Being that my dev machine hadn’t been re-imaged in over a year or so, I was starting to have some issues with the current Win7 x64 image that I had on the machine I built in 2009. Since I was going to have to do a reinstall of the OS, I figured now was a good time to upgrade to a newer processor and motherboard, more RAM and a solid state drive.
Once I received all of the pieces and parts (we’ll get to that part shortly), I found out that I also needed to upgrade the power supply as the one that came in the case I ended up getting after the original build post.
The case is the X-Navigator by APEVIA (pictured Right) and I sourced it from NewEgg.com for $94.99 at the time (out of stock as of this writing at NewEgg and Amazon doesn’t have this particular case listed).
The case has plenty of room for drives – 7 internal 3.5″ drive bays with two 3 drive cages making it super simple to remove the drives without taking both sides of the case apart, two external 3.5″ drive bays and four 5.25″ drive bays.
It came with a 500W Power supply but did not have enough wattage for the new motherboard, not enough SATA power connectors and also lacked the additional ITX power connector. Of course I didn’t realize this until I completely disassembled the original machine, had the new motherboard, processor and RAM installed. I ran out to my local BestBuy and picked up a 600W power supply from Thermaltake (pictured left). I paid $89.99 for the Thermaltake TR2 600W at BestBuy, however you can source it through Amazon for $59.09 as of this writing.
Four screws held the old power supply in the case and one zip tie had to be cut to release the leads that go from the power supply itself to the components in the case. Within 5 minutes, I had the old 500w unit out and the new 600w unit installed and its leads affixed to the top cross-brace that held the previous set of lead wires.
As for the processor, I decided to upgrade from the Intel Core 2 2.4ghz Quad core to the new AMD FX 8120 8-core proc running at 3.1ghz (pictured right). I paid Amazon $199.99 for it, but as of this writing, it is down to $189.99. I wanted to move up from 8gb to at least 16gb of RAM, so the motherboard choice would have to support that as well as the new processor.
The motherboard I ended up selecting was the Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 (pictured left) for $146.99 at Amazon. I received rev 1.1 of the board from Amazon, which was the newest when I ordered in mid February 2012. Per Gigabyte’s product page, there is now a revision 1.2 listed as well (mid March 2012). I chose this board since it has 4 memory slots to support up to 32gb of DDR3 RAM, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s internal connectors (Supports SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID5, RAID 10 and JBOD), 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors (Support for SATA RAID 0 and RAID 1) on the back, Integrated Realtek ALC889 codec with 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel High Definition Audio and support for Dolby Home Theater and a S/PDIF Out connection, 4 x PCI Express x16 slots – 2 running at x16 and 2 running at x4, 2 x PCI Express x1 slots and 1 standard PCI slot, 8 rear USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0 ports with another 6 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0 ports available via headers on the motherboard. Other features not really important to me are the 2-Way AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI support, but since this isn’t a gaming or video editing rig, I don’t really need a second video card.
Next came the decision for RAM. I’m normally a Kingston or Crucial guy, sure they’re a little more, but I’ve
never had DOAs from them, unlike some no-name brands, however after reading reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, I decided to go with 4x8GB sticks of DDR3 PC3-12800 RAM from Komputerbay, again via Amazon. Although they weren’t eligible, the price ($210) was right, shipping was free and they were in stock, so I took a gamble. Everything else I ordered from Amazon was Prime Eligible, so I had no shipping costs on those items either.
I’m a big fan of large CPU coolers, so even though the AMD FX 8120 came with a sizable cooler as part of the package, I also ordered a Thermaltake SpinQ VT CPU Cooler (pictured left). While it set me back another $54.99, I had a Thermaltake 120mm cooling fan on my previous Intel proc to keep things nice and cool. I made the decision to run the stock AMD Cooler for a couple of weeks (now a month) to get some average CoreTemp data and then switch to the new Thermaltake cooler and see how much of a difference it makes. Look for a follow up post here in the near future with that comparison.
The last item in my upgrade parts list was to speed up my boot times. I had considered getting a Western Digital VelociRaptor 150GB SATA3 hard drive, but after discussion with a few colleagues here at work and reading an article on Tom’s Hardware comparing the speed differences of SATA 3 SSD drives, I decided to go with the Crucial m4 128gb SATA 6gb/s SSD drive (pictured right). I spent $163.17 for this unit, current price is $159.99. The price of this drive does fluctuate it seems +/- $20 on any given day, and there are mail-in rebates available from time to time as well.
After all the bits and pieces were upgraded, my performance score on the old rig of went from a score of 5.9 with the low score being the hard drive and the processor and RAM coming in at 7.1 and the graphics coming it at 6.9.
The new performance index is 6.8 – surprisingly down from 6.9 to 6.8. Strange that the video card score went down by .1, but I checked the BIOS and I don’t have the option to share any system memory with the video card, so not quite sure why that happened. EDIT: as it turns out, the system shared 3gb of memory anyhow, it just didn’t show up when I was RDPed in and took the screen shot (notice the updated screen shot below), still at a loss as to why it is .1 lower.
I was tempted to upgrade my video card, but again this box is mainly for development, so unless I really need to, or just get the itch to up my perf score, I think my 1gb card will suffice for now.
On a much more positive note, you can see that the processors and RAM are up to 7.5 and the primary drive increased a whopping 1.8 points to 7.7!
The only thing I didn’t order, which I may end up adding is an IDE/SATA PCI card as I don’t currently have a channel to hook up my DVDR drive. I rarely use it, but I do have CDs/DVDs that I need to read on the rare occasion or a DVD that I need to burn here and there. You can pick those up for less than $50 most places.
So here’s the full listing of all parts along with specific part numbers and links to Amazon where I purchased them. I strongly suggest you check out the prices on NewEgg.com and TigerDirect.com as well as they occasionally have free shipping and/or different rebates or package deals. Speaking of which, currently Amazon is offering a $10 off combo when you buy the AMD FX8120 with the Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 motherboard through March 31, 2012.