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Server motherboard: Z8NR-D12 or Z8PE-D12?

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April 10, 2009 8:53:16 PM

I'm currently choosing components for a high-end workstation and I am thinking about using one of these two motherboards:

Asus Z8NR-D12
http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=uubLblnIvItIDTV8&...

Asus Z8PE-D12
http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=z1K4qLpLmyLfwXtw&...

The difference between these two seems to be layout only. Question is, which one should I pick? Originally, I considered the Z8NR-D12 because of price - it's a little cheaper - but now I'm leaning towards spacing the CPUs a little more apart. Still thinking about it...

Oh, and btw, the CPUs will both be cooled by TRUEs, so I was also thinking that spreading the two CPUs apart might help the motherboard to take the weight a little easier... although the Z8NR-D12 seems to have motherboard screws closer to the actual cpus.

The rest of the components: 24GB of Corsair DDR3-1333 (unbuffered), 2x Xeon W5580. Should make a very good number crunching computer! :bounce: 
a c 236 V Motherboard
a c 117 à CPUs
April 10, 2009 9:31:46 PM

Another difference is the expansion slots. The Z8NR-D12 has a PCI slot and a PCI-E x16 slot that can't accept cards as long as the Z8PE-D12 could.
April 10, 2009 10:18:51 PM

I noticed that too. But as this is a number crunching machine, there is no need for a video card, as the computer will be accessed remotely most of the time. But having more expansion options is an advantage nonetheless. I guess the main difference is the CPU/memory positioning.

I wonder if there is any problem of keeping such a motherboard in a tower case with two Thermalright Ultra-120 Extremes on it? I think not, but I would probably be less worried if the motherboard was mounted horizontally...
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a c 236 V Motherboard
a c 117 à CPUs
April 11, 2009 12:51:58 AM

Server motherboards normally are designed to be installed in rack mounted case. I'd still trust the Z8PE-D12 a bit more due to the CPUs being installed further apart. If it will be accessed remotely, can't you mount it in a rack?
April 11, 2009 3:08:12 AM

Well, actually I don't exactly know where the computer will be installed. It might be installed in our physics departments' IT center, which means there is rack space available but it is not good to use this space because of some internal politics. (politics always complicates things)

Then again, it might also stay in a room dedicated to workstations. This room, AFAIK, does not have racks in it. Therefore, I was thinking about a Tower case because this offers the most flexibility for us.

But anyway, searching for a good workstation case is a little tiresome because most well-ventilated full tower cases are actually SLI-oriented.

I have actually looked this up again and I can get a Silverstone Tenjim TJ09 (a silver one, BTW) for a tiny, tiny little bit cheaper than the Cosmos S. Should be a good alternative too! I love Silverstone build quality. Now I'm divided again. The TJ10s seem a little more expensive, but I've used a TJ10 for a workstation build and it worked great - I liked working on the removable motherboard tray. That system was based on a Tyan i5400PW and used two Thermalright HR-01s which were screwed directly to the case. Too bad that this is not the case for the 5520 (tylersburg) based mobos and the Nehalem Xeons. Having such large heatpipe tower heatsinks screwed to the case made me feel much, much safer.
April 20, 2009 2:08:23 AM

Hum.... stupid question now...

The Z8PE-D12 is actually listed as a SSI EEB motherboard, and I asked for a CM Cosmos S, but the Cosmos S only supports E-ATX! Will the holes be correctly placed? CEK CPU holes notwithstanding, there's still the issue of regular motherboard standoff holes....

Edit: Crap! It seems I was right in being suspicious. Leave it to cooler master to design a case costing hundreds of dollars that has EATX but not SSI EEB holes. I will check again, but I might have to switch over to a Silverstone case.
a c 236 V Motherboard
a c 117 à CPUs
April 20, 2009 3:12:40 AM

I found only one post where someone claims that he installed an Asus SSI EEB motherboard (it was not the Z8PE-D12) in a Cosmos S. I would buy a SSI EEB compatible case to be on the safe side. Intel obviously have them, but the SilverStone SST-RV01B-W is rather unique (and not rack-mountable).
May 9, 2009 4:54:26 PM

Ok, here this is my first post on this forum. Hopefully, this will help anyone trying to get a rig going like I am trying to do.

