Solved

First build for physics/math

Hey folks,
My son is looking for help on a build for a non-gaming data heavy system. This is a first build, so be gentle...!

Approximate Purchase Date: soon, but not urgent

Budget Range: 1500 (but flexible if there's a great improvement...)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Data crunching, (Matlab, mathematica, Maple, more, I'm sure...!) Internet, watching movies - no real gaming needs.

Are you buying a monitor: Yes


Parts to Upgrade: All new system (he uses a MacAir at the moment.)

Do you need to buy OS: Yes - I imagine unix/mac is wise to have as well as Microsoft

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: no preference

Location: NYC and NY state

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: Maybe - if for gaming, not necessary

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe (don't know what this is...?

Your Monitor Resolution: Your suggestion

Additional Comments: Thanks for your help!!

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Wanting to build a lasting and expandable system that will last into grad school and beyond....

Include a list of any parts you have already selected with descriptively labeled links for parts. Please do not post only links.

No parts selected yet

Thanks agin!

-DJ
18 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about build physics math
  1. Welcome to the zoo.

    SLI Crossfire is the ability to use multiple Graphics processors for uber graphics performance.

    For a number crunching machine where we are unsure of the numbers and how much they must be crunched an i7 or Xeon processor is recommended. (see consequences later) It may be overkill, but.....

    No overclocking (to get more extreme performance) The stock CPU cooler may be too noisy, it can be replaced fairly easily of it proves to be a distraction.

    The Motherboard should be modern, a H97 which uses modern and upper quality parts. The size is unimportant. Mini-ITX is very compact, but Micro ATX or larger would work too.

    Memory. for intensive tasks, like video processing, 16GB is recommended and if Virtual Machines are to be run, it would help. Lower latency CAS 8 or 9 would be better.

    Stoarage: A 128GB or 256GB Solid State Drive on the motherboard mSATA would be the fastest choice for the operating system and applications.
    A Hard Disk Drive of at least 1TB is needed for bulk storage.

    GPU, you don't need any, and could game weakly on the i7's Integrated GPU, but that would be very limiting. Most Xeon chips have no integrated GPU, so in that case you would need to and in any case I would choose to throw a $150 class Discrete GPU in there. NVidia GTX750ti is lower power and powerful, Radeon 260X, or 270 are more power consuming and perform better.

    Power supply. A good 450 to 550 W power supply would be more than you need, but allow for the future and just about any modern low power graphics card.

    This explains the grades of power supplies. https://community.newegg.com/eggxpert/computer_hardware/f/135081/t/45344.aspx This is a very important area to buy good. Cut corners elsewhere.

    Monitor. 23" 5ms IPS like this https://pcpartpicker.com/part/acer-monitor-umvh6aa003
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824009483

    should cover all the bases.

    Windows 8.1 should be the operating system, upgraded to Windows 10 quickly if all goes well.

    I can build a specific configuration if you wish, using pcpartpicker.com
  2. DonkeyOatie (love the name, BTW) - Wow. Thanks so much for the primer... I have lots of looking to do now! Yes, I'd love to see your recommended configuration if you're up for it...!

    As far as OS goes, does partitioning for both make any sense? I've looked at some grad school sites and some departments are all Unix or Mac for physics, while recommending flexibility to go back and forth....

    I'll look at the build lessons here to get my head around it more....

    Thanks!!
  3. No. I would recommend separate disk drives for each OS, and then you could choose which one to boot off.

    Put your main one (most used intensive) on the SSD and the other on the HDD. It would be possible in your budget to have multiple SSDs for OS and applications.

    I'm teaching my students how to build. My build thread is here: (there's lots of miscellaneous chatter too, but it's FUN!) http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-2328703/build-log-mini-itx-middle-school/page-6.html#14435352

    I'll post back something when I get home. I hope someone else chimes in too. The interplay of ideas is where the best solutions come from.
  4. danjenkins,

    As it happens I was asked a few months ago to specify a system for Matlab, flight dynamics problems. That system had fast, dual 8-core Xeons, 128GB of RAM, a large PCIe SSD main drive and would have cost about $12,000 range. My friend instead contracted the work!

