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Topic Title: Designing a sub-US$2K workstation
Topic Summary: Posting a plan, looking for considered feedback.
Created On: 08/05/2007 10:34 PM
Status: Read Only
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 08/05/2007 10:34 PM
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cipher
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Posts: 6
Joined: 08/05/2007

Forum,

I'm trying to build a do-almost-anything machine that will hold up for a few years.

Qty. Product Description Unit Price Total Price


1 TYAN S2915A2NRF
Dual Socket 1207 NVIDIA
nForce Professional 3600 + 3050
Extended ATX Server Motherboard - Retail
$379.99 $379.99
+I like Tyan as a company, and find their boards to be solid.


1 SAPPHIRE 100201SR Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB
GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP VIVO Video Card
$389.99 $389.99
+Not sure about this one. Also considering Crossfire 2600s.


2 AMD Opteron 2212 HE Santa Rosa 2.0GHz
Socket F Processor Model OSP2212GAA6CX - OEM
Model #: OSP2212GAA6CX
$235.00 $470.00
+2 HEs or not 2 HEs, TITQ. Or can I wait until whenever for either dual or quadcore Barcelonas?


8 Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667
(PC2 5300) ECC Registered Server Memory
Model KVR667D2D8P5/1G - Retail
Model #: KVR667D2D8P5/1G
$68.49 $547.92
+Virtualization appeals to me on several levels. In any case 8GB is a good chunk of goodness....as long as the memory does not come broken.


2 SAMSUNG SpinPoint T Series HD403LJ 400GB 7200 RPM
SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #: HD403LJ
$84.99 $169.98
+ Raid 0 or 1 for an O/S drive. Depends on my paranoia level.


2 ZALMAN CNPS 9700 NT 110mm 2 Ball Ultra Quiet CPU Cooler
Model #: CNPS 9700 NT
$79.99 $119.98
+These monsters scare me, but thermodynamics rule all. They seem to be the right choice for some serious heat dissipation.


Grand Total of above: $2,077.86

+Obviously, not making the "sub-US$2K" requirement...yet.

+All this is currently slated to run on a SeaSonic 550W power supply.

I've seem some good machines posted elsewhere with similar specs (usually with higher clocked Opterons). Let me know if you foresee issues with this base configuration.

Many thanks!

-Cipher

-------------------------
Control what you can control, maggot, and let everything else take a flying **** at you. And if you must go down, go down with your guns blazing.
--Cort of Gilead
 08/15/2007 10:48 PM
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chuck_e_3
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Joined: 08/15/2007

This configuration sounds A LOT like something that I recently built. My goal was similar except that I wanted to focus on Digital Content Creation (DCC) So I placed a premium on Disk Performance.

The only differences for me were:
Video:

I opted to go cheap on video and installed an XFX GS7600 512mb ($89). My primary apps (video editing, photo editing and music editing) currently pose no challenge for todays high-end cards; and at time of purchase, I was still undecided about which way to go: ATI or nVidia, Single GPU or DUAL. This was an expedient and cheap way avoid a big investment in still emerging technology.

If you are considering the ATI based HD2900 then I'm assuming you are sticking with a single GPU system. So far I haven't heard of anyone running Cross Fire on the nForce Pro chipset (Anyone?? How about the HD2600 series??). I don't think it is supported.

Cooler:

I currently use the Scythe Mine (revB). These things are HUGE and they are extremely quiet. With Arctic Ceramique my CPU's rarely go above 32C even after benchmarking. Now for the BAD news: because of the layout of the Tyan mobo, if you use a longer or full length card in the first PCI-X slot, it may interfere with your cooler. The Zalmans you like probably have a similar footprint to the Scythe cooler in terms of width. . . My recommendation would be to try to find a cooler with a smaller footprint if you want to fully utilize that first slot, or be prepared to plan around it. I'm going to replace my Scythe's with the little known Antec Performance cooler. This cooler is compatible with the 3.5" spacing on the Tyan socket F and has a footprint that should allow me utilize that first slot without shorting out a card. The Opteron HE series only outputs about 65W - I overclocked my 2214 to 2.8 and the thing stayed cool as a cucumber under the massive cooler. So, I feel confident that I can downsize to a more sensible cooler without cooking my precious 2214's. Not to mentioh you'll save a bundle (get closer to your goal)!

Disk System:

Here is where I made my big investment: ARECA 1130ML raid controller and 6 500GB Samsungs T series. You'll be happy with the T series - they are economical and they work. I absolutely love the ARECA. Disk performance ROCKS - Raid 5 benchmarked about 6-7x faster than a simple stripe on the nForce chipset. So now I use it just for optical drives :-). To be fair, I found my controller on ebay for a ridiculously low price.

Another note: alot of forums seem to recommend really big power supply's for this setup - but I run my system on an Antec 550w EPS compatible power supply (I'm installed in the Antec Titan 550) and so far no stability issues. The Areca supports staggered drive spin up - very efficient.

I'm sure you'll be happy with your system. . .

Good Luck
 08/17/2007 08:40 PM
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cipher
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Posts: 6
Joined: 08/05/2007

Many thanks for the analysis! Especially regarding the coolers' geometry issues.

I'll definitely check out the drives.

Thanks!

-------------------------
Control what you can control, maggot, and let everything else take a flying **** at you. And if you must go down, go down with your guns blazing.
--Cort of Gilead
 08/21/2007 11:34 PM
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chuck_e_3
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Joined: 08/15/2007

More on the cooler . . .

Just as I was about to order the little (compared to my Scythe) Antec cooler I found, I happened upon something better (I think):

Dynatron F558

Dynatron is not a sexy name in coolers today; but if you check out their website, you'll notice that a few of their coolers look suspiciously like the OEM coolers you may have seen in some servers or sporting Intel or AMD logos. When I checked it's dimensions against the Antec, it was actually smaller. I seriously doubt it will be as quiet as the Scythe, but this unit also supports PWM. Given the Opteron HE's efficiency, I don't expect it to be spinning at Max too often.

Below are a few photos that give you some idea of the relative size of these things. These pictures also illustrate how close a 2/3 length PCI-e card comes to the side of the cooler. The CPU sockets on the Tyan are slightly offset. A 2/3 length card in the first slot of the S2915 would not fit with the Scythe Mine in place on both CPUs.







I'm going to go for it and bolt down the Dynatrons. If the noise is bearable - then I will hold onto the Scythes for one of those really HOT builds. . .
 09/16/2007 11:23 PM
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cipher
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Posts: 6
Joined: 08/05/2007

I waited for the Barcelona quad-core chips and found:
1) The Tyan board I was going with (S2915) wasn't listed in the AMD-blessed list.
2) The rough equivalent is the S2932, which is marked Quad-Core Ready.
3) The key ingrediant, the actual Opteron chips, are apparently missing. The usual suspects all have them on their kiosks, but those listings are invariably followed by "Out Of Stock" or similar.

There's not much to be done for the lack of plentiful, affordable Barcelonas, but in the meantime, has anyone played with the Tyan S2932?

Thanks!

-------------------------
Control what you can control, maggot, and let everything else take a flying **** at you. And if you must go down, go down with your guns blazing.
--Cort of Gilead
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