Date: 27 October 20, 10:23 AM
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Bill


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Scuzzy, thanks for that explanation, I had no idea that all that was "automatic" depending on the activated connector.  I will go back and look at the Extreme 6, now with an enlightened view.

Do you think that because ASRock says it "supports" the Samsung 951 PCIe 3x 4 lane, the BIOS today allows booting?  The specifications for the Extreme6 section on Storage lists Samsung  gen 3 SSDs  but immediately below that section there is a note with an asterisk  that says "support to be announced"  adding to my confusion.   

A link: http://tinyurl.com/ASRoc-specs    Scroll down for the Ultra M.2
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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Bill, the short answer is "I don't know for sure." I can only speculate that it's a solid "very probably most likely yes, I think." I will say that the more I look into the Extreme6, the more I've decided I will base my build on this motherboard. In researching this board I found some excellent and informative reviews on its M.2 form factors. If you have the time I suggest you read through these:

Tom's Hardware: ASRock Extreme6 and Samsung's XP941 (pay attention to page 7, Windows 7 vs. 8 & Samsung's own drivers)

Tom's Hardware Forum: M.2 SSD question (read the excellent reply)

The SSD Review: ASRock Extreme6 Tests Samsung XP941 M.2 x 4...

I also found this helpful guide on The SSD Review: The SSD Optimization Guide...

Samsung M.2 PCIe SSDs (4 lanes) appear to be the best performance solution for the Extreme6, pretty much blowing everything else out of the water. It's primary limitation is that Samsung PCIe solutions are currently OEM only, which limits their desktop implementation to enthusiasts willing to do a little extra work. Note that The SSD Review article was posted in May 2014, and they were clear that the Extreme6 did boot from the XP941 after a BIOS update. Apparently there were some unmentioned issues, but the link to resolve those issues is broken (the broken link "discussion here" is on page 6). But again, the review is over a year old. I'm hoping those issues are resolved now through BIOS and driver updates.

As already noted, using the Ultra M.2 connector takes lanes from the other PCIe connectors. The biggest drawback is the limitation placed on dual graphic cards, but that's not something I'd entertain anyway. The real advantage for this board will be when PCIe NVMe SSDs become available. Let's see what Samsung makes available with its 951 over the next few weeks, although I won't hold my breath for a retail implementation.

If you are truly interested in the Extreme6 & SSD M.2 options, no doubt you'll learn from my experiences (in other words, pain) as I put this together.  ;D

I'll poast an update on my parts selection before too long.

Scuzzy; can't wait.

scuzzy


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So here's an update:

Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Mid-tower case (purchased on sale for $75.00)
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) RAM (purchased on sale for $90 per set)

Items to follow:
Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Quad-Core 4.0GHz LGA 1150 CPU ($340)
-or-
Intel Core i5-4690K Haswell Quad-Core 3.5GHz LGA 1150 CPU ($240)
ASRock Z97 Extreme6 USB 3.1 motherboard ($192)
be quiet! BN601 Dark Power Pro 650W PSU ($180)
Noctua NH-U9S Premium CPU Cooler ($58)

I noticed the price of the G.SKILL RAM went way up. I bought 2 sets on sale for $90 per set. Today they're selling for $180 per set. Ouch.

I'm not entirely sure on the SSD options at the moment, and I'm getting too tired to research them right now. Plextor's M6e (2 lanes) could be an option, after reading The SSD Review article. Or maybe this Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB PCIe x 4 ($250). Feel free to make recommendations if you see something I missed.

I'm still not sure on Intel i5 vs. i7 CPUs. I ask myself, do I really need a Mustang GT to run to the grocery store? The 18-year-old screams out at me, "Of course you do, you idiot. That was a stupid question." The old man in me says, "Are you nuts?"

Scuzzy; well are you, punk?

Bill


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Thanks for all that info, I have read most of it so far.  i5 vs i7, after reading the comparisons, for my money is no longer a question.  i5 is the clear winner.  Same video and audio, slightly larger cache but the real difference seems to be things like photoshop and high demand multi-tasking.  For me that is not terribly attractive, YMMV.

