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New Build, help and advice wanted

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May 8, 2006 11:54:35 PM

I'm looking to build a new gaming pc/workstation. I plan to start on it this summer once I get some $$$ but here's what I have in mind right now:

Dual Xeon Woodcrests.

Koolance PC4-1036BK water-cooled case

PC Power and Cooling Turbo-Cool 1kW PSU

WD Raptor 150 GB HDD not the Raptor X

Hitachi SATA II 500 GB HDD (maybe more for a RAID 5 array)

Thinking about putting some SCSI HDDs in for maybe a RAID 6 array but it looks like a RAID 5 would be more practical

Soundblaster X-fi soundcard

Not sure about the graphics cards yet. I was looking at the new Quad SLI technology and considered that for a bit but it's not yet commercially available. Maybe 7950 GX2 for gaming and a quadro FX 4500 X2 for graphics design?

Plextor PX-760A DVD +/- DVD/RW/DL etc...

2 gigs FB-DIMM 667mHz

For the OS I'm using Ubuntu x64 because it's free but I'm probably going to put XP Pro x64 on it later.

If I missed anything let me know but I just wanted some advice as to whether or not this would be a good idea for a new comp. Other than that yeah, just looking for some advice on my new build. :D 

More about : build advice wanted

June 5, 2006 2:20:42 AM

Umm... is anybody out there? Seriously I'd like some advice on whether or not this sounds or looks ubsurd to you guys. And as a little detail I've decided that I'm going to go with quad-sli somehow.
June 5, 2006 3:02:45 AM

What your intentions with using Xeons and running a RAID 5 array with 4-6 drives with quad SLI?

I don't think the price/performance ratio is worth, IMO.

I think it would be cheaper/better to get socket AM2 or wait for Conroe than dump all that money on Xeons.

I don't do graphic design, but if you think you need dual Xeons for it, then stick with them. Also, if that is the case, I'd bump up your amount of RAM to 3 to 4 GB and get the fastest RAM you can.

For the X-fi, get the cheapest X-fi there is unless you do tons of audio recording/editing. Only the higher end cards have the built in RAM, which you pay extra for.
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June 5, 2006 3:13:56 AM

Good question, my intentions are actually very complicated but I'll explain them anyways. Since I'm using it as a PC/workstation I'm going to have like a lot of 3D and animation software on it as well as a lot of personal stuff. This computer's use is going to be shared between my personal data and my school's technology club. Right now we have to use a supercomputer to do all the stuff with just basic 3D rendering and anime software. So I figured why not have 1 computer rather than 10? As for the RAID 5 I'm just doing that for data security because I'm paranoid like that. The quad-sli, very good question. It helps with XSI softimage and Maya 7, although I understand why you'd think it's insane. As for the xeons, I'm not going with the netburst ones, they're not that great, the woodcrests are my goal. This computer is also kind of a building challenge, like a goal to see how mad of a computer I can make. As for the soundcard, ya I'm going with the xtrememusic (the cheapest). I've read that all the other ones are just a waste of money. Actually the cheap X-Fi is fine for recording and audio work from what I've heard of so maybe I can use that for my band. The ram, yes, I'm looking into going for 4 gigs of PC2-5300 FBD. Whew.. now that I'm done thanks for your comment and thanks for the advice! I hope that answers your question(s).
June 5, 2006 4:27:01 AM

Well it sounds like money is not an issue here, and you will need/appreciate the horsepower with quad-sli and dual xeons, so sounds like a winner to me.

Although, what about the Quadros and ATI Fire? Or is it better to have 7950GTXs over Dual Nvidia Quadros or ATI Fires. I'm asking because I dabble in consumer/gaming rigs and not server/workstations.

You may want to take a look at mobos that have dedicated ram to each proc. Last I checked on newegg, I was drooling over the Tyan mobos. Tyan and Asus I trust.

Also, please inform me why RAID 5 > RAID 0+1.
Whatever you do, the Raptor Xs are not worth it unless you got money to burn. 7200 RPM or 10000 RPM SCSIs, will work. Get a couple small ones. Also, don't be insulted by this, but make sure if you get 10000 RPMs, you get a dedicated 80mm fan for those babies, or they will burn up. I'm just telling you in case you didn't know.

I assume you have 5.1s to listen to on your x-fi? If not, I only recommend the z-5500s from logitech or my klipsch promedia 5.1s I got at a nice discount. Stay away from the wireless 5.1 system from logitech. They have the poopy stamp from me.
June 5, 2006 4:49:54 AM

Ya, about the GPU's I did look into the Quadros and ATI Fires but as far as bang for the buck goes I think quad sli is cheaper than 2 high end Quadros. Although they do have some nice lower-priced ones. As for the ram, the way it can be set up I can have a RAID 1 on the ram for easy access by each CPU so they can divide it up. As for the motherboards I found a few from supermicro that were quite nice with both SATA and SCSI. I haven't seen any socket 771 mobos from Asus or Tyan yet but I'll keep looking around.

