16 Replies Latest reply on Mar 4, 2013 4:25 PM by CSNewbie19

    Advice sought for a new PC build

    CSNewbie19

      Hello,

       

      I could use a little advice about an "as silent as silent can be" system that I am trying to put together right now. I plan to build it myself. I have installed / replaced components in PC systems before but it will be the first time I build a PC from scratch.

       

      Purpose of PC


      To blitz anything that CS6 can throw at it right now and still be putting up a respectable fight when CS11 is eventually released. In order of importance, the system needs to excel at:

       

      1. Video editing and effects using Premiere and AfterEffects
      2. 3D animation using Autodesk 3DS Max etc
      3. Multimedia content authoring    (Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Dreamweaver)
      4. Music production     (Propellerhead Reason, REAPER)
      5. Internet browsing, emails, iTunes and all other 21st century time-wasting activities.

       

      Before I place any orders, I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you can see anything that I might have forgotten, any potential incompatibility issues or just any terrible decisions that I really need to rethink.

       

      Components


      Windows Professional  64bit OS
      Do I need Ultimate?

       

      Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Quiet Mid-Tower Case
      Is this case cool and quiet. Are there better options than this that don’t look like either a teenage warrior’s wet dream or a hotel minibar?

       

      Corsair Professional Series AX 760 Watt ATX/EPS Fully Modular 80 PLUS Platinum PSU
      Honestly I have no idea. I picked it because it is highly rated for efficiency and should go with the case. Are there better options at a similar price point, especially in terms of heat / noise / known reliability issues?

       

      Intel  Core i7-3930K 6-Core Processor
      I am definitely going with this CPU. I think.

       

      Corsair 120mm Hydro Series H80i Digital High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
      I chose this rather than the 100i because it can exhaust out the back of the case. I think this will be a better configuration for the case I have chosen and the location where the PC will live.

       

      Asus P9X79 PRO Motherboard (Socket 2011, Intel X79 chipset)
      It has all the features I want except on-board firewire which is not a deal breaker and has had good reviews. Can anyone recommend something better at a similar price point? Is it worth spending more to get a higher specified / workstation grade motherboard?

       

      Asus Nvidia GeForce 2GB GTX 670 DirectCU II Graphics Card

      Supposedly one of the quietest GTX670 cards on the market and ought to be fully compatible with the motherboard.

       

      Pioneer BDR-208DBK 15X SATA Blu-ray writer


      Storage Components


      Corsair Vengeance Vengeance Performance 32GB DDR3 1866MHz CL10 (4 x 8GB) RAM
      I am also considering getting 64GB and using 32 – 40GB as a RAM disk. Good idea? No?

       

      Corsair Force Series 3 GT 180GB SSD  
      Windows OS, Programs and Pagefile(s).

       

      Corsair Force Series 3 GT 180GB SSD  
      Caches, Previews, Temporary files for all CS6 programs

       

      4 x WD Caviar Black 1TB in RAID 10 configuration
      Media files, project files, exported / rendered files, sample library. Is it worth getting a dedicated RAID controller or should the motherboard be able to handle this without hurting performance elsewhere?

       

      1 x WD Caviar Black 1TB
      Everything else.

       

      My budget is reasonably flexible but I do not want to waste money on components that offer only minimal performance benefits.  Also, I have no plans at present to get into overclocking etc. Far too scary for a newbie.

       

      If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this and any advice at all would be very much appreciated.

       

      Regards

       

      Michael

        • 1. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          Windows Professional  64bit OS
          Do I need Ultimate? NO.

           

          Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Quiet Mid-Tower Case
          Is this case cool and quiet. Are there better options than this that don’t look like either a teenage warrior’s wet dream or a hotel minibar? Make that a big tower, like the 800 or the 900.

           

          Corsair 120mm Hydro Series H80i Digital High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
          I chose this rather than the 100i because it can exhaust out the back of the case. I think this will be a better configuration for the case I have chosen and the location where the PC will live. Consider air cooling, less costly, easier to install and maintain, same or better cooling capacity, same noise.

           

          Asus P9X79 PRO Motherboard (Socket 2011, Intel X79 chipset)
          It has all the features I want except on-board firewire which is not a deal breaker and has had good reviews. Can anyone recommend something better at a similar price point? Is it worth spending more to get a higher specified / workstation grade motherboard? Sabertooth and WS have on-board FW.

           

          Corsair Force Series 3 GT 180GB SSD  
          Windows OS, Programs and Pagefile(s).  Forget about these old series. Look at Corsair Neutron GTX, Samsung 840 Pro, Kingston HyperX or Plextor M5 Pro.

           

          4 x WD Caviar Black 1TB in RAID 10 configuration
          Media files, project files, exported / rendered files, sample library. Is it worth getting a dedicated RAID controller or should the motherboard be able to handle this without hurting performance elsewhere? Why raid10?