More later, have to run now to the range for the Monday workout.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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I just noticed that the Newegg price for the RAM remains at $109 for a set. It looks like Newegg is out of stock and the listed price ($178 today) is through a 3rd party.

I'm still dancing back and forth on the CPU, but I'm looking at it the same way you are. I don't often do data intensive work, but when I do I tend to get impatient. But the i5 would likely still meet my needs most days and then some. I keep telling myself that even the i5 is leaps and bounds above my current setups.

Have an awesome day at the range, Bill. I'll be out with my wife most of the day.

Scuzzy; packing heat on a mild, summer day.

scuzzy


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Here's a timely CPU HSF review. I have been quietly been looking at beQuiet products, to include their HSF solutions. Noctua products remain my favorite, so far:

AnandTech: Top Tier CPU Air Coolers...

Bill


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I am currently using a Noctura 2 fan cpu cooler that is very quiet but I think was expensive.  The NH-D14 in the review is the top dog in that race but it's different than the model you cited, and more expensive.

I read all the reviews except the SSD Optimization Guide and two salient points of information  struck me.  The reviewer was able to load windows and boot from the earlier version of the Samsung SSD XP 941 PCIe board, in 2014, and the SSD provides the drivers in the form of a mini BIOS on the board itself that load before the OS.  I am presuming that Samsung provides the same for the newer PCIe SSD 3x4.  That would take the burden off ASRock and make the Samsung more attractive to builders, I think.

But to your question about if I'm seriously interested in the ASRock board, the answer is I don't know.  My present machine, now about 4 years old, seems to be fine and does everything I ask of it. And since the Noctura case fan died,  is very quiet.   To use your analogy, the 18 yr.old says go for it, the older guy asks why.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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scuzzy


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I just ordered this Fractal Design Define R4 Black Pearl (silent case) from Newegg, on sale for $80 delivered. Obviously, this will be for the 2nd build.

I'm also giving very serious consideration to this ASUS Z97-E/USB 3.1 motherboard, currently on sale for $115 + $2.00 S/H. The M.2 feature supports SATA or PCIe (most likely 2 lane). I need time to research if this is a good option, but I gotta run for now.

Scuzzy; pant, pant.

Bill


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Looks nice, but I haven't found a review yet that covers or indicates 2 lanes or 4.  The ASUS site for the board describes them as 2 PCIe 2 slots.

www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Z97DELUXENFC_WLC/

Scroll down the page about half way.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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It looks like you linked the Deluxe motherboard. Here's the correct link: ASUS Z97-E USB 3.1

What do you think, Bill? I'm pretty sure it will be PCIe 2 lanes on the M.2. I'm out and have no time to research this, but it looks like a nice board all around. It doesn't look like it has a connector block though. No big deal, I suppose.

Bill


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Early morning 2.Moro l'll look.
Dinner time!
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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The Asus board has a 2nd generation M.2 (2 lanes), which limits the throughput to 10Gbps (still fast). The ASRock Extreme6 with its 3rd generation M.2 PCIe (4 lanes) is good to 32Gbps.

Somehow the Extreme6 keeps pulling me back. I admit that I really like that it has 2 each M.2 slots as well.

Scuzzy; still don't know what I'm doing.

Bill


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This morning I looked at both, the Deluxe and the one you were interested in.  Seems to me the difference between the two are a bunch of optimizers and BIOS add on features, none of which do much for me. The exception is the fan connectors.  The Deluxe uses 4 pin.  It also seems that both boards use 2 lane M.2.  Which by itself is a major improvement but its not 4 lane.  I wonder how big a difference, in real world computing , 10g vs. 32g would make.  Probably not a lot for me but I'm not a very demanding user.  However my general preference is not to buy a second tier product, cars, phones or motherboards. 
The Deluxe ASUS is $335 or so on Newegg the other is $115.
Bottom line ASRock has the M.2 technology of the future and is $160 today.
I wouldn't mind seeing a professional review though by someone like Tom's of the ASUS boards.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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I have wondered the same about 2-lane vs. 4-lane in real world use. Reality is that M.2 PCIe 2-lane will be much faster than anything I'm used to, but having the latest and greatest is always nice.

