Friday, September 7, 2012

New computer build log.

I finally got my system built and created a very crappy video build log.  Below is the video.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Computer and Network Upgrades

Time for a massive computer upgrade. I did an upgrade early last summer to an AMD 1090T, at the time it was one step down from AMD's highest offering but still largely out performed by Intels moderate offerings. At that time my focus was for gaming and it worked really well except for in The Old Republic.

Now I decided to go with Intel. The word on the street is Intel's Ivy Bridge. Yeah it is great from all the benchmarks I have seen. It's price point isn't out of this world either but the current offerings do not have a couple things I am looking for. (6 core/12 thread or insane amounts of ram). I considered some Xeon options briefly, but I found them limiting. The spot in between for me was Sandy Bridge-E.

The Intel i7-3930k at $570 is a little pricey considering many Ivy Bridge processors perform just about as well (if not better) per core, but they are limited to 4 cores giving the i7-3930k a bonus to applications like Adobe After Effects and other applications that can take advantage of the extra cores. The i7-3960x at around $1,100 is just to darn expensive for the moderate speed increase.

The motherboard that this will run on is the Asus Rampage IV Extreme. $470 is a nice chunk of change to put into a motherboard but it has nearly everything you could want in a motherboard. Lots of USB3 and USB2, lots of SATA II/III connections, RAID, Quad SLI PCIE 3.0, 8 DIMM Slots for 64GB of ram.. and much more. Despite my problems with Asus I went with it anyway.

You cannot have a system with out RAM and I got some, 64GB or G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series PC 1600. 32GB would have been more than enough at $170, but at the price doubling it up for $340 for the option of a nice sized RAM Cache or Disk.

For Storage, well really just applications I plan to run, storage is handled by a NAS (below), I picked two Solid State Drives. The first drive is a 256GB Samsung 830 for windows and what ever programs I choose to run. The second drive is a ADATA XPG 128GB that will be used primarily for temp files (like adobe cache). The two together cost around $300, I caught a sale. I considered RAID 0 but unless you meet specific requirements RAID and SSDs lack some important features (like TRIM). New drivers for the Intel controllers are said to fix this and I may upgrade at some point once the bugs are ironed out.

The i7's do not come with a stock cooler like the average CPU. It seems silly at that price point. I had to pick up a cooler. Decent air cooling runs between $30-$70. I figured I would go ahead and try Liquid cooling. I picked up a Corsair H60 closed loop cooler. It should be enough cooling until I decide to over clock. If I should decide to clock the CPU up I can get another cooler and put this in my current AMD 1090T setup which tends to run rather warm.

To power the system I got a Cooler Master Silent Pro. CM has come a long way in recent years to making better quality products. At 1000W it is over kill for this setup but was only a little more than the 850W and gives me the option of going to Quad SLI some time.

I am recycling my current video card (Radeon 6870) and DVD-Burner. Currently the 6870 is still holding its own in the mid-range gaming market and the DVD-Burner will really only be used to install my OS.

This system will be housed in a Cooler Master Storm Trooper Case. No I didn’t' buy it because it said Storm Trooper, It was just bonus. This is a big case with a lot of great options. It has an X-Dock, USB3, eSATA, fan controller, lots of drive bays and expansion slots and good cooling options. At $150 it was hard to not buy it.

For OS I decided to make sure everything was on the Up and Up and purchased Windows 7 Ultimate Retail for $290. I could have gotten the OEM system builder version for about a hundred less. With the OEM version though you receive NO support from Microsoft and if your motherboard dies you are supposed to have to buy a new OS. (lots of people get around that though). I figure spend a little extra for the flexibility. If adobe worked well on *nix I would've just went with Slackware.

I also bought a Logitech G700 mouse. Let me tell you this thing is amazing. If you are trying to decide between a RAZER Naga and this... get the Logitech. I may buy another for my Xbox.

I picked up a couple little things as well...

Total System Price ~$2,350 ($2500 was my soft limit)

For Storage, I decided that I didn't want any mechanical drives in my system but with video work I am going to need lots of storage. I picked up a Synology Disk Station 412+ with three 2TB Western Digital Green drives. This thing is amazing. Not only do you get your standard NAS options, you have built in personal cloud (dropbox type thing) and a bunch of other great utilities. It was worth the extra couple hundred. Synology's Hybrid Raid (shr) is pretty nice too.

The Western Digital Greens are very nice and work, however they do park often to save power. This means they make a little noise every so often. It is not dangerous from what I can tell but it is annoying. When I make changes to this setup I will be replacing them with the Red Series.

The network here was in dire need of upgrading. Most of the devices where running on wireless through a Verizon router. My TV, Patriot Box, Xbox, 2 Phones and 2 Laptops. I picked up a NetGear 8 port GigaBit Switch for my computer, NAS and Uplinks. A 5port GigaBit for my TV/Patriot Box/Xbox and a NetGear wireless extender for the upstairs along with some Cat5e. All worked well except for the Wireless extender. I was under the impression that it would route wireless through the switch, it turns out that it doesn't. I ended up using an older Belkin Wireless N router set in Access Point mode for the upstairs.

The network upgrades made a huge difference.

Total Network Price ~$1,350

Here is a little video of the network parts on my kitchen table.

Total Price for both ~$3,700 (about $1300 under budget)

I also have around $100 in rebates to fill out and also got about $50 worth of points by purchasing with newegg. Would've been closer to $100 but I used for the network order.

The computer parts should arrive tomorrow or the next day.

Future updates will include Monitors, waiting for Black Friday deals to see what happens there, adding another SSD for RAID, another mouse for the Xbox, and More/better storage for the NAS.