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Developer/Programmer Build

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February 16, 2010 4:48:30 AM

As a long time developer who has built systems before I'm reminded just how complex the process of selecting components is. What a phenomenal community this is to share so much knowledge and experience. My hat off to all the authors!

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: immediate BUDGET RANGE: $2,500 (higher if required)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: developer/programmer

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: none

OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Plan to run Windows Server 2008 64bit as desktop OS for stability, performance, and virtualization with hyperV. Might end up installing Windows 7 instead.

Intel Quad Core

8GB RAM with ability to upgrade to 12-16GB soon.

Hard Drive: Stumped! Need approx 2TB good performance system disk space. Virtual hard disk file sizes are 20-60GB each. Confused as to whether RAID will provide significant performance boost over standard 7200 rpm drives. Initial thought is to stripe RAID 0 and 1 for performance/redundancy.

2 x monitors to run side by side.

Will not run games.

Graphics simply needs to be good enough for graphic design e.g. Photoshop

Sound basic required only.

---

Was planning to one of these builds (as a starting point) and then throw RAM and drives at it:

(1) The $1,300 Enthusiast PC

(2) Recommended Builds by Usage - Enthusiast

(3) $1350 Rig for Development
February 16, 2010 5:30:34 AM

As a developer, who has built systems, I am a little surprized that you ask these questions. System architecture is a "philosophical eneavor", ... no?

Programmers hang/reboot, a lot, so I would strongly recommend an INTEL or Crucial (also INTEL) 60GB SSD, for your boot drive.

Go for 3x4GB sticks of matched DDR3/1600 You will need all of it. (3stix=3channel)

Go to Amazon and search on 32" (Phillips or LG) 1080P (2ms) televisions ... they are way cheaper (1920x1080), they have nice tuners and remotes with lots of ports ...
... The Phillips has Analog Audio Out (you will want this).

Do your developer's tools require a specific chipset or video card? Some do.
(my Avid Editing SW requires a certified system (INTEL x58 + nVidia Quatro + 12GB)

As far as 2GB drives go, look for a 7200+RPM drive with *32MB* cache ...
... Go for the "Caviar Black Series" ... USE the NewEgg "Power Search" ! ! !
NewEgg also lets you sort search results by "Best Reviews" (helpful).

Stay away from RAID 0 ... Get a Corsair SSD and a bunch of 2TB SATA drives in "hot-swap" drive trays (a.k.a. mobile racks).

There are even (now) small capacity SSD caches that can fit onto a regular mechanical drive and drop your latency down to ~Zero.

I would have an SSD for my boot ... a 300GB Raptor, for workspace, and a 150GB raptor for apps.

SSds (with mechanical drives, in drawers, as backups ... that is the future ...

PS, by the time you build a 0+1 Array (min 4 drives), you will have spent enough to buy a 256GB Corsair (barefoot) SSD !!! . . . 0+1 ??? . . . U crazy ?!

Buy a stack of cheap 1TB drives (less than $90) and use em to rotate a 3-drive backup system and get 2 SSDs and a Raptor, for yer innards.

=f=
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Related resources
February 16, 2010 4:36:26 PM

Well, Alvin makes some good points. Anyway as a developer I would recommend that you find out if you use any tools that require a specific platform to run. As for a Hard Drive arrangement the following is simply optional.

1) fast SSD simply for boot. Two of them in a mirror raid would be a nice luxury ^_^. Of course, that just depends on your budget

2) Raid 5 array for storage. It provides you with both speed and redundancy. A few WD 640GB Black Edition Drives should serve you well.

3) external backups. I would recommend you get an external hard drive or two to back up your data. You may also choose to setup a file server on your home network, out of an old computer. *** happens, and you don't want to be without access to your important files when a project is due. Personally I use one external hard drive and share data between my home work computer and my laptop (primary system is for gaming and is the backup work machine ^_^).