At issue is that M.2 PCIe 3rd Gen is still a niche market with plenty of room for growth. Most of those taking advantage of it today are enthusiasts who know what they're doing. Well, maybe some of them know what they're doing. I'm not sure what category I fall into. I looked through just about every Z97 motherboard that ASUS has available, including all of their premium boards, and I did not find any with M.2 PCIe 3rd Gen support. Either ASUS is sleeping at the wheel, or they know something we don't. Or maybe we'll see something in their next lineup.

I gravitate to the ASRock Extreme6 because I like the motherboard overall. Their M.2 PCIe 3rd Gen solution is certainly appealing, along with the added M.2 SATA. On the negative side, the manner in which Extreme6 shares lanes takes the primary PCIe graphics connector from 16 lanes to 8 lanes. As for ASUS, they have a lot going for them and I consider that maybe a single 2-lane solution is all I need. Their sharing solution disables 2 of the PCIe single-lane connectors with no effect on the primary PCIe graphics.

Tom's Hardware has this short review of the ASUS Z97-A motherboard (pages 5, 6 & 7), but it's not too informative.

Scuzzy; for my next build I'll struggle with 8-lane vs. 16 lane.

Bill


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This maybe simply an uninformed question, but if the Ultra M.2 reduces the PCIe primary to 8 lanes and you don't install a graphics card, what does it matter?
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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If I don't install a graphics card it won't matter, but I almost certainly will. I'm strongly considering a pair of EVGA GTX 960 (1 per build).

I gotta take off again, this time due to a court appearance.

Scuzzy; I swear to tell the truth...

Bill


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Looks then as if ASUS is the right choice.  I found reviews of the EVGA GTX 960 SC and the SSC but not the basic non-overclocked version.  Looks great even if it is a bit of overkill!
PCIe 16x with a monster Card (noisy?) and 2 lanes of M.2.  Now to find the right M.2 gen 2 SSD.

I've lookede at several SSDs just now and the  PCIe AHCI drive would seem to be the safest (most likely to work without a hassle)  right now, and about $110.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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Just to clarify... I will most likely try out the onboard graphics at first, but I'm sure I'll upgrade to a graphics card.

The EVGA GTX 960 4GB PCIe 3x16 GPU card ($240 today) I'm considering has a "0 db" feature in which the fan stops if the GPU's temp is 60 C or less. The fan ramps up only if the card starts heating up. There's also a 2GB version of this same card, currently on sale for $210 (normally $220). The cases I selected will easily accept this card, so I have no concerns there.  I currently have an EVGA GTX 560 and it has never been excessively noisy. It's usually just a mild hum at most.

For now I'm still tossed between ASRock and ASUS, even if I continue leaning toward the former. I just don't know for sure. To complicate things I'm adding the ASUS Z97-PRO Gamer motherboard ($160) to the mix. I like the board overall and its sturdiness, and it gets great reviews for its audio and its Intel Gigabit network controller. Don't let the gamer moniker throw you off. The bottom line is that it's a high quality motherboard. There are plenty of professional reviews for the Z97-PRO Gamer, and they are consistently positive.

FWIW: I obviously want the most bang for my buck, but I do have some leeway on the finances. Once this is all done I hope to not have any regrets. I want 2 fast systems identically configured that will hold us over for the next 5+ years.

Scuzzy; holding on.

Bill


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That's good news, I missed that bit about the fans, probably along with several other things.

The Newegg reviews for the Gamer are, overall very good, and the couple that had problems also have responses from ASUS.  A good sign.

Bill, my head is swimming.......
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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scuzzy


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I may have found my motherboard, although it is pricey compared to others. It's the ASUS Z97-Pro WiFi AC/USB 3.1 motherboard ($215 today). The board has a single M.2 PCIe 2-lane connector. The built-in WiFi ac and USB 3.1 are bonuses, especially the WiFi. It was on my list of original goodies that I'd like to see on a motherboard. I much prefer built-in wireless, as compared to an add-on card. Same thing for the USB 3.1, even if it's only 2 connectors.

