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My regular PC, which I built and have re-built along the last 10 years, is ageing and giving signs of a soon-to-happen crash. Not sure if it's the SCSI Adaptec board, one of the SCSI discs, one of the USB ports in the mobo, even the AGP card... whatever, it freezes, refuses to reboot and I'm afraid that while I've managed to get it booting, it won't in a few days.

With this computer I have a 21" CRT Philips monitor which besides being a behemoth filling most of my desk, works great and offers excellent image quality. I'd feel kind of guilty getting rid of it, so any solution which allows to keep it has some bonus points.

Options I'm considering keeping budget under 2500 euros:

- Jumping into 21st century, getting rid of the CRT and getting an iMac: i5, 8Gb 2Tb (I know about SSD but that forces a budget override) This has the bad part of having to stop using nice programs like CueTools, or using them in virtual mode. Problem with external HDD which are NTFS and OSX isn't fully compatible, or if it is, you may pay a reliability price. I'd need to get used to OSX, which is something I more or less can do for the MBP experience, but kind of hate not being able to "fine tune" as in Windows. I'd probably need a new DAC or anything to get decent sound from it.

- Buying a new mobo, processor, memory chips, graphics card, couple of HDD... I'd just keep the Soundcard and optical drives to build a new computer into the old Coolermaster box. It's possible I can use the PSU too. This would allow installing W7 which finally is a decent OS probably offering better performance than XP. Also would allow keeping the CRT. With the money I'd save compared to the iMac cost, I could set up a RAID thing or even getting a Drobo.

- Not buying a damn new thing, just a USB duplicator bay so I can plug the external devices into the MBP, and a mini-display port to VGA adapter, so I might use the MBP with the CRT. Perhaps a side step until making a final decision. Fact is that I don'r really need much more than the MBP performance nowadays. Even a Mac-mini would do.

What would you do? Lateral thought suggestions? I'm afraid I don't have much time before this thing crashes forever.

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CueTools has a nicer interface when it comes to choose the tags which best fit the disc. I use it a lot to split flac/ape + cue sets then converting into ALAC for iPod/MBP use. Other than that, it runs about 3x faster in the MBP than cue tools in the about-to-die PC. Not sure there's Audition for Mac... it's been many many years using MS-DOS and Windows computers and its software to just move away from that into OSX full time. When uninstalling software on Mac I'm still not sure I've done it right hahaha :palm:

I had considered the Mac mini option too, but I'd need the mini-display to VGA adapter and an external DAC to get decent sound quality from it, about the same requirements and performance as the MBP. There's not much advantage from getting the mini other than the extra USB ports and a tad bigger HDD compared to the MBP.

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Depending on how old the PSU is you probably can't use it with a modern motherboard or pci-e graphics card that requires additional power. Also regarding the optical drives, be careful what motherboard you go with as many don't have any IDE ports anymore and the ones that do usually just have one.

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I considered that point too, I'm not sure if it's 2 or 3 years old. I changed it for the previous one dying the usual death of a computer PSU and it's about 800w, but I'm not sure it has any extra connections. I'm not sure Dual and Quad core mobos have different electrical connections from the ones required for the P4 865PE based ones.

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Your PSU seems good to go, at most you'll need an adapter. You might want to pick up a new optical drive sooner or later. It is true that IDE is defunct now, but there are plenty of cheap IDE to SATA adaptors if needed. You could build a pc to meet your needs with the spare parts for less then a MBP I think and have the ability to keep it running past a warranty on the cheap.

Edited by manaox2
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Me, I'd go with the rebuild option, bullet two. That is, if I were you, I.E. not lazy.

2-fer. I'm almost there myself, budling my last machine in 2004 for the release of HL2.......!

It soulds like you are enjoying your windows-only software, so I'd vote for a rebuild. Rebuilding will give you the new speed you need plus updates your hardware so that it doesn't crash at an inopportune moment. No, it wont help if you have a wonky OS, but do try W7. I hear it's durn stable.

As for your monitor, I dumped my 17" CRT for a 24" LCD and have been more than pleased. You'll save on daily radiation doses and your power bill will likely be better as well.

One last thing: getting new hardware with an old PS: watch out. New hardware might have higher power requirements and it might be enough to push your old one over the edge.

