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Old 11-16-2008, 06:03 PM   #1
heatopher
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Thumbs down Rookie PC build - seeking advice


Hiya,

My first build. I'm a bit nervous, and trying to reearch as thoroughly as possible. I'm not a big techie, but interested enough to contemplate doing this. And obviously, by the fact that I'm posting here, you know that Linux-compatibility is a central concern. I've tried doing the Big Switch several times and it never worked out, for various reasons. This time, i've got my Ubuntu DVD ready to go, and nothing will stop me this time, short of global economic meltdown.

Well, I suppose the latter might happen, but I can't do much about that, so putting that aside, what else do i need to mention? Naturally, forwards-compatibility should be good for 2/3 years at least. So, here goes...

MOTHERBOARD

I've managed to narrow this down reasonably well by now. Having been told that I really don't need a graphics card if I'm not into 3D gaming (and indeed I really don't give a **** about any of that). So in the end I'm going to go for a motherboard with integrated graphics. A decent one, for sure, as I do a fair amount of work with graphics editing (vector + photo), and might get into playing around with Flash and video editing at some point; but I guess that those are more about how much general memory you've got, rather than dedicated memory for the graphics (or have I not understood properly?)

It needs to have RAID, as I plan to mirror the master hard drive, but I guess RAID is pretty trivial by now (or, again, am I wrong?) And decent sound, for sure, although of course sound cards don't cost a great deal.

It seems like the price range I'm looking at is 70-90. I'm sorry, I don't know how much that is in $$$$$ in these weird fluctuating times, but I guess it's middle-of the-road. So, cutting to the chase, these are a couple of boards that I've bookmarked:

An Asus
Gigabyte

Are there any issues to be aware of with either of these? Does anyone have an alternative suggestion, and if not, which of these two would you recommend?

CPU

OK, the other thing I want to ask about is the processor. I was going to make do with an E5200, as it was pretty cheap (60), but someone persuaded me to get something a bit faster. Not too expensive though. One person on another forum recommended a "Phenom BE", but I haven't been able to locate anything with that name on any of the sites I've looked at. Is that an old one that's already been superceded? This one here looks like it's about the right balance, but again, any comments are appreciated. Thanks:

http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx...50520,51070000

I guess that getting the motherboard and processor right is absolutely the most crucial thing, and I'm still a bit of a rookie. I trust myself with the hard drive and the rest, but for this stuff I do need help. All of which is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance,

H
 
Old 11-16-2008, 07:09 PM   #2
Quakeboy02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatopher View Post
MOTHERBOARD

I've managed to narrow this down reasonably well by now. Having been told that I really don't need a graphics card if I'm not into 3D gaming (and indeed I really don't give a **** about any of that). So in the end I'm going to go for a motherboard with integrated graphics.
I did the same, and I'm rather surprised by the result; especially the price vs the result. I got an ECS 7050M-M with a Phenom 9750 for practically nothing on ebay. I added 4GB of 800MHz RAM, also for practically nothing, and got an amazing system. I'm not much of a gamer, so the video hasn't been a big issue for me.

Two things of note about this motherboard. 1) It takes 256MB of RAM (a bit more, actually) away from your system, and 2) it only supports 800MHz DDR2 RAM. On the one hand, those appear to be big negatives. However, I'm upgrading from an Athlon XP2500+ to this thing, and no only did I get an extra 3 cores, but the raw clock speed is also much faster.

One more thing is that I have had 3 or 4 crashes on the board while it's cold. It's hard to say whether this is my board, or these in general. But, it cost practically nothing, so I'm willing to put up with having to reboot it every now and again a few minutes after the first boot of the day.

Quote:
A decent one, for sure, as I do a fair amount of work with graphics editing (vector + photo), and might get into playing around with Flash and video editing at some point; but I guess that those are more about how much general memory you've got, rather than dedicated memory for the graphics (or have I not understood properly?)
I think you understand this right. And if you're really going to get into video editing, just install the 64-bit kernel, rather than the 32-bit one. If you decide you need more powerful video later, most of these boards have a slot for a PCI-E video board.

Quote:
It needs to have RAID, as I plan to mirror the master hard drive, but I guess RAID is pretty trivial by now (or, again, am I wrong?)
Don't bother buying a motherboard for its RAID controller. If it has one, don't use it. Those are called FAKERAID, and use software, just like mdadm. Worse, though, is that if you have a RAID failure, you will pretty much have to fix it using the BIOS functions, rather than while booted. Just setup your RAID using mdadm and have done with it.

Quote:
And decent sound, for sure, although of course sound cards don't cost a great deal.
These new motherboards usually have good high-quality sound. I haven't tried to do any tests, but the specs seem good.