           

          Have a look at http://ppbm7.com/index.php/intro-part-1 for some further info on building yourself.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
            CSNewbie19 Level 1

            Wow! That is a super article. I haven't got time to read it all now but it is definitely going to help.

             

            Why RAID10?   From what I have read it provides a good combination of improved performance with a much lower potential of disaster compared to RAID0. Not true?

             

            Thank you, Harm.

            • 3. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
              RjL190365 Level 4

              CSNewbie19 wrote:

               

              Why RAID10?   From what I have read it provides a good combination of improved performance with a much lower potential of disaster compared to RAID0. Not true?

              Here's the catch:

               

              RAID 10 is a combination of RAID 1 and RAID 0 - specifically, each disk is mirrored with its mate within the same pair, then the two mirrored pairs are then striped together. As such, you would have paid the price for four disks but only get the usable space of two disks. As a result, you paid for 4TB but only got 2TB worth of usable storage! That's because the other 2TB is simply a mirror of the first 2TB.

              • 4. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                CSNewbie19 Level 1

                Thanks for the explanation.

                 

                Yes, I can see that it is quite wasteful but for the loss of 2TB don't you also get the benefit that your files are better protected from a disk failure? Two would have to fail at the same time to lose your work in a RAID 10 set up?

                 

                What would you suggest as an alternative? How does the rest of the storage set up look?

                 

                Regards

                 

                Michael

                • 5. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                  RjL190365 Level 4

                  Michael,

                   

                  With the number of disks that you have, it is better to have one 2-disk RAID 0 (for two of your WD Blacks) plus two other WD Blacks not set up as RAID (meaning that those two disks are set up as individual volumes).

                   

                  And I agree with Harm about the SSDs: Forget about the Force GT series SSDs, not just because they are last-gen SSDs, but also because they are both Sandforce-based. Sandforce-based SSDs suffer much greater deterioration in performance than other SSDs over time.

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                    CSNewbie19 Level 1

                    Ok. I think I get it. I am not sure I need that many drives at all now. I am now thinking:

                     

                    180GB SSD  -  OS, Programs and Pagefile

                     

                    180GB SSD  -  Cache, Previews and other temporary files

                     

                    2 x 1TB RAID 0  - Media files, project files, exported / rendered files, sample library

                     

                    2TB storage for archived projects and everything else

                     

                    Does that sound OK and an optimal use of the drives?

                     

                    RE: Sandforce. I didn't know that. Thanks for the tip.

                     

                    If I could test your patience one more time, what do you think about getting 64MB of RAM and using a sizeable chunk of it as a RAM disk?

                     

                    Regards

                     

                    Michael

                    • 7. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                      RjL190365 Level 4

                      Michael,

                       

                      What's more, the only 180GB SSDs on the market right now all use Sandforce controllers. The SSDs that do not use Sandforce controllers have either a 128GB or a 256GB capacity - and nothing in between.

                      • 8. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                        CSNewbie19 Level 1

                        Apart from the potential extra expense, a lack of 180GB non-Sandforce drives isn't a problem but this storage issue is a lot more complex than I realised, so I will do a lot more research before deciding how to proceed.

                         

                        In addition to Harm Millaard's article I found this paper which has been somewhat helpful and might help someone in the same boat as me right now:

                         

                        http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/products/creativesuite/production/cs6/pdfs/adobe -hardware-performance-whitepaper.pdf

                         

                        ....  although I will stick with GTX600 series rather than the Quadro cards which the article pushes.

                         

                        Thank you for your help, RjL.

                         

                        Regards

                         

                        Michael

                        • 9. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                          CSNewbie19 Level 1

                          Ok, so one month later, I have placed my order which should arrive on Friday so I can carry out the build at the weekend.

                           

                          I do have a couple of questions about SSD & HD set up and software installation but first, here is what I bought and how I intend to use the components. If there is anything glaringly wrong, it won't be a problem to send them back and buy something else as long as I don't open the packaging, so I could really use some advice and / or reassurance right now before it is too late.

                           

                          I am still feeling a little nervous about some of my choices but here goes:

                           

                          Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

                           

                          Corsair Obsidian 550D - I strongly considered Harm Millaard's advice but I really don't want a giant case and I have had the opportunity to hear an overclocked, water cooled 550D in full flight and it was incredibly quiet. Silence has a greater priority to me than outright performance.

                           

                          Corsair H100i AIO water cooler - see above

                           

                          BeQuiet! 750W Dark Power 10 modular PSU - I hope it does what it says on the tin.

                           

                          Intel 3930K - Seems to be the default CPU choice for high end motion graphics and video editing.

