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System Recommendations

Jul 18, 2010 1:27 PM

Hi Harm,

 

I've read this thread and have a few questions for a system I'm looking to build, please.

 

[Naturally, while I'm directing that towards Harm, I hugely appreciate advice from anyone else, too.]

 

I will mainly be running Premiere CS5 and the common related apps. My budget for everything excluding software is about $5,000 ($4,000 is okay too).

 

CASE: For a case, I'm not into contours, windows or lights. I like the clean, "business-like" look of the Lian Li PC-A77F you recommended, for instance -- though that's currently unavailable on NewEgg as I type this and I'm wondering if there's a reason -- such as it being discontinued for another model or something (or else I can just look elsewhere). It seems to provide plenty of cooling, and options for quieter fans. So, can we confirm this as the choice, please, or suggest a similar alternative? (Note that once I decide on the case, I may ask your advice on upgrading the cooling, including specifically for the GPU, which I notice the Lian Li PC-A77F supports.)

 

MOBO: ASUS P6X58D. I'm guessing that's a good choice that should require no further dialog.

 

CPU: i7, but then the question is 920, 930, 980x? I'm not an enthusiast and would normally never consider overclocking, but I see you recommend it. I will need you or someone to point me to how, but you say it's simple so that's fine. Just as long as I never risk it crashing and corrupting my OS. (Note that I read somewhere that overclocking requires slowing down the memory and it becomes almost a wash, but I don't know the details or how reliable that was.) As to cost, well, it becomes a question of where it hits the point of diminishing returns. If there really is a significant time difference when encoding, I'll pay for it. The time it saves me will be worth it. I'm not going to begin to try to guess how to quantify this, or figure this one out without your advice.

 

GPU: That will be the GTX-470, thank-you-very-much.

 

RAM: What I'm currently looking at is "Kingston HyperX 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) XMP Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3K3/12GX Intel XMP Ready." I'll go with whatever you suggest, and will appreciate your advice on generally ballparking the performance difference between 12 GB vs 24 GB.

 

HARD DISK DRIVES: At your suggestion, I did a lot of reading and chose the Samsung SpinPoint F3 for my choice for hard drive. I will go with a total of five hard drives: one for OS/apps, one for swap, and three in a RAID-5 array for data.

 

RAID CONTROLLER: I have gotten unanimous advice not to use the on-board RAID, but don't yet have any suggestions for the controller card to get. I have had used LSI before and am told it's one of the best. I'd appreciate your advice.

 

PSU: I know I need "plenty." Would you care to make a recommendation? (If using the Lian Li PC-A77F, I believe mounting the PSU in the bottom is preferred. Would you agree?)

 

COOLING: Once the choice for case and mobo is made, I'd appreciate your advice on an aftermarket CPU fan if any and extra GPU cooling if any. I don't know that you'd suggest getting into water cooling for this system, and I assume I can handle quieter aftermarket case fans on my own.

 

BURNER: I'm planning on burning DVDs and CDs, and have not even begun to explore Blue-ray at all yet. I'm strictly producing business presentations. Do you suggest I get a BR burner, or just a standard DVD/CD burner? And would you care to suggest one?

 

Thanks so much!

 

Jay

 

[Note: I've edited this post to clarify at the top what my budget is "excluding software." -- Jay]

Branched from an earlier discussion.
 
Replies 1 2 Previous Next
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2010 1:28 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Jay,

     

    The PC-A77F case is a new model this year, so it should be available. Might be temporarily out-of-stock. The alternative is the previous model the A77B, but I have not yet found any significant differences between the two.

     

    CPU: the 920 is no longer produced, the 930 has taken it's place, so actually you have to choose between the 930 or the 980X, at quadruple the price. Undoubtedly, the i7-980X is the faster CPU. Whether that is worth the investment is up to you.

     

    Memory: Your choices are limited to http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007611% 20600006078%20600006127&IsNodeId=1&name=DDR3%201600%20%28PC3%2012800%2 9 with this one looking the best: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231381

     

    Raid controller: This is my favorite http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816151049&cm_re= areca_arc-1680ix-_-16-151-049-_-Product

     

    PSU: 1000W modular CoolerMaster or Corsair. Like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171056

     

    CPU cooler depends on your memory choice. Let's review that when you know what to go for.

     

    BR, let it be for the time being. you have plenty of space in the case to add 1 or 2 later.

     

    Hard disk: If you opt for a hardware controller, like the Areca, I suggest you add a couple of F3's right now. A 3 disk raid5 is not very fast and if you add a couple to them, it will make the raid a lot faster, and 2 extra disks won't bring you over budget.

