i7 860 Build Advice

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flchamberlain
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i7 860 Build Advice

Post by flchamberlain » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:36 am

I've been researching this for a while now, but I'm definitely more of a software guy than a hardware one these days, so I'd be grateful for any advice. I'm looking to build a new system from the ground up. Primary usage will be software development, photo editing, office/web and moderate gaming, and I'm not planning to do much if any overclocking:

CPU: i7-860

CPU Cooler: Vigor Monsoon III LT (looked at Prolima, but that seems like overkill for this system?)

Mobo: Gigabyte P55-UD4P

Case: Antec P183

Power Supply: Antec CP-850 (This is clearly WAY more power than needed, but NewEgg discounts these when bought with a p183 to the point where they cost slightly less than, say, a Corsair TX650W. Thoughts?)

Video Card: 5770 (specific brand / model TBD--how much does it matter?)

RAM: 8GB Crucial (4x 2GB)

Boot / App Drive: Intel X-25M 80GB

Data / Overflow App Drive: WD Caviar Black 1TB

DVD: Sony Optiarc 24X

Other: SNT-SATA2221B dual-bay 2.5" to 3.5" backplane--used initially just for the one SSD to mount it in a 3.5" bay. If SSD prices come down, I could imagine adding a second one here. How are other folks mounting SSD's in the P183?

Is there anything missing from that list? Anything jump out as unreasonable?

Thanks!

JamieG
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Post by JamieG » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:35 pm

Some random comments:

- I have no idea how that heatsink would perform at lower (quieter) rpms. There are other heatsinks you might look at but since you are spending enough on the rest of the system, the Prolimatech might be worth the stretch.

- You might consider Gigabyte's P55A motherboards, which have USB3 and SATA3 as additional features (but enabling them drops your main graphics slot to 8x). I'm currently considering this as an option when I build my new gaming system in a few months time.

- You are probably going to want to swap out the stock Antec fans on the P183 for something quieter. You won't need a bottom intake fan with your system, but I would have a front middle intake and a rear exhaust (Nexus or Scythe Slipstream), possibly a top exhaust fan (Scythe S-Flex E 1200rpm) and CPU fan(s) if you buy a heatsink without fans or need to swap the stock heatsink fans for quieter fans (Nexus or Scythe S-Flex E 1200rpm).

- You could probably also do with a fan controller of some sort (unless you want to use speedfan).

- Do you need the speed of the Caviar Black for s/w development and photo editing? Otherwise a 5,400rpm drive will be quieter, like the WD Caviar Green or Samsung F2 EcoGreen.

Other than that, looks pretty good. If the P183 and CP850 combo are about the same price as other options, go for it, even if it is complete overkill. You could probably get away with a 400W PSU, but if you will spend enough time at high loads, using a larger PSU may be of benefit.

bonestonne
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Post by bonestonne » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:12 pm

unless you'll be upgrading to a crossfire system, skip the 850. go with a 450 at the most, and you'll have better return for your money. 400W should be plenty though.

My Corsair 400CW is i7 compatible, so given your system's specs, I would say they should be within 400W, and that might be worth looking into.

I also suggest looking at GP drives, as well as replacing stock fans.

I might also open the can of worms that involves i5 rather than i7. Less watts used, lets be honest, still quad core with HT, you have more than enough RAM.

Maybe i'm just not seeing the cost justification?

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:12 pm

Your idle power will be < 100W and load power with apps / gaming will probably never see 200W. So, yeah, the CP850 is overkill. Consider the Nexus Value 430 or the Nexus 5000. The recent PSU review on the Nexus will show you a number of PSUs that will be silent at your needed power level and have some level of efficiency.

+1 on swapping out the WD Black for a less noisy HDD if your overflow apps aren't HDD dependant.

P55A vs P55: If you like early driver and h/w releases, go for the P55A. If you don't have anything now or in the near future that uses SATA3 or USB3, I'd get the P55 - then get a PCI-e add on card for when you do want the faster interface. They are being intro'd now for $30. I'd expect a <$20 street price in 12 months.

5770 is a fun card. The egg cooler runs cooler than the shroud cooler, if you like ATI based solutions. You can force the fan speed to 20% in CCC and it's fairly quiet (and for me: low 60C's while playing WoW). If you want to go with an aftermarket cooler:
- Sapphire Vapor-X is supposed to be fairly quiet. Couple year warranty.
- ASUS is using the Accelero L2 Pro on one of their models and that is also known to be very quiet. Doesn't have VRM and RAM heatsinks on it. Couple year warranty.
- or you could buy an XFX card with the lifetime warranty and add the L2 Pro to it (also comes w/ VRM and RAM heatsinks).

flchamberlain
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Post by flchamberlain » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:50 pm

Thanks for the great feedback, I'm glad I posted. Definitely points out a few things I need to think some more about. I have a few follow-up questions if you'll bear with me...

-If I do go with the Prolimatech cooler, how many fans are generally recommended for this? How straightforward is it to attach them?

-Are there generally recommended fan controllers? That's one topic I know next to nothing about, so any pointers to introductory material here would be helpful as well.

