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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Help me create a monster!

    hey people,

    so I'm planning on building a triple monitor setup for gaming/software development (which will probably end up dual booting win7 & Debian-Wheezy).

    I was hoping for some advice/opinions on things I should consider for when creating said monster. To start with, I'm guessing a triple monitor setup will require SLI/cross-fire to run games at an acceptable framerate, which will in turn require a large PSU as well as some solid cooling?

    But what about other area's, for example if it does require multiple gfx cards then I'm guessing the effects of dust getting into the case will decrease performance exponentially?

    I'll update this post with a parts list once I've done some digging.



    I also wanted to ask about Raspberry Pi's. I've been doing a bit of work with them and have found them to be pretty useful, so I'm thinking of setting one up as media pc.

    I'm aware that you can get multiple different OS's that come with XBMC pre-installed, (which from my desktop experience is a great piece of software), but what I'm wondering is if anyone has experience with the video playback and audio output on the raspberry's.

    As what I'd ideally like to do is setup the pi with a USB hub, an external HD, a USB tv-tuner, a wifi dongle, and probably an IR reciever.

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    The parts I'm thinking of getting for the monster so far are: (prices are in NZD).
    ----Monitor-------------
    Dell UltraSharp U2412M x3 @ $399.00 each.
    ----Case & PSU----------
    Fractal Design Define R4 (Black) @ $190.00
    Seasonic M12-II 750W @ $171.90
    ----Motherboard & CPU---
    ASRock Z87 Extreme4 @ $245.00
    Intel Core i5 4670K 3.4GHz @ $312.55
    ----RAM-----------------
    G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3 PC12800/1600MHz CL9 2x4GB @ $108.80

    ----HDD & SSD-----------
    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500413AS 16MB 500GB @ $84.55
    Samsung 840 EVO Series MZ-7TE120 120GB @ $150.00

    ----GFX Card------------
    not really sure where to go here. I'm leaning towards Nvidia, as my past experience with there cards has been pretty good.

    I might drop the case, as I already have one and it seems a good place to penny pinch.

    Raspberry Pi part's list to come.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    I was wondering why those dollar prices were so high... and then I spotted your location.

    The parts you've picked look good. You could probably get a 1 TB HDD for a minimal premium, but that's up to you.

    You'll want a good CPU cooler for overclocking. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo is considered the baseline for performance and costs a pittance. If you want to spend more, Noctua coolers are a good bet - NH-U12S, NH-U14S, and NH-D14 in order of increasing performance (as well as price and size).

    As for the graphics card, it's a bit of a compromise. AMD traditionally have the best multi-monitor support, but Nvidia's SLI works better than AMDs Crossfire (they're working to fix some problems via drivers, but they're only halfway there). AMD has 3GB VRAM standard on their high-end cards, while Nvidia only has 2GB. But you can pay extra for cards with 4GB. Right now, I would probably go for a pair of GTX 770 4GB cards.
    However, AMD are about to release their next line of graphics cards, which may change things up some.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tritagonist's Avatar
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    I'll leave the specifics of the videocard up to others, since this is a topic I'm only following when I want to actually upgrade, but I do have some comments regarding the rest of your post.

    First of all: that looks like very little disk-space, but perhaps I'm just a senseless hoarder (not unlikely). In any case, you might want to look into the 840 Pro series. I recently bought a 250GB 840 Pro and I recall there was some fuzz about the non-Pro using new, and potentially less durable, elements. Anandtech explains: "Samsung is adding two new members to the family: the Samsung SSD 840 and the 840 Pro. The former is the first productized consumer SSD to use Samsung's 21nm 3-bit-per-cell MLC (aka TLC) NAND, while the latter is Samsung's new flagship drive using 21nm 2bpc MLC NAND."

    Two things about the Dell monitor. First: note that the U2412 is not factory calibrated (like the larger U3011 is). This might not be such a big deal when you're mainly gaming on one monitor, but when you put three of these next to each other it could potentially end up being an annoyance. There's plenty of non-expensive ways to calibrate, and other manufacturers aren't much better in this price range, but it's something to keep in mind. Secondly: I've personally been rather unimpressed by recent Dell models and their forceful and non-configurable response time compensation (see the review linked above, down by the cartoon racing car). I actually went out of my way to get an older model because of this, but it bothers some more than others.

    As for the PSU, if you're going to put in more videocards you'll obviously want to get a bigger power supply than if you're running with just one, but since most people seem to buy PSUs that could power two PCs, it's a good idea to look into how much you actually expect to need. There's really no need to buy a 2000W PSU just because you have an SLI setup.
    Last edited by Tritagonist; 28-09-2013 at 04:14 PM.
    "He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to
    the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free". ~
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  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tritagonist View Post
    First of all: that looks like very little disk-space, but perhaps I'm just a senseless hoarder (not unlikely). In any case, you might want to look into the 840 Pro series. I recently bought a 250GB 840 Pro and I recall there was some fuzz about the non-Pro using new, and potentially less durable, elements. Anandtech explains: "Samsung is adding two new members to the family: the Samsung SSD 840 and the 840 Pro. The former is the first productized consumer SSD to use Samsung's 21nm 3-bit-per-cell MLC (aka TLC) NAND, while the latter is Samsung's new flagship drive using 21nm 2bpc MLC NAND."
    I kinda agree about the 500 GB HDD, that's kinda small for 2013. And 1 TB only costs slightly more. Even the price difference between 1 TB and 2 TB is modest.

