Home office computer with backup included

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
Hello, gentlemen.

I’d like your feedback on a projected build for a home office computer. My location is France, parts are to be bought in the next few days, and I’ve done quite a lot of research on sites such as Anand Tech, The Tech Report, Silent PC Review and others (some in my own local market).

Main usage : home office (productivity software, bookkeeping, mail), intensive Web browsing (data research, newsfeeds, blogging, media sites, cloud-based computing), experimenting with new software.

Secondary usage : amateur photography (moderate level of photo editing, limited need for storage of pictures), classical music (ripping in lossless formats, listening to CDs, music files and Web radio, limited need for storage of music files, possible output to an old audiophile hi-fi system), watching SD movies on DVDs or via VOD (no need for HD, limited need for storage).

Possible, added usage somewhere down the line : Web development. (Does not have to be taken into account if price and functionality need to be quite different upfront).

Never : games, overclocking.

Specific needs : I’d like the PC to have an in-case removable backup solution, without outside clutter. I’m ready to invest in order to minimise the chances of hardware failure, data loss or hangups. I was advised, on a Tech Report thread, to buy ECC memory, even though this won’t be a server. I’m ready to spend the 10 to 20 % extra. Feel free, of course, to tell me this is unneeded if you think so.

Silent / quiet operation required. No air conditioning here. Peak summer temps : 30 to 40 °C.

This is a long-lived build. I don’t plan to make a new one every 2 or 3 years. A degree of expandability would be a good thing (if such a thing exists). Possible future extensions : Wi-fi, TV, dedicated RAID controller, audiophile sound card, graphic card for multiple monitors.

Eyesight getting suboptimal, long hours of use, the monitor has to be easy on the eyes.

Reasonably transport-proof and dust-proof.

Reusable (?) components : mouse, Windows XP Home Premium 32 bits OEM CD (never installed).

Brand preferences : none.

Budget : none. Haha. Really. You can use the cost of my projected list of parts, wich is 1500 euros, translating very roughly to 1725 dollars. However, my method is : skimp as much as possible where money is unnecessary, and put it where it makes a difference. Therefore, feel free to tell me it’s silly to spend that much for what I plan to do, or, conversely, that I should spend more. New Egg links are welcome even though I cannot buy from them. I use them a lot for research.

I kept prices in euros so you can have a sense of proportion. 1 French computer euro = 1,15 computer dollar (very rough estimate ; varies considerably). Here goes...


Projected parts list :

- Processor : AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE : 76 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103847

- Motherboard : Asus M4A 89G TD PRO / USB3 : 130 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-631-_-Product

- Memory : Kingston 4 Gb 1333 MHz DDR3 ECC CL9 w/ temp. sensor (kit of 2), ref. KVR 1333 D3 E9 S K2 / 4G : 113 €
http://www.ramshopping.fr/basketadd.php?partnumber=RAM-DDR3-2458K2/4GB

- RAID 1 : 2 x WD Caviar Black 500 Gb 3,5 inches : 49 € each
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...%20Black%20500

- Removable backup disks, used in rotation : 2 x WD Scorpio Blue 320 Gb 2,5 inches : 44 € each
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136197

- 2,5 inches rack for backup : Icy Dock IB-290 ST USD-B : 34 €
http://www.raidsonic.de/en/products/details.php?we_objectID=6126

- Extra enclosures for backup disks : 2 x Icy Dock IB-290 ST US-B (one spare enclosure) : 28 € each
http://www.raidsonic.de/en/products/external-cases.php?we_objectID=6125

- DVD burner : Sony Optiarc AD-7241 S-0B : 26 €
http://www.sonynec-optiarc.com/pro [...] 7240.html

- Case : Antec Solo : 86 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...k=antec%20solo

- Power supply : Corsair VX 450 W : 69 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139003

- Heatsink : Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus : 24 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...r%20212%20Plus

- Replacement fan for heatsink, 120 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus12 [...] sefan.htm

- Replacement fan for back of case, 120 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus12 [...] sefan.htm

- Fan for front of case, 92 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan DF 1209 SL-3 : 11 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus92 [...] sefan.htm

- Monitor, 24 inches : HP LP2475w : 565 €
http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en...1-3648442.html


- Keyboard : 15 €
- Speakers : advice welcome.
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bits OEM : 113 €

Total : 1 530 €

Many thanks for looking into this.

[Sorry about links. Sometimes they work in the preview, sometimes they don't. They work from my software. I tried different ways. I cannot do better. I hope they work for you.]
 
Last edited:

Davidh373

Platinum Member
Jun 20, 2009
2,428
0
71
- Processor : AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE : 76 €

You'll hardly need an Athlon II X2. The Phenom is overkill. Unless it's only 5 euro more, go with an Athlon.