RAID 5, why? Well RAID 0+1 seems a bit much to me but that might just be my opinion. I've found that RAID 5 runs quite well and give a fair amount of redundancy without sacrificing too much storage space.

Don't worry, I'm not going to get the raptor Xs. I'm looking into a plain 150GB Raptor for storing programs and the OS, it's the same thing as the Raptor X without the HUGE pricetag and fancy looks (which don't really matter since you won't be able to see it in the case). For my personal storage I'm going with the SATA drives for a HUGE amount of storage space. As for the 3D, video and audio files I'm going to go with some SCSI drives. I was actually looking at 15000 rmp hdds because you can get some small ones for cheap, and don't worry, this case is water-cooled and the hdd's will be cooled appropriately, I have no intentions of sparing any cooling whatsoever. Ya, I know all about the heat problems with SCSIs, the joys and wonders...

I do have 5.1s but I'm considering on selling them and getting a 7.1 system. I'm looking around now to see what's out there. I'm not going with wireless, I've had bad experiences with everything other than wireless keyboards, mice and my tv remote.
June 5, 2006 5:09:25 AM

OMG it would be a dream rig hehehehe
June 5, 2006 5:16:55 AM

Yeah, that's how it orignally started and hopefully I'll be able to make it a reality. Coming up with the money may be a little hard but that's ok. I'm actually thinking that I can also take advantage of the built-in virtualization so I can have ubuntu, XP x64, Vista (I'll explain in a bit) and OS-X running at the same time. Of course I'm not putting everything in at once, I'll do it over time but it should be cool.
June 5, 2006 5:27:03 AM

About the OS virtualization thing. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to sort it out but this is what I have so far.

Ubuntu for managing my backup and secure data
XP Pro x64 for running my 3D and misc programgs
Vista as basically my PC, internet and all my personal stuff
I'm not sure if I'd even put OS-X on there, maybe just for fun as an add-on way later.

Does this seem way too excessive? (mind you I have a ton of time on my hands, I have no idea where it comes from but I have it and I figure I might as well use it). I'm thinking that if necessary I can run it all on Ubuntu 64 or XP pro x64.
June 5, 2006 5:42:43 AM

If you arnt dead set on getting Xeon you might look into getting an opty set up.
June 5, 2006 6:13:11 AM

Have you looked into Dual Opterons? I spent several months researching server-end processors, and I've noticed that Xeons beat Opterons slightly in 3d rendering, but the Opterons beat the Xeons by a lot in just about every other benchmark. Also, I'm not sure if anyone even makes any Xeon boards with Dual-SLI, much less Quad-SLI (Tyan sure as hell doesn't). Xeon's aren't really designed for gaming, but Opterons can handle it pretty well.

If you decide to go with Dual Opty's, you should look into the Tyan Thunder K8WE motherboard. It has 8 DIMM's, 4 per processor, supports Dual Cores, has Dual-SLI, and a SCSI 320 controller is optional on some. A pair of dual core processors will make the system run extremely fast, and the Opteron 265's only cost about $330 apiece. Of course, if you're feeling really crazy, you could always opt for the Quad-Opteron Thunder K8QE board.

For the RAID 5 controller, if there isn't one built into whatever board you get, make sure you buy a PCI-X card that uses hardware RAID, not software RAID. Software RAID uses the CPU to handle the parity and will steal away some of your system's performance. And be careful that you buy Registered ECC RAM and check the voltage requirements. A lot of server boards will not run high-performance gamer memory because they don't provide enough voltage for the DIMMs.

Well, I hope this helps and good luck with your rig.
June 5, 2006 3:57:24 PM

Dual Opertrons? I have looked into them a bit and I do agree that so far the current Xeons aren't that great as far as performance goes but I'm going to wait a bit and see how the new Woodcrest xeons perform once they're released to make my final decision.

As for the Dual Xeon/SLI or Quad-SLI boards out there I have only found boards with standard SLI but I read somewhere that there are lisenced drivers for non-sli boards to run SLI and Quad-SLI but I'm not entirely sure about that so I'm going to keep looking around for info on that. However I have found a couple supermicro boards that have 6 SATA and dual SCSI that would allow for SLI and possibly quad-sli but I'll have to ask them about the details. As for a Quad-Opty board I don't think I can afford a server OS because XP Pro x64 only supports 2 sockets.

I know so far that the mobos I'm looking at have hardware RAID 5 for the SATA channel but I'm not sure if they'll support it for the SCSI channel. I have no plans on using software RAID because I want to reserve as much power as I can for my rendering and etc...

As far as the memory goes, if I end up getting the dual socket 771 Xeons I'll have fully-buffered DIMMs at 1.8V which the mobos all support.

Thanks for the advice and I'll definitely look more into those optys.
June 7, 2006 1:43:40 AM

About the Quad-SLI, I was wondering if you (or anyone else in this forum) thinks I should go with a Geforce 7950 GX2 or should I wait to get a quad-sli system with the new 8 series after I get Vista? Also, has anyone heard anything about Quad-SLI for workstations?
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