    As for the SSD: The 840 Evo isn't the same as the basic 840. But it's based on the same memory and controller (the controller's clocked a little higher), so it's pretty close. The Evo adds SLC emulation which improves write performance dramatically, and that was the main weakness of the basic 840. It doesn't work if you transfer very large amounts of data, because it basically just reserves a few GB of capacity to use as SLC instead of TLC (1 bpc instead of 3 bpc). SLC performs much better, but obviously the cache runs out if you're pushing more data than there's room for in the cache (which is necessarily small, because SLC can only store one third as much data as TLC).

    As for write endurance, that was a theoretical worry that reviewers voiced at the time of the 840's release. It has since turned out to be no problem at all. As Tom's Hardware puts it:
    And as it turned out, the 840 wasn’t a hopeless dog, either. It didn't die after 1000 P/E cycles, and it wasn't particularly slow. In fact, we have a drive that went a full 3207 P/E cycles before it cratered last December. I've seen similar results from others, so the endurance debate may be a red herring in consumer workloads. Write performance was modest, and read speeds exceeded most two-bit-per-cell competitors.
    And re. the 840 Evo:
    Because we're enthusiasts and enjoy the fastest of pretty much everything, we already know that Samsung's 840 EVO isn't all things to all people. However, it's a product able to satisfy most people, armed with features that they'll both want and use. And Samsung plans to ask a price that millions of customers have already paid for vanilla 840s. With the addition of 750 GB and 1 TB models, the company's mainstream SSD family is pretty darned complete. Left with little else to ask for from an SSD, we're pleased to confer the Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award on Samsung's 840 EVO.
    Anandtech concurs:
    Despite having a far more limited lifespan compared to its 2bpc MLC brethren, the TLC NAND Samsung used in its 840 turned out to be quite reliable. Even our own aggressive estimates pegged typical client write endurance on the 840 at more than 11 years for the 128GB model.
    To say that I really like the EVO is an understatement. If Samsung can keep quantities of the 840 EVO flowing, and keep prices at or below its MSRP, it'll be a real winner and probably my pick for best mainstream SSD.

  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response's guys.

    Re: HD space.
    Sorry I forgot to mention I already have a 2tb internal HD (with 5400 rpm I think) that I'll be using for actual storage, the SSD was intended to be for windows + what ever game(s) I'm currently playing, and the HDD was supposed to be for Debian.

    Regarding monitor calibration, a quick Google suggests it's not a really difficult thing to do, and I tend not to be particularly fussy so as long as it's not really far out between monitors then I hopefully shouldn't have an issue, but thank you for bring it to my attention.

    Also, thanks for the advice on OC coolers.

    Regarding the graphics. Would SLI be preferable to a top end card (e.g 780?), as I've heard whispers that SLI/cross-fire can be quite difficult to manage. I'm also a little bit concerned about the cost, two Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 OC 4GB will cost me $1440 -ish ($717.80 each), which is about $200 more than a single 3gb 780, and only $200 less than a titan.

    Just looking now, I could get two Sapphire Radeon HD7970 OC 3Gb for just on $1000 ($499 each from http://pricespy.co.nz/product.php?p=1379701), or an Asus Radeon HD7990-6GD5 6GB for just on $1200. How do they compare?

    As an aside, I'm just sourcing all my prices from pricespy.co.nz, as I find they're a good aggregate search site for components.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Well, the 770 gives more performance for the money than the 780, let alone the Titan. So two 770s cost a little more than a 780, but are significantly faster. SLI is a downside though. But AFAIK it's really not bad when you're using two cards in SLI.

    AMD have some more problems with their multi-GPU technology, so right now it's hard to recommend them.

  8. #8
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    thanks for the response Sakkura, I've just got a couple more questions if you don't mind.

    DO you know When's Nvidia's next generation of gfx is expected to come out? I've heard that ATI's next gen is soon, would you expect that to have any effect on the price of the Nvidia cards?

    I'll probably start sourcing parts in the next couple of weeks.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    It's all rumors and speculation. Nvidia Maxwell is supposedly going to arrive in the first half of 2014. AMDs Rx 2xx series is indeed about to arrive - they officially announced it on Hawaii a week ago, and they should begin to launch within the next few weeks. Rumor has is Nvidia will respond with lowered prices, apparently sometime in November. They may also add a few more cards to their 700 series.

