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 Post subject: Desktop update thoughts
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 12:04 pm 
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With the release of the Z68 chipset, the new Smart Response SSD cache ability pretty much sold the idea now is a good time for me to upgrade my main desktop.

To recap, the brief spec I currently have is:
Q6600 (2.4 GHz quad) - released early 2007, this CPU model is 4 years old! I think I've stretched it enough now...
8GB ram
2x1TB WD Green mirrored system drive. Not the fastest I know...
GTS450 - does the job.

Currently in an online shopping basket I have:
i7-2600k - might as well get the HT over the 2500 for the small cost difference. Compared to before I get an extra GHz before turbo kicks in, at least two generations of improvements plus an extra set of thread handlers.
16GB ram - wont be short in a while!
2x2TB WD Black - for mirrored system drive. Bigger and faster than I currently have.
OCZ Vertex 2E 60GB SSD - to go in as cache. Seems to have great balance of speed, capacity and cost in the cache role.
GTX560Ti - still not a gamer, but with ever more software making use of CPU acceleration I might as well get something upper-mid range now.

Think this might have a tangible speed difference? :D Note I have a bunch of other internal/external 1TB and 2TB drives for bulk storage and backup. They can easily be moved over.

Not decided on the exact mobo yet other than it will have Z68 chipset, and probably Gigabyte branded as I like them most recently. A 600W PSU should be more than adequate for this combination.

Right, is there anything I've forgotten or overlooked? I should add, the goal is a desktop system that will satisfy me without major further upgrade for say 2 years. Major essentially means mobo change. Minor could be things like more ram, GPU, or possible future CPUs. That reminds me, I need to double check what Win7 home supports ram wise...

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Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 2:24 pm 
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Argh... just when I thought I had it sorted. Bob's comments in the other thread have rejuvenated the idea of using a SSD as system disk. Say, 120GB will be enough if I still put the data onto storage disks as I do anyway.

Basically the choice would be:

Option 1 - Smart Response
2x2TB WD Black mirrored combined system+data disk
60GB SSD for cache

Option 2 - Traditional install
2x2TB WD Green mirrored data disk
120GB SSD system disk

Option 1 would be easier to manage as I would practically never run out of disk space however careless I get in saving stuff. Data is duplicated without extra effort for redundancy. Performance would typically be lower depending on the efficiency of Smart Response (in particular to writes).

Option 2 means I'd have to pay a bit more attention to what gets saved where, but the OS and programs would always have SSD performance. I would have to set up and maintain some kind of backup system of the SSD contents.

I think both would cost, for practical purposes, about the same as the Green drives are quite a bit cheaper than the Black ones, which goes towards the bigger SSD instead.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 9:45 pm 
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Looks mighty fine Popo ;)

I think I would have chosen a Corsair CX 500W for that rig. Great value and enough power with a ample overhead. (Unless of course you are going dual GPU or something high end in the future)

Right now I have a similar Option 2 system. Which is just fine, I am not even bothered with the loading time for my Raw's from my single WD Green, which I think is rather non existent. And I am very satisfied with having an SSD as a system disk, it's so crisp and fast at all times.

About RAM support, if you are on a x86-64 supporting OS then you're going to be fine for a long time ^^

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Canon A-1 -|- Canon 28mm f/2 | Canon 35mm f/2.8 | Canon 50mm f/3.5 Macro


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 10:07 pm 
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Still shopping... the parts I have in a shopping basket currently aren't far off the cost of a 5D2! No, I don't need a 5D2... but then I don't *need* this desktop either. I'm really debating what could I get from selling my existing systems to offset the cost... but of course as they're getting on a bit I'm not sure they'll get much. I think I'll also ditch the new gfx for some months yet as a relatively easy future upgrade.

On the power budget, the GPU is close to 200W, add 100W for CPU if I don't overclock, allow say 100W for everything else (probably excessive...) and we getting closer to the limit of a 500W PSU than I'd like for comfort. Then again if I'm ditching the new gfx, the old one is 100W so 500W would be ok after all!

16GB of ram I only needed to check as it was on the limit for Win7 home. I don't see myself needing more than that in a long time, as I rarely get over 4GB on my current system.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:01 pm 
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Order is in:

Via amazon.co.uk:
2x Western Digital Caviar 2TB SATAII 64MB Cache 3.5-inch Green OEM
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Cooler

Via elsewhere:
Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3
OCZ Stealth Xstream II 600W PSU
Fractal Design Black Pearl Define R3 Case
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional w/SP1
Sony Optiarc AD-7260B 24x DVD±RW & DL SATA Optical Drive - OEM Black
Intel Core i7 2600k 3.4GHz Socket 1155 8MB Cache Retail
OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 SSD 2.5" SATA-III 6Gb/s
Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600Mhz CAS8 1.5V

I ditched the GTX560Ti and scaled back the ram to 8GB to bring the cost down a bit. They can be easily added to later if I feel a desperate need. That means I'll keep using the GTS450 for a while longer. Decided to go Win7 Pro after all in case future 8GB modules become affordable, that leaves the door open for 24GB which is supported by the mobo.

