Intel 40GB 320-series SSD -- for the OS
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 3.5" Internal Drive 1TB -- for user data
OD: LG BH10LS30 Blu-Ray writer with Lightscribe

This would be rounded out with Windows 7 Home Premium and a Multi-touch screen.
I haven't got to the point of sourcing the components, but, I believe all in, it's around £1000.

I would be glad of any comments.
Thanks,
Stephen.


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:14 am 
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Location: Switzerland
You're being very, very vague. What's "a nod towards speed"? Multimedia editing can be very demanding... or not. Do you know what you need or not? If you don't, best ask people who do the exact same thing you want to do with your computer (like on your video editing application's forum). Be very specific about what you want to do (resolutions and so on).
Because if you want a powerful CPU, you can easily do better than the A8-3850 (which is nice for 3D but not much else).

It's kind of pointless to discuss other stuff like the cooler if you haven't decided on the CPU.
But the PSU is a dubious choice. I don't know that PSU but I bet its efficency is poor (which means it would get hot under load). 400W is a lot more than you need in any case.


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:26 am 
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WELCOME TO SPCR!


also helps if we know where you are, for parts availability. your spcr profile has a spot to fill in for location.

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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 6:53 am 
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I think "it's around £1000." sorta clues us in on the location :)

Welcome to SPCR!

As HFAT mentioned, if you could fill in some details on the apps you plan to use and how intensely (eg: I plan to use Photoshop a lot, Handbrake a little, etc), then we can make better suggestions.

The AMD platform is comparable to Intel's i3-2105. The former has better iGPU, the latter is better for photo/video editing....then again, if you plan to do a lot of editing, you are better off with a quad core i5.

RAM: Get 8GB.

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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:03 am 
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Hey, maybe OP is in the South Sandwich Islands... ? :D


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:45 am 
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heh.

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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Location: Hampshire, UK
You're right that the description is a bit vague. But, there's a good reason for that: the requirement is a bit vague. It's a replacement for our general household computer. It's mostly used for email, internet and open office suite. The most taxing applications will be Adobe Photoshop (Elements, not the full CS) and Premier. But this is just casual use of both. E.g. Premier typically gets used for things like turning videos of my kids nativity plays into nicely finished DVDs. It's not HD and not hours of the stuff. And the video streaming would typically be something like the BBC iPlayer.

So, why bother making a custom PC for a general household computer? There's a few reasons. I've been 'stung' by getting stupidly noisey PCs in the past -- so the idea of taking control of that aspect appeals to me. Also, it's a learning experience -- with the experience I gain from this PC, I have two other more PCs that need replacing with more specific requirements.

Then, what do I mean by a 'nod' towards speed? Well, I don't need an especially fast CPU, or high performing GPU -- so, the A8 seemed like a good compromise. The onboard graphics should be more than equal to anything I throw at it. However, I would like get the most out of it by minimising bottlenecks in the rest of the system. Hence the SSD for speed (as well as for low noise, of course) for the OS and the 1866MHz memory.

...and speaking of the SSD: something had been niggling me about the intel 320, so I took another look and realised its 'only' 3Gb/s, when there are 6Gb/s connectors available. So, with another scan of possible offerings, I like the look of the: -
Corsair Force Series GT 60GB SATA 3 6Gb/s
with much higher transfer rates.
So, as you can see, ideas are still changing.

As for the PSU: the Silverstone ST40NF is certified "80 Plus Bronze", which implies a minimum of 82% efficiency across the power demand range. Maybe not the most efficient, but, not bad and silent too. There is a 300W version of the unit, however, that is not 80 Plus certified although they quoter ">80%".

For the CPU Cooler, I thought a fan oriented to help drive the airflow through the case can only be a good thing -- especially if the PSU is fanless.

So, that is a bit more information (or non-information) and more of my thought process that went into the proposed spec.

Finally -- I can confirm that I do live in the South of an island, and I do eat sandwiches, but, it's not the South Sandwich Island. (...and I'll update my profile info after posting this.)

Thanks,
Stephen.


