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View Full Version : Another new computer specs thread - advice, please...



Maxx
11-02-2008, 06:43 AM
Hi all - I'm plotting a new system purchase next week. What I'm looking at is tearing up my current system and using the graphics card (nVidia 8500GT) and HDD, but replacing the mobo, cpu, and memory.

Thinking about the following -

Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R LGA775 P45 Intel motherboard here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128359&Tpk=GA-EP45-UD3R).

Q8200 Intel Core2Quad here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115055).

A-Data 2x2GB 240-pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211188).

Now, despite my attempts to do the necessary research, I know very little about hardware anymore. The system I'm currently on has some stability and overheating issues, and I'd really like to avoid that this time around. Anybody have any experience with the above listed specs? See any possible gotchas? I may ask you to type slowly and distinctly (yup, I'm slow), but I'll listen to any and all advice and comments.

Thanks to all for taking the time to read and (hopefully) respond.

cresshead
11-02-2008, 07:00 AM
or you could hand on a say 10weeks and go get a 6 core!
or the new quad cores with hyperthreding...which show up a 8 cores whe rendering out!

http://img.hexus.net/v2/news/intel/intel_dunnington_slide.jpg

IMI
11-02-2008, 10:58 AM
Hi all - I'm plotting a new system purchase next week. What I'm looking at is tearing up my current system and using the graphics card (nVidia 8500GT) and HDD, but replacing the mobo, cpu, and memory.

Thinking about the following -

Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R LGA775 P45 Intel motherboard here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128359&Tpk=GA-EP45-UD3R).

Q8200 Intel Core2Quad here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115055).

A-Data 2x2GB 240-pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211188).

Now, despite my attempts to do the necessary research, I know very little about hardware anymore. The system I'm currently on has some stability and overheating issues, and I'd really like to avoid that this time around. Anybody have any experience with the above listed specs? See any possible gotchas? I may ask you to type slowly and distinctly (yup, I'm slow), but I'll listen to any and all advice and comments.

Thanks to all for taking the time to read and (hopefully) respond.

Cresshead's just being mean. ;)

Obviously you're on a budget, but if you could spare a few dollars more you can get alot more power.
For one, I wouldn't go with that board. The P45 chipset is excellent, but that board doesn't seem very raod-tested, for lack of a better word. For only a little bit more you could get the Asus P5Q Pro (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131299). Don't be afraid of the reviews. I have that in one of my machines, and I've installed it in two others, and haven't had any problems. It really is a great board with an excellent BIOS. And those Asus "Q connectors" make front panel connections alot easier, and Asus uses good, high quality capacitors, which can be a *very* important thing.

The processor you selected is rock-solid, and won't disappoint you.

I don't like your RAM selection one little bit though. Beware of discount RAM, seriously!
It's not cheap, but it's not the most expensive either, but THIS (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227289) is what I use in two of my machines, and it has not disappointed me at all. The board you selected can handle it, too.
Incidentally, those tall heatsinks on the RAM modules won't interfere with the CPU cooler at all on a P45 board, even if you use a large hsf such as a Zalman CNPS 9700.

I hope this helps some. :)

Jason Hawkins
11-02-2008, 05:13 PM
If you can wait 2-3 weeks, Intel will be releasing the new Core i7 (Nehalem) based quad core processors with hyperthreading (for a total of 8 threads of goodness). One of those would make an exceptional workstation for Lightwave in my opinion.

Here are some "preview" links at Anandtech with early Nehalem silicon:
http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3326&p=7
http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3382&p=14

This site typically includes lightwave as one of its benchmarks when testing a new processor. I'd expect to see a Nehalem review there when it is released in 2-3 weeks:
http://www.extremetech.com/category2/0,2843,507,00.asp

Maxx
11-02-2008, 09:34 PM
Cress, that's just ... really. What did I ever do to you, eh? :D

IMI - thank you for the time and tales from experience. I'll look into the ASUS board. I'd read a number of reviews of the ASUS boards that said they didn't live up to the hype, so it's good to read first hand accounts. I had originally thought to go with ASUS, but after the less than positive reviews, I figured I may try to save a few bucks if it didn't cut too much into the performance. And thanks for the words on the OCZ memory as well. I'll admit I was a bit concerned about the height of the heat sinks upon first look - glad to know they're not the problem they look like they could be.