Reqirements: Use as much equipment already on hand to build a super-fast server for virutalization.
Both processors must be water cooled. Server must run Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008. Motherboard must support at least 48GB.

Background:
I currrently own an HP Blackbird II with a EVGA 780i Motherboard and the stock 900W power supply.

Steps:
I am going to take out the EVGA 780i motherboard and replace it with the following:

ASUS Z8PE-D18(ASMB4-IKVM) Dual LGA 1366 SSI EEB 3.61 Motherboard. This board will allow two Xeon processors and up to 144GB of DDR3 regsitered DIMM memory.

The first hurdle, will the board play nicely in my blackbird case which has standoffs for an EATX motherboard and will the stock power supply work. I googled for the SSI EEB 3.61 specifcation and found the following document which was extremely helpful.

http://ssiforum.oaktree.com/pdfs/SSI%20EEB%20v3-61.pdf

Here are the highlights from that document.

1) The Entry-level Electronics Bay Specification evolved from the ATX Specification
2) The EEB baseboard is based on the ATX form factor ‘stretched’ to 305mm x 330mm [12” X 13”], a size
sometimes known as “full ATX”. This represents the maximum size of the EEB-compliant baseboard, though
smaller sizes (including notched-out areas) are possible.
3) The EEB baseboard datum is the same mounting hole referenced in the ATX Specification Version 2.1, located in
the rear-left corner of the board. This relationship allows compatibility between true ATX-style boards and entrylevel
Pedestal platforms.
4) The Entry-Level Electronics Bay Specification provides a rear panel aperture to accommodate board-mounted I/O
connectors such as serial, LAN, or integrated video. This aperture is identical to the ATX Specification.

The stock power supply connections look like they might work with this new board. I am going to check into it this afternoon.

I ordererd the following Kingston Memory for this board, 24GB initially.

2 Kits (24 GB Total) - KVR1066D3D4R7SK3/12G 12GB 1066MHz DDR3 ECC Reg w/Par CL7 DIMM (Kit of 3) DR, x4 w/Therm

The following cooling kit from Swiftech:
Swiftech H20-220 Apex Ultima Extreme Duty CPU liquid cooling kit
Another Swiftech Block Cooler for the second CPU with 1366 hold downs and another 3-FAN Radiator and various other cooling parts.

The good news is that my dad has already replaced his Blackbird 780i stock motherboard with an EVGA 790i on his rig and he also replaced the stock cooling with the Swiftech blocks/radiators, so he plowed the ground in that area. His machine looks awesome. BTW, he is 70 years old and he did this last year. Quite a feat, I would say!

I am going to start building everything out next week and hopefully will have an answer by the end of the week. I will repost all of my results and installation steps if I am successful.







June 3, 2009 11:39:02 AM

Pros: Wow, what a board! This is by far the best motherboard I have ever put into a system. I removed my EVGA 780i from my HP blackbird case. The board fit well into the HP Blackbird except that three of the EATX holes were not there (This board has the same form factor as an EATX motherboard).

I have the entire system water cooled and all FANs are controlled by the motherboard. The board also includes the Asus ASMB4 management board which allows me to successfully power up and power down the sytem remotely via an Ethernet connection. The board has numerous readings that can be measured remotely such as the voltages, fan speeds, temperatures (2 headers on the motherboard).

I started using the onboard Intel RAID to control 4 Western Digital 1TB Black Caviars in a RAID 10 configuration. The only problem I had here is an undocumented jumper that is on the right side of the motherboard (RAID_SEL1) which allows you to select either the onboard Intel RAID chip or the LSI RAID (default) chipset. This worked fine but I wanted to test out the capabilities of the PIKE 1078 hardware card. I hooked all four WD 1TB Caviars in a RAID 5 setup using the LSI PIKE RAID card. Yes, you can hook the SATA drives on the HP blackbird plane to the SAS connectors on the Asus motherboard! This became my drive D. I then used a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor for the boot drive C. I hooked this drive and the LG BluRay Writer to the SATA connectors on the motherboard. So, the good news is that you can use both the SAS and SATA connectors simultaneoulsy.

