Mini Gaming PC

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by PityOnU, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I was planning on building a mini gaming PC based around an AMD A10-6700 CPU.

    However, after reading about the recently announce BRIX II systems from Gigabyte, and how one of them features Iris Pro graphics, I'm thinking about reconsidering my plan.

    Does anyone have any experience/has seen anything documenting the performance of Iris Pro on, say, an i7-4770R, versus the performance of the iGPU on the A10?

    I'm assuming the i7 would pull much lower power, which would be great for the rig to double as a home server, but gaming performance is what I really want.
     
  2. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Can you tell me more on what gaming you plan to do?

    I'll say this, to harvest GPU potential from APU you must pair it with high speed RAM. Otherwise you have to tone down graphics settings on gaming.

    Iris Pro used in 4770R has 128MB eDRAM for iGPU, so it doesn't have memory bandwidth issue.
     
  3. jagerstaffel

    jagerstaffel GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Well, there are Tomb Raider benchmarks for Intel Iris Pro and for AMD A10-6700. Keep in mind that the A10 is running at Medium details, as opposed to Anadntech's Iris Pro benchmark running at Normal. Also keep in mind that the Iris Pro graphics by itself is running at 55 Watts, while the entire A10 chip runs at 65 Watts:O

    Using an AMD A8 as I type this, I can tell you these AMD A series chips use up very little power, I've actually seen my electric bill drop compared to my previous computer.
     
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  4. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Those reviews make use of 2133 and 1866 RAM, both high speed RAM.

    BTW, what do you do on your computer to realize a drop in electric bill? I mean unless you run computer 100% 24/7 then you'll see a difference in electric bill, but APU is not for number crunching or CPU intense workload.
     
  5. Kirito-kun

    Kirito-kun Disciple of GabeN

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    An i7 4770K on a mATX board fitted with a GTX 780 all in an compact mATX case running off of a SSD.
     
  6. jagerstaffel

    jagerstaffel GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I... game on it :mellow: Maybe I didn't leave the light on in the bathroom recently, or I forgot to turn on my AC, but it does swallow a lot less power than I thought it would, and considering that only the Iris Pro graphics part itself runs at nearly the same power of an entire AMD CPU + GPU combo, I'd say that AMD chip isn't bad. Of course we are only talking about GPU's here :P
    That's power hungry compared to what the OP is thinking about... but if OP wants gaming performance over home server, that's not bad.
     
  7. Kirito-kun

    Kirito-kun Disciple of GabeN

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    The OP never really specified the exact power consumption target and the above setup would yield the best performance per watt AND performance per size. A GTX 780 and a 4770K can be comfortably powered by a 600W PSU, which isn't a lot, compared to full-sized gaming PCs.
     
  8. jagerstaffel

    jagerstaffel GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Sure the OP never specified, but mini gaming PC + Gigabyte BRIX II + "I'm assuming the i7 would pull much lower power" sounds like this computer is a supplement, not really a complete replacement, or something similar. You do know what the GTX 780 is, right? It's a $650 USD 250 Watt dual-slot card, which doubles or triples the amount of power of the Intel + IGP by itself. Not a bad setup, but it's definitely a lot more than the Gigabyte Brix.
     
  9. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    As usual, Kirito-kun and I are operating on completely different bandwidths here. A system such as that would be massive (compared to a BRIX or m350-based system), and suck tons of power.

    To be more specific, my previously planned system looked like this:

    m350 case
    160w picoPSU+DC adapter combo
    ASRock FM2A85X-ITX mobo
    AMD A10-6700 APU
    Noctua NH-L9a heatsink+fan
    2x8GB Team Xtreem DDR3-2400 memory
    240GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD

    This computer would be connected to a 16TB RAID5 array and serve as an HTPC, a home server, and a gaming rig. It would also be running 24/7.

    As you can probably guess, price/performance ratio doesn't really matter to me. What's most import is that it remain as small as possible, use as little power as possible, and maximize gaming performance without violating the previous two requirements.

    The BRIX II system would look like this:

    BRIX II case, mobo, and cooling solution
    Intel i7-4770R APU (or whatever Intel wants to call it)
    2x8GB Team Xtreem DDR3-2400 memory
    240GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD

    Thoughts?
     
  10. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    @PityOnU

    First of, do NOT use RAID if you haven't set it up. RAID has no place for average user at all. RAID is all about redundancy, keeping uptime where it matters the most for server. It has 0 benefit for desktop user with the exception of RAID 1 (but I'd only recommend RAID 1 on selected use, like 24/7 IP camera recording). If HDD do fail on RAID 5 setup there will be the possibility to lose all of your data when you attempt to rebuild RAID. RAID is NOT backup or data loss prevention.

