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Number crunching machine

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February 4, 2011 2:58:09 AM

I got advice on here a while ago, but had to delay my purchase a few months for financial reasons. Does the following system still look good?

My budget is around $1200. The primary use for this computer is number crunching. I am in the process of writing a program that analyzes numerical data. It maxes out my current computers resources using the entire power of 1/2 of the 2.26 GHz Core Duo processors and roughly 3 Gb of memory. I will eventually learn how to write code that takes advantage of concurency on multi-cores, but for the next 6 months I have other problems to tackle in development.

I'd like to have the system capable of displaying on 3 monitors.

I'm just fine with on board sound and I will not be using this system for gaming (unfortunately :(  it's all for work and no play).

This will be my first home build ever so any hand-holding is appreciated. And finally I'm actually willing to sacrifice raw power for stability. I really hope to be able to build this system and not worry about it for a couple of years. Finally I'm a little sensitive to noise, so let me know if the fan I've selected is quiet.

Feel free to modify the below configuration or post something entirely different/better.

Thanks.


COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
$59.99

Western Digital Caviar Black WD5002AALX 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Video Card??? I'm completely lost here. 3 monitor support. No gaming. 1920x1200 on the main monitor the other two will be 1920x1080

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9
$249

GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
209.99

Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX8060195
$309

Scythe Ninja 3 SCNJ-3000 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler
$48.99

Current Total $938.94 + video card(s)


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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
February 4, 2011 3:45:46 AM

I think we all prefer either the SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB or Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB $49 & $12 off using promo code EMCKHKJ25, ends 2/7 over the WD Caviar Black.

CM Hyper 212+ CPU cooler @ $30 is a great bargain

A 4x4 RAM kit is a mis-match with an X-58 motherboard that takes RAM in sets of 3.
CORSAIR Vengeance 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 $175

SAPPHIRE 100292L Radeon HD 5450 video card $55 times 2 card for up to four monitor support. $15 rebate

Or XFX HD-567X-YNF3 Radeon HD 5670 video card $80 supports up to 3 monitors - one monitor must have a DisplayPort connection. $20 rebate
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February 4, 2011 12:46:41 PM

Depending on how u write that software it may or may not benefit from intel's HT so you could go with a AMD X6 processor (~$200) or a Opteron 6128 Magny-Cours (~$275)since core count beats thdread count most of the time in well thdreaded applications.

As for a motherboard .. for the desktop version prices range from $60 and up and on the Opteron side around $250.

All in all if you go the x6 route u'll end up paying less (or the same amount just that u get to put more money into more memory/storage/etc.) If u take the Opteron side of things, you'll end up spending about the same amount as the i7 950 version.
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February 4, 2011 12:48:42 PM

i would reconsider some of you choices, but unfortunately i will not be able to suggest them. I believe a server cpu would be more suitable to number crunching. i7 is afaik a desktop CPU, and will run VERY hot when you strain it 24/7(130w :S). And when stable and correctness of the results is of crucial importance, DON'T overclock. You should consider going with error corrected memory, as found in server platforms(if you pick as server cpu, pick a server motherboard too ofc, which supports those error corrected memory).

I hope you find what you need :) 
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February 4, 2011 1:12:16 PM

Depending on the nature of the computing you will be doing, if CUDA and other GPU-assisted computing could interest you and warrant the purchase of a better video card.

Other than that I think the X58 platform is overkill and I don't know if hyperthreading will help you or not in your task. Assuming you don't need it, a simple P55 board + an i5-760 would probably cost you around 330-350$ instead of the 500$ you budgeted. Note that this would be a dual-channel board, not a triple channel one so either go back to 4x4GB of RAM or 2x4GB if you think 16GB is way too much.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
February 4, 2011 2:03:39 PM

I'm thinking Zenthar is on the right track.
Unless your project is going to generate income for you, I think backing off on the total cost is a good option.
It won't affect your learning to learn to write code for concurrent ops on multi-cores.

If your development work is going to taking you into general purpose GPU (GPGPU) computing (nVida CUDA / AMD Stream) you will want video cards with more cores.
Core i5-760 Lynnfield 2.8GHz $209
ASRock P55 PRO/USB3 $100
G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 $105


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February 4, 2011 3:23:01 PM

Alright, I've got some reading to do. I'm a little intimidated by the GPU computing, but maybe it will fit my application. I am hoping that this project will generate income, fingers crossed, although it is as of yet an entirely unproven proposition.