    One thing to remember - AMDs next series is still based on the GCN architecture, though they've tweaked it a little and added some features, and call it GCN 2.0. Nvidia did the same with the 700 series, but AMD is probably going to make a bigger step forward at the high end, because their biggest GPU was relatively small; much smaller than the GK110 in the GTX Titan and 780. Their upcoming R9 290X will fix that (partially, anyway).

  10. #10
    Can someone please post a link to RPS article about mechanical keyboards?
    P.S. what is a good mechanical keyboard?

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    so the screens arrived today, I haven't gotten all of them out to compare the colours because I've not got the rest of the parts for the pc, but the bloody things are huge. I'm going to have to rethink trying to fit all 3 of them on my desk.

    Complaining aside, the colour on the screen is way more vibrant than it was on my old 19" LCD, and the larger size is pretty nice.

    I'm hoping to order the rest of the parts sometime within the next two weeks.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Well, XFX has an excellent multi-monitor stand that might help you there. Only problem is it costs as much as a monitor...

  13. #13
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    Are you sure that you'll need to SLI across all three monitors? Not many games will support / look great across three monitors (though ATI's Eyefinity stuff might help), and I usually just game on one monitor.

  14. #14
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Estel View Post
    Are you sure that you'll need to SLI across all three monitors? Not many games will support / look great across three monitors (though ATI's Eyefinity stuff might help), and I usually just game on one monitor.
    Ideally yeah, I've got the monitors now so I may as well. I'm fine with it only working in certain games if that's the case, otherwise I'm sure there's probably hacks to get more games working across multiple monitors. I'm leaning Nvidia because my previous experience with them has been pretty decent, and Sakkura (as we'll as a few other places) seem to indicate the GTX 770 is the better choice for SLI

    Interestingly since I've plugged one of the new monitors into my current pc it's started occasionally rebooting by itself. On reboot, the motherboard tells me it's suffered a power surge. Guess my pc is just reaching the end of its life.

    Re: monitor space. I'll probably just look at getting a larger desk, my current one's only about a meter or so long.
    Last edited by Wheelz; 07-11-2013 at 10:16 AM.

  15. #15
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Follow up!

    Since swapping my old 1440x900 monitor out for one of the new Dell's (1920x1200) my current computer has taken to restarting by itself when I try to play games.

    I suspect the new monitor is trying to draw more power from the Graphics Card, which is in turn trying to draw more power from the PSU (which is only 450 watts), which is causing the restarts.

    The power supply calculator at New Egg thinks my finished setup will want about 850 watts of power ( I was hoping a 750 watt PSU would be enough), so for the sake of surplus I'm looking at a Season Platinum 1000w PSU (http://pricespy.co.nz/product.php?e=1026811).

    could someone with a bit of knowledge about these things critique the PSU? is it a good choice?

    Thanks.

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    The monitor does not draw power from the graphics card. But to generate the higher-resolution image, the graphics card may be running at higher load and thus drawing more power, which could overload a low-end power supply. But that depends on what your current system specs are.

    How much power your new system will draw depends on what graphics cards you decided to get. But that 1000W PSU is pretty much overkill no matter what.

  17. #17
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    yeah sorry, I meant the higher res draws an increased load, which in turns requires more power.

    How large a psu would you reccomend? This calculator is saying 860 watts, and that's not including wireless network card & fans etc. My understanding of PSU's is that the wattage output decreases a little bit over time, so to be safe I should get a psu slightly larger than that, and as I don't think they make 900 watt psu's, that just leaves the 1000 watt ones.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    I didn't quite catch what graphics card configuration you decided on. With a pair of GTX 770s you could do with 750W but might go 850W to have some more headroom. With a pair of 760s, 750W would be plenty. Any single graphics card would do more than fine with 650W.

  19. #19
    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    ah sorry, I figured I'd go with your suggestion of the SLi 4gb GTX 770's, as they looked like the best bang for buck in that price range.

    Which of these two 850 watt PSU's would you recommend? or is either fine?

    Ed: as an aside, I tried lowering the resolution in game, as well as reducing the graphics settings, but my pc still decided to restart about a minute into it. I'm having doubt's that it's the psu's doing, but either way it's not a great concern as the pc is on the way out.

    Double Ed!
    the PC has taken to restarting when I'm not in games, and upon rebooting tells me it was blue-Screen with the error code 124, which a quick google suggests is a hardware issue.
    The only things that have changed in the last week are the monitor, and the gfx drivers, but the restarting started before I updated the gfx drivers.

    So I'm thinking it might be a fault with my current GTX460, possibly some dust or otherwise old age?
    Last edited by Wheelz; 21-10-2013 at 10:24 AM.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelz View Post
    Which of these two 850 watt PSU's would you recommend? or is either fine?
    Second one seems to be that 1000W unit, but anyway they're both fine.

    That BSOD code seems to be more often related to the CPU, motherboard, or memory. Google gives a billion hits about that BSOD code related to overclocking.

    Or maybe it's just that your old pal knows you're going to abandon it. :,(
    My last system actually started crashing right after I bought the case and power supply for my current system. Spooky - but at least it was good timing.

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