Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

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Dropzone
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Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Dropzone » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:17 am UTC

So, it looks like my laptop's graphics card has finally died (for real this time). A replacement card would be very expensive, I'm no longer in a situation where I need portability, and I'd been wanting a more powerful machine for a while anyway; so I've decided that now would be a good time to build myself a new desktop. I've never built a machine from scratch before, and I don't follow hardware news too closely, so I could do with some advice on a build.

I'm looking to put together a relatively inexpensive machine (probably around £600 to £700), mainly for gaming. I have a rough idea of what components would be appropriate, but what I've got so far is really just a first draft of a build - feel free to suggest major changes if it looks completely screwed up.


CPU
As far as I can tell, the Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition (going for around £90) is a good deal for this sort of machine, right? The third core would be especially helpful for rendering in POV-Ray, which I do a fair amount of.

Graphics Card
The ones I'm looking at are the Radeon HD 4870 1GB (~£105), the Radeon HD 4890 1GB (~£130), and the GeForce GTX 260 896MB (~£115). I really don't know whether to go for ATI or Nvidia here. ATI has DX 10.1 and better Linux support (?), Nvidia has PhysX and CUDA - but I'm not certain I'd even use any of those. As far as I can tell, the price/performance ratio isn't much different either (correct me if I'm wrong). Going for ATI would match the AMD CPU, but are there any advantages to that? My laptop had an Nvidia card and the drivers always struck me as being a bit flaky - but I don't know how much of that was down to me having to use hacked INFs to get them to install, and I have no idea what ATI's drivers are like nowadays for comparison. So, I could be persuaded either way.

Motherboard
I'm thinking AM3 - the price premium over AM2 (and of DDR3 over DDR2) doesn't seem to be that high any more, and while I can see how running an AM3 CPU in an AM2 board is a good option for an upgrade, it seems a bit odd for a new build. The MSI 770-C45 (£60) seems to be much cheaper than the competition - does it have any particular disadvantages, or is it just really good value?

Memory
2 x 2GB DDR3-1333 (~£55), nothing interesting to see here...

Case/Cooling
Everyone seems to like the Antec 300 (~£45), and it certainly seems good, but I'd be open to any other suggestions. One thing I was wondering about it - out of the box, its cooling consists of two exhaust fans only (at the top and back of the case). Is this a practical setup, or would I need to add intake fans to get adequate cooling?

Power Supply
The OCZ ModXStream 780W (£60) is a slightly older model, but seems to be ridiculously capable for the price (modular design and four 20A 12V rails). Unless anyone points out any glaring problems with it that I've missed, I think it's what I'll be getting.

Spoilered for inane tangent:
Spoiler:
While researching this, I somehow ended up reading the ATX12V Power Supply Design Guide, and found this section rather amusing:
3.1.5. Catastrophic Failure Protection
Should a component failure occur, the power supply should not exhibit any of the following:
  • Flame
  • Excessive smoke [sadly, they don't define exactly how much smoke it would have to emit to be considered "excessive"]
  • Charred PCB
  • Fused PCB conductor
  • Startling noise [merely perturbing, off-putting or irritating noise is acceptable, presumably]
  • Emission of molten material [wait, it's okay for it to "emit" solid material? I guess a PSU that chucks its capacitors at you when it fails would still be considered fully compliant.]
Other Junk
A cheap TFT (why do so few of these have DVI-D inputs? :x), cheap HD, cheap optical drive, cheap keyboard, probably a wireless adaptor of some kind, I already have a good mouse, hopefully I haven't forgotten anything...


I know all of my links currently go to either Overclockers UK, Crucial, or Ebuyer, but if anyone wants to suggest any other (reasonably reputable) online UK parts vendors, go ahead (I also know of Dabs, but their prices tend to be a bit higher). Thanks for taking the time to read through all this, and for any advice you can give.

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Zorlin
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Zorlin » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:00 am UTC

What OS are you going to run on it?

Highly recommend the Windows 7 RTM - you can legally run it until release day if you can get your hands on an ISO (up to 120 days).