    Most custom algorithmic programs are completely multi-threaded and so can use all the available threads full bore and cab benefit from co-processors such as NVIDIA Tesla and Xeon Phi. As extreme precision is necessary due to the possibility of compounded errors, it's essential in my view to use ECC error-correcting RAM. If there will be 3D simulations a very fast graphics card with a wide bandwidth and lot of memory is desirable, but if it's numbers, a strong 2D performance is all that's necessary.

    The following system idea is what I would describe as a minimalist system for this kind of work in that it is 4-core and limited to 32GB. Also, as a LGA1150 / Xeon E3, the memory bandwidth and PCIe lanes are limited as compared to LGA2011 / Xeon E5, which would be my preference. LGA2011 may also be upgraded in future to 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and even 18 cores.

    Ideally, giving the possibility of large, complex problems as time progresses, I would suggest a system having a dual LGA2011 (or the new LGA2011-3) motherboard, starting with a single 6-core Xeon E5-2XXX-eries CPU and 32GB RAM and then adding the second CPU and another 32GB later. However, the starting point would be $2500 or more. a medium solution would use a single Xeon E5-1600 series like the excellent 6-core E5-1650 V2 -or V3 if it's LGA2011-3 and that CPU could be changed for a 10 -core later.

    Anyway, here are a couple of system ideas:

    BambiBoom PixelCannon Cadamodarendergrapharific iWork TurboBlast ExtremeSignature SuperModel 8000 ®©$$™®£™©™_ 10.8.14

    1. Intel Xeon E5-1630 v3 Quad-Core Processor 3.7 / 3.8GHz 0GT/s 10MB LGA 2011-v3 CPU, OEM > $380
    ____ http://ark.intel.com/products/82764/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5-1630-v3-10M-Cache-3_70-GHz?q=e5-1630
    ____ http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=E5-1630V3

    2. Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Fan For Intel LGA1366/1156/1155/1150/775 & AMD FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2 > $31.

    3. Motherboard: ASRock X99 Extreme4 LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard > $240
    ____ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157543&cm_re=asrock_x99_extreme_4-_-13-157-543-_-Product

    4. Crucial 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM ECC DDR4 2133 (PC4-17000) Server Memory Model CT2K8G4RFS4213 > $244
    ____ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148839&cm_re=Crucial_16GB_%282_x_8GB%29_288-Pin_DDR4_SDRAM_ECC_DDR4_2133_%28PC4-17000%29_Server_Memory-_-20-148-839-_-Product

    5. GPU: PNY NVIDIA Quadro K620 2GB DDR3 DVI/DisplayPort Low Profile PCI-Express Video Card> $169.

    ____ http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=PNY-K620G2

    6. Crucial MX100 CT256MX100SSD1 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) ) > $113 (OS, applications, working files)
    ____ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148820&cm_re=crucial_mx110-_-20-148-820-_-Product

    7. Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200RPM SATA3/SATA 6.0 GB/s 64MB Hard Drive > $82 (Files, Backup, System Image)

    8. CORSAIR HX Series HX750 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI CrossFire 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply New 4th Gen CPU Certified Haswell Ready> $130

    9. Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE 24X SATA DVD±RW Internal Drive w/o Software (Black) SH-224DB $17.99

    10. LIAN LI PC-A75X No Power Supply ATX Full Tower Case (Black) CA-A75 $170

    11. Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit w/ SP1 (1-Pack, DVD), OEM MSFQC04649 $138.99

    12. Monitor: Dell 469-4320 24 inch Widescreen 1,000:1 5ms VGA/DVI LED LCD Monitor (Black) > $168

    http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=DEL-E2414H
    ________________________________________________________

    TOTAL = $ 1886

    This is about +$400 your budget, but I think a very good performing, and forward-looking solution that might delay changing the entire system an extra 2-3 years- last through graduate school?

