Need help with components for new computer

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Niles_M
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Need help with components for new computer

Post by Niles_M » Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:35 am

Hi guys

Nice to meet you all.

I need a new computer. My previous one was a Dell GX280, and it was horrible since I could not modify e.g. the cooling fan without the BIOS complaining. The new computer must satisfy

1) It must be very quiet (this is the main property of the new computer, which is why I am here), ideally as quiet as possible. I am very sensitive to noise when I work, and I cannot focus properly, if there is too much noise around me. If there is a case fan, then it should be easily replaceable (contrary to the Dell GX280 – it had a 5pin connector?!)

2) I do a lot of numerical computations and programming in my work, so it cannot be too slow (it doesn't have to be super duper fast either). I do not play any games, so I guess the graphics card is not that important, but I listen to music when not working, so a good sound card is also preferable (if onboard is not good enough).

I plan on assembling it myself. Unfortunately, I am ignorant in the hardware field, so if you have any suggestions for the components, they are more than welcome. Regarding the price range, then I guess I can stretch it to 1500 US$ as a maximum. I have keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Niles.

Big Pimp Daddy
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Post by Big Pimp Daddy » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:59 am

My suggestion would be roughly the following:
AMD quad core CPU
760G motherboard (onboard graphics/sound/network)
4gig DDR3 RAM (whatever brand is cheapest)
Small SSD for system drive + notebook or 5400rpm data drive
Case is more flexible, you could go full ATX tower or micro-ATX with the above setup. Get one with a 120mm fan mount and stick a Nexus or similar fan in.
Ideally you would be looking at a Pico PSU or similar fanless setup for the power supply.
CPU cooler, the biggest tower cooler that will fit in your case. Any of the ones in the recommended list will be fine.

With those parts you will have a nice powerful rig that will be inaudible (depending on your noise floor and sensitivity).
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Strid
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Post by Strid » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:16 am

Big Pimp Daddy wrote:My suggestion would be roughly the following:
AMD quad core CPU
760G motherboard (onboard graphics/sound/network)
4gig DDR3 RAM (whatever brand is cheapest)
Small SSD for system drive + notebook or 5400rpm data drive
Case is more flexible, you could go full ATX tower or micro-ATX with the above setup. Get one with a 120mm fan mount and stick a Nexus or similar fan in.
Ideally you would be looking at a Pico PSU or similar fanless setup for the power supply.
CPU cooler, the biggest tower cooler that will fit in your case. Any of the ones in the recommended list will be fine.

With those parts you will have a nice powerful rig that will be inaudible (depending on your noise floor and sensitivity).
These are excellent suggestions! Also, consider the dual core Intel i5 processor series.
[size=75]Main rig: Antec NSK1380 | Lapped Xeon E3110 | ASUS P5QPL-VM (using IGP) | 2x 2GB Corsair XMS2 800 MHz | MTRON Mobi 3525-32 GB | WD Caviar GP 1TB (Scythe Quiet Driv'ed, on foam) AAM=128 | Lapped Scythe Ninja Rev. A fanless + Arctic Silver 5 | PicoPSU-160-XT + Dell DA-2 200 W brick | M-Audio Audiophile 2492 | 1x Nexus 120 mm @ 550 RPM[/size]

Niles_M
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Post by Niles_M » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:45 pm

I have heard good things about the i7, but is this a good choice in my situation?

Best,
Niles.

tay
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Post by tay » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:19 pm

Niles_M wrote:I have heard good things about the i7, but is this a good choice in my situation?

Best,
Niles.
i7 is a great choice along with an i5 750 or 760. The i5s mentioned are 4core / 4 thread, while the i7s are 4core/8thread with turbo boost.

If you decide to go with integrated gfx and can live with 2 cores, i5 600 series are 2 core / 4 thread cpus.

The AMD quad cores are also good suggestions from a value perspective.

It all depends on your budget.
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danimal
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Post by danimal » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:35 pm

the real question might be whether or not your software is multi-thread capable... if so, you should evaluate the six-core amd offerings.

Niles_M
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Post by Niles_M » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:30 am

Ok, for CPU and MOBO I have found the following, respectively:

i7-930
ASUS P6X58D

Is there heavy noise when using these components?

Regarding a case, I am thinking about the p183. Is this a good choice?

I'll keep searcing for memory.

Best,
Niles.

joetekubi
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threads, computations

Post by joetekubi » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:43 am

danimal wrote:the real question might be whether or not your software is multi-thread capable... if so, you should evaluate the six-core amd offerings.
+1

If your numerical computations can utilize multi-threads, then definitely go for an AMD X6 or Intel i7. If you are mostly single threaded, then an X2 or i3 will work fine.