If you go with Linux (which you're probably not going to) - for the love of god get an NViDiA card.
Edit: After reading your post properly, let me explain - in my experience NViDiA tend to have much better drivers and much better support for Linux. Take it with a bucket of salt, however, as there are greatly varying opinions on ATi vs NViDiA and their Linux support - I would advise you look up the specific card you are planning to buy and see if people have issues with it.
Last edited by Zorlin on Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:35 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Atmosck » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:12 am UTC

That's a good setup, so far. How much are you looking to spend on the gpu? I would recommend stepping up to the GTX 275 from the GTX 260, as the price difference is only $30 (idk about in £), and it generally outperforms the HD 4890.

With the Antec 300 you would need intake fans if you're running this kind of video muscle, but that's not expensive. I would recommend finding memory with heat spreaders, if the price difference isn't bad, and getting a different cpu heatsink. I use a Cooler-Master Hyper N520, and it performs admirably on my Q6600, which has the same power consumption as your processor (31-36 idle, 40-45 load). It was only $30 after a mail-in rebate (again, idk about £).

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Themata » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:25 am UTC

Most benchmarks I've seen have shown the Radeon HD 4890 1GB on par with the GTX 275 or just over or under the performance of the GTX 275. Imo the radeon 4890 is a better deal but thats only cause I'm about to buy one and I guess I'm biased :P

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Game_boy » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:48 am UTC

Zorlin wrote:If you go with Linux (which you're probably not going to) - for the love of god get an NViDiA card.
Edit: After reading your post properly, let me explain - in my experience NViDiA tend to have much better drivers and much better support for Linux. Take it with a bucket of salt, however, as there are greatly varying opinions on ATi vs NViDiA and their Linux support - I would advise you look up the specific card you are planning to buy and see if people have issues with it.


How recent is your experience? ATI has mature, stable open drivers (Nvidia doesn't have any) and I would say their closed driver is now at parity with Nvidia. This has happened in the last year.

--

OP: What games do you plan to play, and at what settings/resolutions. Most games will run fine with an HD4850 at say 1600x1200. Any of those cards are good, but they're probably overkill. AMD's Windows drivers are about parity with Nvidia, ignore your laptop experience as desktop support is much more direct and better. Mathing vendor CPU/GPU/Motherboards has no benefit

DX10.1 and PhysX see little real use, and you wouldn't even use CUDA. I would ignore features and go straight for price/performance. You wouldn't regret buying any of those three.

CPU choice is good, wouldn't recommend anything else. 770 Motherboard and DDR3 is also good, MSI is a reputable vendor so no problems.

Do you plan to use Windows 7? If so, you may want to wait for the DX11 GPUs coming in mid-September. There will be a lot of DX11-using games eventually so it would be worth it. Plus the die shrink to 40nm and the fact it's a new generation will dramatically increase performance.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Axman » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:37 am UTC

DX10.1 is still halfway to DX11 (which is hitting the streets in a few weeks here--I think I'm under NDA but it's safe to say it will distance the memory of something tragic) and for the money, a CF-capable motherboard plus two lesser 4850s, 1GB or otherwise, will outclass either an HD 4890 or a GTX 285, for that matter.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby liber! » Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:04 am UTC

I would recommend a raid0 setup with 2 cheap disks. This decreases your seek time. Most of the MB are capable of this.

If you do this, don't forget to take backups because your twice as vulnerable to drive failures.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby cerbie » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:45 am UTC

liber! wrote:I would recommend a raid0 setup with 2 cheap disks. This decreases your seek time. Most of the MB are capable of this.

If you do this, don't forget to take backups because your twice as vulnerable to drive failures.
First, no, it does not decrease seek times. It will increase them, as your seek time will be the worst of the two drives, for each seek.
Second, any motherboard is capable of RAID 0 if it has more than a single drive connector. You can thank Microsoft for you having to choose a different board, or to get a card.
Third, it will not double your chance of drive failure. It will, however, increase it (IIRC, it would be 1-(1-failure_rate)^num_of_drives_of_same_model).
Fourth, you should be backing up anyway.

RAID 0 has basically no usefulness in a normal desktop computer. Smaller and faster drives, however, make a real difference.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby mosc » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:52 pm UTC

cerbie wrote:RAID 0 has basically no usefulness in a normal desktop computer. Smaller and faster drives, however, make a real difference.