    If you are quite strict about the budget and the expectation for upgrades and expansion are modest:

    BambiBoom Mathalabacalcurific WalletJoyScream Turbosignature 9000 $$©& £℞™_10.23.14

    CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 Quad-Core Processor 3.5 / 3.9GHz 5.0GT/s 8MB LGA 1150 CPU >$278

    http://ark.intel.com/products/80916/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E3-1246-v3-8M-Cache-3_50-GHz
    http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=E3-1246V3B

    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - CPU Cooler with 120 mm PWM Fan > $40

    Motherboard: Asus P9D-X LGA1150/ Intel C222/ DDR3/ SATA3&USB3.0/ V&2GbE/ ATX Server Motherboard > $169

    http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-P9D-X

    Memory: 16GB (2) Samsung DDR3-1600 8GB/1Gx72 ECC CL11 Server Memory > $180 ($90 ea)

    http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=D38GRE160S

    GPU: PNY NVIDIA Quadro K620 2GB DDR3 DVI/DisplayPort Low Profile PCI-Express Video Card> $169.

    http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=PNY-K620G2

    PSU: CORSAIR CXM series CX600M 600W ATX12V v2.3 SLI CrossFire 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply > $70.

    Crucial MX100 CT256MX100SSD1 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) > $113 (Newegg)

    Western Digital WD Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive - OEM > $60

    Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE 24X SATA DVD±RW Internal Drive w/o Software (Black) > $18

    Case: LIAN LI PC-9NB Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case > $100

    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit - OEM > $138

    Monitor: Dell 469-4320 24 inch Widescreen 1,000:1 5ms VGA/DVI LED LCD Monitor (Black) > $168

    http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=DEL-E2414H

    TOTAL = $1503.

    ____________________________________

    So, a couple of configurations to consider.

    Another possibility, with some risks, but also some potentially good rewards would be to consider a used Dell Precision T7500 with a pair of the excellent Xeon X5680 six-core CPU's @ 3.33 / 3.6GHz- that's 12-cores /24 threads, and then revise as neceaaary. these are often seen with 48GB RAM and sometimes very goof graphics cards. A completed sale on Ebahhh:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Precision-T7500-PC-2X-3-33GHz-X5680-Xeon-Hex-16GB-RAM-4X-HDD-Win-7-Ult-/171413374055?pt=Desktop_PCs&hash=item27e9088467

    -with 16GB RAM sold for $1176. the 2GB Firepro V7800 GPU is probably excess to need. So, add the monitor and another 24GB RAM (= +3 X 8GB, the X58 chipset adds RAM in sets of 3 modules), possibly a Tesla co-precessor in future- these are very reasonably priced used and this would have have a very high capability close or within your budget, without researching, ordering, assembling, configuring, testing, trouble-shooting a new system. This system would have cost $7,000+ new. No guarantees, but I'll mention that I bought a used, dual Xeon Dell Precision in 2010 and it's run for 4 years usually on 20 hours per day and without a single failure.

    Cheers,

    BambiBoom

    HP z420 (2014) > Xeon E5-1620 quad core @ 3.6 / 3.8GHz > 24GB DDR3 ECC 1600 RAM > Quadro 4000 (2GB)> Samsung 840 SSD 250GB /Western Digital Black WD1003FZEX 1TB> M-Audio 192 sound card > AE3000 USB WiFi > HP 2711X, 27" 1920 X 1080 > Windows 7 Ultimate 64 >[Passmark system rating = 3923, CPU= 9223/ 2D= 839 / 3D=2048]

    Dell Precision T5400 (2008) > 2X Xeon X5460 quad core @3.16GHz > 16GB DDR2 ECC 667> Quadro FX 4800 (1.5GB) > WD RE4 500GB / Seagate Barracuda 500GB > M-Audio 2496 Sound Card / Linksys 600N WiFi > Dell 24" and Dell 19" LCD > Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit > [Passmark system rating = 1859, CPU = 8528 / 2D= 512 / 3D=1097]

    Dell Precision 390 (2005) Xeon x3230 quad core @ 2.67GHz > 6 GB DDR2 ECC 667 > Firepro V4900 (1GB)> 2X WD 320GB > 2X Dell 19" LCD > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit [Passmark system rating = 1431, CPU = 3642 / 2D= 433 / 3D=1346]

    2D, 3D CAD, Image Processing, Rendering, Text > Architecture, industrial design, graphic design, written projects
  5. What great input Donkey and Bambi! Still more research to do - always good! Can you tell me what the multiple cores are good for? Is it for speed and isolation of tasks? Forgive my ignorance. Just curious.

