Building a *solid* system

pjw

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Feb 17, 2009
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Hi All,

I've just lost my 3rd desktop in 3 years to a suspected faulty mobo or PS, but it's hard to be sure. The usual basic tests (disk, memory, graphics) all pass. But it crashes (BSOD) with random errors every few days.

What I would like to do is build a solid and reliable machine, and am interested in suggestions. My thinking so far is:

- intel (server) mobo
- ECC memory
- cooler master full tower
- good graphics card
- name-brand ECC memory

What I want from this system is:

- reliability
- ease of access
- reasonable games performance (at least at 1280x1024)

Am I asking too much?

Any suggestions?

 

cadder

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What mobo and PSU do you have in the failing system? You could start by replacing one or both of those parts.

I just built a new system for myself. I spent lots of time on newegg.com reading customer reviews of every component I considered, and tried to pick parts that had lots of reviews without very much negative.
 

Greg_77

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Why the server parts? Good consumer parts are much better for games and overclocking. Oh, and consider the evga x58.
 

pjw

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The reason for server parts is that my highest priority is reliability.

The system that is dying, like the one before it, had a supposedly (according to people selling it to me, at least) reliable ASUS board (current one is a P4T -- or something like that). So I am very wary of ASUS, and my experiences with $100 desktop boards has not been pleasant.

I did take it to a shop for diagnosis, and 3 days later they told me there was nothing wrong with it. It crashed within 6 hours of use after getting it home.

I have 3 servers, all running Intel server boards, and they have proven very reliable. So my *theory* was to buy a single-processor, quad core, server board, ECC memory and put a decent graphics card in it.

ECC seems like a good idea because, at least in theory, I should reduce the risks that memory will cause a problem...or it will be quickly identified. Either is a win.

As far as I am aware, X58 chipsets do not support ECC memory.




 

pjw

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Just curious: other than no overclocking, what makes a server voard bad for games?



So long as quality equates to reliability, sounds great!



...sounds great



...wow. 850W. Thats a lot of w's. Really need that many?



...this one worries me. All my dying machines have MBs in what I suspect is that series.



...also sounds great.



...sounds fine. Was planning on a 3Ware raid card for mirroring. All the CM stuff looks nice. Guessing you are a fan? (no pun intended)



...this is probably more than I need to 'reasonable' gaming.

 

Transmaniacon

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There are always the unlucky few who just get duds, but buying good quality products will not let you down. Gigabyte and Asus are great mobo manufacturers, and you will be buying a quality product, granted you choose a well rated piece of hardware. For PSUs, I only recommend buying Corsair or PC Power and Cooling, both are top tier PSUs. Buying a server board and ECC memory is not going to be beneficial to gaming. That kind of budget will get you a great i7 build, like the one listed above.
 

xthekidx

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I'd go so far as to say its overkill. But then again, how long will you stick with that monitor? I'm guessing its a couple years old already, you will probably want to upgrade to a larger one eventually, so I'd say it would be a good option.

+1 for antec signature, you can't go wrong there.
 

pjw

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Thanks for the help! Im afraid I have more questions:

Looking at local supplier for the MB:

ASUS P6T Deluxe Top rated X58 motherboard

I'm having trouble distinguishing which one I'd want.

There are several P6T-DELUXE models: P6T-DELUXE, P6T-Deluxe-OC-Palm, the P6T-DELUXE-V2.

Any insights about important differences?
 

xthekidx

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Get the V2 if you can find it, NCIXUS.com has it I think. The P6T Deluxe V2 is "Version 2", meaning they took away SAS ports from it, but other than that the technical specs are the same. However, Akebono 98 made a good point in another thread that for them to release a V2 there must have been something that needed revision from the first model and taking away SAS ports seems like a coverup, although no one seems to know what is wrong with it. The OC palm version comes with an LCD readout that goes in one of your external drive slots that shows you your voltages. Its cool, but unnecessary unless you want to achieve a record OC.
 
All we're doing here is trying to find you the most stable system possible for your money.

I can list almost a dozen PSUs that are excellent, including the SG650. I was just grabbing the VERY BEST. Has nothing to do with wattage.... well, most of the very best PSUs are higher wattage. Enermax, Silverstone, Corsair, many companies put better parts into their higher wattage PSUs. The Corsair 850TX is also better than the 750TX or 450VX... even though those are great units.

