Time for a new system - Utility Player?

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Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:20 pm

I've been getting by with an Opteron 180 (dual-core) and 2GB of RAM for a long time, on a DFI LAN-Party UT motherboard that's now about five years old, and an Asus DVD combo burner that's even older. Also, my hard drives aren't young, and my digital photo collection is gulping up space like there's no tomorrow -- not to mention that ever since I upgraded to a Canon 7D, the 18MP images are choking down the system during post-processing. I'm still using Windows XP on my desktop, too. Extremely stable system, which is good, but old, which could turn bad.

What this adds up to: Time to upgrade. I'm thinking that I'll re-use my MSI GTX-460 and Asus Xonar DG from my current system, along with my monitor and peripherals, and either re-use my Antec Sonata II or pick up something similar. I want enough performance to last a while, keeping in mind that I'm not a heavy gamer these days, and I want a reasonably quiet system that doesn't blast heat into my room -- during the summer, that just doesn't work. So what I'm needing to get is:

- Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
- Motherboard
- CPU (at least quad core)
- CPU cooler (quieter is better)
- 8 or 16GB RAM
- DVD comb or BRD combo optical drive (BRD support is not essential)
- Two mechanical hard disks, 1TB each +/-
- Power Supply (preferably with a 120mm fan - again, quiet is better)

The Windows license pulls about $140 out of my budget, so I'm thinking about spending $650 for everything else. Given that my GPU and sound are already covered, TR's Utility Player with the i5-2500k looks about right. However, I'm open to suggestions -- is there a better way to build this?
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ludi
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:47 pm

Do you need Pro for some reason or could Home Premium suffice? It supports 16GB of memory and has common drivers with Pro, etc. That could save you +-$40 or so to put towards something else.

I think the Utility player is a great starting point - cases are a personal preference, but I think you'll want to upgrade from the Sonata. I've owned all 3 up till the absolute newest incarnation (the box I'm typing on now is housed in a Sonata 3) and while they're great they have become a bit limited in their design - the internals are essentially unchanged since what, 2003? The one from the guide looks pretty nice to me.

Go for 16GB of memory - I don't know how it could get cheaper and you'll always wonder if you only go with 8 what a difference it would have been.

I would try to find room in your budget for an SSD. I know they're not cheap, but man does it make a difference for me. If you can't afford a 120+GB drive and 60GB is too small a boot drive for your needs (or becomes to small) you could always tap the smart response technology built into the Z68 chipset of the motherboard listed in the guide.

Reason for 2 mechanical disks vs. one larger one that would use less power and generate less heat?
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:28 pm

I agree with frumper15 about getting a SSD. It makes a world of difference in day to day usage. From personal experience, anything UNDER 120gig is definitely going to be too small for a workstation (you'll grow out of it very quickly). 120gig SSD should be fine but I find the sweet spot is 160gb and should last you longer. I recommend Intel or Crucial SSDs. Seeing how you work with photos as well, having a SSD will help whatever program you are using in those post processing tasks.

I do a lot of photo editing myself as well and doing post work on photos coming from my 5D with a SSD in my system makes a HUGE difference.

I also recommend getting the Samsung F4 2tb harddrives. They are very fast for "green" drives and are perfect for data storage. They are so cheap, you can even get 2 and use one as a mirror or backup drive (thats if you don't already have a backup routine in place already). I have 8 of them running in a raid 6 array and they've been great. Haven't had any problems so far.

As for ram, its so cheap nowadays. Go for 16gb and max it out. For photo work, you'll feel the difference.

As for optical drives, you might be able to do without. Get one when you absolutely need one as optical drives always gets cheaper.

For PSU, I use all Corsairs PSUs nowadays as they seem very well built and quiet.

Some of these suggestions will probably blow your budget a little. You might also consider selling your old gear and put that towards your new rig.

Hope this helps!
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:38 pm

$220 Intel Core i5-2500K
or $315 -15 code "EMCJKKC48" Intel Core i7-2600K

$26 CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Plus
or $38½ CoolerMaster GeminII S

$130 Asus P8Z68-V LE
or $127½ -15 combo Gigabyte GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3

$105 4x4 GiB PC3-12800 Corsair Vengeance CML16GX3M4A1600C9B (DDR3-1600, CAS 9, 1.5 V)
or $85 4x4 GiB PC3-10600 G.Skill Ripjaws F3-10666CL9Q-16GBRL (DDR3-1333, CAS 9, 1.5 V)

$0 Existing MSI GeForce GTX460

$0 Existing Asus Xonar DG
or $0 Integrated Realtek ALC889

$60 1 TB Samsung HD103SJ SpinPoint F3
$130 -20 code "EMCJKKD22" 3 TB Hitachi Deskstar 0S03230

