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EPIC Gaming/Workstation Rig

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January 9, 2012 11:47:25 PM

Hi guys, I am looking into building a very, very high performance computer (the highest possible essentially). I am willing to spend $15,000 on this rig, maybe more. Thanks guys.Approximate Purchase Date: (e.g.: this week (the closer the better))

Budget Range:<$15,000

System Usage from Most to Least Important:gaming, VMs, compiling code, 3D modeling
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse. dual-booting Win 7/Linux

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, microcenter nearby

Country:USA!

Parts Preferences:whatever

Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: Yes
Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Additional Comments:
I was thinking:
Dual Xeon X5680s
Server mobo
4x 7970 GPU- the XFX OCed one if possible
RAM- 92 gigs+ of DDR3 ECC...
2x 480 gig SSD's in RAID 0- might do 4 in 0+1, or maybe an HDD for other data
A gigantic case
A gigantic power supply- 2000 watts?




Thanks guys, i know that this is somewhat of an impractical build (ie I could get slightly worse performance for much less $) but I just want the best machine possible to handle everything with ease.
January 10, 2012 12:05:53 AM

Intel should be releasing Sandy Bridge Xeons soon, so you may want to wait for those. Also, that might bring an EVGA SR-3 motherboard that will support dual Xeons.

As for the GPUs, if you plan on doing a lot of 3D modeling, texturing, animating, or anything like that, I would suggest a professional GPU in addition to whatever consumer grade cards you want. For example, consider a Quadro card or Firepro card in addition to the card(s) you will use for gaming. For my next build, I will be doing mainly 3D modeling, texturing, animating, and rigging. So I plan on getting a Quadro 5000 for all my professional applications and then also have a GTX 560 for light gaming. If you are serious about the 3D aspects, look into a Quadro 6000.

I would not spend that much on RAM unless you are sure your applications will actually be making use of it.

As for the case and power supply, I do not know of any 2000 watt power supplies. However, I would suggest getting a case that can house two power supplies, such as the Enermax Fulmo GT.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That case also supports any size motherboard you can think of, including HPTX, which is the size of the current EVGA SR-2 for dual Xeons.

Or if you want a case like the Lian Li V2120 or really any case that only supports 1 power supply, you could always just get 5.25" power supplies and mount them in the optical bays of the case to provide power to the GPUs.
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January 10, 2012 1:14:37 AM

How do they differ from gaming/desktop GPUs?
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January 10, 2012 1:54:55 AM

supremeoverlord said:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Heres the PSU that I found. Thanks for the tips on the GPU, I'll add one of those.


That is a server PSU, which won't fit inside of regular cases. You would probably have to get something special to fit that.

You can get an extremely efficient Antec PSU 1200 watt. Antec is a widely respected company that produces quality PSUs. Also, 80 plus Gold Certified is nearly the best PSU certification you can find. Now if you get two of these in a case that supports two PSUs, then thats 2400 watts for $540 that is 80 plus gold certified for each. The efficiency of the PSU you linked to is only 75% at full load. I believe the Antec will reach 92% if I remember correctly.

So you should definitely not buy that PSU. Either go with a case that supports two PSUs and get the Antec, or just get one of the Antecs and a case that supports many optical drives. Then fill those optical drives with 5.25" PSUs so you can provide power to each GPU. And if you really want to go crazy, you could get a separate 5.25" PSU for each of your GPU's and just have the Antec for everything else. But again, I would personally get a case that supports 2 PSUs and get the Antec.

supremeoverlord said:
How do they differ from gaming/desktop GPUs?


A lot of it is in the drivers and I am not 100% clear on this.

But basically, professional grade GPUs (Quadro cards and Firepro cards) are optimized for professional applications. Consumer cards are just for gaming and raw power.

For example, if you were to take a $740 professional GPU (Quadro 4000) and a $740 AMD 6990, the 6990 would absolutely murder the Quadro 4000 in any game. However, if you were to do any 3D modeling, animating, rigging, or using the Mercury playback engine inside of Adobe After Effects and Premiere, the Quadro 4000 would kill the 6990.