- Motherboard : Asus M4A 89G TD PRO / USB3 : 130 €

You don't really need this advanced of a motherboard. Office apps aren't really intense enough to require Sata III (6GB/S)

- Memory : Kingston 4 Gb 1333 MHz DDR3 ECC CL9 w/ temp. sensor (kit of 2), ref. KVR 1333 D3 E9 S K2 / 4G : 113 €

If you are only running Xp, get 2GB. 32 bit os can only use 3.5GB of memory, so really, a full 4GB is a waste. If you do decide to go with Windows 7 (something I wouldn't recommend for it will just burn up more ram without reason) then get something like 4.

[/quote]
- RAID 1 : 2 x WD Caviar Black 500 Gb 3,5 inches : 49 € each

No need for 500GB or RAID in an office build unless you are dealing with super top secret files, this is highly unnecessary.

- Removable backup disks, used in rotation : 2 x WD Scorpio Blue 320 Gb 2,5 inches : 44 € each

These are especially redundant. If you really need a backup just get a 1TB MyBook or something. You can easily set it up to sync with the drive on the computer with WD's software.

- Heatsink : Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus : 24 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...r%20212%20Plus

- Replacement fan for heatsink, 120 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus12 [...] sefan.htm

- Replacement fan for back of case, 120 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus12 [...] sefan.htm

- Fan for front of case, 92 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan DF 1209 SL-3 : 11 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus92 [...] sefan.htm

These are ok if there is no air conditioning.

- Monitor, 24 inches : HP LP2475w : 565 €

I'm not sure about Euro pricing, but this looks like it's overpriced for a 24"

All and all this build has a lot of features that will more than less likely be more of an irritant than a help. These features appear to also double the price.

You may want to get a cheap old(ish) video card to help that photo editing along.
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
OP, your build looks like it will accomplish your goals fairly well. Three comments:
(a) I would definitely get an Athlon II X4 for longevity's sake.
(b) The ECC memory is unnecessary. Statistically speaking, you'll never see a crash from a single-bit error within the machine's lifetime.
(c) You'll likely want to get 500GB drives for the backup, so that you won't have to worry about having more on your internal drives than you can back up.

Don't sweat the links, the forum software has a few bugs in it.
 

Davidh373

Platinum Member
Jun 20, 2009
2,428
0
71
Alright, well I know i've done some photoshop on my 9800GTX and I haven't really been happy with performance, it was most likely a flaw with my hardware, but I can't help but think it would chug on integrated.

Does he really need all this RAID business though? That was my main point is it's a tad overkill to have raid, and 2 HDs he plans to swap in and out., the GPU was more of an afterthought really.
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
Alright, well I know i've done some photoshop on my 9800GTX and I haven't really been happy with performance, it was most likely a flaw with my hardware, but I can't help but think it would chug on integrated.

Does he really need all this RAID business though? That was my main point is it's a tad overkill to have raid, and 2 HDs he plans to swap in and out., the GPU was more of an afterthought really.

Your 9800GTX has nothing to do with your Photoshop performance. Just because something is "graphics" doesn't mean that it uses the graphics card as anything other than a conduit to the screen.

Regarding the other things, I don't necessarily disagree with you. (That's why I didn't take objection to those parts of your post).

Do I think he's being a little paranoid? Yes.
Will his setup be very effective in accomplishing his goal? Yes.

OP, if you want to save some money, you can probably just get a single backup drive ~1TB and make sure you do incremental backups.
 

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
Interesting remarks !... Let me lob back a few questions to you.

Processor :
You'll hardly need an Athlon II X2. The Phenom is overkill. Unless it's only 5 euro more, go with an Athlon.
It’s 5 euros more. 10, at most.
I would definitely get an Athlon II X4 for longevity's sake.
What do you mean by longevity ? Is it Windows 12 getting bigger ? Or me wanting to do something I’m not interested in today ?

The reason I picked up the Phenom II X2 550 is the Anand Tech Bench. According to it, the Sysmark results for the test suites pertaining to my tasks (“productivity” and “e-learning") are 20 % to 30 % better than for the Athlon II X4 635, which is 47 % more expensive. The former is marginally better for the “3D-rendering” test suite. The only field where it’s noticeably better is video editing. (And games ?) But I won’t do either. Okay, maybe some video occasionally. By why should I cripple my main tasks for something I may do once in a while ?

Do 4 cores help significantly in multitasking with office apps ? That’s something I will do : having a lot of productivity software open at the same time, switching from one to another, shifting data between them, having a lot of browser tabs open, while running a backup in the background and maybe even a virus scan.

