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Building a high powered workstation

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Old 06-08-08, 10:32 AM Thread Starter   #1
the_cultie
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Building a high powered workstation


I have been given the task of building a high powered workstation for a friend who does a lot of work with 3D Max, Maya, etc. At the moment he working with a Athlon 4800+ (939) and 4GB RAM. It was enough when I built it 3 years ago, (even bet the overpriced Boxxtech machines at his workplace at the time ) but now hes struggling for memory because he's working with such a high polygon count.

So I'm just looking for some opinions on what to build. He's looking for a lot of processing power and at least 8GB RAM. So at the moment I'm thinking of a new quad opteron and a dual socket motherboard (will allow for a 2nd cpu in the future or now if the budget allows). So are the new Opterons a good choice or are the Xeons a better option? Also, any recommendations on a motherboard that has 2 PCI-Express slots as he needs 3+ DVI connectors, 2 widescreen LCD's and one of those lovely Wacom tablet displays.

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Old 06-08-08, 12:25 PM   #2
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If money is no concern wait for the dual socket Nehalem board to come out, which will be the upgrade for skull-trail in Q4.

The processing power will be higher than anything seen before by far.

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Old 06-08-08, 01:27 PM   #3
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It sounds like he can't really wait and he needs the power now. In that case definitely go for the intel quad cores. 2 x Q9450 equivalents a nice mobo... you can go with skull trail here, or a cheaper board since you most likely aren't going to overclock.

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Old 06-08-08, 03:40 PM Thread Starter   #4
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Yeah, he does need it fairly quick alright. Are skulltrail mobos avilable yet? Was talking to him again and he would like to get more than 8GB of RAM so recomendations on motherboards would be welcome. Also what would Q9450 equivalents be, I've fallin slightly behind on the latest Intel releases Also, dont rule overclocking out, its quite possible that he will get me to overclock this rig when its built.

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Old 06-08-08, 03:57 PM   #5
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Prepare for sticker shock. Skulltrail Link

You will need S771 chips, so no cheap Q6600's.

Using the cheapest chips you are looking at ~$1120 plus memory. Doing a quick google search I came up with Crucial a $110 per 2GB stick, so another $440 for the FB-DIMM memory it takes.

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Old 06-08-08, 04:22 PM Thread Starter   #6
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Not a bad price, when converted hes looking to spend $3750, but then hardware is a bit more expensive over here. Also, I can't get a skulltrail mobo over here , not yet anyway, Newegg wont ship to Ireland :'( I'll have another look round and see what is avilable to me. I'll be back looking for opinions on them. Also, do you have to use ECC registered ram with server boards and ships or can you some how disable ECC and use regular DDR2 RAM?

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Old 06-08-08, 04:24 PM   #7
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You need ECC FB-DIMM, very expensive.


actually, only the ocing stuff is.

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=767545

52 quid for 2GB.

4x52 = 208 quid just for 8GB

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Old 06-08-08, 04:29 PM Thread Starter   #8
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Nice price, thanks for the link, as far as I remember scan do ship to here too

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Old 06-08-08, 04:45 PM   #9
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Yeah, they've also lowered prices to IE.


But I live 8 miles from scan, so I just pick stuff up from there

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Old 06-08-08, 06:58 PM   #10
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Old 06-08-08, 07:05 PM   #11
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Red, they are US prices, not UK prices.

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Old 06-08-08, 07:59 PM   #12
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yea i was converting an left like $600 spare to make up for the price diffrence

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Old 06-08-08, 08:01 PM   #13
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This is a workstation, not a gaming system.

Does his software need high end graphics cards for processing power or is this just CPU power? What is the budget?

If I am not mistaken those programs are multi-threaded very well and could use the power of dual sockets. I am also thinking he is going to need to look at workstation class GPU'a which are pricey as well.

If he can hold out for a skulltrail board, that with two E5420's would be a pretty good combo without blowing a ton of cash unnecessarily. That with 8GB's of ram would ram about $1800US, plus graphics which can run north of 2K each depending on what he needs. It may seem like a lot to most people but if he is using to make his living it is money well spent for more productivity.

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Old 06-09-08, 11:45 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_cultie View Post
Not a bad price, when converted hes looking to spend $3750, but then hardware is a bit more expensive over here. Also, I can't get a skulltrail mobo over here , not yet anyway, Newegg wont ship to Ireland :'( I'll have another look round and see what is avilable to me. I'll be back looking for opinions on them. Also, do you have to use ECC registered ram with server boards and ships or can you some how disable ECC and use regular DDR2 RAM?
Scan has Skulltrail at http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=764124

You could start with just 1 CPU and later upgrade if he wants more power. It is limited to 8GB RAM, though. There's a few other dual 771 boards on there, all seem to require those FB-DIMMs though. Some of them hold more than 8GB but seem to be more for servers than workstations..

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Old 06-09-08, 12:15 PM Thread Starter   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbuddy View Post
Scan has Skulltrail at http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=764124

You could start with just 1 CPU and later upgrade if he wants more power. It is limited to 8GB RAM, though. There's a few other dual 771 boards on there, all seem to require those FB-DIMMs though. Some of them hold more than 8GB but seem to be more for servers than workstations..
Don't know how I mised that Since my last post and not having found a skulltrail board (until now) or dual socket intel boards with 2 PCI-Express x16 slots I have sort of setteled on a board if we go for an AMD dual socket setup. I've picked the Asus KFN32-D SLI/SAS motherboard (Link) and 1 or 2 Opetron 2354 2.2GHZ quad core cpus. Now looking at RAM and graphics. More opinions welcome and now that I know I can get a skulltrail board I'll have a look at that option too.

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Old 06-09-08, 12:35 PM   #16
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I am completely happy (actually overjoyed) with the second rig in my signature. Yes it's FB-DIMM and it's more expensive, but the amount I saved on the processors by using E5410 and doing a slight OC is well worth the money. Also, it holds up to 24gb of RAM compared to the Skulltrail. It is also a lot of money, but is still cheaper than the Skulltrail at Scan.com.

Obviously, you don't need the dual HD3870 vid cards, but I couldn't resist them on sale for $129 a piece at Best Buy last week. You can save a lot of money here by putting in a couple ATI HD2600 series cards. You're not going to need such a large PSU either, probably something with 700 or 750W. You can always go higher to be on the safe side and allow for additions to your system in the future.

Here is a link to the mobo:

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=812092


Waiting on stock from vendor. Might want to call and see what expected delivery date is.

I hope this helps or at least gives a different option at a reasonable cost. Good luck with the build!
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Old 06-09-08, 12:49 PM Thread Starter   #17
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That is a nice motherboard, even aesthetically it's nice for a server/workstation board. Thanks for that, another option for us

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Old 06-13-08, 10:07 AM Thread Starter   #18
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Well after much discussion with my friend he's deceided to go for the Asus board I linked above and two quad Opterons, he wants to be able to have as much ram as possible. He's going to get 8GB now and upgrade to 32GB near the end of the year. Were also putting a Quadro FX 3700 in it for his two main monitors and an 8800GT/GTS for the third monitor. We're thinking of two Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme's or Ultima-90's on the CPU's. However I was wondering, are the hole spacing on the Socket F boards the same as on the 939 boards? It would mean that the 939 bolt kit could be used.

*EDIT*
Found out that the 939 kit will work with Socket F.

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"Whoa whoa whoa, we don't discuss leaving systems stock here. You'd overclock it for a few reasons. It makes it faster and because you can." - thideras

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Last edited by the_cultie; 06-13-08 at 11:37 AM.
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