need advice for gaming/server hybrid build

auron

Junior Member
Jun 7, 2008
1
0
0
Hello everyone -

First time poster, long time lurker. I am trying to gather some thoughts and suggestions on a machine I am getting ready to purchase. I am a freelance computer programmer by day and a casual gamer by night. Sadly, the last time I built my own system was 4 years ago and am sorely in need of some technical expertise. Thank you to everyone to reads/provides input on this thread.

I've copied and pasted the sticky on requesting for help :

1. What YOUR PC will be used for. That means what types of tasks you'll be performing.

While most of my computer programming is done on a thinkpad, I need to host some test applications on this machine. I need it to run a webserver (Java Glassfish) and a database (PostgreSQL). However, I believe that gaming rigs should sufficiently cover this, as these apps do not require a ton of processing power. For gaming, I want a machine capable of running Age of Conan, Mass Effect, and future games like StarCraft2. I would also like to run a ventrillo server.

I want this machine to hold backups, so some kind of data recovery protection (perhaps RAID?) would be nice, in case a hard drive fails. (Or, is there some sort of external device that you can use to schedule nightly backups onto?)

Finally, it would be nice to include the possibility of hooking up multiple monitors to the machine. Right now I have 1 LCD monitor, but I plan to purchase another one down the road.

2. What YOUR budget is. A price range is acceptable as long as it's not more than a 20% spread

My budget is 800-1000. I do not need a monitor.

3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from.

USA

4. IF YOU have a brand preference. That means, are you an Intel-Fanboy, AMD-Fanboy, ATI-Fanboy, nVidia-Fanboy, Seagate-Fanboy, WD-Fanboy, etc, etc, etc, you get the picture.

I will be running Vista Home Premium, so any brands that work ideally with it and games would be fine.

5. If YOU intend on using any of YOUR current parts, and if so, what those parts are.

Monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, DVD drive (if I can use it, it is IDE)

6. IF YOU have searched and/or read similar threads.

I've read the "ideal system builds" thread. Great info in there, however one thing that I wanted to know more about was if RAID or other data protection strategies were an option, and how those requirements affect the gaming requirements.

7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.

I've never overclocked but would be open to it provided the machine can stay stable. I would like to run this machine 24/7 because of the test server/database requirements.

8. WHEN do you plan to build it?

I have about a month. I read that some new GPUs were coming out soon, and can wait for those if needed.

Thank you very much!!
 

nsafreak

Diamond Member
Oct 16, 2001
7,093
3
81
My main problem with this is the idea of running a server and a workstation in the same system. Can modern PCs handle it? Sure, but some of the games you're looking to run are quite demanding and take a good bit of system resources to run. If they're being used by other programs the game isn't going to run quite as smoothly. Namely the one I can think of as possibly interrupting the flow is the PostgreSQL server. SQL servers, while not too CPU intensive, can be quite disk and RAM intensive. My recommendation would be to save up enough so that you can get a pair of systems or use an old desktop for the server. If you aren't going to be running a live enviroment for the server then you can get away with very minimal specs. Here are my recommended builds:

Workstation:

CPU: Intel C2D E8500
RAM: 4GB of Kingston HyperX PC2 8500
Motherboard: Asus Maximus Formula
HDD: Western Digital 36GB 10K RPM SATA Raptor (boot/OS drive), Western Digital Caviar 500GB SATA HDD x 3 (RAID 5 Array)
Video: EVGA GeForce 8800GT 512MB
Case: Your choice, everybody's taste is different on this one

 

DSF

Diamond Member
Oct 6, 2007
4,902
0
71
Originally posted by: nsafreak
Workstation:

CPU: Intel C2D E8500
RAM: 4GB of Kingston HyperX PC2 8500
Motherboard: Asus Maximus Formula
HDD: Western Digital 36GB 10K RPM SATA Raptor (boot/OS drive), Western Digital Caviar 500GB SATA HDD x 3 (RAID 5 Array)
Video: EVGA GeForce 8800GT 512MB
Case: Your choice, everybody's taste is different on this one

Have to disagree on several things here.

First, the 166 MHz speed increase of the E8500 over the E8400 isn't worth the $80-100 price difference. Stick with the E8400.

Second, save yourself some money on the RAM. DDR2-1066 is overpriced and offers no real benefit over slightly slower RAM. If your overclocking goals are modest DDR2-800 is fine, and if you want to push things a little farther DDR2-1000 has plenty of headroom.

