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Advice on mutli-core performance workstation/no gaming

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March 5, 2012 1:46:41 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: (this month)

Budget Range: $2,500 - $3,500+

System Usage from Most to Least Important: (1) CPU-intensive engineering applications, e.g., EPA AERMOD air quality dispersion modeling software - executable can take advantage of multi-core/hyperthreading with MPI - http://www.mcs.anl.gov/research/projects/mpich2/ (model runs can take from 1 to 18 hours on current 1st gen Core i7-920 2.67 GHz w/ 12 GB RAM); (2) standard office applications (large Excel spreadsheets and Access databases); (3) home media server and some photo editing.

Country: USA

Builder recommendations: looking for advice and recommendations. Have been reviewing websites and trying configurators for Micro Express, Digital Storm, AVA Direct, Polywell, iBuyPower, CyberPower, etc.

CPU: Core i7-3930 or dual quad or six core Xeon or other recommendations??

Overclocking: Maybe - if it would speed up model runs

Cooling: Recommendations sought on type (air or liquid cooled) and vendor. Would like it to be quiet.

Motherboard: Asus P9x79 Pro or ??

RAM: at least 16 GB, maybe 32 GB if recommended?

OS: Win 7 Pro

Graphics card: Recommendations needed. Currently have ATI Radeon HD 5700 Series on Dell XPS9000 that seems satisfactory for my purposes.

SLI or Crossfire: Probably no need if not for gaming?

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Hard Drives: Thinking SSD for boot/OS; 2x2TB for data (2nd as internal backup of 1st data drive).

RAID1: Seeking advice. Thinking about RAID1 for SSD boot drives. I currently have RAID1 on Dell XPS9000 w/ 2 1.5 TB SATAs, but not sure if it's slowing system down. Read/Write is sometimes on for many minutes, but not sure if this is due to RAID or other Windows issues. If I don't go for RAID1 again on this new system, what are other recommendations for imaging or backup of boot/OS disk? Will probably continue using GoodSync for data.

Case: Just want simple, conservative tower with ease of access, room for servicing/upgrading, lots of ports front/top and back, no bling/lights/windows necessary. Suggestions?

Power supply: minimum suggested capacity for this application? Vendor?

Thanks in advance for your help.
March 5, 2012 2:05:00 AM

with that type of budget, i would look into a multi cpu config from amd. 4 cpus x 12 cores each?
March 5, 2012 3:09:12 AM

If the engineering software can utilize that many cores. Otherwise, he might be better off with a Intel six-core. In any event, we can get back to this later.

CPU: The 3930K is in very short demand right now. With your budget though, you can just grab the 3960X (though it would be a bit of a waste in cash, but it can be done).

RAM: Does your current system max out the RAM you have now? How much RAM do you have now? If it is super RAM intensive, I would just drop the bill and grab 32 GB of RAM.

Cooling and OC'ing: OCing will make things faster. You'll definately need a good cooler. I suggest this one, the Hyper 212 EVO - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: Good

Graphics Card: Probably don't need a super GPU, honestly. Unless your software benefits from CUDA cores, then you'll want to grab a high end GPU from nVidia. Otherwise, I would just grab a sub-$100 card and call it a day. Anything 5700 or higher on AMD's site, and anything at or higher than the 520 GT on nVidia's side.

HDD: SSDs are goof for boot, so grab a 120 GB or a 160 GB from Intel's 500 series.

RAID1: I'll leave that to someone more experienced with RAID.

Case: Easy enough to accomplish. This one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... Just ignore the flashy stuff. Could also really splurg and get a lian-li case...

PSU: You'll want a good, strong PSU from a good, strong vendor. I would suggest a 750W PSU, just for good measure. Might be a bit much, but since you don't need SLI set-ups, you don't need anything more. I suggest this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
March 5, 2012 3:34:13 AM

get a dual socked lga 2011 motherboard
get 2 3930k (better than 1 3960x) because your software handles it
ram (have no idea about your software)
cooling two of cooler master Hyper 212 plus evo
os: your choice
i think your gpu is fine if it fulfills your needs
!