It is a matter of what the GPU was made for. Consumer cards are optimized for consumer based needs, such as gaming. Professional cards are optimized for professional needs such as 3D modeling.
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January 10, 2012 1:59:11 AM

Pro GPU's differ from Gaming GPU's in these aspects.

1) Pro GPU's have firmware optimized for Modeling and CAD work.
2) Pro GPU's have drivers that are specifically optimized for Modeling and CAD software.
3) Pro GPU's have a higher level of support. (AMD Pro Cards are AMD branded and directly supported by AMD)
4) Pro GPU's usually have more memory than comparable (Chip not price) Gaming GPU's.
5) Pro GPU's offer certified support for many Pro Applications giving better software support from companies like Autodesk.

These cards make it much easier to work with larger models than even the highest end gaming GPU (HD 7970 is nothing compared to even a $160 V4900 in the modeling world). BTW unless you are building a rackmounted server that PSU won't work. And depending on your personality it may be better to build two computers, one for gaming and another for work to keep you focused on the task at hand. And given the line of work it will be easy to keep the two computers very well focused as the hardware demands are very different.

Oh Currently the HD 7970 is only supported the 3X crossfire so you can currently only use three in Crossfire.

EDIT: Added more to the above list.
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January 10, 2012 1:59:38 AM

And if you decide to get a Quadro card, make sure you do all of your 3D work on a monitor that is hooked up to the Quadro card. Because, of course, you would not notice any benefits if you were doing 3D work on a monitor hooked up to a consumer card :) 

For my next build, I plan on having monitors that I can hook up to both GPUs. That way, when I want to play a game, I do not need to mess with any cables. All I will have to do is change the input mode on the monitor so that it then takes its video from the consumer card. And then when I want to model, sculpt, texture, or anything like that, I can just change the input mode back so that the monitor will then be running from the Quadro card.
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January 10, 2012 2:02:36 AM

caqde said:
Pro GPU's differ from Gaming GPU's in these aspects.

1) Pro GPU's have firmware optimized for Modeling and CAD work.
2) Pro GPU's have drivers that are specifically optimized for Modeling and CAD software.
3) Pro GPU's have a higher level of support. (AMD Pro Cards are AMD branded and directly supported by AMD)
4) Pro GPU's usually have more memory than comparable (Chip not price) Gaming GPU's.

These cards make it much easier to work with larger models than even the highest end gaming GPU (HD 7970 is nothing compared to even a $160 V4900 in the modeling world). BTW unless you are building a rackmounted server that PSU won't work. And depending on your personality it may be better to build two computers, one for gaming and another for work to keep you focused on the task at hand. And given the line of work it will be easy to keep the two computers very well focused as the hardware demands are very different.


Totally agree.

You also make a really good point about building two computers. This would also mean more fun for the builder. And if you do a lot of rendering, you could set your workstation up to render using the CPUs inside and the CPUs in your gaming rig.

However, if you'd rather stick to one build for convenience, I would suggest a dual PSU case.
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January 10, 2012 2:11:42 AM

No overclocking? Really...?
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January 10, 2012 2:13:00 AM

OK, sounds like i'll go with a dual PSU case, and maybe only 3 7970s, but I thought that they supported quadfire. I might not buy quite that much RAM either, especially since I could probably add more later
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January 10, 2012 2:14:07 AM

amuffin said:
No overclocking? Really...?


Xeons aren't for overclocking.
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January 10, 2012 2:20:33 AM

supremeoverlord said:
OK, sounds like i'll go with a dual PSU case, and maybe only 3 7970s, but I thought that they supported quadfire. I might not buy quite that much RAM either, especially since I could probably add more later


They do support quad Crossfire. However, that is complete overkill. The 7970 is the most powerful GPU and will max out pretty much any game you throw at it. Two of them is going to be insane and will definitely future-proof your system for years! 3... well, haha, even more legit!

Gaming-wise, you will not need more than 8GB. If you do a lot of rendering, RAM becomes more and more important. I was working on a 2.7 gigapixel image render a while back and ran out of RAM a few times and I have 24 GB. Now, that is something you will never experience if you are just gaming. Rendering wise will be different.

Which quadro card are you getting?

Also, you will need CPU coolers as Xeons do not come with any. The cooler that comes to mind is a cooler master 212 +, either that or a 212 EVO. Both are really good. And because they ar Xeons you do not need to worry about overclocking.