4) A Plextor DVD writer. If you're going to be writing a considerable amount of DVDs, I would recommend you get a high quality burner. The Plex tools utility is a little complicated, but very useful. The Plextor Drives themselves are great for burning important projects.
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February 16, 2010 4:50:17 PM

Thanks for this information - helpful! Will have to hit the books to compare RAID/SSD. No special requirements due to software programs. A performance system is the focus and point taken about a snappy system drive. Note that disk space is mostly for running virtual machines not backup -- but appreciate the backup suggestions. Ha Alvin - haven't built a system for 6 years and everything is different. I've got more questions than you can poke a stick at.
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February 16, 2010 8:50:20 PM

Here are a few links, from "Ours, Truly", which may perk Y'all's interest.
(PS ... RAID 5 is good but, even when SSD fail, they fail slowly and incrementally and you can (almost always) still read them. Any corrupt data is usually confined to a single file (or two). RAID 5 still requires all kinds of power and enclosure overhead, extra (spare) drives (have to be identical) so, for a RAID5 consisting of 4 VelociRaptors Plus a hot and a cold spare, external enclosure ... Ext Power, ... Yuk! ... Why (anymore?). SSDs with a daily session backup (to a $90 - 1TB rack drive ... one of 3) would provide sizzling performance and sure-fire backup (if you kick off a full-back when you leave for an hour. ALSO, if you insist on any form of RAID, then DO search for (and acquire) a "True Hardware RAID" solution, which will not depend on your CPU (won't drag you down) for RAID overhead !!!
Anyway ... 3 links follow.

The last link has me dizzy and drooling ... Dear Santy Claus, ... Sigh ...

1) An SSD that adds "massive turbo caching" to a hardware RAID ...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/maxiq-ssd-cache,251...

2) An SSD Turbo-Cache (Reads Only) for single SATA drives (coming soon) . . .
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Storage-HDD-SDD-Cache-...

3) A MASSIVE and EXTREME SSD PCIe-4x "Slot Drive" (card drive) ... specs !! WOW!
... Yes, YOU can buy my respect, for under $2k ... (such a deal!).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Really, tho, I think the latest Corsair SSDs (Indilink-Barefoot .. with latest firmware and utilities) are the very best value, with NO downside ... better than RAID5 !!!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Always sort on "Best Rating" and read the worst reviews of the best rated drives, first. Learn a bunch and avoid troubles.

=Cheers=
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February 16, 2010 10:12:14 PM

It's a bit out-dated, but see the specs in my signature for my development server. It's running:

Windows 2008 w/Hyper-V (dual boot to XP-64 for gaming when the server isn't in use).
Virtual IIS Web Server (Windows 2003 Server)
Virtual SQL Server (Windows 2003 Server)
Virtual Development platforms (XP/Vista though not concurrently).

Given that I allocate 2GB of RAM for each virtual system, you can see I'm limited on the number of systems I have running virtually. If you think you're going to need more systems than what I'm running, get more RAM.

I'm not sure I'd be too comfortable running virtual hard disks (VHDs) on a hard drive RAID. You may want to look into that a bit more closely. If I had to, I'd probably run one larger HD for Server 2008 boot and multiple VHDs, and then a shared RAID setup for all virtual systems to access.

-Wolf sends
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February 17, 2010 11:59:59 PM

Thanks Wolf! I think I might be over thinking the components then. Looks like your build has some solid pieces but nothing fancy. I'll simply go with the standard "Enthusiast" build and throw in extra RAM.

Still working on drives and appreciate your input.

Have a friend using the following external RAID drive for video -- loves it.
http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/atepper/story/pr...
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February 18, 2010 3:23:43 AM

Alvin - realized I didn't respond to your post. Thank you for further clarifying SSD vs. RAID. This is all making sense now and an SSD system drive will be in the final build (which I'll post once complete).
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February 18, 2010 7:36:49 AM

This is interesting! Because Windows Server is going to be the installed OS, it's recommended to get a server motherboard (makes sense). However, this seems to require a certain amount of trail blazing since reviews, recommendations, and general info is somewhat scant.

Windows 7 could be a more practical choice? However, the standard "Enthusiast" builds have 6GB RAM limitations.