Another point: if your numeric computations take a long time to run, you can can use the tremendous power available on a graphics card to speed up the process:
http://www.nvidia.com/object/cuda_home_new.html
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alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:43 pm

The i7-930 can get quite hot, so can be more challenging to cool quietly. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that you'll need to think carefully about how you design your system.

Niles_M
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Post by Niles_M » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:36 pm

alleycat wrote:The i7-930 can get quite hot, so can be more challenging to cool quietly. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that you'll need to think carefully about how you design your system.
Thanks for that. Does that also go for the i7-920? Do you have any other suggestion for a cool (i.e. "cold") processor?

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Post by MikeC » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:43 am

It sounds to me like the i7, in general, is overkill for Niles_M, whose requirements seem relatively modest. They all have 125W or high TDP, iirc. Very hot at load. Ditto the top 4-6 core Phenom IIs.

My recommendation would be for a processor of maximum 65W TDP, either Intel or AMD w/ onboard graphics, 4gb ram, an Intel 80~160GB SSD w/ 1~2TB Samsung or WD 5400rpm drive for data storage. AMD is definitely cheaper. (OK, maybe stretch the CPU TDP to 80W if necessary.) If 2-core, then go for faster core speed, if more cores, then accept a slower speed if necessary. The cooler your system runs, the easier it is to run it quieter -- and generally more durable.

Strid's suggestions make sense to me too -- but keep to a cooler CPU if possible.

Niles -- you really need to find out whether the programs you use are multithreaded. If not, your best bet is the highest speed dualcore w/ modest TDP (thermal design power) -- any brand, really.
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Post by ilovejedd » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:45 am

Niles_M wrote:Do you have any other suggestion for a cool processor?
Better option without sacrificing performance: i7-860 Lynnfield. It's nearly the same as the i7-930 Bloomfield except for lack of triple channel support and I think less PCIe lanes available (negligible if you're not planning on doing multi-GPU Crossfire/SLI or a humongous RAID set-up). The i5-750 is another option for $80-100 less but you lose hyperthreading which does help in some situations.

i7-900 Bloomfield 45nm 4c/8t, Turbo 1/1/1/2, LGA-1366, 130W
i7-800 Lynnfield 45nm 4c/8t, Turbo 1/1/4/5, LGA-1156, 95W
i5-700 Lynnfield 45nm 4c/4t, Turbo 1/1/4/4, LGA-1156, 95W
i5-600 Clarkdale 32nm 2c/4t, Turbo 1/2, LGA-1156, 73/87W
i3-500 Clarkdale 32nm 2c/4t, No Turbo, LGA-1156, 73W

Coolest running processors from the above list are the Clarkdales. It's common to get 30W idle power consumption or less for a basic build without needing to do any tweaks - that's the same as Atom 330/945GC. The Lynnfields also have pretty decent idle power consumption - maybe around 5~15W higher than Clarkdale. The issue is you'd then have to buy a discrete GPU. The Lynnfields are also relatively power hungry at load, but still lower than Bloomfield, I think.

The 4c/8t thing stands for the number of cores and threads.

Turbo is kinda like automatic overclocking on Intel's part. The numbers following Turbo refers to the maximum number of step increase(s) in 4/3/2/1-core mode (assuming your CPU doesn't exceed its TDP). Every step is equivalent to 133MHz. For example, the i5-750 has 4 cores and 4 threads and stock frequency of 2.66GHz. Turbo is as follows:

Code: Select all

Active    Clock
Cores     Rate
  1       3.20
  2       3.20
  3       2.80
  4       2.80
Unfortunately, I'm not as familiar with AMD and the most recent AMD set-up I have (AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.80GHz) has been somewhat disappointing given how unreliable Turbo Core has been. For the tasks I need to run, the Core i3-530 2.93GHz is considerably faster. If your application isn't optimized for more than 4 threads, stick with a higher clocked quad from either Intel or AMD.

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Post by danimal » Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:39 pm

MikeC wrote:It sounds to me like the i7, in general, is overkill for Niles_M, whose requirements seem relatively modest. They all have 125W or high TDP, iirc. Very hot at load. Ditto the top 4-6 core Phenom IIs.
true or false: those processors can run stone cold, if you limit the maximum voltage that the cpu runs on, with undervolting/overclocking, turn off turbo boost, etc.
ilovejedd wrote: i7-900 Bloomfield 45nm 4c/8t, Turbo 1/1/1/2, LGA-1366, 130W
i7-800 Lynnfield 45nm 4c/8t, Turbo 1/1/4/5, LGA-1156, 95W
i5-700 Lynnfield 45nm 4c/4t, Turbo 1/1/4/4, LGA-1156, 95W
i5-600 Clarkdale 32nm 2c/4t, Turbo 1/2, LGA-1156, 73/87W
i3-500 Clarkdale 32nm 2c/4t, No Turbo, LGA-1156, 73W
true or false: i can use undervolting/overclocking to limit any cpu on that list to 73 watts... and i don't have to give up threading capability to do it.

ultimately, tdp numbers are only for people who won't be overclocking.