So so so so wrong.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby cerbie » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:10 pm UTC

mosc wrote:
cerbie wrote:RAID 0 has basically no usefulness in a normal desktop computer. Smaller and faster drives, however, make a real difference.

So so so so wrong.
How so? As in, what exactly are you doing that is not limited by seeking, thus making RAID 0 of slower drives more desirable than a single faster drive, two slower drives not in RAID 0, or a faster OS drive and slower user/data drive?

Aside from more noise, I couldn't tell a RAID 0 from a single. OTOH, Scorpio Blacks feel quite snappy, as do CF cards (I haven't had a chance to use new SSDs, and probably won't any time soon). My experiences match those of reviewers with benchmarks not showing much from RAID 0, because it's not there without major disk bandwidth use.

But, if the OP is interested, here it is from both sides, and the middle: http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php? ... 1&t=310351

OTOH, if he just wants to stay inexpensive, any 3.5" drive from 5400 to 7200 RPM will do just fine.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Pinky's Brain » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:57 am UTC

Dropzone wrote:Case/Cooling
Everyone seems to like the Antec 300 (~£45), and it certainly seems good, but I'd be open to any other suggestions. One thing I was wondering about it - out of the box, its cooling consists of two exhaust fans only (at the top and back of the case). Is this a practical setup, or would I need to add intake fans to get adequate cooling?

I have a P182 with no intake fans, same airflow setup basically, with the exhaust fans running at 600 RPM, A Mugen 2 on the processor and an Accelero S1 on the graphics card also with 600 RPM fans. My Q9550 OC'd to 3.5 GHz stays under 60 degrees celsius under load, which is not great ... but it is damn quiet! I did replace some of the front bezels at the top with ventilated ones, but that's already default on the 300.

The only other case I would personally consider for mid tower is the CM690 (the Lian Li's are nice in theory, but not nice in price tag).

PS. the airflow on the northbridge isn't great though ... dunno how hot the AMD chipset runs, might not be a problem since it doesn't have the memory controller build in. (My assrock does not have a good heatsink stock, and it gets too hot for my liking ... so I'm putting a Xigmatek Porter on it.)

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Dropzone » Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:18 pm UTC

Zorlin wrote:What OS are you going to run on it?

Highly recommend the Windows 7 RTM - you can legally run it until release day if you can get your hands on an ISO (up to 120 days).
I'll definitely be going for Win 7 (probably 64-bit) once it's released. I have a copy of XP Pro lying around, so I'll probably use that until 7 comes out. That way, I can keep the XP partion around after I install 7, in case I need to boot into it for any reason (e.g. checking that something I've coded really is as portable as it's supposed to be).

If you go with Linux (which you're probably not going to) - for the love of god get an NViDiA card.
Edit: After reading your post properly, let me explain - in my experience NViDiA tend to have much better drivers and much better support for Linux. Take it with a bucket of salt, however, as there are greatly varying opinions on ATi vs NViDiA and their Linux support - I would advise you look up the specific card you are planning to buy and see if people have issues with it.
I'll probably have a third partition with Ubuntu on it, but I don't expect to use it very often, so Linux compatibility isn't such an important issue for me. I only need the card to work reasonably well under Linux, and it seems that both ATI and Nvidia cards can manage that nowadays.

Atmosck wrote:That's a good setup, so far. How much are you looking to spend on the gpu? I would recommend stepping up to the GTX 275 from the GTX 260, as the price difference is only $30 (idk about in £), and it generally outperforms the HD 4890.
It looks like the 275 would cost at least £150, which is about £35 more expensive than the 260, and £20 more expensive than the 4890 - and to be honest, even the 4890 is right at the high end of what I'd be willing to spend.

With the Antec 300 you would need intake fans if you're running this kind of video muscle, but that's not expensive. I would recommend finding memory with heat spreaders, if the price difference isn't bad, and getting a different cpu heatsink. I use a Cooler-Master Hyper N520, and it performs admirably on my Q6600, which has the same power consumption as your processor (31-36 idle, 40-45 load). It was only $30 after a mail-in rebate (again, idk about £).
Right, that makes sense about the intake fans. Good point about the memory, too - it seems the price difference is only about £5. I think I'll stick with the retail CPU cooler though, at least for the moment - I imagine it should be able to perform well enough if I have decent airflow through the case.

