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Low heat/energy, reliable, non-gamer, for running VMWare under Linux

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January 13, 2011 10:46:16 AM

(Still working on this...will update when final...)
(Updated after even more feedback!)

What I would like is a highly reliable, low heat machine that is capable of running 2, or maybe 3 VMWare VMs. None of these VMs will be very high usage, but will each need about 1GB of VM Memory.

It will sit in a room with poor to middling cooling; unfortunately I have no idea which CPUs etc are low-heat. In the absence of any real understanding of the heat/energy requirements, I was heading down the following line:


- ASUS P8P67-M PRO ASUS P7P55-LX Motherboard
- No GPU ASUS ATI Radeon HD5570 Silent 1GB (Not sure I need this; probably something cheaper as long at it is reliable)
- G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 G.Skill ECO F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO (2x2GB) x 2 (8GB)
- Intel Core i5 2xxx Intel Core i5 760 Intel Core i7 870
- CoolerMaster HAF 922 with Window
- CoolerMaster V8 CPU Cooler
- Antec Signature Series SG-650W PSU Antec Signature Series SG-850W PSU
- Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB WD1002FAEX x 3 (2TB Raid 5)

which is $1220 $1070 $1250 ex tax.

Any (more) help or suggestions would ge breatly appreciated!


Approximate Purchase Date: this week

Budget Range: $AU/$US 1000-1500 ish

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Running relatively idle VMWare VMs (2 of them)

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, Graphics card(?), OS (Linux)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, http://www.pccasegear.com/, or any other

Country of Origin: Australia

Parts Preferences: VERY mild pref for intel/asus

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024

Additional Comments:

See above; don't really need overclocking, probably dont need graphics card if on-board will do basic graphics (1280x1024).

Best solution

January 13, 2011 11:56:20 AM
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You might wanna switch that i7 for an i5. AFAIK, the i7 consumes more power, thus more heat. Besides, the HD5570 will bottleneck the CPU for sure. Assuming VM utilizes any GPU processing.

For the motherboard, an entry level (usually micro ATX) model should be sufficient. You might wanna reconsider that 2 x 2GB x 2 = 8GB RAM there. Reasons are, they're impractical (for using 4 slots), consumes more power (although negligible) and difficult to troubleshoot if something were to happen to one of them. A simple 2 x 4GB of RAM is a wiser option.

You may not need a 850W PSU for such requirement. It's an overkill for a cool system. A mere 400W, or 500W if you're so worried, is more than enough. Get a reliable PSU with a large fan (usually with "Quiet" feature described), since it will be idle for long hours.

I'm not sure why you chose the Caviar Black if "low temperature" is your goal. You might wanna consider the Green version for less power consumption and, again, less heat. Even if it's negligible, but it will help you build a low temperature system in general. But if you're aiming for high performance HDD, then the Black series is a good choice.

All that with lots of case fans in a proper intake - exhaust configuration will set you up just fine. :D 
January 13, 2011 12:24:26 PM

Thanks for the reply!

I am targetting low heat/energy as well as reliability, hence some of the higher end items. I have updated the build based on your suggestions and included some answers (and questions) below...

damasvara said:
You might wanna switch that i7 for an i5. AFAIK, the i7 consumes more power, thus more heat.


Will do.

damasvara said:
Besides, the HD5570 will bottleneck the CPU for sure. Assuming VM utilizes any GPU processing.
Is there a *reliable* less highly-specced graphics card I should consider?
damasvara said:
For the motherboard, an entry level (usually micro ATX) model should be sufficient.
Main reason I went for non-entry level is reliability is another key factor.
damasvara said:
You might wanna reconsider that 2 x 2GB x 2 = 8GB RAM there.
Changed to: G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3
damasvara said:
You may not need a 850W PSU for such requirement.
Downgraded to: Antec Signature Series SG-650W PSU

I can't seem to find a 'Signature' version less than 650W.
damasvara said:
I'm not sure why you chose the Caviar Black if "low temperature" is your goal.
Reliability again. 5 year warranty means (to me) that they have confidence in their drives.