$66 Samsung SH-B123L BD-ROM/DVD-RW with PowerDVD software

$85 -10 combo -15MIR Corsair TX650 V2
or $70 -20 combo -20MIR Corsair CX600
or $75 -15 code "EMCJKKC49" -15 MIR Antec EarthWatts EA-650 Green

$0 Existing Antec Sonata II
or $70 Antec Three Hundred Illusion

$100 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM
or $140 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM

$0 Existing monitor, speakers, keyboard and mouse
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:39 pm

Some quick replies:

* SSD/HDD -- I thought about this early on, but rejected the SSD option. Takes too much money out of my budget relative to the gains. This is an upgrade I can re-evaluate in a year or two when the inevitable Windows reinstall finally rolls around. As for why use two HDDs: they're cheap, one disk can be used as a general backup location for an emergency Windows rebuild (doesn't happen often these days but I like having that option available), and I can keep the OS drive paired up with storage I rarely access (like the digital photo archive) on one while putting a lot of other stuff on the other, for some mild performance gains.
* Optical drive -- Yes, I do need one, but as noted, BRD support is optional.
* Case -- The Sonata is the right size for my available space, has an efficient interior design, and I like the build quality. So either it stays, or I pick up something very similar. The case TR chose is far too big.
* Resale of existing -- not an option. As noted, some of these parts are quite old and arguably approaching EOL; and the ones that are not, I'm keeping.

JAE: nice list, I'll take a look at that later once I have more time.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:19 pm

i would consider also a 2600 or 2600k as a cpu, it could serve you longer without upgrade.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:21 pm

I can't think of any reason for you to replace the Sonata II. That sort of case ought to last a man through several computers.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:28 pm

FuturePastNow wrote:I can't think of any reason for you to replace the Sonata II. That sort of case ought to last a man through several computers.

Yeah, that's how I feel about it, but on the other hand, work + life are pretty busy right now -- it might take me a week or two to complete the upgrade, especially since I'll be converting from XP to Win7 and I do have some old applications that might fight me for a spell. I can keep my existing system running using the onboard sound and graphics, but the case is a problem.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:08 pm

A couple of helpers:
a 2500k is the most you'll want to go with, the 2600k is too much more $ for not enough more performance. If you live near a Microcenter, they're selling 2500k's from $150-$180.

If you are in or know somebody in college, you can get windows 7 pro 64-bit for $30-65 from microsoft store. (yes I've seen it on the same site for $30, it fluxuates)
http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/pd/productID.216644200?ClickID=akyo005ao000oklwy00ss5lslpwrvlwzpllr

SSD's are no joke, I agree with others, if you can find somewhere to squeeze one into your budget, i think you'll be happy. I've seen owners that have built beefy systems like the one you're looking at building here and didnt notice much end-user experience/responsiveness improvement until they went to an SSD. You...your upgrade is taking a pretty massive leap over what you've got now. So if an SSD is too much cost at the moment, definetly keep them on your radar for future upgrades. Otherwise you could consider Z68 MOBO and a 20gb SSD for caching and you'll still get a noticeable improvement over hdd only.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:03 pm

DPete27 wrote:A couple of helpers:
a 2500k is the most you'll want to go with, the 2600k is too much more $ for not enough more performance. If you live near a Microcenter, they're selling 2500k's from $150-$180.

Thanks for the heads-up. In fact, there is a Microcenter in the Denver area but it's pretty far southeast of me. According to the website, the price is $180 right now, after paying for gas and sales taxes it would probably come out about the same as the Newegg combo price break that JAE linked, so I'll probably stick with that since I'm going to be putting in a big order anyway.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:12 pm

Well, I compared some items and basically ended up with the list JAE assembled (thanks, JAE!). Here's what my shopping cart is looking like now (see below). I ended up hitting $795, before shipping, with just one hard drive and no case, so for now I'll start with the single 1TB Samsung and probably pull a 320GB out of my existing system to continue using for a while as archival storage, and re-use the existing Sonata II case.

Any further thoughts before I pull the trigger on this one?

Newegg Shopping Cart wrote:Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
Item #:N82E16832116992
Transcend JetFlash 500 8GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (Blue) Model TS8GJF500
Item #:N82E16820208545
1ea @ $139.99 combined

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Memory CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9
Item #:N82E16820233143
1 @ $104.99

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm sleeve CPU Cooler
Item #:N82E16835103065
1 @ $26.00

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #:N82E16822152185
1 @ $59.99

SAMSUNG Black Blu-ray Combo SATA Model SH-B123L/RSBP LightScribe Support
Item #:N82E16827151232
1 @ $64.99

ASUS P8Z68-V LE LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
Item #:N82E16813131773
1 @ $129.99

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 Processor BX80623I52500K
Item #: N82E16819115072
CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W Power Supply
Item #: N82E16817139028
1ea @ $269.98 combined

-----------------------------
Grand Total: $795.93
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:45 pm

Done...for $798.81 shipped. Can't get much closer to $800 than that. Thanks for all the help, everybody :D
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:16 pm

looks good to me, i am kinda tempted to build a similar system myself.. i just keep having to remind myself that theres no new games im playing yet so no point.. but its such a good system at that price
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:36 am

I juast noticed your motherboard,i hope you were not planning on moving up to sli.That boards second pcie16 slot is oly 4x not 8x.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:29 pm

vargis14 wrote:I juast noticed your motherboard,i hope you were not planning on moving up to sli.That boards second pcie16 slot is oly 4x not 8x.