However, the Sysmark people explain that a degree of multitasking is already built in their test suites. Will going from 2 to 4 cores really make a difference ?

Motherboard :
You don't really need this advanced of a motherboard.
I agree. This is overkill for my needs right now : an AMD 785G chipset would be enough (and 50 € cheaper). The idea was future-proofing :

- Asus motherboards with 880G or 785G chipsets have only 5 SATA ports.
- The number + choice of slots seems somewhat limiting on lesser mobos.
- The Asus M4A 89G TD PRO / USB3 has USB 3.0 and powered e-SATA, which may prove to be useful at some point.
- Also, it has 2 connectors for chassis fans instead of 1.

Does that make sense ?

Memory and OS :
The ECC memory is unnecessary.
Okay. Gone.
If you are only running Xp, get 2GB. 32 bit os can only use 3.5GB of memory, so really, a full 4GB is a waste. If you do decide to go with Windows 7 (something I wouldn't recommend for it will just burn up more ram without reason) then get something like 4.
I planned to use W 7. The reason I mentioned this XP disc I have, gathering dust, was in case someone could point me to an upgrade scheme that could save me a few euros.

Is it reasonable to start an XP build today, which is 2 generations old ? I understand XP will stop being supported by Microsoft real soon now. Are there really no significant advantages to W 7 ?

Any difference between 2 and 4 Gb for office work ? Or would it be only for accommodating W 7 ?

Disks, RAID and backup :
No need for 500GB or RAID in an office build unless you are dealing with super top secret files, this is highly unnecessary.
If you really need a backup just get a 1TB MyBook or something. You can easily set it up to sync with the drive on the computer with WD's software.
I don’t get it. On one hand, everybody keeps telling you : your disk drive will fail you some day, it's not a question of if, but when. On the other hand, nobody seems to specify RAID 1 in desktop builds. Why is that ?

Yes, you can -- nay, you must -- backup. I haven't yet chosen my software method for backups : imaging (Acronis-style), ordinary backup software -- or both. Do these methods allow for continuous backup, and for backup of open files ?

If your disk dies, one of the losses that's most at risk to bite you is the big document with a deadline you're currently working on, or the day's load of work that hasn't yet been saved by a supposedly daily backup.

Is there a way to cover this risk without RAID 1 ?

I’d like to avoid external clutter and be protected against theft and fire. One single external drive does not provide that. The idea was to have one rotating disk in a bank safe.

Is there a reason a backup disk should be much bigger (1 Tb) than the main disk (320 or 500 Gb) ?

I was advised a 500 Gb Caviar Black for speed, not for capacity (my present disk is… 10 Gb). Any thoughts ?

Do I think he's being a little paranoid? Yes.
How did you guess ? :D

Monitor :
This looks like it's overpriced for a 24".
It’s an IPS panel, that’s why. Non-TNs are supposed to be way better visually speaking. Do you think it’s overkill for office work ?
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
Very reasonable commentary! I'll go point by point.

Interesting remarks !... Let me lob back a few questions to you.

Processor :

It’s 5 euros more. 10, at most.

What do you mean by longevity ? Is it Windows 12 getting bigger ? Or me wanting to do something I’m not interested in today ?

The reason I picked up the Phenom II X2 550 is the Anand Tech Bench. According to it, the Sysmark results for the test suites pertaining to my tasks (“productivity” and “e-learning") are 20 % to 30 % better than for the Athlon II X4 635, which is 47 % more expensive. The former is marginally better for the “3D-rendering” test suite. The only field where it’s noticeably better is video editing. (And games ?) But I won’t do either. Okay, maybe some video occasionally. By why should I cripple my main tasks for something I may do once in a while ?

Do 4 cores help significantly in multitasking with office apps ? That’s something I will do : having a lot of productivity software open at the same time, switching from one to another, shifting data between them, having a lot of browser tabs open, while running a backup in the background and maybe even a virus scan.

However, the Sysmark people explain that a degree of multitasking is already built in their test suites. Will going from 2 to 4 cores really make a difference ?

By longevity I mean 2 things:
1. Software is becoming more and more multithreaded, thus increasing a quad-core's advantage.
2. You may decide that you want to do something else with this computer later on, and the quad will give you more flexibility.

If you're going to be heavily multitasking, then a quad-core is going to be better because there are (obviously) more CPUs available to run the various tasks.

I wouldn't put too much stock into the productivity and e-learning segment of Sysmark because those types of tasks are going to be waiting on the user 99.999% of the time. Yes, the higher-clocked dual-core is theoretically faster at running a single instance of Word. Does it matter? No. Anything that needs serious power (Excel analysis or whatever) is going to be multi-threaded and thus better on the quad.

