System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $2,500 Performance PC

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descendency

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No price bumps required. Just ditch the BDR drive. A DVDRW drive is fine. BluRay on the PC is trash because you have to use garbage programs that get worse every time you upgrade them (and upgrading is required...). Niche upgrade. (get a standalone and hook it up to a TV. If you are in a college dorm, watch DVDs... you're probably broke anyways)

Cut the 2TB drives down to 1TB drives. I can't imagine how niche what you have to do to require over 2 TBs of space and it to still be legal. RAID 1 is over-kill. You aren't a data server (too niche).

That's easily 600$ saved that can be used towards a better case, better CPU/MoBo combo, SSD, and better GPU options (granted, the GPU was limited by stock and not by cash... more of a comment for people doing research for their next system).
 

JonathanDeane

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"Should the next marathon include a dream system at twice the price?"

Would be kinda cool, but I might drool...

"Should we instead adjust every system budget by a smaller amount to align with recent price increases?"

Seems like the top end system could use a budget bump but I would keep the lower end systems as they are, they represent realistic budgets for people who do not have gobs of cash.

"Should we stick to gaming or general-purpose power machines, rather than trying to create the best of both worlds?"

Hmmm thats a tough question, on the low end maybe having a game option and just a general PC could be a great way to fit a better machine in that budget (hey when you don't got that cash you have to sacrifice sometimes and make tough choices) but the top end machine hmmmm nahhh if your spending that kind of dough you should get it all!!!
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]descendency[/nom]No price bumps required. Just ditch the BDR drive. A DVDRW drive is fine. BluRay on the PC is trash because you have to use garbage programs that get worse every time you upgrade them (and upgrading is required...). Niche upgrade. (get a standalone and hook it up to a TV. If you are in a college dorm, watch DVDs... you're probably broke anyways)Cut the 2TB drives down to 1TB drives. I can't imagine how niche what you have to do to require over 2 TBs of space and it to still be legal. RAID 1 is over-kill. You aren't a data server (too niche).That's easily 600$ saved that can be used towards a better case, better CPU/MoBo combo, SSD, and better GPU options (granted, the GPU was limited by stock and not by cash... more of a comment for people doing research for their next system).[/citation]

Try reading before you post this garbage, and then learn some math. Your assertions concerning more than 2TB and RAID 1 are useless when RAID 1 makes it less than 2TB. Wow.

I think everyone who can afford RAID 1 or 5 should use it, unless they don't care about their data. And the article already said that most people don't need more than 1TB anyway, so you add nothing to the conversation. That includes your useless commments about Blu-ray writers which only people at the high-end can understand: If you don't understand their usefullness, you're not in the high-end market and your comments here are as irrelevant as someone who prefers Honda cars criticizing luxury car buyers.

 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]doubleagent[/nom]Only 3.6 Ghz??! Seriously?I've got my I5 (2.6ghz stock) running at 4ghz reliably. I did it with the Corsair water cooler and Corsair 1600mhz memory/fan. I think the motherboard did a great job, too, it's a Asus P7P55D Pro. I did have to add a fan on the side, where the intake usually is, to keep the motherboard cool. Otherwise, no problem.I'll have to look at getting a an I7 and trying over-clocking it.[/citation]

To prove what exactly? That you got a better processor than the one seen here? The builder has one also, and you'll notice he gets 4.3 GHz consistently out of his other LGA-1156 Core i7. You think maybe it's because your motherboard is better? Have you looked at who writes the big motherboard comparisons? No, this was a combination of a hotter-than-normal core (bad luck of the draw) and a cooler that didn't perform as well as expected.

[citation][nom]Lamiel[/nom]8GB of RAM is overkill for a gaming rig. There aren't any games out there that would even use 4GB. Strange choices...[/citation]

Not so strange when you consider that the machine you're looking at is NOT a gaming rig. It's a power system that also games: It has extra storage for tasks such as video editing, and has extra RAM for multitasking with some of the very applications used in the benchmark set. 8GB is kind of light when you're trying to build the ultimate power system.
 
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I can already see when I win this I am gonna have to do some major modifications. Like getting rid of the junkie ram, case, and HSF. Other than that looks nice.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]Anonymous[/nom]I can already see when I win this I am gonna have to do some major modifications. Like getting rid of the junkie ram, case, and HSF. Other than that looks nice.[/citation]

If you read the review you'd find that the RAM that was used is better than most DDR3-1600. I know, it's junk 'cause it has no sinks, even though most of the RAM that had sinks performed worse. Sinks that are attached with double-sided tape can actually reduce cooling effectiveness over no sinks, so...buy super-premium RAM instead, like DDR3-1866 or higher?
 

dark41

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I really like the idea of an all-round system that also does games vs a gamer system, but that's because most of the PC market doesn't play games and that's my business. Even our gamer customers want a powerful system first, and then the expensive video card often comes later on, when they can afford it in most cases.

