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 Post subject: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:19 am 
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Hi Silencers,

It's been a while, largely because I'd achieved quiet nerdvana with a Zotac IONITX-A-U and a mini P180. But the Zotac seems to have died (posts, can get the intial screen of a boot CD, but it'll only intermittently finish booting -- this is both before and after removing the hard drive) so I'm in the market. But I really haven't paid attention to where the market has gone, so I turn to y'all for help.

This is for a lightweight Linux desktop environment for a programmer who doesn't videogame. I want to start at minimum expense, reusing existing parts where I can, and maybe upgrading later.

So I was thinking:

cpu: Intel g630t 2.3 GHz 35W
heatsink: Noctua NH-L12
motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB
video: Powercolor AX5450 1GBK3-SH
ram: G.SKILL Ripjaws X 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600
power supply: Don't know. I want fanless, but obviously a 400W Seasonic would be massive overkill. PicoPSU-150-XT?

This'll go in my venerable Antec SLK3000B probably with a Samsung Ecogreen F2 1TB drive to start with, and, I hope, graduating to an SSD later.

Any advice?

thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:49 am 
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You don't need a video card. Save money and electricity by using the IGP.

Get an SSD right away if you can. You don't need a large one to get the main benefits and some decent ones are getting affordable right now.
You can save a money with a cheaper board. You don't need Z77 and other brands are usually better value.
You can save money with a cheaper CPU. There's little benefit in getting the G630T over a G530 or G540.
You could also save money by getting only one stick of RAM right now. If you didn't pick cheap RAM, get Kingston Value instead. There's no point in getting ridiculous gamer RAM.

You could dispense with a PSU by picking the DH61AG which includes the equivalent of a pico. This should be a much more efficient board than the Gigabyte you picked.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:29 am 
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Thanks. The hard drive is something I already have; that's why I'm willing to consider starting without an SSD.

New Egg described the Gigabyte as having no video chipset, and I didn't know about the IGP and thought I needed a video card.

I like the G630T over its siblings because of the 35W rating, but now I see some of the past discussion here suggesting there's not much difference from the G530 in practice. I'll have to do some more reading.

Some things I didn't say out loud: I was looking forward to expanding to a ludicrous amount of memory so I could experiment with loading the whole OS into RAM on boot and, it's to be hoped, enjoying ludicrous speed, in other words, having a motherboard with 4 slots. And I was planning to eventually go dual-monitor or triple-monitor, which I've read is possible even with that relatively inexpensive Powercolor.

But that motherboard is definitely more than I need -- a GIGABYTE GA-B75M-D3H would be plenty.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:39 am 
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Zed Lopez wrote:
I was looking forward to expanding to a ludicrous amount of memory so I could experiment with loading the whole OS into RAM on boot

That explains it. There's not much point in doing that and having an SSD. SSDs are easier to work with though.

Zed Lopez wrote:
And I was planning to eventually go dual-monitor or triple-monitor, which I've read is possible even with that relatively inexpensive Powercolor.

I understand you can power two or even three monitors with the IGP if you pick the right parts.
Even the cheapest parts would allow you to use two monitors but one would have to be hooked to the analog output.

Zed Lopez wrote:
GA-B75M-D3H

Seems like another overpriced GA. But maybe I'm missing something. I don't know what desktop boards support 16G of RAM.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:23 am 
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I second the suggestion of a DH61AG Intel Mini-ITX board. You can get 2x8 GB SO-DIMM for around $100, so that's not a limitation. The board will cost $100-$130, shipped, and the brick around $40-$50 shipped. Great efficiency, and cheaper and easier than buying a separate Pico-PSU.

I built a system out of mini-box's kit (currently out of stock): http://www.mini-box.com/KIT-M350-INTEL-DH61AG-19V-160W and it worked great.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:36 pm 
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HFat wrote:
Zed Lopez wrote:
GA-B75M-D3H

Seems like another overpriced GA. But maybe I'm missing something. I don't know what desktop boards support 16G of RAM.


Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see that the GA-B75-D3H suffers much by comparison with the DH61AG unless you have your heart set on mini-ITX (and whether I get a mini-ITX or a micro-ATX, I'll be reusing my mini-P180, so that difference between them isn't important to me.) The GA is cheaper, has 4 memory slots for up to 32GB (instead of 2 for 16GB), and has a 6 Gb/s SATA connection (and five 3 Gb/s; the DH61AG has two 3 Gb/s.) The memory difference wouldn't matter unless I exceeded 16 Gb, which would be a truly ludicrous amount for my purposes (and you're right that the time & offer cost/benefit ratio would be much better by getting an SSD and being done with it.) And while some SSDs claim benefits from 6 Gb/s, it doesn't seem clear to me yet if it's really significant. And the difference in slots would probably never be relevant to me.

But it's still cheaper, and I don't see where it's worse. But I also haven't found power draw stats for the Gigabyte.


Last edited by Zed Lopez on Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:39 pm 
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The DH61AG has unique features you seem to have missed, the main one being that it doesn't use a PSU which makes it 2011's most efficient desktop board. And which means you need to include the price of the PSU in comparisons with other boards.
If you don't include the price of the PSU, there are much cheaper mITX boards of course.

GA isn't usually in the lead for value (that's ASRock), efficiency (that's Intel) or both (that's MSI). As to Asus boards, they've typically got the best features.
But maybe the GA you picked a good value if you want 32G of RAM (and I thought 16G was special! apparently it's the new normal...). The relevant comparison would be to the equivalent ASRock, Asus or some such and not to the DH61AG.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:05 pm 
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I saw it didn't need a power supply, but I was undervaluing that distinction because I assumed I'd have to buy a new power brick. Now that I see I can re-use the 90W brick from my Zotac, I find it more attractive. Or maybe a BOXDH67CFB3 because I do like the idea of attaching the SSD at 6 Gb/s.

Would a mini-ITX board limit my choice of heatsinks? In a mini-P180, height isn't an issue, and with a big tall heatsink, I could probably cool the CPU with just the giant casefan in the top of the mini-P180.


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 Post subject: Re: cheap-ish desktop
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:59 pm 
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Yeah, I reuse bricks more often than not.

The H67 wouldn't be as efficient and I'm not sure what you'd use SATA3 ports for. But you'd clearly have more room for upgrades than with the very limited DH61AG. If you're not looking for the best efficiency though, other vendors sell cheaper boards.

You can use monster heatsinks with mITX (check other people's builds) but obviously you need to look at individual boards and heatsinks to make sure the heatsink would fit and wouldn't block any connector you want to use.
But if you ask me, monster heatsinks are overkill with the cheaper Sandy Bridge CPUs.
People focus too much on the CPU temperature. Check with your mobo manufacturer but running the heatsink without a fan might not be supported. Intel for instance warns users of their desktop boards against dispensing with the airflow on the area around the CPU by using a fanless heatsink (or a heatsink which stands in the way of the airflow, or spinning the fan too slow I guess).
I think an quiet but affordable and reasonably-sized fanned heatsink would be more appropriate for a CPU which doesn't heat up enough to require much cooling while still heating up enough to damage the board without airflow. Lots of people wouldn't hear the fan of the stock heatsink if it spins slowly enough by the way. So you might not even need to upgrade it (depending on where you put the case, the ambient noise and your hearing).
I'd be more comfortable getting rid of the case fan for such a build than the heatsink fan actually. Depending on where you put it, your case is probably big enough to dissipate the heat with minimal airflow from/to the outside of the case. But a case fan would of course help (lower internal temperatures means you can run the heatsink fan slower).


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