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Unread 10-12-2008, 11:40 PM   #1
RickZarber
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Default Building a PC, looking for advice/help/comments

So I've been giving some serious thought to starting my own videography business (maybe not until the economy picks up a bit, but still, we're working hypothetically here anyway) and if I were to do that I'd need something considerably more powerful than my current 5-year-old rig. So I went to a custom-pc-building site and loaded up on stuff just to get some ideas (this is the Fifth-coined "Fuck Money" edition at the moment--that may change depending).

Anyways, this is what I've got so far. Just remember, I'm not good with technical stuff when it comes to anything but AV... I'd appreciate any and all advice or commentary as to what's not enough, what's overkill, etc. Keep in mind that my primary use will be SD & HD video editing/storage.
  • CASE: Standard ATC Mid-Tower (Don't need anything fancy there)
  • POWER SUPPLY: 750 Watt (I'm not certain on this one, it was my best guess between not enough power and too much money)
  • PROCESSOR: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 (4x 3.0GHz / 12 MB L2 Cache / 1333FSB)
  • Extreme Performance Intel CPU Cooling Fan System kit
  • MOTHERBOARD: I don't have a freaking clue. Help me out on this one, please! The standard case comes with: "[SLI] Asus P5N-E SLI nForceŽ 650i SLI Chipset w/6-channel CODEC, Gb LAN, S-ATA Raid, USB 2.0, IEEE-1394 Dual PCI-E MB" but that's the cheapest one. I don't know what most of that means, and looking it up has only confused me more.
  • RAM: 4 GB [2 GB X2] DDR2-1066 PC2 8500 (This is the top RAM the custom site offers, but I'm wondering if I should shell for DDR3 or not...)
  • VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB w/DVI + TV Out Video
  • HARD DRIVE(S): 1.5TB (2x 750GB) [Serial-ATA-II, 3Gb, 7200 RPM, 16M Cache] (HD editing requires RAID capabilities. Will I be able to do that with this or will I need something else?)
  • OPTICAL DRIVE: LG GBW-H20L BD-R(E)/DVD/CD reader/burner (I'm certain on this one )
  • SOUND CARD: Creative Lab Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series (This one may be overkill, but I do do a lot of sound editing, so...)
  • SPEAKERS: Logitech X-540 5.1 Surround Speakers + Subwoofer (A 5.1 setup is my only real requirement--this brand is just the one the custom site offers)
  • NETWORK CARD: Killer M1- Online Gaming Accelerator - w/ 400Mhz Network Processing Unit + Lag & Latency Reduction Technology (??? It sounded cool, but this will probably be the first thing to go when it comes to budgeting...)
  • MONITOR: Already have a 20" CRT, may get a HD LCD to go with it.
  • KEYBOARD: Bella Corporation DV Keyboard 3.0 (Hell yes)
Okay, so that's an expensive set-up... Not sure how much better I can do and still get the features I want/need, but we shall see. As I said, any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Unread 10-15-2008, 12:40 PM   #2
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CASE: Standard ATC Mid-Tower (Don't need anything fancy there)

Just remember you have to have the right "form factor" for the motherboard, or else it won't fit.

POWER SUPPLY: 750 Watt (I'm not certain on this one, it was my best guess between not enough power and too much money)

The PSU sounds pretty good. But that's just a rough guess. You may need to go as high as 1000W with the hardware you're looking at. My advice is to look at the wattage of all your other components, add them together, and round up at least to the next 100, if not 200, because power supplies lose capacity over time, and you'll want this to last.

PROCESSOR: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 (4x 3.0GHz / 12 MB L2 Cache / 1333FSB)

Sounds pretty good here power-wise. But you might want to consider a larger cache. Unless your L1 is REALLY big, and I think L1 actually has limits imposed, 12MB SHARED L2 might show you a bit of slowness. If it's 12 MB EACH, I'd worry a bit less.

Extreme Performance Intel CPU Cooling Fan System kit

Just an FYI, but actually, the PSU does the bulk of cooling the computer. This is fine, but you'll want a PSU with a big fan for this rig. Dynex makes some good models with lots of air flow.

MOTHERBOARD: I don't have a freaking clue. Help me out on this one, please! The standard case comes with: "[SLI] Asus P5N-E SLI nForceŽ 650i SLI Chipset w/6-channel CODEC, Gb LAN, S-ATA Raid, USB 2.0, IEEE-1394 Dual PCI-E MB" but that's the cheapest one. I don't know what most of that means, and looking it up has only confused me more.

SLI means, I believe, that it supports more than one video card to work in tandem. SATA RAID means it had RAID support for SATA drives, which you've selected. SATA is a connection type that's newer than and smaller than PATA (also simply ATA), which are the broad ribbons most people think of. USB 2.0 is good. That's current technology. IEEE-1394 is otherwise known as Firewire. Overall, this is all good info, but you also need to look at the amount and type of RAM the MB supports, the number and type of card slots for your video, sound, etc., and whether it supports the processor you've selected. Because processors often need a specific slot depending on manufacturer, model, and whether they use pins or flat "land" contacts. Also, like RAM, you'll need to make sure the board supports the processor's power and speed.

