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Single Xeon E5-1660 Build, Worth it?

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July 10, 2012 12:09:08 AM

Hello Tom's Community:

I'm basing a new build off a Xeon E5-1660 (which I believe is the Xeon version of the i7-3960k). And given the nature of this path, I've chosen among limited choices to get:

- Supermicro X9SRA (MOBO) $300-400
- 32 GB RAM KINGSTON ECC REGISTERED 1600 $300-400


I will be using this system for "work" (CAD, 3D modeling, Photoshop, etc.) and no play. I will also use this to render and work on for long hours. I am aware of the superficial facts about Xeon vs i7, pc vs workstation/server, ECC vs unbuffered, etc...but while this is not a server used to run other computers, and I am not some crazy NASA engineer modeling a space ship with millions of details but will plan to model intricate 3d models with ambitious detail/polygons/resources/etc...I am wondering whether or not I really need all this or can go a more cheaper route with a i7, unbuffered ram, etc...I consider myself as a computer user somewhere between a heavy design student and professional engineer. I will also get a professional GPU but I would like advice on the 3 main components listed and any suggestions. THANK YOU!
July 10, 2012 12:24:03 AM

the e5 1660 is infact the xeon version of the i7 3960x but then you can get yourself a i7 3930k or a e5 1650 and you wont see any performance difference

id go sandy brdge -e but if you want xeon, theres not much of a problem

you do know that a gtx580 is just as good as the quadro 6000 if not better. the quadro 6000 is basically a gtx560ti 448 core with 6gb of vram and encoded with a different driver. geforce cards are still very good in the workstation environment

heres what i would get

obviously, you can still play games. i have no idea how much you would want to spend on the rig

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/bIUp
July 10, 2012 3:43:41 AM

BigTroll,

Thank you so much for the reply. I definitely don't doubt your build....it looks solid. I guess I'm in need of some good convincing...I'm a bit stubborn about my choices but I've heard a lot about the jump from a 3930 to a 3960 or a 1650 to a 1660 for that matter not worth the extra $500ish. I'll have to research more on it, but I see the logic in saving the money for something else. I think I may stick to the Xeon route though....I'm very curious about what you've said about the GTX...but it's a hard bullet to swallow...I need to look into it more...Would you only recommend the GTX in SLI form or would one GTX be good?
Related resources
July 10, 2012 11:18:45 AM

id try one card first. if you think you need more speed, get another. i made sure that the 580 that i picked had 3gb of frame buffer in case you need to load very large textures.

if you go xeon, just get the e5 1650. virtually no difference between the 1660 (other than the price)

you can always do some research regarding the quadro vs geforce in workstations. quadro cards have drivers that are optimized for accuracy and more compute situations while geforce cards are optimized for achieving high frame rates at the small sacrifice of quality. in the case of all nvidia cards, the image quality is almost indistinguishable.

i just dont think paying 3000 dollars for a video card that does things slightly better than a 500 dollar video card is worth it.
July 10, 2012 12:41:11 PM

hmm didnt read about that. never mind what i said.
July 10, 2012 3:08:54 PM

@ chromonoid & BigTroll:

Thanks again SOOO MUCH for your replies. I've skimmed through this and will get back to it more in depth once I have more time later today but it seems like good info. Anyways this is the beauty of forums and opinions, we learn, we discuss, and it's happening here. It seems that both of you are hinting towards the i7 route and not the Xeon, ECC one. Given that you know my intentions with this machine (pure work),

1) do you think ECC/XEON is not really worth it and I will be safe with non-buffered ram etc?

2) So are we agreeing that Workstation cards are still better than a GTX? I am also curious where that table came from Chromonoid..it looks useful.

