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 Post subject: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:19 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 7:12 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Central Coast, NSW, Australia
G'day all,

Having been so helped by SPCR'ers 6 years ago and so satisfied with the quiet results from my bought-in-2005-silenced-in-2006 PC, I haven't upgraded since - just been enjoying quiet computing for light computing tasks. However it looks like I finally need to upgrade as Grumpy can't handle things adequately any more - even some high-res youtube clips cause it grief.

Basically I just want a micro-atx mobo with either an i5 or i7 and 8GB of RAM - I will re-use my Corsair 120 GB SSD, DVD burner (hardly ever used anyway) and initially at least the old case and power supply, which has been nicely dampened and fan-slowed as per the link above.

I have an Athlon64 3500+ with a Scythe Infinity heatsink, not sure what thermal load it is (67W or 89W from what I can google).

1) What mobo do you suggest? I like gigabyte and Asus but am open to other brands. Wouldn't know which model - other than budget to mid-range. I'm not a gamer. I'd be willing to pay a bit more for quality like better caps and heatsinks. I want DVI & HDMI output (probably all do these days).
2) Which CPU? I like the sweet spot good value ones, not the extreme overclockable editions - if SPCR'ers say a particular model is cool and quiet but still powerful and can be overclocked at standard voltages that's a winner for me.
3) Can I re-use the Scythe Infinity heatsink or is there no adaptor to go from the Athlon64 socket and mobo connection to the LGA 1155 the i5 / i7 use?
4) Very happy to use onboard IGP - I hear the 4000 is fine, not sure which chipset mobo to go with, happy to pay a bit extra for better IGP, but not going to bother with a dedicated graphics card. It has to output 1920 x 1080 to my 42" LCD via HDMI (or I can use DVI to HDMI converter at a pinch if no HDMI on mobo).
5) Any RAM suggestions? Other than 2 x 4GB DDR-3 in maybe a "matched pair" I don't have a clue. I'd be happy if the mobo had 4 RAM slots so I can increase to 16 GB in a few years if necessary (I doubt it).
6) Maybe, maybe I might get a small case and ditch Grumpy. I'd just want a small micro-atx basic quiet case with a small (250W?) power supply. Any suggestions? There's such a range I'm happy to leave that for later.

Thanks in advance!

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:55 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Welcome back!

1. 1155 is the way to go. Asus & Gigabytes are the biggies but MSI is in there too. They all have similar features within a price range -- the Asus fan controller is probably the most advanced, but MSI's is not bad, and all can be used with SpeedFan, and even the simplest BIOS fan controller is enough for the kind of basic system you're considering. I would not pay more than ~$125 -- probably way less with a refurbished (read: usually repacked) or bundled package deal.
2. Look at low end SandyBridge chips; their performance is excellent. I picked up one of these for $40 and its indistinguishable from the previous $300 i7 SB for routine tasks around the lab: Intel Celeron G540 Dual Core Sandy Bridge Processor 2.5GHZ LGA1155 2MB Cache 65W. I'm sure it is even OC'able.
3. There might be an adapter, but you might be better off just buying anew. Another modest/quiet Scythe from the recommended cooler would work fine.
4. Yup. They all have HDMI.
5. It's all you need -- don't worry about brands, buy on price, avoid big heatspreaders which get in the way.
6. See case reviews/recommends -- some of the newer Silverstones are nice (and small). Most other enthusiast brands go for too many features and end up making the mATX cases as big as standard ATX. Replace case fans only after you've tried the stock ones, which might be quiet enough when slowed.

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:41 am
Posts: 708
Location: Denmark
First of all, I want to ask you what you use your computer for. Which programs do you use? If you're only web browsing, using Word, Skype etc. and don't do gaming, then an i3 should be fine. Even a dual core Celeron and Pentium based on Sandy Bridge will do IMO.

And now for your questions.

1: ASRock is also a decent motherboard manufacturer. They are now the third biggest manufacturer.
http://www.techpowerup.com/139308/ASRoc ... endor.html

2: Depends on which programs you use. If the requirement for the CPU is modest then you could consider a CPU from AMD. They have better GPU performance, though Intel is superior in terms of CPU performance.

