My May 2015 Workstation Build

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
12,051
5,042
113
Every so often I build a nice workstation for myself. As much as I like building servers, I am completely nervous every time it comes to make a workstation because I grew up with some jet engine/ leaf blower hybrids. @MiniKnight challenged me to build something better than my December 2013 Workstation build, and I think that is a challenge worth taking up so here it goes.

Old build

This one went through a few iterations. The build runs well under 35dba even playing a 3D game. Absolutely awesome!

Specs
  • Dual Intel Xeon E5-2630 (switched to lower TDP chips from the original ones)
  • Supermicro SC732 Chassis
  • 2x Cooler Master Hyper 212+
  • ASUS Z9PE-D8
  • 128GB (8x16GB) DDR3 1600MHz ECC RDIMMs Samsung
  • NVIDIA Quadro K4000
  • Mellanox ConnectX-2 EN 10GB SFP+
  • Crucial M500 960GB SSD
  • HGST / Virident FlashMax II 550GB
  • Seasonic 650w 80Plus Gold power supply

Reasons for the new build
  • I now run more VMs than ever on my primary workstation and 128GB of RAM is simply not cutting it anymore, even using Dynamic Memory with Hyper-V. Photoshop 64-bit loves eating RAM
  • Apparently I have an addiction to running Chrome and IE tabs. Frankly, this is absolutely scary
  • When I built the December 2013 build I used 960GB Crucial M500's. Large and relatively inexpensive for their day. With all of the VMs that are run locally, there are GC jitters
  • The old system is 12C/ 24T - I think there is room for improvement even though Windows has only 488 processes running right now - and before anyone thinks this is strange - there is absolutely a ton of stuff already open so I can switch between tasks quickly
  • I want a faster video card (note this is a want not a NEED since gaming is infrequent to say the least.)
  • I was challenged and I can
Planned new build
  • CPUs: Dual Intel Xeon E5-2650 V3
  • Supermicro SC732 Chassis - small and quiet with some versions running at under 22dba
  • 2x 8-in-1 5.25" bay enclosures one for Intel SATA one for LSI SAS
  • 2x Cooler Master Hyper 212+ (or equivalent)
  • Supermicro X10DAC
    - I want 12gbps SAS for all of the drives sitting around and this has 2x the memory slots of the ASUS Z9PE-D8
  • ASUS STRIX-GTX970-DC20C-4GD5 - 0db fan mode sounds great!
  • Mellanox ConnectX-2 EN 10GbE
  • Storage - :)
If your first thought is that that is an extremely dense system for that much power, it is. The big unknown right now is storage cooling. Otherwise I think the system can run sub 25dba for most things I might use it for.

More to come soon.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: T_Minus

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
12,051
5,042
113
Build Day 1: Test Fitting

The first thing I did was clean out the chassis. The X10DAC is very large and the SC732 is relatively small. I ended up pulling out the firewire cables. They were very large and I never use firewire. I never realized this but the cables plug into a PCB on the front panel with motherboard like connectors. One zip tie snapped and it was working. @MiniKnight you are right on the SAS connectors. I just ordered right angle connectors which will hopefully help.

Build Day 2: Right angle SAS cables saving the day
Added the right angle SAS cables. They really made the difference by <1 mm. Yikes! The Supermicro SC732 is a very small chassis which is nice from an external space perspective. It is also very rough from an internal space perspective.


2015 May Workstation - tight SAS cabling - Adaptec Right Angle.jpg
I also managed to fit the selection of PCIe cards: Mellanox ConnectX2-EN, HGST Virident FlashMAX II 550GB, ASUS STRIX GTX 970, LSI 9300-8e (for external SAS 3).
2015 May Workstation - ASUS STRIX.jpg

"Only" using the first 64GB for now. I have 256GB tied up in a test rig that should be done soon.

Build Day 3: Old model meet the new model

This is always awkward. Whether it be cars, romantic interests or primary workstations. But it is time to move on.
2015 May Workstation - Next to Old.jpg
I ended up grabbing a Seasonic 660w Platinum PSU. I would go bigger but realistically it will never use 600w and I wanted efficiency and silence.

The case is crammed but 34.8dba and there is actually a solid amount of airflow. So absolutely no issues.

Wiring the 8 bays was a nightmare. 2x power, 2x fan 8x 7-pin data connectors in a 5.25" drive space.

In terms of drives: right now there is the old Crucial M500 960GB, 2x Samsung PM953T 960GB, 2x Intel S3700 400GB, 1x Intel S3610 400GB, 1x Samsung 845DC Pro 400GB, 1x Seagate 600 Pro 240GB... then 8x SAS drives (800GB, 2x 920GB, 2x 1.6TB, 2x 400GB 1x 200GB.)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: William

TechIsCool

Active Member
Feb 8, 2012
263
117
43
Clinton, WA
techiscool.com
Your gettings into heat to noise ratio territory. I personally would water cool it but since it is most likely your first walk in the water park I think I would stay away from it. How much ram is your target? Is there a reason for not splitting up VM hosting? other then it just being a Killtacular of a machine?
 

Deci

Active Member
Feb 15, 2015
197
68
28
how much ram were you thinking? 192? 256? 320? 384?

how much ssd space? 1.2tb p3600 or 750?
 