----------------------------------------------------
"How does Intel define TDP?

From the Intel Datasheet for Northwood CPUs:

“The numbers in this column reflect Intel's recommended design point and are not indicative of the maximum power the processor can dissipate under worst case conditions.”

And from Intel's datasheet for Prescott CPUs:

“Thermal Design Power (TDP) should be used for processor thermal solution design targets. The TDP is not the maximum power that the processor can dissipate.”

And the most telling quote of all, contained in both documents:

“Analysis indicates that real applications are unlikely to cause the processor to consume maximum power dissipation for sustained periods of time. Intel recommends that complete thermal solution designs target the Thermal Design Power (TDP) indicated in Table 26 instead of the maximum processor power consumption. The Thermal Monitor feature is intended to help protect the processor in the unlikely event that an application exceeds the TDP recommendation for a sustained period of time.”

What this means is that Intel's TDP is actually lower than the maximum power dissipation of the processor (and as you'll see later, it can be significantly lower). This is in stark contrast to AMD's TDP numbers, which are higher than the respective processor's maximum power dissipation."
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article169-page3.html

ilovejedd
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Post by ilovejedd » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:17 pm

danimal wrote:true or false: those processors can run stone cold, if you limit the maximum voltage that the cpu runs on, with undervolting/overclocking, turn off turbo boost, etc.

true or false: i can use undervolting/overclocking to limit any cpu on that list to 73 watts... and i don't have to give up threading capability to do it.

ultimately, tdp numbers are only for people who won't be overclocking.
Point? No, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm just trying to understand what you're actual suggestion is. Go for AMD hexa and undervolt+overclock?

alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:06 am

Niles_M wrote:Does that also go for the i7-920? Do you have any other suggestion for a cool (i.e. "cold") processor?
If you want a "cold" processor then the i3-530 would be a good choice, and it's inexpensive. Building a quiet system would be a no-brainer.

If you've convinced yourself you want a quad-core, then the i7-860 might be a good choice, as suggested by ilovejedd. Another thing to consider is that both these processors use the same socket, so you could try the i3 first then upgrade later if you think it's necessary.

I also agree with the SSD recommendation. If you don't need a lot of storage then you could just use a single SSD and not bother with spinning disks at all. This would greatly increase the overall responsiveness of your system.

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Post by speedkar9 » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:50 am

This all sounds too familiar, I recently did 2 builds, one i7-860 and one X6... including monitor they totaled $1500. Mind you they weren't built with super quiet operation in mind, but it gives you a ball park figure to what you can get for $1500.
2) I do a lot of numerical computations and programming in my work, so it cannot be too slow (it doesn't have to be super duper fast either). I do not play any games, so I guess the graphics card is not that important, but I listen to music when not working, so a good sound card is also preferable (if onboard is not good enough).
For the OP however, the faster i7 with HT will definitely help with the number crunching, paired with a low-end passive ATI 5xxx graphics card and onboard sound. P183 or P180 mini are probably your best bet for quiet cases that can handle the i7's heat.
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Niles_M
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Post by Niles_M » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:44 pm

MikeC wrote:Niles -- you really need to find out whether the programs you use are multithreaded. If not, your best bet is the highest speed dualcore w/ modest TDP (thermal design power) -- any brand, really.
At the moment they are not multithreaded, but the environment we write the models in change constantly, so I cannot say if this is the case in the future.

Ok, so the i7-860 is currently what I am looking at. Thanks for the advice on the P183 (or P180 mini) and the SSD.

If you have other suggestions or comments, feel very free to post them.

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Post by danimal » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:12 pm

ilovejedd wrote:Point? No, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm just trying to understand what you're actual suggestion is. Go for AMD hexa and undervolt+overclock?
the o.p. never said anything about wanting a low power platform, but you guys started preaching tdp.

i'm showing that tdp numbers are largely irrelevant to what the o.p. specifically asked for, which was a quiet computer.

if the i7 is too noisy, learn how to undervolt it... if you need more power, it's there with a simple bios tweak, instead of being forever crippled with a low-tdp cpu.

niles, even if your software isn't currently multi-threaded, having multi-threaded capability should mean that you can run multiple instances of the same program, or worst case, run different programs simultaneously.

the p183 is an xlnt case, try undervolting the case fans, or better yet, replacing them with something quieter... and get a quiet cpu cooler, as in mugen2 or similar.

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