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Old 05-23-2020, 10:40 AM
Mdcastle is offline
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Computer Build Questions: USB ports, SSDs, and RGB lighting.


Looking to build a computer for a combination gaming / general work / DVR recorder

1) I plan to use a special recording rated hard drive for security camera reporting, but my understanding is that prices now are such that you typically use an SSD as a one and only drive, and these plug into a special slot in the motherboard rather than mounting them in a drive bay and connecting power and SATA cables. Are there any types better or worse for general computer use?

2) For my application (Oculus Rift) I need 4 X USB 3.0 ports on two separate host controllers due to three being high bandwidth devices of which more than two saturate a given controller (Oculus Rift sensors). It seems most motherboards supplement the chipset controller with an external chip. How can I make sure my devices are distributed correctly without anything being saturated, or should I plug in the USB 3.0 PCI express card that I use on my current gaming PC and put two of the devices on that?

3) Looking at an AMD 3600X. Should I get a B450 board or wait until the 520 or 550 come out?

4) It seems controllable RGB lighting is the latest thing with some motherboards offering a single channel (or can one header be split?) and some cases offering multiple channels and even some CPU coolers offering offering a single channel of control for themselves. How do I get a system that works together?
  #2  
Old 05-23-2020, 11:55 AM
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Bear with me here since this can be a bit confusing:

You have SSD, M.2 and NVMe drives available these days when it comes to solid state drives (i.e. no moving parts). I'll leave standard hard drives with a spinning disk out of it till a bit further down.

SSD usually refer to something that looks like this (about the size of a deck of cards and pretty thin). They have been around for a while and plug into a SATA connection on your motherboard (which these days they all have). They generally have better performance than spinning hard drives but there are pros and cons depending on purpose.

M.2 is a form factor change of the SSD mentioned above. It looks more like a stick of gum in size and shape. This goes into a special slot on your motherboard (mobo) as you mentioned. It performs the same as the SSD mentioned above (just changed the shape and the connector). It is just smaller and goes in that special slot. These slots are very common on modern mobos these days but you'd need to check to be sure.

NVMe looks just like the M.2 above BUT it is different. NVMe has it own bus which is much faster. SATA was made using what old, spinning drives used. NVMe was made with SSD advantages in mind and it makes a big difference.

SATA-III maxes out at 600MB/s (real world will be somewhat less) transfer speed. NVMe can get you 3500MB/s. Waaay faster.

Remember M.2 is a form factor and a SATA version and an NVMe version look almost exactly alike. You need to read the specs on the mobo you buy to be sure what it takes.

So, which do you want?

Well, spinning drives are cheap for mass storage. NVMe is fast but expensive. You can do what you want but, usually, people use and NVMe (or SSD/M.2) as a boot drive. You can even make it a little bigger and use it as a gaming drive. You will not have a lot of storage for games but you can have a few on at a given time and swap them in and out as needed giving you great gaming performance.

For video/long term storage you want massive space that is cheap. That will probably be spinning drives. The manufacturers now make drives meant to be very long lasting and super reliable. They won't last forever, nothing does, but they are good for this purpose. Here is the Western Digital page on them (just an example, their competition does similar things and are worth looking at).

SSDs wear out a bit faster than spinning drives do and are less suitable for massive I/O purposes (e.g. a video security system that is constantly writing to them).

I will leave it at that except to say RGB lighting is bling. Make your PC they way you want it to perform. After that, if you want the bling (and I get it, it can look pretty cool) then go for it. Getting LEDs in your system is all over the place from the memory to the CPU cooler to the video card to the case. It is a whole specialty unto itself.
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Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 05-23-2020 at 11:59 AM.
  #3  
Old 05-23-2020, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
NVMe looks just like the M.2 above BUT it is different.

This is not exactly true. M.2 is a form factor while NVMe (rather PCIe) and SATA are the standards. Most M.2 sockets nowadays can handle both standards which do look a little different.

Here is a good link for the OP to read.
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:52 PM
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This is not exactly true. M.2 is a form factor while NVMe (rather PCIe) and SATA are the standards. Most M.2 sockets nowadays can handle both standards which do look a little different.

