Build plan for your thoughts - please be kind

By dark green
May 9, 2009
  1. Goal: A highly responsive, very quiet computer
    Uses: This is primarily for work. On my 3 displays I want to be able to have outlook, 4 large powerpoint presentations, word, excel, and maybe Solidworks and a Microchip CAD program running. The only game I play is EVE online, but sometimes I might want to run that on one display while having lots of that other stuff going as well. Time to open documents and swap applications is important. I want it to be quiet because I sit next to it 13-18 hours a day!
    Budget: I don’t want to waste money but I’m not highly price sensitive. If you have a suggestion that will make me feel a dramatic improvement and it costs $1,000 I would probably do it. I’m going with a lower speed processor only because I’ve read that the slower i7s easily overclock up to the higher speed ranges.
    Location: USA, Southern California, within driving range of a fry’s but may buy lots online

    I might reuse a few random parts from earlier build (floppy drive, DVD burner… definitely my mouse/keyboard/3 displays).

    OS: Win7 – 64bit – RC for now then buy when released

    ASUS P6T Deluxe/OC Palm LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - $200
    Reason: I plan to overclock, read some good reviews. (Also I do need a floppy drive for arcane reasons)

    Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - $279
    Reason: I hear it overclocks so well there’s no real reason to buy the higher ones. I do plan to overclock.

    OCZ Platinum 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV12GS - $200
    Reason: Tom’s hardware study seems to suggest this stuff overclocks well so there is no real gain going Corsair from here:

    Case: I want it quiet
    Antec P183 Black Aluminum / Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case – $165 ish
    Reason: For quiet computing
    I also have a bunch of sorbothane and 3M damping foil available

    Power Supply: Again, quiet is good
    ENERMAX MODU82+ EMD625AWT 625W ATX12V Ver.2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active- $160
    Reason: I read some good stuff. I think this is more than enough power available. Too bad web commenters all say Enermax won’t actually deliver on the advertised rebate

    Boot Drive: I’m hoping this will speed up windows and apps
    Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G1 80GB SATA MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - (Can I fit Win7, MS office, and a few other apps/games on here?) - $325 ish

    Data drive: Dunno, need lots of space and don’t want it to be the bottleneck. Suggestions? Can I get something fast in 1TB size? It seems to make it quiet I will need to build something.

    Cooling for processor: Please help on this. I want to overclock but I also want it quiet.
    Maybe this one? COOLER MASTER Hyper Z600 RR-600-LBU1-GP CPU Cooler (with adapter for 1366 socket) $50
    Thinking: I would be willing to watercool but unless I use the Reserator it would be noisy (from the systems I've visited and research on silentpcreview) and when the folks on Revision 3 did some test builds the water coolers didn’t beat a good heatpipe-and-fan heat sink for overclocking.

    Graphics cards: I run 3 LCD panels but my only game is EVE Online, so not exactly the most demanding. I'll probably just order a couple of whatever is recommended for Solidworks and EVE.

    Some questions:
    Should I get a bigger SSD drive? Are the OCZ ones going to give the same experience as the X-25M Intel one? (250GB one looks nice but the reviews aren't great)

    What should I keep in mind for overclocking?

    Do you see an obvious bottleneck here? Will it be the data drive?
  2. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,433   +143

    This is a great organized post with good links and citations, thanks :).
    I would go with the OCZ Vertex series (NO OTHER SERIES WILL DO!) as long as the price difference between the Intel is over $20 - $50, and 80gb is enough for the OS, text/offices files, and microsoft office, but i don't know about Solidworks and a Microchip CAD, I might go with the OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail for $400, maybe.

    A corei7 is pretty ridiculous for Microsoft office and a game, though again i don't know about Solidworks or Microchip CAD. Corei7 is for demanding applications, mostly video editing. I can almost guaranty an inexpensive dual core will perform better when overclocked at a fraction of the cost, and with less heat output.
    Good reasoning, though I would still stay away from Corei7 because they are so expensive, the motherboard you linked is actually about $300.

    Not only are older cards more expenive with less performance, but it may not even fit.
    I would probably add a passively cooled 4670 or 4770 in there and go with an Antec Basiq BP430 430W Continuous Power ATX12V Version 2.2 Active PFC Power Supply - Retail or CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail.

