Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

Well, most of the Atoms are dual-core, so you can do two things at once with them, but they won't tend to do those things very quickly if they need any CPU power. Just copying stuff from place to place is pretty low-CPU, but if you want to, say, compress or encrypt or massage the data in any way, Atoms will be much slower. The G840s, on the other hand, will be very, very close to the speed of a $350 CPU, for $85. They're dual-core instead of quadcore, but that hardly ever matters.

Take a look at the requirements of the OS/software you're going to be running on your NAS/HTPC, for instance FreeNAS recommends a dual core, and there may well be forums with example builds, etc.

Thanks for all the info Malor. This is what I've pieced together:

Intel Pentium G840 $85
ASRock H67M (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 $69.99
Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $39.99
CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 (CMPSU-430CXV2) 430W $44.99
Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" $79.99
GIGABYTE GZ-X8BPDX-400 Black SECC / Plastic ATX Mid Tower $29.99

Total: $375 with taxes and shipping -$20 for the MIR on the PSU

I was thinking of an HTPC type case, but that Gigabyte one is still rather small, it's cheap, and tool-less for the hard drives. It has a lot more space to work with and should hopefully get better airflow as well.

I think that'd make a pretty decent system for a few years, with the option of adding quite a few more hard drives down the line.

Oh, and I should do a bit more research, but that mobo says it supports HDMI 1.4a out, so that would actually work well as an HTPC as well to a 27" 1440p monitor I would like to purchase eventually as well

Citizen86 wrote:

Hey guys, I figured I could just ask here, although it's not just a PC I want to build. I'm considering putting together a cheap (under $400) home server. I was thinking of using it as an HTPC, but I think I can actually forget about doing that. It will probably be in the living room near my desk and monitor/TV, so it possibly could play HTPC.

What I am really interested in though is having a file and web server. Not necessarily a web server accessible from the internet, although this might be helpful for loading a test website for someone else to view it. But I mostly want to have a web server that'll run PHP, Mysql, etc. for when I want to develop a site, especially new Wordpress websites. I have XAMPP installed on my work laptop, but I need to turn it on every time I want to work...

I also would like to keep all our media files as well as all my work files in one central location instead of across 2 laptops and different external hard drives. Music/TV/Movies will most likely be played off a laptop connected to a monitor or TV, so that's why I think I won't need it to be an HTPC.

So where the questions come in, is what type of hardware should I expect to need to purchase? Will a dual-core Atom be sufficient, or a newer-gen Celeron, or should it be a quad-core i5? Should I purchase all parts individually, or has anyone had good experience with some of the Foxconn or Biostar bare-bones being sold on Newegg?

Also, if in the future we decide to start purchasing Blu-Ray's, the Blu-Ray drive would most likely go in this server. But I assume I would be able to do the ripping on my quad-core i7 in my laptop with ease, and then store it on the server.

Finally... for the OS, since it'll be headless, FreeNAS? Will that be compatible with Blu-Rays? Or maybe WHS 2011, or some form of Linux.

Lot's of questions, I know. Thanks guys

I would look at socket 1155 based solutions since it doesn't sound like you will be needing much graphical power out of this. If you have a lot of media files or plan on encoding your dvd's like I am doing then you will probably want to get something with a lot of SATA ports and nice sized case to hold it all in.

Here is a build I have been considering for similar functions. This might be a bit higher end case wise than what you are looking for. My plan is to build this and stick it in a closet and also build a small form factor machine to connect to the TV. It has been a while since I first put this together so there may be a few better options in the motherboard/cpu categories.

The case is gigantic and will hold a few over 20 HDDs if I ever get that bad (just ordered my sixth 2TB drive for my current HTPC setup). Was planning on running the OS off of a thumbdrive (that is what the header adapter is for) or small solid state drive and not putting an optical drive in it. Was originally thinking FreeNAS for the OS but lately I have been thinking that Unbuntu might be a better option if I can get ZFS working on it.

That is one ginormous case there Rykin. Other than that, I think we do have similar ideas though. Unfortunately I don't have a bunch of hard drives I've accumulated. But yes, I was definitely looking at basing my build on socket 1155.

I think I mineaswell peruse the regular ATX boards as well, just to see what extras can be fit in.

I just found out about these new UEFI bios' as well, that is pretty exciting!

You could even go smaller on the CPU; that Celeron that Rykin pointed out is still plenty fast for a file server, and it's about $35 cheaper. But it just has "HD Graphics" rather than "HD2000 Graphics"; the HD2K graphics can do accelerated transcoding of video files under Windows, which might be of interest to you. (Your i7 laptop may be able to do the same thing.) Quality is reasonable, and speeds are very fast. It sounds like you're moving toward making it an actual HTPC, rather than just a server, so that extra $35 might come in handy. But I think it might need to run Windows; I don't know whether Linux has any facility for using the special transcoding hardware. Intel's good about providing Linux drivers for stuff, but video and sound on Linux have never been very good.