I respect Mr. Crashman's opinion and rarely disagree with his comments. I have to take exception with this though:
I think everyone who can afford RAID 1 or 5 should use it, unless they don't care about their data.
RAID 1, 5, 10 is not, and never has been a very good backup solution. Its designed for redundancy, mainly servers that need to be up and running/accessed 24/7. The backup drives are run as much and as hard as the primary drives, making them just as vulnerable to failure. They're also generating and contributing heat to the system. I'd never recommend anyone use RAID as a backup solution. I've seen the backup drives fail before the main drives far too often, and in some cases when the array has been corrupted all data and the OS were lost, making this a very expensive and fragile backup system.

I like RAID 0 for the additional speed. As I said earlier, 2x1TB drives in RAID 0 will be about as fast (depending upon the hard drives used) for reading and writing as the SSD used here. The only thing they can't match is the access time. 3x or 4x 1TB drives in RAID 1 are faster and quite a bit faster than SSD for reading/writing. Its hard to justify SSD costs when you can get 3x 1TB drives that are faster in this situation and store enough data for most people's life time, for the same price.

For backup, E-SATA is where its at:
*Turn the backup drive on only when you want to backup to it. Keep it turned off the rest of the time and save on its life/reliabilty.
*Use it in a cheap docking station or enclosure and its easy to hide/put away for safe storage and contributes no heat to the system.
*Hot swappable, so can be turned on whether the computer is running or not.
*Just as fast as any other (single) hard drive on the system, or multiple drives can be used in a separate RAID 0 array for faster read/write speeds.
*Make image backups of your OS partition and keep them on E-SATA backup drive for the best OS backup possible.
*If the unthinkable happens (lightning strikes, voltage spikes from brownouts, etc.) RAID 1 data runs the same risk of being lost as no backup solution at all, where the separate E-SATA data is still intact.
*It costs nothing more to run E-SATA backup than RAID 1 (if you plug in directly to the hard drive) or slightly more if you go with an external enclosure or docking station.

Just my humble opinions and reasons for them. :)
 

Lamiel

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Not so strange when you consider that the machine you're looking at is NOT a gaming rig. It's a power system that also games: It has extra storage for tasks such as video editing, and has extra RAM for multitasking with some of the very applications used in the benchmark set. 8GB is kind of light when you're trying to build the ultimate power system.
Crashman - 10 seconds here, 10 seconds there... That's about the extent of the perf boost by moving from 4 to 8 gigs on average. Unless you're running VM's or doing a lot of modding, I just don't see the practical benefit for even the normal power-user. If you fall into a niche category that would actually make use of the additional memory, then by all means go for it. But if it's between more RAM and more graphics muscle, on a machine geared towards all-purpose computing, 4GB is plenty.
 

sithkiller

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I like to keep it building with a $2500 limit. It lets you build a really good system within a reasonable price. Then individuals depending on their needs can give or take from specific areas of the system to fit their needs. Good article.
 

sithkiller

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I like to keep it building with a $2500 limit. It lets you build a really good system within a reasonable price. Then individuals can give or take from specific areas of the system to fit their needs. Good article.
 

trying2

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Something that ALWAYS gets me on these system reviews/ suggestions is WHAT IS GOOD ENOUGH? Myself, that means having all programs and games not stutter during usage. And though we can't quantify everything, it also means a good viewing performance and quick enough load times for apps and the operating system. I think THG tests and reports enough different tests to answer these items.

Now getting back to "good enough", or should I just say Good. I know a faster processor, FSB, and more RAM memory creates a faster smoother everything. But what is Good enough/good? 4,6,8 MB Ram? Whats the difference? What is the rule of thumb for a good SysMark score? How much resolution do you need / want in a game? While some things are Totally a personal preference, and i LOVE that THG posts several games in several different settings (so that we can put our own judgements on what to get), when it comes to complete systems, where do you draw the lilne? Personally, I want my computer system to boot up in under a minute- whatever that takes. I don't care if its a 10,000 rpm Raptor, or a SSD drive, or whatever RAID configuration. I want the bottem line. And while total storage can be a personal decision as well, again where do you draw the line? (I would take a stab at 500 GB for the bottem end, 750 GB for the Mid, and at least 1 TB for the high end.) My thought is for the High End system, why not a single SSD for quick boot ups, and a single (because of $ restraints) 1 or 2 TB drive? Isn't 1,000 GB enough? I personally never use a redundant RAID setup/system. I just plug the HDD in. I've only had 1 HDD go bad in 18 years of being a PC owner, and the scan disk utility warned me before hand it was going bad. (Still works, just LOTS of bad clusters, and got worse.)
Also where do you draw the line on processor speed? Hard to tell the difference between a 2.2 and a 2.6 GHz something.