Here is a good link for the OP to read.
Yeah. They are "keyed" differently. Which means the notches in the part that connects to the mobo are different. You really need to be careful here when buying to be certain everything will work together.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:00 PM
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This is not exactly true. M.2 is a form factor...
Also, for the record:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole View Post
M.2 is a form factor...
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:04 PM
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I don't think I'd want my security footage in a bling filled steal-me-now case.
  #7  
Old 05-23-2020, 06:45 PM
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1. I think you'd want to do the math and figure out how much footage you're recording, at what bitrate, how often it'll be overridden, how long it needs to be archived for, etc. There's no one right answer for this. If it's just throwaway footage that you plan to keep for a week or a month or two, and you overwrite it regularly anyway, and losing it isn't the end of the world, just get a regular hard drive (you don't need a SSD for this) with a few TB. If you want a bit more reliability, get two of the same hard drives and put them in a RAID array (many motherboards will support this). I forget which kind of RAID configuration lets you write the same data to both drives, so that if one fails the other can fill in for it, but that's probably what you want. (Other RAID configurations optimize for performance over redundancy, but you don't care about that.)

I don't think an SSD would give you much of a benefit here unless there is some special reliability consideration for this use case of "writing small bits of data 24/7/365, or you plan on regularly viewing all that footage, or want to be able to seek through it quickly. Seems to me that's a problem better solved by having a good indexing system of significant events captured by the camera, rather than requiring you to manually view all that footage with a fast enough drive.

Or if you don't mind a subscription and aren't worried about privacy, you can just get something like a Nest camera and have it all uploaded to the cloud and never have to worry about the maintenance of it yourself. Letting Google process all that also means you get facial recognition, movement sensing, etc., which may or may not be a chore to set up on your own depending on what security system you use. Most security systems are recording useless crap 99% of the time, and Nest is pretty good at alerting you only about the things worth knowing about.

If I were you, and you really don't want to go to the cloud, I'd consider building a separate mini-PC (or just buy one of the ready-made security camera solutions out there) instead of connecting your security system to your gaming PC. There are also some network attached storage devices and cameras that can work together, bypassing a PC altogether. Because would you really want to lose footage every time Windows updates or a driver updates or some game installs a random version of DirectX? It's also kinda a waste of electricity to keep an x86 CPU in a low-power mode just to record some video to a hard drive... you have a bunch of wasted power used to just keep Windows running, versus a proper embedded hardware security system with purpose-made chips just for video recording. Even an 80 plus rated power supply isn't THAT efficient, and over a few years you may end up losing more in electricity what you saved in initial hardware.

2. Are you sure this is a real problem and not a theoretical worry? https://www.oculus.com/blog/oculus-r...t-controllers/ I guess you could look at the motherboard diagrams and see if there's more than one controller, or ask the manufacturer, or just plug things in and see. If it doesn't work, yeah, you can always connect the USB card. You've already seen this, I presume? PS how bizarre that Rift does it that way... saturating a USB 3 bus with glorified 3D joysticks?? I wonder what they're sending. The Vive (and Rift S) needed one USB connection for everything that seems to work fine. How odd.

Last edited by Reply; 05-23-2020 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 05-24-2020, 02:29 PM
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Oculus sensors are basically high definition web cameras. Three of them saturating a host controller appears to be a real problem at least to the degree that Oculus and Oculus users say not to do that, to either accept reduced resolution from one by putting in on USB 2.0 or by buying a 3.0 card which adds a second host controller. I did buy the Startech card for that purpose, but some of the new motherboards out there don't have more than one PCI express slots. The original concept was just a person sitting at their desk with two sensors, rather than roomscale, so Oculus didn't anticipate the problem. (With the cumbersome setup Oculus now uses a single camera on the headset like the Vive). I see there's a thing called USB 3.1 10 GB/S, so maybe that uses a separate host controller, or else the single controller has more bandwidth.

Trying to combine a DVR and a gaming computer might seem odd, but the issue is that the other two computers in the house don't have a good enough CPU (Core i3 off-lease eBay cheapies) to both function as a DVR and for media streaming nor do they have space for a recording rated HDD. I just shut down recording when I'm playing games, but don't want to shut it down for hours at a time to stream Netflix. I suppose one thing I could look at is buying a KVM switch and leaving the old eBay cheapie Dell Core I5 that's my current gaming system / DVR as just a DVR once I strip out the video card and power supply that I put in. (After I bought my Oculus I found it wouldn't work on the laptop I bought for that purpose. I kept the laptop because I liked it apart from that, but it meant that I didn't have enough money to scratch build a gaming PC at the time.