You could probably also skinny down on the power supply. As it sits, the system will actually be drawing maybe a hundred watts, even under load. A 430 will give you room to add a video card, but unless you plan to do some gaming on it, I doubt you'd ever want one. The built-in graphics are fine for HTPC duty.

That's a good unit, and there's no particular reason NOT to buy it, except that it's sized for a bigger system than what you're actually building.

I figured it would give room for extra hard drives, but I guess thats not a big deal unless they're all running at the same time. I just seem to automatically go to Corsair as they make high-quality reasonably priced PSU's.

I'm still debating the HTPC part. Mostly because that would mean installing plain Win7 or Win8 on it. It'll work, but I will miss out on some of the cool things that WHS, Ubuntu Server, or even FreeNAS would provide. Yeah, I think I'll skip the HTPC portion and if I need that in the future I can put something together for that specific purpose. Heck, I think one of those mini PC's with the Nvidia Ion probably would do the job just fine.

I figured it would give room for extra hard drives, but I guess thats not a big deal unless they're all running at the same time.

Normally, each hard drive will pull about a half an amp from both 5V and 12V, or roughly 10 watts each, with a 20W or so burst at startup. A 250 watt supply would probably be enough to run the board plus about five drives. The 430 would probably be able to run about 15.... typically most power supplies will have about 20 amps total on 5V, so 15 drives would pull about 15 amps on that rail at startup, and then 7.5 amps sustained. Double-check the power specs on the exact drives you're buying, though, if you're going to load it down at all.

And, yes, Corsair supplies are quite good. That's an excellent default choice.

Yeah, I haven't had a desktop for a few years now, it's all been laptops. But the last desktop I built had a Thermaltake case and PSU, the PSU was cheap, and after about a year it burnt up real good, stunk up my bedroom for about a week. I think it also did damage to the mobo as that needed to be replaced a month or two later.

I suppose Seasonic makes good low-watt PSU's. I remember reading you want your PSU to be sitting somewhere around 50% normally, if you have a huge PSU for a small computer like this one then it can become inefficient.

Thanks for the info about the HDD's though, it's a good reference. I'm actually considering this one, as it's double the price, but low-power and 3x the space. I think it might be a good idea to have a small boot drive though, instead of partitioning off a piece of this one. I'm thinking a small SSD, but that might be overkill, even if it's a 30gb one.

Haswell running uniengine heaven on integrated graphics.

Better performance than IB running full, uses half the power when running the same as IB.

New Ram Question!

A couple years ago I ordered these for my current computer
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product...
I'd like to add 8 more gig of memory but can you tell me, do I need to keep anything the same when I am adding a new pair?
Do i need to stick with the same stats?

Speed DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
Cas Latency 8
Timing 8-8-8-24

Can you recommend me another pair?

TheGameguru wrote:
Thin_J wrote:
Gaald wrote:

The case looks pretty neat I guess but one HDD bay? Seems like they could have added a few more if they had wanted to.

And mount them... where exactly? There's no room.

Pictures from a completed build:

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/8obHol.jpg)
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/7Jht5l.jpg)

I went through a build.. got a 2500K in there with Corsair H60 cooler.. Thankfully Silverstone makes a special SFF 460W Powersupply that is modular and really small.. as well as a slot loading Slimline DVD burner that fits in the optical bay drive (ironically using micro SATA connectors with a supplied special cable that ends in a Molex power connector not a SATA ARGH!!! dumb!!!).. theres no room for full size optical. Under the optical there is a 2.5" HD bay that I used a 2.5" 7200RPM Seagate 750GB HD. As well below that is a removable 3.5" Cage but I took that out for some breathing room... but it looks like you could get both a 2.5" HD and a 3.5" HD at the same time.

Nvidia moving the Power Connectors to the top of their cards really made these SFF builds challenging.. they are all designed currently for connectors at the rear of the card.. in theory it makes more sense at the top but everyone has to redesign their cases to accommodate.

This the one for sale?

Yes

groan wrote:

New Ram Question!

A couple years ago I ordered these for my current computer
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product...
I'd like to add 8 more gig of memory but can you tell me, do I need to keep anything the same when I am adding a new pair?
Do i need to stick with the same stats?

Speed DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
Cas Latency 8
Timing 8-8-8-24

Can you recommend me another pair?

Hmm, it appears, though repackaged with new looks, they still make them
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/23...

When it reads "M/B Chipset Intel P67"
I assume that's just a recommendation? I am using mine on an AMD setup. I think I asked this 2 years ago when i bought it and was told that it did not matter

Nevermind, I'm on crack and would be better ripping that ram out and getting new stuff. I just realized that I ordered 4 sticks x2GB each and that these ones
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/23...
are 4 GB each.

Anyways, any suggestions on new ram for THIS SYSTEM
I dont wan't to break the bank so price under $100 would be ideal.

I will be buying the EVGA GTX660 3GB very soon if my heli sells this weekend.

Is it just me or does, like, everything have a heat sink now? Maybe I should look for one for my Thinkpad track stick.

