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Need help please: New build with I7-3930 for scientific computing

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April 12, 2012 1:30:38 PM

Hey guys I am working in a university doing projects which involves huge amount of scientific computing.
I got limited funding (2000 pounds+) to build a new workstation (that is why I won't go for Xeon...), mainly used for programming in MATLAB, FORTRAN, PYTHON and other FEA commercial codes.

this is what I have been looking at so far:

Cpu: i7 3930k
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14
Mobo: ASUS Sabertooth X79 OR P9X79 Pro
HDD: Seagate 1-2TB reliable HDD (7200RPM+)
SSD: Crucial M4 128GB
GPU: Gigabyte GF GTX 560Ti
PSU: Corsair HX850
Ram: 4 x 8GB DDR3 1600MHz (Kingston is the best?)
Case: Any suggestion?
Drives - CD/DVD burner

I got several questions in choosing these components:

1) Sabertooth v.s. P9X79 Pro, which one is better? No CPU overclock I will do

2) This is the first time to think about using SSD. For example, if I am running a code in MATLAB, do I have to install the OS +MATLAB and store code+data in SSD in order to have a fast speed?? Or I can install and run MATLAB in HDD instead?

3) Is GPU the bottleneck here? I don't do much rendering so is it OK for CAD model and mesh generation (over 1 million elements)?

4) I know the ASUS X79 MoBo support Quad-channel so I want to have 4 x 8GB RAM. But is it reliable and stable?? Is kingston the best choice?

5) I am really worrying about the heat dissipation... is Noctua NH-D14 good enough? Do I have to use heat-paste or other stuff?

6) Do I have to buy some extra fans for the case? Does the case normally come with a fan?

7) What is the best case for this workstation? No flashy case I am afraid cuz I will put it in my office....


Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for reading and responding! :bounce: 
April 12, 2012 2:42:16 PM

1.) Either of those boards will be fine. You aren't overclocking or tweaking so you won't see a difference. I would look at the P9X79 (non-Pro model).

2.) OS and some apps on the SSD, and the rest on the HDD. General rule of thumb for SSD performance is not to fill the drive up. Aim for 40% free space so if that leaves you enough room for all your apps then you are fine with them on the SSD. That being said, apps installed on a secondard HDD will perform just fine and you won't see a big difference compared to being on the SSD. Some people, myself included, only install the essentials on the SSD and have all apps on the HDD.

3.) The 560Ti will be fine. Or you could consider the FirePro v3900 for less cost. It is more of a workstation GPU and will more than meet your needs.
http://www.amd.com/us/products/workstation/graphics/ati...

4.) The important part is 1.5v modules and that they pass a few runs through MemTest86. Kingston is fine as is Crucial, GSkill and many others... Just be sure to test the memory (memtest86 boot disk).

5.) Without overclocking you don't need to worry about an aftermarket CPU cooler unless fan noise is your concern. If you are set on going aftermarket look toward the Hyper 212 Evo for great performance at a low cost. Thermal paste will come with what ever you buy.

6.) Maybe. Depends on the case. At a minimum you want an intake fan on the front, then exhaust on the top / rear. Aim for fans having around 20ish dBA of noise or less.

7.) Consider the Cooler Maser HAF 912. Good "entry" level case... I would add two 120mm exhaust fans to the top and call it good (four fans total - one intake and three exhaust).

You are on a good track with some good parts. Enjoy that rig!
April 12, 2012 2:46:50 PM

Also... 850w is overkill. Lower that to a 550w model. 550w could still be considered overkill, but will have you running nice and efficient at roughly 50% load. Stick with Corsair, Antec, XFX or Seasonic.
Related resources
April 12, 2012 2:52:28 PM

I would be weary about buying such an old card live that firepro. Sure, it's more workcenter-oriented, but it's on a 128-bit bus with 1gb of ddr3 memory. That 560ti should perform better simply from being years ahead in technology.
April 12, 2012 3:10:11 PM

sadams04 said:
1.)

4.) The important part is 1.5v modules and that they pass a few runs through MemTest86. Kingston is fine as is Crucial, GSkill and many others... Just be sure to test the memory (memtest86 boot disk).



Wrong. The memory controller on the 3930 is very finicky. You need 1.35 low voltage sticks, but - and that makes it difficult to find - NOT using Micron chips. Samsung may be your best bet.

Dont'skimp on hard disks, like all these gamers do. For professional work you need at least two separate disks and you want to avoid writing to an SSD. So get a 1+ TB conventional hard disk. The writing speed is not that crucial, the CPU speed is, doing all those calculations. So do not forget about overclocking.

Also the almost standard reply here that anything more than 400-500 W is overkill is another load of crap. A higher powered PSU does not use more power, it only has an easier time to supply that power which is a very leisurely pace, so the fan can run at a lower speed, causing less noise. Do not forget your system will be running flat out when doing lenghty calculations, in contrast to gamers needs. They just don't understand pro applications.
April 12, 2012 3:13:55 PM

stingstang said:
I would be weary about buying such an old card live that firepro. Sure, it's more workcenter-oriented, but it's on a 128-bit bus with 1gb of ddr3 memory. That 560ti should perform better simply from being years ahead in technology.


The 560ti is absolutely a faster card. For what the OP will be doing it is debatable that a difference would be noticed though... Maybe a better compromise between cost and performance in this instance would be the GTX 550 Ti or the HD 7750.
April 12, 2012 3:17:01 PM

sadams04 said:
The 560ti is absolutely a faster card. For what the OP will be doing it is debatable that a difference would be noticed though... Maybe a better compromise between cost and performance in this instance would be the GTX 550 Ti or the HD 7750.


