help diagnosing problems with mid-range micro-atx build

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lhopitalified
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help diagnosing problems with mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Mon May 02, 2011 10:16 pm

My desktop is getting old (> 5 years), so I figured it was time to upgrade. The main uses for the new machine will be:
(1) playing back HD video (my godawful Athlon 64 x2 can't seem to handle 1080p without dropping frames)
(2) some photo processing (basic Adobe lightroom stuff)
(3) games (nothing fancy, just able to handle Bioshock/Portal 2/Supreme Commander/Diablo 3 at reasonable quality and framerates, 1920x1200)

case: Fractal Define Mini (what's waiting another few weeks after 5 years?)
CPU: i5-2500k
CPU cooler: (not sure here, seems like everyone uses something different)
RAM: 8GB something decently fast
Mobo: Asus P8P67-M (don't need SLI, so saving money vs. Pro version)
Video: Asus EAH6850 DirectCU
Sound: Sondigo Inferno (from my current machine)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 3 SSD 240GB (or maybe the 120GB Max IOPS version depending on the latter's random write performance and pricing)
Power: Enermax PRO87+ 500W (This seems sufficient to me, but not sure if there are cheaper/better options out there.)

Any suggestions/recommendations would be great, particularly for CPU coolers. I also am not sure about whether to be concerned about replacing the case fans, but I think that may be something to experiment with after I get the base setup up and running.
Last edited by lhopitalified on Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

djkest
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by djkest » Wed May 04, 2011 10:13 am

How much clearance do you anticipate having for the CPU cooler? That's going to be the biggest factor in determining which one to go with.

The i5-2500k isn't exactly made of molten lava, so you could possibly go with something a little smaller and still have acceptable results.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Thu May 05, 2011 10:23 am

According to Fractal Design, about 165mm:
Supports CPU coolers with height of ca 165mm

kuzzia
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by kuzzia » Thu May 05, 2011 11:51 am

Overall the built looks very good. You can always change the case fans later.

CPU-cooler: agree with djkest, but of course it depends on the overclock. But I've read somewhere that even a Scythe Katana 3 could cool the 2500k (with OC) well.
According to SPCR the Scythe Mugen 2 is 158 mm tall. But it is very big overall. Maybe cheaper (and smaller) alternatives like Cooler Master Hyper 212+ (fan swap) or gelid tranquillo?

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1046-page10.html
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1052-page4.html

I don't really know much about those CPU-coolers but you'll definitely not need the best of the best.

Do you intend to use a harddrive?

andymcca
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by andymcca » Thu May 05, 2011 12:17 pm

I agree with kuzzia, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus is always a nice and inexpensive heatsink if it fits. (Not familiar with that case, but 165mm sounds like it is perfect vs the 158.5mm spec?)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835103065
http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/product ... ct_id=2923

Obviously if you have another $20-$25 USD to spend there are nicer options, though :D

edit: What country are you in? And per kuzzia below, you may want to change the 212+ stock fan, as it is not great. (I run mine without a fan, but a nearby 120mm exhaust)
Last edited by andymcca on Thu May 05, 2011 12:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

kuzzia
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by kuzzia » Thu May 05, 2011 12:27 pm

and again, you can always try the stock fan (of the CM Hyper 212) and swap it if you find the acoustics unacceptable.

In general, I've not heard about many CPU coolers that were taller than the 165 mm fan. When I bought the Scythe Mugen 2 to my Cooler Master Sileo 500 I never bothered to check for height. Most coolers are intended to fit standard-sized cases (like the Fractal Mini)

ces
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by ces » Thu May 05, 2011 12:35 pm

The coolermaster is a good deal if you plan to keep the fan. If you are going to replace it... other Scythe coolers might be more interesting:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185147
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185143

And here is a real interesting low cost cooler
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1609/2/
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835233081
For $23 it is a pretty good deal. And it seems to keep up with the bigger coolers.

Edit:
The Scythe Mugen costs the same as the coolermaster.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185142

At the same price, it is a better deal.

kuzzia
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by kuzzia » Thu May 05, 2011 1:28 pm

Between the Scythe Ninja 3 and Yasya, the latter performs better according to SPCR:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1060-page8.html
However, I do not agree that the mounting scheme of the Ninja 3 is "a pain to install". It is rather simple, just get another person to hold the Mo-bo sideways. Then it is very simple & secure.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Fri May 06, 2011 12:40 am

Awesome. Thanks for the links. I'll check out your suggestions this weekend when I have some time.

