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"It started with a ~~kiss~~ storage upgrade, never thought it would come to this."

szjmryk

2 months ago

current build proposed build

Ahoy there!

I've been pulling apart hand-me-down machines and building "best of the parts bin" PC for a few years. So I have some hands-on experience, but my kit is pretty dated. Broadly speaking, I'm incrementally progressing towards a small/low power/quiet build (all 3 are equal priority).

The HDD seemed like an obvious and straightforward upgrade, so I did a little "best buy" research. Which is when I learned about NVMe and "went down the rabbit hole"... Sure an SSD is an improvement over a HDD but when the bottleneck is SATA itself, the upgrade becomes more of a "halfgrade".

But if I want NVMe, I'll need a new MoBo. And CPU. And cooler. And RAM. :0

Because of my low power ambitions, I'm sticking with the GTX1050Ti. And because of my low budget reality, I'll stick with my current PSU, at least in the short-term. And although I'll take the opportunity to move to mITX, I won't get a mITX case immediately.

Apart from that, everything is open to suggestions.

I've specced i5-6500, because I read somewhere that it's a good match for my GPU and reviews on here, say that (like my current i5-3570k) it's pretty much the best of that generation. One of the benefits of being such a long way behind the curve, is that hindsight is 20/20. ;)

And LGA1151 seems to coincide with the introduction of NVMe boards.

I'm not wedded to Intel though: as I'll need a new board, I'm quite happy to look at AMD, but I'm not so familiar with their line-up.

There are some ex-office i5-6500/16GB RAM machines on eBay at the moment: provided the price stays good, I plan on bagging one unless you think it's a terrible idea. Either way, I'd buy a 6500 second-hand.

I don't need built-in wifi, but the board I've picked is well reviewed and most importantly for me, has a second NVMe slot: as I don't already have a large data drive, the option to drop SATA storage altogether is very appealing.

TIA for your time and trouble!

Comments

  • 2 months ago
  • 4 points

Don't get hung up on SATA vs NVMe. Unless you are doing some serious large sequential transfers, you are unlikely to notice the difference. I can tell the difference in my own rig when I'm doing heavy-duty database work, but it's not a huge difference and for ordinary interactive stuff they are indistinguishable.

If you do go for the whole shite, I don't think I would start with a Skylake generation CPU. At least not bought new. Second-hand, maybe, although Skylake wasn't known for power efficiency which might be an issue for "low power" and "quiet". I'd maybe look for a Ryzen 1400 or 1600, used, one of the B450 motherboards, and whatever inexpensive cooler fits the case you have in mind. (Throw the stock Stealth cooler into the trash.)

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for getting back to me, I appreciate your time.

With NVMe, it's as much the form factor as performance that I like. Having said that, I now see NVMe as removing the handicap that SSD has in SATA form. It's just "right".

And prices are getting to the stage where I'm struggling to find a reason not to. Especially as storage is more transferable across builds, than a CPU for example, so it's money well spent IMHO.

Useful info on Skylake: thanks. I'll have a look at Ryzen 1400 & 1600. Either way the CPU will be second-hand, unless the price differential isn't there.

Thanks again!

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

You can get a NEW R5 1600 for $99 at Amazon as well.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

I've just had a browse and I'm pleasantly surprised.

Second-hand i5-6500 seem to go for around £80, whereas R5 1400/1600 can be had new for £100! Even a 2600 is only £115.

Curiously, second-hand R5 aren't a great deal cheaper.

That's just a quick trawl through eBay, so I should be able to improve on that with Black Friday/Cyber Monday coming.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

How about R3 1200?

I filtered for 65w AM4 and that's the cheapest right now: less than half the price of R5 2600, which covers a decent cooler.

A very quick search, suggests that it's at least on a par with my current i5 3570k, certainly not appreciably worse.

By moving to AM4, my upgrade opportunities are vast and there's no need to jump in feet first, from the off.

And like as not, second-hand Ryzen prices will get a bit more sensible: I'm seeing used chips (no cooler) for barely any less than (stable) new prices...

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

The 1200 is certainly an option. Used 1400's can be had for $70-ish and 1600's for $80+ but you do have to be patient. Anything else, it seems like you might as well buy new; I don't know who is buying used 2600's at $25 over new retail but they need their head examined.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! A little reassurance goes a long way...