Jason, though I'd love to be able to wait for a couple weeks to a month or so, part of this upgrade on my main system is so I can salvage one of my other systems by Frankenstein-ing bits and pieces here and there (the mobo that works on my current system will be going into the other - that mobo just burned out - and I'll be adding the memory from the main system to the other).

Don't ever, by the way, buy a computer from Cyberpower Systems - I bought two and have been through 3 different mobos and am about to throw away a CPU. Nothing but issues with these systems, which is why I'm trying to get as much input as possible on the upgrades. Once bitten, scarred for life, I always say...

Thanks guys for the input

IMI
11-02-2008, 11:02 PM
IMI - thank you for the time and tales from experience. I'll look into the ASUS board. I'd read a number of reviews of the ASUS boards that said they didn't live up to the hype, so it's good to read first hand accounts. I had originally thought to go with ASUS, but after the less than positive reviews, I figured I may try to save a few bucks if it didn't cut too much into the performance. And thanks for the words on the OCZ memory as well. I'll admit I was a bit concerned about the height of the heat sinks upon first look - glad to know they're not the problem they look like they could be.



Well, you're welcome, and if I can help any further with any more specific details I'll be glad to and if I don't know, I'll look it up. Thanks to our stellar economic situation I'm unemployed right now and riding it out by upgrading and repairing computers and I have a few people I'm building PC's for. So I'm kinda in geek mode right now. ;)

As for the Asus reviews, it's like anything else - sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt, because just like everything else, you have your "fanboys" who will say everything is either good or bad about various hardware. Newegg really isn't the greatest source for reviews, and I *always* cross-check with resources like Tom's Hardware, and especially with the hardware geek forums, *particularly* where they are gamers and doing alot of overclocking. Because those guys tend to really push their hardware and if there's a weakness, they'll find it.
Gigabyte boards have gotten alot of favorable reviews - don't get me wrong - I'm just leery when I see so few reviews on a high volume sales site like newegg, or with newer models using the older chipsets.
I'd be lying if I said every Asus board I've bought and installed was perfect. I had to RMA an Asus Rampage board just a couple months ago, but newegg was real good about it, and the replacement board is just fine. Out of all The Asus boards I've bought though, that's the only one I had a problem with, and I've bought the Asus boards for AMD as well as Intel. Have to say though, the P5Q is my favorite, for its reliability and BIOS, and that's the board I recommend to people I build PC's for these days - people who want a powerful system but are on a budget and aren't looking for that cutting edge.
You want that, talk to cresshead. ;)

Speaking of Newegg, you made a right good decision there. Simply put, Newegg is *awesome*. In the three or so years I've been dealing with them, over the course of hundreds of orders and thousands of dollars, I've not had one bad Newegg "egg-sperience" :D
The one bad board was Asus' fault and I've had a few bad drives, but again, that's the manufacturer's problem, not the distributor. The only time I'll buy from some place other than newegg, is if they don't have something specific I want, or can't find a reasonable replacement for, which is very rare.

One other thing - those heatsinks on the OCZ RAM *are* a problem in an AMD board if you use a 3rd party hsf on the processor, but not a problem with the Intel design.

Maxx
11-03-2008, 03:09 PM
Again, IMI, thank you for your time and advice. We ever meet in the real world, I owe you some drinks.

