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spec my new PC

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
i need a new computer. PC, not mac, so Jobsites need not type.

not sure if i want to build it myself, or go w/ a barebones system...kinda leaning towards the latter. would also prefer to stay w/ XP pro rather than windows (and i can reinstall my existing OS if need be).

user requirements:

something fast. i want photoshop to scream. currently my CPU/RAM combo could be faster (AMD 64 |3000+ ATHLON 939P + 2GB of RAM).

i don't need the following:

cdr/dvdr
video card
monitor
keyboard/mouse

i also have a bunch of hard drives; 3 internal and 3 external. i'd want a case which can accomodate at least 4 SATA devices (my cdr is SATA, and i'd likely use one of my existing internal drives as a dedicated scratch drive for PS).

one question is should i go w/ some sort of dedicated RAID server? between my music and photos, i have a lot of data, and as the two recent HD failures have highlighted, you can never be too safe. i will continue to do my DVD backups.

unleash your inner geek and start spouting recommendations.

:nerd:
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
eSATA can help with your storage needs for relatively cheap, fast with RAID. If you get a decent eSATA enclosure with port multiplier you could have a nice fat RAID5 storage setup. It might be easier to buy the sonnettech solution as they have a card and enclosure system but I don't know you necessarily need their card as I think all that is required is port multiplier support (check with Sonnet)...

http://www.sonnettech.com/product/tempo_sata_e4p.html

http://www.provantage.com/sonnet-tsataii-e4p~7SONT04X.htm

MUCH cheaper eSATA card with port multiplier support:

http://www.iogear.com/product/GICe702S3R5W6/

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815290002

The Dell XPS 420 has a BTX x38 motherboard (X38 is the prosumer Intel chipset - only thing better are the professional chipsets made for the Xeon lines) with PCIe 16X, 8X, and 1X plus 5 SATA ports (I don't know if that includes the 1 external eSATA port it has which I am pretty sure supports port multipliers too or is in addition). You could buy a refurb Dell 420 and spec as needed but you'd have to check out the internal drive bay configuration if you are wanting to run lots of internal drives vs. an enclosure:

http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/xps420/en/OM/HTML/parts.htm#wp1402834
 

blue

boob hater
Jan 24, 2004
10,165
0
california
This board:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131219
ASUS P5E LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard

This CPU (I should've bought it instead of the Core 2 Duo in my box):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115017
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor

This RAM (rocks. cheap. rocks hard?), maybe x2 if you go with XP 64?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211188
A-DATA 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

this case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811294001
ABS Aplus ABS-Black Pearl Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case

I vote yes for dedicated RAID server.

Build your own...you can use much higher quality stuff than a crap Dell box.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
It helps to actually read and understand what Narlus mentioned he wants.

Quad Core sucks as most applications are not optimized for it[or multicore period] and neither is XP.

The available next generation Wolfsdale Core 2 Duo CPU at 3 GHz run circles around the first generation psuedo 2.4 GHz Quad Core Core 2 Duo[its really just two Core 2 Duos tacked together to be first to market, its not a true quad core design] it especially when applications are optimized for Wolfdale's new SSE4 architecture which will happen much sooner than when most OS functions and software are better optimized for multicore CPUs. There is no reason to buy a Quad Core for what he wants right now at the pricepoint. If it was the prior generation Conroe optimized multi-thread CS3 stuff would only run on average 25% faster at the same clock which is about what you'd see from the Wolfdale from the architecture update prior at the same clock to software optimization for new SSE4 features so even if the Wolfdale was 2.4 GHz the call might be tough unless the filter he used worked better on quad core significantly more than usual.

