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Speculative Dream Machine

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August 25, 2008 7:06:20 AM

I'm interested in building a blazing fast graphics and video editing workstation. Listed below is an impractically expensive dream build that offers the extreme performance I would love to have.

Although the final price tag is very high I am actually in the market for a machine that prices in under $5000. Have a look at the hardware that I've listed below... see if you can find areas where money can be saved while still offering high performance.

Note: the large amount of RAM and fast data drives are necessary to cache massive mounts of working data.

Motherboard
- Dual Socket Intel Server Motherboard with 8 DIMM slots
- example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- $400

CPU
- 2 x Quad Core Xeon >2.5Ghz
- example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- $700

System Memory
- 8 x 4GB DDR2 667 PC5300 (32GB total)
- example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- $1700

GFX Card
- No idea really... I can't decide if two cards in SLI is really worth it
- $500

Boot Drive/Swap Drive
- 4 x 32GB SSD RAID 0
- example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- $1600

Data Drives
- 4 x 300GB WD velociRAPTOR RAID 0 (possibly RAID 5)
- $1200

External Backup
- 2 x 750GB WD Caviar RAID 0
- $300

RAID Controller
- 8 x SATA II Controller
- example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- $500

PSU.. CD Drive.. etc are irrelevant to list.

Total: ~$7000
Goal: <$5000

More about : speculative dream machine

August 25, 2008 11:23:33 AM

I'm not really sure this would be all that fast than a machine much cheaper.

#1 - The Server Mobo will not OC and you can 4.0+ Ghz out of the CQDuos with an OC.

#2 - FB RAM is not particularily Fast and running at only 333FSB you may see bottlenecks. If you go Standard RAM 4x4 you will save money and get better performance.

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

Server Mobos cant do SLI or CF so cross that out.

And you are putting your backups on Raid 0 and Live Data on Raid 5.
Don't you have that more than a little backwards?

August 25, 2008 11:31:11 AM

1. Skip entire SSD Package (saves you $1.600) there is NOTHING that requires the SSD pack if you are running RAID5 (see nr: 2) on Velociraptor drives and use a RAID controller with 32GB ram
2. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Invest in a RAID card w 256MB onboard ram and your SSD solution becomes obsolete. Still saves you $200
3. Graphic Card ATI 4870 (saves $250)
Voilais! $5k
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August 25, 2008 11:33:02 AM

Even better though would be to just run a CLASSIC gaming computer (even for Video editing a Crossfire rig with a Core Duo Extreme and water cooling + RAID 10k drives kicks this rigs ass!)
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2008 12:16:45 PM

DanLar75 said:
Even better though would be to just run a CLASSIC gaming computer (even for Video editing a Crossfire rig with a Core Duo Extreme and water cooling + RAID 10k drives kicks this rigs ass!)


Well, I think the OP is throwing a lot of money into expensive parts, some which won't really help his cause at all.
But, a classic gaming PC, no matter how fast you think it is playing AOC, Oblivion, or Crysis, is going to suck doing what he is talking about.

To the OP, drop the SSD drives, and spend the money on a better RAID setup (SCSI)
You do not want a gamers' GPU in this rig, you need a card made for a graphic/3D rendering/video workstation. I am assuming since you are going for dual quad Xeons on a server board you are planning on doing 3d rendering.
Since we are dreaming:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you are not into 3d modeling or rendering, then you can cut way back on the motherboard, drop the dual processors, and go with a decent gaming card.

August 26, 2008 5:51:23 AM

Thanks for the replies guys.

A couple of you mentioned dropping the SSD drives noting that they seem excessive. But I don't think you understand why I need them.

Currently I have 4GB RAM and my scratch disk is a 4 disk RAID 0 setup. Once my available RAM is used up, Photoshop and Premier will start writing to the scratch disk. There is a HUGE performance drop when files are reading and writing from the scratch disk as opposed to RAM. HUGE. Can't emphasize that enough. It's a BIG drop. When the data is cached in RAM everything is instantaneous. But when the data is cached to the hard drives there can be long waits when zooming in and out and flipping back and forth between files.

The best way to get more performance out of my scratch disks is to decrease the ACCESS TIMES of the hard drives. And as far as I know, SSDs are the next best thing to RAM in terms of access times. And I chose the 32GB SSDs because I thought it would be nice to install the OS and programs on there too to keep all of the programs snappy as well.

DanLar75 said:
2. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Invest in a RAID card w 256MB onboard ram and your SSD solution becomes obsolete. Still saves you $200


I would need to cache up to 50GB of data... so I don't think a 256MB would quite do the trick! 32GB worth of RAM and the SSDs would take care of the extra.

zenmaster said:
I'm not really sure this would be all that fast than a machine much cheaper.


The problem is I need to accommodate a large working cache... and this demands more than just a few cheap hard drives in a RAID setup. I need as much RAM as I can fit onto the motherboard and then the fastest scratch disks possible, which I believe are SSDs. Fifty Raptors in RAID 0 are no match for the performance you get from a few more gigabytes of RAM.

zenmaster said:
#1 - The Server Mobo will not OC and you can 4.0+ Ghz out of the CQDuos with an OC.


I'm not really interested in overclocking... but if you're saying that you can render just as fast with a single overclocked Quad Core as you can with 2 stock Quad Cores then I might reconsider. Are you actually sure of this? Or were you talking out of your ass? I'm definitely not interested in any water cooling. The 4Ghz overclock would have to be possible through air cooling

zenmaster said:
#2 - FB RAM is not particularily Fast and running at only 333FSB you may see bottlenecks. If you go Standard RAM 4x4 you will save money and get better performance.


The slowest RAM is still faster than the fastest hard drives. That's all that really matters.

zenmaster said:
And you are putting your backups on Raid 0 and Live Data on Raid 5.
Don't you have that more than a little backwards?


I said that the live data would be RAID 0... and "possibly" RAID 5. If it was RAID 5 it just adds a little extra protection.

But what's wrong with having the backup drive in RAID 0?? I don't see a problem there... I can backup my data twice as fast!

I'll think about what you guys said and submit a second draft of the "dream machine" in a bit.
August 26, 2008 6:21:33 AM

Adjusted list:

- Got rid of the server motherboard replaced it with a regular board that can hold up to 16GB RAM.
- Got rid of one of the Quad cores
- Reduced the RAM from 32GB to 16GB.
- the velociRAPTORS aren't really necessary for data drives. Perhaps if I was using them to install my OS onto you could justify them.. but when it's just for data, a simple RAID 0 setup with cheaper drives will do.

Motherboard
- Intel board capable of at least 16GB RAM
- $250

CPU
- 1 x Quad Core >2.5Ghz
- $350

System Memory
- 4 x 4GB DDR2 (16GB total)
- $1000

GFX Card
- $500

Boot Drive/Scratch Disk
- 4 x 32GB SSD RAID 0
- $1600

Data Drives
- 4 x 400GB 7200RPM drive RAID 0
- $450

External Backup
- 2 x 750GB WD Caviar RAID 0
- $300

RAID Controller
- 8 x SATA II Controller
- $500

Total: ~$4950 !
August 27, 2008 12:52:41 PM

No other thoughts from the previous posters?
!