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Dual Xeon Questions for a 3D Graphics Desktop

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May 22, 2009 4:06:30 PM

Hi, I built my first desktop about 4ish years ago, and am about ready for a new one. I'm considering 3 main options, but have the most questions about a dual Xeon set-up.

My priorities for this machine are:

1. 3D Modeling (able to handle extremely high-poly meshes, possibly upwards of 20 Million in Mudbox 2009)
2. A hefty amount of Photoshop Work
3. 3D Rendering (less important than modeling because often the renders won't be highly time-sensitive.)
4. After-Effects / Premiere Video Editing / 3D Animation.
5. Energy Efficient (willing to spend a little extra money for this)
6. The Occasional game or movie.


Core components:

---------------------------CPU:----------------------------

2x Intel Xeon L5520 Nehalem Processors (2.26GHz, 60W)
$539.99 each

-What is the difference between the L5520 and E5520? The L lists 60W as opposed to 80W for more $$. Do you lose any performance for that 20W drop? How much cooler does it run as a result?

-Also, how large of a performance gap is there between dual 2.26GHz Nehalem Xeons and a single i7 920 2.66GHz for
1. single-thread tasks? (Photoshop)
2. 2-8 thread tasks? (games)
3. >8 thread tasks? (3D apps & Rendering)

-------------------------Motherboard:-----------------------

ASUS Z8NA-D6C
$259.99

-This board only has one PCIe x16 slot. Would it be able to fit a Radeon HD 4890 1GB? (I have read reviews saying it can be a little cramped.

-Are there any other Dual LGA 1366 boards that can fit in an ATX case?

-This board only has 2 USB ports, is there a way to add more?

--------------------------Memory:-------------------------------

Mushkin 2GB DDR3 1333 ECC Memory x3 (x6 eventually)
$38.99 each

-What exactly is ECC memory and is it worth it? The motherboard is compatible with ECC but I'm not sure how big a difference it makes from non-ECC memory

-----------------------------Video Card:------------------------------

ASUS Radeon HD 4890 (1GB GDDR5 Memory)
$249.99

-torn between this and the HD 4870 x2, or a slower, quieter, cooler, and more energy efficient card.

-Are there any recommended cards that are highly energy efficient and run cool but still have ample performance?

------------------------------Other:---------------------------------

The rest of the components I would figure out after locking down these 4.

My other two options are going with a Mac Pro or building a much cheaper i7 Machine.

The monitor will be the same in any case so i'm leaving that out of the equation

Thanks
May 23, 2009 8:32:36 AM

eaclou said:

2x Intel Xeon L5520 Nehalem Processors (2.26GHz, 60W)
$539.99 each

-What is the difference between the L5520 and E5520? The L lists 60W as opposed to 80W for more $$. Do you lose any performance for that 20W drop? How much cooler does it run as a result?


I am also seeking an answer to this question. There are 4 different voltages for the Nehalem Xeon, and I want to know how they compare.

eaclou said:

ASUS Z8NA-D6C
$259.99

-This board only has one PCIe x16 slot. Would it be able to fit a Radeon HD 4890 1GB? (I have read reviews saying it can be a little cramped.

-Are there any other Dual LGA 1366 boards that can fit in an ATX case?

-This board only has 2 USB ports, is there a way to add more?


1. Have you considered the ASUS Z8PE-D12X? It has plenty of room for the video card.

2. Why restrict yourself to an ATX form factor. Dual 1366 Xeon mobos will probably require an EATX 12x13 size.

3. USB hub? Install a front panel using the internal USB pinouts?

eaclou said:

Mushkin 2GB DDR3 1333 ECC Memory x3 (x6 eventually)
$38.99 each

That sounds like a great price for ECC memory, although I suspect it isn't registered, is it? Please let me know the source.
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