     

    I haven't calculated where you come out, but if the choice is between the 980 and the Areca controller, I would opt for the 930 + Areca, instead of the 980 without the controller.

     

    It may be better to create a new topic for this. [Done]

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2010 6:48 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hi Harm and Jay,

     

    Jay, you are building a system very similar to mine (no wonder, we both follow Harm's recommendations !). As for the case: I called Xoxide's (distributor) customer support (561-282-6001), and I was told that the Lian Li PC-A77 will be available in mid July. (I will call them again tomorrow.)

     

    About the raid: Harm, I am a bit confused. You suggested to me to use the ICHR10 chip on the P6X58D board for raid (with 4 Samsung F3 HDs - the fifth is for the system and programs). You are saying here that 3 drives (for Jay) in RAID 5 is not too fast, and suggest the Areca controller (with additional drives). Shouldn't I do the same then? (BTW, there are only 5 bays for SATA hard drives in this case - how do I add more drives if I want to?) I might have misunderstood something, please help me.

     

    Also, I have already ordered (and received) the Corsair Core i7 XMS3 12 GB PC1280 DDR3 memory (for $330). Is this inferior to the one you are suggesting to Ray ($500)?

     

    Thanks (again),

     

    Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 1:39 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    To avoid confusion about both the case and about disks and raid, let me explain.

     

    The case has space for three 3.5" disks at the back in the top and it has 12 5.25" bays, of which 6 are pre-configured to take 3.5" disks. If you need more space for 3.5" disks, you can use this: Super Micro Computer, Inc. - Products | Accessories | Mobile Rack | CSE-M35T-1

     

    With three of these, you can have 15 disks in front, 3 in the back and still have room for 2 burners and 4 2.5" SSD's. So you have some room to grow. The alternative is a couple of these: http://www.lian-li.com.tw/v2/en/product/product06.php?pr_index=279&cl_ index=2&sc_index=5&ss_index=12

     

    As a very rough indication of Raid3/5 performance, you can use this approximation:

     

    Performance wise it will achieve around 85%  (X-1) on reads and 60% (X-1) on writes over a single disk with X being  the number of disks in the array. So with a 6 disk array in RAID3/5, you  get around 0.85x (6-1) = 425% the performance of a single disk on reads  and 300% on writes.

     

    So with X being 3, as in Jay's initial suggestion, he will get around 170% on reads and 120% on writes compared to a single disk. With 4 or 5 disks those numbers would be around 255% R / 180 % W and 340% R / 240% W.

     

    But using the ICHR10 carries a penalty in terms of CPU load, which especially with AVCHD material, you want to avoid. That is where a dedicated hardware controller comes in (at a price). However, with the limited number of SATA ports on the motherboard, some of which are used by the burners, the OS disk and the eSATA port, you may no longer have a choice.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 1:36 AM   in reply to LaciG

    Laci,

     

    You have chosen good memory, but you use 2 GB sticks, for up to 12 G total. Jay starts with 4 GB sticks, initially a set of three will also give him 12 G but he has the possibility to add another set to increase memory to 24 G total.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 2:21 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hi,

     

    for psu I would recommend a 1000w Coolermaster or Corsair, Also consider the Corsair 3x4gb Memory (I have this in my PC).

     

    as Harm recommended supermicro 5 bay enclosure, also have a look at this: (I have in my PC)

     

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816212014

     

    also have a look at the Lian Li Pc-p80b,

     

    good luck

     

    Baz

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 3:28 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hi,

     

    I only recommend the 5 bay enclosure if using Raid Cards. If you have a failed HD a light will flash, and you can then replace the HD easily and quickly.The chenbro enlosure I have keep the HD cool at aprox 25c max. For power there is also only 2x molex required. its a good invesment, that will save you time and effort if you do have a hd fail.

     

     

     

     

     

    Regards

     

    Baz

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 4:38 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Jay,

     

    1. The point of diminishing returns will depend heavily on your typical projects and your editing style. As Baz and I have both experienced, there is not much difference between 10, 12 or 14 disks in a raid30 array, because we run into the limitations of the PCIe bus.

     

    2. Raid5 is better for reading and raid 3 for sequential writing. IOPS is better with raid5, sequential work is better with raid3. Rebuilding with raid5 carries a heavy penalty and is much better with raid3.

     

    3. There used to be a time where 3Ware with their custom I/O processor were about the worst performer in raid land. Maybe things have changed. A 4 port card means you never can use more than 4 disks. I find that very restricting. Once upon a time I started out with a 2 port card, then moved to a 12 port card and if I were to get a new card now I would only consider a 16/24 port card, with the nod to the 24 port version. Also consider that Areca is the only card to support raid3 and that the cache can be upgraded from the standard 512 MB to 4 GB only on the 12 + port versions.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 5:51 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hi,

     

    Yes your on the right track,

     

     

    It depends on the Raid card you go for.