Motherboard :

I agree. This is overkill for my needs right now : an AMD 785G chipset would be enough (and 50 € cheaper). The idea was future-proofing :

- Asus motherboards with 880G or 785G chipsets have only 5 SATA ports.
- The number + choice of slots seems somewhat limiting on lesser mobos.
- The Asus M4A 89G TD PRO / USB3 has USB 3.0 and powered e-SATA, which may prove to be useful at some point.
- Also, it has 2 connectors for chassis fans instead of 1.

Does that make sense ?
I think the PRO/USB3 is a bit high myself. The GA-880GA-UD3H has the features that you're looking for but at a lower price point.

Memory and OS :

Okay. Gone.

I planned to use W 7. The reason I mentioned this XP disc I have, gathering dust, was in case someone could point me to an upgrade scheme that could save me a few euros.

Is it reasonable to start an XP build today, which is 2 generations old ? I understand XP will stop being supported by Microsoft real soon now. Are there really no significant advantages to W 7 ?

Any difference between 2 and 4 Gb for office work ? Or would it be only for accommodating W 7 ?
Definitely use Windows 7. There is no sense in going with such an old OS for a new build. You will want 4GB of RAM because you are a heavy multitasker.
Disks, RAID and backup :

I don’t get it. On one hand, everybody keeps telling you : your disk drive will fail you some day, it's not a question of if, but when. On the other hand, nobody seems to specify RAID 1 in desktop builds. Why is that ?

Yes, you can -- nay, you must -- backup. I haven't yet chosen my software method for backups : imaging (Acronis-style), ordinary backup software -- or both. Do these methods allow for continuous backup, and for backup of open files ?

If your disk dies, one of the losses that's most at risk to bite you is the big document with a deadline you're currently working on, or the day's load of work that hasn't yet been saved by a supposedly daily backup.

Is there a way to cover this risk without RAID 1 ?

I’d like to avoid external clutter and be protected against theft and fire. One single external drive does not provide that. The idea was to have one rotating disk in a bank safe.

Is there a reason a backup disk should be much bigger (1 Tb) than the main disk (320 or 500 Gb) ?

I was advised a 500 Gb Caviar Black for speed, not for capacity (my present disk is… 10 Gb). Any thoughts ?


How did you guess ? :D
RAID1 is necessary for the availability that you desire. In many environments, losing 1/2 a day's work (average lost since last backup for daily backups) is not considered to be a big deal. If it is important to you, by all means, do RAID1.

You'll want the backup disk to be bigger than the disk that's being backed up because that will let you keep historical backups even if the primary disk is close to capacity.

The Black is a good drive. You might also want to look into the Samsung F3. I would say that they are equivalent and that you should get whichever drive is priced better.


Monitor :

It’s an IPS panel, that’s why. Non-TNs are supposed to be way better visually speaking. Do you think it’s overkill for office work ?

I personally enjoy a looking at a nice color-accurate IPS panel. Is it strictly "necessary" for office work? No. Is it nice? Yes!
 

Davidh373

Platinum Member
Jun 20, 2009
2,428
0
71
mfenn pretty much covered anything I would have said.

I however, believe that a single backup location is all that is necessary. The likelihood of both your primary drive and backup drive failing in the same day (or even the same year) is very minimal. RAID 1 or RAID anything seems unnecessary to me. If you don't feel so, by all means get what you want.

I mean the same as mfenn when I say longevity. As OS'/ Apps/ Games become more demanding, the quad core will help tremendously. I would get a quad core over a dual core any day, especially if you aren't planing to upgrade for a very long time.

It’s an IPS panel, that’s why. Non-TNs are supposed to be way better visually speaking. Do you think it’s overkill for office work ?

It is definitely not necessary for office work.
 

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
I tried to assess what are the main risks associated with different combinations of :

- No RAID, just a single main disk.
- A RAID 1 array.
- Daily backups.
- Permanent backups (say, a file is backed up as soon as it is saved on the main disk).
- Backups on a removable disk, whether external or in a rack (we suppose there are two of them, and we rotate them in a remote location).
- Backups on a dedicated partition of the main disk or RAID 1 array.

The risk of downtime is not considered much of a problem.
Losing data is.
The risk of theft at my home is significant.

No RAID

- With daily backups on a removable disk -> risk of losing a day's work if the main disk dies.
- With permanent backups on a removable disk -> risk of saving a virus, or a mistake (deleting an important file, for instance)

Raid 1

- With no backup
-> risk of replicating a virus or a mistake within the array
-> risk of theft or accident (fire, lightning...).

