CSS HTML Validator 2019 Development Computer Build

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Albert Wiersch
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CSS HTML Validator 2019 Development Computer Build

Post by Albert Wiersch » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:04 pm

What's This?

I thought I'd "document" yet another new development computer build. I plan to use this new computer to develop the last update(s) of CSS HTML Validator 2019 (v19), the next major update of CSS HTML Validator 2020 (v20), and probably 2021 (v21) as well. Some people might be interested in what hardware CSS HTML Validator is developed on, or just interested in the experiences of putting together your own computer. Therefore I thought I'd share my experiences and some photos.

I plan to update this post as new things come to mine or corrections are made. This is currently a preliminary post that will get frequent updates.

Previous Machine

I posted about my previous computer build in 2012, and that computer lasted about 5 years which is the longest I've gone without a major computer upgrade (I originally expected to get only 3 years of development use out of it). During that time (2012-2017), it did not seem to me that there was any major breakthrough to justify a new build. However, 2017 was a different story with AMD's new Ryzen and Threadripper processors, and Intel's new offerings. I posted about my new 2017 build here, which lasted about 2 years. Things seem to really be moving again when it comes to CPUs (thanks to the new Ryzen 3000 series).

My previous machine (the 2017 build) that I used to develop CSS HTML Validator was no slouch. It was an Intel Core i7-7820X with 32GB of RAM and 5 monitors. Unfortunately I suffered from several issues with this machine, including too frequent "difficult" boot-ups and blue screens of death (BSODs). Regarding the boot-ups, I had trouble getting it to boot sometimes (the monitors would not display anything). I think it had something to do with all my monitors and using DisplayPort. Messing with the video connections (like disconnecting one of the DisplayPort cables or connecting an HDMI cable) would often resolve this issue (and it seemed to occur more with my 1060 video card than the 1660 I later upgraded to). As for the BSODs (mostly of the CLOCK_WATCHDOG_TIMEOUT variety), after a long time, I finally discovered that a powered USB 3.0 hub was causing the issue (at least most of the BSODs but not all). After I stopped using the hub the reliability of the system was much improved but I still experienced a couple of BSODs while viewing some videos, which I hypothesize could be a display driver issue. Needless to say, the 2017 build left a bad taste in my mouth. I am hoping the i7-7820X system will work better in it's new function (and so far it has). You can read more about my previous 2017 i7-7820X development machine here.

And if you want to go furthest back, you can read about my 2010 build with a Core i7 920.

Overclocking the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

I currently have no plans to overclock the 3900X CPU. The reports are that it already runs near its fastest speed and overclocking is not worth it.

Why a New Build?

It's only been about 2 years since my last build but things have been moving relatively quickly the last 2 years and especially now with the Ryzen 9 3000 series CPUs which are shaking up the CPU market. The 12/24 core AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU should be a significant improvement over the 8/16 core Intel i7-7820X in my current system, and will cost less* to build than the Intel system I built about 2 years ago. Building CSS HTML Validator should take significantly less time with 12 cores and 24 threads than it did before.

* If I recall correctly, RAM and SSD prices are cheaper now, as well as video cards (the mining craze has subsided). The X470 motherboard I bought is also cheaper than the X299 motherboard of my previous build. The 3900X CPU is also cheaper than the i7-7820X CPU of my last build. It's a good time to build a new machine!

Why Build Your Own Machine?

I like to build my own machines because I find it enjoyable. I like doing the research, picking out the individual components, and putting it together. I don't do it to save money. It's definitely more expensive for me to build a computer with the components that I want than to simply buy a computer off the shelf.

Building my own machine lets me research the parts that I want, choosing high quality and high performance components. My philosophy when building a new development computer is to get a "high end" computer but not the "highest end" where you pay a lot more for a little gain in performance. For example, I chose the new 12/24 core AMD Ryzen 9 3900X because I thought it would make for a powerful machine without spending a small fortune. A 16/32 core CPU (3950X) is suppose to be available in September but I expect the 3900X to be more than adequate.