CPU

Quote:
OK, the other thing I want to ask about is the processor. I was going to make do with an E5200, as it was pretty cheap (60), but someone persuaded me to get something a bit faster. Not too expensive though. One person on another forum recommended a "Phenom BE", but I haven't been able to locate anything with that name on any of the sites I've looked at. Is that an old one that's already been superceded? This one here looks like it's about the right balance, but again, any comments are appreciated.
I don't know what the "BE" is, unless it's Blackbird Edition or some other marketing name. I just got a "vanilla" 9750; as if "vanilla" could possibly describe this thing.

Good luck!
 
Old 11-16-2008, 07:24 PM   #3
lazlow
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The phenom line is AMDs current processors. They are either quad or tri cored CPUs.

Raid is a tricky thing. Most of the built in Raid that you see on motherboards is not true raid. The are Fake Raid(just google it). That is, they require a software driver to run and use CPU cycles to operate. True hardware raid requires neither, but the price for these usually starts at about $200(US).

If you are serious about video editing then I would rethink the on board GPU. The on board GPUs are almost always much slower than even a $20 video card. Using a replaceable card makes it easy to upgrade to a better card, if the need arises. Either way you want to get a solution that uses as little shared memory as possible(shared memory is slower than dedicated). For video type applications more CPU cores is better than high ghz. Memory is also a good friend in these types of tasks(4gb would be a good start). Video editing/conversion is also one of the places that using a 64bit OS will show huge gains, vs 32bit.

Overall I would go to newegg (www.newegg.com) and read the reviews of anything you are buying. Even if you do not buy from them, read the customer reviews. I usually sort the reviews with the worst listed first. You will often see that a good portion of these reviews(the bad ones) are by people who just do not understand what they are doing (it is pretty obvious), other times stuff gets a bad review becuase it is a lemon. So, if a product you like has an iffy rating, read through the reviews.


Edit: I need to learn to type faster.

Last edited by lazlow; 11-16-2008 at 07:26 PM.
 
Old 11-16-2008, 11:09 PM   #4
heatopher
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Thanks Guys,

OK, I take on the stuff about RAID. One more thing to learn about, eh

I'm intending to put in 2x2GB of RAM, as it's not any more expensive per gig than 2x1GB. So I suppose I might as well get 4.

As for the video-editing thing - two contrasting opinions there - I'm getting used to that by now It's not an immediate concern, I have to say - just something that I would like to have a go at in the future. Would anyone like to weigh in with another opinion on that matter? This feels a bit like referring a case to the Supreme Court.

I read somewhere that there are some motherboards with onboard graphics that use some kind of a "short-cut" to the RAM, and that somehow speeds things up. Well, since I don't fully understand, I'll quote the guy's words:

"Some of the boards also have sideport memory so that the integrated graphics have dedicated (DDR3) memory instead of sharing system memory" The boards are "based around a HD3200, HD 3300 GeForce 8200 and Geforce 8300". There's something there about them only working under Vista. Sorry if I'm being unclear - I'm really at the outer limits of my galaxy of understanding, but I'm trying....

By the way, neither of you said anything about any specific Linux issues with motherboards. Is there any major thing to look out for? Someone told me that nVidia is the better choice for graphics. I haven't really worked out how that affects onboard graphics, though.

On the CPU again, my impression from what I'm hearing is that as a classic multitasker I'm much more likely to benefit from more cores than from higher speed per core. Well, I'm not sure I've understood so well, but on that basis I'm leaning just now to getting a slow-ish tri- or quad-core as opposed to a fast dual core. Am I on the right lines there? And what is the minimum requirement for a motherboard with these multicore CPUs?

Finally, AMD or Intel?

That'll do for now, eh. Thanks very much,

H
 
Old 11-17-2008, 12:10 AM   #5
Electro
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If you want on-board graphics, I recommend do not ever go with Intel graphics. I recommend do not consider selecting nVidia chipsets for Intel processors because they will not be reliable since it has a history of data corruption. All graphic cards now include 3D and a computer needs a graphics card in order to see what you are doing.

The Phenom BE means business efficiency or business economy (I think) and it is an AMD processor. You may not be able to find the processor in Europe because the popularity is low for this model and space is a problem. Over here in the US, space and popularity does not matter, since got a lot of space.

The following is one of my wish list.

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Pu...Number=7802805

The motherboard that I picked has on-board graphics that is comparable to RadeonHD 3000 series and includes one gigabyte of video memory, so it does not share system memory for video memory. I rarely pick processors that are clocked at very high speeds because there is no benefits using it for daily tasks. Since next year companies are moving towards to HD broadcasting and neither ATI and nVidia are providing hardware MPEG-1/2 and H.264 decoding for Linux, so I have to spend the money and go for 3 GHz to provide enough performance to handle HD. The motherboard has the ability to handle 140 watt processors or higher which will help for handling high power Phenom processors.

