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CyberPower X58 Configurator – Sept. 2010 Custom Build Solution

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October 11, 2010 8:34:56 PM

CyberPower X58 Configurator – Sept. 2010 Custom Build Solution for Multi-Monitor/High Resolution Performance
Introduction
Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of dedicated CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and FEA (Finite-Element-Analysis) machines, and some work stations that often have dual/three 23” monitors or larger displays for flight simulation and other similar tasks. This has made me realize how antiquated my home desktop and personal gaming laptop has become. I was determined to find a pre-built system or build one of similar or equal performance to these dedicated workstations but at reduced costs. One particular workstation I’ve been assigned has a Intel Xeon W3550, a professional equivalent to an Intel Core i7-950 processor, and an Nvidia Quadro FX 3800 video card, professional equivalent to a GeForce GTX 260. This set the baseline for the build, but there was some learning curve to climb, as I haven’t followed the latest strides in R&D, stayed current with the trends in the market - what new high-speed-high-performance gadget and gizmo there are out there. Based on my experience with these workstations, I desired a Core i7, and assigned a rough total budget of $2000 to work with.

Selecting CyberPower
I set forth reading literature, reviews, forums, consulting with some tech aficionados, researched building a system my self, or getting it done else where. I ultimately sided with contracting out the build, due to the personal expense in time and money. One of companies offering custom built PCs is CyberPower, Inc., the company has a number of awards, and very positive reviews. However after some deeper research I found there are some rather polarized reviews as well, at opposite ends of the spectrum, some positive and some extremely negative. The company offers a 30-day-money back guarantee with no restocking fee, toll-free tech support, yet it seems the majority of negative reviews stem from the perception and expectation of rendered service if there is some unexpected problem with the system. Examining the warranty and policy in greater detail, a couple of items stand out which one can easily skim over and miss: (1) the 3 year warranty applies to labor only and 1 year parts + manufacturers warranty (warranty does not extend after replacement of new or repaired part), (2) the company does not reimburse for shipping and handling fees with returns, and lastly (3) the consumer has 7 days after receipt of the product to list discrepancies (missing items, incorrect parts, etc.).

http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/company/warranty.aspx

Machines do and will fail, Mr. Murphy – “if it can happen, it will happen”, even with the best components. Manufacturers attempt to reduce this through six sigma engineering practices, examining MTBF, and etc. CyberPower mitigates these issues, such as DOA (Dead-On-Arrival), with there own QC testing, a supposed 72 hour burn-in period (48 hours for rushed orders), but there are multiple reports that this cannot be possible given some previously posted progression of order statuses and also seen with some instability posts due to incompatible components in some custom builds. Unfortunately, the CP policy doesn’t instill great confidence, but then again any RMA process can be a nightmare to deal with. And even with the polarity of the reviews, inconsistencies between what is advertised, I hesitated but still pulled the trigger on a CP build.

Why?

Interestingly for this particular build after examining the cost of a do-it-yourself (DIY) job versus CP solution, the custom work CP provides is near or at-cost for the following components.

Do-It-Yourself Build

DIY Subtotal: $1,875.87*
*This Excludes the following:
Azza Hurrican 2000 Full Tower ($125)
Asetek 570LX Liquid Cooling System w/ 240mm Radiator and Dual Fans ($200)
CPU Thermal Paste ($10)
Just Cause 2 ($39.99)
Additional Wiring, Plastic Shrouds/Wraps, Zip Ties, Etc.
Substituted Xtreme Peripherals w/ Similar Cost Devices

Total DIY Cost: $2,250.86 + S&H + Assembly/Time

CP Build Specifications:
CPU: Intel Core i7-950 @ 3.06 GHz
Video Card: 2X Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 2GB (SLI 4GB)
Memory: A-Data 6GB (2GBX3) DDR3/1600 MHz
Motherboard: GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Hard Drive: 2X1TB SATA III 6.0Gb/s
Case: Azza Hurrican 2000 Full Tower
CPU Cooling: Asetek 570LX Liquid Cooling System w/ 240mm Radiator and Dual Fans
Optical Drive: 24x DVD Burner

Additional Add Ons:
CP Extreme 20% CPU Overclock
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit Edition
Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student
Xtreme Gear Peripherals (Optical Mouse & Keyboard)
Enhanced Packaging Protection
CPU Thermal Paste
Professional Wiring
Freebies: Just Cause 2, Mafia II

Total CP Build Cost Using X58 Configurator: $2,232 ($2,167 Subtotal + $65 Ground UPS)

Total CP Build Cost Using Gamer Infinity 8800 Pro SE Package: $2,156 ($2,091 Subtotal + $65 Ground UPS)
*Base Cost at $1685

End Notes:
The order above was just recently placed, but I hope to have a detail review from beginning to end once everything is squared away. I will document the progress, from initial order, status changes, delivery, and finally the stress and benchmark testing this build as the status changes along the way. And hope that I will be able to recommend this company for those looking to build their own high performance or large multi-monitor displays systems.