I'm not 100% sure that the cooler I ordered fits the CPU mount, and even if it does, it might be too tall for the case. If it does I do know it works very well as I have one in another system already. I timed the credit card cycle perfectly so I wont have to pay this for about 5 weeks. I really should sell some of my older systems...

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


Last edited by popo on Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 8:10 pm 
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Wave 1 of parts arrived. That's the stuff not from amazon.

Box is built and Win7 going on now. Some impressions so far on the components:

Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 - Pretty much like any other mid range mobo. The only quirk I don't like on it is the SATA sockets face outwards at 90 degrees on the edge of the mobo. I'd prefer a conventional angle as it is easier to plug into.

OCZ Stealth Xstream II 600W PSU - I didn't pay attention to the number of each type of power plugs on it. There's only one line of 3 SATA ports which is a bit stingy. The ATX12V pair barely makes it in the case I used, which has the PSU at the bottom and it plugs in the top corner. In a case with PSU at top this wouldn't be an issue. There are lots of the 4 way molex connectors. Does anything other than fans still use these? In the old days you'd power most drives too, but now everything has moved to SATA it seems redundant to provide so many.

Fractal Design Black Pearl Define R3 Case - interesting case design. Midi tower unit. Panels made of decent weight metal and the side panels are coated with damping material. Lots of damped internally removable 3.5 inch bays. Nice hold in the panel behind mobo where the CPU is, so you can work on heatsinks which use a backing mount plate without having to remove the mobo. There are assorted holes around the mobo tray for you to route cables behind and hide them from view, but there isn't much space for the cables back there. Two fans included, one in front of half the drive bays, other exhaust at rear. Simple continuously variable fan speed controller included. Bottom of case has filtered intakes. Top of cash also have vents, but as supplied are covered with damping material. Case design allows you to select as little of much fan usage for desired cooling trading off noise levels. There is no HD activity light.

OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 SSD - depressing small box for the price! About the size of a thick CD jewel case.

Threw in my old 7600GT for now to get it running, will swap it with the GTS450 when the time to switch main systems come.

(badly lit) photos to follow later.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


Last edited by popo on Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 10:30 pm 
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Check the power output on the SATA ports, there might be enough juice to run 2 HDD on each or even more.

4-Pin molex is completely going away. Very few things still use them, like you said fans, and to some extent fan controllers, but that is pretty much it. Guess they just want to be overly backwards compatible.

Looking forward to pics and your thoughts on speed ;)

_________________
Canon 5D MkII -|- Sigma 24mm f/1.8 | Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 | Canon 50mm f/1.4 | Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Lensbaby Composer
Canon A-1 -|- Canon 28mm f/2 | Canon 35mm f/2.8 | Canon 50mm f/3.5 Macro


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 10:58 pm 
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I'm sure there is more than enough power available, just they only fitted 3 SATA power plugs! I'll have to use molex adapters to get more.

Just about got basic install on it now. Updated mobo bios and SSD firmware. Gonna leave it running overnight to warm up/in if it doesn't get too hot and noisy with the stock cooler.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 8:55 am 
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you people really need that setup ? :shock:
I mean,I still have my ancient Dual Core 1,8Ghz,2GB DDR2,Gefore 8500 GT & 2 Hard Drives (500GB + 160GB) & everything runs great,with space to spare. However,I would need an upgrade in the future to a Quad & 4 or 8GB DDR3 to run Photoshop CS5 smooth. Now I'm still using PS4 & Lightroom 2.7 because other versions will eat away trough my memory. (not that I couldn't do almost anything with these softwares,but still)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 9:31 am 
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Have you considered thunderbolt for storage interfaces, these will allow 2 10GB/s data streams and will be faster than SATA III or USB 3 transmission speeds.

http://www.techradar.com/news/computing ... ata-931343
http://www.ecnmag.com/blog/2011/02/conn ... SB3.0.aspx

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 9:41 am 
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Thunderbolt is great and all but I don't think there are any affordable storage products that can saturate Sata/eSata.

The two caviars Popo selected will sequentially read and write at ~100MB/s (I have that drive too). Now I'm assuming he'll run them side by side, or in RAID 1 (which I would recommend), and not in RAID0 which would double the throughput.

No, the main advantage of Thunderbolt is it's futureproofness due to it's high bandwidth. One could also use it as a backbone for a USB or eSata hub, to reduce the number of cables used.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 10:24 am 
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popo wrote:
...OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 SSD - depressing small box for the price! About the size of a thick CD jewel case...

But don't you just love the reduced W7 start-up time! 8)

Bob.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:45 am 
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Any operation that takes more than a few seconds will have a tangible benefit from faster hardware. Currently if I do a batch raw convert, it is typically an overnight job. Any speedup will help noticeably. The CPU in my current system is over 4 years from launch. That is a very long time in computing!

My ram peak usage is typically with heavy photoshop usage, where the total system usage can get up to 5 GB. I think it would be higher, but I'm running Elements which is 32-bit only and it swaps prematurely. I might have to go to CS5 to remove the memory limitation. 8GB really isn't much headroom.

