Computer for Flex6500

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After trying out the 6000 series at Dayton,  have opted for a Flex 6500 which will I think  require an upgrade from my present shack computer (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU @3Ghz, 4GB RAM and NIVIDA  GEForce 9800 -600mhz/512mb video card).

I believe this is marginal for running the Flex.

I am contemplating this system on sale at my local computer shop:

A4-6300 APU 3.7GHz , Asus A55M-E Motherboard, Integrated AMD Radeon HD 8370D,y4GB DDR3 1333MHz Memory

And  add either a GeForce GT610 CSM 2GB PCI-E GeForce GTX 750 Ti SuperClocked 2GB PCI-E for a graphics card

Thoughts? I did read the helpful videocard comments on the Flex community.

73

Tim VE6SH


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Tim Ellam

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Posted 4 years ago

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Jay -- N0FB, Elmer

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I'm sure that you will get an official response along the way, but my understanding is that the computational "heavy lifting" occurs within the Signature Series radios themselves. Network bandwidth and GPU prowess are the items that will make your 6500 shine.

However, if you've got the money, the specs you provided will make for a nice computer!
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Tim

I would not go with the CPU as you are buying an integrated CPU and video controller. If you are not going to use the video controller, you are really throwing away half of the CPU (plus its not a particularly powerful CPU to begin with).

While you are not doing all of the computation involved in powerSDR with a SmartSDR-oriented computer, it is not a "very light" system to run, especially when you add the DAX audio channels into the mix.

Finally, you are buying a computer so it makes some sense to buy a decent computer that will last you for years instead of the slowest machine you can buy that could run SmartSdR. Remember you will likely be running SDR, CAT, DaX, a logging program, a digital program and a web browser all at the same time. Its just not powerful enough to invest in.

The A-series processors are in that "slowest chipset you can run" category. The FX-series AMD CPUs are much more powerful at a lower cost than any of the Intel chips. If you really need to buy the cheapest machine, look for a computer with an FX-63xx or FX-83xx CPU. These are great for the money, offer a lot of processing cores and should be good for years to come and will run 120-160 USD. For instance, the Passmark benchmark score for the FX-6300 is 6,377 ($120)  while the  A4-6300 has a score of 2,165 and retails for $50. Its just too small to invest in. The FX-6300 is 3 times more powerful (and still not a very fast processor).

I would be more than happy to send you a good computer configuration if you email me your relative price range. Then you can take it to your computer shop and see what they would charge to assemble it.

Send me your cost requirements to nealk3nc at gmail dot com.

73


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Brian - W9HLQ

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Tim,

   I would wait before fussing with a new computer until you get the new Flex.   Give your current computer a chance to prove itself.  No need to swap computers until you are sure you need to do so.   -=Brian, W9HLQ=-
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Michael - N5TGL

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I can tell you right now that what he has currently isn't enough.
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Asher - K0AU

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I've gone through a couple computers with integrated graphics (Intel HD4000 and Intel HD5000) because I didn't want anything with fans driving two 1920x1080 screens.  So far no joy on running SSDR reliably with enough performance to run more than one pan or keep up with a FlexControl, even though the HD5000 exceeds the published GPU Passmark spec for SSDR.  Also not enough screen real estate for SSDR, DXLabs, rotator control and an amplifier app.  I have a computer on order that'll get a PNY GTX750Ti 2GB OC graphics card.  Plan is to drive two 2560x1440 screens with the possibility to run a third 1920x1080 screen in portrait.  Make sure your graphics card has enough connectors to drive all the screens you need!
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Tim Ellam

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Thanks all. This is helpful.

73

Tim
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Asher - K0AU

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Quick report - Intel i5 3GHz + Asus / nVidia GTX750ti graphics card + 8MB.  This is night and day for running the 6700.  Tuning is smooth with multiple pans open.  If you get this graphics card make sure you have a 400W or greater power supply with a PCI 6-pin connector. My new Inspiron did not, but $37 later it does and works great.  Have not upgraded the screens to 2560x1440 yet...
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Michael - N5TGL

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Cool, thanks for reporting back your experience.  I've been looking to upgrade my card and this is a very valuable data point for me.  I know my current box doesn't have a 400w supply in it, so I'll have to add that to the upgrade.