Currently leaning towards the following server build (additional components yet to come but requires more research time):

server mobo - $319
SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

cpu - $289
Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

memory - $191 x 2 = $382.00
Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Triple Channel Kit Server Memory Model CT3KIT25672BA1339 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$220
Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$75 x 2 = $150.00
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

There's talk on the forums about this asus server mobo but can't see any reason to go this road:

server mobo - $460
ASUS Z8PE-D12X(ASMB4-IKVM) Dual LGA 1366 Intel 5520 Tylersburg SSI EEB 3.61 Dual Intel Xeon 5500 Series w/ Remote Management, PCI-X Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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February 18, 2010 9:19:04 AM

I see a problem with your choice for system memory,

You have specified 2 sticks, when you should (must) have 3 sticks ...

This is because the S-u MB is triple channel (not dual channel) ...

Here is what you need ...

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

using only 2 sticks would put you into single channel mode ... way slower ! (WAY)

= Al =
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February 18, 2010 9:26:57 AM


WOOOOPS !

SORRY ... Misread ... NOW I see u got 2 kits x 3 sticks ... PERFECT !

Disregard my last post ... I see your choice as even better than 3 sticks of 4GB
(because you are splitting between two banks) ... looks fine. I doubt you will need to go beyond 12GB with this motherboard so, yeah, populate all slots. (unless u think yule go beyond 12GB, in the next 5 years).

= Ooops =
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February 18, 2010 9:39:32 AM

BUT !!!

I also noticed that *my* suggested memory choice, will save you $52.02

AND The performance is identical (CAS latency of 9 ) . . .

Your choice has 9 reviews with a 84%(Avg) rating ... Mine: 3 reviews with 100%

= Take yer pick ! =
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February 18, 2010 10:36:25 AM

valentim16 said:
This is interesting! Because Windows Server is going to be the installed OS, it's recommended to get a server motherboard (makes sense). However, this seems to require a certain amount of trail blazing since reviews, recommendations, and general info is somewhat scant.

Windows 7 could be a more practical choice? However, the standard "Enthusiast" builds have 6GB RAM limitations.

Currently leaning towards the following server build (additional components yet to come but requires more research time):

server mobo - $319
SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

cpu - $289
Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

memory - $191 x 2 = $382.00
Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Triple Channel Kit Server Memory Model CT3KIT25672BA1339 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$220
Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$75 x 2 = $150.00
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

There's talk on the forums about this asus server mobo but can't see any reason to go this road:

server mobo - $460
ASUS Z8PE-D12X(ASMB4-IKVM) Dual LGA 1366 Intel 5520 Tylersburg SSI EEB 3.61 Dual Intel Xeon 5500 Series w/ Remote Management, PCI-X Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

whats the diff in this case between getting a normal mb versus getting a server mb?
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February 18, 2010 11:15:47 AM

Forgetting anything important?

Here is an award winning, top rated, economical cpu cooler (1366 compatible)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-Product

And some high quality, "controllable" thermal compound . . .
(PS: Read some articles on how to seat the CPU and *PROPERLY* apply T-paste)
(Search this forum on how to properly apply thermal compound ... read the article)
(If you have never done this ... DO NOT underestimate the delicacy of the process)
(be sure to remove any thermal coatings, on the cooling plate, with a razor, before applying thermal compound to the CPU package.)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6835100007

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February 18, 2010 2:53:55 PM

Alvin:
Very good point about the cooler and silly putty -- not obvious that this was required. Note that the links are no longer valid product pages. Good memory suggestions - and didn't know about dual/triple channel. Am confused as to whether memory must be "server"? Crucial RAM is considered "server" while the Kingston suggested is "desktop".

Daggs:
I'm not sure the exact differences between a server and desktop motherboard. Have read that people are getting Windows Server OS installed on desktop motherboards successfully and others have had problems. Manufacturers do not support running Windows Server OS on their desktop motherboards. So I'm going with a server motherboard just to be safe.

Adding the following graphics card to the build which is simply from the standard "Enthusiast" build.

$300
XFX HD-585A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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February 18, 2010 3:02:41 PM

On the mem modules ... good question, IDK but the specs were so identical, they looked like a "cut-n-paste" ... I will check over them again ...

