"Sweet spot" Intel System Check

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Pauli
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"Sweet spot" Intel System Check

Post by Pauli » Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:59 am

I've been out of the game for a while now -- my P4 2.8Ghz system is getting pretty long in the tooth and I need a new system for a 64-bit Windows 7 build. I don't game -- this system will be for programming, surfing, browsing, and some home video editing (maybe some HD in the near future). I'm looking for a value-driven "sweet-spot" system -- I don't want to pay premium prices for the newest features. The system needs to be powerful enough for what I want to do but, of course, be very quiet and low-power. I'd like to run with a case fan only if possible.

I want to go Intel and not AMD for this system -- that's my comfort area and I don't mind paying a small premium for it. I also want to use parts that are very popular -- in case I run into problems, I want to know that there will be an easy to find solution to it.

Any comments and suggestions are very much appreciated. All items and prices are from Newegg. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Case:Antec Solo (reusing from my current system)
PSU: Nexus VALUE 430 ($80)
Processor: Intel Core2 Duo E7500 Wolfdale ($120)
HSF: Scythe MUGEN-2 SCMG-2000 ($35)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R ($120)
System Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit ($90)
Video: SAPPHIRE 100234HDMI Radeon HD 3450 512MB ($35)
Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA ($80)
Case Fan: Nexus BASIC D12SL-12 120mm ($10)

The biggest uncertainties I have at this point are the Scythe HSF, the GA-EP45 Motherboard (I need Firewire, but is this MB overkill for me?), and the video card (I want passive and it doesn't need to be too powerful for my needs). Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

MarkD
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Post by MarkD » Fri Nov 06, 2009 12:31 pm

I have the same case, cooler, and motherboard (with a Q9550) - and I believe the same RAM as well. You will want to add the RAM before fiddling with the cooler, but everything fits - the biggest problem I had was getting to a few of the MB screws which was solved with a bit of scotch tape holding them into my nut driver until I could get them started.

(The cooler is securely held to the MB and CPU with screws from the back, so everything has to go together outside the case, no choice.)

There might be better or cheaper components available, but I'm happy with mine. I have a 4770 for the video card, so I cannot make a knowledgeable comment about that. I have the Corsair TX650 power supply - on the one hand, it's quiet and reliable, but there are a lot more wires than I need and it's not modular.

I did replace the Antec Tricool with a Noctua, which probably wasted a few bucks. I can say that there is no comparison between this build and the older, noisier Pentium 2.4C with a stock cooler in an Antec Sonata with the stock Antec case fan.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:13 pm

The only app that hints of needing quad core is video editing. So, if you stay with dual core, the system you've spec'd is fine...if you didn't need firewire on the mobo, and don't need raid, then you could downgrade to the P45-UD3L and save $30. You can add a firewire card for $10-20.

I'd lean toward a low end 4xxx card instead of the 3450. The 4550 comes in passive varieties ~$50 and uses less power.

If you do expect to spend a lot of time with video editing, you might consider a low end socket 1156 system. Idle power will probably be the same or potentially less (p55 mobo's use less power than p45, the new quad cores do a great job of idle power reduction..).
Core i5 750 $200
Gigabyte mobo $110 (micro ATX) to $150
4GB DDR3 1333MHz ~$90

So, you spend $80 more and have the current gen system.

loimlo
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Post by loimlo » Sat Nov 07, 2009 5:16 am

It looks like a very well-thought, balanced system specs for modest users. Were I you, I would purchase a passive cooling 4350 instead of 3450 and get a Nexus 90mm fan which will be 5V-powered for better HDD cooling.

Pauli
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Post by Pauli » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:04 am

Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

It looks like I definitely should go with a 4xxx video card. After checking out the options on Newegg, it looks like the SAPPHIRE 100252HDMI Radeon HD 4550 512MB is a good passive card for $40. I'm a bit concerned about overheating, though, as some reviews mentioned problems with that.

The i5 suggestion makes sense CA_Steve, but there don't seem to be many HSF options for 1156 socket. Does the Scythe MUGEN-2 fit on the GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2?

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:36 am

scythe-eu lists compatible 1156 coolers. There's also the Thermalright 1156 bolt-thru kit to fit with the Thermalright coolers as well as a great backplate for Ninja, etc.

Pauli
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Post by Pauli » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:01 am

Ok, after looking at i5 options, here is my proposed new setup:

Case:Antec Solo (reusing from my current system)
PSU: Nexus VALUE 430 ($80)
Processor: Intel Core i5-750 ($200)
HSF: XIGMATEK HDT-S1284EE 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler ($39)
XIGMATEK ACK-I5363 Intel Core i7/Core i5 compatible Bracket Set ($8)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard ($110)
System Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit ($91)
Video: SAPPHIRE 100252HDMI Radeon HD 4550 512MB ($40)
Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA ($80)
Case Fan: Nexus BASIC D12SL-12 120mm ($10)

I'm a little concerned about the HSF fitting on this microATX motherboard. Anyone think this might be a problem?

Kyocera
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Post by Kyocera » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:27 am

I do not know your budget, but give a look here:

viewtopic.php?t=56164

this is the optimal and price/wise solution for a i5 based PC; you can take a Nvidia 250 if you wish.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Mon Nov 09, 2009 7:37 am

Looks nice, Pauli. Can't comment on the xigmatek fit - I don't know.

hybrid2d4x4
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Post by hybrid2d4x4 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:42 pm

If you want a cheaper alternative to the Xigma that is 1156 compatible out of the box, I'd recommend the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus (don't know how the fan compares, but the heatsink and mounting setup on the 212 is very good).

Also, FYI I've had issues with system stability and the CPU throwing errors in Prime95 within minutes with that board/cpu unless EIST is disabled in the BIOS, and some googling found others with similar symptoms. Gigabyte's latest BIOS as of last week supposedly hasn't addressed it yet, but apparently they acknowledge the issue and are working on it.

Pauli
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Post by Pauli » Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:09 am

Ok, I've ordered all of the components for the i5 system. I'll post after I have everything together and working.

hybrid - I'm going to try the XIGMA, but if it doesn't work out, I'll try the Coolermaster. Thanks for the heads up on the EIST problem -- I'll keep my eyes open for a new BIOS update.

lm
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Post by lm » Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:56 pm

Late question but why didn't you just get an integrated GPU?

hybrid2d4x4
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Post by hybrid2d4x4 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:56 pm

^ I would have suggested the same, but since he has since decided to go P55, it's not possible anymore.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:10 pm

I don't think socket 1156 and integrated graphics exist...only the P55 chipset out there.

Pauli
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Post by Pauli » Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:28 pm

Thanks for the help everyone. The system seems to work fine and is very quiet. The XIGMA HSF fits pretty well, though I'm not sure about the spring loaded tension screws applying enough pressure, but I think it's OK. Otherwise, it's a nice fast and quiet system that should last me a long time.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:05 am

Guess you'll have to update your signature, now :D

Xigmatek: Is it not secure? What are your idle/load temps?

Pauli
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Post by Pauli » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:46 pm

CA_Steve wrote:Guess you'll have to update your signature, now :D

Xigmatek: Is it not secure? What are your idle/load temps?
Ok - sig updated.

I guess the XIGMATEK is pretty secure -- when I try to move it around it seems pretty stable. It's just that it didn't seem like I had to tighten the screws very hard before the threads ended. I'm not sure about temps -- Speedfan is reporting core temps of 8C - 11C at idle. Doesn't make much sense since ambient is around 20C, so I don't know what's going on with Speedfan.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:56 pm

all of the temp monitoring utilities require you to run a calibration routine...they are seldom accurate w/o it.

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