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Computer for Chess Analysis

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May 29, 2012 7:48:13 PM

Hello all,

I am looking to take some b-day cash and tax returns (I'm terrible at estimating witholdings, but it's awesome around May) to build myself a computer for chess analysis. The most important thing here is the CPU - higher clock speed and more cores = better. Having a 64-bit system helps as well. Below is a build I threw together myself. My aim is to get some advice on the actual components - perhaps there are compatibility issues with what I've chosen below, or people know of strict upgrades at basically the same price, or the same performance at a lower price, or people just really like certain components, I dunno. Any criticisms are welcome.

I might overclock depending on how cool the system initially runs, not sure. Probably not. I have a keyboard, mouse, monitor. If I'm missing anything other than that that's important, please let me know. My budget is around 1500$, so I'm pushing it here:

Case - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $140

CPU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $590

MOBO - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $230

Hard Drive - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $100

Disk Drive - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $18

Memory - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $85

PS - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $110

Video Card - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $230

CPU Cooler - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $34

Total: $1537

Whadda you guys think?

-Tony

May 29, 2012 8:06:26 PM

It's very doubtful that this is the best build, but I can't say without knowing more about the software involved.

Just because software can use multiple cores doesn't mean it will do so efficiently. Quite often other factors make the CPUs with faster individual cores perform better than CPUs with more cores. Look at these charts:










See? Everything depends on the program... and not the CLAIMS of the programmer, but actual tests.
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May 29, 2012 8:12:21 PM

This build should work well..

I would get 2x8gb of 1600 ram. It will cost about $20 more but your getting faster ram and the ability to add another 2x8 sticks in the future if you feel you need it.

You dont mention video games yet you have a graphics card for 3d models and games. Does your chess program make 3d models, or will it benefit from the cuda cores? If not a simpler gpu might be a better fit.
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May 29, 2012 8:14:22 PM

bucknutty said:
This build should work well..

I would get 2x8gb of 1600 ram. It will cost about $20 more but your getting faster ram and the ability to add another 2x8 sticks in the future if you feel you need it.

You dont mention video games yet you have a graphics card for 3d models and games. Does your chess program make 3d models, or will it benefit from the cuda cores? If not a simpler gpu might be a better fit.


Thanks, I will look into it.

I've been known to play a little bit of D3 or TF2 in my spare time... :D 
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May 29, 2012 8:21:21 PM
May 29, 2012 8:21:46 PM

You want a lot of ram and fast access to it. I'd go for using all four channels of ram since it is a 2011 board. Also go with a large hash table so 16G would be excellent. As you saw from those test benches, six cores are fast, much better than 4 cores since the chess program is straightforward and easy to spread into programming threads. Of course you are right in a 64 bit software too. I agree the 3930K is the best value. The 3960 gains very little for about 300 bucks more.
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May 29, 2012 8:33:57 PM
May 29, 2012 8:38:02 PM

Hate to be pestering you, but go for 4 X 4GB, not 2 X 8GB ram. This will double the potential RAM bandwidth.
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May 29, 2012 8:55:12 PM

No problem. I don't claim to know a lot about hardware - why is 4x4 GB better than 2x8 GB? 2x8 GB gives me the opportunity to fill up the last two slots on my MOBO with another 2x8 GB option.
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May 29, 2012 8:55:59 PM

Proximon said:
Thanks for the benchmarks. I think you can trim this down slightly, although it would be nice to include an SSD somehow:

[/b][/u]

Thanks for doing this Proximon - I looked for deals like that and couldn't find any - you're a magician.
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May 29, 2012 9:35:18 PM

4 by 4 gigs gives you better bandwidth, 2 by 8 gigs gives better expansion.
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May 29, 2012 9:53:38 PM

Details on the ram.

4 X 4GB means you can access four RAM modules at once, getting four packets of RAM at a time. If you get 2 X 8GB you can only get two packets of ram at a time, half the throughput. Since chess computer is all CPU to RAM for the most part, this will make it faster. The downside is you are stuck with 16GB of ram. If you want more, you will need to buy all new RAM chips. However, I think 16GB is a good number and you probably won't need more.
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August 14, 2012 2:28:30 PM

Well, my laptop finally died, and I can no longer put off spending the money for the new computer I wanted to build anyway. So I'm bumping the thread to grab some last minute advice on my most my recent build before I pull the trigger.


CPU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HARD DRIVE - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MEMORY - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OPTICAL DRIVE - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GRAPHICS CARD - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

More expensive than my previous builds, but I have more money now. The processor is basically locked in, but just wanted to get other people's and experts' thoughts on compatibility, reliability, and possibly better choices at similar costs before I pull the trigger. I can't survive much longer without a computer! Thanks,

-Tony
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August 14, 2012 7:55:34 PM

Bump?
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August 14, 2012 8:20:26 PM

I don't understand why you went with that video card. It's really not adequate for gaming and there are significantly cheaper models if you just need to add video to a SB-E system.

For a slightly cheaper price (because of free shipping and a $5 higher rebate) this is a much better gaming video card:

XFX HD-677X-ZNLC Radeon HD 6770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

Of course you can do better if you're willing to spend more.
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August 15, 2012 3:07:26 AM

Better cooling will only really give better performance if you OC. Even then I doubt it would give a big advantage. But it might be a little quieter? Hard to say if it's worth $10.

I don't see any problems with the rest.

Good luck.
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August 15, 2012 3:23:59 AM

if you want tons of cores but don't want to pay tons of money i would strongly consider an fx-8150.
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October 2, 2012 11:26:19 PM

mastrom101 said:
if you want tons of cores but don't want to pay tons of money i would strongly consider an fx-8150.

I'm looking to build a chess-research box on a budget, and am eye-balling the fx8150 considerably. I'm lost in all the info I've been reading though like Fritz Benchmark for chess is useless because its not 64 bit engine, and even though there's 8 cores, the OS scheduling may be an issue?

Can anyone help clear this up for me? If a program like deep rybka 64 bit sse can simply spin up as many processes (exe's) as you have logical CPUs, I can't see how any 6 core unit could keep up with an 8 core unit.

I know hyperthreading is useless for chess engines, it actually slows them down, they use 64 bit tricks to calculate legal moves (the big overhead in chess computing) by assigning one bit to each square of the board, since there happens to be 64 squares on a chess board. So the i5 6 core has to be the best comparison to the 8 core amd right? I'd think you'd have to have some serious RAM throughput issues to get a 6 core processor able to run more 64 bit bit-boards than a cpu with 8 physical cores no?

I couldn't care less about graphics, gaming, or any other cpu to gpu communications. It'll be a 2d static board. Tests I've done myself with this are:
On a machine with two xeon x5550s with hyperthreading enabled.(16 logical CPUs) (2.67Ghz) rybka averages ~475k nodes per sec with deep rybka 4.1 x64 sse (not comparable to fritz's nodes/sec at all, and this program dominates fritz in actual chess)

and on an Intel Core Duo t7300, deep rybka 4.1 x64 averages about 100k nodes/sec after the stupid speed step finally runs it up to 1.6GHz, it will never seem to actually press on to the 2GHz it's supposedly able to do stock.

I'm hoping to be above 400k nodes / sec. for the budget box.
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