If I am buying the setup in the wish list, I would leave out the motherboard, processor, and memory because it is better to have a different store or a company test these three components before paying for the three items. A dead on arrival can cost more on time and money, so it is worth it to do this way.

The motherboard in my wish list should work in Linux. The IEEE-1394 (aka Firewire or i.Link) may not work reliable or may not work at all because it uses a JMicron chip. JMicron is partially supported in Linux.

In your case, any motherboard should work. The choice comes between what processor brand you want to use and if the motherboard comes with supported hardware that works in Linux. AMD provides an overall the cheapest computer while Intel provides the most expensive computer. Intel right now performs better compared to AMD for desktops. AMD is the best in the server environment. Do not buy motherboard models with Marvell NIC and storage controller, JMicron storage controller, and some Silicon Image storage controllers. You can buy motherboards with either of these brands, but you may have problems later.

I do not why people suggested on-board graphics for what you are doing. A discrete or dedicated graphics is better for what you are doing. The reason is those tasks needs a lot of memory bandwidth and memory capacity to perform well. On-board graphics subtracts both memory capacity and memory bandwidth that are necessary to do video editing and graphics editing. On-board graphics is supposedly be used for people that just do daily tasks and rarely use 3D applications or rarely use applications that require a lot of memory bandwidth and memory capacity. An on-board graphics with similar sideport technology like the motherboard I selected is an exception since it acts like a real dedicated graphics card. An nVidia GeForce8 8400 or GeForce9 9300 is all you need for a dedicated graphics card. It will only cost about $50 which will be around 33 euros or pounds.

Motherboard brands that I suggest are Abit, Gigabyte, and MSI. ASUS quality is going and their firmware sometimes makes Linux supported devices not work or makes them partially work.

The power supply is a component in the computer that nobody thinks about. These days computers are becoming very dependent on the quality of the power from the power supply. Also power companies are pushing their customers to buy more efficient devices. Some areas require devices to have at least an 80% of efficiency or better and have an active power factor control. I suggest quality, efficient, and in some models noiseless power supplies from Seasonic and Enermax. Both are high quality and through the years they have been steady providing quality power supplies.


Sorry there is a lot to chew on, but should give you some information to look into.
 
Old 11-17-2008, 12:22 AM   #6
Electro
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Yes nVidia graphics is better compared to ATI because nVidia supports their hardware better for Linux. On the other hand, open source community got a break when writing modules or drivers for ATI cards. AMD have provided documents for their graphics and AtomBIOS. There are two open source drivers to pick from if you want to go the open route. Not all the features are supported. There is support for Rage Theater chips that are on VIVO or All in Wonder cards, but I have not tested it.

Intel graphics is not that lucky, its drivers still uses Mesa from most 3D tasks and non-VESA resolutions have to programmed into the graphics chip first in order to use those resolutions. Intel graphics is just messy on how it manages its graphics.
 
Old 11-17-2008, 02:17 AM   #7
jay73
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PHenom BE = Phenom Black Edition, the more "expensive" ones (expensive is relative compared with Intel) that have an unlocked divider. In other words, more power if you were going to overclock - and then not all that much either, Phenom is rather disappointing when it comes to OC.

Quad cores are all hyped up but as you are into graphics/3D, you would be one of the people who should consider quad rather than dual. However, AMD does not offer the best performance and Intel alternatives are generally quite expensive.

Phenoms suck way too much power, by the way, it would no be my first choice. If you prefer AMD and you can hold off a bit longer, shanghai/deneb will be here soon. Lower energy consumption and yet better performance. Or you could consider the X3 series, which have 3 cores, lower power consumption than AMD quad and better multimedia performance than X2.

Last edited by jay73; 11-17-2008 at 02:26 AM.
 
Old 11-17-2008, 03:30 AM   #8
Electro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
PHenom BE = Phenom Black Edition, the more "expensive" ones (expensive is relative compared with Intel) that have an unlocked divider. In other words, more power if you were going to overclock - and then not all that much either, Phenom is rather disappointing when it comes to OC.
That is not true with the 750 south bridge chip from AMD. It has the capability of over clocking it further. Unfortunately, AMD have not port their Windows Overdrive utility to Linux. Though over clocking in Linux is not smart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Quad cores are all hyped up but as you are into graphics/3D, you would be one of the people who should consider quad rather than dual. However, AMD does not offer the best performance and Intel alternatives are generally quite expensive.
Quad cores are not hype. More processors Linux has, more responsive when using multiple programs. Do not need the best performance while multi-tasking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay73 View Post
Phenoms suck way too much power, by the way, it would no be my first choice. If you prefer AMD and you can hold off a bit longer, shanghai/deneb will be here soon. Lower energy consumption and yet better performance. Or you could consider the X3 series, which have 3 cores, lower power consumption than AMD quad and better multimedia performance than X2.
Phenoms do not consume too much power. They are quad core that includes a memory controller while Intel has just a quad core. If you combine Intel's quad core processor and their chipset, it will be about equal power consumption.

