Server Board vs. Desktop Board

Hello Tom's Hardware community,

I am wondering when creating a 3D computer why most company pre build machines go the Server board rout over a stander ed motherboard for there end users. I had a friend from school build my first 3D Rig as I work with Adobe Suit CS4 / ZBrush / 3DS Max for my 3d modeling pipeline. Now I am wondering why my friend picked a server board over a slandered mother board.

I am running the Nvidia 8800 GTS and figured if I poped in a 8500 I get another two screens to help improve my desk space sense I like to have allot of things open at once for quick reference use. Though I found that my machine occasionally stutters sense I did this I am thinking its either the port speed thats causeing the trouble or server boards don't no how to handle two graphic cards.

The 8800 GTS is in the PCI-E x8 slot and the 8500 is in the PCI-E x16 slot. I know what your thinking right now. Why dose he have the more powerful graphics card in the slower slot? Because the graphic cards wont fit any other way as the genius that designed the 8500 shoved a bolt on the back that makes it ware you can not set it up the other way around. Ya for beast size of the 8800 GTS. Any who I am trying to trouble shoot that now for the past few weeks.

Here is the link to my board: Supermicro X7DA8
Motherboard Site:
OS: Windows Vista 64-bit

Thanks for the heads up in advance!
8 answers Last reply
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  1. Because a desktop board can't support 2 Xeon processors and they support less memory.
  2. Main reason is the server boards have ECC RAM, which help with errors,etc. They also have support for 2P or higher. No desktop board except Skulltrail has 2P.
  3. the main reason is for 3d rendering you want a professional graphics card like the Nvidia Quadro series. Those are geared towards rendering speed, and not gaming. Another reason why companies go for premade server-type boards is that many server boards can accept much more ram than a standard motherboard, alot of those machines use 16gb, 24gb, or even 32gb of ram an up. They all use FB-DIMMs with error correction (ECC) for better stability rather than raw memory bandwidth.

    think about it, if your company is doing 3D work for a client, and it takes several or more to render a single frame, you don't want a machine crashing in the middle of a rendering session because of a glitch in the graphics driver, or ram.
  4. Thank you guys I never heard of ECC RAM so that was some good info. By the way My friend started me with the 8800 GTS which 3 years ago was one of the best on the market for graphics cards but then again I was building a computer for 3D with only 4k int he pocket.

    I was looking to upgrade my machine with some resent money I got and wondering what graphics cards you guys would recommend? I have upgraded my self to 32 gigs of RAM and got two quad core 2.3 Ghz CPU that I am planning to over clock to 2.9 GHz as that is a nice safe zone for it from what I been reading on
  5. Google "Nehalem EP"

    see also:

    Processor Speed and Cache Comparison
    model / Speed (GHz) / Max. Turbo / Max. Turbo 4 cores busy / L3 Cache (MB) / TDP (W)
    X5570 / 2.93 / 3.330 GHz / 3.200 GHz / 8MB / 95
    X5560 / 2.80 / 3.200 GHz / 3.066 GHz / 8MB / 95
    X5550 / 2.66 / 3.066 GHz / 2.930 GHz / 8MB / 95
    E5540 / 2.53 / 2.800 GHz / 2.660 GHz / 8MB / 80
    E5530 / 2.40 / 2.660 GHz / 2.530 GHz / 8MB / 80
    L5520 / 2.26 / 2.400 GHz / 2.330 GHz / 8MB / 60
    L5510 / 2.13 / No turbo / No Turbo / 4MB / 60
    E5520 / 2.26 / 2.400GHz / 2.330 GHz / 8MB / 80
    E5506 / 2.13 / No turbo / No Turbo / 4MB / 80
    E5504 / 2.00 / No turbo / No Turbo / 4MB / 80
    E5502 / 1.86 / No turbo / No Turbo / 4MB / 80

  6. Server boards typically have different chipsets and expansion slots than desktop boards. Check the specs on the boards carefully and you will see differences. Ram is usually slower with higher capacity and such things as ecc, fbdimm, and registered. You'll find things like 64bit pci slots and are more likely to find 4x and 8x pci slots. Check the drivers as well, make sure they are available for your OS.

    You may also want to look into ati's fire series and nvidia's quattro series these are workstation video cards designed for graphics editing the cards you are using now were designed for games.
  7. server boards generally have fewer I/O ports at the rear panel

  8. To expand on the workstation GPU idea. The only difference between the workstation and gaming GPUs are the drivers. It is possible to turn a gaming GPU in to a workstation GPU.


    You can do it to ATI cards too, I lost my link for that.
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