Planning an i7 setup

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I'm trying to put together the best possible i7 setup from scratch and there are a few questions I'm not too clear on: Currently I've come up with: Asus Socket 1366 P6T mobo Intel Core i7 920 4GB A-DATA DDR3 PC-16000 (2000MHz) RAM I'm moving my hard drives, sound card (a somewhat outdated Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro with an external rack) and graphics card (nVidia 7600GT) from my current setup. - The tower. I'll be using my current RAID0 setup, but I'd like to exapand it to 2xRAID0 (eg I don't have the money to buy a new pair of hard drives right now, but I'd like to add a terabyte mirror pair later on). Since I can't seem to find a really good resource on towers, I'm wondering if I should save up for a full tower or would a miditower do? What's the big different between ATX and ATX2? Or can anyone suggest a specific tower? - my current hard drives are IDE drives, but I'd like to add a pair of SATA drives later on. Will I need to consider something when mixing them? Would it make a massive difference (speed-wise) if the boot drive was an IDE drive rather than a SATA one? - will a 500W PSU cut it or should I go for something like 550 or 600? I have no current plans to upgrade the graphics card, but I would probably consider it if I got some more money. I'm gearing the computer primarily for audio/video production, not gaming.

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I would consider getting an 1156 mobo and cpu instead. They are marginally cheaper and the i7 860 is an excellent CPU which is often faster then the 920 you're looking at. From what I've read, the only real reason to go with a 1366 mobo is if you want to do SLI.

When I rebuilt my computer, I waited for the i5 release because I don't care about SLI. I got the i7 860 and it's plenty fast and has a lot of room for overclocking if that is what you're into. It runs cooler and more effeciently then the comparable 1366 CPU (the 920).

On the subject of cases... That's almost entirely up to personal choice. I tend to go a bit overboard on my case since I like it to look nice as well as be functional so I went with the FT01 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163120&cm_re=ft01-_-11-163-120-_-Product).

For the PSU, try to add up your components to find your minimum requirements. PSUs are most effecient when they operate at around 50% to 70% load. So you don't want to go too high or too low if you're concerned about the most effecient power usage.

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An article summing up the 860 vs 920 quite well.

Intel Core i7 920 vs Intel Core i7 860

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Quote:
 Original post by tstrimpI would consider getting an 1156 mobo and cpu instead. They are marginally cheaper and the i7 860 is an excellent CPU which is often faster then the 920 you're looking at.

Correct, there are a couple of cases where the 920 pulls ahead but for the majority of tests I've seen the 860 keeps pace and in some rare cases, due to a slightly higher clock, beats the 920.

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 From what I've read, the only real reason to go with a 1366 mobo is if you want to do SLI.

SLI is a reason, they also have triple channel ram which while not really any faster in the real world can allow for greater capcity (I'm running a 12gig rig atm over 3 channels) and there is the compatibility with the coming 6core/12 thread chips although this isn't a compelling reason given the price its likely to launch at.

If I was building a system now I'd probably build a 860 based (with 16gig of ram "because I can") rather than a 920 based setup.

(My current setup will probably last me into 2012 at which point either the world will end OR I'll be jumping on the Haswell train (or whatever AMD have assuming they are high end competative).. mmmm vector co-processors [grin])

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Moved to Hardware Discussion.

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Oh, and 1366 is a waste of money unless you're planning to run six sticks of RAM. Go with 1156.

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I have further inquiries - however my early Sundayish physical condition doesn't really make formulating those that easy.

My main points however (as far as I've understood) are:

(some what relevant to the discussion)
i7: lower FSB (RAM) clock speed (capped at 1033 MHz, which would make my 2GHz RAM choice from OP quite pointless) - *could use some confirmation on this
i5: faster clock speed, but no triple channel RAM, better turbo (not sure what that is TBH)

(irrelevant to the discussion)
i7: extensible in the future
i5: antiquated technology by definition

In the article posted by tstrimp most people seem to be voting for 920 and since I'm not in the UK right now I can see the price difference being around 6-7 euros between 860 vs 920 right now (the 920 being really marginally more expensive). This is trivial. Do you guys mean that cooling would be an issue? I've read some stuff about the 9xx series hitting almost 100C with stock cooling. I can't really get the big difference between the two.