When do you plan on purchasing this beast?
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January 10, 2012 2:28:42 AM

Im gonna get it pretty soon. I was looking at the PNY Quadro 6000. Also, I do do a fair amount of rendering, stuff like that. Part of the reason that I'm going with this kind of setup is that I do want it to be very future-proof, because i dont like screwing with a system once I've built it.
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January 10, 2012 2:29:13 AM

strausd said:
They do support quad Crossfire. However, that is complete overkill. The 7970 is the most powerful GPU and will max out pretty much any game you throw at it. Two of them is going to be insane and will definitely future-proof your system for years! 3... well, haha, even more legit!

Gaming-wise, you will not need more than 8GB. If you do a lot of rendering, RAM becomes more and more important. I was working on a 2.7 gigapixel image render a while back and ran out of RAM a few times and I have 24 GB. Now, that is something you will never experience if you are just gaming. Rendering wise will be different.

Which quadro card are you getting?

Also, you will need CPU coolers as Xeons do not come with any. The cooler that comes to mind is a cooler master 212 +, either that or a 212 EVO. Both are really good. And because they ar Xeons you do not need to worry about overclocking.

When do you plan on purchasing this beast?


Unfortunately no at this point in time -> http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1374/pg14/sapphir...

Hardware Heaven tried and no go in the current driver so we will have to wait for driver support to come out for QuadFire, but then again in supremeoverlord's case the system in going to be 3 7970's and likely one Firepro V7900 or V9800, or possibly a Quadro 5000/6000.
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January 10, 2012 2:35:10 AM

with a 15 grand budget dont get cheap heatsinks. get top of the line ones like the noctua nh-d14. that is if they support that socket.
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January 10, 2012 3:08:03 AM

Roger that. I'm pretty much going for the highest quality everything, and heatsinks arent that expensive anyway. I guess I'll just get 3 of them.
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January 10, 2012 3:36:00 AM

cbrunnem said:
you can overclock xeon 5680s to 4.0.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aootHB_wR8


True, it is possible. But again, that is not what they are for. Xeons are server grade CPUs meant for high stress environments nearly 100% of the time. Think in terms of server farms. So yes, it is possible, but no server farm would be running overclocked server grade CPUs.

supremeoverlord said:
Im gonna get it pretty soon. I was looking at the PNY Quadro 6000. Also, I do do a fair amount of rendering, stuff like that. Part of the reason that I'm going with this kind of setup is that I do want it to be very future-proof, because i dont like screwing with a system once I've built it.


What are your main programs? And that Quadro 600 will surely kick butt. And if you want to take out 90% of your budget with one item, go for the Quadro 7000 Plex ;) 

I hope you keep us posted on this set up, I would love to see some images as well!

cbrunnem said:
with a 15 grand budget dont get cheap heatsinks. get top of the line ones like the noctua nh-d14. that is if they support that socket.


Totally agree and that would be a much better heatsink. 212 + just came to mind quicker, but definitely go with that instead.

supremeoverlord said:
Roger that. I'm pretty much going for the highest quality everything, and heatsinks arent that expensive anyway. I guess I'll just get 3 of them.


If you are doing a dual Xeon build, you won't need 3 heatsinks, only 2. However, if you decided to instead build two separate machines, then you would need 3 if one is a dual socket and the other single socket.

If you decide to go ahead and buy all of this now, you should have no problem with socket compatibility with that heatsink. However, if you wait for the new Xeon CPUs to come out, you will need one that supports the newer socket.

Speaking of which, you should buy the Xeon 5690s instead of the 5680s. They are only $20 more expensive on Newegg and have a higher clock speed. The only difference is that the 5690 will consume 9 watts more power, but I think you got the power covered ;) 

Also, make sure to get DDR3 1333MHz ECC RAM in a tri-channel configuration for best performance. Kingston 8GB modules should be fine.

EDIT: Although the SR-2 has 12 DIMMs, it looks like its max supported memory is 48 GB. So you should instead look for 12 4GB sticks of DDR3 1333MHz ECC RAM.
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January 10, 2012 1:29:42 PM

Heatsinks- Sorry, when i said 3 I meant 7970s not heatsinks. So yes, I realize that 2 cpus=2 heatsinks. Sorry for the confusion.