- With daily backup on a separate partition of the RAID array
-> risk of theft or accident

- With permanent backup on a separate partition of the RAID array
-> risk of replicating a virus or a mistake
-> risk of theft or accident

- With permanent backup on a removable disk
-> risk of replicating a virus or a mistake

- With daily backup on a removable disk
-> negligible risk, provided we consider acceptable :
- the risk of losing one day's work if the PC is totally lost (through complete failure of the array, theft or accident)
- the risk of losing all data if the PC is totally lost, and the backups fail at the same time

If there was a piece of software / method to do “permanent” backups while retaining previous backup versions for a while, the best combination (most safe, less expensive) might be : no RAID, with permanent backups. Keeping previous versions should eliminate the risk of saving a virus or a mistake.

Is that correct ? Did I miss something ? Does such a backup method exist ? Is it practical ?

The weakest point here seems to be the backup disk in the bank. Of course I won’t be going everyday to the the bank to rotate the disk. Doing it weekly would already be a significant annoyance. Since the risk of theft is significant at my home, what I described above as the risk of losing one day’s work would rather look as the risk of losing a week’s work. The only cure to this would be to backup daily through the Internet to a remote location.
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
Any reasonable backup software (such as Acronis) will support keeping historical backups. It will also support a variety of retention rules like keep X backups, never delete a backup older than X days, GFS (grandfather-father-son), and towers of hanoi. You will likely only want to do incremental daily backups and do a differential/full every 2 weeks or so.
 

AtlantaBob

Golden Member
Jun 16, 2004
1,034
0
0
I definitely agree with Mfenn on the points he made. Just a couple of other quick suggestions.


The weakest point here seems to be the backup disk in the bank. Of course I won’t be going everyday to the the bank to rotate the disk. Doing it weekly would already be a significant annoyance. Since the risk of theft is significant at my home, what I described above as the risk of losing one day’s work would rather look as the risk of losing a week’s work. The only cure to this would be to backup daily through the Internet to a remote location.


There are services that do this -- they are fairly widespread in the States. I imagine that there are French companies that offer the same thing (if you can't get access to a US based backup system). Of course, depending on how much data you generate every day, it could be cost prohibitive. But if theft is really that big of an issue, I think you'd have to consider that thieves would take portable drives as well -- in fact, they may prefer them to a desktop. More value in less bulk. If you put them in a safe or something, you run the risk that efforts to open the safe may destroy the drives.

Also, I generally go with the idea that it's better to spend half of your budget now and half of your budget in 2 years, with the idea that the fast growth in hardware capacity will mean you can buy substantially better hardware a few years from now. Of course, the same caveat doesn't apply to nice peripherals which tend to age pretty well (keyboard, mice, and monitors). Again, citing the theft concern, maybe you'd want to go this way -- or, at the very least, get a sturdy lock for the desktop!

Best of luck,
 

Davidh373

Platinum Member
Jun 20, 2009
2,428
0
71
Rather than have an internal drive that goes to what I would assume is a safe deposit box, an external drive (likely a 2.5") would probably be better (less prone to static, more protected in case it gets dropped, ect.)

As for online backups, This would likely be better than keeping a raid (I really don't like RAID if you can't tell)

My dad has an 12 year old dell with one HD that still works. It's just come into problems a few months ago where it won't post occasionally. It's likely a smaller platter count (probably single platter) but you could just as easily find a single platter drive these days. There are a lot of things that would have to go wrong in your current setup to need to rely on the raid. Your Primary HD would have to fail, your backup would have to fail or get stolen, the backup you have sitting in the bank would have to fail or be stolen (out of the vault? Really?) and then if you get the online backup you're now talking about, that is the 5th layer of protection. You really don't need RAID at that point in my opinion.
 

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
Thanks to all.

I just typed a long post with my revised build, and the reasoning behind it, following your advice.

It's now gone, because the forum softare asks you to log in again at some point, after which it wipes your attempted post. I don't have the courage to do it again. All the best.
 

RavenSEAL

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2010
8,670
3
0
You'll hardly need an Athlon II X2. The Phenom is overkill. Unless it's only 5 euro more, go with an Athlon.



You don't really need this advanced of a motherboard. Office apps aren't really intense enough to require Sata III (6GB/S)



If you are only running Xp, get 2GB. 32 bit os can only use 3.5GB of memory, so really, a full 4GB is a waste. If you do decide to go with Windows 7 (something I wouldn't recommend for it will just burn up more ram without reason) then get something like 4.

No need for 500GB or RAID in an office build unless you are dealing with super top secret files, this is highly unnecessary.