    My recommendation is to simply operate HDD on individual level, or go with JBOD.

    * AMD APU will still have an edge on gaming, however higher TDP will mean higher cooling requirement. Honestly I don't think M350 is big enough for proper cooling on APU.
    * BRIX (i7-4770R) has better media capability, since GPU can only accelerate certain types of video file (8-bit H264 below Level 4.1). I built my mom an A8 HTPC and I noticed slowdown on 10-bit H264 (GPU can't accelerate it, so CPU does the decoding instead).
     
  11. The Real Jdbye

    The Real Jdbye Always Remember 30/07/08

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    Nothing wrong with APUs, but stay away from AMD ones. I had an A10 and it bottlenecked in games, limiting the performance of the GPU.
    The Iris Pro is a lot better. Still, you won't really get something that can be called a gaming PC, you'll be able to run most games at low settings probably but that's it.
     
  12. Kirito-kun

    Kirito-kun Disciple of GabeN

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    Wait, you're trying to build a rig with good gaming performance, yet you don't through in a dedicated graphics card. I don't care how "powerful" Intel HD 5200 is supposed to be. Literally any graphics card costing over $75 will get you performance superior to integrated graphics.

    Just how small is that case you're using? Is there absolutely no room for a graphics card? If there is a little bit of extra room, throw in a compact graphics card like a passively cooled GT 640, which is about twice as powerful as HD 5200 and will make games much more playable. Unless you like playing games at low settings, you NEED a dedicated graphics card. It only draws 65W of power.
     
  13. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I am going to be ripping tons (hundreds) of Blu-Ray movies and storing them (uncompressed) on a hardware RAID array. I would like to have some kind of redundancy, but would also like to maintain a single volume. I also don't have the money to buy multiple 20TB disk arrays.

    In this case, I think RAID5 is my best bet as it does offer some failover protection, while only reducing my 20TB max capacity to 16TB (the loss of one drive). It's not perfect, but it is better than RAID0, and means that I could potentially come back from the loss of a drive with zero data loss. Not so with JBOD.

    The high TDP was a major concern. Obviously no way to know for sure without testing it.

    Based on specs I had read, my build would have been the absolute most powerful components you could squeeze into that case and still expect to function. Life on the edge, baby!

    The cases I mentioned are incredible small - any type of graphics card at all would not fit.

    I have no issue playing games on medium or low settings - the fact that I could play them at all would be enough. I already have a dedicated gaming PC for the 0.5 hours per month that I feel like playing a PC game.
     
  14. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    Again, redundancy does NOT offer any data protection. Whoever told you that RAID offers some form of data protection needs to get their fact straight. In fact there is a chance (and quite high based on my experience) for total data loss when replacing failed HDDs in RAID 5/6 setup. RAID 5 and 6 especially with large capacity do have decent chance in bitrate error. Usually if RAID 5 or 6 starts failing people don't swap in a replacement (or if they do the entire RAID setup will be replaced soon after). Instead they setup another RAID setup with different HDDs and import data from a reliable source (not previous from RAID setup).

    Point is the idea on RAID is that if my array of HDDs starts failing I can keep my system running long enough for my next scheduled service. It has nothing to do to with ensuring the data is safe.

    Also you'll need "real" RAID card (not sub-$100) for RAID 5/6 setup, otherwise parity calculation will be done by the CPU (and it is slow to let CPU does it).

    If you want some protection (backup) use BD-R instead of second set of HDDs. 25 GB BD-R is actually cheaper than HDD when you look at price per GB (and if you use quality disc + storing it in good condition they last longer than HDD). Or you can just keep your legit BD and forget about redundancy. If you do suffer a data loss just rip it from your legit copies again.

    Back to original question, if you use AMD APU I highly encourage you to use a larger case, like Bitfenix Prodigy.
     
  15. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Could you please explain why the rebuilding process can destroy the data? I had no idea it was a possibility, and you keep bringing it up, so I'm actually rather interested now...

    http://www.sansdigital.com/towerraid-/tr5utplusb.html

    The problem is that just from the sheer amount of the data I am going to be storing, creating any meaningful type of backup system is cost prohibitive. RAID setups were originally designed with this in mind - thus the emphasis on Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID).

    In addition to the Blu-Rays, I'm also going to start dumping Xbox 360 and PS3 games pretty soon here (waiting on the chips).

    I plan to keep a subset of absolutely necessary data stored on a spare 3TB drive I have kicking around, but other than that I will have no backup system.