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
12,051
5,042
113
@TechIsCool - My first Core i7 machine and two subsequent were water cooled so would not be new. Current setup is quieter than my old pump and very low noise. Even with quick releases air cooling is lower maintenance. Moving to Haswell-EP (and likely not 100% load) should be fine. I may keep it to 115w CPUs or lower just for that reason.

Killtacular of a machine but more realistically just means one less box and VM to local workstation happens at Hyper-V switch speed.

RAM wise - 192GB or 256GB initially. I have 16x 16GB sitting next to me so they may find a use yet.

how much ssd space? 1.2tb p3600 or 750?
Not 100% sure but I have been toying with the idea of a few PCIe based cards plus 16x 2.5" drives.
 

William

Well-Known Member
May 7, 2015
789
250
63
63
First post here :)

Nice workstation Patrick :)

I ended up using a ASUS TS700-E8-RS8 barebones kit I had here, threw in a couple E5-2698 v3's, 128GB DDR4, 2x Titan Blacks. Using 2x SanDisk X210's in Raid 0 for OS and just a mix of HDD's for storage. I am always short of nice HDD's but I have been looking at a couple 5TB drives to replace these older 2TB WD greens and some other odd's and ends.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MiniKnight

MiniKnight

Well-Known Member
Mar 30, 2012
3,001
910
113
NYC
I ended up using a ASUS TS700-E8-RS8 barebones kit I had here, threw in a couple E5-2698 v3's, 128GB DDR4, 2x Titan Blacks. Using 2x SanDisk X210's in Raid 0 for OS and just a mix of HDD's for storage. I am always short of nice HDD's but I have been looking at a couple 5TB drives to replace these older 2TB WD greens and some other odd's and ends.
Time for you to post a build thread with pics @William

@Patrick thanks for taking the challenge. I don't think you'll have room in such a small case with that mobo. You might try these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Adaptec-228...429?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43d84a0ccd as a possible solution. Gonna be really tight SAS cabling.
 

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
12,051
5,042
113
First post here :)

Nice workstation Patrick :)

I ended up using a ASUS TS700-E8-RS8 barebones kit I had here, threw in a couple E5-2698 v3's, 128GB DDR4, 2x Titan Blacks. Using 2x SanDisk X210's in Raid 0 for OS and just a mix of HDD's for storage. I am always short of nice HDD's but I have been looking at a couple 5TB drives to replace these older 2TB WD greens and some other odd's and ends.
Ha! I read this post and was thinking - E5-2698's that is impressive since those are hard to get ahold of. Then I realized who William was :) Very excited.
 
  • Like
Reactions: William

William

Well-Known Member
May 7, 2015
789
250
63
63
They were my very first V3 chips, I got them several months before release. Now I use E5-2699 V3's for review work, both are beasts really. Its hard to load them up because they can handle such heavy work loads. I can't wait for the E7's to show up, if you know me then you know I love cores, and lots of them LOL
 
  • Like
Reactions: SSS

OBasel

Active Member
Dec 28, 2010
494
62
28
Always the little buggers like cables.

How stable has the build been?
 

Patriot

Moderator
Apr 18, 2011
1,311
695
113
@Patrick, E5-2650v3 is a decently balanced chip... 2.3ghz 10c, 3ghz turbo and 105w tdp.
A touch low on the clocks for my style of workstation but should be more snappy than your old one with many more cores than your old one.
Should also be easy to find a reasonably priced one.


They were my very first V3 chips, I got them several months before release. Now I use E5-2699 V3's for review work, both are beasts really. Its hard to load them up because they can handle such heavy work loads. I can't wait for the E7's to show up, if you know me then you know I love cores, and lots of them LOL
E7 boards are ridiculously expensive...
I like cores too. :D
 

Patrick

Administrator
Staff member
Dec 21, 2010
12,051
5,042
113
Fired up the ASUS GTX 970 today while waiting for SAS cables for the new build. These things are so cramped that I do not want to have to uninstall and re-install everything on Monday evening.

First impression: WOW. Big card compared to the Quadro K4000. The ASUS is big and heavy with a massive cooler. I have yet to hear the fans though.

Here is my question: why in the world does NVIDIA make mainline cards with DVI-D, DVI-I, HDMI and DisplayPort? I had to dig for a DVI-D cable for my second HP ZR30w since I could not use two DP cables as with the Quadro single slot card. Is the expectation that many years after multi-high resolution displays became a reality, people are buying one DP monitor and one DVI monitor plus hooking up to a lower resolution TV? I am totally perplexed here. I know most people still only hook up one monitor to their PC's but the GTX 970 is not exactly a low-end card.

I can do the math. The GTX 970 has been around for awhile. I just wanted something silent (for what I do) and new.

Interesting note - while grabbing my DVI-I cable I found a Intel DC P3700 400GB AIC and both a AIC and 2.5" DC P3600 400GB. I think NVMe is multiplying as a signal of things to come.
 

Patriot

Moderator
Apr 18, 2011
1,311
695
113
Nvidia has yet to get aboard the DP train. That has been AMD's thing for years.
There are a few GTX970s with more than one DP ... but most have just 1.
 

neo

Well-Known Member
Mar 18, 2015
672
362
63
I too can relate to your view. However, from an engineering point of view - having multiple output selections is a necessity while having multiple monitors is a luxury. While the 970 may be a new card, it still falls into the upper-midrange consumer territory.

This is something AMD has been getting right on their pro cards. 6 x Mini DisplayPort