Rebuilding my main computer

A couple of years ago I built myself a six core AMD computer using a Thuban 1055 cpu. This setup has worked very well for me, but I decided its time to upgrade a bit.

I’m selling my backup computer (Core2 Quad Q9550), and if the sale goes through today, I’ll recoup a bit more than half of what I spent on the new stuff. :bigsmile: By the way, DDR2 memory has gotten expensive in comparison to DDR3. I’m keeping a couple of sticks to put into my sister’s old Core 2 machine.

I’ve already ordered the new gear from Newegg and here are the two main components:

  1. Asrock Z77 Pro4 motherboard

  2. Intel i5-3570K processor

I’ve already got memory, case, drives, etc. and the order should be here on Monday.

Most of my builds in recent times have been with Gigabyte motherboards, but I couldn’t find a budget board with the features I wanted in that brand. So, this will be my first using an Asrock motherboard. This board has 8 SATA ports, and I know I’ll be using six of them to start with.

My question in this thread centers on video. I have an old ATI HD4850 512mb video card that I can use in either my new build or in the six core Thuban. Both machines can use onboard video. Will the built-in HD 4000 graphics in the Intel machine match up equally to my old video card or not?

Kerry, I’m about 200% positive that your new build’s Built-In Video will be superior to the Radeon 4000 series. Most of the Intel Video Critics had to dig back to find old games that weren’t good on New Intel HD stuff, but I think those were Orig Versions of New Improved Games.

Fortunately, you can spend the time with the new rig and try the old card later. I’m sure the Radeon 4000 card was some improvement over the Gig’s built-in video of that era, so I’d leave it there.

I have seen some folks question even the $75 video cards’ performances vs these Intel Z77s (I think you have an i4000 in that CPU? I don’t recall off the top of my head - 3500 or 4000, I think).

If you want to have real fun, pull out some old HDDs and use one for Win8, then build a Ubuntu DVD and load that on a second old-HDD… fun fun fun!

The only thing I can’t approve of regarding the HD 4000 graphics built into these Ivy Bridge processors is that the compatible motherboards are not equipped with Dual-Link DVI. They have only DVI, Single-Link DVI, and/or HDMI. It’s a great pity since a 27-inch monitor with only a Dual-Link DVI connector costs about one tenth of an equivalent monitor with a Thunderbolt connector. A Dual-Link cable also costs one tenth of a Thunderbolt cable. Even the graphic card I had in 2007 had two Dual-Link connectors.

Intel HD4000 will be about equal to a Radeon HD4850 in OpenGL. There may be some games that achieve higher frame rates with the Radeon.

Intel HD4000 is great for desktop applications, graphics, and video playback, including 1080p HD video. It also has x.264 hardware accelerated encoding and decoding of all the major video formats including x.264.

Good choice of motherboard as well, Asrock offers good features and a good price, and they tend to overclock quite well.

Thanks for the replies. I think I’ll start with the onboard video in the new computer and see if it works with everything I do.

HD4000 is DX11… that 4850 is DX10, so that should put an end to the idea… the video cards over 4 years also are landfill (don’t even THINK you’re gonna game on it and try to brag, lol)

Save your money, use the internal HD4000 until nvidia and amd get their act together… there is NO rush unless you want to do alot of HD video encoding (upscale encoding at high bitrates… the downscale stuff works fine on HD4000)

IIRc, the HD4000 is about equal to the AMD 65xx and lower 7xxx HD radeons… (right now about $49 - $79 cards). So, upgrading is rediculous since new cards are coming out soon for both and that means price cuts…

The lower spec cards are hand-me-downs (for low spec machines) or resell fodder…

Its interesting the difference in replies. I posed the same question at Anandtech, and there was universal disdain for the Intel HD 4000 graphics in comparison to my old HD 4850.

I’ve put the computer together and have a few thoughts to share about the Asrock motherboard. The first thing that has to be said is that the installation manual that comes with the Z77 Pro 4 motherboard is probably the worst I’ve seen in the last ten years of building computers. There simply isn’t a good point to be found in it, from the poor English, to the cheaply done illustrations, to the miniscule text on the diagram of the motherboard…this manual reeks.