    Yeah... back to the original question.

    From the sound of what I'm hearing, and from looking at the benchmarks jager posted, it seems like Iris Pro should be able to trade blows (if not outperform) the Radeon iGPU's at the same level.

    All this in mind, seems like the BRIX II system is the better pick. Lower power consumption, known cooling capabilities, and better media playback.

    Thanks for the feedback all!
     
  16. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    When you rebuild RAID 5, 6, or any setup involving parity, parity itself must be recalculated and data must be resynched. This means every HDD, including those that have not failed, will be rewritten with new parity and/or data revisions. That is why rebuild takes a very long time (hours, even a few days depending on capacity) to complete. With bitrate error (bits cannot be read or reports incorrect value) scales with storage capacity, there exist possibility of corrupted parity/data. With corrupted parity, you'll end up with data destruction.

    This becomes a much more serious problem in server/business workload, where it is likely that HDD failed during writing operation. In that case it is highly probable that other drives have corrupted parity. Which is why many IT makes backup using other means and setup up a completely new RAID setup to replace failed/degraded one. You only rebuild RAID if you are 200% sure all other working drive have valid data.

    RAID most often use HDDs from the same batch (people buy HDD from bulk), so if one HDD failed, it is likely others will fail (or already failed). Even more reason to replace rather than to rebuild.

    Of course there are times where average user did something stupid to destroy the degraded RAID setup, like running chkdsk.

    Another suggestion I can make, which you may not like, is to do RAID 1+0 (RAID 10). You'll get half usable space out of total capacity. To check for file integrity you also do SHA1 checksum on every single file written on to the RAID. If one HDD does fail run SHA1 on every single file and match it to previous result. If checkum matches for every file, then you are safe to pop in a drive and rebuild. Since it does not use parity like RAID 5 and 6, it is faster and less risky.
     
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  17. Wisenheimer

    Wisenheimer GBAtemp Fan

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    If you want to store a lot of data, RAID 5 or 6 is a really good way to do it if you do it correctly and understand the advantages and risks.

    To begin with, I want to address the claim that you need to use expensive RAID cards otherwise RAID is "slow". This is absolutely not the case. Parity calculation on large arrays is very intensive. Cheaper RAID cards and software RAID offload the calculation to the driver, which runs most or all of the parity calculations on the CPU. Good RAID cards, on the other hand, which typically cost in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars, have their own chips for calculating the parity.

    For Enterprise operations where arrays might be serving hundreds of terabytes an hour, offloading the parity calculation to hardware is worth the money. For home users, perhaps not so much. What you should realize is that without the expensive hardware RAID, writing to an array can slow down your CPU. If you are building a home server this might be acceptable. If you are running RAID on a gaming computer, this might effect your games. However, keep in mind that parity only becomes CPU intensive during writes, not reads. Reading from a RAID array is generally much faster than from a single hard drive.

    Now, as for the question of rebuilding a RAID array causing data loss. You have to ask yourself a few questions:

    1) How important is my data?
    2) Am I going to back it up, such as to tape?
    3) How many drives do I want to use?
    4) How much money do I want to spend?

    For home users, in my opinion, the biggest chance of data loss comes from not a HDD failure but a controller failure. If the controller fails and you do not have a spare and cannot find that exact model, you might not be able to recover your data. It might actually be worth it to use a slower software solution, like one built into windows server, because then the RAID is handled by a fairly universal OS instead of a proprietary driver and hardware controller.

    Now, when a RAID array fails and you are rebuilding the array there is a chance of losing your data. This can happen if one of your remaining drive fails or if there were undetected bad sectors in the wrong spots. Both of these are rare, but they do happen. If you are not using a second backup system (such as a tape), your best bet is to:

    1) Reduce the numbers of disks in your RAID array. The number of disks increases the probability of a failure during rebuilding geometrically. For RAID 5, you should never use more than six disks. I would recommend sticking to five. Rebuilding stresses the disks and increases the probability of failure.

    2) USE RAID 6. RAID six has tolerance for two disk failures, but requires an extra disk for parity calculations. If I remember correctly, a six disk RAID 6 only stores as much data as a five disk RAID 5, but your chances of two disk failures during rebuilding is geometrically lower than a single disk failure. RAID 6 is generally viewed as pretty data-loss proof during small array rebuilding.

    The TLDR summary:

    My advice is:

    1) If you don't use an expensive controller card, only use RAID 5/6 on a home server so as not to slow down your main computer. If you do use a controller card, get a backup card in case the primary one fails.

    2) Either backup your RAID or use RAID 6.

    3) Do not exceed 5 disks for RAID 5 or 6 disks for RAID 6.