Nope, haven't had time for serious gaming in a long while. I'll most likely upgrade the graphics at least once during the life of the system, but only another single-slot solution.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:21 pm

Well, as it happened, life+work delayed the physical rebuild until after another pay cycle. So, after some nail biting, I went ahead and got an Intel 320-series 80GB SSD to use as my Windows drive. Still in the early setup stages, but I can say, that is one fast Windows 7 boot, even allowing for the fact that it isn't loading much of anything yet.

What is the current opinion on the location of the swap file? Should this be moved off the SSD to reduce wear, or does it matter?
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:45 am

Ludi,
Even once you get some time and lotsa programs loaded that run on startup it will still be fast,I have the corsair force 60gb i think i remember it only did 275mb reads and 250mbs writes,not on my big machine right now so i cant test it to see what it gets since ive had it since april.
NOTICED NO SLOWDOWN WHATSOEVER.
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Comparing your old system to your new one would be like a race between a ford fiesta vs a bmw M5
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:18 am

ludi wrote:
DPete27 wrote:A couple of helpers:
a 2500k is the most you'll want to go with, the 2600k is too much more $ for not enough more performance. If you live near a Microcenter, they're selling 2500k's from $150-$180.

Thanks for the heads-up. In fact, there is a Microcenter in the Denver area but it's pretty far southeast of me. According to the website, the price is $180 right now, after paying for gas and sales taxes it would probably come out about the same as the Newegg combo price break that JAE linked, so I'll probably stick with that since I'm going to be putting in a big order anyway.


Can't you just lay the parts out on the desk and they'll still work - without a case? Not as pretty, but for a stop-gap (and to save $70-100), that doesn't seem like a bad idea to me...
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:07 am

ludi wrote:Well, as it happened, life+work delayed the physical rebuild until after another pay cycle. So, after some nail biting, I went ahead and got an Intel 320-series 80GB SSD to use as my Windows drive. Still in the early setup stages, but I can say, that is one fast Windows 7 boot, even allowing for the fact that it isn't loading much of anything yet.

What is the current opinion on the location of the swap file? Should this be moved off the SSD to reduce wear, or does it matter?


I'm using its predecessor, the 80GB X25-M G2, as a boot drive, and life is good.

You can split up the pagefile- I kept a small amount on the SSD (256MB or so, I'd have to check) and put a big chunk on a hard drive. With 8GB of RAM and my usage, it rarely touches the slower portion, anyway.

If you're not going to use hibernation, be sure to turn that off, too.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:07 pm

swampfox wrote:Can't you just lay the parts out on the desk and they'll still work - without a case? Not as pretty, but for a stop-gap (and to save $70-100), that doesn't seem like a bad idea to me...

Two housemates, or three if you include the cat, in a dry climate. Not actually a good idea :wink:

I did end up swapping my old system into a spare chassis last weekend, and downgraded the video so that I could pull the 460GTX into the new build. So, I'm still up and running with the old system while building up the new. Software setup is going pretty quick and smooth so far, although there will be a few hours' worth of file copying to catch up on when I'm ready to make the final switch.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:22 am

Finally switched the new box into regular duty tonight and started using it the way I always have. Turns out a 64-bit OS with 16GB RAM and an SSD Windows drive is a serious piece of magic when editing large image files in tandem with background tasks :o

I am very happy here.
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Re: Time for a new system - Utility Player?

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:47 pm

I'm glad to hear that you were able to squeeze an SSD in there after all. I'm running an M4 instead of the Intel drive, but 16GB RAM and W7-64 and it's funny that I don't notice how smooth it is until I have to use another machine. That's especially true when doing something like installing a large program (I installed Office 2007 the other day) and doing, well, anything else to be honest. With the SSD at home I can just go about my business without any noticable slowdown. We got some brand new machines at work last week with i5-2400 as the processsor but just ho-hum 7200RPM mechanical drives in them and I did the same thing (installing Office) and the machine was for all intents and purposes useless for meaningful work during that time. For me, getting an SSD reminds me of the first time I got a dual core processor - you could actually, you know, multitask regardless of what the task is. On my current machine I can be compressing a DVD to x264 while surfing the web or playing a game and you wouldn't even know it. Amazing how far we've come already.
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