Game_boy wrote:OP: What games do you plan to play, and at what settings/resolutions. Most games will run fine with an HD4850 at say 1600x1200. Any of those cards are good, but they're probably overkill.
Yeah, I think you might be right there. I noticed that the 512MB version of the 4870 is considerably cheaper than the 1GB version, and is almost as fast at the resolutions I'm going to be using, so that's what I'm now leaning towards getting.

[...]

Do you plan to use Windows 7? If so, you may want to wait for the DX11 GPUs coming in mid-September. There will be a lot of DX11-using games eventually so it would be worth it. Plus the die shrink to 40nm and the fact it's a new generation will dramatically increase performance.
True, although I'd rather not wait that long for a new machine (I'm currently stuck using an ancient desktop that struggles to even run Flash applets) - especially considering that it'll probably take a while after that for them to come down to a sensible price level.

Axman wrote:DX10.1 is still halfway to DX11 (which is hitting the streets in a few weeks here--I think I'm under NDA but it's safe to say it will distance the memory of something tragic) and for the money, a CF-capable motherboard plus two lesser 4850s, 1GB or otherwise, will outclass either an HD 4890 or a GTX 285, for that matter.
That definitely looks like it's out of my price range - about £160 for a pair of 4850s and a £95 or so motherboard (rather than the £60 one I'm looking at currently).

[RAID stuff]
I think I'll be sticking with a single drive to keep the cost down. I'm actually considering salvaging my laptop's HD (a fairly new 320 GB model that I replaced its original HD with), because 2.5 to 3.5 inch mounting adapter-thingies cost almost nothing. It is only 5400 RPM though, so I might buy a cheap 7200 RPM drive to use instead.

edit: Damn it, the awesome PSU I mentioned in the OP has disappeared from the site. I guess they must have been selling it so cheaply because it was old stock they wanted to get rid of. Guess I'll just have to settle for a non-awesome PSU.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby cerbie » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:20 am UTC

How much are lower-end (~500W) Corsair and Seasonic PSUs, where you are? Or maybe Enhance, if they aren't hard to find. 780W is on the overkill side for a single-CPU, single-GPU, non-SAS system.

Checking your OP links:
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showprodu ... 23&subcat=
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showprodu ... 23&subcat=

+50W rating won't make a difference, both are built by Seasonic, and both should be fine supplies. Looking at reviews of the OCZ, the Corsair probably is a bit better quality, but your system will hardly stress either of them, so I can't go scream for you to save 6 of those crossed-out cursive L thingies :wink:.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby mosc » Sun Aug 16, 2009 6:32 am UTC

cerbie wrote:
mosc wrote:
cerbie wrote:RAID 0 has basically no usefulness in a normal desktop computer. Smaller and faster drives, however, make a real difference.

So so so so wrong.
How so? As in, what exactly are you doing that is not limited by seeking, thus making RAID 0 of slower drives more desirable than a single faster drive, two slower drives not in RAID 0, or a faster OS drive and slower user/data drive?

Aside from more noise, I couldn't tell a RAID 0 from a single. OTOH, Scorpio Blacks feel quite snappy, as do CF cards (I haven't had a chance to use new SSDs, and probably won't any time soon). My experiences match those of reviewers with benchmarks not showing much from RAID 0, because it's not there without major disk bandwidth use.

But, if the OP is interested, here it is from both sides, and the middle: http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php? ... 1&t=310351

OTOH, if he just wants to stay inexpensive, any 3.5" drive from 5400 to 7200 RPM will do just fine.

Seek time is not that big a deal. Also, RAID-0 does not drastically reduce the drive's seek time. What it does do is drastically increase the throughput for read AND write.

Look, you can compare two really REALLY crappy drives to one really REALLY awesome drive and probably show the single one is faster. However two drives, even two ones that are a few years old, are going to beat the pants off of a single drive in throughput. Everything is limited by throughput more than seek time as long as it's reading more than about 20kb or so. That's most things.

Your personal experience means nothing. No offense but you're giving some really bad advice here.