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Mike K5UX

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With no disrespect to Neal because he certainly has more experience building systems than I have......but I am running an AMD A10-6790K on a Gigabyte motherboard (w/8Gigs mem).  This particular AMD processor is normally referred to as an APU rather than CPU.  It includes on the processor die, an embedded Radeon 8670D graphics processing unit which works very well with Windows 7/64bit.  In my motherboard BIOS, I allocate 1 gig of system memory to the 8670D.  I typically run 4 pans/waterfalls with no evidence of latency or loss of video quality on a 42 inch Toshiba TV monitor (HDMI).  My Flex control knob also works very well with smooth tuning across the slice.  Running all of this typically uses approximately 40-45% of CPU usage.  I am not running any other software other than SmartSDR with its associated components.  BTW, this is one of the "A series of AMD processors that Neal indicates are the slowest chipset you can run and I cannot disagree with his statement.  There are certainly much faster processors out there (mine runs at 4.1 Ghz).  I also run SmartSDR on my 27 inch iMac (Intel I5 quad) under Parallels with no issues with Windows 7/64 bit.  I would suggest you take the advice someone gave a few posts up and try the computer you have before jumping into a new system.

Oh, one more note....I was one of a few that purchased a Radeon R7 260X video adapter, thinking it would be the "cats meow", only to find it will not work with SmartSDR.  The folks at FRS are looking into it, and it appears it might be a Windows7/AMD driver issue, but I reverted back to onboard 8670D video with no issues.

Apologies for taking so much bandwidth, but I wanted folks to know that you can successfully run SmartSDR via embedded graphics on the processor die.  AMD and Intel both offer this type of configuration.

Mike
K5UX
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Mike

Congrats on your system!

You have the top of the line APU which is approaching the performance of the FX series processor, plus you are using the graphics feature of the chip which is different from the proposed system above. 

As opposed to Intel, AMD did a smart thing with their APUs in that they really did "meld" one of the ATI (now AMD) graphic chip diesets in the APU, it is literally two, two, two chips in one. Therefore, the result is that there is no resource contention between the two, they do their thing  and it works like  mac and cheese. Intel has a more integrated approach, their belief is that sharing of the caches used in the CPU can speed up the graphics part. It works pretty well but things are a lot more expensive in the Intel world.

I have buiilt several entry-level machines using the A8 and A10 processors and for a Flex 3000 they are great systems.

To clarify the points I was trying to make:
1. If you buy an AMD APU, use the graphics side or done buy one.
2. The incremental costs for getting more system performance is quite low right now. If you are spending 600 bucks for a system, you can probably get a lot more protection for the future by spending just 100 bucks more and for 200 bucks more, you are really increasing the capability. You really do not know what you will want it for so don't be surprised by the introduction of "world Skimmer" which can decode every non-voice signal in real time for the entire HF bands.
3. There are a lot of paths to success with the new SDRs. There is still a need however  to have a good system that runs properly to fully enjoy it.

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K5FM

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I am running my 6500 on a somewhat old HP with a 1.8ghz dual core Pentium cpu and integrated graphics, I sometimes notice a slight lag in the Flex control knob if it is spun briskly, but other than that I have found no reason to purchase a more powerful machine. I have also paired the 6500 with a Acer 1.3ghz Celeron netbook with the only noticeable issue being the aforementioned Flex control knob lag. I am with W9hlq, there is no harm in using whatever computer you may already have, it may be perfectly capable of controlling the radio.
(Edited)
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Paul Christensen, W9AC, Elmer

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At the time of my 6700 purchase, I thought just keeping my old Core2 Duo would be adequate -- and it was until I started running a half-dozen other programs that work in tandem with SSDR.  I would recommend getting the best performance you an afford.  You may not need it now, but you'll likely need it in the future when you see how cool SSDR syncs up with so many utility programs.

Paul, W9AC 

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Jon - KF2E

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I agree that if you run lots of other programs you could overload your computer. *But*, I would wait until you do. Even a few months will make a difference in how much processing you get for your $$$. Start with your current computer, install, uninstall, change programs until you learn a lot more. Then rather than struggling with the old computer dump it and get a new one.