Asrock does include a separate manual for the UEFI setup. And this one is reasonably good. Close to what I’ve seen in the past for Gigabyte and Asus.

The layout of the board is puzzling. It seems like a series of bad decisions that eventually forced them into some impossible-to-fix designs. The 8 pin ATX 12v connector is right at the top edge of the motherboard. This interferes with the top mounted fan in my case, and the only way to fit the cable in was to remove the fan, then finagle it back into position. Also, this top position is extremely inconvenient for a bottom mounted psu. My ATX 12v cable is not long enough to route behind the motherboard mounting plate and reach this connector. So it has to go on top of everything.

The fan headers are poorly positioned. Neither my front fan, nor the back one would reach them, so I had to connect them to molex connectors from the psu. In part this is due to the small size of the motherboard. Normal, full sized ATX boards are 305 x 244mm. This one is 305 x 201mm. Its listed as a full sized board at Newegg, but I’m not sure what form factor it really fits. Its bigger than a microATX.

The SATA ports stick straight up from the motherboard. I’ve no real objection, other than I’ve just gotten used to the 90 degree placement. But distinguishing the 3gb from the 6gb ports was an exercise in frustration. The illustration of the ports in the manual was useless, until you figured out what the heck they were trying to say in hindsight. The 3gb ports are black, the 6gb ports are a shade of blue that is nearly indistinguishable from the black ones…at least until you study them for 10 minutes or so.

The pins for the start and restart switches were positioned very, very tightly. I didn’t think I’d get both connected for a while there.

Edit: I nearly forgot about the memory slots. They tell you, if you are only using two chips, that you should put one in a slot for one channel, and another for the second channel. This is normal, and seen on most modern motherboards. What they don’t tell you in the manual, is which slots are which. I had to examine the tiny, tiny markings on the motherboard diagram to find that information. On my last Gigabyte board, running dual channel memory with two chips meant putting them in the #1 and # 2 slots (or #3 and #4). This Asrock board uses the other configuration, which means you use alternating slots…#1 and #3 preferably when using two memory chips.

As you might have guessed, I’m not overly impressed with the setup of this board. To be fair, it has been running without issues, but the first time I had it in the case, it wouldn’t boot up. I had to tear it down and run it outside the case, reinstalling one component at a time. Never did find out the problem with it not booting, but it runs now in the case ok.

I have to agree on the Asrock manuals, they are certainly not the best. :slight_smile:
Regarding HD4000. Different strokes for different folks. Hardened gamers will not like HD4000, whereas folks who use their PC for more serious applications such as video editing will more than likely have a different view.

Kerry, I think the argument you mentioned about “Half for, half against” certain video-choices will continue, even if you selected today’s hottest, greatest cards. There seems to always be a Bandwagon Camp and a Stench-Of-The-Herd Opposition Group.

When I used to buy computer books (retail stores and our paperless generation, creating miles of computer-book aisles!), I learned to not shop without at least one specific question in mind - “How do I change ____?” If the books didn’t even mention those keywords, then I realized I’d never learn too much from it.

I wonder if you’ve got specific games that you enjoyed playing with the old video-card, and now if those fail with the new on-board graphics? That’s probably going to be the only worthwhile test you can employ.

I’d still vote “Leave old video card with old MB” because it’s a definite upgrade there, yes?

I remain shocked that most supplied HELP for computers remains far below my hopes, much less expectations.

In the BIOS, I’ve never understood why all those ENABLE - DISABLE choices don’t offer a few comments about implications. “Enable this and you’ll get this service - Disable it, and here’s the consequences.” The System Engineers know exactly these factors - why aren’t these supplied in BIOS help, on-screen? No idea. After more than two decades, I’d have thought this could have improved, wholesale.

And if the complaints have been “BIOS Help would become too large!” then why not extensive discussions in the printed books?

The Help Text Industry deserves its ubiquitious “crummy” rating.

I’ve found another nitpick with this motherboard. I decided to connect the front headphone jack so that I can use it with onboard sound when playing from a couple of my programs. (they don’t like my usb dac/amp for my headphones).

So I find the [B]front[/B] audio cable and look up where the [B]front[/B] audio header is on the board. They couldn’t have possibly found a more difficult spot to reach…on the bottom at the very [B]back[/B] edge of the motherboard. Good thing Silverstone anticipated this insanity and gave me a cable that just barely reaches that far.