Essentially, look at the rest of your components and buy a motherboard that supports it all. It's easier to do it that way than to build a decent computer around a shitty MB.


RAM: 4 GB [2 GB X2] DDR2-1066 PC2 8500 (This is the top RAM the custom site offers, but I'm wondering if I should shell for DDR3 or not...)

DDR3 is a newer technology, but I've heard whispers that it's a rather small performance boost for a lot more money. Again, look at what your board supports. If it doesn't say it specifically uses DDR3, it's not compatible. Honestly, you'd be better off finding a board that supports at least 8GB of RAM, regardless. Some currently go all the way to 16GB, but that's crazy lots right now and you'd never use it. Unless you have Vista, as Vista has a habit of FINDING ways to squander half your RAM. Literally. 8GB capacity at the moment is more than enough with plenty of room for growth. 4GB should suit your needs well for actual practical amounts to put in right away. But RAM is cheap. If you have a board the supports dual channels, it could give you a performance boost to have 1GB x 4 in there, provided you have 4 slots to work with.

VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB w/DVI + TV Out Video

This thing is a BEAST. It alone, according to the specs, can take almost 200W of power at max, and has a minimum PSU requirement of almost 600. This page has a list of compatible PSUs. Dynex isn't on it, sadly, but Cooler Master is. On top of that, it sports a full extra GB of memory, half in each of two cores. The thing is also effing HUGE! Over 4 inches wide, 10.5 inches long, and it'll block off one of your card slots with its height. Account for that when choosing your case and MB.

HARD DRIVE(S): 1.5TB (2x 750GB) [Serial-ATA-II, 3Gb, 7200 RPM, 16M Cache] (HD editing requires RAID capabilities. Will I be able to do that with this or will I need something else?)

You can RAID with SATA and I don't think you need anything special with the drive itself to RAID. That should be handled by other harware and/or software.

SOUND CARD: Creative Lab Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series (This one may be overkill, but I do do a lot of sound editing, so...)

Again, this thing is a beast. I'm somewhat familiar with the line. It's a great card, with up to 7.1 channels, lots of recording and playback options, and comes from a manufacturer with lots of experience. However, user reviews seem to keep complaining it's too big to fit their cases. I can't find any physical dimensions on the thing, or any power requirements, but be aware that it might be a bit big. I suggest getting the combo deal for a bit extra and making sure to update the drivers to avoid crackling. The combo deal is because they don't have any special headphone attachment otherwise (you'd sacrifice your speakers), and because the back has a combined line in (blue)/mic (pink) jack that gets mediated by a mic jack on the front end. If you'll be doing a lot of audio work that requires headphones and an easily-accessed mic jack, the $200 deal is the best price you can get. The front end is otherwise $70 alone. But I'm assuming you need crazy features and maybe you don't. If you don't need the front end, by all means save yourself $60.

If you find you're on more of a budget than you planned, this card is the same basic thing, minus the RAM. Newegg has it on special for $95, if you're quick.

Either way, make sure you have an accessible PCI-E slot.


SPEAKERS: Logitech X-540 5.1 Surround Speakers + Subwoofer (A 5.1 setup is my only real requirement--this brand is just the one the custom site offers)

Logitech is a good brand. Go for it.

NETWORK CARD: Killer M1- Online Gaming Accelerator - w/ 400Mhz Network Processing Unit + Lag & Latency Reduction Technology (??? It sounded cool, but this will probably be the first thing to go when it comes to budgeting...)

From what I'm reading, this thing is a BITCH to set up. Also from what I'm reading, it won't do anything drastic for your system, or may even slow it down. It's an expensive card that's designed to take the load off of your main processor, and unless you're running server, the jury says you won't notice any improvement. Add to that driver issues (the pre-packed are apparently crap, issues with being dead on arrival, and other system-related concerns. Unless you're running WOW like this guy, you won't get anything special out of it. I'd honestly recommend getting something MUCH cheaper, or maybe holding off on putting one in at all until 802.11n finally gets decided on for the freedom of wireless and multiplexing. It's a beast if it works, but honestly, it's designed to be the proverbial hobo-with-a-Rolex item for computers much less capable than yours is looking.
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Unread 10-15-2008, 04:27 PM   #3
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Thanks, blue, that's exactly the kind of advice I needed / was hoping for! I'll look this over and come back with try #2.
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Unread 10-15-2008, 05:06 PM   #4
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One other thing to add with Blue's advice. Your motherboard does not support 45nm technology without a BIOS flash, so it you have an extra CPU of the LGA 775 socket variety, its extra work. If you go with the nForce 700 series which supports the 45 nm tech without a bios flash. I've had a few friends with this problem when building thier computer.
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Unread 10-22-2008, 03:08 PM   #5
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Just to add a few points:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickZarber
POWER SUPPLY: 750 Watt (I'm not certain on this one, it was my best guess between not enough power and too much money)
Power supply is NOT something you want to pour savings in. I'd rather kill the network card, get a cheaper sound card, and heap the money into the PSU. Also, wattage is not necessarily the most important consideration. The 12V rail is. Try to get something that is SLI certified and has a 80-plus efficiency, and make sure that you have both a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector available. Nvidia recommends an 800-850W on average for a the 9800GX2, but I'd suggest going a little crazy just in case you want to stick a second GX2 in there someday. Modular is also a great option since the GX2 takes up so much space, you only want to have the power cables that you actually need.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817379009

For instance... very good quality PSU. Little no risk of burnout on any of your components.

