May 24, 2009

It has been a while since I built a system (probably 5 years or so) and although I have been reading up, I am still somewhat confused, so though I would make a post for advice....

Following the request to format posting....


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: General Windows/Office usage; Machine Virtualization (Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, OS (I have the software already)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Uknown, need to UK, any recommendations for best prices all round appreciated

PARTS PREFERENCES: I am tending towards an AMD Phenom II X4 AM3 socket CPU with compatibale motherboard, DDR3 1600 RAM (8GB @ 4 x2GB)

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, if it makes sense and system is stable SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe if it makes sense



Here is what I think I have decided so far....

My main aim for the system is two fold: 1. Windows/Office usage - many apps at the same time; 2. Machine Virtualization (several VMs). My main OS will be 64-bit Windows 7 and/or Windows 2008 R2 (which can be thought of as the same thing), so early support for Windows 7 is essential. Linux OS is often used too, most likley in VMs.

CPU: Although Intel CPUs seem to offer better performace the AMD Phenom II X4 (with DDR3-1600) seems to be getting good reviews for price performance, so I am looking at this CPU (probably the 910 as it is entry level 6MB L3-Cache and 2Ghz HT, will go for better if price comparison warrants it).

Motherboard: M/B is where I am really struggling.... I need to be able to support 2 displays (digitally, DVI-D) which probably means a M/B with built in graphics is pointless? Also, need to be AM3 and DDR3 (4 slots). I am not sure whether Crossfire is important (see later for Graphics considerations). 5.1 (or better) sound, GbE, USB 2.0 and enough SATA ports seems to be standard on all M/Bs I have seen. Maybe an AMD 790X or 790FX? 64-bit early Windows 7 support is essential. Any advice on vendor appreciated too?

Memory: 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3-1600. This amount of memory is required for VMs. I was just planning on finding the cheapest from the list the chosen M/B is compatible with. What else should I be looking for? Any specific vendors recommended.

Graphics: I am not looking to games but do need the capability to support two DVI-D monitors at 1600 x1200. Again 64-bit Windows 7 support is essential. I am guessing something ATI (for alignment is AMD) is recommended? Single card with dual DVI ports? Does this preclude or include Crossfire and what will is give me if not gaming? I am guessing 512MB graphics memory will be fine? Any recommendations appreciated.

Storage: At least 2 SATA II 7200rpm+ drives, maybe more depending on case. Size is not important (I have a 4TB NAS) but spindles are for VMs. I will be looking at RAID striping. No real need for CD/DVD device. Any recommendations appreciated.

Case: Something compact, 2-4 3.5" SATA drives only. Any recommendations appreciated.

PSU: Silent would be good, what sort of size should I be looking at? Any particular vendors.

I am happy to consider overclocking if it is fairly trivial and makes the system stable (I probably am not looking at water cooling).

A quiet system would be great and any nod towards "green" would be good too.

I will post back based on responses what I think will be my final build for any final comments.

Thanks in advance



May 24, 2009
Adding some more specification clarity around my original wide ranging questions questions...

Likely spec:
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2Ghz
M/B: ASRock M3A790GXH/128M
Memory: 2 x OCZ3P1600EB4GK or 2 x OCZ3RPR16004GK
Graphics: ASUS EAH4770/HTDI/512MD5
Storage: 4 x Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 160GB 7200rpm SATAII 8MB Cache
Case: Antec Three Hundred Gaming Tower
PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower 750w Watt Modular Power Supply

Here are my outstanding questions...

M/B: I seem to be fairly limited in options, the only real option for 790X chipset (i.e. without onboard graphics) is the Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P; other options are 790GX with the Asus M4A78T-E or the ASRock M3A790GXH/128M. I can actually get the two 790GX boards cheaper than the 790X, so although they won't support dual monitors with the built in graphics I could just not use this capability (maybe later even use for a 3rd monitor). ASRock seems to be best value for features (memory support, notable Windows 7 support the website, more PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots etc) - I am leaning towards this option. Comments?

Memory: 2 x OCZ3P1600EB4GK or 2 x OCZ3RPR16004GK - this memory is unbelievably priced compared to competitors, any reasons? Anyone care to recommend between the two?

Graphics: Radeon HD 4770 seems to be getting good reviews, the ASUS EAH4770/HTDI/512MD5 seems to be best value. As I predomintenly need a graphics card for multi monitor support and not games this seems like a good option, thoughts?

Storage: 4 x Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 160GB 7200rpm SATAII 8MB Cache. Spindles not capacity are my main requirements for storage and these drives are very price competitive.

Comments generally on my planned spec also gladly received. Out of the box what options would I have for over clocking?