Note that building your own machine can also be very time consuming. It takes a lot of time to research to pick out the parts and put the system hardware together. If you're fortunate, it works without any major problems, but I've put together systems before that have had serious issues that took days to figure out. Sometimes you may have to get new parts (after you figure out which part is bad!). After the hardware is put together and working, it can take a long time to get the software right too, depending on what you use. If you're upgrading the OS at the same time, then some applications might not work or you might want to switch to other applications or new versions. When you build your own machine, you'd be extremely lucky if you didn't even run into any 'minor' issues. Just hope you don't run into any 'major' issues that could take days to figure out.

The Parts

CPU

I purchased the motherboard and CPU with a combo discount. The combo deal came with an AMD RYZEN 5 2600X 6-Core 3.6 GHz (4.2 GHz Max Boost) Socket AM4 95W YD260XBCAFBOX Desktop Processor (purchased from Newegg). My plan is to use this processor until I can obtain a good deal on a AMD Ryzen 9 3900X. Currently the 3900X processors are selling for full retail (or more) and are out-of-stock at most places. I'll also use the 2600X to update the motherboard BIOS to one that will work with the new AMD 3000 series processors.

I've now been using the Ryzen 2600X for awhile and I'm impressed. Yes, it is slower than the 8-core i7-7820X but really not that much slower (and it's hard to tell that it's slower for most of what I do). The machine has also been very reliable and more trouble-free (so far) than my i7-7820X system.

CPU Cooler

I bought a Noctua NH-D15 SSO2 D-Type Premium CPU Cooler, NF-A15 x 2 PWM Fans. The box it came in was surprisingly big. It's quite a large CPU cooler but it's suppose to be easy to install. I haven't installed it yet but I will when I get the final component, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU.

According to Coolers & Cases Really Matter for Ryzen 3000 CPUs | Thermal Scaling & Frequency, it looks like a good cooler could boost processing speed.

Motherboard

I decided to buy an ASUS ROG Strix X470-F Gaming AM4 AMD X470 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard because I did not want an X570 due to the extra electricity it uses and heat it generates even when you have no PCIe 4.0 devices. I do not currently see any significant advantage of PCIe 4.0 and did not want to have a proprietary active cooling fan on the motherboard to cool the X570 chip. Such fans can be noisy and a point of failure, and cannot be easily replaced with a standard fan should they fail.

AMD says the new 3000 series processors should run without performance penalty on pre-X570 motherboards (although no PCIe 4.0 of course). It's too bad Intel doesn't have backward motherboard compatibility like AMD does.

See also: AMD Ryzen 3900X & 3700X Tested on X470

Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming motherboard and AMD Ryzan 2600X CPU

RAM

For DDR4 RAM I'm planning to use the RAM in my previous machine: G.SKILL TridentZ Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3600 (PC4 28800) Intel X299 / Intel Z270 Platform Desktop Memory Model F4-3600C16Q-32GTZKK (purchased from Newegg). This is DDR4 3600 (PC4 28800) with timings of 16-16-16-36 @ 1.35V. The RAM passed hours of testing with memtest and has a lifetime warranty when I tested it with my previous build.

As luck would have it, the speed and timings of this RAM seem optimal for Ryzen 3000 series processors so I'm really hoping it will work with a 3900X. The RAM does not work at 3600MHz with my 2600X CPU but the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs are suppose to have a superior memory controller.

Case

I decided on a Cooler Master MasterCase H500 ATX Mid-Tower w/ Tempered Glass Side Panel, Transparent/ Mesh Front Option, Carrying Handle & 2x 200mm RGB Fans w/RGB Controller (purchased from Newegg) due to good reviews, price, air flow, and low noise level. I'm not sure how much I will like the look yet. I probably would have preferred something that looks more subdued but not at the expense of functionality like air flow (vs the be quiet! Silent Base 601) and lack of USB ports (vs the NZXT 500).

Power Supply

I chose a Seasonic FOCUS Plus Series SSR-550FX 550W 80+ Gold Intel ATX 12V Full Modular 120mm FDB Fan Compact 140 mm Size Power Supply (purchased from Newegg) for it's reputation, price, and efficiency. 550 watts also seamed like the right wattage. Getting a more powerful power supply than you really need is wasteful and can cause the power supply to run at lower efficiency.