AnandTech gave it an Editor's Choice Silver Award in this review.

Now I'm hunting for an M.2 SSD solution.

scuzzy


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I'm getting things narrowed. It's currently a toss up between the ASRock Extreme6 and the ASUS A97-PRO WiFi AC/USB 3.1. If push came to shove I'd probably buy the ASUS today. I'm impressed by the board overall, especially for its upgraded audio, built-in WiFi, USB 3.1 & Intel NIC.

I learned that I can easily add a PCIe 3rd Gen adapter to the ASUS. The problem is that no matter what the primary PCIe will drop from 16 lanes to 8 when installing a card on one of the secondary 8-lane PCIe slots. It's simply a limitation of the Intel chipset, as there are only so many lanes to go around. This is whether I add a PCIe SSD to the Extreme6's M.2 PCIe 3rd Gen slot, or whether I add a 4-lane PCIe adapter to any other motherboard. So if I use a 4-lane PCIe SSD, the primary PCIe slot drops from 16-lane to 8-lane.

Regardless, I'm considering the ASUS A97-PRO motherboard along with this Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB PCIe 2.0 x 4 ($260). It's an M.2 SSD mounted to a PCIe adapter. The SSD is a big chunk of change, so it does give me pause. I'm not entirely sure I want to swing 2 of those puppies, especially with the added cost of the ASUS board compared to the Extreme6. But it is a honking fast SSD.

Scuzzy; honk, honk. If I could just get this thing out of second gear...

Bill


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Certainly seems fast but I don't understand the form factor.  My initial reaction was the card mount makes it backwards compatible, but on a board with the M.2 slot why bother. 
I chuckled at the Newegg commenter that tried to put one of these in a Lenovo desktop and the SSD disabled all the internal SATA ports!
Yes it adds 2 more PCIe lanes but at what cost, they have to come from somewhere. I could probably go back and find out.........The cost is also a big issue.

 If you're prepared to use second gen 2 lane with the ASUS Pro, this seems like a bit of over-engineering, beyond the designer's intent.  At times  I think doing so adds additional complications, or at least the potential. 
I understand  the Primary PCIe slot drops to x8 so in either case so your vid, card is effected.  But I think somewhere I read that x8 with a vid. card functions as well as x16, yeah I think I read that somewhere.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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Bill, I'm thinking I won't go that route anyway due to the expense. At some point the pain factor kicks in and you just gotta say "no". But to answer your question the adapter opens up all 4 lanes, vs. the motherboard's 2-lane solution.

I read in one of the tech reviews (heck if I remember which), that the only people who will really benefit from PCIe 4-lane SSDs will be power users who do media intensive work, and such. The reviewer stated that most people, including gamers, will never notice the difference in their daily computing.

For now I'll stay focused on the ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi with whatever PCIe SSDs I can find to take advantage of the M.2 socket. I can always upgrade the SSD down the road if really needed.

The Extreme6 is not off the table yet, but I do have my choice down to one of these two motherboards.

Bill


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Well that's progress.  I think I'm glad you've discounted the SSD card form.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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FYI: I found this truly useful M.2 FAQ at Kingston's site.

While looking through the Z97-PRO WiFi manual, I find that the motherboard supports M.2 Socket 3 "M Key". That means that the socket will physically support PCIe x4/SATA modules, but at a maximum of 2 lanes. So I can connect a 4-lane module to the board, but it will default to 2-lane speeds.

Bill


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Wow, the Kingston FAQs have a wealth of information.  It got me to thinking that there must be a reason ASUS specified the M style connector.  They could have specified B.
Speculating now, maybe ASUS is working on an upgrade for the 2 lane boards, or maybe that piece of the hardware will simply carry forward to the next iteration of 4 lane boards.  Only time will tell.  But in either case it narrows the SSD selection some.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

scuzzy


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I would think that ASUS used the M standard to accept 4-lane SSDs, even if they can only run at 2-lane speeds on this motherboard. It gives users more compatibility options. I'm guessing their next line up will introduce 4-lane solutions as well.

