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CPU & MB Purchasing Advice For Virtual Machines

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September 3, 2007 3:31:37 PM

Hello,

I'm trying to decide between the E6850 and the Q6600. The workstation will be used for running Vista 64 along with two or three simultanious virtual machines (under VMWARE). My goal is to get the highest performance for the VMs as well as the rest of the computer which will be running office apps, itunes, VNC etc. most of the time ...

I also need a motherboard recommendation for the chip. The motherboard should at least have on-board serial port (or one that can be added through a back plate) so that I can monitor my UPS unit.

Thank you,

Mike Sims
September 3, 2007 4:49:43 PM

Q6600 Hands Down.

What is your budget for this system?
September 3, 2007 4:52:20 PM

Less than $1000 ...

Im going to replace my Asus A8N32-SLI DELUXE with a 4200+ and 4 gigs of ram with this MB, CPU and (of course) new RAM. Im simply swaping out the MB and leaving everything else. My VMs run better on my Mac Book Pro than they do on this system, so I need a boost.
Related resources
September 3, 2007 6:14:46 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Is one Mobo that would work.
Most of the P35 boards are good.
I would look for one with built-in RAID.

The Gigabyte's also have nice cooling on the Bus to help with Overclocking.

The linked board is missing SLI and IEEE which most folks don't need and if you don't then it's not a bad deal.

I would also get a couple smaller 7200RPM drives to make a RAID-0 drive you could store you VMs on. Just be sure they are backuped up elsewhere.

If you want to do something really crazy..............

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-RAMDISK
Not likely worth it, but if you look at the benchmarks it's just crazy.

Really disappointed they never came out with I-RAM2 which supported 8gb and DDR2.
September 3, 2007 8:34:56 PM

I solved my serial port problem with this

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

It has Vista 64 drivers ... so now I'm looking at these boards

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Can't tell what the difference is between this one and the one you posted other than the model number)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That RAM drive is hot ... I'm sure it will work in any of the boards above? It would be a great use of my existing 4 gigs of RAM.

September 3, 2007 9:40:44 PM

http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/09/07/can_gigabyte/pag...

Yes, it would work in any.
It simply needs a PCI slot and to be plugged into a Serial ATA port.

Any of those boards would work, but no need to spend the xtra money on those boards.

They add things such as 1-2 IEEE ports, which are rarely used.
Most often for things like connecting certain Video Cameras.
Good for High Speed external HDDs. Nothing you really need.

Many also contain a second High Speed PCI-E Slot.
Again, this is for gaming boxes that might be considering SLI.
For you, perhaps only if you plan on having 3 or more monitors.

The last thing they may offer is very high FSB speeds.
Again, however, this is not a major concern because you have a Q6600.

The Q6600 is a 1066 FSB chip so just setting the FSB to 1333 brings it to 3.0 Ghz. Setting the DDR2-800 Chips to run @ 1:1 is a very common setting for any P35 board and would bring you up to 3.6Ghz and about the reasonable max for the Q6600.

Note: I'm thinkg about getting on of those RAM drives myself. I have an old computer with DDR that I am going to be retiring, but it only has 2gb. Likely, I will be using it to house my TEMP directory and perhaps my swap file.
September 3, 2007 9:52:44 PM

Q600 for sure! FYI, I'm running Ubuntu and Vista in an Athlon XP 3000+ with no hiccups and using VirtualBox (alternative to VMware).
September 3, 2007 9:58:34 PM

I went with this board:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

I do have two SLI cards, but I thought you needed an nVidia chipset on the board to fully utilize them? It doesn't matter ... I haven't played a game on this computer in over a year now ... thats why I have a 360 (which I rarely get to use either). But three monitors is not out of the question really. The cost difference isn't that big of a deal. I'm ready to drop $3k on a Mac Pro ... but I'm waiting for the next generation ... although lately I've been pretty happy with Vista 64 ... I love the stability of OSX but I'm not convinced that it's going to be worth a $3k purchase after this upgrade. Vista 64 seems to be pretty damn reliable actually.

I was just talking with a friend on that ram drive and he remembers reading on theinquirer.net that placing a swap file on that ram drive made little performance difference over a hard drive. Apparently you really need it to be your boot device in order to make a difference ... and I don't think I'm ready for that yet (volitile memory as my boot drive ... sounds like an afternoon beating the crap out of my computer just waiting to happen).