I think being patient (and getting a proven CPU, rather than the cheapest) will pay dividends.

I suppose it's testament to the quality/value of the 1600, that it retails for only a little less than the 2600. But that's what appeals, more than absolute performance, and is why I got my current i5-3570k.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

I've updated the proposed parts list with an R5 2600 (not much more than a 1600 and a better stock cooler apparently).

The MoBo is the only suitable board with 2 NVMe: not a deal-breaker or maker, but it's well reviewed and not outrageously expensive. Big savings in the sales might change my mind though.

In terms of £/GB, 2x8GB RAM is significantly better value than 2x4GB even though I don't need it (yet). I just went by the best value rather than performance, as my understanding is that the faster speeds don't have a huge impact on overall performance.

I've also changed the storage: Sabrent gets the thumbs-up from AnandTech and the £/GB is a little better than my last choice.

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Looks fair enough to me. You always pay a bit of a premium for small form factor stuff, of course.

I rather suspect you'll end up replacing the stock CPU cooler, but there's no harm in building with stock to see how it goes. CPU coolers are generally simple enough to change out.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for giving it another look.

I think I confused myself when comparing the 2600 and 2600x: x having the better cooler (but I ruled it out due to the TDP). Until I've decided on a mITX case, I don't want to commit to an after-market cooler, but temps should be fine in my current ATX case for now.

I've now found half a dozen, dual-M2 boards and set-up price alerts for the sales, but Asus remains my preference. And I'll review the RAM, as it seems AMD chips are more influenced by speed than Intel are.

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Yeah, I missed the RAM speed. 3000 or 3200 is where you want to be, CL15 or 16. You'll probably end up with 3000CL16 which is fine, 3200CL16 if it's just a few dollars more.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

That's saved me some trawling, thanks.

It turns out that the RAM I originally specced (purely on the basis of cost), is actually a good choice for me, now I've increased the speed (Corsair Vengance LPX).

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

After much stirring of the mental pot, I've come to a decision on storage (which is how this whole thing started), which also means I've more or less decided on a MoBo.

I've settled on a single 2TB M.2. I was still rooted in the old OS drive/data drive mindset, from when it was a "fast & expensive SSD" vs "slow & cheap HDD" world.

And I've also satisfied myself that QLC would be fine for me. The bigger the drive, the more attractive QLC becomes (eg bigger SLC cache and stronger $/GB), so I've specced 2TB.

However, as if to demonstrate one of QLC main problems (that it isn't yet cheap enough compared to TLC), a 2TB Adata drive is less than £1 more expensive.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

The one advantage I like with one OS drive and another Data drive is it makes it very simple for me to reinstall windows if I need. Simply do a 5 minute check just in case for leftover data or desktop items, then format the drive and start re-installing the OS and programs.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Very true! And in an ideal world, I would keep things that way.

But with this being a SFF build, I want to keep it M.2 only. Even a 250GB OS drive would be wasted considering I'm on Linux and don't use more than half a dozen programs outside what's bundled with it. Added to which, the performance and economy of SSD decline with smaller drives.

Plus, if I did want two M.2 slots, I'd either have to choose the board with the worst VRM or the most expensive board!

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

There are only four B450/mITX boards, but I'd still been struggling to separate them and was perilously close to buying on price alone! The horror.

But once I'd learned about VRM and then realised that one of the great things about AM4 was the upgrade path, it became a lot easier for me.

One thing I kept coming across in reviews, was the weakness of Gigabyte's mITX VRM: fine for the 2600 I will get now, but a bit suspect for third gen. They seems designed more with APU in mind.

On the other hand, MSI seem to be acknowledged as having the best VRM. And regardless of upgrade considerations, I'll be having this board for a while, so reliability and longevity are priorities. It also has "BIOS flashback" (ooh), so when I do upgrade to Ryzen 3, it should be pretty painless.

I ruled out the Asus board as it's the most expensive, without being exceptional in any area.

The ASRock board has more bells & whistles than MSI, although none of them is a dealbreaker for me (outstanding audio, type C USB and two case fan headers), so the price will have to drop a lot to swing me away from MSI.

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