3: Probably not. In any case, I would simply recommend buying an aftermarket cooler. Again, what cooler you choose will depend on the CPU that you choose.

4: Modern iGPU's have improved a lot in the last five years. And most modern motherboards have a HDMI port, so no problems here :)

5: Buy the cheapest compatible RAM availabe from a well known company i.e. Kingston, Corsair G.Skill, Crucial etc. In Denmark, there are not many brands, so there are probably more reliable brands out there.

6: If you want to replace the case, then I'd suggest a Silverstone Temjin TJ-08E or the Silverstone Precision PS07. They are virtually the same, but the Temjin has a 180 mm front fan whereas the PS07 has 2x 120 mm front fans. The former has by far the best thermal performance, though perhaps placing one of the two 120 mm fans in the rear as an exhaust fan may change that.
The Fractal Design Define Mini is also an excellent case but it's big. Practically as big as a small ATX case.

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:00 pm
Posts: 3302
Location: Essex, England
Quote:
1: ASRock is also a decent motherboard manufacturer. They are now the third biggest manufacturer.


They are actually a spinoff company of (possibly still owned by) Asus, be careful RE: their motherboards fan control - I have only used their old motherboards but recently, i.e. replacements for motherboards that have died when no-one else even sells one (Socket 775) in these cases their fan control was so bad that I had to manually hard-wire the CPU fan to run at 5v - that wasted a lot of my time due to their totally shit bios fan control.

Please note that I am not trying to slander Asrock (not had a single failure, used ~10 motherboards in the last 5-years) or put you off of their motherboards, just check the particular boards fan control is OK via the SPCR forums.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 628
Location: Germany
andyb wrote:
They are actually a spinoff company of (possibly still owned by) Asus


That was true long ago, but AsRock claims not to be owned by Asus any more.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:05 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 7:12 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Central Coast, NSW, Australia
Thank you so much for your replies so far - I probably should have been more specific in my original post, it's just my computing life, like my real life, is in a state of flux making it hard to determine what I need or want, which yeah, I realise makes it hard to get good advice. My comment "Basically I just want a micro-atx mobo with either an i5 or i7 and 8GB of RAM" was what I thought I needed a few days ago, but not anymore. So here goes, I use my PC for:
1) The usual browsing / email / office stuff. This includes youtube and other multimedia sites HD playback, and Grumpy (Athlon64 3500+ with nVidia 6600 GT) now struggles to cope - I recently upgraded the screen from a small LCD to a whopping 42" LCD running at 1920 x 1080.
2) I play a fair bit of online poker usually multi-tabling 8 to 12 boards simultaneously. One day I would like to get to 24 boards as some online poker legends frequently do. The poker site software is pretty basic graphics (I play at Titan, Pokerstars and occasionally Party and Carbon) but again Grump is struggling - especially if I add in some youtube clips for background music playback (no vide rendering on screen, not sure how the load on CPU is - whether it has to decode the stream anyway whether it displays it or not) and open some other apps eg skype, outlook etc.
3) Recently I've tried adding a HUD to my poker games without success. I'm wondering if it's also a case of hardware failing to cope. I get intermittent, mixed results. With the HUD comes a postgre SQL DB program for analysis and my first few hundred thousand hands took 5 hours + to load, which created a 1GB DB, and analysing is too slow.
4) I would like the upgrade to last quite a few years as Grumpy did. I think 7 years is a good life these days for a PC! Albeit with an SSD, RAM and screen upgrade a year ago.

Therefore, I am thinking it is no longer a cheap / value / lowend PC I want any more (as per original post & title), more mid-range but in a SFF. I think I would like HD 4000 graphics at the least, which limits me to one of three i5 CPU's or any i7's from what I can make out on Intel's website (is that even correct?) and for aesthetics I am wondering if I can mount the PC on the back of the 42" LCD (it has 400 x 400 VESA screws) to "disappear" it.