Jon...kf2e
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Reg

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I agree with Paul.  It's not SmartSDR that demands a higher end computer and a dedicated graphics adapter.  Here is a configuration:  Alpha 9500 app, Alpha 4510A app, Green Heron RT-21 app, several modules of HRD, and now we have four waterfalls of CW Skimmer.  It's all great stuff but it adds up to significant CPU and GPU loads.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Tim,
Here is something you can try.  Passmark provides a benchmarking program that you can run for 30 days at no charge.   It will provide an overall performance number for your system and a lot of details on the specific components and sub-systems.  

A few of us are collecting the data to see if we can determine a ballpark threshold for good performance when running SSDR.   Early indications are it will be around 1,500 but that depends on several factors.
- video performance metric (which is one of the many specific details provided and factors into the overall score)
- the number of other programs you run concurrently (browsers, email, streaming video, etc)
- how your use SSDR and the related programs in your situations (4 panadapters and 4 CW skimmers will obviously take more resource)
- etc

 Email me for details and more information if interested.  

We are also looking for more feedback (numbers and user experience) from others.  
- What is your passmark number
- your system description
- how it performs in you SSDR situation.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

  
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Paul Christensen, W9AC, Elmer

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Al,

I just took the test.  All parameters screamed on my Dell i7 including 2D graphics but overall performance took a big hit due to the extremely poor 3D graphics result.  I'm using a Matrox triple monitor card with 1GB of graphics memory. 

I see no graphics issues but then I'm not really into 3D graphics.  The only 3D I use is on a rare occasion when I'm looking at a PC board after design or use CAD for machining small parts.  For SSDR and related programs, can I ignore the poor 3D performance?

Paul, W9AC

  

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Al / NN4ZZ

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I don't think the 3D graphics number is important for SSDR.  Unless your are a heavy CAD user or gamer it doesn't appear to be an issue. 

What was your overall passmark number?  

What is your impression of your system performance (i.e.  good, great fair, etc)?

I'm guessing it is great given your description.  

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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Paul Christensen, W9AC, Elmer

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The total passmark score was only 250 due to the lousy 3D performance.  Otherwise, most numbers were excellent.  Disk performance was good but not exceptional.  I was too late in trying to upgrade to a flash hard drive as the PC was already built and shipped from Dell when I wanted to make the change. 

Looks like THE video card to get is the NDVIA GeForce GTX 680.  

Paul, W9AC

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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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You can ignore the 3D performance rating, whats important is how it handles DirectX10 for SmartSDR.

73
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Paul,
The GTX 680 is a good one.  I was using the 660 in my previous computer and it also worked well but as you can see from the Passmark chart, the 680 is significantly better.

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com



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kr4k

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I am using a Lenovo M93P Tiny for my 6700. Works really well, reasonable price, and the small form factor works well on my desk. I run SmartSDR, FLDIGI, MATLAB, IE, and several other applications simultaneously with no SmartSDR degredation.
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Asher - K0AU

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Micro no-fan desktop (Mobile i7, HD5000 graphics, 16 GB) driving 2 x 1920 x1080 screens.  Also running DXLabs, Green Heron, Alpha.  SSDR works well with one pan open, but even with a single pan FlexControl works scrolling the lubber line, but falls behind when it scrolls the pan.  Scrolling is less responsive with contest conditions / more signals in the band.  Random, roughly hourly SSDR lockups and/or go-slows.  3D Passmark around 500.  DAX disabled.

AT form factor desktop (i5, GTX 750 ti, 8 GB).  Same screens and applications.  4 pans open with multiple slices per pan.  FlexControl keeps up scrolling lubber line or pan.  3D Passmark around 3600.  In 2 days no lockups.  CPU around 20% and GPU baseline at 10% with slow creep to 40% and back down to 10%.

Subjectively I am much happier with the GTX750 video card performance than the HD5000 integrated graphics.  Can't comment yet on how DAX and digital mode software or skimmer will affect the mix.
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Asher - K0AU

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Finished the upgrade to two times 2560x1440 screens (Asus PB278Q).  Finally enough pixels for everything!