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 Post subject: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:30 pm 
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Hi Folders,

I'm interested in adding a graphics card to my dedicated folding box, in order to do GPU folding while continuing to fold on the CPU. I'm interested to know if that is possible/makes sense, and if so, then what card(s) would be good choices.

The box in question is the i7 in my sig. It is currently running Ubuntu 11.04. My understanding is that GPU folding requires Windows. I'm willing to put 64-bit Windows 7 on the box, if that will let me do both CPU and GPU folding. Despite repeated tries, I've never successfully done a bigadv WU, so I wouldn't be losing those if I switch to Windows.

Power consumption for the system at full load is currently 120W. The PSU is rated for 430W. I'd like the GPU to be fanless. I'd like to get as many additional points per day as I can while spending $100 USD more or less on the card, and without upgrading anything else.

I've looked through lots of reviews on cards, but I haven't yet figured out what I should be looking at. ATI? NVidia? Seems like GPUs are kind of a moving target...I'm hoping someone who's got current knowledge of both folding and the GPU market can clue me in.

Thanks!
Chris

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Last edited by cmh on Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:18 am 
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Hi, for folding you want an Nvidia card (unless things have changed, I've not really been keeping up!)
Basically the performance will be ~number of stream processors x their frequency.
Ideally you want as new a model as possible to get the newest tech for best performance per watt as aiming for a passive card.
A quick check didn't anything much passive in the new 5xx series, the best I can find is Asus GT 440, has twin heatpipe and sizable passive heatsink. 96 stream processors at 1620MHz, I estimate good for ~4000ppd.
Currently on Newegg for $80.

If you’re prepared to have a fanned card, possibly very quiet then look around the 550 TI area, 192 cores @ 1800MHz+ ~8500+ppd, eg MSI Cyclone.

Regards, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:16 pm 
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Hey, that card is a good find, I have a fanless 430 from zotac, but it became unreliable on me, so I don't use it or recommend it anymore. But that 440 could be solid. And yes, Nvidia is definitely the way to go. You are going to make a lot more points from something with fans, though. A 560 would probably be close to ideal in terms of price/performance ratio, I'd be tempted to get a 570 these days. I have bunch of 460s that are reasonably quiet.

Oh, and the gpu folding doesn't necessarily require windows. You can run it on linux with 'wine', although it's pretty complicated to set it up. I used to do it all the time, but getting it going the first time can take a bunch of time installing different versions of various things. Saves you the cost of a windows install, though.


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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:55 am 
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Thanks for the advice. (You guys are a bad influence...on my wallet... :D )

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:24 am 
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I think the GTS450 are a great buy ! I bought mine for 100$ each, they only use 1 power connector, are VERY quiet, and get me between 8 and 9Kppd (overclocked to 900MHz without a single problem).
I don't know what the new 5xx generation can do but the prices seem a little high.

Of course a 460 is also a nice buy, but unless you get it used, price is a bit outside your range.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Is that ~35k ppd all from your i7 ubuntu box? If so, leave it be. You'll enjoy several benefits:

1. lower power consumption
2. lower noise
3. ubuntu- need I say more? ;)

If you are getting all those points from a single i7, I'm going to ask for lessons :D

If you're folding on both and are looking for a nice ppd boost, the lower midrange nVidia cards are always a good bet for PPD/w (i.e. 460 non-Ti, 560 non-Ti, etc.). If you're looking for raw numbers, the GTX 590 is tops, but a LOT more $ than a GTX 570, or even better, twin GTX 560s. SLI is a no-go for ppd.

Whatever you choose, thanks for all those points you're putting up.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:03 pm 
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warriorpoet wrote:
Is that ~35k ppd all from your i7 ubuntu box?


No, that's from both boxes. The i7 does a WU about every four hours, and the i5 does one about every 7. Although the i5 just picked up a project 10126 that looks like it's going to take about 17 hours...we'll see what sort of points that's worth.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:43 pm 
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cmh wrote:
warriorpoet wrote:
Is that ~35k ppd all from your i7 ubuntu box?


No, that's from both boxes. The i7 does a WU about every four hours, and the i5 does one about every 7. Although the i5 just picked up a project 10126 that looks like it's going to take about 17 hours...we'll see what sort of points that's worth.

Yeah, I just got one of those too. I'm eagerly anticipating tomorrow :)

If it helps, I'm getting in the low-mid 20s with my rig (i5 2500k, GTX 570, Win7 HP x86_64, SSD) running around 20 hours a day. The dips and drops have to do with power fluctuations in our area due to tropical storms. Since we aren't expecting any more this year, I suspect my little folder will be folding happily along at 22-25k pretty consistently until next summer when the storms start back up again. :p

Whatever you do, try to get a card that will take the 7620 GPU units. They're VERY demanding and will push your cooling to the limit, but give me around a 3-5k boost using GPU3 (Fermi).

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:15 am 
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warriorpoet wrote:
cmh wrote:
warriorpoet wrote:
Is that ~35k ppd all from your i7 ubuntu box?

