Please help building my new main cruncher


log in

Advanced search

Message boards : Number crunching : Please help building my new main cruncher

1 · 2 · Next
Author Message
Profile Helsionium
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 24 Dec 06
Posts: 145
Credit: 35,351,170
RAC: 29,972
Austria
Message 1135133 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 9:36:43 UTC

Hi there,

it's been about 10 years since I last ordered a customized computer, and I probably missed almost everything that happened in desktop computing since then. That's why I request your opinion on the machine I'm going to build.

Feel free to suggest better components, the price shouldn't rise significantly, though. I've decided I want to use an Intel CPU and nVidia GPUs because I never had any complaints with their products.

The computer will be used as a 3D gaming/game development machine, as a file server and - of course - as my main cruncher. I intend to use Windows 7 64-bit. Here is an overview over the significant components I have considered.

Motherboard:
ASRock X58 EXTREME3 (€ 149,35)
-> http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=X58%20Extreme3&cat=Specifications
ASRock X58 EXTREME6 (€ 190,85)
-> http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=X58%20Extreme6&cat=Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-970 / 3.20 GHz, 6 cores, TDP 130W (€ 489,45)

RAM:
Corsair XMS3 DIMM Kit 8GB PC3-10667U CL9-9-9-24 (€ 53,15)
Kingston HyperX DIMM Kit 8GB PC3-12800U CL9-9-9-27 (€ 66,50)
Corsair XMS3 DIMM Kit 12GB PC3-12800U CL9-9-9-24 (€ 115,95)

GPUs: 2x MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC (€ 201,25 each)
HDDs: 2x 2TB Samsung EcoGreen HD204UI (€ 79,99 each)
Sound card: CREATIVE Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium, PCIe x1 (€ 71,75)


My core questions are:

Are there better CPUs/GPUs at around the same price?

Of the offered RAM modules, which one is the best offer? What do the numbers mean? Are there many situations where 8GB RAM is not enough? I'm not doing HD video editing or anything like that...

There is a large price difference between the two motherboards, but I think the cheaper one should be enough for the system I want. Is it correct that the leftmost PCIe bus is a PCIe x1 bus (for my sound card) and the two blue PCIe buses are the ones for the GPUs? Is the space between the to PCIe buses large enough for these two GPUs?

If I understand it correctly, SLI is a technology to "combine" the processing power of two GPUs with a special cable. This is certainly useful for video games who can only use one GPU at once, but it is useful for crunching too? Or is BOINC processing faster if the two GPUs remain seperated?

The retailer I order at may be unable to install a second GPU (the order mask has no field for 2nd GPU and I must probably order it seperately) and I may have to install it myself. This is not a problem, but could it happen that there is actually not enough space left to install it if the rest of the computer is already assembled?

I found no data on the GPUs power usage, how much power must the power supply probably supply at least?

Are there any special precautions I must take regarding cooling? The CPU, power supply and GPUs surely come with appropriate coolers, but the system as a whole will probably get very hot, won't it?

Sorry for asking so many questions, but the store doesn't offer any customer service except assembling what I order (the components are cheaper than elsewhere, though) and since it's going to cost quite much, I want to be happy after my purchase.

Kind regards and thanks in advance,
Helsionium
____________

Profile James Sotherden
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 16 May 99
Posts: 8931
Credit: 36,023,889
RAC: 45,033
United States
Message 1135158 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 12:16:33 UTC
Last modified: 2 Aug 2011, 12:17:44 UTC

I can comment on the RAM. Id go with the 12GB. yes it costs more ,but if you are going to do 3D gaming and development you will use it. I have 12GB in my I7 920. I do photo editing and watch videos and I never have run out of memory. And I let SETI run while im doing all of the above.

Edit- Is that DDR3 ram?
____________

Old James

Profile Helsionium
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 24 Dec 06
Posts: 145
Credit: 35,351,170
RAC: 29,972
Austria
Message 1135168 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 12:42:26 UTC

Yes, these are all DDR3 modules.
____________

S@NL - John van GorselProject donor
Volunteer tester
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 5 Jul 99
Posts: 190
Credit: 137,603,008
RAC: 5,823
Netherlands
Message 1135182 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 13:15:11 UTC - in response to Message 1135133.


If I understand it correctly, SLI is a technology to "combine" the processing power of two GPUs with a special cable. This is certainly useful for video games who can only use one GPU at once, but it is useful for crunching too? Or is BOINC processing faster if the two GPUs remain seperated?


Using SLI does not help with crunching.


The retailer I order at may be unable to install a second GPU (the order mask has no field for 2nd GPU and I must probably order it seperately) and I may have to install it myself. This is not a problem, but could it happen that there is actually not enough space left to install it if the rest of the computer is already assembled?

