The Ultimate Developer Rig

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Scott Hanselman recently did a very nice series of posts about building his “Ultimate Developer Rig“, a quad core, dual PCIE video card monster machine, that certainly has some impressive specs to it.

That Scythe Cooler is particularly impressive:


Too bad he didn’t totally geek out and put a plex window and some light tape in there… Too much?

Now, there are some that would say this is the “Ultimate Developer Rig”:


(For the full specs, check it out here.)

But I gotta say, Scott’s setup is pretty hardcore. In fact, it’s almost eery the similarities between Scott’s rig and the one I put together a little less than a year ago. I went with a dual core E6600 because, well, if the quad cores were even out at that time, they had to be too rich for my blood. I tried, hard, to justify the 1000$ for a E6700 Core 2 Duo Extreme at that point, but just couldn’t do it.

Still, my rig gets right up there, scoring a 5.5 on the “Windows Experience” scale in Vista. If I was so bold as to delve into overclocking, I might even improve on that some. Maybe eventually.

Then, I stumbled upon Kevin Hammond’s commentary on Scott’s rig, and I have to say, I’m right there with Kevin.

I diverged from Scott’s rig in much the same ways Kevin recommends, with a few minor deviations:

  • Vista 64 just isn’t ready from primetime, due to driver and utility support
  • RAID 10 is hard to beat for resisting downtime
  • I went originally with a Gigabyte GA 965P DS3 board, but then switched to an Intel D975XBX2 when I discovered the Gigabyte didn’t do 4 drive RAIDs
  • I used a Zalman cooler instead of the Scythe. I guess I’m partial to copper
  • Scott damped the inside with foam. With that Antec case, I haven’t noticed the need to. It’s virtually silent once the fans initially power up.

About the RAID, George Ou wrote a pretty good article on half-stroking or quarter stroking a harddrive to improve its performance. No idea whether it has similar effects on a RAID. In other benchmark tests, George pretty much slays RAID 10, which I’m a fan of. I’ve lost a drive out of a RAID 10 setup, replaced it and was on my way with no downtime. But when I lost a drive out of a RAID 0, I was down for almost 3 weeks trying to get everything back and operational. And drive images are only good if almost everything else about the machine stays the same, which, in my case, didn’t.

None the less, if you’re looking to put together a wickedly fast machine for under 2 grand, and you want it to be so quiet, you NEED lights on the outside to tell it’s on, I highly recommend reading through Scott’s parts list.

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