    Also, I'll check with my son about his need for 3D vs 2D. He did some research this summer that involved neutron radiography, which was indeed 3D-based, so I'll see if that's a requirement. Happy to take suggestions along those lines....

    Also - Bambiboom, do you have thoughts about operating systems and flexibility along those lines for this setup?

    Cannot thank you both enough for sharing your wisdom -- a lot of new territory for me. Enjoying the large learning curve...!
  6. Expensive 6 core rig

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Core i7-5820K 3.3GHz 6-Core Processor ($374.99 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: NZXT HAVIK 140 90.3 CFM CPU Cooler ($66.93 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: ASRock X99 Extreme4 ATX LGA2011-3 Motherboard ($239.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Memory: Crucial 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-2133 Memory ($391.88 @ B&H)
    Storage: Crucial MX100 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($109.97 @ SuperBiiz)
    Storage: Toshiba 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($99.99 @ NCIX US)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB FTW ACX Video Card ($129.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Corsair 300R ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
    Power Supply: EVGA 600B 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.98 @ OutletPC)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD Writer ($13.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 - 64-bit (OEM) (64-bit) ($90.26 @ OutletPC)
    Monitor: LG 23MP55HQ-P 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($124.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $1762.95
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-10-23 17:02 EDT-0400


    Less expensive 4 core solution.
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1231 V3 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($248.98 @ SuperBiiz)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($33.03 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: ASRock H97 Anniversary ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($74.78 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Sniper Gaming Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($310.98 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Crucial MX100 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($109.97 @ SuperBiiz)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($53.95 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Toshiba 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($99.99 @ NCIX US)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB FTW ACX Video Card ($129.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Corsair 300R ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
    Power Supply: EVGA 600B 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.98 @ OutletPC)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD Writer ($13.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 - 64-bit (OEM) (64-bit) ($90.26 @ OutletPC)
    Monitor: LG 23MP55HQ-P 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($124.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $1410.88
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-10-23 17:09 EDT-0400
  7. Matlab, and Mathematica can both use CUDA (NVIDIA computation on GPU) a Quadro video card can be a good entry point for CUDA development, if the Matlab is going to be run on a larger system.
    A dual socket Xeon motherboard is also good for a development platform because multi-threaded bottlenecks really require at least 6 physical threads of hardware to debug. A single E5-2620 v3 (6 core 12 threads) and then upgrade to a second CPU with additional RAM when $$$ available.
  8. Here's mine.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1246 V3 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($284.00 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($28.98 @ OutletPC)
    Motherboard: Asus Z87-WS ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($272.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Memory: Crucial Ballistix 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($164.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Crucial M550 128GB mSATA Solid State Drive ($88.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.98 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB FTW ACX Video Card ($109.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic S12G 550W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply ($58.00 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Samsung SN-208FB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ Amazon)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit) ($94.99 @ B&H)
    Monitor: Acer H236HLbid 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($129.99 @ Best Buy)
    Wireless Network Adapter: TRENDnet TEW-726EC 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($24.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $1332.88
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-10-23 17:54 EDT-0400

    BAMBIBOOM knows a lot more about this than I do. I'm glad to see, except for the ECC memory, my build is similar.
  9. danjenkins said:
    What great input Donkey and Bambi! Still more research to do - always good! Can you tell me what the multiple cores are good for? Is it for speed and isolation of tasks? Forgive my ignorance. Just curious.

    Also, I'll check with my son about his need for 3D vs 2D. He did some research this summer that involved neutron radiography, which was indeed 3D-based, so I'll see if that's a requirement. Happy to take suggestions along those lines....

    Also - Bambiboom, do you have thoughts about operating systems and flexibility along those lines for this setup?