That will depend on the case and the length of the card. I do have some cases that can not be used with a second GPU as the drive cage is too close to the motherboard.


I found no data on the GPUs power usage, how much power must the power supply probably supply at least?

The 560Ti is rated at 170W max power and nVidia recommends a PSU of 500W or more for the system (with 1 GPU). The MSI is slightly overclocked so the power draw will be more. I ran an i7 920 with 2pc GTX260 (180W max power) on a 750W PSU without problems so I would go for 750W-850W.


Are there any special precautions I must take regarding cooling? The CPU, power supply and GPUs surely come with appropriate coolers, but the system as a whole will probably get very hot, won't it?

Make sure you have sufficient air flow in the case. Normally, the processor is located above the GPU's and it will use part of the hot air rising from the GPU's for cooling.



____________


Seti@Netherlands website

Profile dnolanProject donor
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 30 Aug 01
Posts: 1255
Credit: 46,413,966
RAC: 27,212
United States
Message 1135215 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 14:29:50 UTC

Unless you feel you really need 6 cores, I'd say you could save some money and get almost the same level of performance by switching to an i7 2600 (or 2600K if you fell like you will want to overclock). The chip will be significantly cheaper, I would guess (though I don't know your country's pricing) that the motherboard would end up around the same price level, and you could use dual channel RAM instead of triple channel. It's not clear from what you spec'd out below, but are you thinking of using a dual channel kit on an X58 board (since that's what an 8G kit would be)? If that's the case, then you wouldn't be saving any money there, but still, the overall cost would be significantly less. Just something to think about.

-Dave

____________

Profile Helsionium
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 24 Dec 06
Posts: 145
Credit: 35,351,170
RAC: 29,972
Austria
Message 1135218 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 14:44:36 UTC - in response to Message 1135215.

Unless you feel you really need 6 cores, I'd say you could save some money and get almost the same level of performance by switching to an i7 2600 (or 2600K if you fell like you will want to overclock). The chip will be significantly cheaper, I would guess (though I don't know your country's pricing) that the motherboard would end up around the same price level, and you could use dual channel RAM instead of triple channel. It's not clear from what you spec'd out below, but are you thinking of using a dual channel kit on an X58 board (since that's what an 8G kit would be)? If that's the case, then you wouldn't be saving any money there, but still, the overall cost would be significantly less. Just something to think about.

-Dave


Thank you for your suggestions, I completely missed that CPU. It's only half the price of the i7-970 and CPU crunching is probably pretty much pointless anyway with these two GPUs. Four cores should be enough for my server and development processes.

Also, thanks John van Gorsel for your answers.
____________

Profile BMH
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 27 May 99
Posts: 329
Credit: 93,472,926
RAC: 97,231
United Kingdom
Message 1135228 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 22:03:53 UTC

I too would recommend the skt.1155 "sandybridge" CPUs, either 2500K (4 cores/4 threads) or 2600K (4 cores/8 threads), and suitable motherboard.

PC3-1333 Dual Channel RAM is recommended.

I'm using an 800W 80plus rated PSU to power my two GTX 260 ti's, but I only have one hard drive and minimal other things so it might be cutting it fine - these cards do seem to be a bit particular when it comes to power/heat/stability, so more is probably better.

The MSI Twin Frozr II is a good card with good reviews, I have one. Good case airflow is key, especially with two cards installed. It is recommended that the CPUs stock cooler is replaced with maybe a 'tower' cooler with 92mm/120mm fan - it will not only keep the CPU cooler but keep things a bit quieter.

Maybe consider a SSD for your OS drive and applications, for quick bootup and loading times and improved responsiveness.
____________
Brian.

Brkovip
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 18 May 99
Posts: 274
Credit: 144,195,292
RAC: 7,134
United States
Message 1135243 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 22:31:21 UTC

You do realize that the Sandy Bridge motherboards have a lot less PCIE lanes so that you can't use as many video cards as you could with say an i7 970.

Just a thought.
____________

jravin
Send message
Joined: 25 Mar 02
Posts: 941
Credit: 102,671,137
RAC: 91,210
United States
Message 1135283 - Posted: 2 Aug 2011, 23:34:00 UTC

"Dual channel" and (I assume) "triple channel" is marketing-speak for two (three)physically and electrically identical modules. There's no need to buy "special" dual/triple channel modules as long as the ones you get are identical (i.e., same model/part number).
____________

Profile arkaynProject donor
Volunteer tester
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 14 May 99
Posts: 3692
Credit: 48,735,185
RAC: 5,911
United States
Message 1135294 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 0:02:15 UTC

If you do go with the current board options you would not need a sound card as both boards have digital out on them.
____________

OzzFan
Volunteer tester
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 9 Apr 02
Posts: 13625
Credit: 31,072,413
RAC: 20,343
United States
Message 1135306 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 0:43:26 UTC - in response to Message 1135283.