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:D Thanks for the suggestions guys. I think the element causing the trouble is either the SCSI card or the SCSI HDD, a 15000rpm Cheetah where I placed the virtual memory. It could even be the wire. Once the disk is disabled the system runs smoothly. I think I'll have to move away from SCSI, despite I love my Plextor CD-ROM drive, and loved that damn fast disk. Thanks for the kind offer dsavitsk.

There's an online retailer that has a configuration engine. I've configured this machine:

- Asus P6X58D-E motherboard. It has a couple of PCI slots, so I could use my current soundcard. The mobo has RAID, USB3.0, FW, sound and fast LAN.

- Intel i7 960 processor.

- Corsair 120Gb SSD 285/275 MB/s

- 16Gb of Kingston ValueRAM DIMM 4 GB DDR3-1066 (looks like I must get 1066 instead of 1330 or 1600 for the CPU speed).

- 4x 2TB HDD WD 7200rpm for a Raid 1 configuration.

- Asus ATI Radeon HD 5670, 1024 MB, 128 bits, PCIe 2.0 x16 It has VGA output so I can plug my CRT B)

- Plextor serial ATA DVD-R/RW drive.

- Coolermaster PSU 850w Ultra silent. Thermaltake box (if you don't get a box and PSU they won't mount and configure the machine).

All this plus a fancy PCU cooler, W7 Professional 64bits, configured and sent to my place, costs me about 500 euros less than a i5 2Tb 4Gb RAM iMac :unsure: By getting this I could keep the CRT, using the soundcard, and would be pretty ready for future upgrades in memory, SSD or eventually a graphics card if the CRT dies at some point, which I don't think will happen any time soon. The beast is 13 years old and works well. I also could make a decently usable PC from the "old" one, for someone in the family, charity... whatever.

Any changes, improvements or downgrades to that PC configuration?

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More Ram? I kid. But the radeon 6000 series should give you better picture quality I believe. Also, I use mushkin redline 1600 in my i7 and have put the cpu at a fair low overclock to match. Improvements all around.

Edited by manaox2
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4x 4Gb modules, it is 16Gb isn't enough? :blink: Well, it's not very expensive and the mobo has 6 slots so I could add other 8Gb for 24Gb total. How much does W7 require? Wife's laptop is using W7 32 bits with 3Gb RAM and I wouldn't say it's a slow machine. Oh, after posting I've seen you edited hahahaha.

Jacob, what CPU then? I'm kind of an Intel guy, I've been using their CPU's for almost 20 years now :unsure: Nothing against AMD, other than urban legends of more heating and less reliability. Nowadays I'm not as knowledgeable about computers as I used to. For the price I thought the 960 i7 is now in the midrange.

Edited by Torpedo
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LOLz nope, but I may need to calculate flow and mean fundamental frequency fluctuations after inverse filtering on supracricoid laryngectomized patients :P Not really, toughest work I'll do with this machine is watching HD videos in damn Adobe flash, which seems to consume a lot of resources. Now that I've got the internet connection largely upgraded, the limiting factor seems to be the computer :angry: Also some audio and video transcoding. Eventually a little gaming if the thing is fast enough. I quit PC gaming a few years ago.

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4x 4Gb modules, it is 16Gb isn't enough?
well, it depends. are you modeling the theoretical hydrodynamics of a subterranean sea on Titan?
Or running your own cloud?

I, actually, am, albeit at work. So I am seriously considering hex core for my next machine, so I can do similarly at home.

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6 gb is plenty for me and one gb of that is used for a ram disk for temporary files reducing read write cycles on the ssd. I have never found a legitimate use for more then two cores yet honestly. I wouldn't go above an i7 930 either way, no point with simple overclocking.

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that depends on the use, some people(myself) have seen an advantage when using quad core with photoshop, VMs(cpu and memory helps a lot with this), and After Effects. I mention these because they are the ones I have experience with, that doesn't mean there's others.

I agree with the cpu, the build seems over the top, especially the power supply, also isn't intel coming out with a new architecture soon?

Another thing, what corsair drive and what WD drive are you planning on getting?

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I'd go with either a mac mini or imac, personally. You've already made the mac jump with the MBP, may as well go all the way. As to mac not being as "fine tunable" as windows, I'll just say I think mac's at least as tuneable, it just doesn't require as much work to keep stable.