    Cannot thank you both enough for sharing your wisdom -- a lot of new territory for me. Enjoying the large learning curve...!


    danjenkins,

    The realm of scientific computing is complex because of the computational and precision demands, and the variability of 2D and 3D considerations. A lot of computational computing is purely statistical algorithmic, but simulations can be intensely 3D -positional recalculation of polygons and in all of this there has to be a primary focus on precision. Imagine a few tiny errors in the positions of particles in a particle annihilation vector analysis as each subsequent position will be increasingly incorrect. This is the reason for precision safeguards of the ECC error-correcting RAM and Workstation graphics cards running viewports and high anti-aliasing.

    The intensity of the computational component is the can be assisted with multiple cores. The problem is in effect disassembled into synchronized, parallel threads and reassembled. The cores can be assisted by CUDA coprocessors, such as NVIDIA Tesla- or Xeon Phi co-processors that plug in the same way as a graphics card, but these cards can be very expensive- typically $3,500- $6,000. Still, a serious Matlab system can perform very well on eight cores / 16 threads ( each core is further "hyperthreaded" which slip another process into the "gaps: in the first process to run as though it's two cores.

    The complication arises when there is 3D modeling /simulation. In one sense, a good Matlab system can use relatively modest processor speed and sit in the corner and process for days at a time, but if there's 3D modeling, a higher clock speed is preferable as results have to be constantly modified in real time.A Lot of RAM memory for large data sets is also desirable, so a really flexible-use scientific center has to be fantastically accurate and fast at everything!

    In my view,a very competent system for the work described would have at a least a fast 8-core CPU such as the the the new Haswell Xeon E5-1660 v3

    http://ark.intel.com/products/82766/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5-1660-v3-20M-Cache-3_00-GHz

    > or in the previous series a Xeon E5-2687w v2 or a pair of same, 32 or 64GB in the case of a dual CPU system ECC RAM, and I would suggest the new Quadro K4200 GPU which at almost $900 is expensive, but the performance surpasses the previous series Quadro K5000 at $1,700. It's possible the new Quadro K2200 (4GB, about $460)- would also suffice as it perform at about the level of the previous K4000 (3GB).

    In all, I am leaning more towards recommending the used Dell Precision T7500 with dual Xeon X5680 6-cores and add a Quadro K4200. this might be an expenditure of $1600-1800 but I also believe that the time and expertise to deal with the possible problems of a used T7500 will be less than that required to build a system and the dual Xeon system would be useful for a wider and more complex projects over a longer period without upgrading.

    As for operating system, there are flavours / iterations of Linux that are said to be- easily made very efficient with Matlab.. Linux is less encumbered with consumer-orientated add-ons and features that detract from performance than Windows. I learned for example that the graphics performance on my Precision T5400 dropped 20% only by turning on the Aero desktop theme with transparency. I use the Basic theme. Also power saving schemes in Windows can severely limit performance and create unnecessary hibernation files. I'm more or less Linux illiterate, but there are forums discussing Matlab and there's a good place to research- they've seen it all. I intend to look into Linux seriously when I have an opportunity

    Cheers,

    BambiBoom
  10. You guys are amazing. Lots to consider - sounds like I should look into T7500 config... though wondering if upgrading is limited with that setup -- ? It sounds like you are suggesting a used unit and upgrading with the add-ons, so perhaps opening the unit and doing that work is manageable....?

    Linux sounds tempting, though a completely new world to me, so may have to wait for next time on that one...! Thanks for the primer on core issues. Makes a lot of sense.

    I will hunt for this unit and see what we come up with, then compare it to the build you all have recommended.

    I'm assuming that the addition of a Mac OS is not something you deem useful or needed...? Trying to reach out to the physics community to see if there is software that plays with Mac better -- any thoughts?

    With deep gratitude - !!
  11. danjenkins,

    This kind of system is a complex decision because workstation software and hardware is ever more demanding and specialized. For example, if the proposed system would not involve a lot of visualization- concentrated on sheer computing, then I would recommend an AMD Firepro instead of a Quadro as Firepros have higher double-precision rate than Quadros. NVIDIA sort of divided off the double precision computing to the Tesla coprocessor cards. Matlab is an intensive computing application so there's an argument for a Firepro. However, anyone using Solidworks should have a Quadro- as I say complex.