"Dual channel" and (I assume) "triple channel" is marketing-speak for two (three)physically and electrically identical modules. There's no need to buy "special" dual/triple channel modules as long as the ones you get are identical (i.e., same model/part number).


That's correct. I've even seen cases where non-identical memory chips can run in dual-channel or triple-channel configurations providing they fully support the same speed at the same timings as specified by JEDEC and properly programmed into the RAM stick's SPD.

Profile Alaskan
Send message
Joined: 18 May 99
Posts: 18
Credit: 47,774,352
RAC: 5,630
Canada
Message 1135375 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 4:10:24 UTC - in response to Message 1135133.
Last modified: 3 Aug 2011, 4:25:37 UTC

I'd really consider getting a solid state drive to boot from. That alone will knock your socks off. Time to load programs and system bootups will be dramatically reduced. As for SSD recommendations I personally use an Intel 510 drive attached to a sata3 capable system board.

I wouldn't bother with the sound card, most onboard sound systems have great fidelity, and adequate software support.

FWIW, My system has two ASUS 560Ti cards and averages 26,000 credits and climbing and consumes at least 350 watts, it's RAC ranking is around 129th in the world tough.
____________

Profile Wiggo
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 24 Jan 00
Posts: 7358
Credit: 96,970,746
RAC: 66,706
Australia
Message 1135426 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 9:11:26 UTC - in response to Message 1135375.

I'll just chime in here if I may. :D

IMHO the current X58 setups are not worth investing in by a long way with the current crop of 1155 processers (if you want to spend that sort of money then wait until the X79 setups come out).

Myself, I'm just waiting on a few more parts to turn up for my latest upgrade (these only happen every 3yrs or so here) and this is the total parts list;

Intel Core i5 2500K Processor LGA1155 3.3GHz
ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Z68
Corsair TX-850
G Skill Ripjaws 8G(2x4G) DDR3 1600Mhz CL9
Cooler Master V8
OCZ 120G Vertex II SSD
LGE Blue Ray HD Combo

and I'll reuse my Antec Titan case, 2x 9800GT's (until these get replaced by GTX560's or better a bit latter) plus WD 1TB Black HDD.

You could pay $110 (or so) extra for an i7 2600K over the 2500K but I really can't see the value there myself.

Cheers.
____________

Profile BMH
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 27 May 99
Posts: 329
Credit: 93,472,926
RAC: 97,231
United Kingdom
Message 1135472 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 14:21:55 UTC - in response to Message 1135243.

You do realize that the Sandy Bridge motherboards have a lot less PCIE lanes so that you can't use as many video cards as you could with say an i7 970.

Just a thought.

The motherboard for my next build has three PCI Express slots - it did did take some searching to find. The first two slots are 16x and the third, provided by a separate chip, is 8x. I've not tried crunching yet with three graphics cards.

However I have heard of some people experiencing problems with using four graphics cards, especially dual-chip cards like the 290s.

"Dual channel" and (I assume) "triple channel" is marketing-speak for two (three)physically and electrically identical modules. There's no need to buy "special" dual/triple channel modules as long as the ones you get are identical (i.e., same model/part number).

It is recommended that you buy the matching RAM as a kit. Sometimes RAM of different makes and speeds will work OK together (they'll all run at the frequencies of the slowest module), other times you may run into problems. I've had problems with seemingly identical RAM modules that were purchased individually.
____________
Brian.

Profile Helsionium
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 24 Dec 06
Posts: 145
Credit: 35,351,170
RAC: 29,972
Austria
Message 1135497 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 15:36:40 UTC

Thank you for all your suggestions.

About the sound card, I initially thought I needed an Optical In connector, but I found out if I overhaul my current audio setup, I can do without that.
Also, I just got around to try a machine with a SSD and I think it's absolutely worth the extra money.

Now that I chose a different CPU, I will also have to choose a different motherboard. Of those my retailer offers, I think the MSI P67A-GD65 is the right one for me (http://www.msi.com/product/mb/P67A-GD65.html#?div=Overview)

What do you think about this one?