My sound is power by the HT Omega Claro Plus card. For the video, I use two EVGA 9800GT cards. I also have an external set of drives that I am using with the AMS RAID controller box. It is using the SIL3132 ESata card.

The system seems compatibile with just about everything I throw at it.

The last thing that I am going to try is to replace the Velociraptor with an Intel X-25 80GB SSD for the boot drive. This machine is used primarily as my main computer and also for testing virtual machines for my lab. I currently run about 30 of these VMs on this machine at the same time with no problems using Windows Server 2008 Enterprise 64bit with 48GB of RAM.


Cons: No capability to overclock in the BIOS.
Documentation needs some updating
I had to tap three EATX holes for my HP Blackbird case.
Other Thoughts: I would not hesitate to buy this board again! It is rock solid and by far one of the best motherboards I have ever built into a system.

Here my setup so far:
1) 4 kits of Crucial ECC Registered DIMMS (CT3KIT51272BB1339 12GB kit (4GBx3), 240-pin DIMM Upgrade) Total 48GB
2) 2 Intel Nehalem 5520
3) Asus Pike 1078 Card for SAS RAID (SATA Drives are compatible with this controller as well)
4) 5 CASE FAN REXUS|DF1212025BH-PWMG R (These are the 120MM 4wire motherboard controllable)
5) Swiftech SWIF|H20-220 Apex Ultima Water Cool Kit
6) Additional 3-fan RADIATOR SWIFTECH|MCR320-QP R for extra cooling
7) Addtional Swiftech APOGEE GTZ waterblock for second CPU
8) Extension cables for all 4pin fan connections
8) Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
9) Hyper-V (30 VMs so far)
June 3, 2009 12:10:45 PM

E-ATX support in CM Cosmo-S is more of an afterthought than a ground up design hence its lack of depth once an E-ATX board is used.
Chassis designed with E-ATX or SSI EEB from ground up should be extremely deep and will leave plenty of room behind the motherboard has been mounted for cable management.
June 10, 2009 4:01:01 PM

The Asus Z8PE-D18 sounds like a great board, too bad it can't be overclocked. Did you come across any dual LGA 1366 boards that could be overclocked?

Thanks.
June 10, 2009 7:31:36 PM

i like the Z8PE-D12 because -

* CPU position is more consistent with fans on CPU heat sinks
lining up with fan on back of case, better airflow in most cases.

* power connectors are closer to the CPU (load).

working for 20+ years in Power Supply & high-frequency analog/digital R&D, i never heard anybody ask to have the power connectors further away from their circuit, in cases where we were dealing with a substantial load.

the 2 CPUs and that memory will add up to somewhere 300 watts or more, that's a decent size load.

it would be interesting to BUY BOTH and test them.
June 10, 2009 11:30:52 PM

I don't like the Z8PE-D12 because I have one lying around with 2 W5580s in the sockets but am unable to install two Thermalright Ultra-120 Extremes because of heatsink clearance issues. Many, many electrical components just next to the heatsink mounting holes.

I will install a custom-built adapter and it will work, but the motherboard is just giving me trouble. The Intel reference motherboard for the 5520 chipset does not have these clearance issues.

I once built a Tyan-based 5400-series Xeon machine which was great. Mounting heatsinks directly throught the motherboard tray is just great. I am very disappointed that Intel chose to abandon the CEK mounts. They just made more sense, much more sense. Now the CPU backplate seems to be FIXED to the motherboard (haven't tried to remove the one I've got, but I don't see any way to remove it! don't want to damage the motherboard or ruin warranty) So, if you stumble upon someone saying "any LGA1366 cooler will do", be very very careful.

The TRUE will work in principle, because the involved screws are all metric M3 screw, but if you think you're getting away with a push-pin cooler, for instance, think again.

Also, the ASUS motherboard cannot be used as an enthusiast desktop solution because (1) the "gold standard" of coolers, TRUE, doesn't fit - which might indicate other cooler might have problems as well - and (2) long video cards won't fit because of CPU placement.
June 22, 2009 7:48:48 PM

I have the Z8PE-D12 at my work as my 3D rendering workstation. I have two W5580s and 24GB of unbuffered, non-ECC 1.5v DDR3.