I think I'm going to go with the board you suggested, the CPU I originally chose, and 2-2gig sticks of OCZ 240-pin DDR2 SDRAM 1600 (PC2 8500) memory (they're a little more budget-conscious, especially now that we apparently have a sick cat. yay.) The sticks I'm thinking about are here (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227362). The specs looked mighty close to those of the sticks you suggested, but it's an appreciable difference in price. I plan to continue on with XP Pro 32-bit (I'll flip the 3 gig switch in the boot.ini) until I can grab a copy of XP Pro 64-bit.

I know there's only 1 review of the memory posted, but right now I kinda need to get my system fixed (it overheats and locks up on pretty much any animation I try to render - stills are hit-or-miss depending on the complexity - and I'd like to make a push into the market locally. Tough to do when my main system can't complete a decent render...) and save some scratch.

Any concerns other than the almost complete lack of user reviews on the site with the memory?

IMI
11-03-2008, 04:29 PM
Again, Maxx, no problem. :)
I would trust that RAM. Aside from the specs and the heatsink it's probably the same general technology and quality as the OCZ RAM I use.

Overheating? What, the Proc or the mobo? Silly question, but have you checked the fans for dust build-up? Installed any hardware monitoring programs which might have turned the fan speeds down? The CPU hsf fins nice and uncluttered? Do you or anyone else there smoke? Because the tar from cigarette smoke can make for a nice "glue" which dust and animal hair can stick to *really* well and seriously limit a hsf from venting properly.

Maxx
11-03-2008, 06:48 PM
Again, Maxx, no problem. :)
I would trust that RAM. Aside from the specs and the heatsink it's probably the same general technology and quality as the OCZ RAM I use.
Cool. That's what I thought about the RAM. Buying tomorrow - I'll let you know how it turns out.

Overheating? What, the Proc or the mobo? Silly question, but have you checked the fans for dust build-up? Installed any hardware monitoring programs which might have turned the fan speeds down? The CPU hsf fins nice and uncluttered? Do you or anyone else there smoke? Because the tar from cigarette smoke can make for a nice "glue" which dust and animal hair can stick to *really* well and seriously limit a hsf from venting properly.
Apparently the CPU. I'm running CoreTemp just to monitor the temps right now (tried SpeedFan as well) and my system idles between 90 and 100 degrees F on core 1, 115 and 125 on core 2. Let alone when I'm rendering, where they reach between 160 and 180 degrees centigrade, apparently. I've got 5 fans on this sucker and I do keep them quite clean, despite living with both a dog and a cat. As far as I can tell, all fans are at their highest speeds, and despite the fact that both the wife and I smoke, we don't smoke inside at all.

I originally replaced the CPU thinking it was the issue, only to find the same issues, so I put the original back in - it was a slightly higher speed. Replacing the MOBO after putting the original CPU back in helped a bit, but I still sometimes freeze and consistently show abnormally high temperatures, so I'm thinking it may have been a MOBO issue that fried my CPU. Or, I hate AMD. Or both. I'm not sure yet, but hopefully I'll be able to say early next week... :D

Now, admittedly, I don't have the slightest idea where my tower front-mounted temperature display is getting its' information, because it shows something completely different at all times than either SpeedFan or CoreTemp is showing, but that's where I start the whole stymied feeling and just shrug and look to the kindness of others.

IMI
11-03-2008, 11:06 PM
First off, for your shiny new machine, you might want to try Harware Monitor (http://www.cpuid.com/hwmonitor.php), a free Windows app that will give you all that cool information. I've been told it's the most accurate temp reading software out there.
Then, while you're ordering your stuff from Newegg, you might want to pick up some of THIS (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100007) - Arctic Silver 5 - very inexpensive, but far superior to the thermal goo that comes with an Intel or AMD proc.
And if you're feeling adventurous, for far better cooling than your Intel cooler will give you, check THIS (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118019) out for cooling. I know it looks scary, but it's really easy to install on an Intel board, and works great. I have one in my AMD machine and one in my Intel machine, and I've installed a few others in other people's machines, and have had no problems. Although if you decide to get something like that, make sure you have the room for it - it's made for medium-to-large towers. And it has a killer blue LED in it. :D