Whatever you do, try to get a card that will take the 7620 GPU units. They're VERY demanding and will push your cooling to the limit, but give me around a 3-5k boost using GPU3 (Fermi).

What's the minimum card that will take those? I'm not much of a gamer, so I'd love NOT to drop 3 bills on a GPU. I was thinking GTX 550 Ti...

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:52 am 
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cmh wrote:
warriorpoet wrote:
Whatever you do, try to get a card that will take the 7620 GPU units. They're VERY demanding and will push your cooling to the limit, but give me around a 3-5k boost using GPU3 (Fermi).

What's the minimum card that will take those? I'm not much of a gamer, so I'd love NOT to drop 3 bills on a GPU. I was thinking GTX 550 Ti...
GPU folding is all about the "Processing Cores" (programmable shaders). The more you have the faster you'll go.

The GTX 550 Ti has 192 cores for ~$130 (Newegg)

The GTX 560 has 336 cores for ~$190 (Newegg)

The GTX 560 Ti has 384 cores for ~$220 (Newegg)

Here's a recent-ish comparison of folding cards: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphi ... -folding/4

Please note the 560 (non-Ti) was not released at the time of writing, and nVidia's non-Ti/GTX/FTW/BBQ editions of their mid-range gamer cards are typically the PPD/watt champions. To put GTX 560 folding in perspective, the average reported PPD is generally in the 11k-13k region stock. My stock GTX 570 (a $300 card, 480 cores) ran ~14-15k ppd.

My comment regarding 7621 units has more to do with cooling than speed. These units take my watercooled GTX 570 to 66c with my fans on high. There is no other unit that exceeds 54c with my fans turning ~200 RPM slower all around. They're INTENSE. So, when you're considering a card for these units, pay special attention to both the card's cooler (you want a decent one with good acoustics) and your case ventilation.

One other thing: these second-gen Fermi cards are excellent overclockers with a little bit of voltage (clock speed + more cores = more PPD). Voltage = heat, so if you plan on OCing your card for a PPD bump, get a card that sports a monster cooler. Of course you can always go aftermarket...

One more note on OCing your card: My PPD jumped ~3k (from ~14-15k PPD to ~17-18k PPD) when taking my card from 797 MHz to 920 (1594 to 1840 MHz on the processing cores), so PPD gains can be dramatic for not a lot of effort.

All things considered, I'd strongly consider this card for the factory OC and cooler ($10 for 90MHz and a nice quiet heatpipe cooler seems like a good deal): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814125390

Also, keep in mind you'll want to run some sort of load balancer for max PPD. I'm using process lasso to limit the GPU folding to two of my CPU cores so it doesn't leech too many CPU PPDs, but there will be a loss.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:26 am 
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Super helpful, warriorpoet. Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:52 pm 
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Thanks warriorpoet, good post !
I would emphasize the overclokability of the 4xx and 5xx cards too, even when you've never done it before. Look online at what other people are doing with their cards, pick what looks like a good number (I usually pick a bit lower to be on the safe side), move the cursor in Afterburner and off you go, no need for voltage tweaks or anything complicated if you stay within reasonable limits !! My 2 450s do 900 MHz (783 is the stock for 450s) and you can see from warriorpoet's post that with a cool setup you can go much higher.
As for the 7620/1 WUs, I ran 2 of them on each card but got no PPD increase and about 5C higher temps, so I got rid of the bigadv flag. Folding is much more consistent that way. I will try it on the GTX460 later...
As for the fanless part of your requirements, maybe if you wait a bit longer, a nice 5xx card will come out... 550 ? I would still make sure airflow is sufficent around those cards, even the 450
Keep us posted on what you end up getting !

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:51 pm 
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frenchie wrote:
Thanks warriorpoet, good post !
I would emphasize the overclokability of the 4xx and 5xx cards too, even when you've never done it before. Look online at what other people are doing with their cards, pick what looks like a good number (I usually pick a bit lower to be on the safe side), move the cursor in Afterburner and off you go, no need for voltage tweaks or anything complicated if you stay within reasonable limits !! My 2 450s do 900 MHz (783 is the stock for 450s) and you can see from warriorpoet's post that with a cool setup you can go much higher.
As for the 7620/1 WUs, I ran 2 of them on each card but got no PPD increase and about 5C higher temps, so I got rid of the bigadv flag. Folding is much more consistent that way. I will try it on the GTX460 later...
As for the fanless part of your requirements, maybe if you wait a bit longer, a nice 5xx card will come out... 550 ? I would still make sure airflow is sufficent around those cards, even the 450
Keep us posted on what you end up getting !
Thanks frenchie.

The flag I'm using to get the higher PPD units is client-type: advanced. Maybe that's different, maybe not, but worth a mention.

My experience with the big GPU units is that they're very consistently higher PPD, but the increase interval is 2-3 days. In other words, I see no gains for 2-3 days, then BAM! 10k extra. YMMV, but due to the length of time they take to complete, the reported PPD advantage is going to appear inconsistent (especially if you're using a slower card).