I have absolutely no intention of even considering SLI. This is not going to be a gaming platform (I actually use my mid-grade laptop for that, which is more than enough for me).

What about the PSU? Can I feel confident with 500W?

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I don't know much about intel chips, I'm an amd fanboy.

but as for towers, the antec900-2 has been my pride an joy for 3 years now, everything ran cooler after getting it. I've been temted to invest in the newer antec1200, more room more airflow.

The main thing I'd point out is make sure the power supply is bottom mounted, I got a dinky raidmax tower, my old rig is in, that I modified so that the psu could be on the bottom and it lowered my cpu temps almost 10 degrees at full load.

If you're a big gamer, that plans to upgrade in the future get a full tower, running 2-4 graphics cards in a mid case really leaves you no room, not even for airflow. that raidmax is a mid tower and the 9800gtx in it blocks 3 of the hard drive slots.

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Quote:
 Original post by PromitOh, and 1366 is a waste of money unless you're planning to run six sticks of RAM. Go with 1156.

while this is true, I wanted to point out, the 1366 platform with 6 sticks of ram is the only almost affordable way to run 12 GB of memory for hosting a virtualized rig (if you plan want to run multiple virtual servers on 1 machine, that would be the way to go).

Otherwise, 1156 is just fine for any normal workstation needs. If memory hadn't doubled in price in the last 6 months I would have been building a 920 x 12 GB rig myself soon, but since they did I'm just going to stick with my current quad core 4 GB rig for another year.

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Quote:
 Original post by irreversible(some what relevant to the discussion)i7: lower FSB (RAM) clock speed (capped at 1033 MHz, which would make my 2GHz RAM choice from OP quite pointless) - *could use some confirmation on this
No. The RAM clocks can be dialed in at whatever you want, and then you set the CPU multiplier to get whatever frequency you want there. There is one nasty catch here, which is that some motherboards don't support 2000 or 1800 -- even if they support 2200.
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 i5: faster clock speed, but no triple channel RAM, better turbo (not sure what that is TBH)
No 1156 platform has triple channel, i5 or i7. Triple channel is ineffective anyway.
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 (irrelevant to the discussion)i7: extensible in the futurei5: antiquated technology by definition
Not at all. i5 is simply the lower model dual core processor (hyperthreaded so 4 threads). The socket is what matters; 1156 and 1366 target different markets.

Personally I find it laughable to spring for an i7 at all while you're still running IDE drives, but suit yourself.

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Well, I do mean to upgrade the hard drives to SATA when I get the money - 250 GB used to be pretty awesome way back when I got them, but video editing can really make it seem pretty small pretty quickly.

I was basing my judgement of the 1156 on a number of threads I skimmed on tomshardware where this point was being dicussed. Since the 920 and 860 both run on 1366, though, it makes the point moot in this case. If you only hadn't written:

>> 1366 is a waste of money unless you're planning to run six sticks of RAM. Go with 1156.

Wouldn't I also be losing four cores as i5 doesn't have HT? I'm considering expanding RAM to 8GB in the future, but six sticks is a bit of an overkill for my current needs.

At this point 860 seems like a pretty solid choice TBH.

After reading up on dual vs triple channel memory, this conclusion kinda defies your statement that "triple channel is ineffective", Promit.

freeworld - cheers for the pointers on the tower. Tower prices scale quite a lot and I was actually hoping to get away with something a bit cheaper than the 900, but I do want to make it as quiet as possible and as cool as possible with stock cooling.

As mentioned, I don't intend to build a gaming rig so SLI is not something I want or need.

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Quote:
 Original post by irreversibleAfter reading up on dual vs triple channel memory, this conclusion kinda defies your statement that "triple channel is ineffective", Promit.

No, they don't disagree at all; they say it's a logical direction to head in but that in the real world you see basically no difference going from one to the other.

Once we swap over to fast DDR5 RAM and have chips with on-chip vector co-processors then triple-channel will really show a difference. But right now, on the chips you are aimming for, triple channel allows you to go to a larger capacity and thats really about it.

