Buying a new PC

New PC and no, it is not a Mac

One of my resolutions this year was to become competent at photography. What has that got to do with a new PC?
Not much you would think. But in addition to knowing the art and technicalities of a taking a photo you also need to know how to “develop” it.
Develop in this case means using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS5.

Now I already have a Macintosh laptop but I want something with a bit more grunt.

So a new Intel i7 desktop running Windows 7 is the first choice because it is open I can easily add more storage, video cards as need.
That is something you cannot do on the Macintosh without having my current situation. Sometimes I have had 7 USB hardrives attached to my mac laptop!
When you go to save a file, it spins up all the attached USB hardrives, This can make saving files somewhat slow.

I will be buying the Coolmaster Haf X full tower case. It is massive! I love it.

As I am making this decision to buy Intel, has released the second generation of the i7 called “Sandy Bridge”

According to guru3d.com the main features of the new i 7 are:

There is one i7 processor at launch, the i7-2600 (can’t over clock much), the i7-2600k (for unlocked multiplier processors, i.e. it is much easier to over clock) and the i7-2600s

Along with the CPU are the new motherboard controllers : PCH – The Platform Controller Hub Chipsets
?Paired with these processors come new motherboard chipsets, ten in total of which five are intended for desktop processors, namely the P67, H67, Q65, Q67, and B65. For end consumers like you and me the H67 chipset will be less performance targeted and comes with support for monitor connectivity. The P67 chipset is targeted at performance and enthusiast end users allowing much more tweaking and providing performance features.

Branding Core i7 Core i7
Processor 2600
2600K
Price $294
$317
TDP 95W
95W
Cores / Threads 4/8
4/8
Frequency GHz 3.4
3.4
Max Turbo GHz 3.8
3.8
DDR3 MHz 1333 MHz
1333 MHz
L3 Cache 8MB
8MB
Intel HD Graphics 2000
3000
GPU Max freq 1350 MHz
1350 MHz
Hyper-Threading Yes
Yes
AVX Extensions Yes
Yes
Socket LGA 1155
LGA 1155

The core i7 are in the shops now, Jan 25,2011 in Melbourne, but I will have to wait for the 97-2600K
I want the P67 chipset and ideally a motherboard with the Intel HD 3000, even if I never use it it is good to have there if it not too much extra.
The interesting thing about the new Intel HD Graphics is that they can do video encoding faster then a high end video card! The downside is if you have a discrete card installed, the the integrated HD3000 is disabled.

The i7 “has an appealing and capable GPU, gaming wise you can expect entry-level dedicated graphics performance but we like to see the unit more as a video processor. It is exceptionally good for stuff like Blu-ray playback and it even supports 3D playback thanks to HDMI 1.4a implementation. It supports Intel Wireless Display, will use the embedded DisplayPort standard to connect the GPU to the screen, and is capable of handling the task of transcoding video. Again, gaming wise performance went up quite a bit, however it remains entry level at best” i.e. for games it sucks, for work it is great.

The AVX (Advanced Vector Extension) Instruction Set
Sort of an enhanced version SSE Useful now? ….nope, not until software starts to support it and not until Windows 7 SP1 is released.
I don’t understand what it does, but I hope it will help with photoshop like tasks and video work.

I want Toslink optical output

UEFI BIOS – A graphics BIOS with support for USB mice … about fracking time
gurd3d.com also said the “new 67 series chipsets will come with SATA 6G controllers and though not native, all of them will very likely come with USB 3.0 support by using a NEC controller. P67 will get two extra x8 PCIe lanes for graphics cards, hence SLI and Crossfire will run quite well on them. Another change is that the chipset now comes with an Intel Gigabit LAN controller, on the previous chipsets this was optional for ODMs, this time around… it simply sits there and can be used by the motherboard ODM without paying extra for it”

Want as many as possible of:

  • Power eSATA connectors for enhanced Storage flexibility
  • Sata 6
  • USB 3

Motherboards

Motherboard reviews
http://www.guru3d.com/index.php?page=mainboard
http://www.legitreviews.com/articles/motherboard/

Gigabyte motherboard list – http://www.gigabyte.com/MicroSite/262/images/mb-6series-models.html

ASUS P8P67

TUF Sabertooth P67 – interesting design … tight fit with standard cpu fan

Overclocking The UEFI bios allows a simple button to over clock for newbies that does it without you knowing what to do. To get maxium benefit you need memory with enough headroom “G.Skills RipjawsX DDR3 modules, which have a 2133 MHz rating. Next to the overclock we merely flicked the XMP switch in the BIOS and boom, that memory was running at 2133MHz at CAS7, delivering ridiculous amounts of impressive memory bandwidth. BUT “In all fairness though, invest in more instead of faster memory. Running your memory at 1333Mhz already gives you an incredible amount of bandwidth, in real world performance the difference is just very hard to measure and justify price wise.”