3) If so, I am looking at a Quadro 4000 and not a 6000 (for obvious budget reasons)...do you guys have any better recommendations, for example is that firepro really better and if so do you have proof? (My main focus will be on software like Rhino, 3ds Max, Maya, Photoshop, and rendering)

Thanks again for providing such great feedback!
July 10, 2012 3:55:12 PM

regular ram is good enough. just get a good set of 1600mhz from a good brand like mushkin, corsair, or crucial. keep in mind if you go corsair, you will have to get the low profile ones as the regulars dont fit under heatsinks

CUDA is more compatable with most programs than OpenCL. just go quadro 4000 from PNY
July 10, 2012 9:54:25 PM

i have yet to see someone use more than 32gb of ram. x79 can support up to 128gb of ram given that you have 16gb dimms

July 11, 2012 12:34:41 AM

Wow this topic has come a long way...I am seriously feeling more confident about my build by the minute...I've looked into the Firepro alot today and I am still in the process of researching...but from what I've gathered, I am leaning towards the V7900 over the Quadro 4k. Any ideas why its older brother the 8800 while more expensive is rated lower? And Chromonoid...while the V7900 is not listed on the chart you've listed, the Firepros seem to be poor...any more info on that chart?
July 11, 2012 1:48:24 AM

just make sure those programs that you use support OpenCL if you go v7900.

pretty sure nvidia will update their quadro lineup to include some Gk110 cards.
July 11, 2012 2:29:41 AM

Which brings me to my next question (which is on a tangent) should I wait for the Kepler Quadros if they come out?

Anyways next on my build question is going back to a CPU cooler...Out of all the other areas of computers, this is where I haven't looked too deeply in. So will a respected CPU cooler suffice (assuming I go with a 3930 or 3960 or Xeon 1650 or 1660?) or do I really need a watercooler or similar as mentioned previously? If absolutely essential, then for someone like me who is good with computers but never used a watercooler before...would it be easy to maintain, etc.
July 11, 2012 10:58:44 AM

if you are going with a xeon, any cooler would be good enough. if you want to play things a bit safer, you can get yourself a noctua nh-d14. i dont really recommend the h100 since the stock fans are like jet engines and you always have to buy aftermarket fans.
July 11, 2012 12:44:11 PM

that usually adds costs and makes the radiator not worth as much as it should compared to the d14

the d14 is around 80 bucks and the h100 is 120-130 dollars after getting new fans. the performance dfference at tops is 5 degrees
July 11, 2012 9:11:37 PM

As far as I can tell, the main difference between a Xeon CPU and an i7 is the ability to use ECC RAM (although the Xeon chips likely have better MTBF). The way I understand it, ECC RAM is used in server and workstation systems because it has the ability to recover from a memory corruption error without interrupting the system. This is important in those types of systems because if the computer doesn't recover from a corrupted bit of memory, you will end up with a kernel panic or BSOD or something else of that nature. This is the sort of thing that can bring a server down for a decent amount of time, and time is money, and it can also result in the loss of any data that was unsaved at the time of the error (and data is serious money these days, too).

The question you have to ask yourself is "Is the amount of time it takes me to reboot my computer, or the amount of data that I could lose between 'Save's worth the amount of extra money it costs to buy that Xeon chip and the RAM that costs a decent amount more money?" Do you expect to run into a lot of BSODs? I figure that any computer that you are going to be physically sitting in front of when it is powered on, and will be turned off when it is not being used, most likely doesn't need a Xeon processor unless there is a serious chance that you could lose more than just the amount of time it had been since the last time you hit 'Save'.

