I am currently in CA and will be moving back to Germany in October. As my stay here was only rather temporary (1 year), I currently do not own a desktop system - instead, an EEE900A has served me quite nicely as a replacement (Linux can do some amazing things even with rather underpowered hardware).
However, back home I will need a beefier machine. There will be some video encoding (I am a competitional dancer, and videos are a very useful training tool. But I do not watch TV or "steal" movies, so this will not be very frequent.), some gaming (mainly strategy/simulations/role playing games), and even the odd number-crunching (my day job is as a numerical physicist). The number crunching is highly parallelized.
will be gaming other entertainment (music library / some movies) though.
The machine will dual boot between Windows (XP until 7 comes out - I can see no sense in buying Vista now) and Linux.
The machine will be bought ca. 07/2009, assembled over here and tested (as warranty issues might be a bit complicated from overseas). Yes, I like to start planning early
The price bracket should be around $1000
total (Display not included). My computers have lasted me typically 5+ years (with one or two upgrades each), and I expect no less from this one.
I am also thinking about replacing/extending my Audio equipment
and would like some advice on that. See at the end of this post.
Some ideas on what I had in mind for the Desktop Computer
: I am undecided between the low-TFP, yet high clock speed Intel Core2Duo and the Phenom II X4s. The Intel Quad Cores are out of the question due to their price.
As far as I know (but I am not very well informed), the pro and contra reads like this:
Significant advantages in not massively parallel tasks (most games). Significantly less power consumption ( << 65 W)
Fast clock speed (3Ghz+)
Technology (socket) nearing it's end of life
If the future holds massively parallel applications, disadvantage there.
Already at a disadvantage with respect to number crunching and video encoding. But those are not it's main tasks.
Phenom II X4:
Emerging technology that should last some time.
Advantage at massively parallel tasks
Slower Clock speed (the 95 W is only available with 2.6 Ghz)
Higher TDP (at least 95 W)
Slightly more expensive
Please do correct any mistakes
If only the TDP of the faster Phenoms would be lower - but 125W? Linux does run on toasters, but I do not want one below/on my desk, thank you very much!
The ZEROtherm ZEN FZ120 should fit on a 775 or an AM3 board, right? As far as I know AM3 and AM2+ are essentially mechanically compatible and just have some extra/missing pins. And $40 is quite nice. The fan will be probably exchanged for a Kama PWM (automated control is nice). Any other sugestions?
Well, obviously I need to decide on a CPU first. But definitely something without an IGP (will use discrete graphics card).
Not much to say for that. I will probably get 4 GB, or if I have some money left over, 8-16 GB. The latter because Ramdisks are fun (and useful for fast number crunching without completely rewriting old applications).
I want a passive cooling solution, preferrably from the manufacturer (warranty and all that). But the ATI 4670 seems underpowered for games, and the 4850 has problems with high idle consumption and consequently high temperatures. But I do have high hopes for the 4770 line that should come in May - hopefully someone will sell it passively cooled. Does Nvidia have any real alternative to that?
Note: I would like to stay below $150 for the video card.
I want quiet, efficient, modular and sub $100. And a pony
Memes aside, the SeaSonic M12II SS-500GM surprisingly seems to fit the bill perfectly. Does anybody have any experience with it? Is there anything not to like about it?
I assume that the 500W-Model is capable of supplying power with the CPU under full load, without ramping up. Is that correct?
The Modu 82+ is in my eyes prohibitivly expensive at $150+.
I also came across the Fortron Everest 500W - does somebody know anything about this one?
This seems pretty clear cut for two 640 GB WD6400AAKS in RAID 0 (and regular backups on various old hard drives I have laying around). That should provide enough storage & very fast for the next couple of years. And it should be quiet enough.
As every geek does, I have been thinking about SSD's, and maybe getting one for the OSs and" scratch space" for numerics. But it really does not seem to be worth it - I do not really care if applications start a second faster (and besides XFCE is pretty fast already) or if the game loads 5 seconds faster. And for numerics, I am better served with more RAM. Maybe I wll get one in a couple of years. Or should I reconsider that?
I still have a quite new and quiet Samsung DVD drive in storage. Blue Ray does not seem to be worth an extra $80+ to me.
There is a P182 waiting for me which I used before. The air intake obstructions have been cut out and the fans have been replaced with SlipStream800s.
Are there further modifications I should consider?
I will probably suspend the hard drives in the 5.25" bay where they are out of the way. I got some fabric that should work quite well for that, will add pictures of it later.
The PSU will have the bottom chamber to itself (with no added fan), and the rest goes to where it belongs.
Now to the second main point, Audio equipment
. First and foremost, I know SPCR is not about Audio equipment per se. However, I looked around in some "audiophile" forums, and there is such an amount of quasi-religious vitriol going around it is not funny. From lurking these forums, I know that quite some patrons do know a fair bit about Audio, and you seem a rather reasonable bunch
The status quo (or rather, the supplies) consists of stuff I bought back in high school: A CD-player, a FM radio and an amplifier (2x2x50W/2x100W RMS as far as I remember) from the house brand of a big electronics store in Germany ("Conrad"). This is paired with 4 3-way-speakers ("Raveland", 100W, huge [30x30x70cm] wooden boxes) and some decent headphones (Sennheiser HD 2xx - can't find the exact Model right now. They do look similar to the 280 Pro, but are open-ear.).
The rather unusual speaker arrangement (2x Stereo) enabled me to work around some obstacles and have multiple not optimal, but good listening places as well as some freedom of movement.
The amplifier & speakers are slightly inferior to the headphones at reasonable output levels (and also to levels too far above reasonable for me, which I will never use). So if I wanted to really listen for details in the music, I naturally used the headphones. However, I consider them good enough some background music while I and a good book sit in my beloved armchair, which was their main use.
The major drawback is that it is all strictly analog (albeit I did not notice any noise issues at all), and the amplifier obviously does not support any positional (3D-) audio. Which is fine for music, but I would like some 3D audio for games or movies.
The headphones are decent, but not quite perfect, so there is some room for improvement there, too.
I have allocated about $500
It seems to me I can go two ways: Either get a more -or-less decent 5.1 set of speakers like the Logitex Z5500, and forget about the old equipment. Or get some really good headphones (Sennheiser HD 555/595), and maybe a headphone amp, and just continue to use the speakers if friends are over/I am doing something else besides and not really listening to the music/...
I tend to the Headphone solution. Speakers are always limted by time/present company (at least until you have a house/basement to yourself), and I am pretty sure that my options for <$500 amp &/or 5.1 speakers are qualitatively quite a bit inferior to a HD 595. Besides, I would hate wasting a set of perfectly good speakers/amp
Enough background (or possibly too much), to the questions:
Could some of you perhaps relate experience on how 3D-Audio sounds through headphones compared to 5.1 speakers?
Are headphone amps worth it?
And if yes, should I only get a headphone amp, or also consider a DAC for headphones? I would rather avoid buying a sound card. I had severe driver problems in the past (Creative...) and do not want to venture there again. So a DAC for the Headphones and onboard sound for the speakers seems like a possible setup.
Headphone[ ].[ ]com seems to sell an integrated DAC& (called "TotalBithead" - silly name). Has somebody got any experience with something like that?
Or should I take a completely different apporach?