The "Crap" Dell 420 box has the same prosumer X38 chipset which supports the same features other than Crossfire (it has 16X and 8X instead) with dual ATI GPUs which he has expressed no need for. It also comes with 375 or 425 watt PSU both which are more than adequate for what he wants to do even if he buys a mid range GPU like a 8800GT (which is only slightly faster than the new budget and very lower power 9600). You can get an adequate 420 refurb starting at $730 for Q6600 or more for 3GHz Conroe E6850 - maybe then you could consider the Q6600 with that comparison and you go complete at a Budget - it will save you money:

Please build a complete with these spec for $800 cause that what you can get at that pricepoint from Dell Outlet:

-Q6600
-X38 Motherboard
-Windows Vista Home Premium
-4GB
-750GB HDD
-128MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO
-16X DVD +/- RW w/DL
-Multimedia Keyboard and optical mouse
-19 in 1 Media Card Reader
-1Yr In-Home Service for Parts + Labor and 24x7 Phone Support (on all new and refurbs)

A eSATA RAID enclosure is much cheaper than buying two computers - a workstation and RAID server. The eSATA enclosure would give far superior direct file vs. networked system performance to two computers networked at a far lower cost.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,965
4
Please wait for BV and a few others to chime in and bless this.

:D
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,890
4
Hypernormality
I still think Vista is basically bloody annoying. It has a few nice features, whose benefits are drastically outweighed but its sheer bloatedness and frankly patronising approach to the user.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
That NAS would be dead slow compare to using a eSATA enclosure and he could do the same with the AMS eSATA enclosure above for $100 extra which probably works with that MB (would have to check for port multiplier support) and it has hot swappable drives. If he's going to build a PC he should go E8400 Wolfdale...
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I still think Vista is basically bloody annoying. It has a few nice features, whose benefits are drastically outweighed but its sheer bloatedness and frankly patronising approach to the user.
OSX 10.5 would be a better choice right now if he wants to take advantage of 64-bit and multi threaded features of the new CPU in professional photo editing or audio oriented applications vs. XP Pro. Plus its a PC anyways, he can load XP dual boot or maybe something like VM fusion(which still works pretty decent compared to dual boot for most things). Only disadvantage for him would be cost premium and no way to build one yourself legally/easily. He can still add eSATA for real cheap.
 

Transcend

My Nuts Are Flat
Apr 18, 2002
18,045
0
Towing the party line.
That NAS would be dead slow compare to using a eSATA enclosure and he could do the same with the AMS eSATA enclosure above for $100 extra which probably works with that MB (would have to check for port multiplier support) and it has hot swappable drives. If he's going to build a PC he should go E8400 Wolfdale...
Only the eSATA enclosure has to be connected to your computer directly, huge disadvantage for someone like me. I need to have it's contents accessible to my entire network. (Photos to laptops and desktop, movies and audio accessible to my 360).

I want esata speed with NAS useability. My esata external is great for moving huge files in a hurry on my mac pro. It lacks the ability to hot swap though, which makes me a sad panda.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
for setting up RAID, is that pretty simple?
Yeah you just use a utility to configure the RAID. RAID 5 is best bang for buck. You need a minimum of three disks. RAID 10 would perform better for writes but would have less capacity. If you buy five drives for the RAID 10 you could use one as a hotswap for failure.

You could use the RAID as your boot volume, but you'd probably bet better off using one or two HDDs internally in the PC for OS.

Some newer RAID controllers you can mix and match disks but its best to use all the same exact HDDs.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
Only the eSATA enclosure has to be connected to your computer directly, huge disadvantage for someone like me. I need to have it's contents accessible to my entire network. (Photos to laptops and desktop, movies and audio accessible to my 360)
SAMBA, gigabit ethernet, gigabit router then if you are accessing it from another device - most things can access SAMBA shares. Use dual gigabit NIC with teaming with the eSATA setup to gain advantage over any gigabit NAS that only has a single NIC (probably all NAS)...
 

Transcend

My Nuts Are Flat
Apr 18, 2002
18,045
0
Towing the party line.
SAMBA, gigabit ethernet, gigabit router then if you are accessing it from another device - most things can access SAMBA shares...
Leaving an 8 core mac pro running at all times is not my idea of a good investment in my powerbill. It is off unless I am working on it, and spend the rest of my time on my laptop on the sofa.

I am running Gigabit ethernet as it is, and get decent speeds, but eSATA is quite clearly a million times faster. I routinely have to transfer 25gb + folders of photos back and forth. It's extremely fun when i get home from a trip and have to dump an 80gb usb2 travel drive.