Here's an example: Over the last few days I've been folding at 22k-25k with a mix of big and "regular" GPU WUs. Now that the GPU WUs have stabilized to only big units, I'm on schedule to see a 12k increase in my PPD tomorrow (~36k), but a 5k decrease the following day (~22k)- a 7k net increase, and a ~3.5-4k overall PPD increase. If the intervals stay as consistent as they have been, they should stabilize to this 2-3 day cadence. Really the only wildcard here in South Florida are tropical storms causing electrical supply issues; the big WUs are as stable as the day is long :)

Hope that helps!

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:36 pm 
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Just an update. After much reading and probably too much thinking, I abandoned both my budget and my fanless requirement and ordered a GTX 560. I'll report back when I get it all set up. Thanks again for your advice and counsel, all.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:05 am 
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cmh wrote:
Just an update. After much reading and probably too much thinking, I abandoned both my budget and my fanless requirement and ordered a GTX 560. I'll report back when I get it all set up. Thanks again for your advice and counsel, all.

Awesome! That's going to be one killer folding setup!

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:05 am 
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Well, the card's in and folding. Kind of a headache getting it set up. The GPU3 client was refusing to start, throwing a "corestatus = 63". I tried three or four different drivers before I figured out that it was actually an issue with the XP command line window I was opening. Doing a "Run As..." and then deselecting "Protect my computer and data from unauthorized program activity" did the trick.

Both SMP and GPU3 clients are running on the machine. The SMP client doesn't seem to have slowed down, and the GPU client is doing 11-12K PPD. I'm not using Process Lasso (or any other core affinity tweaking) and the numbers seem like they're in line with expectations. Might experiment with PL later to see if it helps. I've got a slight overclock, to 850 MHz at stock voltage, on the GPU. I'm pulling 380W from the wall with my 430W PSU, so I'm not sure how much more I can push it.

My only disappointment with the system is noise. My other machine, an i5-2500K, runs inaudibly, with temps in the low-mid 50s, at 100% load with the CPU and case fans spinning at 900 rpm. The i7 CPU temps are 65-70 with the fans doing 1300+ rpm, which makes a fairly loud, constant "whoosh." Not unpleasant, but certainly more than I'm used to. The GPU fans are running about 50% of max, and aren't audible over the other fans. I don't know if that's just the nature of the CPU's heat profile, if the Hyper 212 is that much worse than the Gelid Tranquillo, or if maybe I didn't get the thermal paste in there correctly.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Hi, I'm playing with an i7-2600k at the moment and would say the cooling is dependant on the OC level. At stock settings it's easy enough to cool quietly. Start shoving up the clock/voltage and it gets big hot beast! I can get to 4.7GHz but am constrained by cooling, that is loud 100% fan speed and still reaching 80°C!
I'f you're pulling 380w from the wall that's probably over 300w DC in the PC to get rid of. If I understood the video card is "only" a GTX560 so that's not that power hungry so I speculate you have a large over-clock going on, in which case I can believe the Hyper 212 strugling to control it. Try tweaking down the CPU core voltage, keep droping it till you get crash / BSOD and then raise it one notch and see how it goes.
Might find if knock 100~200MHz off can then drop core voltage enough to make a noticable differance. Good luck :-)
Seb

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:22 pm 
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SebRad wrote:
Hi, I'm playing with an i7-2600k at the moment and would say the cooling is dependant on the OC level.


Yeah. But I want the points AND the quiet.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:05 pm 
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Hi cmh, well if you want the big OC and low noise you will need a bigger cooler :lol:
If you can fit in your case maybe the Thermalright Silver Arrow or Noctua NH-D14, they should be somewhat better than the Hyper 212.
I think the Thermalright comes with PWM fans where the Noctua has 3pin voltage control fans. Does have resistors etc, up to you which fan type you prefer. The silver Arrow maybe cheaper too.
I think I'm going to have to stump up for a NH-C14 myself as my case will only take up to ~145mm tall CPU cooler so all the big towers are out! Sadly I want PWM fans so that's more money and the NH-C14 is already eye-watering expensive :cry: , in UK anyway (~£70!)
Looking at SPCR reviews and Frostytech reviews it's hard to say which is the absolute best, in fairness I suspect not all that much difference. It should be at the biggest heat loads with lowest fan speeds that nothing beats size so the NH-C14 should be left behind.
Maybe look in to the high-end self contained water coolers, eg Corsair H100 or H90 depending on case configuration.
Regards, Seb

EDIT: just done bit Google for "2600k silver arrow" and found few things:
This table might be enlightening, see freq/voltage/load temp/cooler listed together.
2600K under Silver Arrow at 5GHz even with stock fans at full is only 1300rpmn and probably not terribly loud.

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:28 pm 
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cmh wrote:
Yeah. But I want the points AND the quiet.

A folder's dilema.... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: GPU recommendations?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:42 pm 
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Location: San Jose
Yeah, I agree with SebRad, if you want a truly quiet folding system, you'll need a better cooler. The 212 is ok on the cheap, but for high performance you'll need something better. A big prolimatech or noctua cooler would probably work best. You can have the folding and the quiet, but you may need to pay for it. :?


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