Related resources
January 13, 2011 1:11:52 PM

Nice recap there...

Well for the re-recap :lol:  Here's what I think:

For the GPU, if VMware doesn't require any GPU specialized features such as texture processing, video acceleration, etc. Then a mere HD5450 with a very low power consumption would be your best option. Then again, since an i5 already has an integrated graphic processor built-in the chip, The performance difference will be insignificant. Might as well use the i5 built-in graphic.

By saying "highly specced", I assume you're thinking that the HD5570 is one of them. But the truth is, it's not. There's still the HD5670 which is a bridge between HTPC GPU and gaming GPU, where the HD5570 is in the HTPC category. Although I don't quite agree, since at low resolution, any games is playable using it. But it's a matter of benchmarks and personal standards in the end. :p 

I suggest to stick with the HD5570. But if you want, get the 5450, or don't use a graphic card at all.

Entry level doesn't mean that they're not reliable. But the features are minimum. For example, they have only 2 slots of RAM, max. 4 SATA connectors, no HDMI otuput, and so on. They're basically using the same components as the standard ones. Just look for features such as: Duracap, Military Grade, Solid Capacitors, etc. if you're looking for reliability.

Besides, if you're not OCing, durability is not an issue. But if you're really into this "reliability" concept, find products from ASUS, Gigabyte, or EVGA. Those are the brands well known for their quality.

For low voltage, Kingston's low power RAMs might be an interest for you. The Ripjaws are usually for gaming rigs with its high speed, aggressive timing and heatsink. Kingston is also a reliable brand. But Ripjaws are fine, if you're already familiar with the brand.

As for the PSU, does it have to be an Antec's Signature? I'm starting to think you're a brand loyalist here... :lol:  Just kidding. Everyone's in title of their own opinion. It's a very good PSU, but as I said before, it's still an overkill. But if you got the cash to spend, you can get practically anything you want.

I agree on the manufacturer's confidence perspective. It's just that it's odd to see gaming components for a VMware use rig.

If reliability is you're main concern, make sure to have a decent power surge protection for the rig. Since even the best components simply dies over a simple electrical surge.

Which makes me curious, have you build a virtualization PC before?
January 13, 2011 11:13:28 PM

damasvara said:
Might as well use the i5 built-in graphic.
I will start with this I think; didn't realize the i5 had a GPU.
Edit: According to the Intel site, it dos not have integrated graphics...still looking
damasvara said:
Just look for features such as: Duracap, Military Grade, Solid Capacitors, etc. if you're looking for reliability.
Will do. On this basis the P7P55LX does not look so good (good caps only in some places).

Any suggestions?
damasvara said:
As for the PSU...
I have been very impressed with my only other Signature PSU. So, I guess there's a little brand loyalty happening -- or at least fear of change :lol: . If I could find a 500W version, Id probably get it.

The whole system will be attached to a pure sine-wave UPS, so it should get clean power.
damasvara said:

Which makes me curious, have you build a virtualization PC before?
No. This is the first; up until now I have run VMs on servers and desktops.
January 14, 2011 10:09:00 AM

damasvara said:
Here's something to consider:...
Thanks for all your help, I have updated the original post to reflect most of your suggestions. It's looking pretty good to me now -- at least I have a reason for each component that makes some kind of sense (which is much better than before).
January 14, 2011 10:28:14 AM

You're going for the Sandy Bridge? I see...

Well, I just want to suggest to get the most ideal setup for your needs.

But that motherboard sure is an overkill and anti-logical... You don't plan on using a single graphic card, yet you went for a 3 slots PCI-e x16 motherboard? And you might want to check whether or not it supports the integrated i5 graphic, since I don't see any monitor output on the back panel. :p 

I'm starting to think the motherboard you chose is incompatible with the SB i5. I'll run a check on that issue.