These are especially redundant. If you really need a backup just get a 1TB MyBook or something. You can easily set it up to sync with the drive on the computer with WD's software.

- Heatsink : Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus : 24 €
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...r%20212%20Plus

- Replacement fan for heatsink, 120 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus12 [...] sefan.htm

- Replacement fan for back of case, 120 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus12 [...] sefan.htm

- Fan for front of case, 92 mm : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan DF 1209 SL-3 : 11 €
http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-nexus92 [...] sefan.htm

These are ok if there is no air conditioning.



I'm not sure about Euro pricing, but this looks like it's overpriced for a 24"

All and all this build has a lot of features that will more than less likely be more of an irritant than a help. These features appear to also double the price.

You may want to get a cheap old(ish) video card to help that photo editing along.
^^^^THIS! Seriously...A $1700 USD office PC is a GIANT overkill. Hell, just buy a new dell for like $600 USD and you're set for like 5 years for office use.

http://www.euro.dell.com/fr/fr/gen/df.aspx?refid=df&s=gen
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
Thanks to all.

I just typed a long post with my revised build, and the reasoning behind it, following your advice.

It's now gone, because the forum softare asks you to log in again at some point, after which it wipes your attempted post. I don't have the courage to do it again. All the best.

Well that sucks. :(

You've shown that you have a knack for logical reasoning, so I'm sure that what you have come up with is good. (It'd better be, considering you said that you followed our advice! :p)
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
60
91
Have you thought about the possibility of an Online Backup. There may be some servics online or "Cloud" that can do an online backup.
 

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
^^^^THIS! Seriously...A $1700 USD office PC is a GIANT overkill. Hell, just buy a new dell for like $600 USD and you're set for like 5 years for office use.
Yes, frightening, isn't it ? I had a shiver down my spine myself when I typed the (revised) estimation, which is 1479 € = 1885 $. Oh, and wait, I have not yet factored in the Acronis backup software, which might add anything from 0 € to 50 €, depending on rebates, etc.

So we're back to the old debate of "go buy a Dell". Hmmm. No offence meant, but I sometimes get the feeling that some über-gamers out there rather look down to us, boring Word users, telling us that we're not worthy of the elite world of custom-building.

But then, you're right. It does seem a huge waste to splurge 1 500 € on a not-so-powerful office computer, when Dell is taunting you with 500 € figures (and lower).

You need to consider, however, that custom-building is probably more expensive in France than it is in the United States. Even if you buy from one of those shady Chinese types in PC-street in the east of Paris, who might or might not be paying all of their taxes, the cost of doing business locally is higer.

Moreover, the projected build (even with my last changes) is not equivalent to a Dell. What are the major factors for increased cost ?

- Silence (special case, more expensive PSU, aftermarket CPU cooler, special fans, quiet disks). How noisy are Dells ? I dunno. I'm quite sure they cut corners compared to that build. This, of course, might be considered a luxury. Is the extra cost worth it ? Opinions may differ.

- Backup system (the Dells don't have it). This is vital.

- High-end monitor (you can buy it from Dell -- for a price, and they do not come cheap, especially over here). I guess this is more for comfort than out of absolute need. Again, is it worth it ?

Then you have the traditional drawbacks of going Dell : not really owning your copy of Windows, and being able to do what you damn please with it, because you never know what you'll get in guise of an OS (some locked-in and Dellified "restoration disk" ? some hidden partition on your hard drive, ready to evaporate ?) ; being severely limited in terms of upgradability (non-standard and expensive parts, and besides you won't even know beforehand what's upgradable and what's not) ; and basically not knowing what's inside your box.

I've never owned a Dell, mind you. This is from hearsay.

Picking exactly the parts that you want and knowing what's inside -- that's important. And finally, let's be honest, it's also a big boy's game. Building it yourself is fun (I mean -- I hope so. Never done it yet.). Is restoring an antique car reasonable ? Hell, no. Just go buy a second-hand Ford.

Did you shake my resolution ? Yes ! But then, suppose I buy a Dell. Then, I have to stick some external backup to it. That's an extra cost. Then, some nice monitor. That's another price bump. And how noisy will it be ? That's impossible to know. Nobody does reviews of Dells, and especially not for silence.
Have you thought about the possibility of an Online Backup. There may be some servics online or "Cloud" that can do an online backup.
Maybe I'll look into this some time in the future. However :

- You'll need to pay a monthly fee for any moderately serious amount of data (I think). That's not an option for me. Everybody tries to extract monthly fees out of you these days. That's what eats into your budget. I'm for one-off expenses.

- Call me paranoid, but I tend not to trust my confidential data to somebody unkown "out there".
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
- Call me paranoid, but I tend not to trust my confidential data to somebody unkown "out there".