With either Antec Signature, you'll get a real hand tested unit with the full test signed by the tech that did it.

Be sure to get an anti-static wrist strap and use it. It may be a bit new-age of me, but some people are hard on hardware. I have seen it many times.

You may also want to consider a UPS. That extra layer of protection between system and wall may help you.

I'm not a particular fan of Cooler Master, but they do seem to have the most functional cases right now. I prefer Silverstone for aesthetics, but we're being practical here.

The CM V8 is one of the top performing i7 coolers currently. We are still waiting on actual comparison charts like we have for LGA 775.

BTW the build I listed, with THREE hard drives but no OS or DVD buner, came to 2K.

-Drop the PSU to an SG650.
-Just get one hard drive.
-Just get a single 4870 1GB

Then you can pick up a nice monitor:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824014173

Put Vista 64 on the machine and you'll have it nice and stable.
 

crystal_tech

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i've ran server boards before yes they are stable but if you need gaming and a stable i would go for some try'ed and true platforms that work for many people. stable isn't always bleeding edge tech. I also ran into driver issues on mainstream oses on server boards because they are designed for server oses and not workstations due to chipset limits and bios configs
 

xthekidx

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No one here will advise you to go for an "unstable" configuration, unless they are just plain ignorant. Asus and gigabyte are probably your best bets for stable motherboards and getting a quality PSU will definitely help. It may be that the motherboards you bought before were not of the highest build quality, and thus your system was not as solid as you would have liked. All the above suggestions are good *stable* suggestions.
 

zedx

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Strange really. I have 2 comps. One is a P4 1.5 ghz which has been running for 6.5 yrs with a local PSU and mobo. Another is a celeron 600 @ 750 mhz(from someone else of course) which has been running well for about an year after my brother got it for some work. Do all people have such calamities with their rigs? That scares me off building a new system. I don't know what you do but if you only want gaming at 1280 then Core i7 with a high end gfx card PSU etc is an overkill.

Most likely there's something wrong with your PSU. Or perhaps something wrong in your homes electricity. You might want to check if there are fuses etc. Can you please tell what PSU, mobo etc you bought before?

I don't know what's wrong but it can be something with the OS or drivers too. I guess you're OS is not pirated. If you want to test that the OS is problematic you can try something like Ubuntu Linux (ubuntu.com) It's really the easiest linux to use.

 

pjw

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And I really appreciate the fast and informative responses from everyone!

Most non-server motherboards I have used in the past have been <$200. I look forward to seeing how well this thing holds up.

I am very likely to go with something close to your original suggestion:

- Replace 640GB with 2x1TB mirrored (via 3ware card)
- use 1TB graphics, not 2TB

I have to say I am not a big fan of vista; is there a downside of going for 64 bit XP?

A lot of my work involves using maintaining code written in VS2005, and some maintaining VB6 and VS2003 applications. None of these tools run well on Vista.

 
XP 64 never received the attention Vista got. The consensus seems to be that driver support is poor and almost nil for newer hardware.

Perhaps you should dual boot XP32 and Vista 64. It's easy to set up and works well.
 

Helloworld_98

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Or wait for Windows 7 64, but that'll be late Q3 early Q4 this year

better to go with vista 64 though, it isn't that bad and with the system's that have been listed it will run brilliantly, not to mention you also have Dx10.
 

Marzo

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I would go:

Mobo: TYAN S5211G2NR LGA 775 Intel 3210
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813151172

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115037

Memory: 2x Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134312&Tpk=kingston%20ecc

VGA: EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX(G92) 512MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130339

Raid Controller: areca ARC-1210 PCI-Express x8 SATA II
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816131003&Tpk=raid%20areca%201210

Hard Disk: 4x Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136317

Case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119068

PowerSupply: Thermaltake Purepower W0100RU 500W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817153052

UPS: APC Smart-UPS SUA750 750VA 500W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16842101137

Accessories: 4x Athena Power MR-135B Black Aluminum SATA Mobile Hard Drive Rack
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817123304

Subtotal: $1,836.83
 

techwizard08

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And this is why we love you =)

What about a Core 2? We've definitely seen some good systems out of there. Did OP specify a need to run such a high-end rig, or did we just leap on the opportunity because the budget allows for it?