Order Progression – Status: Closed
09/14/2010, 9:00 PM (PST) – Order Submitted Using X58 Configuration
09/15/2010, 2:11 PM (PST) - Order Canceled by Consumer Due To Slight Price Discrepancy w/ Different Configuration Package. Notified that case and motherboard are backordered (Azza Hurrican 2000 & GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R) w/ expected arrival of a few days.
09/15/2010, 4:32 PM (PST) - Order Re-Submitted Under Different Configuration (Gamer Infinity 8800 Pro SE Package)
09/16/2010, X:XX XX (PST) - Order Processing, Sales Post Date (Est. Ship Date 09/30/2010)
09/17/2010, 9:37 AM (PST) - Order Processed - CC Charged
09/17/2010, X:XX XX (PST) - Warehouse Date
09/20/2010, 2:00 PM (PST) - Notified That All Components for Build In Stock, Confirm Expected Delivery Date
09/23/2010, X:XX XX (PST) - Assembly Date, Received Email Notification Regarding the Assembly of The System
09/23/2010, X:XX XX (PST) - Quality Control Date
09/24/2010, X:XX XX (PST) - Final Q.C. Date
09/24/2010, 6:01 PM (PST) - Tracking Information Received
09/24/2010, 10:30 PM (PST) - Invoice Received
09/30/2010, 12:00 PM (PST) – UPS 1st Delivery Attempt
09/30/2010, 5:30 PM (PST) – Picked Up from UPS Customer Service Center
10/01/2010, 9:40 AM (PST) - Emailed Sales Representative To Report Missing Free Software Offer - Just Cause 2, Notified Not In Stock, Was Offered Other Game Selections
10/08/2010, 4:00 PM (PST) - Order Status - Closed: Alternative Missing Free Software Offer (Just Cause 2 - TangoDown) Arrived

Original Estimated Final Delivery Date:
Estimated Ship Date: 09/30/2010
UPS Ground: 4-5 Days
ETA Delivery Date: Tuesday, Oct. 5th, 2010 (*as of 09/16/2010)
Actual Ship date: 09/24/2010
Actual Delivery Date: 09/30/2010*UPS Ground

Review of CyberPower Gamer Infinity 8800 Pro SE

PART I: Preliminary Review of CyberPower Gamer Infinity 8800 Pro S
PART II: Performance, Stress Testing and Benchmarks Review
PART III: Managing GPU and CPU Temp
October 12, 2010 1:21:24 AM

Umm... wow... you got 2x GTX460s on that DIY build? WHY?!?!? You also DO NOT need a 1kW PSU for those cards! There is so much fail on both those builds as workstations....

I'm pretty damn sure I can build a 2P workstation that would blow that Cyberpower and the DIY rig for about $2k. Mind you, I'm talking about CFD and rendering here, not so much gaming performance (after all, this IS a workstation).
October 12, 2010 5:10:41 PM

Quote:
Umm... wow... you got 2x GTX460s on that DIY build? WHY?!?!? You also DO NOT need a 1kW PSU for those cards! There is so much fail on both those builds as workstations....

I'm pretty damn sure I can build a 2P workstation that would blow that Cyberpower and the DIY rig for about $2k. Mind you, I'm talking about CFD and rendering here, not so much gaming performance (after all, this IS a workstation).


Sorry for the confusion, as I wasn't particularly clear in the original post, but to clarify this was just a system for personal use only - with gaming in mind. Inspiration for the build, came from working on a number of dedicated workstations for CAD/FEM (Finite-Element Analysis) at work, and other workstations at the university for (CFD, and for flight simulation) and this is what set the baseline for the recent build with CP. Out of curiosity, what CFD packages are you using?

Though it would be interesting to see benchmarks comparing a commercial end/gaming system v. a professional end/CAD oriented system. Especially considering that some Quadro cards can retail as much as 4X as the commercial equivalent having specialized CUDA drivers if the software can utilize it. I do have a evaluation/student edition of ABAQUS CAE which I could use to run a benchmark between this CP build and this Dell T3500 workstation. Though there are major differences between the fully licensed v. student edition, functionality with regard to FEM is severely limited, cannot run dynamic systems, only linear static and perturbation analyses, mesh size limited to 1,000, so it governs the mesh densities quite a bit . However even with these limitations, a simple model can be generated for which stress analysis would be performed and a comparison between the computational post-processing time of the CP build v. the workstation could be evaluated, though it wouldn’t truly be an apples to apples comparison. Although the CPUs across the CP build and workstation are the similar, the graphic cards aren’t, different GPU entirely, and as I understand it, ABAQUS CAE takes advantage of the CUDA, and will send data streams to the GPU for calculations which rapidly accelerates the computational time. Also not entirely sure on the impact that SLI will have either, but it brings up some interesting questions with regard to the application using CUDA on the GTX 460 cards. So I just might go ahead if I have some time and run a simple stress model from the CP build compared to running it on the Dell T3500 workstation here at work. Ultimately though, if I had to do any work from home it would be through remote access, as the models generated in ABAQUS CAE need to be exported in a file format like .iges, which doesn't import properly with large part assemblies in CATIA.