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:22 am 
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Location: Switzerland
9375 wrote:
Well, I don't need an especially fast CPU, or high performing GPU -- so, the A8 seemed like a good compromise. The onboard graphics should be more than equal to anything I throw at it. However, I would like get the most out of it by minimising bottlenecks in the rest of the system. Hence the SSD for speed (as well as for low noise, of course) for the OS and the 1866MHz memory.

OK, I think I understand what you want to do and I think the A8 is not a good choice. It's inferior to equivalently-priced Intel CPUs, especially for efficency which is going to affect the noise. It would be nice if you had a use for the GPU but it sounds like you don't. "Compromise" sounds good in the mouth of salespeople but if you're trading something useful for something useless, it's a ripoff. You might actually do better with a cheaper Intel CPU.

The memory speed does not make much difference when compared to the differences between CPUs.
You need enough memory for what you want to do however (swapping is slow, even with an SSD) but you can easily upgrade the RAM after noticing you could use more (not so with other components).

9375 wrote:
I took another look and realised its 'only' 3Gb/s, when there are 6Gb/s connectors available ... higher transfer rates

More than 3Gb/s is useless and the transfer rates you see are not much better than lies.
That said, the Intel 320 is slower than most equivalently-priced SSDs, just not as much as you might think. If you want to understand SSD performance, you have quite a bit of work ahead of you.
In any case, I'd still avoid Sandforce drives like the one you noticed even if they seem to have less problems and performance bottlenecks than they used to. A lot of people here recommend the Crucial drives which seem pretty good. I'd still go with Intel because I'm conservative when it comes to data.

9375 wrote:
certified "80 Plus Bronze", which implies a minimum of 82% efficiency across the power demand range.

That's unfortunately not true. Check the reviews to see what kind of efficencies you might expect.


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:36 am 
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Other than needing more memory as HFat points out, you should also consider buying 4 GB RAM sticks. These cost as much per GB as 2 GB sticks and are much easier to sell, should you move to DDR4 in the future. The bigger density compared to 2 GB sticks also ensures that you have more RAM slots if you decide to upgrade your system in the future.

HFat wrote:
In any case, I'd still avoid Sandforce drives like the one you noticed even if they seem to have less problems and performance bottlenecks than they used to. A lot of people here recommend the Crucial drives which seem pretty good. I'd still go with Intel because I'm conservative when it comes to data.


I agree, the difference in performance between SSD's is negligible. The primary criteria for buying an SSD should really be reliability and to a certain extent, price. Here, Crucial m4 drives excel (you don't need even to update to the latest firmware. The original 0001 firmware version is stable as it is.) Samsung SSD's also haven't been bugged by errors.

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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 2:51 pm 
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I've just ordered the parts for an A8-3850-based system, but have to agree with HFat: unless you want the IGP, a core i3-2100/2105 makes more sense. It's up to 50% faster on lightly-threaded workloads, only fractionally slower even when the A8 can put all four cores to use, and uses less power under load. The downside is that the IGP isn't nearly as good, but if you don't want to game at all that doesn't matter. (I do want to game a bit, and only have half your budget to work with, so that's why I went with the A8.)

As for memory, it's so cheap now that I'd definitely go with 8gb, but there's no real reason to go past 1333MHz. (With the A8, it does help gaming performance a little to go with faster RAM -- what with the IGP sharing it -- but the core i3 gets essentially no benefit at all.)

The other thing is that you shouldn't need to go overboard on cooling (the core i3's TDP is only 65W, and there's no graphics card to worry about). I'm hoping to get away with a Xigmatek Gaia and a quiet fan-cooled PSU (though the system isn't built yet, so maybe that'll prove to be a mistake!) On the other hand, if you can afford it I guess there's no reason not to.


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:42 pm 
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Location: Hampshire, UK
Thanks for the advice.

It's taken a month of Sundays to get back to looking at this for a number of reasons (not least of which was waiting to see if I still had a job after my employer decided to make a whole bunch of people redundant -- fortunately, I do still have a job!)