FYI, Shanghai already came out. Deneb will not come out until second quarter of next year or could be later.
 
Old 11-17-2008, 10:34 PM   #9
heatopher
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Hi. Firstly, thanks very much for your help. There's a lot for me to take in there, of course, so give me a little time, and I'll come back later. The only thing that I'll say now is that I'm a little confused by this paragraph I'm quoting here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Electro View Post
I do not why people suggested on-board graphics for what you are doing. A discrete or dedicated graphics is better for what you are doing. The reason is those tasks needs a lot of memory bandwidth and memory capacity to perform well. On-board graphics subtracts both memory capacity and memory bandwidth that are necessary to do video editing and graphics editing. On-board graphics is supposedly be used for people that just do daily tasks and rarely use 3D applications or rarely use applications that require a lot of memory bandwidth and memory capacity. An on-board graphics with similar sideport technology like the motherboard I selected is an exception since it acts like a real dedicated graphics card. An nVidia GeForce8 8400 or GeForce9 9300 is all you need for a dedicated graphics card. It will only cost about $50 which will be around 33 euros or pounds.
Just the point is that I'm not particularly interested in the 3D games scene (well, not at all interested, actually), but do already do a fair bit of vector graphics (with Xara), want to get into Flash some time soon, and would like to have a go later on at video editing (albeit that's not an immediate concern). So I don't know - I'm hearing different opinions. I suppose that one important thing which I need to know right now is the following:

Supposing I do get one of these mobos with onboard graphics, and it goes fine for starters, and then later on I find that I need more powerful graphics. Is it at all likely that there will be a problem/conflict between any new graphics card and the motherboard?

Thanks very much,

H

Last edited by heatopher; 11-17-2008 at 10:36 PM.
 
Old 11-17-2008, 10:35 PM   #10
heatopher
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(Sorry if I've been unclear previously, or obtuse, in this case - please bear with me....)
 
Old 11-17-2008, 10:59 PM   #11
jay73
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That shouldn't be a problem, a graphics card can be added on at any time.
If you are really serious about doing graphics, you may want to consider getting a motherboard that will take at least two graphics cards (which does not mean that you need to install two, it just means that you can whenever you find that a single card does not quite do it). Of course, considering the horse power that today's high-end cards can offer, using two does not make any sense unless you have a professional interest in really heavy graphics.
 
Old 11-18-2008, 03:02 AM   #12
Electro
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I listed economy video cards that are meant for simple graphics. Yes, you can play games on them, but performance will be poor. My notebook computer, it has a nVidia GeForce8 8400M GS. I selected it for the ability to use multiple monitors, some 3D graphics, and ease of setup in Linux. Sure I could have gone with Intel graphics to make it cheaper, but it will be a lot more steps to set it up and multiple monitor setup is even harder. 3D performance with Intel graphics is poor and worst than GeForce8 8400. A GeForce8 8600 was another upgrade choice, but I did not go with it because I prefer to have good battery usage which the GeForce8 8400M GS does provide.

Those two motherboards that you listed are not what I recommend when using Linux. Intel graphics are harder to work with. They only store 16 resolutions unlike other on-board graphic motherboards from AMD/ATI or nVidia. Intel graphics is not the easiest to setup if you want to use a resolution that is not one of the stored resolutions. The stored resolutions are different from just editing X11 config file. I strongly recommend ATI or nVidia graphics to make it easier.

The list of on-board video for AMD that works in Linux are AMD 780G, AMD 790GX, nVidia GeForce 6000 series, nVidia GeForce 7000 series, and nVidia GeForce 8000 series. Sure you can go with on-board graphics from Intel, but they are harder to setup. If you are picking an Intel processor, pick motherboards with out on-board video using only Intel chipsets.

It is not hard to pick a motherboard. Do research to make sure it does not come with a NIC or storage controller I suggested and the motherboard should work in Linux. Ignore all the Vista and AMD Live! logos because they are gimmicks.

Graphics editing and video editing only depends on the performance of the processor or the CPU.

Setting up two video cards in either SLI or Crossfire does not improve 2D performance. It only improves 3D performance for Blender, Maya, and 3D games.
 
  


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