As for the reason for dual GTX460s, main reason is bang-for-your-buck. There have been a number of reviews and benchmarks performed, most notably from Tomshardware, that demonstrate how well the GTX 460 performs. Especially with respect to SLI, the scaling is outstanding, and often outperforms a GTX 480, while simultaneously operating at a lower temperatures. Moreover, for a mid-range card, the GTX 460 is inherently less expensive even in SLI configuration (GTX460 ~$250 v. GTX480 ~$500). Based on the series of benchmarks I saw comparing these two cards, I couldn't justify getting GTX 480 SLI for my build. The ultimate driver being costs, with a build budget for just the tower at ~2k, GTX 480 SLI would have taken half the budget, and a single GTX 480 would have been slightly more expensive than a GTX 460 SLI, thus the GTX 460s were the optimum choice given my particular budget and needs. In hindsight, I was also lucky entering the market, just as 2GB GTX 460 were released, as it's generally recommended to have a high video memory capacity for performance at high resolutions, and the price difference between 1 GB v. 2GB was justifiable enough upgrade.

Here is a link to the scaling of the GTX 460 1GB SLI compared to a GTX 480.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-sli-geforce-gtx-480,2694.html





Performance of 2GB GTX 460s:
http://benchmarkextreme.com/Articles/GTX%20460%20OC/P1.html


Performance of GTX 460 2GB Single v. Dual
http://benchmarkextreme.com/Articles/GTX%20460%20ANALYSIS/P18.html



And lastly, for the PSU, spent a little more to have some safe overhead, rather than operating right at some upper threshold with a 850 W, moreover future-proofing , I'd rather have the capability than not.


http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-gf1...
Estimated Load Power Consumption Dual GTX 460s ~ 470 W *In reality higher in my case with 2GB VRAM and slight over clock


http://www.techspot.com/review/124-intel-core-i7-920-94...
Estimated Load Power Consumption of Intel Core i7-920 @ 2.66 GHz ~249 W *In reality higher in this CP System w/ Intel Core i7 - 950 @ 4.0GHz (1.312V) at 100% Load

Estimate for CPU and GPU : ~719 W
Estimate for Other Components: ~100 W( Overclocks, 12 GB RAM, 3X 1TB HDs, 1 Optical Drive, Motherboard, and Cooling (Fans and Liquid Cooling))
Total Power Consumption: ~819 W
Total Available Power: 1000 W *Assumes no output fluctuations due to efficiency losses due to heat, quality control, etc.
Head Room: ~181 W ((For additional add ons, GPUs, optical/HD/SSD, coolers, fans, etc.)




Quote:
...I can build a 2P workstation that would blow that Cyberpower and the DIY rig for about $2k.

As a comparison, when you get the chance, could you generate a quick part listing of what your thinking as an workstation build for ~$2K?
October 12, 2010 10:07:19 PM

Quote:
Out of curiosity, what CFD packages are you using?

Autodesk Algor and SolidWorks COSMOS. We also use a custom CUDA based CFD sim that is used for CPU water block design testing. Very rarely, C&R Tech's Thermal Desktop (and obviously, SINDA/FLUINT).

Quote:
I wasn't particularly clear in the original post, but to clarify this was just a system for personal use only - with gaming in mind.

Ahh... that makes sense.


Quote:

As a comparison, when you get the chance, could you generate a quick part listing of what your thinking as an workstation build for ~$2K?

As for the workstation:

HAF 912 $60: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x Xeon 5506 $ 470: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD for OS + programs $240: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX 650W $110 (Note, needs separate Molex to 8pin CPU, ~$5) : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS Z8NA-D6C $260: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x 500GB F3s for storage in RAID1 $110: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2x 3*2GB Crucial DDR3 ECC RAM $325: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA GTX460 (mainly due to good OpenGL performance, don't need much of a high end workstation card for CFD and basic CAD/rendering) $170: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $1,742.06 before rebates.

Needs a CPU cooler for the Xeons, so let's go water cooling here:
1x Swiftech H20-22 kit $240: http://www.jab-tech.com/Swiftech-H20-22-Ultima-XT-Liqui...
**The kit only has a single 220 rad, but since no OCing and only 2x 80W TDP CPUs, it should be OK. A second 240 rad can be added if needed for ~$60-70 with 2x120mm fans. **

Add a second CPU block since the kit only comes with one.

Swiftech XT $70: http://www.jab-tech.com/Swiftech-Apogee-XT-Extreme-Perf...

Total for true WCing loop: $340 + ~$30 for barbs, Kill Coils, extra tubing,etc if needed) = $370

With second rad: $430

Total cost of the 2P system with true WCing: $2113 (single rad); $2173 (dual rads).

So yeah.... a bit over budget with WCing, but WCing is a one time investment. You only need to swap out the brackets with each generation ~$20 for that.

Remove WCing, and it is below the $2k budget. In highly multi threaded apps, this 2P system will eat the 1P i7 build for lunch.

edit: Forgot OS. Add OEM Win 7 Pro. $140: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note: I have never run a Win 7 copy on a 2P server, so I don't know if there are any restrictions to doing this. All the 2P build I have done used a Windows Server (2008R2 or 2008) or a Linux OS (Fedora or openSUSE).
!