@ kuzzia: I plan to offload most storage space into an NAS of some sort, and only keep music, photos, and games on the local machine.

@ andymcca: Southern California, so probably sourcing most things through Newegg (I think that may be the only US dealer for Fractal cases anyway).

ces
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by ces » Fri May 06, 2011 2:22 am

kuzzia wrote:However, I do not agree that the mounting scheme of the Ninja 3 is "a pain to install". It is rather simple, just get another person to hold the Mo-bo sideways. Then it is very simple & secure.
You can get an optional mounting kit that is supposed to be better.

andymcca
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by andymcca » Fri May 06, 2011 4:37 am

ps yay l'hopital, nice name

Let us know what you go with :D

CA_Steve
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by CA_Steve » Sat May 07, 2011 5:33 am

If SoCal, then check out Mwave for cpu/mobo. In the past, they've been competitive with newegg.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Sun May 08, 2011 2:28 pm

CA_Steve wrote:If SoCal, then check out Mwave for cpu/mobo. In the past, they've been competitive with newegg.
Ah, I keep forgetting about those guys. I've gotten stuff from them in the past, but the convenience of cheap shipping from newegg usually seals the deal for me. Though I am probably heading to LA next weekend...

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Fri May 20, 2011 4:18 pm

I decided to go with the Scythe Mugen 2 based on performance and price ($40).

Any thoughts about the performance of the Max IOPS version of the OCZ Vertex 3? Supposedly not due for another month or two, but if it does significantly better for random data, that would be good for digital photography.
I'm also thinking about the Corsair Force 3. (no reviews yet?)

Since I'm waiting for the Define Mini case to be available anyway, I figure I can be patient to see what happens with the Sandforce 22xx SSDs to be tested...

I noticed that ASUS recently released a Direct CU II version of the GTX 560... Unfortunately, the noise levels under load are abysmal when compared to the EAH6850 (although graphics performance seems to be ~40% better for ~30% more $$$).

Anyone know if there are more recent graphic cards that can match the EAH6850's noise under load and in the same price range ($200 +/- $50)?

Abula
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by Abula » Fri May 20, 2011 5:12 pm

If you are worried about the GPU noise, maybe go with PowerColor Radeon HD 6850 SCS3 passively cooled
Image

Or something that uses the Artic Cooling GPU cooler, like the SPARKLE Calibre X570 GeForce GTX 570 / Galaxy Geforce GTX580 or if you want not that long, Sparkle Calibre X460G GeForce GTX 460 Video Card

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Fri May 20, 2011 5:21 pm

I'm not worried to the extent that I want to go passive, but just wondering if there had been a more recent card that has the same approximate noise level but with better performance.

I think some of the cards you mentioned are beyond my price range. ;)

Moo
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by Moo » Fri May 20, 2011 5:27 pm

lhopitalified wrote:I noticed that ASUS recently released a Direct CU II version of the GTX 560... Unfortunately, the noise levels under load are abysmal when compared to the EAH6850
I wonder if this applies to the GTX 570 version too (Which I was thinking of getting). But, is it really bad, or just really bad compared to the EAH6850?
Edit: Just looked at the 560. 2 slots, compared to 3 for the 570, so I'm hoping the 570 is quieter...

This review of the 570/6950 doesn't say much about the noise levels, but does say the fan levels are set higher for the 570. If the 560/6850 are similar, you could probably reduce the load noise by setting your own fan speeds.

Another edit: This review says "Idle fan noise of the ASUS GTX 560 Direct CU II is well optimized. Unfortunately the fan noise under load is not acceptable in my opinion - the reference design is much quieter. ASUS has already hinted that they will take another look at the fan control table and probably release an updated BIOS." So, maybe the 560 has already been "fixed". Seems like it has.

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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by CA_Steve » Fri May 20, 2011 6:14 pm

lhopitalified wrote: Any thoughts about the performance of the Max IOPS version of the OCZ Vertex 3? Supposedly not due for another month or two, but if it does significantly better for random data, that would be good for digital photography.
I'm also thinking about the Corsair Force 3. (no reviews yet?)

