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Advice on OC'd Dual-Xeon w/ Dual-GPU SLI build

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August 12, 2010 5:20:25 AM

I've been looking to build a new rig and I am evaluating the viability of a Dual-Xeon system over an i7 based system.

I'll be doing a number of things with this PC. Compiling lots of code, running virtual machines, running multi-threaded number crunching apps with high I/O requirements, running CUDA or DirectCompute code within GPU shader cores, and *some* generic PC stuff like surfing, docs, and games.

I've decided not to go crazy, and try to stay affordable (although I have no budget contstraint), and not build on top of a new six-core or Extreme proc.

I'm considering going with a Dual-proc Xeon E5620 "Westmere" Quad-Core setup and having an 8-core system for roughly the same price (ballpark) as just going with a Core i7-950 or 960 "Bloomfield" Quad-Core.

As I understand it, Xeon's are binned significantly higher than the regular i7's and running the E5620 at 4.0Ghz could be practical. I also understand that the overclock magic is in the capabilities exposed by the motherboard's BIOS and that server motherboards are less likely to be as configurable as their consumer counterparts.

I want to see what my options are for overclocking the Xeon rig if I go that route. I know it's possible because BOXX is selling workstation rigs with 5600 series Xeon's OC'd to 4.2Ghz

I'd also like to stick to an air-cooling constraint even if that means I can't OC as high.

My second goal is to run in a dual-GPU SLI configuration with dual GeForce GTX 460 1GB cards instead of using a single GTX 480. In the same spirit of the CPU decision I could get better performance for the same price and more shader cores for my number crunching.

Again, I believe my issue is going to be available motherboards that have enough PCIe 2.0 x16 slots and support SLI.

I also have a couple of general SLI questions since I don't have a lot of experience with it. Is it easy to enable/disable SLI in the driver without having to make any hardware changes? Also, if anyone has experience with CUDA or DirectCompute, I wanted to see what is entailed in taking advantage of both cards from the code (which AFAIK is why you have to disable SLI to even do so).

I hope I'm not crazy, but I was thinking I could put this PC together for less than $2k and it would represent a lot of value for the money. I'd love to get general input, advice, or alternatives, as well as part reccommendations if anyone has them.

Thanks in advance.
August 12, 2010 3:50:32 PM

Wow, this mobo is incredible. And it's $600! :)  Are there any alternatives? If I don't go with SLI is there still a way to overclock? Anyone know what is used in the BOXX workstations? Otherwise, I'm happy to buy this one because it is awesome, but it ups my build price quite a bit and now I need a huge case. Can anyone reccommend a case for this thing?

On the OC front: Does anyone have any insight to how high I can OC the Xeon E5620 on air-cooling? Is there a slightly slower chip that I can save some $$$ on that I would still be happy with how high I could clock it?

I can also buy a heavily OC'd GTX 460 with 1GB of ram for the same price as a reference GTX 460 with 2GB of ram. Am I better off getting the pre-OC'd cards (which probably have better cooling), or should I reap the benefit of all that extra ram and buy the other one and OC it myself?

I'd like to start getting a parts list together soon.
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August 12, 2010 4:00:12 PM

ASICSauce said:
Wow, this mobo is incredible. And it's $600! :)  Are there any alternatives? If I don't go with SLI is there still a way to overclock? Anyone know what is used in the BOXX workstations? Otherwise, I'm happy to buy this one because it is awesome, but it ups my build price quite a bit and now I need a huge case. Can anyone reccommend a case for this thing?

On the OC front: Does anyone have any insight to how high I can OC the Xeon E5620 on air-cooling? Is there a slightly slower chip that I can save some $$$ on that I would still be happy with how high I could clock it?

I can also buy a heavily OC'd GTX 460 with 1GB of ram for the same price as a reference GTX 460 with 2GB of ram. Am I better off getting the pre-OC'd cards (which probably have better cooling), or should I reap the benefit of all that extra ram and buy the other one and OC it myself?

I'd like to start getting a parts list together soon.

Thats the only "desktop" board available IIRC, other than that, just server boards.

For the case, look here: http://www.mountainmods.com/computer-cases-c-21.html
The retails cases will all need some modding to fit that mobo AFAIK
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