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Quote:
 Original post by irreversible>> 1366 is a waste of money unless you're planning to run six sticks of RAM. Go with 1156.Wouldn't I also be losing four cores as i5 doesn't have HT?
I think you missed the memo that there are i7 chips for both 1156 and 1366. i7 860 is an 1156 chip.

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I just recently upgraded (from an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ w/ 2GB DDR 400) to an Intel Core i7-860 w/ 8GB DDR3 1600 and I'm really loving it.

One of the main reasons I went for the i7-860 was that I wanted to run virtual machines but still wanted good performance/price. I work almost exclusively in virtual machines, and I have no problems whatsoever running 4-5 VMs at snappy speeds in the background while playing relatively modern games on my host.

It compares relatively well to the dual quad-core Xeon machine I use at work, meaning that neither one makes me wait for anything I feel should be instantaneous. The main difference is that my home machine cost a small fraction of the dual Xeon machine's price.

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I recently bought a Xeon X3440 and I'm extremely happy with it. It's an 1156 chip and it's pretty much equivalent to the i7 860. It has hyperthreading too. It's much cheaper though (or at least it was when I got it with the deals I found), mostly because it's clocked at 2.53GHz which is less than the 860. However, they both overclock very well. I have my X3440 running at 4.0GHz with hyperthreading, using an inexpensive air cooler (Scythe Mugen 2). The CPU cost me $220 Canadian which was something like$100 less than the 860 would have. Although it runs hot at 100% load, idle and normal use sits in the low 30's Celsius with low power draw.

I'm running the Gigabyte P55A-UD3P motherboard. It's reasonably cheap, works great, overclocks great and hasn't given me any trouble at all. For the case, I'm using the Coolermaster RC690 which is a bigger mid-tower case and I like it a lot.

Power supply requirements vary a lot depending on overclocking. The Xeon's TDP is something like 125-135W but it can use over double that when overclocked a lot (at full load). That said, I'm not sure what's really required, but 600W should certainly be enough at 4GHz, and 500W could possibly be enough too, depending on the video card.

I would highly recommend an (overclocked) Xeon. There's no strings attached - it should work in any rig that could house an 1156 i7.

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I can't shake the feeling that you are gilding a pig here. For the price of that i7 setup, I think you would be much better off with an i5/Core2-quad/Phenom, and splashing some of the cash you save on SATA drives and newer video and sound cards.

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Quote:
 Original post by irreversibleSince I can't seem to find a really good resource on towers, I'm wondering if I should save up for a full tower or would a miditower do?

A mid-tower is fine. I'm using this case. I've generally been happy with their products.

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 Original post by irreversible- will a 500W PSU cut it or should I go for something like 550 or 600?

I'm using a 550 Watt PSU with my current i7-920 with no problems. 500 is probably OK as well. Anything above that for when you're playing the "How many GPUs can I stick in my PC" game.

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 Original post by irreversible- my current hard drives are IDE drives, but I'd like to add a pair of SATA drives later on. Will I need to consider something when mixing them? Would it make a massive difference (speed-wise) if the boot drive was an IDE drive rather than a SATA one?

Erm, exactly how big are the IDE drives? You can get fairly size-able SATA drives for dirt-cheap, and they will likely be a good upgrade over your IDE drives.

You can mix IDE and SATA fairly well. I've done so on my wife's computer to salvage her old data. However, I'd recommend you toss the IDE drives and upgrade to SATA. \$50 can buy you a 320 GB hard drive.

As someone with an 1366, I'd say listen to the advice and seriously look into a 1156. The 1156 will suite your needs just fine. Personally, I only have a 1366 because I got a half-off deal from a family member working at Intel.

Eidt:
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 Original post by irreversibleDo you guys mean that cooling would be an issue? I've read some stuff about the 9xx series hitting almost 100C with stock cooling.

I haven't seen anywhere near that, but I also haven't pushed my computer to 100%. I've only ever maxed out a few of the cores at any one time.

As the article points out, the price difference between the i7-860 and i7-920 isn't the cost of the CPU so much as the cost of the motherboard. You don't want to pay for features you aren't going to use, and if you opt for the 1366 mobo, then you're going to be paying for features you aren't using.