... In the olden days, server/ws boards often wanted ECC/Parity-bit type memory but I have no-eye-deer if anything like that applies here. I'll check a bit more and shout back (regardless)

= Al =
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February 18, 2010 7:18:28 PM

valentim16 said:

Daggs:
I'm not sure the exact differences between a server and desktop motherboard. Have read that people are getting Windows Server OS installed on desktop motherboards successfully and others have had problems. Manufacturers do not support running Windows Server OS on their desktop motherboards. So I'm going with a server motherboard just to be safe.

real server=linux ;) 
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February 18, 2010 7:36:32 PM

SSDs are good, but due to high price for high capacity not sure if this is worth... Also as a developer, I have a few systems running parallel in VMware for testing, without big HDD and Memory it is not possible...



drf

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February 18, 2010 8:45:50 PM

I've just been reviewing this thread. Seems like type and capacity of storage is still "up in the air" ... I've been mulling the logic and the philosophies (various) presented by all parties and I just had a little more to share, on that subject.

ABOUT RAIDS: First, I have had about twice as many catastrophic crashes, with RAID-0, than with fast, single drives and, that makes perfect sense because Wikipedia actually presents a mathamatical formula to calculate this (expected) higher rate. When RAID-0 crashes, it is just plain ugly (in my exprnce).

Here is Wiki's take on RAID ... there is a long section, at the end, on "problems" and "failure rates", etc ... "Kind of puts me off" the whole idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

*IF* I ever do another RAID, it will be an external (eSata-III) "True Hardware Raid".
Internal (BIOS based) RAID sucks system overhead and, I am even wondering if internal BIOS RAIDing of faster SSDs won't actuallt drag your overall throughput DOWN. (?) ...

Second, Failure Rates are not only impacted by the higher number of mechanical drives, but also by all the extra cables and connections, etc.

Yet, the cost overhead for an external tru-HW RAID is significant and, is only justified if the need is very critical and if the array is very large capacity (in terms of $$$/GB). AND the external enclosure adds another PSU which, relative to the MTBF of mechanical drives, PSUs have a fairly high rate of failure (heat, dust, moving parts, etc.)

The beauty of truHW-RAID is, tho, that it takes ALL of the load off of your CPU and Memory, and also removes a burden (pwr load) from your system PSU.

SSDs (most MLCs), are already RAIDed, internally, but still have built-in support for external RAIDing (whatever that means)

SSds are figgin'-tah get really big and much cheaper. The density, in the product pipeline, has already doubled. They are taping out the first runs, as I type.

Remember that latency and bandwidth, of system memory is (check my facts) two full orders of magnitude faster than the fastest mech-HD ... That, me-Buds, is a serious bottleneck ... If you are going to "balance your TTL/Avg system throughput", then STORAGE is the first place you should spend extra $$$ on. (eh?).

Also, I have adopted this convoluted quotation (forget where I read it) ...

. . . " *More* memory will make your system faster than *faster* memory ".

. . . Just something to think about, as we match expendiatures to performance and throughput.

I don't think I'm making any of this up ... anyone? ... is this "good dope"?

= Think So =
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February 19, 2010 6:28:15 AM

Thanks so much for all the additional input today!

Alvin:
I love the look of the G-Tech RAID. Something very attractive about buying a box and simply plugging it in. So even though the SuperMicro motherboard supports RAID I think you're referring to this as bios RAID and not to use it. Instead if I go RAID to get a separate hardware controller - correct? It is disturbing to have so many knocks against RAID. After all - what's the point of high speed/redundant storage if it's going to fail. I currently have 2 x WD Caviar Black drives in the build to try (one for apps and one for virtual hard drives). Either performance will be adequate or not. If not, I have the option to RAID them or buy an external RAID drive.

SuperMicro Motherboard RAID Blurb:
SATA II with RAID Support
The second generation SATA interface delivers up to 300MB/sec transfer speed, doubling that of the first generation Serial ATA. The on-board six SATA II ports with built-in RAID 0, 1, 10 and 5 support provide flexible, scalable storage and enhanced data security.

The build so far -- still a few more components to figure out. SuperMicro had a good OS compatibility chart -- was concerned about compatibility with Windows Server. Can't find anything specific about support for hyperv virtualization with this build but my sense is that it will work ok. Stumbled upon a LightScribe DVD -- this is new technology to me and a nice surprise -- can finally ditch the dedicated DVD printer. Still think the graphics card might be overkill for Photoshop. But perhaps better safe than sorry. Might have to do some basic video editing one day. An interesting point about more RAM rather than less faster RAM. I wonder if that applies to CPU too e.g. 2 x slower CPU rather than 1 x high speed CPU. Started on this research but my brain started hurting.