Hint: ASUS don't name their product "PRO" without a reason. ;) 
January 14, 2011 10:42:42 AM

damasvara said:
You're going for the Sandy Bridge? I see...
For integrated graphics mainly -- only the i5-2xxx have it; and it's certainly cheaper than other CPU + GPU.

damasvara said:
But that motherboard sure is an overkill and anti-logical...
It's the only one I could find with the 100% good caps (like the one you suggested). I might have to find another supplier with the exact one you suggested.
January 14, 2011 10:50:14 AM

Well, Sandy Bridge is still quite a new platform, thus the options are still limited. You might wanna check ASUS subsidiary, ASRock for common usage motherboards. Gigabyte and MSI also makes good motherboards.

I'll see what I can find.

BTW, it's a definite. Your current choice doesn't support the integrated graphic. You'll have to find another one.
January 14, 2011 10:54:04 AM

damasvara said:
BTW, it's a definite. Your current choice doesn't support the integrated graphic. You'll have to find another one.
Aaarghh. Looks like I might need to go i5/1156 + GPU, or find some other i5/1155 with solid caps and onboard grapic support.

Perhaps going with a less bleeding-edge CPU might be sensible.
January 14, 2011 10:59:30 AM

Now you can come to your own conclusions. Finally... :lol: 

Exactly, go for the most ideal parts instead of the newest. Since newer is unnecessarily better. But if you hear it from someone else, it might go against your ideals and expectations.

Don't be frustrated yet, there are still some alternatives for the motherboard.
January 14, 2011 11:06:00 AM

Wise choice indeed... That should answer your question for a reliable motherboard.
January 14, 2011 11:19:19 AM

damasvara said:
Wise choice indeed... That should answer your question for a reliable motherboard.
Really? What I have been reading about ASRock is less than exncouraging -- they sound like the bargain basement ASUS.

Just found this:

http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_i...

(expensive, but sounds durable)

Then probably go with a core i7 950...also comparatively expensive.

January 14, 2011 11:36:43 AM

:lol:  Rambo amongst motherboards... For real?

Here's some insight on durability and reliability:

- It would take at least 2-3 years for a tier-3 capacitor to leak under normal usage and room temperature. Tier-1 capacitors (usually solid) are practically infinitely indestructible under the same environment. They use top quality capacitors to accommodate enthusiasts and overclockers lust for speed, in exchange for heat and electrical torture on the components.

- Reliability issue is usually on the software half, instead of the hardware. Since I'm not familiar with Linux, I'm not in title to comment. But for comparison, 32-bit Windows XP crashes more frequently after days of idle compared to the 64-bit version.

- Do you know Intel's $70 Atom motherboards has 5 years warranty for non-stop usage?

- Don't take brands hierarchy so strict. Even the best brand has its rotten egg. Get reviews on a particular part for a consideration factor would be wise.

But if you still persists on going for the expensive and famous ones, then it's your decision. We at Tom's can only suggest, not telling you what to do. :D 
January 15, 2011 5:35:46 AM

damasvara said:
:lol:  Rambo amongst motherboards... For real?
well....it did say mil. spec -- which kind of fits the bill.
damasvara said:
It would take at least 2-3 years for a tier-3 capacitor to leak...
I'd kind of prefer some flexibility here.
damasvara said:
Reliability issue is usually on the software half...
Linux ftw here; my linux servers stay up as long as the power lasts...and the hardware copes.
damasvara said:
Do you know Intel's $70 Atom motherboards has 5 years warranty for non-stop usage? ... Don't take brands hierarchy so strict. Even the best brand has its rotten egg. Get reviews on a particular part for a consideration factor would be wise.
Indeed; and much of what I read about ASRock is not encouraging, thought the only review I found of the MB I found was extremely (overly?) positive.
damasvara said:

But if you still persists on going for the expensive and famous ones, then it's your decision. We at Tom's can only suggest, not telling you what to do. :D 
Indeed; the reason I came back was the incredibly helpful reasponse last time. But it did reinforce my prejudice toward 'quality' componets...whatever that means,
January 24, 2011 11:31:16 PM

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