Video Cards

I bought a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 GAMING OC 6G Graphics Card, 3 x WINDFORCE Fans, 6GB 192-Bit GDDR5, GV-N1660GAMING OC-6GD Video Card (purchased from Newegg) to upgrade the 1060 card in my previous system and I'm going to move this card to my new system.

It runs 4 of my 5 monitors and should be plenty fast for my development needs which does not require much 3D.

Monitors

I'm going to use the same monitors as I did with my previous system which include 2x Dell U3014's, 2x Dell U2415's and 1 Dell U2412M. I use DisplayCAL and an X-Rite i1Display Pro so that monitor brightness and color are consistent because it would be too distracting if the monitors had inconsistent brightness or colors.

OS & Application Drive

I chose a SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS 500GB Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V7S500B/AM (purchased from Newegg) due to its performance, reliability, and support. 500GB is just the right size for my needs for an OS drive. I could have saved money with a lesser brand but I didn't think it was worth the higher risk of running into trouble and potentially being less reliable.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB SSD and WD Blue 1TB SSD

Storage Drives

I chose a WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB Internal SSD - SATA III 6Gb/s 2.5"/7mm Solid State Drive - WDS100T2B0A (purchased from Newegg) because of the brand name, reviews, and price (I bought it when it was on sale). This drive will be used to store miscellaneous files and a backup of the source code stored on the Intel 900P drive.

Intel Optane 900P SSD Drive

I'm going to use this from my previous machine.

Image

The Intel 900P uses a new type of non-volatile memory technology (3D XPoint ("cross-point")) that is lightning fast (compared to NAND) while also providing a significant boost in endurance (10 DWPD (drive writes per day) vs 0.3 which is typical for NAND based SSDs). I moved my Outlook PST file to it as well as my source code and temp drive.

It's nice not to have any mechanical drives in my development machine or worry about drive endurance. The 900P drive is "only" 280GB but that is plenty for only putting heavily used files and folders on it.

DVD/Blu-ray Reader/Writer

This is the second development computer that I've built without a DVD/Blu-ray drive because it's almost never used anymore. If I ever need a DVD/Blu-ray drive then I'll just hook up my USB one.

Other Components

Some other components I'm using include a Logitech Illuminated Ultrathin Keyboard K740, a Logitech G502 mouse, and a Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam 1080P Camera. I also use a USB drive dock. I highly recommend drive docks for techies.

Software

Moving to a new computer can be very time consuming, and most of that time (assuming there are no hardware problems that you need to solve first) is the installation and configuration of software and drivers (and fixing problems). Here is some software that I am using on my new build:

* Windows 10 Pro (x64)
* Firefox (my primary browser), and other browsers for testing (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, IE, etc.)
* Microsoft Office 365
* Embarcadero RAD Studio 10.3.1 Tokyo (w/Update 1)
* Lots of programming components
* Directory Opus 12 (x64) by GP Software for file management
* PhraseExpander by Nagarsoft to cut down on typing - very handy
* FinePrint and pdfFactory - great printing utilities
* ACDSee Photo Studio Professional 2018 for image browsing and some editing
* Adobe Photoshop Elements 14
* PuTTY for secure access to servers
* EmEditor (x64) (a text editor)
* DisplayCAL monitor calibration software - I consider this a "necessity" when using multiple monitors when they are different models. This makes the whites look the same and the colors better. If you don't use color profiles, then the whites on the monitors can be very noticeably different. It also helps you set each monitor's brightness at the same level.
* CPU-Z & HWMonitor to monitor system stats like CPU speed, fan speed, temperatures, and more
* Hard Disk Sentinel PRO (a utility to monitor drives)
* WordWeb Pro
* 7-Zip File Manager
* & more

Miscellaneous

I bought several components using a citi credit card with price protection so I should be getting some money back because the prices have dropped on some components. I really enjoy this credit card benefit but unfortunately they are ending this benefit. On the bright side I will likely be able to buy the remaining components (like 3900X and Noctua cooler) before the price protection benefit is no more.

In the Near Future

I'm going to put it all together with the 2600X and then upgrade to a 3900X later.

Photos

Asus ROG Strix X470-F Gaming motherboard, AMD Ryzan 2600X CPU, Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB, and 16GB XPG GAMMIX D10 DDR4 RAM

More photos to come.
Image
Albert Wiersch

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