If you do decide to get an aftermarket CPU hsf, for God's sake, don't get THIS! (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-cooler-charts-2008,1779-15.html) Bad, bad news - I believe it's a little less expensive, and I think they have them at Newegg, but...well, the link (and others) explains well enough. That's not an issue with the Zalmans and the Zalman 9500 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118223) is a little less than the 9700 and is very good too. Green LED in the 9500, though. :eek:

Your temps are WAY too high, but I guess you know that. Another stupid question, but when you did all that CPU and mobo switching, did you replace the thermal paste on the CPU? That's a hugely necessary thing.

Speaking of which, a little trick here: I don't use the stock goo that comes on a CPU, since Arctic Silver is much better, but you can't just wipe the old stuff off and put the new it over top, you have to clean it off well (and that goes for any time I change anything there - a CPU, hsf, mobo, whatever). Get some 91% isopropyl alcohol - not the 70% rubbing alcohol, because that has impurities in it, but the 91% version. Grocery stores and pharmacies always have it. And some distilled water, too, also cheap at a grocery store.

Then you use the 91% alcohol to completely clean the goo off the CPU, with, of all things, a simple coffee filter, since it has no lint like a paper towel. Then, carefully use a tiny bit of distilled water on a clean coffee filter to wipe down the cpu heat spreader, to remove any residue the alcohol might have left behind. And after that you just apply the thermal goo very lightly, as shown HERE (http://www.arcticsilver.com/pdf/appinstruct/as5/ins_as5_intel_quad_wcap.pdf).

That's if you want to go that route, but, like I said, whenever you want to change out a CPU, you should always remove all the old stuff from the CPU heat spreader as well as from the contact piece on the hsf.
Note that what's attached to a CPU heat spreader from the factory is thermal paste mixed with paraffin wax, and it cover the entire heat spreader. You do not want to cover the entire thing with regular concentrated thermal paste like that - only a dab in the middle, spread out evenly across all 4 cores.
So, everyone who thinks he ever might want to try to replace a CPU, CPU hsf, or a mobo should have some thermal paste on hand.

Sorry, I'm not trying to break your budget here, really I'm not. :D

Since you're installing XP Pro 32, you shouldn't have any problems with that, although your selections can also handle 64 bit XP or Vista. I'm sure you know that though.

I never said anything about HDD's. I'm partial to Western Digital myself, but I've had a couple fail for no apparent reason. Then again, I've had Seagates fail too. Who knows? HDD selection seems to be a roll of the dice these days, just make sure whatever you buy you retain your purchase information for RMA or warranty use.

Let me know how it all works out!

IMI
11-03-2008, 11:18 PM
BTW, in case I can also sell you on a new chassis, I have two of THESE (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233026), by Gigabyte. Excellent, awesome cases - very heavy duty, although lightweight, no cheapness, no sharp edges, and plenty of fans and room. The removable HDD tray has two 80mm fans on the other side of the case, just for the HDD's. Very nice.

No, I don't work for Newegg. ;)

Mike_RB
11-03-2008, 11:46 PM
I'm building a new machine right now based on that asus motherboard. I'm putting a q9550 in there instead, with 8gb of ram and a velociraptor system drive. Lots of bank for your buck.

IMI
11-03-2008, 11:50 PM
Oh also one more thing I forgot to throw in:
A thorough review of the Asus P5Q pro P45 mobo, one of many: HERE. (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/8783-asus-p5q-pro-p45-motherboard-review.html)

IMI
11-03-2008, 11:52 PM
I'm building a new machine right now based on that asus motherboard. I'm putting a q9550 in there instead, with 8gb of ram and a velociraptor system drive. Lots of bank for your buck.

Yeah, I have a Q9550 on that board too - excellent combination they are- as well as 8 GB RAM.