SSD drives are extremely expensive. Comparing 1 drive to a 2 disk RAID0 array is not fair in terms of price. You should be comparing 1 SSD drive to a 4 disk 0+1 array. The 4 disk array will cost less and have much more throughput. The SSD will have faster seek times, but again, that's not everything.

The single most important stat for comparing drives is average read bandwidth. Arrays scale beautifully stacking multiple drives and multiplying that number.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby cerbie » Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:23 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Seek time is not that big a deal. Also, RAID-0 does not drastically reduce the drive's seek time. What it does do is drastically increase the throughput for read AND write.
I disagree about seek time not being a big deal.
Look, you can compare two really REALLY crappy drives to one really REALLY awesome drive and probably show the single one is faster. However two drives, even two ones that are a few years old, are going to beat the pants off of a single drive in throughput.
True. With SATA over PCI-e, just shy of 200% can be achieved. How much throughput matters for what you do with your PC is the entirety of whether RAID 0 is good for your use or not. It's not categorically the best thing ever, or even any improvement at all. Then, there's also the option of multiple drives not in an array, which can be quite nice, but can also be a little tricky to do in Windows (mostly due to not being an option during setup).
Everything is limited by throughput more than seek time as long as it's reading more than about 20kb or so. That's most things.
Emails are smaller, on average. So are log append operations (IRC, IM), and most of what's in my web cache. Most text files of all kinds are smaller that, most config and state files, including those from games, are smaller than that, as are many other documents (and most of those are not disk-bound, when they are big). Page file accesses tend to be smaller than that, to my knowledge. Even just for Windows, icons are smaller than that. Checking files for size and mtime is basically all seeks (the first step to an updated backup). For that matter, opening the Windows start menu, if you haven't done it in awhile, can be latency-bound (why that's the case, when it seems to cache info needed for that little search box, is beyond me, but Windows 7 still does it, even with several GB of unused RAM...).

Your personal experience means nothing. No offense but you're giving some really bad advice here.
Do you have anything other than the same?

SSD drives are extremely expensive. Comparing 1 drive to a 2 disk RAID0 array is not fair in terms of price. You should be comparing 1 SSD drive to a 4 disk 0+1 array. The 4 disk array will cost less and have much more throughput. The SSD will have faster seek times, but again, that's not everything.
This is a CF card, with UDMA support. The lowest-bandwidth hard drive you can buy will beat it in any bandwidth test by 2-3 times in read, and far, far, more in write.

The single most important stat for comparing drives is average read bandwidth. Arrays scale beautifully stacking multiple drives and multiplying that number.
As above, the bolded is where I disagree. I'm not saying that you don't do things that RAID 0 makes faster (hey, check the old thread I linked to, many people love RAID and are sticking with it, and many still do, and that's fine. It still happens now, too, it's just a PITA to Google for); but tons of us don't, and there is additional cost involved, making it quite a point for an inexpensive desktop. If you need to read large pieces of data quickly, it will be the most important. I you're more often waiting on the drive getting many small pieces of data, it won't be as important. Next to cost, the most important stat is the one that causes you to wait on it more-so than another.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Dropzone » Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:13 pm UTC

Dropzone wrote:I'm actually considering salvaging my laptop's HD (a fairly new 320 GB model that I replaced its original HD with), because 2.5 to 3.5 inch mounting adapter-thingies cost almost nothing.
Okay, it turns out that that didn't work too well - the BIOS seems unable to recognise the drive. It's a Fujitsu MHZ2320BH, and the motherboard is an Asus M4A77TD PRO (since I wrote the OP, its price dropped to be about the same as the MSI board I was looking at). The weird thing is that my laptop's original drive, a Fujitsu MHW2120BH, works perfectly. I've tried swapping cables with the (working) SATA optical drive, I've tried both IDE emulation and AHCI mode, I've flashed the BIOS to the newest version, and it still doesn't work. I also tried putting the drive back in my laptop (to check I hadn't somehow damaged it during installation), and it works fine there. It seems like the BIOS can tell the drive's there, though, because the POST hangs for a few seconds on "Auto-Detecting SATA<n>..." (where <n> is whichever port I have the drive connected to) before saying "Not Detected". Any ideas?