-I'm sensing some hostility to the WD Caviar Blacks :-) Are they really that noisy? FWIW, I expect to have quite a bit of overflow from the SSD, so performance of the drive IS an issue--but obviously I want to balance that against noise as well.

-Assuming the CP-850 PSU costs the same or less than other options (e.g. Nexus 5000, etc) is there still a reason to avoid it? I see that its power consumption at lower output levels is likely a few W higher than smaller PSU's, but maybe I'm missing the importance of this, or some other consideration?

-Is there an i5 that's BOTH quad core AND HT? I thought the 750 was quad but no HT, and the just-released ones were HT but not quad? I do still go back and forth between the 750 and the 860 to be honest, but continue to lean toward the latter for the HT, better turbo, etc.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the help.

xmysp
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Post by xmysp » Tue Jan 12, 2010 6:00 am

Have you considered the Xeon X3440 instead of the i7 or i5? The Xeon is cheaper than the i7 and includes HT and apparently works ok on P55 boards. It's a little slower which should make it easier to keep cool so less noise.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:47 am

flchamberlain wrote: -If I do go with the Prolimatech cooler, how many fans are generally recommended for this? How straightforward is it to attach them?
You only need one.
flchamberlain wrote: -I'm sensing some hostility to the WD Caviar Blacks :-) Are they really that noisy? FWIW, I expect to have quite a bit of overflow from the SSD, so performance of the drive IS an issue--but obviously I want to balance that against noise as well.
They are noisier than their peers with little/no performance advantage for most apps. The Samsung F3 seems to be as fast/faster with less noise. Long thread here. The WD Blue is a tad slower and is definately quieter. Here's the latest SPCR table (down the page)
- If it's a speed thing and money is no object, buy a bigger SSD so you can have all of your apps and the Photoshop scratch area on it. Then you can buy a slow and really quiet data drive. :D
flchamberlain wrote: -Assuming the CP-850 PSU costs the same or less than other options (e.g. Nexus 5000, etc) is there still a reason to avoid it? I see that its power consumption at lower output levels is likely a few W higher than smaller PSU's, but maybe I'm missing the importance of this, or some other consideration?
No reason to avoid it. Just comes down to which PSU is the best fit for your needs. Noise, efficiency at idle/mostly likely load, price, modular/ease of use, warranty, and build quality are the things I look for.
flchamberlain wrote: -Is there an i5 that's BOTH quad core AND HT?
Not at the moment.
Here's a review of the i7-860 at Anandtech that includes the current i5/i7 models, whether they hyperthread, and the level of turbo boost.

Rucker
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Post by Rucker » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:03 am

CA_Steve wrote:
flchamberlain wrote: -If I do go with the Prolimatech cooler, how many fans are generally recommended for this? How straightforward is it to attach them?
You only need one.
Too right, or none, even. I can cool my Solo/i860/Megahalems setup with just one exhaust fan. With the exhaust and a single Slipstream on the HS at 700 rpms, idle temps are under 30C. Prime95 with this set up shows CPU temps in high 50s/low 60s.

RoGuE
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Post by RoGuE » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:48 am

Yes, the PSU you picked out is deffinately overkill....BUT, if you found a deal on it, I'd say go for it.

Here are SPCR's words right off the editors choice list:

Antec CP-850: An innovative PSU with 120mm in-line fan only compatible with three large Antec cases, the CP-850 is just about as quiet as the Nexus Value 430 at lower power, stays extremely quiet and cool in those cases to >600W, with exactingly clean, regulated voltages lines at a price that's a pittance for such quiet, abundant, performance.

The only real con with this PSU is it's price, so if you found a combo deal, this seems like a great idea in my opinion. (despite the fact that it's probably 4x more power than you need).

Everything else looks pretty good...I would 1+ the idea to get a 5400RPM storage drive. The huge improvement in quietness outweighs any slight degredation in performance in my opinion. I would never use one as an OS or common App drive, but if you are mostly storing big, fat media on it...there really is no reason to get a 7200rpm drive. What will help is, when selecting the drive, look for high platter density. I believe the good ones now have 500gb on a single platter (2 sided). So there are some 1tb drives with only 2 platters. There are also many others with 4 platters...so be careful when selecting the drive. SPCR has reviewed a few here..so check out that portion of the site.

danimal
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Post by danimal » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:57 am

the last time i looked, the wd blacks had five year warranties, vs. three years or less for most of the competition... better warranty should mean a more reliable drive?

flchamberlain
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Post by flchamberlain » Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:35 pm

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I'm now leaning toward getting the Prolimatech Megahalems for the CPU cooler. What would be the best fan to use for this? Any advice on how best to power it (directly from PSU, hooked up to fan header, ...)?

Thanks!

danimal
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Post by danimal » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:40 pm

i'd like to hear the answer to that question as well.

you probably want a high-pressure fan with a 4-pin pwm connection to the motherboard.

bonestonne
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Post by bonestonne » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:22 am

PWM fan to the motherboard would be best, but which fan, lots of people would say Scythe S-Flex.

There's a PWM Scythe Slipstream, and I just have that fatal attraction to the design of the fan, and that's what I would pick for mine.

Noctua PWM fan might be worth while, but those fans are like, $20, compared to the $8 of Slipstreams.

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