Just as an FYI, the cloud backup services that I'm familiar (Mozy and Carbonite) with let you encrypt your data with your own private key before you send it.
 

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
Thank you for the advice on Mozy and Carbonite, mfenn. I'll research that some day. In the meantime, here is after all my new projected build, post-discussion :

Processor : Athlon II X4 635 : 97 €
I've given in to the core race. It's "only" 25 € more than an Ahtlon II X2, though.

Motherboard : Gigabyte 880 GA UD3H : 100 €
It might be a little tight in the PCI / PCI-E department, but that's 30 € less than the previously considered Asus. I'm a bit nervous about what upgrades will by available with what interfaces in a few years' time. I may be interested at some point in Wifi, TV, audio and (less likely) RAID cards. I'm also aware of some people saying it's foolish to plan for upgradability. Are there any reasons to prefer Asus in principle (reliability, BIOS, service...) ?

Memory : Crucial 4 GB (kit 2 x 2 GB) DDR3 PC3-10600 / 1333 CL 9 : 89 €
No ECC. I understand that 4GB makes a big difference compared to 2 GB. PC3-8500 / 1066 CL 7 is at the same price, any preferences ?

Main disk : WD Caviar Blue 500 GB 3.5" : 41 €
No RAID, finally. You've convinced me. I'll have permanent backup through Acronis software instead. I don't mind downtime, anyway. Downgraded from Caviar Black (10 € more, noisier). I'll probably need much less than 500 GB, but smaller disks are practically at the same price, so why not benefit from the added space, and (supposedly) increased speed. Caviar Blue is supposed to be "fast enough, silent enough".

Backup disks : 2 x WD Scorpio Blue 500 GB 2.5": 2 x 54 €
2.5", because the advantages in terms of silence and mobility justify the significant price difference with 3.5". 500 GB, because you said that the backup should be bigger than the main disk (considering that I will probably store much less than that on my main disk). Not more than 500 GB, because it's the sweet spot : prices increase dramatically afterwards. Again, Scorpio Blue is supposed to be a good speed / silence compromise.
Western Digital seems to have a good warrranty policy.

Rack for backup disks : Icy Dock IB 290 ST USD-B : 29 €
Goes inside the PC case. One disk enclosure is included.

Extra enclosures for backup disks : 2 x Icy Dock IB 290 ST US-B : 2 x 22 €
The 2.5" disks go inside, they are entirely protected. There's a USB port, so the backup disks can also be used to transfer data with other computers, even without the rack. Each enclosure comes with a leather pouch, and there's one extra, on standby for a third disk.

Optical disk : Sony Optiarc AD 7241 S 0B : 26 €
Recommended by Anand Tech. Lightscribe version.

Case : Antec Solo : 83 €
Recommended by Silent PC Review.

Power supply : Corsair VX 450 W : 69 €
Recommended by pretty everybody.

CPU heatsink : Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus : 23 €
Very good relative to price, according to Silent PC Review.

CPU fan : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
Replaces the fan included with the Cooler Master. Quieter. Nexus is Silent PC Review's pet fan. Difficult to find in France, but I've spotted an obscure German e-tailer on Amazon who will ship here.

Rear case fan : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan D 12 SL-12 : 13 €
Replaces the Antec Tri-Cool included with the Solo.

Front case fan : Nexus Real Silent Case Fan DF 1209 SL-3 : 11 €

Monitor : HP LP 2475 W 24" IPS 9/10 : 565 €
Or another one, if there are other suggestions.

Keyboard : To be determined : 25 €
Suggestions welcome.

Speakers : To be determined : 30 €
Suggestions welcome.

OS : Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bits OEM : 113 €

Total : 1 479 €

Pretty expensive, for sure. Apart from doing a Dell, what are the possibilities to cut the price significantly ?

- A cheaper case. Meaning noisier and possibly flimsy. I think not.

- A cheaper PSU. A Corsair 400 something or an Antec something (around the same wattage) might take 25 € off the bill. I suspect they might also add to the noise. Not so sure about that.

- An Athlon II X2 (- 25 €). Some of you advised against that.

- A mobo with an outdated but perfectly appropriate chipset. Now that might take 30 or 40 € off. It would also allow me to use DDR2 memory. Unfortunately, there's very little price difference between DDR2 and DDR3 in France, if any. This would significantly reduce upgradability, I think. Hmmm.

- A Gigabyte ATX mobo with an AMD 785 G. That's a current chipset. But it only takes off 16 €. Why bother and renounce USB 3.0 ?

- 2 GB of RAM instead of 4GB : 25 € less. But 4 GB are supposed to be really useful.

