High-end system (no gaming) just number-crunching and everyday use, what you call a Workstation

Hi all,

I am posting the specs of a system I want to build in the hope that I will get some feedback / experience from you and see if my logic makes sense.

Purpose: a high-end single CPU system as a workstation at home. I will use it to for number crunching. No gaming and no overclocking.



The system costs around 900 GBP (1500$) (parts prices from Amazon.co.uk) without delivery.

My questions:

What do you think about the CPU keeping in mind that i cosider 130W for LGA2011 xeons shockingly high? So I should say what is your opinion of CPU judging by price/performance/power? The contesters are i7-4771 (222GBP=377$), i7-4770 (same), E3-1230v3 (195GBP=330$) and E5-2420v2 (extra 2 cores, 307GBP=520$ can just about afford it) all at about 80W.

Will the motherboard do/last? The only thing I think I will miss is a thunderbolt port - the sabertooth z87 has it but at 175% of the price!
Also, what would be a good motherboard if I decide to go E5-2420v2 (LGA2011)?

Cooling: at summer months the ambient temp can become 40C (104F) but I don't like to use air-conditioning. Are there any additional coolers i can install? I don't mind closed-loop hydro-cooling.

many thanks,

looking forward to having any insight, tips, experience you may have about the above system,

bliko,
4 answers Last reply
More about high end system gaming number crunching everyday call workstation
  1. I'd get the E5-2420v2 if you would want two more cores for extra performance although your build seems solid! Are you getting 1600MHz RAM, 1866MHz RAM, or 2166MHz RAM?
  2. Development can have many targets: the application is for servers, the application is for PCs, the application is for mobile devices (phones/tablets), or the target is a uniquely custom platform. Try to match the architecture structure of the target platform to the best of your ability as this reduces hardware compatibility related problems (so if you're targeting end-user PCs, use the i7, otherwise I'd go with the Xeon).

    the Xeon:
    1. supports ECC, improving reliability
    2. has twice the memory bandwidth due to twice the memory channels (51.2 GB/s over the i7's 25.6 GB/s but you need 4 sticks to get all that bandwidth)
    3. more threads to speedup any multithreaded activity
    4. (not 100% sure on this one, but I believe i read somewhere that Xeons were better at emulation than the Core i-series)???
    5. supports up to 0.75TB of ram

    the i7:
    1. will be much faster at single-threaded activities
    2. don't have to buy buffered ram
    3. only supports 32GB of ram, so if you need more, you'll likely have to upgrade the mobo and the processor

    Overall, if you're doing development for servers/phones/tablets/custom devices, I'd go with the Xeon build as it has better overall performance for multithreaded activities and better options for upgrades should they be required in the future. That being said, if you're developing for client-based applications I'd go with the i7 build to better match the hardware set of your customer. The Xeon will probably compile and link programs faster (assuming you use multithreaded compile).
  3. Hello, bliko!
    Would you please post the final configuration that you decide on buying? I have similar technical needs and budget constraints to yours, so it would be very helpful as a reference.
    Thanks!
  4. Hi all,

    Ordered the components, they arrived and system is now running (LINUX OF COURSE)

    The final configuration:

    1) ASUS P9D-WS motherboard - easy to setup, bios upgraded by placing a '.CAP' file downloaded from ASUS website to any windows partition. The bios sees the partitions and loads the CAP file without problems (in my case). can also use usb drive etc. Unfortunately, no IDE connector which means i need to order additional dvd-drive (just forgotten about that!) - not a big problem. RAM recognised immediately.
    2) GSKILL ripjawsX (what a name!) 4x8GB @ 1600MHz, CL9 (F3-1600C9Q-32GXM) cost me 289 euros from amazon. They get quite hot (at full load), even with the fins they have. They are too-close together - could possibly add a fan directly blowing through the tiny space between them.
    3) ANTEC 650W Platinum (earthwatts) : super! quite silent, solid. Thanks ANTEC!
    4) Intel E3-1246v3 (260 euros at amazon) : 4 cores/8 threads, builtin graphics, max support ram 32G, 1150 Socket, max memory bandwidth: 25 GB/s -- so this is not a XeonXeon if you know what I mean, it is just, in my opinion the better choice than the i7-4770 (for my needs which is number crunching for this budget). The CPU came with intel fan+heatsink. I did not know they bundle these together. Sorry AMD, I had to break away from you after crunching together for so many years with your athlons (sniff sniff) but we can still be friends !
    5) Harddisk: WD Red 2TB - perfectly silent and good speed. I love it.
    6) Corsair H55 Cooler for CPU (hydro) : at ambient room temp of 35-38C, it keeps the cpu down to 37C when idle or ~60C when AT FULL LOAD. However, I was a bit disappointed during installation. The plastic backplate must have 4 screw-housing-pins inserted in some holes in order for the actual screws on the topplate to be screwed in and sandwich so to speak the cpu+mobo in the middle. A)you need to improvise with which holes to use (for the various socket types) on the backplate - the holes on the diagram in the instructions are wrong, to my experience. The backplate is a bit lopsided now but secure enough. B) and most importantly, the screw-housing-pins have a square head which fits in the backplate hole so as to not rotate when the screws are screwed in. But the backplate is of elastic plastic and so one of the screw-housing-pins rotates perpetually when i screw and unscrew. Actually it was ok in screwing but can not be unscrewed unless the mobo comes out, and some special plyer is used to keep the pin still. I can not discount the possiblity that I messed up myself somehow and somebody else could have done better. C) Instructions on manual are not so informative. There are some videos on youtube which show more detail. The H55 does a good job in cooling but it's a bit flimsy. BTW they suggest on setting the fan to blow INSIDE the case. To me this sounds insane as the heat removed from the CPU does not go immediately out of the case via the cooler+fan but it blows back in the case where the other fans must make the extra effort to remove it!!! True that in most of the time, the cooler is so powerful that blows coldish air. But at full load it blows hot air and what's the point on blowing it back onto the cpu? my CPU is rated at 84W.

    Tips:
    0) it is good to read the reviews of the 'neweggers' about zillions of DOA equipment and I was prepared for the worst but either I was extremely lucky that all components are working perfectly or some bizarre people are frequenting the newegg fora. So read the reviews but probably you want to visualise the person actually writing it before you finally make your mind.
    1) The Corsair H55 Cooler comes with 3-pin connectors to go to mobo. The ASUS p9d-ws has 4pin connectors. However, you can't go wrong because there is a plastic at the back which stops you from plugging it in the wrong way. Just plug it in, it will go only in the correct way.
    2) I hate to see perfectly good items thrown away, e.g. cases, in order to buy new. My old case (2004) has no hole to fit in the big fan of the H55. But I nicely hacked a nice hole in there with my trusted chainsaw on the PLASTIC window. Make sure you remove all components especially harddisk due to vibration. ALSO if you will attempt the same on the actual metal of the case (i.e. drill a hole to fit something) you will probably create problems because of all the IRON bits which may be left there and at some moment attack the motherboard and short-circuit it. Before you embark on this have a good plan on how to remove all the iron-dust from cutting and drilling and definetely remove all electronic boards from the case first.
    3) psensors utility in LINUX runs ok and tells me the temp of each cpu core plus a few more other temps including something called acpitz. no problem there. I have heard somewhere that this motherboard was good supporting linux but all seems OK.
    4) A machine like this one deserves only LINUX.

    Further Questions:
    1) Can anybody suggest some universally acceptable benchmark utility for linux? I think passmark software is only for windows?
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