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HDD is Western Digital WD2001FASS 2 TB (Caviar Black, MAESTRO) it's a 7200rpm drive, not of the green line, so it doesn't idle that easily which should produce no issues on a RAID configuration.

SSD is a Corsair Force F120 2,5" SSD 120 GB SATA 300, CSSD-F120GB2-BRKT. Speeds are 285 MB/s (read) and 270 MB/s (write). I know next to nothing about SSD, so other suggestions are very welcome.

the i7 960 is 289 euros. The i7930 is 239. So the price difference isn't huge compared to the savings from getting this machine instead of an iMac.

I could get a better GPU, but those don't come with a direct VGA output so to increased price, I'd need to add some adapter to plug the CRT. I'm a bit scared of top of the line GPUs. In my gamer days I toasted about 3 higher end Nvidias and 1 ATI in a couple of years :palm: with 0 overclocking involved I must say.

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I already made the move you are considering. I went from Cheetahs to an Intel SSD. A heck of a lot faster, quiet, cool, easy to set up. I already do a weekly backup, so I just added a weekly drive diagnostic, smart check etc to the routine. Also, I moved away from the Plextor's years ago. They were surpassed long ago for ripping; which is about 90% of what I use my drives for. I also have the ASUS P6X58D Premium. Solid board, but EOL at Asus. I had to do some digging outside ASUS to get the latest USB 3.0 drivers, for example.

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If you have the money get a Vertex 3 or one of the new gen Intel ones, or the new Sandforce based ones(like the vertex 3). I actually have a corsair F60GB, but I only use it for my NAS, so far it has not given me any problems. Why do you need RAID? I also still think the i7 is a bit too much for what you're planning.

I don't see how you can solve your VGA problem though, unless you just use an adaptor, but if you can save money elsewhere there are great LCD monitors that you can get.

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if you aren't a hard core gamer demanding 95 frames per millisecond in Crysis 6: Return Of The Silly Aliens, there wouldn't be any reason to get a high end card.

Yep, that's my guess. Just replying manaox who suggested an Ati 6000 series. I'm not a hardcore gamer. Far from it.

I feel like a silly newbie asking about HD600 or 701 :palm: It kind of pisses me that a 2500 euros iMac, which is about what I need but for HDD capacity and some software applications missing, compared to a 2000 euros PC seems a turtle vs a rabbit. Slower CPU, way less RAM, just 2TB without RAID, no SSD... It doesn't seem a clever, practical decision under a strict performance POW :unsure:

Now I'm on-call so I not even know if the PC is still working. We'll see tomorrow.

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if it makes you feel any good I still have a 4890, the only games I've not been able to play in max details are Metro 2033, Crysis 2, and another one which I don't recall right now... If this is your work computer, you have to focus on what you will use it for and not what reviews/benchmarks or opinions tell you.

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The VGA thing is because I'd like to keep my CRT. I like its image better than any LCD I've seen. It's also a working device which I feel is shaming to just throw away. Nobody would like a big CRT monitor nowadays :( However I could live with the iMac display B)

The RAID 1 is just to have an automatic real time backup of everything I rip, download or produce. I hate having to make backups frequently. I'll look at those SSD options. Some of the parts I chose is just for availability, the online store has them on stock or with a 3 day delay max. Fancier stuff might delay the whole thing a couple of weeks.

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The VGA thing is because I'd like to keep my CRT. I like its image better than any LCD I've seen. It's also a working device which I feel is shaming to just throw away. Nobody would like a big CRT monitor nowadays :( However I could live with the iMac display B)

The RAID 1 is just to have an automatic real time backup of everything I rip, download or produce. I hate having to make backups frequently. I'll look at those SSD options. Some of the parts I chose is just for availability, the online store has them on stock or with a 3 day delay max. Fancier stuff might delay the whole thing a couple of weeks.

RAID isn't a backup. Windows 7 has a reasonable automatic backup system. the iMac would have Time Machine, which is awesome.

I second what Edipis said, you should really research what you want. Also which CRT monitor do you have? I understand the fact that you don't want to throw something away, but it should not matter. Another thing what exactly do you see about the imac display? Here's a link that might give you some more information; http://www.pchardwarehelp.com/guides/s-ips-lcd-list.php

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