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby MysteryBall » Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:51 am UTC

Just adding my $0.02, but I have to say if you can afford it, upgrade that 300 to a 900, the Antec x00 (and especially the xx00) range is incredible, in terms of noise and functionality. I have a 1200 myself and I forget my PC is on when I come into my room after a while, and this is running with a jet engine powered 8800GT and a stock AMD AM3 cooler. That and two hard drives.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Game_boy » Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:30 pm UTC

Cue wrote:Just adding my $0.02


AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Sc4Freak » Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:48 am UTC

mosc wrote:Seek time is not that big a deal. Also, RAID-0 does not drastically reduce the drive's seek time. What it does do is drastically increase the throughput for read AND write.

Look, you can compare two really REALLY crappy drives to one really REALLY awesome drive and probably show the single one is faster. However two drives, even two ones that are a few years old, are going to beat the pants off of a single drive in throughput. Everything is limited by throughput more than seek time as long as it's reading more than about 20kb or so. That's most things.

Your personal experience means nothing. No offense but you're giving some really bad advice here.

SSD drives are extremely expensive. Comparing 1 drive to a 2 disk RAID0 array is not fair in terms of price. You should be comparing 1 SSD drive to a 4 disk 0+1 array. The 4 disk array will cost less and have much more throughput. The SSD will have faster seek times, but again, that's not everything.

The single most important stat for comparing drives is average read bandwidth. Arrays scale beautifully stacking multiple drives and multiplying that number.

No. It depends on what you're using these drives for. For normal desktop usage, what matters most is random read/write performance and seek times. These are the two factors that single-handedly make mechanical drives feel so "slow". When your computer is accessing the page file or loading a 500kb DLL for an application, it doesn't matter if your drive can sequentially read 100GB/s if it takes 100ms to seek to the right location - it will still feel incredibly slow.

The reason why SSDs feel so fast is because they have excellent random read performance and unparalleled seek times. My Firefox install is 25MB spread across ~250 files. Let's say I start up Firefox and the OS needs to load all that data. An SSD drive with a random read performance of 100MB/s (which is pretty typical) can fetch all that data in 250ms. Your typical mechanical HDD has a seek time in excess of 10ms - just seeking to each of the individual files already eats up a significant amount of time. In the best case scenario, a mechanical HDD with a sequential read speed of 100MB/s (pretty typical) can read all the files in 250ms. In the worst case scenario, with the files scattered randomly throughout the disk, you're looking at an order of magnitude increase in delay.

If you're doing something specialised like video editing or other applications involving large amounts of sequential data, RAID0 will significantly increase performance. For general "workstation" use, the random read performance and seek times of SSDs offer responsiveness that cannot be matched by any mechanical HDD array, no matter how large.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Emu* » Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:54 pm UTC

For a single-CPU/single GPU system, I'd recommend the Antec P182 over their 300/900 "gamer" line. The P183 is similar but has better ventilation, slightly diminished silence for higher performance systems.

I've just built my new work PC for £466 (except as a work machine, we can claim the VAT back :D), see attachment. 500W is plenty for most systems.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Dropzone » Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:28 pm UTC

In case my last post didn't make it clear, I've already got all the parts and built the system. Well, except for the HD of course - regarding which, I think I'm just going to get a new one (which I probably should have done at the start...) rather than wasting any more time trying to make the salvaged one work.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby mosc » Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:42 pm UTC

Why the hell would you bother building your own computer if you're just going to throwing a Radeon 3450 in it? Sanity just called and sent you a link to a premade with similar specs for £100 less. Pre built. With software. And a warranty.

Really, if you're just going to build a basic system like that, you have no business not buying pre-made. Building yourself is actually more expensive unless you are putting in a decent graphics card, RAID, multiple CPUs, water cooling, or other similar such non-traditional computer user activities.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Emu* » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:12 pm UTC

It's a work PC, and I wanted quiet AND beefy enough for the job. If I hadn't built it myself I would have had to use the company's "chosen supplier" (nepotism, ripoff merchant etc). If I buy any more stuff for it in the next year it'll be RAM, CPU, SSD in that order. As a web developer I have no need for a beefier GPU, especially since this one plays QuakeLive at 90+ fps :D. No need for bundled software since I'm running Ubuntu with all my Windows versions in VMs with as little software installed in each as possible.

