Planning A Multiseat System

Hello everybody, first post here!

I am planning a multiseat system and need to determine what hardware will support the intended usage. We need to have at least 2 desktop stations and 2 HTPC stations running XBMC and would like to have some headroom to add additional stations in the future. It would be best if the hardware could serve its purpose for 5 years, but I am ok upgrading the CPU and GPUs around the halfway mark so long as it's built on a platform that will stand the test of time. Meaning, I am willing to use an entry level cpu and gpus at the start (provided it will handle the workload) to keep the total cost down, but would like the ability to expand the system as the demand grows.

I've been browsing around to try to figure out what platform to build the system on. I *think* intel lga2011 would be best, but please give some guidance here. Looking for suggestions on mobo, cpu, RAM, psu, gpus, storage devices, cooling and cases. Basically the whole build lol.

Foreseeable concurrent applications:

XBMC x 2
3D graphic games on each desktop
Flash based web games
Video conferencing
Video encoding
Video editing
Clamav (if people are still up at 3am)
Virtual machines
Compiling software

Things to consider:

- Graphics
To get the best visual experience, a gpu is needed for each seat. And every gpu in use must use the same driver.
I will be using Debian and (most likely) KDE. I like my conky, cairo-dock, compiz and screenlets.
XBMC is not at all demanding, but it does require OpenGL and hw acceleration to reduce the burden on the cpu.
- I have a GT240 and GT430 which I know will be more than sufficient for XBMC and they have HDMI out so audio and video go right to the tv no issue. But there goes 2 PCI-e x16 slots.
In addition to the desktop environment, there will be some gaming. Graphics are important, but I know that i don't need the *best* gpus on the market.

- Storage
An SSD would be nice for the OS.
A RAID would be good for all /home contents and media.
- Currently have one 1TB and one 2TB SATA II drives. The 2TB is nearly full and I would hate to loose it all if it were to fail.

- Output Devices (no need to make suggestions here)
TVs for XBMC
One desktop station uses 2 monitors. The other will use 1.

- Input Devices
I do have some keyboards and mice, but need more.
Would be nice to have something suitable for the HTPC stations.

Thanks in advance for your responses! Let me know if you need more information.

~ |Anthony|
8 answers Last reply
More about planning multiseat system
  1. Nw333 said:
    Budget for everything? Where are you buying? You have an OS?

    I don't have a budget. That is one of the things i need to know. How much will it cost to support the intended usage.
    I shop at newegg.
    I use linux. I did mention that in the post ;)
  2. Budget for everything? Where are you buying? You have an OS?
  3. Well, you need to have a budget in mind, like how much can you spend AT MOST.
    Didnt see the Linux part :(
  4. Nw333 said:
    Well, you need to have a budget in mind, like how much can you spend AT MOST.
    Didnt see the Linux part :(

    Hmm... budget... Somewhere between $800 and $1800. The less the better obviously. Again, I am ok with getting an entry level cpu and gpus with the intention of upgrading later. But the motherboard is vital. I don't want get a mobo that will limit me later, either through the lack of expansion slots, or with available cpus.

    Check out some builds there. Guy did a great job with it. :D You might find one that you like and tweak it a bit to your preference.
  6. Nw333 said:

    Check out some builds there. Guy did a great job with it. :D You might find one that you like and tweak it a bit to your preference.

    Not exactly the type of builds that apply to my situation. :/ Those seem to be mostly gaming and oc rigs. And although this rig will see some gaming, it is not it's primary purpose, nor will i be overclocking it.

    One specific question i have is regarding the socket type. lga 1155 or lga 2011. If i were to get an *entry level* cpu for either platform, which would have better upgrade options in a year or so. Also, which would provide a better pcie bus and expansion slots for the needed gpus?
  7. PCIe bus depends on the generation of the CPU and mobo. (Sandy Bridge - 2ndGen and Ivybridge - 3rdGen) Expansion slots are not related to CPUs but they are on the motherboard. The entry-level CPUs for the 1155 socket is either the i3 series or the lower end i5s. LGA2011 sockets are full of high performance CPUs, you generally wont see any entry level stuff there. (Lets just say that the entry level kind of CPU for 2011 is the i7 3930K. Or something like that. Forgot the model lol.)

    Both have equally good upgradeability. (1155: i3 - i5 - i7 and 2011: i7 3930K - i7 3930X)

    On the other hand, next year we will be seeing the release of the new Haswell generation of Intel processors which will use a different socket. (LGA1150 or something like that.) You may want to wait for that.
  8. I appreciate your input here. I was actually hoping for something that would outline some differences between the architectures and make suggestions based on capabilities really. Something to the effect of:

    lga 2011 will support x# of pci-e gpus whereas lga1155 will support blah
    - Don't expect to have high end gpus in each slot though as they will saturate the available bandwidth
    the cpus available for each stack up like blah blah
    there are cheaper cpu options for lga1155 but there are more capable server cpus for lga2011 if you decide to upgrade later
    ram support for each platform is blah blah

    Here is a list of parts that will support the system requirements you have and have the ability to expand/upgrade as the system requirements grow:
    - blah
    - blah
    - blah

    Again, i appreciate the input, but the responses thus far have not really shed any light on the situation. Maybe there are others that will have more concise input? I don't want to limit my search based on a superficial budget, i need to determine the budget based on what hardware is required for the system to function as intended.
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