Please keep in mind that I might be completely wrong about what ECC RAM is actually doing behind the scenes. You should ask someone who knows more than just what he thinks he read about it on the internet one day. ;)  I have a habit of collecting old server equipment, so I have a bunch of old ECC RAM laying around, and I think what I told you about it is what I learned about it at one time.
July 11, 2012 11:57:12 PM

NOBOX thank you and welcome! I am well aware of what Xeon and ECC are capable of...I think you're a little late in the discussion. haha anyways feel free to chime in on any of the other topics discussed about worth going up to 1660 from 1650, Firepro V7900, and CPU cooler choices.
July 12, 2012 12:44:58 AM

e5 1650 is the best bang xeon compared to the 1660. unless the 1660 offers support for dual CPU systems, its not worth getting like the 3930k and the 3960x

what chasis are you using and what form factor board is the supermicro?. that can help in deciding the CPU cooler
July 12, 2012 1:18:43 AM

Big,

Case-wise it might custom or still pending....
Form Factor will be ATX...Seems like for a Xeon e5-1660 if I really wanted the full ECC/Registered...my only option is (in ATX) a Supermicro X9SRA...Unless do you guys have any other suggestions that support Xeon E5-1660 and ECC/REG RAM in ATX?

Also, this may be a silly question but how does one go about knowing if a certain graphics card will fit in a case? In this case, the Firepro being 11" (i believe) long, it is not a conventional length. Not having the components with me, it is hard to visualize. Does the motherboard come into play how the card will fit in the case, or should all ATX be the same? Or is it purely the case clearance? I am having trouble visualizing how a larger card will fit and be flush with the back panel when the motherboard is intact and a previous smaller card fit flush. Does something get moved?
July 12, 2012 1:52:09 AM

no you would just buy a regular atx sized case like a corsair 500R. 11 inches for a graphics card isnt that big so yeah. just get a case with good cooling and air flow

if it is atx (7 expansion slot spaces), then it fits. the case i suggested above can fit boards with up to 8 expansion slots. your board will fit fine
July 12, 2012 2:32:43 AM

Sorry, I was under the impression that you still hadn't decided whether or not you wanted to go with the i7 or the Xeon. :) 

kenstation said:
Big,

Case-wise it might custom or still pending....
Form Factor will be ATX...Seems like for a Xeon e5-1660 if I really wanted the full ECC/Registered...my only option is (in ATX) a Supermicro X9SRA...Unless do you guys have any other suggestions that support Xeon E5-1660 and ECC/REG RAM in ATX?

Also, this may be a silly question but how does one go about knowing if a certain graphics card will fit in a case? In this case, the Firepro being 11" (i believe) long, it is not a conventional length. Not having the components with me, it is hard to visualize. Does the motherboard come into play how the card will fit in the case, or should all ATX be the same? Or is it purely the case clearance? I am having trouble visualizing how a larger card will fit and be flush with the back panel when the motherboard is intact and a previous smaller card fit flush. Does something get moved?


I'm still not sure if you have chosen or what you've chosen... I thought I'd point out another option that you may have missed. There is a motherboard by EVGA that utilizes two 2011 sockets that will accept only the E5 Xeons called something like the EVGA X79 SR-X Classified. It has two LGA 2011 sockets and 12 DDR3 DIMM slots (they are non-ECC, and accept 96GB). Unfortunately, the i7 chips don't work in this motherboard, and it costs something like $650.

I don't know if anyone can actually afford to use that motherboard, and it is some strange form factor (HPTX?). It is neat how it gives you the option to start with one overpowered CPU and upgrade to two. But, anyway, you may have already made a choice as to Xeon or i7 or whatever.

Now, when it comes to whether or not you have room for an 11" GPU, you have to take into consideration where the PCIE slot is in relation to the case, and where the hard drive cage is in relation to it. When I last went looking for a case, I picked one that actually listed that dimension in the details. I needed 10.5" or 11" because I had bought a GTX 470. Many gaming cases that specifically list as 'ATX' form factor make room for at least 11". If it's not a gaming case, then you should search reviews for complaints about cards not fitting (or better yet a good review that says a certain big card DID fit). Some cases give you enough room to fit in the card, but only if there isn't a hard drive in the sled that is at the level of the GPU slot (the drive may stick out the back of the cage, or just the power/data cable plug might get in the way). I chose a case that arranged the hard drives side-to-side rather than front-to-back, which forced the case to be wide enough to hold a relatively tall CPU cooler, and gave the PCIE slots plenty of room because the hard drive cage didn't have to extend so deep into the case (I have a relatively small case, though... the Cooler Master Storm Scout, which is an ATX mid-tower). Full tower cases are a safer bet when it comes to needing room for large coolers and cards.