                           

                          Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard - Firewire + the 5 year guarantee persuaded me to get this instead of the P9X79 Pro and cut corners elsewhere ......

                           

                          Asus GTX 660 Ti TOP version - Still not sure if this is the right decision but I got it at a great price. I will probably still be happy with the performance as I am not interested in breaking records. If not, I can always add another one (After Effects will use the CUDA cores on both cards if they are not in SLI mode) or sell it and get a better GTX or even the new Titan.

                           

                          Patriot 32GB (4 x 8GB) 1866Ghz RAM Intel Extreme Masters

                           

                          Pioneer Blu Ray Writer BDR-208DBK

                           

                          Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB  - OS and Programs

                           

                          Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB - After Effects Global Performance Cache, CS6 media caches and scratch disks

                           

                          2 x WD Black 500GB in RAID 0 - Project files and media for work in progress  (backed up daily)

                           

                          1 x WD Black 2TB - Exports and final renders, Archived project files, everything else

                           

                          This will strictly be a working machine. I shall keep my laptop for MS Office, Internet browsing, iTunes, time-wasting etc.

                           

                          Assuming that there aren't any issues with the components, I intend to configure the storage devices as follows:

                           

                          Intel SATA 3 ports: The two Samsung SSDs (not in RAID array)

                           

                          Intel SATA 2 ports:

                          • 2 x 500GB WD Black in RAID 0 array
                          • 1 x 2TB WD Black (not in RAID array)
                          • 1 x Blu ray writer (not in RAID array)

                           

                          Does that look OK?

                           

                          If so, do I have to set the Intel SATA mode to RAID before or after installing the Windows operating system?

                           

                          I have read a lot of conflicting advice about this on the Internet and also whether or not to pre-install Intel RST drivers (in F6 mode?) before installing Windows 7. I definitely don't want Windows to include the SSDs as part of the RAID array so my instincts are to install Windows in AHCI mode with just a single SSD connected and then change to RAID mode after I have connected the remaining SSD + the other HDDs but I am not at all sure that this is correct.

                           

                          I would appreciate any advice but especially from anyone who has experience of setting up a similar system on a similar X79 motherboard.

                           

                          Thank you for your time.

                           

                          Regards

                           

                          Michael

                          • 10. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                            ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                            You cannot change the controller mode where the OS drive resides from AHCI to Raid or Raid to AHCI with the X79 Platform once Windows is installed. You have to set that to raid mode before the Windows install.

                             

                            Eric
                            ADK

                            1 person found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                              CSNewbie19 Level 1

                              Thank you, Eric. Your guidance is very welcome and came right on time as I am just about to install the OS!

                               

                              A quick word on the components I chose in case anyone is interested:

                               

                              Corsair Obsidian 550D: nice case, looks much better than it does in photos and quite easy to build in for a complete beginner.

                               

                              Corsair H100i: an absolute pig to fit neatly in the case due to lack of clearance to the motherboard. Horrible fan wiring. In the end I abandoned the pump fan controller and ran the cables from Cpu and cpu opt. Crap fans included as standard. Noisy at max. I will replace them ASAP with some Bequiet fans if hey are anything as god as their PSUs. The pump itself is silent so sorting out the fans should make this ok but right now I feel would make a different choice if I had to do it again.

                               

                              Bequiet 750 watt PSU. Great build quality, lots of cables easy to install and so far silent. Obviously it hasn't been stressed yet.

                               

                              asus Gtx 660ti. Seems nice, very quiet. Looks like the cooling has been well thought out.

                               

                              Sabertooth x79. Easy to build. Well equipped in terms of fan connectors. Very nice until I powered it up. It has two small fans which are both .... Well they are not noisy but they make a very annoying, grating noise. If I cannot sort this out I will have to have the mb replaced but that will be a complete pain.

                               

                              I shall report back again once all is finished.

                               

                              Cheers.

                              • 12. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                                Alan Craven Level 4

                                There are two versions of Intel RST - you need to be sure which your board uses before you start, as there are important differences.  As Eric says, you need to decide whether or not you are going to use RAID, now, or in the future, before you start.  It does no harm to set the mode to RAID in the BIOS as the system still recognises and operates non-RAIDed drives without problem.

                                 

                                Most consumer grade boards use IRST, for which there are drivers included in Windows 7, so you can install without using the F6 method, but Intel in their User Guide recommend using the F6 to load the proper driver at the start of the Windows installation.  The current version is 11.6.

                                 

                                Higher end consumer boards and server grade boards use RSTe (for enterprise), for which Windows 7 does not have drivers, so you must use the F6 method.  This version does not support TRIM.

                                 

                                The version of RSTe that Intel released last year will not load on certain SSD system drives - this is version 3.5.  There is a newly released version 3.6.0.1093 which has this bug corrected and appears to be problem free.