$319
SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$289
Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$191 x 2 = $382.00
Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Triple Channel Kit Server Memory Model CT3KIT25672BA1339 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$220
Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$75 x 2 = $150.00
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

$300
XFX HD-585A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$45
PLEXTOR Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD/CD Writer LightScribe Support - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$30
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$10
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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February 19, 2010 9:53:45 AM

I'm not sure you'll gain alot from using a server mb with a desktop cpu. if you were getting a server cpu, then ok but I'm not sure it is money worth.
then again, I might be wrong and missing something.
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February 19, 2010 2:42:12 PM

Thanks for that tip Daggs -- I didn't know there was such a thing as a server CPU. More research required!
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February 20, 2010 1:22:19 AM

yup ... you understood what I was saying ... I read it again. It is clear.

I am not going to opine on anything to do with system boards outside the desktop arena. I have participated in many WS build discussions, but more as a student than as an AUT-OR-AH-TAY.

I do my best not to speculate without caveat.

= Al =


=Al =
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February 20, 2010 1:22:36 AM

was up guys just curious about this thread how does amd's opteron fair against intel's server cpu's?
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February 20, 2010 1:29:48 AM

Great question, "Fan Boi", ... you tell us. Daggs might know something.

... I am in "Do no harm!" mode, here.

= Al = Happy Friday Night ! (BTW)
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February 20, 2010 1:36:08 AM

wait whos a fan boy? i just asked a question... i am really curious becaouse i dont know!!
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February 20, 2010 1:57:53 AM

Ok ... noted ... Juggs is NOT an AMD "Fan Boi" (as if that was a "bed" thing").

I think Daggs might be talikin' about ITANIUM, here, ... no eye deer. I should stop trashing up this thread w/OT. (There's other victims out there, begging for abuse!).

= Al =
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February 20, 2010 2:00:52 AM

I just dont know much about servers, as all i deal with are gaming rigs...
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February 20, 2010 2:01:36 AM

i eventually want to make my own tf2 server though so i might get into it eventually
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February 20, 2010 6:49:30 AM

darkjuggalo2000:
Wish I could help you with your question -- I'll just be happy to get a server build working ... period.

Alvin:
Now your talking -- wonder how much those big new SSDs will run for?

Build Update:
Thanks to Daggs I've got a new build with a server CPU. Interestingly, I dug up a Windows 2008 R2 server build. However, it appears to be using a desktop CPU? Nice price though. Server CPUs definitely jump in price and the one below supports 1066 RAM only -- thought that was strange. But faster RAM means a lot more cash it seems. Also, the slower Kingston is still more expensive than the faster Crucial. Also, can't find a way to put in more than 12GB of RAM. 4GB RAM sticks don't seem to be compatible (so currently using 6 slots with 2GB each) -- guess I'm missing something here.

$260
SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
LGA 1366

$385
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Xeon E5520 Nehalem 2.26GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 80W Quad-Core Server Processor - Retail

$226 x 2 = 12MB = $452.00
Kingston ValueRAM 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Registered DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Server Memory Model KVR1066D3S4R7SK3/6GI - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$220
Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$75 x 2 = $150.00
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
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February 21, 2010 12:17:10 AM

Here's the final build. I made a last minute decision to go with the $600 CPU (comes with fan / heat sink) and higher speed memory. I'm hoping the stock fan / heat sink will do the job since there's no overclocking. Interestingly, this bumped the total price up just $60.

$260
SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (audio)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (graphics)
Socket: LGA 1366

$600
Intel Xeon W3550 Bloomfield 3.066GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Server Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Socket: LGA 1366

$186 * 2 = $372
Kingston ValueRAM 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333 Server Memory Model KVR1333D3E9SK3/6G - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$220
Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$75 x 2 = $150
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

$300
XFX HD-585A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$149
CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$180
COOLER MASTER ATCS 840 RC-840-SSN1-GP Silver Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$45
PLEXTOR Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD/CD Writer LightScribe Support - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total = $2280
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February 21, 2010 3:25:21 AM

sweet ... enjoy!
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February 22, 2010 3:37:24 AM

This is the final purchased build. A few components were sold out and I ended up swapping out the desktop graphics card for a workstation card. Will post again once the system is up and running with a final update.