    There are limitation to buying a used Dell Precicion T7500 as there is almost no substantial improvement to the Xeon X5680 as it is the LGA 1366 socket, for which processors were a maximum of 6-core, are no longer made, and there was only one model faster, the X5690. Still, the X5680 is a 6-core at 3.33 /3.6 GHZ and a current dual Xeon at that speed- among the fastest 6-cores made today, a pair of E5-2643 v3 at 3.4 / 3.7GHz will cost $3,200

    So, buying a used T7500 like this one:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Precision-T7500-2X-3-47GHz-XEON-QUAD-CORE-24GB-RAM-4X-300-PERC6i-/361082429518?pt=Desktop_PCs&hash=item541230a04e&nma=true&si=oIUp8Ei6U6SDWxDI16Ifm%252Fw80M8%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    > which has two of the Xeon X5690 at 3.46 / 3.73GHz (which cost $1,700 each), plus 24GB RAM, 1,2TB of storage, and a Quadro 2000 all for $550 is almost an astoundingly good deal. Buying this kind of fully depreciated system this cheaply means that adding a 512GB SSD, another 24GB of RAM, and the fantastic new Quadro K4200 (4GB) would bring the total to under $2,000 whereas a new Dell Precision at that level would probably cost $12-14,000. In reality this system could have a reasonable performance as is, just careful configuration and reloading of Windows, update BIOS, drivers, and etc. Sure, no warranty / support, but whatever work this system needed would be easier to accomplish than building a new system.

    For this round, I would stay with a Windows-based system. I think it would be useful to consider adding a Linux VM- Virtual Machine= over Windows, but that can be an enhancement after everything is settled and configured.

    I think you will find that Mac is very strong in the image creation world and nearly invisible in the scientific. That statement will arouse ire and argument, but I recently watched some NASA wind tunnel testing and was just doing a little project for the local linear accelerator and there was not a Mac in sight either place- not even in the offices.

    Cheers,

    BambiBoom
  12. Whew! Thanks so much for this detailed info...! I will look deeply into this Dell option and ask my son where he sees his interest mainly - in computation or rendering. My guess at the moment is computation.

    Sounds like the most powerful solution is finding a decent Dell deal and upgrading. Are these upgrades something I can handle myself? I assume that the "work this system needs" is me installing the upgrades. I'm happy to put in whatever work will get us the best system - either from the ground up or starting with a Dell.

    I'll start trolling to look for something akin to the specs you've outlined. I'll stay with windows for now too, thanks.

    What a great resource you all are - have I thanked you enough, gents?
  13. Wait - I shouldn't assume you're all gents, should I???!
  14. Best answer
    Danjenkins,

    Given the demands on the proposed system, the need to adapt to potentially very high demands and unforeseen uses, plus the budget, rehabilitating and upgrading a used, high quality system seems the best option- the best cost / [performance ratio and the least time and learning expenditure.

    This approach worked very for me by buying a used Precision T5400, adding a second CPU, adding RAM, a new graphics card, adding a second hard drive, WiFi, and upgrading the operating system. during these upgrades, the system was never out of use for more than three days. Changing the hard drive and reloading everything was the three-day gap and all the others were never more than an hour or so. That's what is, in my view, a better tactic for your situation in that you begin with a working system and change only one thing at a time, making sure it all still works.

    The results too were very encouraging. As the system today is worth probably within $200 of my investment I think of four years' use of a reasonably fast, eight-core dual Xeon system as costing about $3-4/month.

    If you decided on the used system, my sequence to proceed would be:

    1. Watch Ebahh over several weeks for Precision T7500's and also T7600's having dual Xeon processors of more than 3GHz. For the T7500, I would consider only X5680 and X5690 system. I would consider systems with a minimum of 24GB RAM. The drives are semi-immaterial as they will be changed for reliability. Also, unless the system has a Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate 64-bit COA syicker- that is that was the originally installed OS, the operating system is also immaterial. Of course, a system with a recent good quality graphics card such as a Quadro 4000 or 5000 or Firepro W7000 may mean the graphics card is good enough for the time being, but it is preferable to acquire a system with a good, but lower end card at a lower cost so that part of the budget may be focused on a new graphics card specialized to the use. These cards have improved substantially in the last two or three years and have much better performance with more memory and less heat and power use. But, in all instances, buy a system that is running and with an operating system. It's worth consider the T7600 and the T5600, as these are newer and better performing, but the prices may quickly be our of budget epsecially with faster CPU's.