. overclocking-friendly features, such as on-board Power, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons.

Misc clippings from the net

Apologies to the owners

The Quick Sync engine within the new Sandy Bridge processors offers exceptional encoding performance in terms of speed and quality. In our tests, enabling Quick Sync within MediaEspresso resulted in performance increases of 3.7x to 4.1x, smoking everything else we tested. It’s a shame that Quick Sync can’t be used when a discrete GPU is installed in a system with a single monitor though. Many of the users who build high-end systems with media encoding in mind aren’t going to want to settle for integrated graphics, and may not run dual monitors. And since Windows 7 allows for multiple GPU types to be installed in a system, and Intel will allow Quick Sync to function in notebooks / laptops equipped with discrete GPUs with switchable graphics, we hope they figure out a way to enable it on the desktop as well.

New in the Sandy Bridge processors is of course that GPU completely merged. Quite honestly, for gaming, you are still looking at very little performance for any serious stuff. Flick down and forfeit on image quality and resolution, and things will get better fast. As huge as the overall performance improvement over the last generation IPGs really is, it remains to be entry-level gaming. But for laptops, the embedded GPU will be quite okay. Separate gaming from the graphics core and you’ll quickly realize that it is a multipurpose graphics processor. You’ll have no issues with Blu-ray playback, heck it can even deal with 3D TV, post-process your media files, help out with video en/trans and decoding. The GPU is compatible with HDMI 1.4 and Display Port 1.2 next to the regular DSUB and DVI connectors of course. But overall, we really like the embedded GPU for what it is and does, we like to call it a video or media processor though.
The new AVX extension… wowzers… I heard they would be good and make a difference, but again I did not expect it to perform this well. You have two requirements before you can use the AVX extension on the processor. First you’ll need to get your Windows 7 up-to snuff with the latest SP1 installation. Since that’s not yet officially released, grab the beta over at the Microsoft MSDN network. The second requirement is your software, it needs to support the new extension.
The latest revisions of Cyberlink Media Espresso and Arcsoft Media Converter also support Intel QuickSync. We have shown you some examples managed with Cyberlink Media Espresso, and a simple H67 / 2500K + QuickSync active combo beats a 2600K coupled with a GeForce GTX 580 with 512 CUDA processors enabled. The new feature is going to make a lot of difference this year in upcoming applications, a great new option to have alright.
Overclocking — Initially we feared that overclocking would be a thing of the past with Sandy Bridge and sure, if you purchase the regular 2500/2600 model, then don’t expect much. The baseclock is very tricky to overclock. Your best gain might end at as little as 10% extra performance.
However Intel did it decently pricing wise, if you fork out another 20 bucks and get the K series, then that’s where things start to take off fast. We applied 1.3 Volts, used the reference Intel air-cooler. In the BIOS we opened up allowance for a higher TDP, set the maximum base multiplier (34) and then allowed all four cores to use a Turbo Multiplier of 43. We left the base frequency at 100 MHz and boom… one minute of work delivered a Sandy Bridge processor at 4300 MHz already. And really this was no effort at all. We have no doubt we can go much higher. In fact we’ll try and do that with the dedicated P67 motherboard reviews. But yes, our per core performance once again jumps up — yummie.
Power consumption then, again we see spot on numbers. The Intel reference board with a Sandy Bridge processor WITHOUT a graphics card idles at roughly 35 Watts. It made me scratch my head, even thinking the Wattage meter must be broken. When I replaced it with a second meter we measured the very same result. Once we stress the processor 100% on that platform we leveled out at 110~120 Watts. So that’s a testimony that the processor and chipset are very energy friendly. Once you add a dedicated graphics card the dynamic changes of course. And we also have to mention that with some other motherboards from ODMs like ASUS and MSI, the power consumption was higher. We’ll address that in each and every separate review.

If I were you and are able to Crossfire, I’d do the same route as me and go 2x 6850’s. Bit more expensive then a single HD 6950’s, but looking at the reviews it seems to thrash the 6950’s and without a huge increase in price or power consumption.

Trav

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