Bill


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Well I hope you have better luck than I've had.  You maybe pushing the envelope for PCIe ssds.  Gone till tomorrow..........
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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Here's another update:

What I have purchased so far:
Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Mid-tower case (purchased on sale for $75.00)
Fractal Design Define R4 Silent Mid-tower case (purchased on sale for $80.00)
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) RAM (purchased on sale for $90 per set)
Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Quad-Core 4.0GHz LGA 1150 CPU (purchased on sale for $325)

Items to follow:
ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi USB 3.1 motherboard ($215)
-or-
ASRock Z97 Extreme6/AC motherboard ($180)
be quiet! Straight Power 500W PSU 80 Plus Gold ($110)
Samsung 850 EVO M.2 250GB SATA3 SSD ($118)
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler ($79)

Eventually, if not sooner:
EVGA GTX 960 4GB PCIe 3x16 GPU card ($240)

As you can see I went with the i7-4790K (I was a sucker for a $15-off weekend sale). I opted to buy only one, as I want to make sure that my build is what I expect it to be before continuing with the 2nd build. I also upgraded to a better model Noctua CPU cooler.

I was planning on a bigger/better PSU model. But after spending some time at Power Supply Calculator, it looks like 500 watts is more than sufficient. Even with an eventual GTX 960 GPU and running the computer 16 hours a day, the calculator recommends a 460 watt PSU. I added extra fans, extra SSDs, an HDD and other peripherals to the calculation, just in case. I even went as far as to overclock the CPU 15% (ain't gonna happen, folks).

As for the SSD, I'm thinking a standard M.2 SATA3 will do for now. Once PCie options are more prevalent, especially NVMe, I can always upgrade if the need is there. I'm betting it won't be necessary any time in the foreseeable future.

Assuming I go with the ASUS motherboard and add a GTX 960 GPU, this places a single build at approximately $1,257~.

Bill


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I'm curious what made you discount the SAMSUNG SM951 M.2 PCIe ssd? 
The Noctura NH D14 changes the direction of the airflow from straight up to sideways.  Was that your intention or did you just opt for a higher rated cooler?
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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It's not that the SM951 is entirely out of the picture, so much as I'm thinking of holding out for NVMe. The SM951 NVMe should be released soon (as in any day now) although they'll probably be in short supply initially, which means they'll sell for a premium. I'm also not entirely sure that booting Windows 7 on a Samsung SM951 is a sure thing. I may have to jump through some hoops to make that happen. I have read in multiple forums that the only way to get Windows to boot on an SM951 is by installing Windows through a USB flash drive. Any other way, to include cloning, will not work. I have more questions than answers in that arena.

My other consideration is that if I go with the ASUS A97-PRO WiFi, then I only get a PCIe 2-lane solution on the M.2 socket. To take full advantage of a PCIe 4-lane SSD on that motherboard, I'll have to go with an adapter. Or I could just run the SM951 on 2 lanes and still get better performance than SATA. I consider just waiting for the technology to mature and then go with a PCIe adapter solution. Then I'll tell myself that I should have gone straight to a Z99 motherboard and a 40-lane CPU.  ::)

As for the Noctua, I'm looking at the higher performing cooler is all. I still need some time to look over those options. For that matter, I remain flexible on whatever I haven't purchased. I'm strongly leaning toward the ASUS A97-PRO, but I continue looking hard at the Extreme6. I can still be swayed on the SSD, and I may go for a larger PSU if I catch a good sale. There's still the GPU option as well.

One other fudge factor is that I will have to purchase new copies of Windows. My current computers will go to 2 of my kids, which means the Windows licenses will stay with those builds. So should I buy Windows 7 and possibly upgrade to Windows 10? Should I buy Windows 8.1 to ensure a boot installation on an SM951, and then upgrade to Windows 10? Should I go straight to Windows 10, which I haven't even tried yet and hope it boots on an SM951?

Here's a great Tom's Hardware article on the Samsung SM951-NVMe Versus AHCI Versus SATA 850 Pro. The article reminds users that NVMe will only work if the motherboard firmware supports it. From the article, "If your board vendor of choice isn't deliberately adding NVMe support, you won't be booting to an NVMe drive any time soon." I have no idea where the ASUS Z97-PRO is on NVMe support.