- Avoiding the backup system entirely. Nope.

- Replacing it with the same system, only external, through USB : 53 € saved on the rack system. Okay, it's a possibility. Its' less convenient and tidy, though.

- Using the stock cooler and stock fans : 60 € less. Wow. Would the aftermarket cooler and fans really make a noise difference on such an office computer ?

- Monitor : okay, I could use a TN panel and save, maybe, between 200 and 250 €.

- Keyboard and speakers : savings possible, but marginal.

Total possible savings : 228 € off the PC, 250 € off the monitor, 478 € in all.

This would mean a 1 001 € computer instead of a 1 479 € one. Any thoughts ?
 

Davidh373

Platinum Member
Jun 20, 2009
2,428
0
71
- A cheaper case. Meaning noisier and possibly flimsy. I think not.

The Antec Solo is good

Rack for backup disks : Icy Dock IB 290 ST USD-B : 29 €
Goes inside the PC case. One disk enclosure is included.

Your case fits 4 drives, there is no need for another drive cage.

Extra enclosures for backup disks : 2 x Icy Dock IB 290 ST US-B : 2 x 22 €
The 2.5" disks go inside, they are entirely protected. There's a USB port, so the backup disks can also be used to transfer data with other computers, even without the rack. Each enclosure comes with a leather pouch, and there's one extra, on standby for a third disk.

not sure why you need these. I was under the impression you were doing internal backup. If you are planning on external back up I would just get a My Passport from western digital unless you are getting an exceptional deal on the laptop drives. I don't know about around there but here it's about the same price for a pre-assembled external and it's pretty much the same.

Monitor : HP LP 2475 W 24" IPS 9/10 : 565 €
Or another one, if there are other suggestions.

This is where you will save the most, just get a regular monitor.

Other than that you're looking good. Any keyboard with good reviews is alright. I use an Apple slim keyboard myself, these are silent and comfortable, but are way over $25, but I just use a generic microsoft mouse I picked up at an office supply store.

For everything else I would recommend you stick with what you have. If the room the computer is in isn't air conditioned and where you are is anywhere near the summer climate Italy has then you'll need those fans if you want the computer to last. I would pay for the USB 3.0. 4GB Ram is pretty standard for Windows 7, anything less than 3 will be extremely slow and obnoxious.

If it were me I would cut this down to close to 900, It's an office build, not a performance build.
 
Last edited:

Clairvaux

Junior Member
Aug 15, 2010
8
0
0
Your case fits 4 drives, there is no need for another drive cage.
not sure why you need these. I was under the impression you were doing internal backup.
This Icy Box contraption I selected is a bit complicated to understand. It's not a drive cage, it's a rack for 2.5" removable disks, which fits into a 3.5" external bay. The best description of the concept is here (pdf).

So yes, I'm doing internal backup, but in order for it to really be a backup, I have to rotate 2 disks in and out of the PC, and have one stored in a bank safe to protect it from theft. Just doing external backups through USB would save me 53 € on the rack and assorted hardware, but I'd prefer to avoid the associated clutter.
If the room the computer is in isn't air conditioned and where you are is anywhere near the summer climate Italy has then you'll need those fans if you want the computer to last.
Yes, I guess the climate we have in France is not much different from Italy. We have a few weeks in summer with 30 to 40°C temperatures.
If it were me I would cut this down to close to 900, It's an office build, not a performance build.
Er... I'd love to, but how do you do it ? My simulation above does not get lower than 1000 €, and that's with dumping the IPS monitor (which you recommend), going with an outdated chipset (which is not readily proposed around here, I think), and cutting RAM to 2 GB (which you strongly advise against).

I have a feeling that you are talking dollars and parts bought on the US market. Although the euro is currently worth more on paper than the dollar (1 € = 1.27 $), the computer euro seems to be worth less than the computer dollar presently. In other terms, we need to fork out more euros in France for the same build than you need to pay in dollars at New Egg, for instance. At least that was my feeling when I compared a few prices recently on both sides of the pond.

Also, bear in mind that we don't have all those promotions, combo deals, mail rebates, etc, that you take for granted in the US and that are so useful to wriggle some more value out of a tight budget.

Want to have a laugh ? Do you know what sort of a rebate you get when buying online an open box motherboard, which has been returned by a previous customer, and which the vendor warns you is "second-hand", and might come without the normally included cables, accessories or manual ? A glorious five percent.

And that's advertised as a "good deal" on the website of LDLC, which is a major European e-tailer of computer parts, selling out of France, Belgium and Switzerland. Doesn't New Egg gives you a 50 % rebate on open-box products ?

We have higher prices and lower wages.