Although I hate spending extra money here on the front end, I'd like to start out with at least 12GB of RAM.

I'm going to look into X6 vs. i7 vs. GPU or even a server CPU, because although this will not need to run 24/7 as a server does, it will run for extended periods at times say over night 10-12 hours easily.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
February 4, 2011 3:35:45 PM

doped's suggestion to get a server based system has merit.
But if you're not going to be marketing your product exclusively to the server marketplace I don't think it's a down check to use a consumer/business product.
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February 4, 2011 5:29:45 PM

True, but I will be the only end user although I'd like for it to run on each of my Windows 7 machines.

WR2 said:
doped's suggestion to get a server based system has merit.
But if you're not going to be marketing your product exclusively to the server marketplace I don't think it's a down check to use a consumer/business product.

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a b B Homebuilt system
February 4, 2011 5:50:37 PM

For RAM hungry number crunching, I'd stick w/ 1366 based system but I went over budget by $37

Upgraded most of your components

Case - $100 - Coolermaster HAF-922 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU - $100 - XFX Black Edition 750 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MoBo - $495 - Asus Sabertooth http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
CPU - inc - Intel i7-950 Included in above
Cooler - $40 - Scythe SCMG 2100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
TIM - $5 - Shin Etsu http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM - $180 - 3 x 4GBKingston CAS 9 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GFX - $120 - MSI GTX 460 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GFX - $120 - Same
HD - $55 - Samsung F3 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
DVD Writer - $22 - Asus 24X DRW-24B3L w/ LS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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February 4, 2011 6:01:01 PM

Before you decide how much RAM you need you should review your algorithms and figure how large your working set is going to be. No sense buying huge volumes of RAM that you later find out won't be needed.

GPU computing could be a massive benefit, however, you have to carefully analyze your algorithms to see if they can be rewritten to run on a GPU. Keep in mind that a core i7-950 maxes out at around 61.2 theoretical Single Precision GigaFlops/37 theoretical Double Precision GigaFlops using the x87 and SSE units simultaneously. A GTX560 gives you 1262 theoretical Single Precision GigaFlops/105 theoretical Double Precision GigaFlops. Fermi cards will give higher Double precision performance.
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February 4, 2011 6:04:51 PM

That mobo looks like overkill. Something cheaper would probably work just as well.
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February 6, 2011 10:19:25 PM

Since your system will be running at max for long periods of time, spend the extra money on a really good Power Supply. Not something for gaming, but something for a server (whether you go with server hardware or not). I would also recommend something larger than you need in terms of wattage so you don't strain it and 80plus rated so your electric bill doesn't get nasty in the summer.

PC Power and Cooling would be my recommendation, I run one in my server.
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February 11, 2011 2:17:44 AM

Thanks for all the feedback. I've decided on a combination that is similar to the one recommended by JackNaylorPE. I've listed every component below. The main thing that makes me nervous is the MoBo. It's had a few negative reviews lately, yet every other comparable MoBo that I could find also had a similar number of negative reviews. I'd love to avoid BSOD if at all possible.

To keep things under my budget I'm only getting one video card, but it is hopefully one that will allow me to play with GPU stuff and maybe someday I can incorporate that into what I do. Eventually I'll add another so I can have 3 monitors and also more memory.

I looked at the i5 processors, but for my purposes I really don't think it's worth it. I need as much power as I can afford. Conversely I also looked briefly into server cpu's, but there seemed to be too big of a price jump for me.

I upped the power supply to 850 watts.


MoBo - ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Processor - Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950

Case -COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

HDD - SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Video Card - MSI N460GTX Cyclone 768D5/OC GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 768MB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video ...

PSU - CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply

Memory - Kingston HyperX 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) XMP Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3K3/12GX

Fan - Scythe SCMG-2100 Sleeve CPU Cooler

All of this together comes to $1,139 - $40 mail in rebates.

If anyone has any final advice I'm all ears. Thank you to everyone for the input.


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February 18, 2011 2:13:11 AM

Best answer selected by Jsplinter.
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