This Tom's Hardware forum topic is also timely. The person who replied (JohnnyLucky) has built a fantastic database on SSD reviews, and he makes good points on warranty & support on the SM951. He also points out possible heat issues with M.2: Samsung 850 Pro or Samsung SM951 on Asus Z97-Pro

Scuzzy; I am so confused.

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That makes two of us.  But at least you're logical!
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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That solves several problematic decisions all at once (or twice).  Back to a simple sata connector, 2.5" form factor in an already very fast SSD, while you maintain the option to replace later with an M.2 when that gets sorted out.  Good decision in my book, scuzzy wins again!  BTW, I saw no mention of a mounting bracket in the package.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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Thanks for the encouragement, Bill. It was a hard decision, but ultimately I decided to play it safe with a proven SSD. The 10-year warranty was a big motivator.

I have no need for SSD mounting brackets with the new builds. The cases I selected have a built-in feature that allows for up to 2 SSDs to be mounted directly behind the motherboard mounting plate. The SSDs will get screwed directly to the plate before the motherboard is mounted. It's secure, the SSDs will be completely out of sight, and the cabling will be managed through cable grommets.

No firm decision yet, but the ASUS A97-PRO will likely be my pick.

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You might be able to remove the HD cage completely, lots of air circulation then.

After re-reading the reviews I started wondering if the Samsung 850 Pro would be a reasonable upgrade for my present system.  Seems a whole lot faster. "course then I started thinking about a clean install and the work entailed.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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Yes, each case has 2 HDD cages stacked vertically. Each case will have both cages removed completely for my builds.

Here's what I've purchased so far:
Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Mid-tower case (on sale $75)
Fractal Design Define R4 Silent Mid-tower case (on sale $80)
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1866 RAM (2 sets on sale, $90 per set)
Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Quad-Core 4.0GHz LGA 1150 CPU (on sale $325)
Samsung 850 PRO 256GB SATA3 SDDs (2 ea on sale, $145 ea)

Items to follow:
ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi USB 3.1 motherboard ($215)
-or-
ASRock Z97 Extreme6/AC motherboard ($180)
be quiet! Straight Power 500W PSU 80 Plus Gold ($110)
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler ($79)

Eventually, if not sooner:
EVGA GTX 960 4GB PCIe 3x16 GPU card ($240)

I still need to look at getting a couple DVD burners. I had hoped to do without them, but I often burn and playback audio CDs.

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I may have found the ideal power supply for my needs. Tech reviews rave on these two modular PSUs, which are essentially the same unit. As I understand it Silverstone and SeaSonic collaborated on its design, and both models are manufactured by SeaSonic:

Silverstone Tek Nightjar NJ520 520 watt PSU ($150)

SeaSonic SS-520FL2 520 watt PSU ($130)

All the tech reviews I have read agree that they are solid, accurate, and consistently high performing units. They are 80 Plus Titanium certified and completely fanless. There were complaints of capacitor whining (electronic noise) with some early units, but for the most part the problem has been resolved. Supposedly only people with very sensitive hearing will notice, and only if they go looking for it. The only real difference between the two models (besides cosmetics) is that the SeaSonic is currently cheaper and has a better warranty (7 years vs. Silverstone's 5 years).

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Just for some thought the ASUS X99 E WS - http://tinyurl.com/nzpe8kl - is only $40 more and the LGA 2111-V3 i7 5820k is $50 more (same link).  You could still RMA your i7.

Maybe a bit of overkill but would provide you with plenty of lanes and is slightly more future proof.

In for a penny, in for a pound.......
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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I'd have to RMA the RAM as well. I initially considered the X99 platform, but with building 2 systems and the associated cost I thought twice. I'm pretty sure what I'm putting together will be anything but a slouch, anyway. I have also considered continuing with the first build as planned, but going with an X99 system for the second build.

Scuzzy; still time.