I think that the mobo supports 48 gb of 'normal ram' but 292/288 of server RAM. I'll check again. Thanks guys.
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January 10, 2012 2:43:43 PM

strausd said:
True, it is possible. But again, that is not what they are for. Xeons are server grade CPUs meant for high stress environments nearly 100% of the time. Think in terms of server farms. So yes, it is possible, but no server farm would be running overclocked server grade CPUs.


this is no server farm and i was just pointing out that you can and rereading your statement i realize you didnt mean you cant just that most of the time they are.

in my opinion though i dont see a reason why not to overclock them. with the budget the OP has i cant see him having this computer for more then 5 years and with a nice decent overclock with safe temps and voltage it will last longer then that with extra speed.

supremeoverlord said:
Heatsinks- Sorry, when i said 3 I meant 7970s not heatsinks. So yes, I realize that 2 cpus=2 heatsinks. Sorry for the confusion.

I think that the mobo supports 48 gb of 'normal ram' but 292/288 of server RAM. I'll check again. Thanks guys.


the largest sticks they sell is 8gb so the most you could have is 96 gb in 12 slots. but if the mobo only supports 48 then that how much you can run unless there is a bios update. theres no way around it.
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January 10, 2012 9:31:12 PM

cbrunnem said:
this is no server farm and i was just pointing out that you can and rereading your statement i realize you didnt mean you cant just that most of the time they are.

in my opinion though i dont see a reason why not to overclock them. with the budget the OP has i cant see him having this computer for more then 5 years and with a nice decent overclock with safe temps and voltage it will last longer then that with extra speed.


99% of the time professional workstations will not have overclocked CPUs either. The main reason here being for maximum stability. I am not saying that a slightly overclocked CPU is unstable, just that a stock clock would be more stable and less of a hassle for professionals who can't waste any time messing around or worrying about BSODs, even if a BSOD is a rare occasion. In those types of environments, you need to be 100% confident that your workstation will always run exactly as it should without a single problem. Even something as simple as a BSOD can result in loss of work, loss of time, missed deadline, and ultimately a loss of money.

cbrunnem said:
the largest sticks they sell is 8gb so the most you could have is 96 gb in 12 slots. but if the mobo only supports 48 then that how much you can run unless there is a bios update. theres no way around it.


The largest sticks for desktop is 8 GB, but for server and professional use it is now up to 16 GB sticks.
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January 10, 2012 10:51:18 PM

strausd said:

The largest sticks for desktop is 8 GB, but for server and professional use it is now up to 16 GB sticks.


i stand corrected... but at 300ish dollars a stick they are really irrelevant.
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January 11, 2012 12:03:19 AM

cbrunnem said:
i stand corrected... but at 300ish dollars a stick they are really irrelevant.


Well if you want to max out a 15 grand budget, that would certainly help.
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June 17, 2012 5:46:45 PM

Hey OP it sounds like you are building quite the beast here but there's one thing no one has mentioned yet - your display!

For a rig of this scale and considering what you want to do with it, you MUST consider a better monitor!

I have heard a lot of gamer's becoming tired of ye old 1080p monitors, even if they are 120Hz. Personally I game and 3D design on a small scale and use a Samsung 27" 1440p PLS for both and I would NEVER go back to 1080p for design. EVER.

If you are really serious and have that sort of dough, I would definitely take a look at some high end professional monitors. I have heard good things of the "Dell U3011 30" Ultrasharp IPS" or an Apple Cinema or Eizo or something, anything but a 1080p TN!

Please do this powerhouse rig justice and listen to my recommendations on this one.

Another good reason besides the superior resolution these pro monitors have is that they also make the most out of Quadro's and Fire Pro's by supporting the billion + colours that they generate. AND you MUST have colour accuracy doing graphics work of any kind if you don't want your work to look rubbish on the client's own display of choice.

Anyway I can see you may be new to the hardware involved with this but just trust me on this one. It's one investment you won't regret!

Good luck.
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June 17, 2012 5:50:10 PM

Oh bugger, just noticed how old this thread is. Oops.

Anyway, OP - how did you go?
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!