This board better run like a scalded ape from now on out, cause its layout is quite poor and hasn’t impressed me in the slightest so far.

Kerry, that “nitpick” won’t be limited to this one MB. Most MBs locate the front audio connector at the back of the motherboard, near the Back I/O panel.

Some engineers have claimed this location was “closer to sensitive audio chip so the trace interference signals were lessened” although I’d wonder about the signal degradation because of the vast across-the-galaxy distance that the cables to the FRONT of the case would endure. Ah well…

And still, if the interference signals within the PCB were so vast and disruptive to Lucas’ THX standards, it’s a wonder all MBs don’t explode in petrol-based mushroom clouds or something. Awww, the dewicate widdle things-!

Most of the boards I’ve worked with have the audio header pins towards the back, but not all the way to the back edge. They’ve also been near the I/O ports as you state Christine. This one is in the bottom left corner of the motherboard, on the very back edge of the motherboard. There is no rhyme or reason to its placement.

Do you too operate in a world where you [I]KNOW[/I] you could design far better motherboards AND cases?

Oh most certainly! :bigsmile: I’m a great armchair quarterback you know.

The easiest way is to study what has worked in the past for basic motherboard design…the structure of the layout shouldn’t be that hard to work out, and yet we see boards with awkward positioning of ports, pins and connectors still.

The last four Gigabyte boards I’ve used have been good to outstanding in this regard, so if the competition can do it, Asrock should have been able to also.

Let’s face it. Asrock had to save money somewhere to sell you that board at a low price. Whether it was using less copper with thinner/shorter circuit paths, or their CEO’s questionable decision to keep his uncle in charge of board design even after they found him wandering around the office naked after hours, its hard to say :bigsmile:.

As I’m using the same machine you have been for video encoding, anxious to hear your take on how the new machine stacks up.

I’m sure we’re all delighted to see ASRock continue to honor our Kerry56 by offering up another top-end board with the Kerry56 Memorial HD-Audio Plug.

Located in the corner for his honor, no doubt.

This time, it’s their X79 Extreme-11 board - plummeting under that magical $600.00 price barrier, too! (Go ahead, zoom in on that corner - I’m almost sure Version 2 will have “Kerry56” printed there instead.)

I’m delighted to see someone delivering the joys of SATA6 RAID, by the way - alas, it’s still not Intel. But at least on this board, we can do a single RAID10 on six SATA3 ports, and then load up Intel’s choice of the slowest-possible SATA2 ports with 4 SSDs.

Does this come in Celeron?

Wow, Christine has some real pull with these Asrock folks. Say it and it appears! :bow:

$600 is a bit out of my range for a motherboard though. Think you could swing an 80% price cut? :smiley: :flower:

Kerry, actually, maybe there are deals in the works now. I understand our RAID group has snagged 4 of them for tests, and these are not price prohibitive to one segment of our productive customer-base.

I was glad to see the notes that this board wasn’t focused on the do-nothing gamer set, but I still can’t quite figure out what kind of CAD engineers would want a dozen HDD/SSDs in a box loaded with 3-4 FirePro’s.

I have a feeling this was a “We did it because we COULD do it” kind of achievement and, in practice, it becomes a Do’er Of Everything/Master of Nothing. At a fairly steep cost for mere bragging rights, therefore.

I tried out the Intel Quick Sync encoder using MediaCoder. After a huge struggle to get it to work at all, I set the encoder for one of the slowest, highest quality encodes I could come up with, while doing a huge change in compression. Going from 36gb to 2gb in size, with no change in resolution or frame rate, it took 1 and 1/2 hrs to complete. The picture quality was no better than acceptable, but would have been better changing to a smaller resolution. Unfortunately, the audio and video were out of sync by about 1-2 seconds.

Not an impressive start, but I’m not familiar with MediaCoder yet. I’ll have to try a similar encode using BD Rebuilder going to an mp4 file of similar size.

Edit: Took a longer look at the video…lots of blockiness in backgrounds and smearing in action scenes. You’d have to watch this on a small tablet to stand it for long. Don’t know what is going on with the sync.