    I also use the 5 bay enclosure for non raid, using the hot swap for saving client files, or for backups ect.

     

     

     

    Baz

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 4:34 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Harm, Jay,

     

    Thanks for the advice. Now I understand (at least I think, I do) the issues with the raid. (And I mistook the number of SATA drive limitation by the case with the limitation by the board .) I am not going to go for an external RAID enclosure this time, instead I will use the 5 HD solution (one for system, 4 for storage in a RAID 5 configuration) suggested originally by Harm.

     

    Thanks again,

     

    - Laci.

     

    Addendum:

     

    Harm, My already purchased P6X58D MOBO has 6 SATA 3.0 and 2 SATA 6.0 ports. This is exactly enough for 2 burners, 1 eSATA port and 5 internal SATA HD (which I also have by now) - as you suggested earlier. This setup would work fine with the board (with the ICH10R chip).

     

    In one of our earlier discussions, I was asking what (software/hardware) to use for RAID: Laci: "...I do not need any extra hardware for RAID 5 - the OS will do it for me..." Harm: "...No, use the on-board ICHR10 chip for that..."

     

    At that point, I assumed that this chip would 'do everything related to RAID' (and not the OS or the CPU). However, in one of your recent postings, you wrote: "...But using the ICHR10 carries a penalty in terms of CPU load, which especially with AVCHD material, you want to avoid. That is where a dedicated hardware controller comes in (at a price). However, with the limited number of SATA ports on the motherboard, some of which are used by the burners, the OS disk and the eSATA port, you may no longer have a choice..."  Does that mean that

        

         1. even with the ICH10R chip, we would still lose CPU power?

         2. How severe is this load on the CPU?

     

    And this is just a question to educate myself (I do not want to buy a RAID card at this point):

         3. Why are you saying that  "...you may no longer have a choice..."? Wouldn't a RAID card support more than my 4 HDs? Could they be internal HDs?

     

    Thank you again,

     

    - Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2010 10:28 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hello JayNewWeb,

     

    Scott Chichelli of ADK Editing is a system builder and a frequent contributor to these forums.

     

    I do a lot of video editing with Canon XHA1 HDV tape and also Canon 5D Mark II MOV tapeless files.

     

    The system he built for me works like a charm and I haven't had a single problem in the two months I've had it.

     

    i7 980X CPU

    285 GTX GPU

    24 GB RAM

    1 TB hard drive for OS

    2 TB RAID 0 for source files

    2 TB RAID 0 for render

    Windows 7 64bit Pro

    CS5 Production Suite installed

    LG BluRay

    ASUS 25.5 HD monitor

    Lifetime support

     

    I'm sure he can put together something close to this within the budget you mentioned.

     

    Plus, he's generally just a good guy as is Eric his right hand man.

     

    I have no affiliation with them other than as a customer. Just a big fan of their product and service.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 20, 2010 1:59 AM   in reply to Dailey Pike

    Yeliad

     

    Hi, would be interesting to see how your machine runs on the benchmark tests,a s you have 24gb Ram.

     

    Baz

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 20, 2010 7:37 AM   in reply to Dailey Pike

    THANK YOU!

    especially the good guy part :-)

    Scott

    ADK

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 25, 2010 7:05 PM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hi Jay, I was about to place an order for the A77F case on NewEgg (that you kindly researched for me) when I noticed all those blue lights on their picture. Do you know if those lights can be disabled? One of my original requirements was a non-gamer case (no lights, no dancing, etc.) Of course, I can always ask the Xoxide one of the main distributors of that case.) Thanks, and thanks again for the previous message, Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2010 11:02 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    Hi Jay, I just called Xoxide about the A77F case, and they said that the

    only way to get rid of all those annoying lights is to replace the fans(that

    are actually very inexpensive.) Thanks for your reply. BTW, I posted a

    question a few days ago about the RAID configuration (namely, approximately

    how much CPU processing power we lose by using the ICH10R Southbridge on the

    i7 mother board instead of an expansion card) - but I haven't received any

    reply. Do you know anything about this? Thanks, Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2010 11:12 AM   in reply to LaciG

    Simple solution:

     

    Cut one wire to the LED on the fan, but not to the fan.

     

    Second problem: ICHR10 raid.