I also had clearance issues with the heatsinks! I'm using a pair of CoolerMaster V8 heatsinks. The mounting was horrible- I was trying to (gently) pry off the stock intel backplate before I realized it was bolted to the CPU holder with some kind of star-shaped bolt, which I found could be unscrewed with an Allen wrench. The heatsink itself went on fine on the slot closest to the backplate, but the one towards the front of the case had the heatsink support arms impacting one two of these large black box-shaped capacitors. I actually had to dremel down the arms of the heatsink, cutting halfway through them to solve the clearance issues.

I found this forum since I'm wanting to do some overclocking now and I realized that the only thing you can change is the QPI and the memory frequency and latency settings. Is there any way to overclock a Nehalem-class CPU or adjust the multiplier from within Windows?
June 22, 2009 10:22:36 PM

I solved the clearance issue by using motherboard standoffs and by having a workshop build a round metal spacer, as shown here.

In any case though, the platform itself is great. I've just now solved the clearance issues, and have yet to mess around the BIOS and such. But bear in mind that server boards are absolutely not designed for overclocking. Desktop Nehalems (Core i7s) are more overclocking-friendly...

June 23, 2009 3:43:55 PM

That's good that you solved the clearance issues, but it's ridiculous that we both had to resort to custom solutions for the cooling on this board.

Actually, strangely enough, I should have said underclocking. We're looking at purchasing some rackmount rendering boxes and are trying to determine if we should get a few high-speed ones, or a slew of lower-speed ones. I'd like to emulate the lower speed boxes to determine the performance delta by adjusting memory, QPI, and core speed settings to a lower value than default. I'm really not trying to increase the strain on this board.

But whatever my reasons for wanting to adjust settings, I'd really like an application that can dynamically change these settings on the Nehalem from Windows.
June 29, 2009 10:37:04 PM

I am building a W5580 rid and don't know what motherboard, heatsink, and case to use to not have these clearance issues... Any setup so that doesn't require modifications?
July 29, 2009 8:20:04 PM

Hi!

To any Z8PE-DXX owner... I'm going to buy one of these mobos (I just have the processors now) soon, but I have some questions that I can't find in the ASUS website... AFAIK some of the SATA ports depend on a PIKE card to be usable at all, but how many sata ports are usable without the damn PIKE card?

Another thing, did u get a special power supply with 2x8pin 12V connectors? I have a thermaltake toughpower 750W with just one 8pin12V, but there are some Y adapters I could use... do you think it'll have enough juice? The model is this, in case someone understands the output ratings :p 

http://www.thermaltake.com/product/Power/ToughPower/W01...

And to clc60 who already watercooled his system... I don't know yet which waterblocks I'll buy but, did you run into any problems, considering the backplates or the components around the CPUs for example? Any considerations I should take when selecting a waterblock?

Thanks!!
August 7, 2009 2:43:23 PM

The swiftech waterblocks I used worked just fine with no clearance issues. Also, to the poster above, all SAS ports will also work with SATA drives as well without the PIKE card.

In fact, the only two issues I have had are some missing information in the documentation and I needed a bigger power supply. I was originally using a 900W TOPOWER power supply and when I upgraded the CPUs from 5520s to 5570 and added an EVGA 295 HydroCoper graphics card, the 900W power supply was inadequate. I upgraded to a PC Power and Cooling 1200W power supply and everything works great. I am very satisified with this board.
January 27, 2010 7:15:25 PM

i am interested in buidling a workstation with the asus Z8PE-D12 board....does any one know if the nvidia quadro fx4800 video card can fit and is compatible with this board?...thanks
peter
March 5, 2010 5:24:15 PM

Hello all, does anybody with an Asus Z8PE-Dxx board know what the country of origin is on the BIOS? (if it came from China, US, etc...) That info - in fact, most info re: the Z8PE - is missing from the Asus website.

I know the PCB is manufactured in China, but I'm specifically interested in the BIOS chip.

Thanks everyone -

J
!