Hope that helps you with your GPU size questions.

July 12, 2012 2:43:06 AM

the e5 chip in particular doesnt support dual CPUs. plus nobody pays 650 dollars for a motherboard when they can get one from supermicro for 250 or asus for 350.

just stick with the current supermicro board you picked out. as i said before, a corsair 500R will fit the board you picked out and the graphics card easily and cool it properly
July 12, 2012 4:39:53 AM

I've heard a few complaints about Supermicro's "non-standard" atx holes and have tirelessly been trying to figure out if it is true. I've found diagrams of motherboards online a standard ATX board and Supermicro boards and they do have some differences. For example, look at where the holes for screws are on a basic ASUS ATX board:

http://www.asus.com/websites/Global/products/qozuUIBauo...

and look on page "1-4" here on a Supermicro higher X9 series:

http://www.supermicro.com/manuals/motherboard/C606_602/...

The Supermicro matches the border holes but all the "middle" holes do not match or some are missing they do not really follow the same grid. SO, my question is if I were to just mount the outside and not any of the middle screws...would that be a big problem? And if so, I guess I have no choice but to go the i-7 route? Thanks
July 12, 2012 11:09:03 AM

hmm that board looks weird.

as long as the board will be secure, i wouldnt worry too much. the outside screws should be suffice (well for me) if you dont move your system around too much
September 2, 2012 2:00:39 AM

Slow down a second before clicking the purchase button.
I fully understand your demand because I am in same case as you.
I am about to buy a e5-1650 in a few days but beware of two factors regarding the case and X9SRA
1) The X9SRA is ATX indeed but I read that mounting holes are NOT ATX form factior specific from a couple of buyers, though they failed to mention the case they were using.
2) "I heard" Supermicro tested memory is specific, meaning supermicro board are shy with what you throw at it and will put a feast if they don;t have the right toy; therefore beware!!! hopefully the X9SRA tested memory can be found online, though Kingston is not one of them. This said, it means it may work like a charm or it may not work at all, you will see if it does right away if the PC starts reading past the post memory.
I know this one is on the list of tested memory: 16GB DDR3 PC3-12800 (1600MHz) 240p DIMM "MEM-DR316L-SL01-ER16" and can be found online but not from major retailer like newegg and alike. Note tht 16 gigs of ram per slot is NOT something I know if it is the best choice for autodesk products meaning is it better to have 4*8 gigs or 2*16 gigs to obtain 32 gigs of ram. or 4*16 to go all the way up to 64 gigs of ram... Note that ram is used primarily for quick storage much like for texturing or for modifiers in 3dsmax and such so it is a good thing to have more but is it overkill is the question :p 



I already have a V7900 and I love it. I crank everything in mudbox without a hitch. All in all, quadro and v7900 are equal with a win for each in specific instance, yet V7900 can have more screen display as far as I know.

Note that supermicro also offers a solution of a case + X9SRA +PSU 865 watts (I think it is gold or platinum" am not sure which"). Barebone MidTower f/ Xeon E5-2600/1600 Model:SYS-5037A-i Brand:Supermicro Category:Mid-Tower Barebones and I believe it can be found at major E-retailer. Though it is a mid tower, I do not know if there are plenty of room for the v7900 and I will know it in about 2 weeks from now.

Hope this helps,
Seb
September 2, 2012 5:52:10 PM

I wrote an Email to Supermicro and they told me you can also use the SC745TQ-920B

But again I am not 100% sure nor have any confirmation that the X9SRA mounting holes are effectively slighly off and as a result require Supermicro chassis

Any anyone can critic me on this and/or have a X9SRA board with different chassis, pelase let us know.

Thanks,
Seb
!