     

    I recently encountered someone who had the most atrocious results on his raid5 with the ICHR10, reading OK, but writing was really in the same league as USB disks. We haven't figured out a solution yet, but numerous reports exist about this behavior on Intel and Asus mobo's. Can you imagine a 2,000 x 4 R0 writing at 25 MB/s?

     
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    Jul 26, 2010 11:18 AM   in reply to Harm Millaard

    WOW something is seriously wrong there.

     

    we do a lot of raid 0 onboard (discourage raid 5/6 with onboard)

    this is also where if you dont have the Enterprise drives you will run into major issues!

    (drives dropping out)

     

    whoever has that issue should break down the raid and test each drive individually sounds like a bad drive

    (lots of bad sectors)

     

    Scott

    ADK

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2010 12:09 PM   in reply to Harm Millaard

    Back from vacation but saw this Harm. Remember that the write policy set in the controller software for the raid array that causes this issue with Win 7. This has to do with Win 7's cache policy for storage. If you don't set your array to Write back policy then Win 7 slows the write speed down as much as 90% to ensure data integrity writing to the drive should the power fail. It really is silly but that is what Microsoft decided to do with Win 7. Most controllers management software allows you to set the Write policy to Always Write Back. The onboard ICH 10 with the Intel Rapid Storage Manager requires you to select the Advanced option when creating a raid volume and then selecting the "Enable Write Back Cache". That is the same as "always write back" on standard enterprise controllers. That  will force Win 7 to change the cache policy for storage to performance and then your write speed should be around your  read speed. Hope that helps.

     
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    Jul 26, 2010 12:20 PM   in reply to Harm Millaard

    Cutting the wire - huh? I am ashamed as a physicist not to think of this!

    (However, I couldn't have known if there is a free wire and not an embedded

    LED and power line on a PC board...) Also, I am reading with great interest

    this discussion on RAID 5 with ICH10R (which a was/am still(?) planning to

    do) but even if the write speed can be fixed with a simple "Enable Write

    Back Cache" setting, I am still not sure how much PCU power we lose using

    this solution instead of a RAID card? Thanks for all the help/good advice

    for everyone - Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2010 3:06 PM   in reply to LaciG

    The CPU usage with the onboard raid is 8 to 12% when under load from the controller. Average is 5 to 8%. I do not recommend using the onboard for raid 5 at all. It's perfectly fine for raid 0 and 1 but not nearly good enough for raid 5. It takes FOREVER(I am not joking here) to initialize and or rebuild a raid 5 with the onboard controller. Where as an Enterprise level raid controller can initialize or rebuild an array in 1 to 3 hours depending on how big the array is. The parity integrity is far better on a enterpise level raid controller as well which is the entire point of even using a raid 5. If your redundancy has a greater chance of corrupting with the onboard then you are gaining far less with raid 5 than what you should by going with the onboard controller. 1 last reason is the drive time out issue. This has become extremely common now days with the current drive industry and bad blocks on discs coming off the production line. If you couple this with non-enterprise drives then a drive can be marked out as bad as it gets caught in a loop trying to address data to a bad block area. The raid controller thinks the drive quit communicating whiles it's caught in that loop and marks the drive as bad. Now your array is degraded and you have to rebuild. Once again this takes forever on the onboard raid. Consider this carefully before you proceed.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2010 3:55 PM   in reply to ECBowen

    ECBowen, I have 5 Samsung F3 (HD103SJ) 1 TB drives (one for the OS+programs and 4 for RAID 5 - following some earlier pieces of advice in this thread). This system is for HD editing of hobby/family videos. Reading the latest comments, it seems to me that even for my 'limited' use, I should go ahead with an onboard RAID controller. Any suggestion for a decent (enterprise level?) one (but which is not more expensive than the whole computer )? Thanks for all the good data/advice, Laci. (P.S. Using a RAID card, do I still have to select the "Enable Write Back Cache", as you mentioned it in one of your earlier messages - so this is a general Win 7 issue, or this is relevant only for the ICH10R RAID solution?) (P.P.S. I am looking at the 3WARE boards - that's what Jay suggested earlier...)

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 6:22 AM   in reply to LaciG

    why bother with raid 5 at all?

    onboard is a no no period.

    as a hobbiest there is no point to the Raid 5

    save your money and break up the drive arrays like this

     

    1) OS

    2) 2 drives raid 0 work drive

    3) 2 drive raid 0 for export

    4) cheap USB/eSata/Firewire for back up.

     

    dont waste your money.

