System upgrade

As my last post may have hinted, I've made a few changes to my system lately. Just before a very busy weekend, with impeccable timing, the hard disk in my desktop gave out. I've been eyeing an upgrade for it for a while, and was hoping to hold out until the wider range of new-gen Intel CPUs comes out later this year, but this was too good a sign to ignore. So, I went out and spent a bit of money:

Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard G.SKILL Ripjaws-X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL x2 = 16GB RAM Intel Core i7 2600K CPU Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB SSD Noctua NH-U12P SE2 heatsink/fan

I originally got a Corsair Force 3 SSD, but there's an ongoing issue with SandForce 2200-based SSDs with recent firmware and Intel P58 motherboards that made it unusable (don't buy the Corsair or OCZ third-gen SSDs for a new P58-based system!), so I went to the Crucial. Crucial actually has a C400 line as well, but they seem to have lower random read speeds than the C300 series, which I didn't like.

The graphics card is still a Geforce 9600 (there's no real need to change this, since I don't play any games on it) and the case and PSU are also unchanged, they're both Antecs, Sonata III and EarthWatts 500W. There's a 500GB hard disk in there in case I need it, and a DVD+-RW drive. Keyboard and mice are my old standbys, a 1990-vintage IBM Model M and a Logitech MX510 respectively.

Today, I replaced my mismatched Acer 20" 1680x1050 displays with two Dell U2211H 22" 1920x1080 IPS displays. I'm running the CPU overclocked to around 4.4GHz via the automatic OC tool in the Asus BIOS. Very very happy with the upgraded system: it's ridiculously fast (boots in 8 seconds and does a complete kernel RPM build in 29 minutes), and the new monitors are fantastic. I still wish someone made desktop displays with a higher pixel density, but no-one really does (there's some very niche ones from years ago, but they're practically impossible to buy). These are the best option you can really get at present.


TK009 wrote on 2011-06-08 05:19:
Must be that time of year, or something in the water. I also just upgraded. I needed a few more parts and didn't have as much 'extra' cash as I would of liked. Core i5-2500K ASUS P8P67 same ram and amount ASUS VE276Q 27" monitor nvidia 560ti gfx antec 300 case (I own a few of these and like them to match) antec 600 80 plus gold Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB the list goes on. One place I skimped for now, the SSD, that will have to wait till next month. Looking forward to 8 second boot times. Looks like we both kind of followed the Ars System Guide, with some adjustments. Gratz on your new machine brother, it's a nice system. Oh, one question I have is, did you burn that system in or just go with it? I am burning mine in but not sure how necessary it really is these days.
adamw wrote on 2011-06-08 05:30:
SSD is a huge upgrade, I think people underestimate just how much faster they are; it's really not the same ballpark as spinning disks. My laptop has dual RAIDed SSDs (of a somewhat older vintage than current SSDs, so it probably performs about on a par with a single current SSD) and just that made it faster than my previous desktop config (overclocked Q6600) for booting, package installs, system updates, live image composes and some compile tasks (despite having half as many cores). I think replacing hard disk with SSD is the single best hardware upgrade most people could do, from a performance perspective. The Sandforce 2200 controller does seem to be the current hotness, though, so you might benefit from a bit of a wait so you can get a fixed 2200 controller drive (OCZ 3 series or Corsair 3 series) when they fix out this current bug (Corsair say they'll have to do a hardware revision and a firmware change). Don't wait too long though! I've been a big fan of dual screens for a long time, I find it's just much more economical to get two medium size screens than one big one, and gives you more usable space. I've set up the 2211s vertically: 2160x1920 is a very nice space, I'm finding. I also wanted them because they're just rather higher quality than most displays, with IPS panels and very good color matching and contrast ratio and black level. I didn't follow any guide, really - I knew from general reading that the 2600K was about the fastest CPU available right now, and I've gone with the current 'flagship' ASUS motherboard for my last few systems and found them very solid and reliable. Ditto G.SKILL RAM, I've used it for my last few builds and it's very reliable and cheaper than the other premier brands. I'd've liked a bit faster but this was the best they had in stock. I've never believed in 'burning in', to be honest, I just throw the thing together and use it...