Edit: Bonjour takes care of sharing now anyways, no need to screw with samba shares. Even my Xbox can read from the NAS (formatted HFS+) if any of my machines is on with connect360 running.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
Leaving an 8 core mac pro running at all times is not my idea of a good investment in my powerbill. It is off unless I am working on it, and spend the rest of my time on my laptop on the sofa.
Doesn't the Mac support Wake on LAN/Enhanced Intel Speedstep® Technology/etc. You enable speedstep and sleep the computer after X minutes/hours on inactivity then (or on command only).

I've been using Speedstep and AMD's equal for years now. I have no need for WoL but I sleep or hiberate my computer whenever I'm not using it.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
It's still jumping through hoops. You'd have to boot up the Mac Pro every time you wanted to access the drive, then let it sleep again. Or, you'd have to physically locate yourself at the eSATA stack every time.

If you need access across your whole network to your storage, a NAS is the way to go.

Tim, if you have some of your own parts and don't need an OS license, building it yourself will get you higher quality parts for less money. If you don't want to deal with building it, though, or if you want some spare parts for a possible future build you can get a Dell for not much money.

Kinda your choice there.

If you build, I would keep your Antec case as well. That's a pretty good case, I'm a little sad that I lost mine.

I don't see anything wrong with H8R's recommendations except that RAM. Come on now, let's step it up and go with 4GB.

This stuff hits those same good timings at a little less voltage, too:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145194
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,965
4
I don't see anything wrong with H8R's recommendations except that RAM. Come on now, let's step it up and go with 4GB.
That was the suggestion, albeit 4 sticks, which was dumb of me.


I also suggested the NAS for storage, not for blazing access. He could build a new PC for Photoshop and pic processing, (with RAID on board) and re-build the Athlon box one as a jukebox/kid's machine. (Ubuntu would be PERFECT for this btw)

Both could access the NAS for storage/backup. That Buffalo NAS will also act as host to external USB drives for expansion.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,965
4
BTW, if you already have an XP Pro disk, move it to the new machine.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
Speedstep and WOL work just fine and its not a hoop you jump through, its automatic and fast. Waking a computer from sleep takes a couple of seconds. Speedtest is practically instantaneous. On the Mac Pro you can put your dual NIC to good use and team them for best performance - not doing that on consumer NAS.

Most home users don't do much file sharing at home and unless thats a important role to Tim, I don't think it matters.

Businesses have always had dedicated file servers and now the demand at home is big enough for MS to make a consumer home server platform.

eSATA is a better option for primary workstation if you are dealing with big photoshop files. You can work with content directly on the drive and you don't have to transfer files as often. If you have to have something on your laptop - boom its there instead of waiting 2-3 times as long over USB2 or firewire.

If drive failure occurs, you won't have any hot swap with those crappy consumer NAS either and you won't be doing that with any typical consumer PC internal storage setup either. No RAID 5 or RAID 10 on that either. Data recovery or drive warranty is a snap with that kind of enclosure too.
 

blue

boob hater
Jan 24, 2004
10,165
0
california
It helps to actually read and understand what Narlus mentioned he wants.

Quad Core sucks as most applications are not optimized for it[or multicore period] and neither is XP.
Ummm...Core 2 Quad cpus destroy Core 2 Duos in Adobe Creative Suite benchmark testing, a software package I'm going to assume narlus uses quite a bit...yes, even in XP.

The Dell box is cheap for a reason. If you want a box that will have lots of fun gremlins in a years time, that's the way to go. I've learned my lesson about cheap PC hardware.

But whatever. :rolleyes:
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
Hence I said 25% on average in Photoshop at the same clock speed same generation CPU. 2.4 GHz would be equal to about the same generation Core 2 Duo 3 GHz in optimized processes. Wolfdale is the next generation and more efficient equaling the quad at the same clock and available now. SSE4 push Wolfdale significantly beyond when processes become optimized. So if you can buy a E8400 (3 GHz) at the same price or less than a Q6600 (2.4 GHz) you'd be crazy not to.

If the primary task was video editing or professional 3D work, Q6600 offers greater advantage and still would probably be the viable choice over Wolfdale.