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I was half joking but the second build would definitely be interesting as an X99 but then everyone would want one.
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FYI: I gotta take off early for a DUI hearing in town, followed by a full shift starting a few hours later. But I wanted to update that I bought the SeaSonic PSU I linked above, along with 3 each ASUS DVD writers, on sale at $12.99 each. I figured at that price it wouldn't hurt to have a spare. I'll update the list as I get time.

Scuzzy; running out of time.

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I made a slight adjustment. I RMA'd the G-Skill RAM for a 16GB set of HyperX Fury DDR3 1866, currently on sale for $84. The sticks come in various colors, but they are identical otherwise. I would prefer black, but the blue sticks are the ones on sale. So blue wins. For the sale price they could have been pink for all I care.  ::)

Aside from the HyperX being $6.00 cheaper than the G-Skill, I changed over due to the smaller heat sinks on the HyperX sticks, and its PNP with the ASUS board. As I reviewed the DIMM list, ASUS specifically supports the HyperX, whereas the G-Skill needs manual input. Not a big deal by itself, but more important was the smaller heat sinks on the HyperX. I kept reading too many users fighting with aftermarket CPU heat sinks and tall RAM.

So this is where I am now:

Purchased so far:
Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Mid-tower case (on sale $75.00)
HyperX Fury Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1866 RAM (on sale $84)
Intel Core i5-4690K Haswell Quad-Core 3.5GHz LGA 1150 CPU (on sale $230)
Samsung 850 PRO 256GB SATA3 SDDs (on sale $145)
SeaSonic SS-520FL2 520 watt PSU (on sale $130)
ASUS 24x DVD Burner (on sale $13)

Items to follow:
ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi USB 3.1 motherboard ($215)
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler ($79)

The total for this build is now at $971. I'll order the remaining parts next week.

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I looked at the G-skill shark fins and wondered how high they were.  You just answered the question.  This is turning out to be an adjust on the fly project.  Guess Premier membership is a good thing!
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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I'm not seeing any other big changes with this build. It's now just a matter of ordering the motherboard and CPU heat sink fan, and then slapping the puppy. Together.

Scuzzy; not necessarily in that order.

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I pretty much ordered the remaining parts for my wife's computer, with a minor goof:

Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 mid-tower case ($75.00)
HyperX Fury Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 1866 RAM ($84)
Intel Core i5-4690K Haswell Quad-Core 3.5GHz LGA 1150 CPU ($230)
Samsung 850 PRO 256GB SATA3 SDDs ($145)
SeaSonic SS-520FL2 520 watt PSU ($130)
ASUS 24x DVD Burner ($13)
ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi USB 3.1 motherboard ($215)
EVGA GTX 960 GPU Card ($195)

I forgot to order: ::)
Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler ($79)

Grand total once I order the CPU cooler (tomorrow, I'm tired now) will be $1,166. The parts should all be in by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Scuzzy; bedtime for Bozo.

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If you have time, I'd really like to see "build in process" pictures.  I was wondering this morning, looking at the two cases, do you think you will have to mount the SSD power and data cables before you  fit the motherboard?  Shouldn't be a problem with the modular PSU, just wondering.  I'm also interested in your experience with the front panel connections.  Thanks.
Fractal Design R5 | Asus  Z170 Pro | Intel i5 6600k | 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws  DDR4 2133 | Seasonic 650w PSU | eVGA GTX 550 TI | Samsung 960 M2 500 GB | Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB | ASUS Burner | Windows 7 64-bit

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You bet, Bill. I'll do the best I can. Both cases are identical on the inside. The biggest difference is the sound proofing and the front; one is open, the other has a sound-proofed, aluminum laminated door with magnetic latch. 20/20 hindsight being what it is, I would have purchased 2 of the silent models. But both cases will work out fine for my needs.

The SSDs must be mounted prior to the motherboard since they get screwed down from behind. While it's less than intuitive, it frees up the front HHD racks all together. I'll see how it goes with the front panel connectors. The audio cable looks like it will be just long enough to reach its final destination on the mobo. I noticed ASUS placed the audio connector forward an inch or two, so that will help. It should be a very clean build once it's done. I'll probably start assembly next Wednesday.