Since I'm waiting for the Define Mini case to be available anyway, I figure I can be patient to see what happens with the Sandforce 22xx SSDs to be tested...
digital photography: Make sure you look at benchmarks that utilized compressed data as that's where previous Sandforce controllers drooped.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Fri May 20, 2011 7:48 pm

Moo wrote:
lhopitalified wrote:I noticed that ASUS recently released a Direct CU II version of the GTX 560... Unfortunately, the noise levels under load are abysmal when compared to the EAH6850
I wonder if this applies to the GTX 570 version too (Which I was thinking of getting). But, is it really bad, or just really bad compared to the EAH6850?
Edit: Just looked at the 560. 2 slots, compared to 3 for the 570, so I'm hoping the 570 is quieter...

This review of the 570/6950 doesn't say much about the noise levels, but does say the fan levels are set higher for the 570. If the 560/6850 are similar, you could probably reduce the load noise by setting your own fan speeds.

Another edit: This review says "Idle fan noise of the ASUS GTX 560 Direct CU II is well optimized. Unfortunately the fan noise under load is not acceptable in my opinion - the reference design is much quieter. ASUS has already hinted that they will take another look at the fan control table and probably release an updated BIOS." So, maybe the 560 has already been "fixed". Seems like it has.
I think that last link is about the GTX 560 Ti rather than the DirectCu II GTX 560. I was going by the noise levels from anandtech:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4002/amd- ... -xfx-msi/7
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4344/nvid ... erclock/15

I'm not sure how trustworthy the absolute numbers are, but the test setup is the same, so the relative values at least give you a comparison of the relative noisiness.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Fri May 20, 2011 7:49 pm

CA_Steve wrote:
lhopitalified wrote: Any thoughts about the performance of the Max IOPS version of the OCZ Vertex 3? Supposedly not due for another month or two, but if it does significantly better for random data, that would be good for digital photography.
I'm also thinking about the Corsair Force 3. (no reviews yet?)

Since I'm waiting for the Define Mini case to be available anyway, I figure I can be patient to see what happens with the Sandforce 22xx SSDs to be tested...
digital photography: Make sure you look at benchmarks that utilized compressed data as that's where previous Sandforce controllers drooped.
Yep, hence the curiosity about performance for random data.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Tue May 31, 2011 10:53 pm

I received most of the components today (except for case and SSD), so I went ahead and assembled it all in a spare case I had lying around. Hit the power-button ... and nothing happened.

The motherboard has one LED lit, which seems to indicate that it is receiving power, but for some reason won't actually boot up (plugged in fans don't start spinning).

I tested the power supply with another computer, and it seems to work fine. Vice-versa gives me the same result (push power button, nothing happens).

I tried shorting the power switch pins with a paper clip, and that didn't seem to work either.

So, any ideas to try before I request an RMA for the motherboard? I figure even if the CPU is dead, and the RAM is glitched, and the GPU non-functional, the fans plugged into the CPU and chassis slots on the mobo should start to spin when I try to power it on, and even those don't seem to happen...

nzdcoy
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by nzdcoy » Tue May 31, 2011 11:22 pm

have you tried different ram? I had a mission of a time getting a h55n-usb3 to boot the first time, eventually I needed to use other ram to get it to boot first time, then the stuff I originally intended to use worked.

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:28 am

It doesn't even seem to start the boot-up sequence. Nothing happens (not even PSU fans).

lhopitalified
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Re: feedback on mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:13 am

Further updates:
Removed everything from the motherboard and hooked up just the PSU. Same mobo LED lights up indicating power when PSU switch is flipped, but PSU doesn't spin up when power switch pins are connected.

lhopitalified
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Re: help diagnosing problems with mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:37 pm

I ended up RMAing the motherboard. The retailer agreed that it was faulty and are shipping me a new one at no cost. Hopefully, I'll have this sucker built soon... (though the wait on the Define Mini case is still unknown -- Fractal says Newegg will update their line of products sometime this summer -- how much more vague can you get?!)

CA_Steve
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Re: help diagnosing problems with mid-range micro-atx build

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:59 pm

I know the feeling - you spend a lot of time figuring out what you want/need and then when you are ready to buy - you want it now, dammit! :)

Best of luck with the new mobo/build.

lhopitalified
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Re: help diagnosing problems with mid-range micro-atx build

Post by lhopitalified » Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:13 pm

Got the replacement today. Spent some time hooking things up, and it appears to power on successfully, but then I had to leave for work, so all I know right now is that it gets further along in the boot process than the first motherboard.

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