The bottem line, what I know is that movies are filmed at a rate of 30 fps, and are then put through an editing room which reduces it down to 24 fps. So, why do I need/want dual $300-400 video cards to produce 100+ fps??
The screen resolution on the monitor mostly depends on the size of the monitor (around 840 x 600 would look good on an 8" monitor, but 1024 x 768 would be required for a 16" monitor, etc.) That is why I like that THG posts different resolution sizes.

WHAT I DO is look for the review of my favorite game (or game type), look for the resolution for what I play at, and find a VGA that produces at least 50, prefer at least 60 fps with AA and AF enabled. That way, it will look great, and I know it will be strong enough to handle future games, and I wont need to upgrade it any time soon. (My experience has been by the time I need stronger graphics, buying an old video card to give me SLI is no longer cost effective. And of course it can't support the latest and greatest DivX / GL stuff.)

Personally, I read THG and pricescan.com and find out the best bang for the buck that is strong enough to meet my needs. I then eithor put together a system myself, or buy one with those parts in it, or close to it. I then do an upgrade about once a year, and after about 5 years replace the entire CPU. (I reuse the monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, UPS, and the storage hard drive.)

The idea is, faster better things are always coming out in the computer world, so the initial purchase of a PC system doesn't have to be perfect. And for those commenting on the system, remember, there IS a price cap. That is why THG sometimes doesn't go with that higher part, or dual option!

I love how THG gives a product, and goes on to explain why they choose that product.
 

darasen66

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Great article.
Not the best build ever made and that is ok. What makes these articles great is that they are realistic. I am sure Tom's has enough parts floating around that they could make a 10k rig. I am sure Mr. Soderstrom could have likely walked across the lab and grabbed another heatsink and cooler from another build or many things like that.

What we get instead is getting the parts from a single (I think) reliable source just as most people would do. Doing the best to stay with in a certain budget and trying to make the best machine for it. When things go awry in the build that is FAR more informative than saying "Hey, we took all these super parts we have lying around and built this awesome machine." I also like the reality check that all CPUs are not the same even the same type. (If I read another bad review for a x3 720 because some bozo couldn't unlock a 4th core...) Not all reach the same OC limits.

Thanks for the article.
 

dark41

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I think the CPU is fine, but can't figure out why they didn't go with a P55A motherboard to get the SATA3 and USB3 for when they become easily obtainable.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]dark41[/nom]I think the CPU is fine, but can't figure out why they didn't go with a P55A motherboard to get the SATA3 and USB3 for when they become easily obtainable.[/citation]

Wow, you skipped reading the entire article and the comments to repeat that? The P55A doesn't support SATA3 and USB3 when two graphics cards are installed, end of story for the P55A.
 

dark41

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Mr Crashman,
Wow, you assumed all that from my post?

I didn't skip the article, just don't see it as a well thought out decision.

As I said, for when USB3 and SATA3 become more easily obtainable. I don't assume the system will be running 2 video cards forever, but apparently you do. I believe most users would want some flexibility that your decision didn't provide. I'd rather not be handcuffed by such things as the motherboard not supporting them, if at some point I decide to go that route. Comprende?

After all, the point of this system is to show others how to build an all around system that also games well, rather than a gamer that does other things well? The P55 choice seriously puts a damper on the "all around PC" perspective. Now its a gamer that does other things, which is what every gamer system you guys have ever built has been.


And no, I don't bother reading 10 pages of replies, especially when there is no option for editing posts, which means a good % of them are clarifications or edits.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]dark41[/nom]Mr Crashman,Wow, you assumed all that from my post?I didn't skip the article, just don't see it as a well thought out decision.As I said, for when USB3 and SATA3 become more easily obtainable. I don't assume the system will be running 2 video cards forever, but apparently you do. I believe most users would want some flexibility that your decision didn't provide. I'd rather not be handcuffed by such things as the motherboard not supporting them, if at some point I decide to go that route.[/citation]

I'd rather not be handcuffed by an x8 graphics slot as soon as I decide to enable the USB 3.0 controller. I certainly wouldn't pay extra for a device that causes my graphics performance to drop like that. If anything, I'd rather add a PCIe x1 card at 2.5 Gb/s if I decided to add USB 3.0 later, because I'd much rather have my USB 3.0 performance cut in half than my graphics performance. Remember that even at 2.5Gb/s, a USB 3.0 interface is around twice as fast as the fastest desktop hard drive and even a little faster than an Intel X25-M SSD.

