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 Post subject: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:22 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm
Posts: 115
Hi all,

I'm building my first all-new system in 5 years and need your advice. Its a Windows 7 64-bit workstation with three 1920x1200 monitors. I'm a big multitasker and typically have 50+ windows open, numerous VMs, Visual Studio, Photoshop, WinRAR, plus occasional video encoding/rendering. No gaming or overclocking expected.

I frequently move drives around from system to system so I now mount all my hard drives in drive bays that each occupy three 5.25" external slots. This definitely beats opening up the case frequently but does mean I have to be careful in picking quieter drives and a case with a front door to compensate, noise-wise.

I'm looking for a reasonably quiet system but not expecting total silence.

My proposed components:

Case: Lian Li PC-A71F USB 3.0 (I may need to add some insulation to this case...we'll see)
Case Fans: The case comes with two 140mm intake fans and two 120mm exhaust fans....I'll give those a try first but am interested in quiet alternatives that will still keep the system cool.
Motherboard: Supermicro X9SRE-F
Processor: Intel Xeon E5-1650
CPU Heatsink/Fan: Thermalright Archon SB-E or SB-E X2 (I'm thinking either heat sink will be okay with a single fan)
Memory: 4 x 16GB Hynix Registered ECC DDR3-1600 (total 64 GB, this is from Supermicro's compat list)
Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum SS-520FL2 (or is it SS-520FL?) (I've never done a fanless power supply but thought I'd give it a try)
RAID Card: LSI MegaRAID SAS 9260-8i
Hot Swap Drive Cage: Norco SS-500 (I'll be replacing the awful stock 80mm fan with something like a Noctua NF-R8)
OS Drives: 2 x Plextor PX-256M5P 256GB SSDs in RAID 1
Data Drives: 2 x Western Digital RE WD4000FYYZ 4TB HDDs in RAID 1
Video Card: SAPPHIRE Ultimate Radeon HD 6670 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 (Fanless & can drive 3 displays)
CD/DVD Burner: Samsung SH-224BB - OEM

What do you think?

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:44 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm
Posts: 115
One possible change: I may end up building another system like this one and putting it in an Antec P182, which means the Archon SB-E/SB-E X2 probably won't fit. Any thoughts on a good alternative? Maybe Noctua NH-U12P SE2 or Megahalems Rev C with Noctua or Nexus 120mm fans?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I need to purchase the components ASAP.


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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:49 pm
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Location: UK
Video card: Latest generation cards from both NVIDIA and AMD are better energy wise.

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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:11 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:29 pm
Posts: 278
Location: Glasgow, UK
If you're concerned about noise, and don't intend to move the machine terribly often, I'd try to find something other than an aluminium case. Although Lian Li cases have awesome build quality, they're still lightweight and let a lot more noise out than a well built steel case.

... however, for the life of me, I can't find many other options that have 4x5.25" bays and a door. The only other decent option would appear to be the Antec P18x, but it appears Newegg have deactivated it

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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:32 am 
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Other potential cases: Fractal R4, Antec P183 v3, Corsair 550D, Nanoxia DS1. If you like $250 cases, consider the Silverstone FT02. It'd beat the pants off the Lian Li for noise.

GDDR5 based AMD graphics cards don't idle/downclock the memory when using more than one display. So, it'll burn 20W when the equivalent Nvidia uses 10W. The highest end fanless Nvidia appears to be the GT 640. Asus and Zotac have models. A potential downside to the GT 640 is it's GDDR3 memory. Photoshop uses the GPU to accelerate some functions. The slower memory in this card may castrate the benefit. Also, is you wanted to move up to the GTX 650, a very quiet fanned card wouldn't be heard over your external HDDs.

The fanless 520W will work. Given all of the HDDs, you wouldn't hear the equivalent fanned versions. Your actual load power will be in the 200W range...maybe 250W with everything cranked up.

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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:40 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm
Posts: 115
edh wrote:
Video card: Latest generation cards from both NVIDIA and AMD are better energy wise.

Thanks! I checked Newegg's selection of fanless video cards and the only cards I saw that looked newer than the HD 6670 I was thinking about were based on the HD 7750. (I'm not as familiar with the NVIDIA cards so its possible I missed one but they all looked like older models.)