$260
SUPERMICRO MBD-X8SAX-O LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Core i7 Server Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (audio)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (graphics)
Socket: LGA 1366

$600
Intel Xeon W3550 Bloomfield 3.066GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Server Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Socket: LGA 1366

$186 * 2 = $372
Kingston ValueRAM 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1333 Server Memory Model KVR1333D3E9SK3/6G - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$430
Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$20
ICY DOCK MB882SP-1S-1B 2.5" to 3.5" SSD & SATA Hard Drive Converter - Black - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$100
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$180
ATI 100-505505 FireGL V7700 512MB PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$149
CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$180
COOLER MASTER ATCS 840 RC-840-SSN1-GP Silver Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$45
PLEXTOR Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD/CD Writer LightScribe Support - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$38
Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Total = $2,374 + tax/shipping
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February 22, 2010 5:39:33 AM

Still lurking ...
... That Icy-Dock is "cool" but, at $20, it is well that you only need one (proud!).

... Looks like you might be shoppin' around for an external RAID-1 .

... Didn't even know ATi made WS graphics cards (smirk)

= Al =
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March 12, 2010 6:38:43 PM

Here's a summary of the build! Bottom line: happy with results.

The actual build itself went very smoothly. Actually, it was easier than anticipated. A few stumbling blocks along the way but nothing the web couldn't help with. Manuals in general were scant but enough to get the job done in most cases.

Server is running Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ HyperV successfully.

Performance in general is excellent. SSD performance is amazing and even Western Digital Caviar Black performance is pretty good. Not inclined to go RAID at this stage but will need to get a second drive just for the virtual drives. Would I like it to be faster - yes. When switching/opening multiple apps there can be delays. My sense is the SATA drive is the bottleneck. Previous system took 20 seconds to open Firefox browser. This system boots up in 25 seconds and opens Firefox in 1 sec.

I did not flash the SUPERMICRO MBD bios since it was such an effort and SUPERMICRO recommend against it. In fact, there was no information as to what might have changed in the latest bios.

Would have liked 3x4GB RAM to allow for future expansion. But too much research to figure all this out. The 2GB sticks are recommended by SUPERMICRO and was a no brainer to purchase.

The motherboard only has one USB pin connector so the case has 2xUSBs that don't work. There are 2x full USB connectors on the motherboard so there's probably an adapter than can get those working.

The case is quiet, larger than expected, make the build easier with all that room, and does the job well. The video card is huge and just fits. What's up with video cards -- everything gets smaller while these get larger.

So far there's only been one crash for no apparent reason.
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March 17, 2010 7:26:41 PM

Well, after running great for a couple of weeks the system is now all of a sudden powering off and cannot be turned back on for approx 30 minutes. Currently researching ...

Also the new ATI graphic card drivers do not install. Waiting for response from support.
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March 17, 2010 10:14:16 PM

Sounds a lot like it's overheating. After only a couple of weeks running, I wouldn't expect your system to be overly dusty, but that's the first thing I'd check. Also check to make sure all fans are spinning (input, exhaust, CPU, GPU, PSU).

-Wolf sends
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March 17, 2010 10:27:59 PM

Thanks Wolf! Overheating was my first thought too. Have monitoring software up now and everything is running super cool. I do question the graphic card which at times seems to run very hot. But wasn't hot on the last reboot. SuperMicro support asked me to flash bios to the lastest version.
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March 18, 2010 8:55:13 PM

News just in from ATI is that the FireGL graphics card does not have drivers for Windows Server 2008. In fact no server operating systems are supported as far as I can tell. Mmm ... I thought the whole point of buying a "workstation" video card is that they were designed to support a server OS. Guess I was wrong. Suspect that this is causing PC to crash and now need to find a compatible graphic card.
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March 25, 2010 2:43:10 AM

Currently running a BETA motherboard bio - how scary is that. Have experienced once shut down within the last 7 days. So better than before but still not great. Will install the release version once it's available.