And yes, I do need that storage. All my photo data to date takes just over 2TB, which includes edits and alternate versions etc... Which of course I need to store twice to have backup.

Faster external storage would be a nice to have, but since it is only used for backup, it isn't really time critical.

Bob, the boot time is nice, but I tend to leave my main system on 24/7 anyway so that isn't a selling point for me. Even the monitor wake up time to too slow for me!

Oh, I didn't leave it running overnight in a stress test after all. The bundled cooler is smaller than ever given TDPs haven't gone down. So under load it was hitting temps of over 80C before I aborted. I'll wait for the cooler ordered separately before I can seriously try to overclock it.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:36 am 
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The PC has given me issues since I built it. Thought I'd summarise my current and past woes in this thread...

Problem 1 - random BSODs. By chance saw a comment on another tech site saying there were possible firmware issues with the SSD, causing it to stop responding long enough to crash windows. A firmware update resolved that.

Problem 2 - occasional screen blackouts which recover after several seconds with a "driver not responding" type message. I only notice it happening when I'm using the computer. Sometimes but not always, either FF or Live Messenger will crash after it happens. Cause unknown. I have replaced the 600W PSU with a 750W PSU just in case it was power supply related. Total overkill and didn't help.

Problem 3 - I didn't even know this was a problem but found it when looking at reasons for problem 2 happening. Running memtest86+, there might be a single error running it for at least 12 hours or so. I never detected this originally as I never ran it for more than 2 hours. This happens both with XMP on or off if I let the mobo pick the timings to use. The address was always the same, even after I swapped the two memory sticks around, and was always the same test it might fail. It seems to be resolved if I manually enter slacker timings. At least it was clear for a combined run of over 24 hours.

Problem 4 - CPU overclocked when I didn't ask it to. I only noticed this as the temp monitor was indicating around 5C higher CPU temps than was normal. The CPU I have is rated for 3.5 GHz when all 4 cores are under load, yet the system was running at 3.8 GHz after I did a bios update. It took a while for me to find out the mobo bios overclocks the CPU for you without asking when you enable XMP. Even if you enter the standard clock, the bios will reset it to overclocked. The older bios did not do this. Assumed with increased voltage since the speed difference alone should cause that much heat difference.

Problem 5 - PC locks up on boot when detecting SATA drives, before OS load. This got me really worried. By trial and error, I found out that when the USB card reader was connected, this happens. It is fine when it isn't plugged in. Weird... if it locked up on USB detection I could understand, but during SATA drive detection???


Problem 2 is my main big annoyance at the moment. I like and run nvidia cards and never had problems with them in the past. Not sure it is their fault, but it is the only variable I haven't tried to fix it. e.g. try an ATI card and see if the problem goes away.

Lessons learnt:
If I buy another SSD, it wont be a sandforce chipset based one. They're far too close to cutting edge and suffer in stability for it.

If I build another system, it wont be a Gigabyte motherboard. The BIOS tries to be too smart for its own good and you never know what's going on.

I'm strongly debating moving to a desktop replacement laptop when I decide to ditch this desktop.

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:19 am 
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Quote:
Problem 3 - I didn't even know this was a problem but found it when looking at reasons for problem 2 happening. Running memtest86+, there might be a single error running it for at least 12 hours or so. I never detected this originally as I never ran it for more than 2 hours. This happens both with XMP on or off if I let the mobo pick the timings to use. The address was always the same, even after I swapped the two memory sticks around, and was always the same test it might fail. It seems to be resolved if I manually enter slacker timings. At least it was clear for a combined run of over 24 hours.

If memtest reports even a single error, I would RMA the memory. And if there's any question about the quality of the memory or the RAM slots on the motherboard, I'd run memtest for at least 20 passes. (This may be a little overzealous, though.)

Quote:
Problem 4 - CPU overclocked when I didn't ask it to. I only noticed this as the temp monitor was indicating around 5C higher CPU temps than was normal. The CPU I have is rated for 3.5 GHz when all 4 cores are under load, yet the system was running at 3.8 GHz after I did a bios update. It took a while for me to find out the mobo bios overclocks the CPU for you without asking when you enable XMP. Even if you enter the standard clock, the bios will reset it to overclocked. The older bios did not do this. Assumed with increased voltage since the speed difference alone should cause that much heat difference.

The Core i7-2600K is rated for 3.8GHz turbo boost.

Quote:
Problem 5 - PC locks up on boot when detecting SATA drives, before OS load. This got me really worried. By trial and error, I found out that when the USB card reader was connected, this happens. It is fine when it isn't plugged in. Weird... if it locked up on USB detection I could understand, but during SATA drive detection???

I found with my new build that the computer would lock up if the boot drive order was set CORRECTLY in the BIOS. But if I put my slow storage drives ahead of my SSD, there was no problem. (Caveat: I'm using a different SSD and a different motherboard.)

Quote:
If I build another system, it wont be a Gigabyte motherboard. The BIOS tries to be too smart for its own good and you never know what's going on.

I tend to prefer Asus motherboards, and the P8Z68-V LE in my new build has their new UEFI BIOS, which is amazing.

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