Last part arrived today, an Acer 22" Widescreen, 1600x1050 of digital joy. If I was a graphic designer, I could fit an A3 page on this beast and have 2 inches left at the side for toolbars.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby mosc » Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:19 pm UTC

Ok so you spent almost twice as much as you had to on the machine because... it's quieter and you like the brand names of the components better than the ones your company gets. Just being clear. Certainly not about the money.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Emu* » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:03 pm UTC

It's not just quieter; you just can't hear it. At all. Even when it's doing 100% on both cores, it's barely a whisper. Find me a box-shifter who'll do an E8500 with 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 at this noise level and I'll give you an imaginary cookie.

Dell for example, only use DDR3 on their XPS and Preecision lines, at least £900, over twice my budget.

Anyway, building PCs is fun, unwrapping a pre-built machine is boring.
Last edited by Emu* on Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:06 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Axman » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:05 pm UTC

Back when I worked in an office we had to get some 120 computers, new, used, not that important. We had a budget of about $5K. There was no way we could afford computers from Dell, HP, none of them. The closest we came was Velocity Micro, I think, but they didn't have the stock; we would have been short about 75 machines.

The problem was the same for all the channel companies: they see businesses, even non-profits, as assholes stuffed with money and lube. While you can price out cheap machines from the home portions of their websites, as soon as you need to use a company card they switch you to a different part of their company and start a bidding process. Hell, most companies aren't hardware-savvy enough to even bargain, they just take the price that's set from the start.

You usually wind up getting a really bad price on hardware, warranty service isn't necessarily better, and none of the quality (or currency) of aftermarket parts. Often you're locked into delayed OEM drivers, and I dunno about most people, but I cannot abide by noisy machines while trying to concentrate.

There are definite, tangible advantages to building your own, even office, machine. The fact that the company was willing to pick up the tab is pretty sweet.

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Emu* » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:09 pm UTC

Axman wrote:You usually wind up getting a really bad price on hardware, warranty service isn't necessarily better, and none of the quality (or currency) of aftermarket parts. Often you're locked into delayed OEM drivers, and I dunno about most people, but I cannot abide by noisy machines while trying to concentrate.


This. Plus my boss is the IT supplier's brother.

My boss was going away for a cruise for 2 weeks, and basically said "Sorry I haven't got you a workstation yet, budget £400 and talk to the accountant about ordering it. Oh, and you'll want a screen too won't you. make it £500"
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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby peter » Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:23 am UTC

Just out of curiosity, Axman, how did you end up getting your 120 computers for, on average, less than $42 each? And couldn't afford Dells, but were considering Velocity Micros?

Unless I'm misunderstanding or something...

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Re: Looking for build advice: inexpensive gaming desktop

Postby Axman » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:35 am UTC

Non-profit. Catholic school. We got a bunch donated from Qwest, but I think in the end we spent more like $7K--for a whole lot of PIIs and two laptops, and this was in 2004-ish. My supervisor manually replaced capacitors on those things and, like, a month after I left they dropped 170 thousand dollars into IT. Maybe it wasn't Velocity Micro but it was a boutique, and they put forward the lowest bid on some hardware for presentations and junk. At the time, I could put together a complete Sempron machine for about $250 but the pastor wouldn't go for it; I don't think he understood that you could put together a computer, or maybe that if a company didn't do it, it'd be held together with duct tape and sin.

In the end, he decided to go with a parent's contact, an Army guy. The machines that ended up in the computer lab literally all fell off a truck at some point. You don't have to stretch your imagination, here. Just think about how bad a shape a computer has to be for the military to no longer want it.

Thank the dead baby Jesus they were IBMs.

We set up a "no donations" policy because parents would just throw trash at us for the tax write-offs. We had one guy, TOM GEISLER, you prick, who donated an iMac because it had a single dead pixel. Dude wouldn't take no for an answer. So I got an actual modern workstation out of it (otherwise we were literally required to use a server as a workstation, which is retarded) but since it was nice, I had to then deal with the other staff who kept trying to steal it. This then triggered the standard Why Doesn't This School Switch to Mac? headache, and we were like, because Windows is free and the only computers we can afford have probably been jerked off into.

Seriously, individuals are smart with their sheckles. An organization is an asshole stuffed with greenbacks and lube.


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