Hardware and design defects effect all pricepoints, Mac or PC.

The biggest computer companies in the world have much better buying power than you do, so just because the system cost less doesn't necessarily make it lower quality. Big OEMs in Taiwan like Asus, Foxconn, etc that make the components you use also make the components for Dell, HP, Apple, etc too.

We have over three dozen Dell Optiplex refurbs we purchased in 1999 still in production. I've been with the company about two years now and we've only had two systems with hardware problems in that time period - the systems are almost a decade old in use all day in a busy nationwide call center. If that isn't reliable, I don't know what is.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,965
4
Hence I said 25% on average in Photoshop at the same clock speed same generation CPU. 2.4 GHz would be equal to about the same generation Core 2 Duo 3 GHz in optimized processes. Wolfdale is the next generation and more efficient equaling the quad at the same clock and available now. SSE4 push Wolfdale significantly beyond when processes become optimized. So if you can buy a E8400 (3 GHz) at the same price or less than a Q6600 (2.4 GHz) you'd be crazy not to.
Find a Wolfdale proc online that is not back ordered...
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
Retail E8400 was in stock as of Friday evening at Microcenter for $200.

Popular next generation products always have a premium the first few weeks of availability at many popular resellers like newegg/mwave/etc, its nothing new. Early adopters, supply and demand and all that...

8800 GT was better than its older overpriced prior generation 8000 series and sold at premium too at introduction. Doesn't make the old stuff any better, just less popular.

If you want new next generation stuff, be the first in line and don't shop at the resellers that rip you off. Or just wait a few weeks.
 

blue

boob hater
Jan 24, 2004
10,165
0
california
Big OEMs in Taiwan like Asus, Foxconn, etc that make the components you use also make the components for Dell, HP, Apple, etc too.

We have over three dozen Dell Optiplex refurbs we purchased in 1999 still in production. I've been with the company about two years now and we've only had two systems with hardware problems in that time period - the systems are almost a decade old in use all day in a busy nationwide call center. If that isn't reliable, I don't know what is.
No **** they all make components for everyone else, but there's a huge difference in quality between OEM and retail stuff in many cases...When you have buyers trying to get bottom barrel on 100k motherboards, you start shaving pennies off production costs in important places.

Most pre-built boxes are only designed to outlive their warranty.

Anecdotal evidence is pretty worthless...I've seen 3 Dell laptops self-destruct in the past 6-7 months, all being used pretty lightly and treated well. Doesn't mean ****.
 

H8R

Cranky Pants
Nov 10, 2004
13,965
4
How about we all make reasonable suggestions to spec a new PC for narlus instead of getting in a retardo-battle about Dell or 20 useless posts about bleeding edge procs.

Or, as you were.

:D
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
The Wolfdale is new and popular but not bleeding edge. Its a mainstream offering.

Laptops and desktop failure rates aren't even close the same and 36+ is easily a significant sample size, so yes there is no reason to further respond to blue.

Just look at the car's he buys and drives and that is supposedly something he thinks he knows about:D
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
How about we all make reasonable suggestions to spec a new PC for narlus instead of getting in a retardo-battle about Dell or 20 useless posts about bleeding edge procs.

Or, as you were.

:D
it wouldn't be the tech forum w/o a bit of :nerd: on :nerd: violence.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
i am not sure..my friend @ work is trying to talk me into a NAS RAID type thing as a file server.

i've had the spyder express for about a year...it works pretty well.
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
Ahh, I thought you had bought an expensive one for some reason.

Wanted to calibrate my monitor and check out the colors before deciding if I needed to return it, but for $50 w/ free shipping, it hardly seems worth offering you a few bucks and shipping both ways for a loan :p
 

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
21,653
402
NC
I got my Dell rep to give me a really good quote on the 2007WFP which apparently is all S-IPS panels these days, so I may go with that... or I may say screw it all for the time being, stick with what I have, and buy something decent when LED backlighting goes mainstream or I can find a guaranteed decent S-IPS panel for less than 7 bills.

The Dell is a good idea in theory, but I really don't feel like playing the panel lottery if I get an old revision or they've switched again.