A tip from ATI allowed me to unzip the control panel software and install just the drivers. That worked -- so now running the latest drivers. However, can't uninstall the old control panel software - the install/uninstall simply crashes. I suggest not installing any graphic card software if not natively supported and just use the drivers (and cross your fingers).
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April 14, 2010 6:25:17 PM

Corsair support is simply excellent. An RMA issued after submitting a support ticket. Was able to talk to an engineer within just minutes about the power off problem. Very knowledgable, explained that it was either a power supply issue or a CPU issue. Prompt delivery of a replacement PSU (650W upgrade since the 620W is no longer made). Thank you Corsair - customer for life!

The new PSU has not solved the problem though. Next stop Intel.

In contrast, Intel support is plain bad. Two weeks of back and forth emails scrabbling over numbers printed on the processor. No phone support. Hours of system downtime. Final word appears to be the CPU is bad. I have to cover the costs of overnight shipping to avoid yet more downtime. Come on Intel - you can do better than that!
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April 14, 2010 11:29:48 PM

Hmm... random shutdowns eh?

May I ask if you have Automatic updates turned on? Also, have you checked the "Event Viewer" logs? Would you mind posting full specs?

So far, I'm running Server 2008 R2 on an ASUS P6T Deluxe (see my sig for more info), and haven't had any problems running 24/7 for over a month (except for Windows updates, ~30-40 minutes down total time). Also, this PC's been running for the last 8 days at 100% (a CFD sim).

I would expect a server board to be running much better than my "gamer" board. And it should. A few months ago, I built a 2P Nehalem based build for CFD/rendering for a neighbour and it too has not had any issues.


I seriously doubt its the CPU. The chances a CPU being bad is quite slim, virtually non existent imo, UNLESS it was damaged during install by ESD.

A few things you can try/tell us:

1. Download RealTemp and tell us the temps.

2. Download and run Prime95 "Blend Test".

3. Download and run Memtest86+.

(#3 and #2 should be run about 6-7 hours or over night or if possible, the entire day ~24hrs)

If any of the two tests above throw errors, that would be a Bad Thing.

edit:
Just a note, the ATI Windows 7 x64 drivers will work with Server 2008 R2.
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April 16, 2010 12:35:22 AM

Thanks so much Sniper! Good to know you have a system that's as solid as a rock. There's hope yet! Will give all your suggestions a go.

I'm as surprised as you that it might a CPU problem. Note that this was a diagnosis from the PSU support engineer who said it can only be one of two things: PSU or CPU. Interestingly, while zipping a large file I watched the CPU temp go from low to high and then the bios CPU temp alarm went off. I paused the zip and watched the temp return to normal. Intel seem to think it is in fact the CPU. We'll see. I'm the only one who has touched the CPU and have been very very careful with it -- mostly because it was a small fortune ;-) I have been monitoring temps closely but everything runs very cool. Except for what appears to be a CPU temp spike during heavy CPU use.

Thanks for the ATI driver note. Yes - I've found the same thing too. However, I thought 2008 Server was officially supported but it's not. So if we ever run into a problem I guess we're stuck. While the drivers work the software they provide does not (well the latest version anyway).

Windows updates are definitely off but good tip to check. All updates are downloaded and installed manually.
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April 16, 2010 12:56:17 AM

Quote:
Interestingly, while zipping a large file I watched the CPU temp go from low to high and then the bios CPU temp alarm went off. I paused the zip and watched the temp return to normal.

Have you tried re-seating the cooler? Also, what temps? Could be you received a bad insanely high VID CPU (happened to one of my friends) or the HSF is not mounted correctly,etc.
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April 16, 2010 2:15:24 AM

Good suggestions! I didn't try reseating the cooler since it was not recommended to monkey with once the CPU/cooler was installed. However, I have had to - to get to CPU numbers. And to read the CPU numbers I had to wipe off the factory thermal grease. Not good!

Hard to go wrong with the mount though. Seems very straight forward -- but we'll see if running some additional tests heats the CPU up again now that it's been jiggled.
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!