    Possible Upgrade Sequence:

    0. Install WiFi if applicable

    1. Update BIOS

    2. Install new RAM if applicable

    3. Install new graphics card if applicable

    4. Add SSD and large mech'l drive for storage. I suggest that the OS and programs are in a partition and the active files in a separate partition. This is for location clarity and some extra anti-virus protection. Tthe OS /programs partition is probably safe at about 130-160GB. My C:\ drive uses 148GB but I have a lot of large programs. If you think there will be virtual machines, add 15-25GB for each VM.

    [There is a sequence I use to install everything on a mechl drive first, optimize and defragment, then migrate to the SSD which avoids unnecessary wear on the SDD memory. It's a bit involved, but I'll list the steps if you're interested.]

    5. Load Windows. Cycle through the updates

    6. Add any new peripheral, such as optical drives, card reader,

    7. Load Programs

    8. Create a partition on the mech'l drive to contain a system image for quick restore and store in a partition on the mech'l drive. the partition should be of the image size plus 10%

    9. I recommend having an external drive comprising a standard 3.4" mech'l drive in a vented enclosure, preferably with a fan. I recommend the StarTech Aluminum enclosure, about $40 with a 1TB Western Digital Blue or Seagate Barracuda. Run this drive only for backup and keep a copy of the system image on it.

    If I were doing all this I would plan on about 12 hours work over about 20 hours given the breaks to fuss with instructions and waiting for things to happen.

    A lot to do, but imagine the list if researching, ordering, assembling, and trouble-shooting a new system were included in addition.

    Glad to add my ideas to the conversation.

    Cheers,

    BambiBoom
  15. Great! I'll keep an eye open for what you describe -- looks like most offerings are under your specs at the moment. But no worries - there's no hurry. And as we are wanting to assemble a longer-lasting machine, there isn't actually a demand on the system to be up and running while we work on it. His basic needs are being me with his laptop at the moment, but he is keen to do his own research and data work -- and for that, he'll love having a true workstation.

    I'll also look for resources about the DIY aspect of working on a Dell. Bound to be some decent tutorials out there. Thanks so much for the timeline. Looks great -- and do-able.

    I'll quiz my son in more depth about his graphics needs. That may be a way to keep costs reasonable for now, just using the low-end card, then upgrading when his needs require it -- and the hardware will likely improve...!

    As it is an all new system, we'll be looking for a monitor and keyboard/mouse, too.

    I'll need to look into the COA thing - not sure what that means, really. I've seen that they are included in some packages, but then they say there is no OS installed.... In any case, I am prepared to do a full install of a new Windows.

    I owe you guys lunch. Thanks again!
  16. danjenkins said:
    Great! I'll keep an eye open for what you describe -- looks like most offerings are under your specs at the moment. But no worries - there's no hurry. And as we are wanting to assemble a longer-lasting machine, there isn't actually a demand on the system to be up and running while we work on it. His basic needs are being me with his laptop at the moment, but he is keen to do his own research and data work -- and for that, he'll love having a true workstation.

    I'll also look for resources about the DIY aspect of working on a Dell. Bound to be some decent tutorials out there. Thanks so much for the timeline. Looks great -- and do-able.

    I'll quiz my son in more depth about his graphics needs. That may be a way to keep costs reasonable for now, just using the low-end card, then upgrading when his needs require it -- and the hardware will likely improve...!

    As it is an all new system, we'll be looking for a monitor and keyboard/mouse, too.

    I'll need to look into the COA thing - not sure what that means, really. I've seen that they are included in some packages, but then they say there is no OS installed.... In any case, I am prepared to do a full install of a new Windows.

    I owe you guys lunch. Thanks again!



    danjenkins,

    Sorry, I didn't see your reply until today.