     

    Scott

    ADK

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 6:28 AM   in reply to LaciG

    If you don't need raid 6 support then this is the choice:

     

    http://www.intel.com/products/server/raid-controllers/RS2WC080/RS2WC08 0-overview.htm

     

    If you use the onboard then you will have to enable the write back cache for the array.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 8:55 AM   in reply to Scott Chichelli

    Scott, I was just about to ask if I really need this RAID5 as a hobbyist. I

    will follow your recommendation (and will back up my data regularly - as I

    have been doing it now on my 7 year old Dell Dimension ). Thank you,

    Laszlo. (P.S. However, I learned a lot from all theses discussions about the

    different RAID solutions and their advantages/disadvantages. Thanks for all

    the advice on the RAID for everybody!)

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 8:57 AM   in reply to ECBowen

    Thanks! If/when I decide to go for RAID5 I will use this board. - Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 9:45 AM   in reply to Scott Chichelli

    Scott, Just one more (layman ) question: Do I use the ICH10R+BIOS for

    RAID0 on my ASUS P6X58D or I still need a dedicated RAID card (like the one

    suggested by ECBrown) in order to get the best performance (both for

    read/write and for system CPU)? I guess that I don't but still asking your

    advice. Thanks again, Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 1:44 PM   in reply to LaciG

    just use the onboard raid for raid 0!

    we do, untill it gets past 4 drives or raid 5/6

     

    a highend raid card would not perform any better with just 2 sets raid 0.

    it would just use less CPU 5-8% vs 0-1%

     

    Scott

    ADK

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 4:40 PM   in reply to Scott Chichelli

    Thanks again! - Laci. (What does ADK stand for?)

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 5:34 PM   in reply to LaciG

    Click on his "blue phantom" avatar, then on the web site link in the profile.  These guys (referring to Scott, Eric, and some others on this forum not from ADK) know their stuff and get high marks for "giving back" through all the help they provide.  It has been especially important during this hardware intensive upgrade win7, CS5, MPE etc.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 6:19 PM   in reply to LaciG

    Hey all--

     

    I'm the guy Harm referred to in post 21, with the horrible disk speeds.  Following the advice in post 24 I was able to cut my disk test results by 85%.  But some caveats:

     

    The Intel Matrix Storage Manager that came embedded with the system was an older version, from Feb 2010 (8.0.0.1038).  While both the Intel and Asus websites have newer versions posted (8.9.0.1023) they aren't the newest one available in the link below, especially if you use their tools to scan your system for recommended updates.  Only when installing the newest one was I given an option to install the Intel Control Center with the Intel Rapid Storage Technology app (insert trademark sign here). These are Windows apps which give you access to the "Advanced" button referred to above, which lets you enable write-back cache.  The prior version was only accessible via POST (CTRL-I) and did not have any advanced options.

     

    We did test the individual disks before doing this and all checked out identically, so either they are all fine or all identically screwed up.

     

    Hope this helps others having similar problems.  For the record, here's a link to the newest version:

     

    http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&ProdId=2101&Dwn ldID=18859&lang=eng

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2010 6:34 PM   in reply to Stan Jones

    Hi Stan, I checked out ADK: Impressive! (I could have bought one of their

    products but then where is the fun to build one myself? ) Thanks, Laci.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 28, 2010 7:12 AM   in reply to LaciG

    ADK=Advanced Design of KY (Kentucky)

     

    Believe me it took us forever back in the 90's to convince Scott to switch to an acronym versus the full name which no one would remember

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 28, 2010 9:29 AM   in reply to JayNewWeb

    May I chime in here about the RAID setup question.

    I'm going to built a "hackintosh" to be able to use all the different softwares but also to be able to customize it for my needs.

    I'm mainly going to work with CS5, because of my projects using RED cameras, but I also need to be compatible with Final Cut and am planning to go the DAVINCI RESOLVE route.

    I'm new to the RAID setup question and read through a lot of posts, but am still a little bit confused. Maybe someone can give a recomendation how I should set it up for my needs.

    My system is planned to have two internal SSD drives for both OS (Mac and windows) and applications. Also I'm planning on a 4 RAID hotswap disc array. The Computer will also have an internal CF card reader, esata, fire wire 800, Bluray burner and the Possibility to turn the Fans of with temperature Control for use on set while takes. All set up in a 19' case. I will also purchase an LTO4 drive for long time storage.

    So I want to use may sytem

    1. for DIT usage on set. Offloading Data of CF cards and drives to two RAIDS while shooting and maybe an external or to LTO4 in the evening.

    2. For editing, color corrections, special Effects, and Compositing.

    So how should I set up my disc array for best Performance and security working in HD, 2K and with R3D's?

    Is there one setup that would work for both purpusses or would I need to change it fo each one?

    Should I install another internal drive for documents and a bit of personal stuff?

     
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