Any kind of cloud storage I'm worried about Comcast data caps even though I only record on motion events.
The footage is just my driveway and porch that's kept for 30 days then overwritten. I wouldn't cry if I lost it due to a hard drive crash.

My sister's gaming PC and my laptop are both SSD for booting and HDD for bulk storage so I'm aware of that concept. Right now 1TB SSDs are prices just high enough that I'm thinking about getting something like a 512 GB SSD with a 2 TB HDD rather than a 1 TB for everything, and I'm aware you're not supposed to use SSDs for DVR recording so if I were to use the gaming computer as a DVR also I'd need a HDD regardless.

Last edited by Mdcastle; 05-24-2020 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 05-26-2020, 11:17 AM
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I would avoid getting a spinning drive if possible. How much room do you need? 1TB SSDs are around $100 and 2TB SATA SSDs are around $200 right now. A SATA SSD will be plenty fast for what you're using it for.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:35 PM
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I would avoid getting a spinning drive if possible. How much room do you need? 1TB SSDs are around $100 and 2TB SATA SSDs are around $200 right now. A SATA SSD will be plenty fast for what you're using it for.
It depends on what kind of workload the drive is meant for.

In some cases a HDD can be more reliable.

In most general cases a SSD is more reliable.

But it depends.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:51 PM
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I don't necessarily agree with avoiding a spinning drive. You can still get higher capacities and longer lifetimes for cheaper if you throw in a spinning drive.

Sure, you can get 1 TB SSDs for cheap enough, and if that's all you need, then that's fine. But if you're getting much more than that, then I'd recommend throwing in a spinning drive. They're fast enough for archival, and, with caching solutions like AMD's StoreMI or the independent PrimoCache, stuff like games load just as quickly as if you had a larger SSD.

I do also note that, while there are SSDs that have lifetimes near that of spinning disks, they tend to get more expensive. So you may also consider a hard drive for those reasons. I know that I always have my cheaper SSDs backed up to my hard drive (as pure copies that I can just boot off of), in addition to my online backup solution (Backblaze:$6/month per PC). That way an SSD failure means maybe a minute to boot from the HD and get back to doing what I want, while I wait to get a replacement SSD.
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Old 05-26-2020, 12:58 PM
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Meanwhile a 2TB HDD is like $50. What about a RAID of HDDs, for a given budget, vs a single SDD?
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Old Yesterday, 06:28 PM
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So this is the proposed build at this point

Lian Li LanCooler II Case (just purchased)

GeForce GTX 1060 Graphics Card (already own), to be replaced with a better one in a few years

WD Black 512 GB NVE SSD

Some sort of 2 TB hard drive

MSI B550 chipset motherboard (for some reason MSI is the only company that seems to know about front panel USB-C)

AMD 3600 or 3300X CPU

Some sort of 8 GB ram (or to I need 16 for a modern build?)

Any thoughts? Do modern motherboards have temperature sensors and only turn the fans up as needed? (You used to plug most of your fans directly into your power supply). Will two fans blowing in plus one and the GPU blowing out be good enough for a positive pressure case?
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Old Yesterday, 07:10 PM
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Looks good. 8GB of RAM will do, 16GB is really nice these days though (I would not go more unless you are doing video editing or otherwise know you need it). If the budget is tight 8GB will be fine but try to get a motherboard that will allow you to expand in the future (e.g. you fill 2 of 4 slots with 8GB and can fill the other two later to get it to 16GB).

Consider fault tolerance for your data. If that is not important then fine. If it is then, well, something else to consider. For most people their data is the thing that is irreplaceable. If so then get it into the cloud, back it up...whatever. Just think about it. If you are like my GF who does everything on GoogleDocs, which is in the cloud, it doesn't matter to her at all.

Modern motherboards will have a temp sensor for the CPU and many can control fans. Some only the CPU fan, others will have built-in stuff for all the other fans. It is a value-add thing they do to pimp up some boards and charge you more money. You can also buy a fan controller which will plug in to the motherboard or have an external panel you can use to control the fans. Your video card also has a temp sensor built-in which (should) control the fans on the video card.
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