:-)

Mike
September 3, 2007 10:04:19 PM

I didn't realize that wasn't an FSB1333 chip ... I was reading a toms hardware article and when I saw the first paragraph on this page:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/07/16/cpu_charts_2007/...

I thought to myself that I better not get the 975X chipset if I want to take advantage of this chip ... apparently it wouldn't have mattered?
I was originally looking at the Intel MB:

http://www.intel.com/products/motherboard/D975XBX2/inde...

I have an Intel board in my server and I absolutely love it. Their web site and support is top notch and their documentation is supreme above the others.

Mike
September 3, 2007 11:43:26 PM

Your friend was likely talking about gaming performance.
It will do nothing for FPS in a benchmark.

This would greatly increase performance.
You will be making heavy use of your Swap files with VMWare and also the %TEMP% directory gets hit alot when doing different functions.

If cost is not a concern and you already have spare ram, this will definately help.

Well, the 975x Chipset is extremely old and would have likely really hurt performance with a very low FSB ceiling. Intel Boards are good quality, but not really enthusiast boards and have limited OC'ing options.

Vista 64 is also likely the reason why you are having VM performance issues. I have not checked in the last 2-3 months, but originally it was terrible and I doubt it will ever be great. The reason is that Vista does not allow Kernel level drivers which really hurts their performance and VMWare relies heavily upon Vista.

XP-64, Windows 2003 Server 64-bit or 2003 Enterprise 32-Bit editions would be better choices if you wanted great VM Performance.

I use Suse Linux Enterprise for my VM Box with 8gb and just use XP 32-bit on my 4gb VM system.
September 3, 2007 11:51:43 PM

Why would Vista 64 perform worse than XP 64 for a VM? I haven't found anything on VMWares forums to indicate that would be the case ...
September 4, 2007 12:05:25 AM

Lack of Kernel level access to device drivers and 3rd party software.

Personally I have not tested, I recall hearing different folks complaining about lots of their software not running well on VM Machines running under Vista. At that point in time VMWare was still in Beta for Vista. Not sure if that is still the case or if that is still an issue.

This is not necessarily a knock on Vista itself, the reason for this is supposedly greater security and stability. In the past, drivers could manipulate memory directly with kernel level access, but now the requests my be passed through Windows itself.

September 4, 2007 12:10:24 AM

That makes sense ... I thought asking the OS for hardware access was actually a good thing in terms of security?

VMWare is in release for Vista and it fully supports Vista 64 ... I think my sluggishness is more of a perception problem than anything ... my macbook pro has a Core2Duo with VT technology as well as my server (C2D) ... both of them run VMs quite nicely. I'm actually going to boot into Vista 32 tonight to see if I experience the same issues now that you brought it up.

Either way ... this upgrade will be a nice one.

;-)

Mike
September 4, 2007 12:27:08 AM

Well, It's a Vista issue not just the 64-bit edition.

The MAC OS, which is based on Linux, is much faster than Vista due the fact it lets items directly access the Kernel.

It is not noticed in Normal software since software goes through the Kernel for both OSes. It is more an issue for Services, Device Drivers, etc...
September 4, 2007 12:28:55 AM

I may have to test the released version under Vista.

I've been running Vista mostly in VMs since of the issues that existed in the betas.
September 4, 2007 12:40:32 AM

Ive been a Windows user since 3.0. I started using OSX about three years ago and I have been EXTREMELY impressed with it in terms of effeciency, speed, productivity etc. etc. When I started playing with Vista after its first release, I was pissed. The 32 bit version runs like crap on an A8n32-SLI Deluxe board with a pair of 7900GT video cards. After 6 months my reliability index has stayed under 4 consistently.

Since I installed Vista 64 (Enterprise edition) my R.Index is at 7.6 and thats only because it locked up on the 14th of August because I patched my Small Business Server with SP2 without reading the network performance warning document first. Once I corrected the SBS problem everything was fine. I'd more than likely be over a 9 in my R.Index if it werent for that one event (it was a 9.59 before that event) ... SO ... bottom line is ... Vista 64 has been the bomb for me personally, but I still love the ease of navigation I get from OSX ... I mean lets face it ... in terms of a Windows tpye OS, OSX is the best commercial product available. Although I do like Ubuntu (I use it for my helpdesk application) and I use Cent for Asterisk ...

Mike
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