So, Intel it is then: -
Case: Antec Solo II
CPU: Intel i3 2100
Cooler: Still Scythe Mugen 3
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V LX
PSU: Now looking at the 400W Seasonic X-Series X-400FL (Fanless -- 90% efficiency, "80 PLUS Gold")
Memory: Corsair: CMP8GX3M2A1600C9(XMP) 8GB (seems to the most readily available 8GB from the supported list)
SSD: Crucial 64GB m4 2.5-inch SATA 6GB/s CT064M4SSD2
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB
OD: LG BH10LS30 Blu-Ray writer with Lightscribe

Pretty much everything apart from the case & optical drive has changed.
What do folk think?
I've put Crucial for the memory due to it seeming the most easily available 8GB/1600GHz where I've been looking to source the components. However, it bothers me slightly that previous advice for the SSD was to avoid Crucial. Should I also seek out other options for the main memory?


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:10 pm 
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9375 wrote:
Pretty much everything apart from the case & optical drive has changed.
What do folk think?
Seems good, just be warned that the Solo II has very little space for Cable Management, you build is similar to mine in many aspects, so you can get an idea of what to expect (check sig for HTPCMI). I had to hide a lot of cables in the 5.25 slot and in the back of the hdd cage, but aside from that its a nice case, you can also get an idea on your temps with my build im using a mugen 3 also on i3 2120.

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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:22 pm 
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Looks nice. A couple of suggestions:

- Consider spending a few more pounds sterling and getting the i3-2105. Same cpu speed, but has the HD3000 iGPU instead of the HD2000. Photoshop and Premier will make use of the GPU to accelerate display functions (rotate, zoom, etc). It *may* make it snappier.

- The Crucial m4 is a very nice SSD. Decent performance and a solid reputation. If you want a performance upgrade, consider going to the 128GB model. Enough space for your OS/Apps and scratch disk for working projects. Also, faster than the 64GB.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:24 am 
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9375 wrote:
Thanks for the advice.

It's taken a month of Sundays to get back to looking at this for a number of reasons (not least of which was waiting to see if I still had a job after my employer decided to make a whole bunch of people redundant -- fortunately, I do still have a job!)

So, Intel it is then: -
Case: Antec Solo II
CPU: Intel i3 2100
Cooler: Still Scythe Mugen 3
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V LX
PSU: Now looking at the 400W Seasonic X-Series X-400FL (Fanless -- 90% efficiency, "80 PLUS Gold")
Memory: Corsair: CMP8GX3M2A1600C9(XMP) 8GB (seems to the most readily available 8GB from the supported list)
SSD: Crucial 64GB m4 2.5-inch SATA 6GB/s CT064M4SSD2
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB
OD: LG BH10LS30 Blu-Ray writer with Lightscribe

Pretty much everything apart from the case & optical drive has changed.
What do folk think?
I've put Crucial for the memory due to it seeming the most easily available 8GB/1600GHz where I've been looking to source the components. However, it bothers me slightly that previous advice for the SSD was to avoid Crucial. Should I also seek out other options for the main memory?


The system seems very nice. I support your choice of the ASUS mo-bo. FanXpert, found in the ASUS AI Suite, controls both PWM-fan and chassis fans. PWM-fans can be run very slowly, a perfect match for the Mugen 3 which can be run at only 300 rpm. The chassis fans, however, have a minimum range at about 40-60 % (of 12 V). Very intuitive program that allows for very thorough control.

You must mean Corsair for the memory. About Crucial SSD's. Right now they are highly recommended because the m4-serie has not suffered from any bug, unlike Sandforce. You must be thinking of the old c300-serie which suffered a little when the firmware was immature.

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Cooler Master Elite 341, Athlon II X3 425, Radeon 5750 (passive, fan zip-tied on), Crucial M4 64 GB.
Cooling: AC Alpine 64 Pro, rear exhaust Scythe Slipstream 800 rpm @ ~5 V


"SSD's: The difference between a casual jogger and a dog chasing a ball"


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 Post subject: Re: First PC Spec
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:39 pm 
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Location: Hampshire, UK
Yes, I did mean Corsair, not Crucial.

I'll probably start ordering the components tomorrow, so, any last comments would be useful, if anyone has any.

Otherwise -- thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and respond to this thread!


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