IMI
11-04-2008, 12:33 AM
IMI, what Asus board (that has similar features to the Asus P5Q Pro) would you recommend that has onboard video? I'd love to upgrade a machine or two here for rendering which will fit into a 2U rackmount - so no videocards. I'd love 16gb of RAM, but 8GB is not too shabby. ;)

Honestly, I don't know. I haven't even looked into it in a while. I have an old Asus board with onboard video, but that was DDR 400, AGP and for a single core Athlon.
To tell you the truth, I don't know if they even make onboard video boards with the modern chipsets and multi-core CPU's.
The good news is though, you can get really cheap graphics cards, which, IMO, would be the better way to go anyway, if video acceleration weren't a real concern.

Honestly though, that would be a question for someone who specializes in rack mounts or render farms.

coremi
11-04-2008, 12:33 AM
wait and go for Core i7, cause it changes everything, socket for the CPU, LGA1333, using only DDR3 with triple channel (bull****). The old platform LGA 775 is dieing and in 2 years time frame if the mb will crash you may have a hard time finding one as good as the one it crashed, or it will be a refurbished one. About mb brand my small computer shop is an Intel Associate Member and we mostly sell Intel mainbords, very very reliable, not so much for high performance but it will work in any way you wanted. The other mn like gigabyte, asus, msi have more colors, better performanca (like maximum 5% better) all kind of marketing stuff to take your eyes away, but most of them are no so reliable in time. we let down Asus cause after 2 or 2,5 years they crashed, and asus send refurbished mb back and customers were not so happy. 30 to 50% crashed after 2 years, too much and we stopped selling them. I find top expensive MSI mainboards to be more reliable, cheap one's are bad. Wait another 2 month to have X48 chipset wich will be cheaper, also after december prices goes down, and get a new platform. Core i7 is 25% faster than Core2quad has the new sse 4.2 finally implemented. I though i give you another perspective on things. You can always buy a skulltrail platform also :))

http://hothardware.com/Articles/Intel_Skulltrail_Unleashed_Core_2_Extreme_QX9775_x _2/

coremi
11-04-2008, 12:42 AM
http://global.msi.com.tw/index.php?func=proddesc&maincat_no=1&cat2_no=170&prod_no=1607

this one looks oki, sorry i will never ever recomend Asus. U can play games watch Blue-ray, it's fast enough.

coremi
11-04-2008, 03:12 AM
http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=91223

IMI
11-04-2008, 01:38 PM
I've wondered about it - what's inside the rack mount render farm computers, that is. I've seen them, just never looked into the whole subject.
To tell you the truth, I was under the impression they were all slaves to a master computer only needed for their processing power, and wouldn't need any kind of video out.

As for my own purposes, I have a teeny little render "garden" of three machines, each of which are standalone, complete PC's, with graphics, monitors, internet access and apps installed on them.

Maxx
11-05-2008, 05:59 AM
Well, just took the plunge and plunked down the cash on the parts - thanks IMI and everyone else. I'll let anyone interested know how it all goes next week - should have the parts installed by then.

:thumbsup:

Maxx
11-13-2008, 01:24 PM
Well, just got the system back from the shop - so far, loving it. I only got a chance to try out one scene - gotta go to work in about 10 minutes - but the scene (which I couldn't render on the old kit - it would freeze up about halfway through the AA) just completed rendering in 25 seconds. Holy crap. That makes me smile.

Again - thanks for all the advice, and I'll post here again after some actual tests have been run.

IMI
11-13-2008, 01:56 PM
Glad to hear it Maxx! :thumbsup:

Maxx
11-14-2008, 05:23 AM
Yup, I'm now officially in love with this thing. Big thanks to everyone for their input and advice. Matt's Outdoor GI test used to take about 5 to 10 minutes to render - assuming it would render completely. It's pumping it out in less than a minute now. I'm in hog heaven. The only problem that I'm having now is finding the time to play in Lightwave!