It is highly doubtful that programming in MATLAB and similar does support CUDA processing. If that is not the case, any $ 30 video card is good.
April 12, 2012 3:21:34 PM

Harm Millaard said:
Wrong. The memory controller on the 3930 is very finicky. You need 1.35 low voltage sticks, but - and that makes it difficult to find - NOT using Micron chips. Samsung may be your best bet.

Also the almost standard reply here that anything more than 400-500 W is overkill is another load of crap. A higher powered PSU does not use more power, it only has an easier time to supply that power which is a very leisurely pace, so the fan can run at a lower speed, causing less noise. Do not forget your system will be running flat out when doing lenghty calculations, in contrast to gamers needs. They just don't understand pro applications.



I have had no issues with 1.5v modules on the LGA2011 platform. Granted I have only built two, but still... I have never heard 1.35v modules are best practice here... Link?

With the GTX 560ti in the mix the maximum power draw potential is under 400w. Any of the other GPUs talked about here would reduce that draw. Not sure why a quality 550w PSU wouldn't be appropriate here. MAYBE bump up to a 650w unit so your 100% usage is just over 50% PSU draw, but there is not need to spend a load more money on an 850w unit.
April 12, 2012 3:28:30 PM

Harm Millaard said:

Also the almost standard reply here that anything more than 400-500 W is overkill is another load of crap. A higher powered PSU does not use more power, it only has an easier time to supply that power which is a very leisurely pace, so the fan can run at a lower speed, causing less noise. Do not forget your system will be running flat out when doing lenghty calculations, in contrast to gamers needs. They just don't understand pro applications.

Even while his system will be running flat out there's no way it even touch 400W, so getting 750W PSU is for what? better turn down? Not all PSUs have a great turndown at or below 50% load, so you really need to look at the curve
April 12, 2012 3:57:47 PM

sadams04 said:
I have had no issues with 1.5v modules on the LGA2011 platform. Granted I have only built two, but still... I have never heard 1.35v modules are best practice here... Link?

With the GTX 560ti in the mix the maximum power draw potential is under 400w. Any of the other GPUs talked about here would reduce that draw. Not sure why a quality 550w PSU wouldn't be appropriate here. MAYBE bump up to a 650w unit so your 100% usage is just over 50% PSU draw, but there is not need to spend a load more money on an 850w unit.


Without overclocking, one SSD, one HDD, one BR burner, 3 x120 mm fans, without overclocking, you are looking at a minimum of 607 W when using 100% TDP and 30% capacitor aging. This is quite common for these applications. For safety add 10% and you need at least 700W, unless you start overclocking or adding anything, like more disks, a raid controller.
April 12, 2012 4:18:42 PM

MoBo / CPU - Fine choices, the Sabertooth's 5 year warranty may be the swing vote

Cooler - If you are not overclocking, no reason for the big fancy cooler. I'd go midrange with a Hyper 612 PWM or Scyther Mugen 3. Cooler installation instructions are, for whatever reason, mysteriously convoluted .... if that scares ya the Prolimatech Megahalems is among the top performers and the easiest install I have ever done.

SSD / HD -Barracuda XT 2 or 3TB if ya can find them / As for the SSD, I'd grab a Tier 1 unit off this list:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-review-benchmar...

Store whatever ya

GFX - Solid choice, get the 900MHz version with the buffer VRM and cooler Gigabyte or Asus models below have the 7 phase VRM's). To enable CUDA for ya scientific work see 2nd link

http://www.studio1productions.com/Articles/PremiereCS5....

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Case / PSU -Recommended Combos:

Corsair 500R w/ Corsair HX850
Abtec P193 or P183 w/ Antec CP-850 (Go this way if noise is a concern .... (these cases have sound deadening material)

I recommend an 850 watter if you want to provide a gaming performance boost at some point in the future by adding a 2nd GFX cards .... won't help in CUDA tho.....if never gonna add that 2nd card, I'd suggest a 650 watter as anything smaller doesn't save anything significant and PSU's hit optimum efficiency at 50% load. Corsair HX650 and Antec EA-650 are good choices....as is XFX Core Edition 650 is another.

Ram - Corsair low profile (no tall, toothy heat sinks) 4 x 8GB fastest / lowest CAS you can afford. As fort he voltage

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/memory/display/lga2011...

Quote:
This way the LGA 2011 platform offers more flexible memory overclocking than LGA 1155 platform. For example, if you use the additional supported BCLK frequencies, you will be able to get memory frequencies with an increment below 266 MHz. Moreover, you can set even higher frequencies than before. And the use of high-speed DDR3 SDRAM doesn’t pose any particular problems. If your system is equipped with four DDR3 SDRAM modules, operational modes up to DDR3-1867 will be available to you without any additional effort. With eight modules in the system this maximum may be lowered to DDR3-1600. .....

However, during our conversations with Intel we managed to find out that only the increase to 1.1 V on VCCSA and to 1.2 V on VTT may be considered “safe” for everyday use in 24/7 mode. Moreover, you should also keep in mind the recommendation not to exceed 1.65 V for the memory voltage, otherwise, it may stimulate degradation of the memory controller and untimely death of your processor. However, you can almost always reach DDR3-2133 frequency even without using the “risky” settings.


Drives - CD/DVD burner .... Recommend BR Reader / DVD Writer
April 13, 2012 7:37:44 AM

Thanks guys for your suggestions and comments!
!