Also, having worked at Future Shop, do NOT buy anything Dynex. Its overpriced and has the appearance of being great, but is actually a very low quality build.

Second point: Don't worry about the L2 cache on the Q9650. I don't know where blue is getting his info, but the Q9650 is arguably the fastest CPU currently available for less than $1000 and has the highest cache size of any non QX-model CPU.

Third point: Get a better motherboard. Something that is a 750i or 780i model. The 650i is outdated and will not be as efficient with the CPU or the video card as a 700 series motherboard. As a personal recommendation, get something like:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813130159

Easily the best motherboard available at this price. I've got one in my own rig.

Third point: The Logitech X-540 speakers aren't bad, but they aren't durable either. If one falls, consider it a dead speaker. Personal experience.

Fourth point: Just to agree with blue on something, stick with DDR2, and screw the network card. Onboard network is MORE than enough, and with 4GB of RAM and a Q9650 you've got more than enough juice to run it with no negligible impact on system performance whatsoever.
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Unread 10-23-2008, 07:54 AM   #6
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You will also have to make sure that your motherboard and your CPU are compatible with one another. I was pricing out a machine two months back - I still need to save more to go through with my next build - and had erroneously selected a processor that exceeded the mobo's capabilities, specifically the frontside bus.


Nearly every mobo these days has a gigabit LAN NIC on-board, so an extra NIC is pretty useless.

Also, to save more money, you could drop back to non-SLI boards and just go with one solid video card. Your PSU wouldn't have to push to two cards then, either, and you could, as Swordypants posted, drop some more money on a PSU if needed. He's also posted some motherboard suggestions, I see, but, again, don't feel like you HAVE to have SLI.

And that is a big card you selected. You probably are better off not going with an SLI board if you're popping that in.

"Fatal1ty" hardware is often just an excuse to make it cost more, riding on the name of an FPS player who somehow was heralded as some kind of resource for hardware a few years back. It may be that comparable models in the same line, minus the name, will perform just as well while possibly saving money. I am a fan of NOT using on-board sound, however, and support getting a soundcard if you have the slot for one.

I will chime in that Dynex isn't regarded as very good. Antec and Coolermaster are going to be much better options.
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Unread 10-23-2008, 09:07 AM   #7
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For starters, drop that "Killer" gaming card. I've heard TERRIBLE reviews about it, and while i haven't seen it in action... the biggest benefit you get out of it is to kick your own network down so you're as laggy as your competition.

Seriously- that card lets you do that, and that confused the hell out of me.

Antec would get my vote, as posted above.

third, do you really need 3.0? I'm running on a 2.4 Quad and it's working out beautifully. I'm running brand new games fresh on the market with no issues whatsoever, at top quality.

Also, why not grab the Radeon GeForce 8800 GTX? It might suit your tastes a little better and be a bit of a better grab for the money.

I can't 100% verify any of this, so i hope that helps?
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Unread 10-26-2008, 01:42 PM   #8
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On top of what everyone else has said-- Make sure your Motherboard has RAID support, and that its SATA compatible. If not, you need a RAID card. Yet another PCI device for you.

Also, if you are going with a SATA RAID and you plan on using Windows XP, you need to get temporary SATA RAID drivers installed before installing windows. To do that, you need a Floppy disk drive. CD will not work with XP in this sole case.

And as Bluestar said, the RAID itself is handled entirely by outside hardware: Your motherboard's chipset, or the RAID card. As long as you have two very similar hard drives, they dont need to be special hard drives at all. Any will work.

Just make sure you have two very reliable drives. If your going RAID-0 (twice as fast, splits data writing and reading between two fragmented drives), if one drive dies or has an error, ALL of your data is lost. All of it. Instead of 100010101011, your going to have 10--10--10--, which is useless.
(RAID-1 has no performance increase, but makes one HDD a clone of the other. Basically, everythign written on one drive, is written on the other at the same time, if one dies, you have a copy. RAID-0+1 is both. But you need four hard drives. Data is split between two drives for speed, like a 0, and is then copied on the other two the same way, like a 1)

With that said, Ive been running a RAID-0 for 5 years now on a pair of Western Digital 74Gb SATA Raptors. Ive never formatted once, and I have no noticable data loss, failures, or anything. Two good drives, you'll never have a problem!
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Unread 12-01-2008, 04:01 AM   #9
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Okay, so thanks to everyone's excellent advice I'm on to my second stab at this. Lemme know whatcha think.

So what do you guys think?
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