Need new computer for 6700 - advice?

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Well, I've finally decided that my little Microsoft Surface Pro 2 just doesn't cut it for running SmartSDR with 8 panadapters. So, I'm looking at building a new computer. Probably some high end Asus motherboard and a pretty good graphics card(s) that can drive at least 2 (maybe 3) 4K displays. I have one Seiki 39" 4k monitor now but interested in adding another one.

Is anyone out there running all 8 panadapters full-time with no lag, etc? What are your computer hardware specs? I also want to run other apps (multiple copies of jt65, etc) along with other software, skype, IRC chat, facebook, etc ;-)

I used to build computers for a living but it's been a while. Gotta catch up with technology and see what is out there. I'm open to suggestions for something that can drive all 8 panadapters with no sweat.
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Posted 4 years ago

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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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I am sure you will get lots of responses.   But I have a machine that I built in Feb this year.

AsRock Z87 Extreme9/ax LGA1150
Intel i7-4770
32GB Ram RipJaw X Series
Sapphire Dual-X Radeon R9 270X 2GB 256MB
Noctua NH-D14 120mm & 140mm SSO CPU Cooler
HighPower Astro PT 700W, Digital, 80+ Platinum PSU
Corsair Force SSD 512GB (Boot)
6 x Barracuda 2TB Drives

Runs SmartSDR and everything else I can throw at it while also running 4 virtual machines, visual studio, Skype, PhotoShop, Lightroom, Teamviewer and multiple browsers of different flavors.

I don't use it as my primary SmartSDR machine, but when I want to fire it up while at a loose end - it does not break a sweat at all.

I built a Shuttle PC for the FlexRadio:

A Shuttle XH61V with a 512GB SSD, 16GB Ram and an i3-3245 (4000 series Graphics)

Indeed, its not a spec that will do anything near what the above will, but copes with SmartSDR and all the HAM Radio apps you can throw at it without breaking the bank.    A big departure from the latency laden days of PowerSDR.

(Edited)
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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There is a recommended configuration here on the site, but for your high horsepower desires, I'd recommend no less than a quad core, 8 GB RAM, and the best video card you can afford. The video card memory, GPU, etc., will be the defining factor in your experience. Also, when you build, get a solidly built metal case you can make as RF resistant as possible, with a nice clean power supply that has a lot of power for the video card.

Good luck!
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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If you would like to see a parts list for the computers I sell, send me an email offline at nealk3nc@gmail.com and I will send it to you, be sure to tell me which one you want (please don't blanket ask for all of them, its right much trouble to send them!!)


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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Thanks for the suggestions! Looking forward to building up a high-end machine from scratch.  Haven't done that in years.  Maybe I'll go nuts and get some neat internal lighting and liquid cooled stuff like the gamers do (but probably not, that sounds like too much work) ;-)
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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Be careful with those lighting kits - some of them generate more RF noise that that screen you just junked!   Keep it stealth, blacked out, no fancy lights, no fancy fans - big heat pipes and sink and quality brushless fans - I have a case where I can turn of the fans (automatic mode) until the heat rises.  
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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I wonder if there is any benefit in adding a 2nd NIC to a computer and directly connecting the 6000 to it?  And having the other nic connected to the router.  I guess that could help with latency, and nics are crazy cheap.
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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Most high end boards seem to have 2 NIC's on-board - so no need to clutter a slot.  The AsRock I have has dual ports, but I have everything in a Gigabit switch - not experienced any latency.    But with a dual NIC board you could try it without spending the extra pennies.
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Oh good point, I forgot they put them on the board now.
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James Kirk

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My mind can't compute with eight simultaneous panadapters 
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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Likewise, 2 is more than enough to keep my brain taxed!

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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Well, one cool thing in smartsdr is the maximize window feature, so I can maximize 2 of them, and the rest stay small at the bottom of the window.  Those would be set up to decode and report jt65 or wspr signal reports on different bands, so I dont really need to watch them full time.
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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Ah, you be a digital mode guy!  Digital modes have not bitten me yet, WSPR is about it - and that's when I am not using the radio to monitor SSB.
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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Well, it took a while, but I finally got a new computer.  The Surface Pro has been demoted to sitting at the edge of my desk and will probably be sold to a relative.

The new computer is a new Intel 8-core 5960x with a Asus x99 ROG Rampage motherboard, and a asus 980 graphics card, and 16gb ram.  Yeah, this thing is a beast.  And, it runs SmartSDR like a beast too.  No problems running all 8 panadapters at full screen 4K resolution with several JT65 decoders/spotters in the background while watching a full screen 4k youtube video.  

For anyone interested, here is the parts list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/68rZGX

-Robbie
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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SWEET!  What a nice machine.
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Richard Clafton W4/G7EIX, Elmer

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Great choices. Enjoy your new machine.
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DrTeeth

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I'm running SSDR 1.3.8 off a 1-2 year old laptop with an integrated Intel graphics card at max FPS and very low CPU utilisation. I can also use the PC for the usual stuff at the same time too.

(Edited)
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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I will also make an opinion on the self-contained water-coolers that seem to be common these days. I used to put them in computers and stopped after a year. The main reason is noise, these things require a pretty good air flow to force cool air thru the radiator (and the larger the radiator, the more air needed).

The second reason is that these actually take up a lot of space inside the case so you can often find they are not the easiest thing to install. After installing a few, you get the hang of it but how many of you install a few.

Third, comes the air flow controversy. Corsair (the most recognizable brand of these devices) actually recommends that you have air from the outside of the case being pumped into the case, which is the opposite logic for most other fans, especially  in the areas where you will mount the radiators. I had one customer take a computer damaged in shipping for repair (out of country) and the repair guy reversed it even when I gave him the url to corsair's website explaining why you wanted to have the cool air from the outside of the case being pumped into the case. Beware if you don't follow the instructions exactly.

Finally, I have had one case where the cooler obviously leaked some fluid on the motherboard. That was my last one I installed.

I find the old-fashioned coolers are MUCH quieter and reliable. YMMV,
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DrTeeth

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I could never see the point of them at all unless somebody is into obsessively overclocking and benchmarking.

They may prolong the life of the CPU by getting it to run cooler, but that would only kick in well after the CPU became obsolete. The stock cooler does the job it is meant to do and very well at that.

I have been running BOINC (grid computing client) on my PCs 24/7 for ages (causes high-ish CPU usage) with the stock cooler and nothing has died yet.
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Robbie - KI4TTZ

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fwiw, this computer is extremely quiet, in fact I can hear the fans on the Flex over the computer.  The power supply and GPU fans don't even turn on until needed. The radiator seems to be doing a great job of pulling the heat out of the computer, inside the case it is very cool.
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Bill-W9OL

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When you consider the options Neal provides in his custom computers for our Flex radios...
and his absolute stand behind online help.
I didn't think twice.
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Thanks Bill! Its that time of the year for Black Friday sales also!