Per the power consumption charts (http://forums.atomicmpc.com.au/index.php?showtopic=264), the HD 7750 *is* a bit better (6W idle / 23W 2D peak) than the HD 6670 (10W idle, 25W 2D peak). So, I may switch to a HD 7750 based card as the idle power consumption is 40% lower.


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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:43 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm
Posts: 115
mentawl wrote:
If you're concerned about noise, and don't intend to move the machine terribly often, I'd try to find something other than an aluminium case. Although Lian Li cases have awesome build quality, they're still lightweight and let a lot more noise out than a well built steel case.

... however, for the life of me, I can't find many other options that have 4x5.25" bays and a door. The only other decent option would appear to be the Antec P18x, but it appears Newegg have deactivated it

I totally hear you....I've never done aluminum before and I read enough to be nervous. However, I need five 5.25" bays and Lian Li was the only manufacturer that I could find that makes them with a door. In fact, I think all of these are now discontinued or about to be discontinued.

I have a handful of P18x cases and they're great but only have 4 bays. I can get by with 4 bays for some of my future builds and would have picked the P280 but it only has three 5.25" bays. Its getting increasingly hard to find cases with plentiful 5.25" bays unless you're into gamer cases that look like the head of a Cylon or something. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2006 11:49 pm
Posts: 115
CA_Steve wrote:
Other potential cases: Fractal R4, Antec P183 v3, Corsair 550D, Nanoxia DS1. If you like $250 cases, consider the Silverstone FT02. It'd beat the pants off the Lian Li for noise.

Thanks! I'm not really looking for $250 cases but unfortunately the only one with five 5.25" bays and a door was in that price range. By far the most expensive case I've ever bought. I looked very closely at all of the cases you mentioned above but none met the five 5.25" bays and a door requirement. I even thought of trying an external pedestal (ie, something like a mini P18x with nothing but 5.25" bays) but haven't found such a beast.

CA_Steve wrote:
GDDR5 based AMD graphics cards don't idle/downclock the memory when using more than one display. So, it'll burn 20W when the equivalent Nvidia uses 10W. The highest end fanless Nvidia appears to be the GT 640. Asus and Zotac have models. A potential downside to the GT 640 is it's GDDR3 memory. Photoshop uses the GPU to accelerate some functions. The slower memory in this card may castrate the benefit. Also, is you wanted to move up to the GTX 650, a very quiet fanned card wouldn't be heard over your external HDDs.

I didn't know about the AMD cards not downclocking....that's very good to know. The HD 6670 idles at 10W which isn't too bad. The HD 7750 apparently idles at 6W. But, its very likely those numbers are on single display systems. I couldn't find any power consumption figures on the GT 640.

CA_Steve wrote:
The fanless 520W will work. Given all of the HDDs, you wouldn't hear the equivalent fanned versions. Your actual load power will be in the 200W range...maybe 250W with everything cranked up.

Well, I've only got two hard drives planned so far (the rest are SSDs). They are supposed to be relatively quiet but their placement is certainly not ideal from a noise perspective. You may be right about the noise of the HDDs masking a quiet fanned graphics card. Definitely something to try out.


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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:45 pm 
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Techpowerup and HT4U will show power consumption for idle, BD playback, multi-monitor as well as while gaming. HT4U is a great source for absolute noise levels...Techpowerup is good for relative noise levels (they are noise floor limited). Here's a GT 640 review for the power levels - not for it's lack of silence :)

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 Post subject: Re: New system build: Xeon workstation
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:05 pm 
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Location: Northern New Jersey
If the video rendering is through the Adobe Creative Suite, look at nVidia GTX600 series cards, as you will have the ability to modify a text file and get hardware acceleration for certain features.

Also, I would be curious as to the idea of looking at a dual socket motherboard, starting off with a single CPU, and adding a second one when you need an upgrade, rather than replacing the whole machine. It would mean you'd have to look for a slightly higher wattage, fanned PSU, and a case that would fit the motherboard, but I don't think the price difference would be very large. It also may help save hundreds later on, by only adding a second CPU + cooler, rather than replacing most of the components.

I'd also replace all stock fans with higher quality ones, but that's just me, I've had bad experience with cheap stock fans.

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