I can re-use my 120 GB SSD (I use a 700 GB 4 x HDD NAS for data over 1 gbps) and I don't care about an optical drive, therefore I am wondering if I can even get away with mini-ITX?? 2 x RAM slots would be fine, I'd probably buy 2 x 8GB upfront as it's so cheap now, to ensure I get max life out of the system. If it had a PCI-Express slot so I could add a graphics card (just in case) that would be good too, even though I will start with the onboard HD4000 graphics.

So, based on that, do you think an i5 will suit me? Should I be looking at another CPU socket type if I want to try and get an i7 in a SFF case with a mini-ITX mobo?

From Intel's website here I can see the Intel® Core™ i5-3475S Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz) does HD4000 at 65W TDP (max) in FCLGA1155, whereas the Intel® Core™ i5-3570K Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz) does HD4000 at 77W TDP (max) in FCLGA1155, and there are 7 x non-FCLGA1155 socket i5 CPU's in sockets FCBGA1023, FCPGA988 which do HD4000 with only 17W or 35W TDP.

Otherwise, it looks like there are only 4 x i7 CPU's in FCLGA1155 sockets - the 3770, then the 3770T, 3770S and 3770K running at 77W for the 3770 and K (unlocked), 65W for the S (sports?) and 45W for the T (Thermally restricted?) which looks pretty good and might cope in a SFF case with a mini-itx board and small power supply.

So having got this far on my "own" (not really, SPCR rulez) can anyone give me advice on the options of an i7 with a mini-itx board (eg yes but use the 3770T, or don't do it, or you'd be better off with the i5 xxxx) either using the 1155 socket or an alternative socket to drop the TDP right down?

Er, then if I could be so bold, a couple of good mobos to consider given the above blurb?

And finally, a SFF case I can mount VESA style?

Thank in advance, much appreciated!

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:14 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 6:33 am
Posts: 8636
Location: Sunny SoCal
Seeing this:

Apprentice_GM wrote:
I think I would like HD 4000 graphics at the least, which limits me to one of three i5 CPU's or any i7's from what I can make out on Intel's website


...and this:

Apprentice_GM wrote:
So, based on that, do you think an i5 will suit me? Should I be looking at another CPU socket type if I want to try and get an i7 in a SFF case with a mini-ITX mobo?

From Intel's website here I can see the Intel® Core™ i5-3475S Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz) does HD4000 at 65W TDP (max) in FCLGA1155, whereas the Intel® Core™ i5-3570K Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz) does HD4000 at 77W TDP (max) in FCLGA1155, and there are 7 x non-FCLGA1155 socket i5 CPU's in sockets FCBGA1023, FCPGA988 which do HD4000 with only 17W or 35W TDP.

Otherwise, it looks like there are only 4 x i7 CPU's in FCLGA1155 sockets - the 3770, then the 3770T, 3770S and 3770K running at 77W for the 3770 and K (unlocked), 65W for the S (sports?) and 45W for the T (Thermally restricted?) which looks pretty good and might cope in a SFF case with a mini-itx board and small power supply.


FWIW, there's a new Core i3 being released in just a few days that might work for you. 55W TDP with HD4000 graphics:

http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Core_i3/I ... -3225.html

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:47 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:56 pm
Posts: 229
Location: UK/Eire
I'm going to break with the Intel die hards and suggest you look at AMD (because I find it annoying people dismiss AMD completely nowadays and frankly it's poor advice too)
Bang per buck you can get a very big performance update from an Athlon64 3500+
Even with a modest priced processor.

That's my take which processor you pick depends on your needs.
I would plump for AM3+ a micro ATX board 8Gb or DDR3 1333 very cost effecitve and lots of processor choices.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:32 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Props for keeping the Athlon 64 and 6600GT alive for so long. I just retired mine because it couldn't keep up with streamed TV. So much has changed in CPU/GPU efficiency and horsepower in the last 7 years that any current low end PC architecture will meet your needs for a good while.

+1 for the i3-3225 (Intel is taking it's sweet time releasing the i3's).

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 Post subject: Re: Advice please for a value (cheap) Micro ATX upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:48 am 
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Location: UK/Eire
Risking controversy I will question the logic of the i3 processors, IMO they are the least appealing in the range price/performance. i5 and i7 I can completely understand, but not the i3. Even with an Ivy Bridge update I would not expect that to change much.


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