I have lots of room. That bit over budget is OK. Thanks for the suggestion.

Well, this is Newegg's cheapest stuff at the same speed as what you had. It looks like RAM is getting a little bit more expensive, and it exceeds your budget slightly, at $104 for two pairs. (my expectation was $90).

Note that the Vengeance sticks have really, really tall heatsinks, so take a look at your motherboard and make sure you've got a fair bit of vertical clearance above the RAM slots. (about twice the height of standard sticks). If you don't, you'll want to buy regular profile sticks instead, which are a couple dollars more.

Is it just me or does, like, everything have a heat sink now? Maybe I should look for one for my Thinkpad track stick.

Yeah, and you're really not supposed to need heatsinks on memory chips, but in this case, it's actually more expensive for chips without heatsinks. Go figure.

Just got myself a new pair of headphones from PAX. Kinda didn't realize I would would need a sound card to run them well (5.1). My experience with sound cards is nonexistent, would someone recommend me a brand? Or just tell me who to avoid at all costs? Prices ranging under $75.

Eldon_of_Azure wrote:

Just got myself a new pair of headphones from PAX. Kinda didn't realize I would would need a sound card to run them well (5.1). My experience with sound cards is nonexistent, would someone recommend me a brand? Or just tell me who to avoid at all costs? Prices ranging under $75.

Double check your motherboard, your onboard sound just might have 5.1 out.

Eldon_of_Azure wrote:

Just got myself a new pair of headphones from PAX. Kinda didn't realize I would would need a sound card to run them well (5.1). My experience with sound cards is nonexistent, would someone recommend me a brand? Or just tell me who to avoid at all costs? Prices ranging under $75.

How old is your computer? Most newish motherboards already 5.1 sound built in and all the outputs you would need on sticking out the back.

Eldon_of_Azure wrote:

Just got myself a new pair of headphones from PAX. Kinda didn't realize I would would need a sound card to run them well (5.1). My experience with sound cards is nonexistent, would someone recommend me a brand? Or just tell me who to avoid at all costs? Prices ranging under $75.

Looking around it appears that these headphones are made with cheap plastic that tend to break, so be prepared for that.

Otherwise, I'm a bit surprised your mb doesn't have the outputs required, but since you asked you don't really need to spend much on a sound card. Assuming you have space for a PCI card then I'd recommend this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...

Yeah, definitely check your motherboard -- they haven't sold motherboards without 5.1 sound in a long time. You should just need three of the 3.5mm headphone jack cables.

If it's an older motherboard, it may not sound all that great -- computer sound has been terrible for a long, long time. But starting sometime around the Sandy Bridge Intel CPUs, Realtek's cheap sound chips finally started to do an okay job. The Realtek ALC889 in my (expensive) current motherboard, which is actually something of a high-end chip, sounds excellent. For a long time, they were kind of crap chips, but everyone used them because they were very, very cheap.

I've got an ALC889 on my 5 year old not-pushing-the-boat-out Gigabyte motherboard. The chip quality isn't the issue, it's the electrical noise you can hear alongside what you're trying to listen to, if it wasn't for that I'd be mostly happy without my nice Xonar or some DAC. Besides that, the drivers are basic but serviceable, perfectly fine for most things as most games run pretty much software mixing now.

The chip quality isn't the issue, it's the electrical noise you can hear alongside what you're trying to listen to, if it wasn't for that I'd be mostly happy without my nice Xonar or some DAC.

I had nasty noise problems for a long time when I tried to use just headphones, but plugging in speakers took care of that. No more hum, even when I listen on headphones, as long the speakers stay connected.

That's the thing, I think it varies on implementation. I think I've seen some motherboards where they try to shield off the audio part.

Is 380 W going to be enough?

Since you lot are bunch of filthy enablers, I've decided I can no longer live with just my craptastic old laptop for gaming. As such I'm going to be purchasing a desktop for the first time in years. I'm trying to keep it under $1000 (including monitor if possible) and this is the build I'm looking at currently. I'd like to build something that will last me 12 months before needing to upgrade anything if possible.

Would this build be enough to comfortably play sh*t like Skyrim, Just Cause 2 and the current slate of MMOs?

Antec EarthWatts EA-380D Green 380 Watt 80 PLUS BRONZE Power Supply

Rosewill R218-P-BK Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive - WD5000AAKX

MSI N560GTX-M2D1GD5 Video Card

Corsair 8GB (2x 4GB) 1333mhz PC3-10666 204-pin DDR3 SODIMM Laptop Memory Kit CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9

Gigabyte LGA 1155 Intel B75 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX DDR3 1600 Motherboards GA-B75M-D3H

Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor G850 2.9 GHz 3 MB Cache LGA 1155 - BX80623G850

groan wrote:

Is 380 W going to be enough?

D'oh. I had that 380w in my cart for work. This is the one I was looking at for my gaming rig:
Antec VP-450 450 Watt Energy Star Certified Power Supply