    4) Have a spare disk handy so you can rebuild immediately.

    5) Remember, RAID was not designed for backup. It was designed so that you can keep critical data available without any downtime. If you use RAID 6 with a small array and rebuild any failed drives immediately, your data is probably pretty safe, but if you just slap together a RAID 5 array and assume your data is safe, it might end up being a nightmare for you. RAID data recovery is very, very expensive, usually several thousand dollars.
     
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  18. PityOnU
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    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Thanks for the detailed responses, guys. I really appreciate it. It makes me wonder why they rebuild all of the disks instead of just the one that failed... Definitely asking for trouble. I'll have to keep this in mind in case of emergency.

    Unfortunately, though, I cannot afford to have any sort of backup system at all for that much data. Just the single RAID array will end up costing north of $1000...

    At least, in the case of hardware failure, RAID5 will give me some time to think about what I want to do next.
     
  19. trumpet-205

    trumpet-205 Embrace the darkness within

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    If you want RAID 5 still keep my advice on doing SHA1 checksum for every file written. Since you are not compressing video it'll take couple minutes for each file. Save the checkum results for future references. If RAID do fail or you suspect file corruption you re-run SHA1 again and compare it to your previous result. If it match then file is intact, if not then file is corrupted (indicating possible HDD failure).

    One thing I do not agree with Wisenheimer is on controller being more prone to failure than HDD. In many cases it is HDD that fails first (especially for you who are using SATA not SAS in server environment). Wisenheimer is correct however that RAID setup is tied to the controller itself (with the exception of RAID 1). So if controller (or in this case RAID tower for you PityOnU) do fail, you want matching one. If exact model cannot be found you want another one from the same company. RAID is just a standard on how to link all HDDs, how data were arranged in hardware level is proprietary/depended on controller however.

    To sum it all up,
    * RAID 5 is tolerant against 1 HDD failure, regardless of how many drive were used. It uses parity. Minimum HDD must be used is 3 with 4 being recommended.
    * RAID 6 is tolerant against 2 HDDs failure, regardless of how many drive were used. It uses parity. Minimum HDD must be used is 4 while 5 being recommended.
    * RAID 1+0 (10) is guaranteed tolerant against 1 HDD failure. It can be tolerant against half of total HDD used, provided that no failed drive share the same span. So if you use 10 drive it is possible to be tolerant against up to 5 failed HDDs. It does not use parity and requires a minimum of 4 HDDs.

    Most importantly: RAID is not a backup. It does not offer data protection, only redundancy for uptime. If HDD do start to fail, it is better to replace the entire RAID setup than rebuild (since HDD from the same batch probably will fail soon too).

    Side note: You never see RAID 5 in business environment. RAID 6, if used, is often used on top of anther RAID setup. Common one for RAID 6 is RAID 6+1 (61), where two to three RAID 6 setups mirroring each other.
     
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  20. Wisenheimer

    Wisenheimer GBAtemp Fan

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    I meant that RAID controller failure was more of a problem for home consumers because home consumers can easily buy another hard drive, but they probably will not have a backup controller and might find it difficult or impractical to purchase one. Even worse, some integrated controllers actually do terrible things that may be undocumented, like demand drives be plugged in in the same order. To the best of my knowledge, they do little to no parity calculation in hardware, so using Windows' built in RAID probably will not even slow your computer down (since the hardware RAID driver uses the CPU for parity calculations to save money on a custom chip) and you should be able to recover the array with any Windows computer.

    Compare that to using the hardware RAID on an expensive motherboard. Five years down the road, the motherboard stops working. It is out of warranty. Normally you would just buy a new one, but without the same motherboard (or at least one that has the same SATA controller chip, which might be hard to ascertain) you will probably not be able to recover your RAID. Sure, the RAID is perfectly intact, but the RAID controller on a new motherboard will probably not detect that they are in an array, especially an array other than 0,1, or 1+0.

    Since tape backup (which is used by companies such as Google) is impractical for most home users, one thought is to use built in Utilities, such as those that come with Windows, to backup your array. If you highly compress the data you might be able to back up a very a 10 TB array onto one or two 3 TB drives. For non critical data, this is probably better than RAID parity. The real advantage to RAID parity (besides the redundancy) is the file access time. If you are going to have two or more computers regularly streaming data off the same disk, RAID will stop disk access from being a bottleneck. For instance, if you have three or four people in the house all watching different movies streamed from your server, RAID will really help ensure a buffering-free experience. If you are just watching movies in the living room while accessing the occasional file off the server on your laptop, RAID performance is unnecessary.