About what some of you said regarding PCI Express slots and Sandy Bridge MBs - are there really any issues with just two graphics cards?
____________

Profile HAL9000
Volunteer tester
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 11 Sep 99
Posts: 4453
Credit: 119,267,886
RAC: 139,691
United States
Message 1135521 - Posted: 3 Aug 2011, 15:51:35 UTC - in response to Message 1135497.
Last modified: 3 Aug 2011, 15:52:00 UTC

Thank you for all your suggestions.

About the sound card, I initially thought I needed an Optical In connector, but I found out if I overhaul my current audio setup, I can do without that.
Also, I just got around to try a machine with a SSD and I think it's absolutely worth the extra money.

Now that I chose a different CPU, I will also have to choose a different motherboard. Of those my retailer offers, I think the MSI P67A-GD65 is the right one for me (http://www.msi.com/product/mb/P67A-GD65.html#?div=Overview)

What do you think about this one?

About what some of you said regarding PCI Express slots and Sandy Bridge MBs - are there really any issues with just two graphics cards?

It just so happens that Tom's Hardware tested GPU scaling. It looks like for dual cards the P67 is the way to go. In many cases the P67 at x8/x8 was better or close to the X58 at x16/x16.
____________
SETI@home classic workunits: 93,865 CPU time: 863,447 hours

Join the BP6/VP6 User Group today!

jravin
Send message
Joined: 25 Mar 02
Posts: 941
Credit: 102,671,137
RAC: 91,210
United States
Message 1136148 - Posted: 5 Aug 2011, 5:05:57 UTC

For GPU computing, the # of lanes shouldn't matter very much, as almost all the computing is done onboard the GPU and its memory; at least for the NVIDIA apps, they only use main memory to load the WU data at the start and maybe when checkpointing (?). And that's a small percent of the overall time for any WU. Thus mainboard memory speed doesn't affect them that much either.

In fact, get a board with 4 or more GPU slots and the cheapest CPU and don't do CPU computing at all - a midrange single slot GPU will out-perform all but the most expensive CPUs regardless of CPU cores and with or without HT.
____________

Profile HAL9000
Volunteer tester
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 11 Sep 99
Posts: 4453
Credit: 119,267,886
RAC: 139,691
United States
Message 1136234 - Posted: 5 Aug 2011, 13:34:36 UTC - in response to Message 1136148.

For GPU computing, the # of lanes shouldn't matter very much, as almost all the computing is done onboard the GPU and its memory; at least for the NVIDIA apps, they only use main memory to load the WU data at the start and maybe when checkpointing (?). And that's a small percent of the overall time for any WU. Thus mainboard memory speed doesn't affect them that much either.

In fact, get a board with 4 or more GPU slots and the cheapest CPU and don't do CPU computing at all - a midrange single slot GPU will out-perform all but the most expensive CPUs regardless of CPU cores and with or without HT.

I think you might have missed the part in their initial post about this being a gaming dev machine & not a dedicated cruncher. However, with so many boards that can run 4, or more, x8 slots these days I so think that is sound advice for a dedicated cruncher.
A year or so ago I recall someone was doing testing with cards in their 3rd or 4th PCIe slot that was only x4. I think some slowdown was noted, but not that much. It would be interesting to see how the newer cards of today benchmarked in this configuration. With them being so fast a larger porting of their time would be loading data in and out of the card & the difference might be more significant.
____________
SETI@home classic workunits: 93,865 CPU time: 863,447 hours

Join the BP6/VP6 User Group today!

jravin
Send message
Joined: 25 Mar 02
Posts: 941
Credit: 102,671,137
RAC: 91,210
United States
Message 1136271 - Posted: 5 Aug 2011, 15:21:59 UTC - in response to Message 1136234.


I think you might have missed the part in their initial post about this being a gaming dev machine & not a dedicated cruncher.


Thanks for catching my error.
My bad.

____________

Profile Helsionium
Avatar
Send message
Joined: 24 Dec 06
Posts: 145
Credit: 35,351,170
RAC: 29,972
Austria
Message 1136324 - Posted: 5 Aug 2011, 17:29:51 UTC

Well thanks to all of your suggestions, I was able to cut costs while improving performance.

I knew that GPU computing is by orders of magnitude faster and more effecient than CPU processing, but the costs of building (and also running) a dedicated GPU-only cruncher do not allow me to do this at this time. So I think I settled with a machine that can do all tasks I need at once, and at the same time being pretty cost-efficient. You all helped me achieve that goal, and I'm grateful for that.

Once the machine I'm going to order now arrives, I may come back and ask a question or two about optimized apps, if I don't figure it out myself - I already run them, but I think more optimizing can be done than just running them in the default configuration.

Kind regards,
Helsionium
____________

1 · 2 · Next

Message boards : Number crunching : Please help building my new main cruncher

Copyright © 2014 University of California