                                1 person found this helpful
                                • 13. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                                  CSNewbie19 Level 1

                                  Thank you, Alan. Your detailed reply answers a lot of important questions that I had on this issue.

                                   

                                  Can I just clarify with you that if I install RSTe, TRIM will not supported on ANY SSDs attached to the same SATA controller set to RAID mode?

                                   

                                  E.g.

                                   

                                  All drives on the same SATA controller set to RAID using IRSTe drivers

                                   

                                  A ) SSD for OS & program's (not part of a RAID set)

                                   

                                  B ) 3 x HDD as a RAID set.

                                   

                                  TRIM commands will not be sent to drive A?

                                   

                                  If so, my plans change again and I abandon RAID for now and buy a dedicated RAID controller at a later date if it seems necessary.

                                  • 14. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                                    Alan Craven Level 4

                                    TRIM is definitely not supported for SSDs in a RAID0 array .  Recent versions of RSTe support TRIM on single SSD drives using "pass-through" as far as I know.

                                     

                                    The Intel User Guide published last August to coincide with the release of V3.2 states on p23:

                                     

                                    "2.5.43 Solid State Drives (SSD)

                                          Intel RSTe will support SSDs as if they are Hard Disk Drives.

                                     

                                    2.5.44 AHCI controller

                                         Intel RSTe will support TRIM on the AHCI controller in a non-RAID configuration.

                                     

                                    2.5.45 SCU Controller

                                          Intel RSTe will support TRIM on the SCU controller in a non-RAID configuration."

                                     

                                    I have had Windows 7 installed on a Crucial M4 SSD for 13 months now without any deterioration in performance, and the system is absolutely stable.

                                    • 15. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                                      CSNewbie19 Level 1

                                      Thank you, Alan. Your guidance has been invaluable.

                                      Cheers

                                       

                                      Michael

                                      • 16. Re: Advice sought for a new PC build
                                        CSNewbie19 Level 1

                                        Hello

                                         

                                        I finished my build at the weekend and installed the OS and so far the process has been much better than I could have hoped for. Thank you for all of your help.

                                         

                                        The computer is much faster and quieter than any computer I have ever owned before and (touch wood) is a joy to use. The Windows Experience rating is 7.8.

                                         

                                        I am still running through checks to make sure everything is OK before installing the rest of the software but I have come across one issue that I think I ought to double check before I get in too deep.

                                         

                                        So far I have connected 4 drives to the Intel SATA controller of my ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard set to RAID mode:

                                         

                                        Samsung 840 Pro 128GB SSD    ---- Not in RAID

                                        Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD    ---- Not in RAID

                                        2 x WD Black 500GB SSD in RAID 0

                                        Pioneer Bluray Re-Writer BDR-208DBK

                                         

                                        I have a WD Black 2TB waiting to be added to the system for non performance-critical storage once I am certain that I don't have an issue with set up.

                                         

                                        I have 32GB of RAM installed.

                                         

                                        I have installed and run the Samsung Magician software and the performance benchmarks for the drives are:

                                         


                                        Seq Read 128KSeq Write 128KRandom Read 4KRandom Write 4KTest Range
                                        Samsung 840 Pro 128GB5332268865547881GB
                                        Samsung 840 Pro 256GB5342639116949561GB
                                        2 x WD Black RAID 024126526101462100MB

                                         

                                        The SSD read speeds look fine  but write speeds seem to be very low to me, certainly much lower than the speeds quoted by Samsung and confirmed in multiple reviews.

                                        Does this look OK to you and if not, do you have any ideas about how I could improve SSD write performance?

                                         

                                        So far I have followed the steps in the following guide to SSD/HDD optimization for Windows 7 to no avail (checked for latest firmware and drivers, turned off indexing, disabled hibernation, checked that TRIM is enabled, shrank page file to 4GB on OS drive, changed power options so drives never sleep .... have I missed anything?):

                                         

                                        http://www.overclock.net/t/1156654/seans-windows-7-install-optimization-guide-for-ssds-hdd s

                                         

                                        Finally, does the RAID drive's performance look ok.

                                         

                                        I am suspicious that the write performance of the SSDs seems to be pegged to the write performance of the RAID, although that might be just coincidence.

                                         

                                        One last thing, and thanks for your patience.

                                         

                                        I am tempted to switch back to AHCI mode in the BIOS and re-run the benchmarks to see if the SATA RAID mode is the problem. This won't be too much of a hassle as the system is empty at present.

                                        But if / when I return to  RAID mode, I shouldn't have to do any pre-installing because the RSTe drivers are now already installed and up to date, is this correct?

                                         

                                        My apologies if these issues have been covered before in the forum. I have looked but I couldn't find anything specific.

                                         

                                        Regards

                                         

                                        Michael