    About the OCZ 12gb, it is a good kit, but I think 12gb is far too much, though again, I don't know about Solidworks and a Microchip CAD.

    It will speed it up tremendously, but you ONLY want an Intel, or an OCZ Vertex series, possibly the SuperTalent version of OCZ's drive, but OCZ's drive performs marginally better.

    The 1TB's are fast, the 1.5 tb I think are even faster, If hdd speed is important along with storage size, you could actually buy two and RAID them. If size isn't too much of a problem, you can look into a WD VelociRaptor 300gb.

    That may or may not yeild a "silent" computer, if it's really bothering, you can switch out the case fans for quieter ones.
  3. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    Great first post mate! :grinthumb

    I would recommend a good P45-based motherboard like the GA-EP45-UD3L, and a Q8200\Q8400 for a CPU. Pair that with the OCZ SSDs recommended by hellokitty[hk], and you have a fast, silent system on hand.

    The Enermax PSU is a great choice, but a tad expensive. Go for a Corsair 450VX instead.

    Lastly, check out this list of silent cases to choose from.
  4. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,433   +143

    Now do you know if Solidworks and a Microchip CAD takes lots of CPU work?

    Thanks :D.
  5. dark green

    dark green TS Rookie Topic Starter

    hellokitty, thank you a ton for the great feedback. In particular you've opened up a whole new line of thinking for me with the OCZ Vertex series. They have a 256GB drive for $799. I may just do that :) I need to do some research - I was under the impression the intel one blew everyone else out of the water on performance but my first few searches say your suggestion may be the one competitor!

    I feel maybe I need to clarify a little, I'm sorry if I sent you down the wrong path a little. The reason for 12GB is that I am often running many applications with lots of data (mostly office products, true), and with all that and the various background tasks (web based file backup, security layers) my enemy is swapping and disk churn. The 12GB memory is an attempt to reduce the amount of swapping that goes on, and the Core i7 architecture both lets me more easily have more RAM (DDR3), and offers hyperthreading so that when a disk access nonmaskable interrupt arrives the impact on the system should be less pronounced. Don't you hate it when you click on a menu or a try to change windows and the computer just sits there thinking? For me I think that's a sign that my computer is dealing with multiple disk access interrupts, which will bog down both processors for a while. I'm hoping that the RAM combined with virtual 6 processors on the i7 might slay the disk access lag beast. I may even get one of these and tell windows that's the swap drive just to speed up swapping.

    To help calibrate this build: I don't consider $200 for memory or $300 for a motherboard expensive. I'll be using this computer in a business 12+ hours a day for 3+ years likely, so I'd prefer to make it a little bit future-proof. If it can save me 4-5 hours over that timescale it's paid for itself.

    (Oh, also, I just realized I need hardware level process virtualization which Win 7 needs to run virtual XP mode for some legacy software I need... so I think i7 might actually be a requirement for me.)

    Again hellokitty, thanks for the info - your input on the Vertex series was particularly eye-opening. I'm still doing research on much of the rest of your post!
  6. dark green

    dark green TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Good question. I'm using a Core 2 6600 @ 2.4GHz and Solidworks definitely drags the CPU down. Same with my CAD software once the chips start to take shape and I'm working with thousands of geometries at once on the screen. So I'll guess yes. Solidworks in particular is a pretty big CPU hog and I often end up working with insanely complicated 3D shapes. I'm not sure how much of that they offload to the video card I can watch the processor load max out when I spin models :)
  7. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,433   +143

    In that case, the Corei7 seems viable, considering your willing to pay.

    Yes that is a harddrive problem (coincidentally, a problem all but the Intel and OCZ Vertex SSD are plagued with), I don't think 8 (not 6) will help a lot, but since those programs seem reason enough for a Corei7 anyway, though I would still endorse the P45 and Q8400 Rage mentioned, their cheaper.
  8. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,219   +157

    i dont know about microchip cad, but if it is as resource intense as the cad programs i have used, and with all else you want to have running at once, 8-12gb of ram is not a bad idea.
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