    Yes, when looking for used Dell Precisions, patience is rewarded- as is jumping quickly when the ideal system appears. In my view the best situation is when the basic, important elements are correct the dual, fast X5680 or X5690, but an undesirable graphics card and the system is inexpensive. Because having the right card is essential and it's almost inevitable it should be changed, the lackluster card is better than a middle of the road choice that the seller is charging quite a bit as a feature. However if there is a Quadro K2000 or K4000 or Firepro W7000 that would be worth pursuing. among those the Firepro W7000 is probably the best choice as Firepros are calculation-oriented.

    Dell makes owning an older system quite easy as you can download the manuals in advance of buying the system and see what is where:

    http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/product-support/product/precision-t7500/manuals

    There are many comupter tutorials on YouTube though with so many it's sometimes takes awhile to find the good ones. I use YouTube often to learn particular techniques in Sketchup and Solidworks and recently how to enable more CPU cores in an older system (it's msconfig.exe) that I changed from a dual core to a quad core CPU.

    The operating system is something that can of course be upgraded. The "COA" is the Certificate of Authenticity that determines the operating system originally installed. There will be a product code / serial number on it that means you can obtain a reinstall disk- $20 or so and reinstall Windows using that code. If the COA is 32-bit Vista and that's not you want, you will have to buy an upgrade or full version of the OS desired and this can be expensive relative to the value of the system. The OEM version is much less expensive, but those are supposed to be used only on new systems, not upgrades. It's possible though- again with patience- to find good bargains. My Precision T5400 arrived with Vista 64-bit, but I was lucky to find an unused, authentic, full version of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit on Ebahh for $65.

    Monitors are important and the use is individualized. If the system were for image creation, I consider seeing the monitor in person essential. It seems not quite as critical with scientific, but actually color and detail can sometimes be just as critical. there is also the question of the viewing area and dual or triple monitors. Although I have a couple of systems with two 19" monitors, I've always liked a single large monitor- 27" for architectural and industrial design work to save a lot of zooming an panning and mousing around, but a lot of those with scientific uses prefer two medium size monitors to accommodate all the windows and menus without having to call them to the top or move then around. For this use, I'd recommend a pair - or start with one- of 24" Dell Ultrasharps which are 1920 X 1200 and about $300 each on a good day. A very good middle-ground choice.

    For the keyboard I am going to make an unconventional suggestion- a NOS Dell SK-8135:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-SK-8135-Black-amp-Silver-USB-Enhanced-Multimedia-Keyboard-2x-USB-NIB-/321551033841?pt=PCA_Mice_Trackballs&hash=item4addef65f1&nma=true&si=SPF1o1FclUR2fpViFYwqseEXwrg%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    It happens that the price of only $16. for the above that is new and including the key rest is about as low as I've seen.

    These are beautifully made- they cost nearly $100 when current and were supplied new with those five-figure Dell Precisions. I assume these were the top of the heap for Dell. I received one with my 2008 Precision T5400 and after all this use it works and looks still as new As the HD I added in 2010 shows 13,000 hours, I assume this keyboard is high-mileage. The key geometry of the keyboard is subtle and comfortable, there's nice weight to the unit, and for me, just the right amount of key "click". I actually don't like silent keyboards There are also useful multimedia controls. It's very convenient to start and stop playback and be able to adjust the sound volume and put it instantly on mute when the phone rings from the keyboard. A couple of years ago I bought four of these NOS and gave them as Christmas gifts, hopeless romantic that I am.

    As for the mouse, I like the Dell ODJ301- also an obsolete, wired mouse as it's a good size and well-made and I also like the HP that arrived with the HP z420. But, I'm considering though trying a wireless again. I tried wireless some time ago,but it went into a sleep mode after a few seconds and had to wake up each time with an annoying lag. I'm also considering a pen-mouse. My situation is probably unusual, because I'm left-handed but use the mouse right-handed as I'm constantly using a calculator or a pencil sketching or making notes with my left-hand.

    Lunch sounds very good. What day would suit you?

    Cheers,

    BambiBoom
  17. This is looking close to specs...!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Precision-T7500-2X-X5677-3-47GHz-XEON-QUAD-CORE-24GB-4X-300-PERC6i-/201200978764

    Almost time to think about your lunch order...!
Ask a new question

Read More

Gaming Build Systems