Third, there's no need to spend that much on a motherboard. A solid P35-based board will do everything you need.

Lastly, older generation Raptors don't have the speed advantage they used to over current 7200RPM designs. I would go with some large, fast drives like WD's 640GB Caviar or something similar. Incidentally, the real point of RAID is to reduce downtime in the event of a single-drive failure, not to act as a comprehensive backup solution. A power surge, flood or other event can still destroy every drive in the array. The best backup is one that can be stored separately from the actual computer.
 

nsafreak

Diamond Member
Oct 16, 2001
7,093
3
81
Originally posted by: DSF
Originally posted by: nsafreak
Workstation:

CPU: Intel C2D E8500
RAM: 4GB of Kingston HyperX PC2 8500
Motherboard: Asus Maximus Formula
HDD: Western Digital 36GB 10K RPM SATA Raptor (boot/OS drive), Western Digital Caviar 500GB SATA HDD x 3 (RAID 5 Array)
Video: EVGA GeForce 8800GT 512MB
Case: Your choice, everybody's taste is different on this one

Have to disagree on several things here.

First, the 166 MHz speed increase of the E8500 over the E8400 isn't worth the $80-100 price difference. Stick with the E8400.

Second, save yourself some money on the RAM. DDR2-1066 is overpriced and offers no real benefit over slightly slower RAM. If your overclocking goals are modest DDR2-800 is fine, and if you want to push things a little farther DDR2-1000 has plenty of headroom.

Third, there's no need to spend that much on a motherboard. A solid P35-based board will do everything you need.

Lastly, older generation Raptors don't have the speed advantage they used to over current 7200RPM designs. I would go with some large, fast drives like WD's 640GB Caviar or something similar. Incidentally, the real point of RAID is to reduce downtime in the event of a single-drive failure, not to act as a comprehensive backup solution. A power surge, flood or other event can still destroy every drive in the array. The best backup is one that can be stored separately from the actual computer.

Well I'll agree with you on the CPU, not worth the difference now that I look at it again. The RAM really isn't that costly at all though even for PC-1066, runs all of $120 on newegg and I'm sure it can be found for less. But I suppose if you want so save a few $$ then it wouldn't be a bad idea to go with PC2-800.

Insofar as the motherboard goes, I tend to shy away from the uber cheap boards. The Maximus isn't too terribly expensive, is quite capable and is fairly future proof. I've had some bad experiences with cheap boards but hey that's just me possibly.

I'm quite aware that RAID isn't truly meant as a backup solution but you're also forgetting one of the secondary aspects of a RAID array. With a good RAID controller RAID 5 (with data striping) will prevent data loss in case of drive failure and it will also speed up access times because of the way the data is distributed.

My additional 2 cents.

 

DSF

Diamond Member
Oct 6, 2007
4,902
0
71
Originally posted by: nsafreak
Well I'll agree with you on the CPU, not worth the difference now that I look at it again. The RAM really isn't that costly at all though even for PC-1066, runs all of $120 on newegg and I'm sure it can be found for less. But I suppose if you want so save a few $$ then it wouldn't be a bad idea to go with PC2-800.
Good DDR2-800 shouldn't cost more than $90, and good DDR2-1000 can be found for $90 or less. Saving 30-40 dollars is worth it in my opinion.

Originally posted by: nsafreak
Insofar as the motherboard goes, I tend to shy away from the uber cheap boards. The Maximus isn't too terribly expensive, is quite capable and is fairly future proof. I've had some bad experiences with cheap boards but hey that's just me possibly.
P35 boards aren't "uber cheap" the way an ECS or Asrock motherboard is. It's a quality, well-supported chipset and there are plenty of boards available from reliable manufacturers like Gigabyte and ASUS. Most of the expense of the Maximus Formula has nothing to do with build quality, it's a matter of extra features the OP won't use.

Originally posted by: nsafreak
I'm quite aware that RAID isn't truly meant as a backup solution but you're also forgetting one of the secondary aspects of a RAID array. With a good RAID controller RAID 5 (with data striping) will prevent data loss in case of drive failure and it will also speed up access times because of the way the data is distributed.

My additional 2 cents.
I was more informing the OP about RAID, not so much you. I'm not saying RAID is a bad idea, just that it shouldn't be his only form of backup.