Oh, but hey, you DO still have the option you complained about. You can add a PCIe USB 3.0 expansion card, which will likely cost about the same as the price difference between the P55A and P55 motherboard models. Using the expansion card preserves your x16 pathway set for graphics, so it appears the P55-UD4P plus a PCIe USB 3.0 card IS the superior solution. By your definition of what's important, the correct board was chosen.
 

xtc28

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Crashman, I tell you what! Somepeople really know how to push your buttons I think. Just the fact that the posts are many times plain retarded, poorley thought out and rude would be enough to drive me crazy!!! Some of the suggestions I have read have been stupid or ignorant. Computers are here as a convenience and toys for many of us. I give you guys props for all the hard work and rresearch that goes into THGs builds.
 

dark41

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Its not a matter of pushing buttons, its a matter of clarity.

Um.. its only when you're running a single graphics card that you have to drop to PCI-E x8 on a P55 chipset with USB 3.0 enabled.

You're already dropped to x8 by running a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in crossfire with that chipset? If so, you lose nothing more by enabling USB 3.0 on a P55A.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]dark41[/nom]Its not a matter of pushing buttons, its a matter of clarity.Um.. its only when you're running a single graphics card that you have to drop to PCI-E x8 on a P55 chipset with USB 3.0 enabled. You're already dropped to x8 by running a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in crossfire with that chipset? If so, you lose nothing more by enabling USB 3.0 on a P55A.[/citation]

LOL, you lose an entire GRAPHICS CARD to run USB 3.0. If this was a single-card build it would have required a 5970, along with the wait, and you'd end up with TWO GPU's fighting over those eight lanes.

P55A-UD4P is just too much compromise, the least compromise would be to add a USB 3.0 card to the PCIe x1 slot and use the P55-UD4P.
 

dark41

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Strange, I contacted Gigabyte.tw support before my last post to make sure I had my facts straight (nice to know these things as a system builder as I sure don't want to mislead anyone). They tell me there is no further loss from graphics using crossfire x8 and x8 and enabling USB 3.0 in BIOS, and that this is why they've discontinued the P55 line. In his words, the P55A does everything the P55 does... and more.

So either you have your facts wrong, or this particular person from Gigabyte's support has his wrong. But when I googled enabling USB 3.0, I find many results that say the same thing as he did (that dropping from x16 is only a factor when using a single graphics card as all crossfire on this chipset runs at 2 x x8, and that this doesn't make much difference anyway, and that full x8 and x8 is available when using crossfire and enabling USB 3.0 on any P55 chipset).

I'd just like to know the whole story here. I still think P55A was the way to go, and Gigabyte does too as they have indeed discontinued their P55 line.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]dark41[/nom]Strange, I...asked a salesman, and he said his product was perfect...[/citation]

Did you read the recent CrossFire Scaling article at the site...let me think...Tom's Hardware?
 

dark41

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Yea, put an edited quote in my name because that's funny. Then add some witty sarcasm, which obviously is intended to piss someone off. I guess that's all to be expected from someone who still thinks RAID 1 is a backup system. If TG was that smart, they'd retire you as you're obviously too childish and behind the times for this job. But since they don't, that doesn't say a lot for their credibility.

You continue to show your ignorance by comparing support with sales. For the record, sales is before the fact while they're trying to get your money, and support is after the fact they have your money. There's a big difference.

I mostly read TG articles anymore for entertainment rather than for education. As many readers (most of whom know more than the TG article writers themselves) have pointed out in the last year or so, Tom's Hardware articles aren't what they used to be for neither content nor accuracy. The last thing I'd want to use right now for reference is a Tom's Hardware article. The subsequent posts by readers and Wikipedia are both likely to be more accurate. Then there's the fact that a very wise man once told me not to take advice from someone who has less money in the bank than I do. I believe that would cover all of TG's assets and personnel.

I'm sure Gigabyte stopped production on an superior product (P55) in order to provide an inferior one (P55A), because that just makes good business sense. Maybe they forgot to read the Tom's Hardware article on CrossFire Scaling first, those silly guys.
 
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