New SFF developer PC

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New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:28 am

Hi all,

I'm building our next range of PCs for our development team. Our last dev PC build was 2009: Phenom II, 8Gb RAM, 150Gb WD Raptor (later upgraded to Intel SSD 180Gb), DVD-RW, Antec Sonata III with 500 watt PSU.

I was tempted to go with laptops, but unless the developer needs mobility, a desktop PC offers better performance-per-dollar and better absolute performance too. But I still wanted to downsize the dev PCs this time around without compromising performance.

Anyway, enough rambling here is the spec I'm thinking of going with:

Fractal Node 304
Intel 4670K
Gigabyte GA-Z87N-WIFI ITX
16Gb branded 1600Mhz DDR3 1.35v
Samsung Evo 500Gb SSD
PSU - undecided, a branded silver/gold rated unit?

This is mainly going to be used for development in Visual Studio, SQL Server, Mongo etc.

Thoughts?
willg
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:05 pm

Nothing wrong the the FD Node 304, but you could go smaller yet considering your hardware requirements. Have you looked at the Silverstone SG05 or SG06? They're basically the same case, just a different front panel. Comes with a 450W 80 Plus Bronze SFX PSU. If you prefer "normal" ATX PSUs, check into the CM Elite 130 or Rosewill U2 on the same link. Just throwing out options.

Is there a reason you're going with a K-series CPU?
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 12:31 pm

Just going to echo DPete here. Why K? I don't normally associate overclocking with development boxes. I'd think a vanilla 4670 with VT-d would be a better bet. But if you're actually going to OC your dev boxes, power to ya.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:24 pm

I was contemplating a light overclock, working on the basis that single threaded throughput still matters for most tasks. I could just go for a 4771 non-K, but I'm not sure it would be faster than the 4670k running around 4ghz?

Thanks for the case suggestions, I will take a look.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:43 pm

Can you beat prebuilt? Sometimes you may not be able to.

If you listen to the others and not go for the K processors, then you can go cheaper with the motherboard.

Do you use VMs? If yes, then I would use any savings to try to get even more RAM.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:51 pm

We run VMs from time-to-time, but we'd usually only need to run one.

I will investigate a non-K, it may be a cheaper H81 ITX board would save almost enough for the 4771.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:37 pm

How many developers are there?

Maybe a different question - why are you using white boxes in a business environment?
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:44 pm

Thanks for the tip about the Silverstone SG05, motherboard and non-K suggestion

I'm now thinking:

Silverstone SG05B USB 3.0 Sugo Black Mini ITX Case with 300W PSU
Asus H81IPLUS https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/H81IPLUS/ (the only thing missing is Wi-Fi which would be handy, but I can get that via a USB dongle/PCI-E expansion card)
Non-K i5 or i7
16Gb DDR3
Samsung Evo SSD 500Gb
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:02 pm

keltor wrote:How many developers are there?


6 developers

Maybe a different question - why are you using white boxes in a business environment?


I've always built our PCs and servers, just seem to be able to get exactly what we want that way, without paying over the odds. We generally optimise the design for our work, for example we spent more on the Intel G2 180Gb SSDs than the rest of the computer the last time around, just because I/O is important to our work and SSDs were quite pricey back in 2009.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:23 pm

If you're curious, this is the 450W 80 Plus Bronze PSU in the SG05/SG06 I linked earlier. The standalone cases (without PSU) are listed here.

Anands review of the SG05 w/ 450W PSU
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:52 pm

Do you need room for full-height expansion cards? No expansion cards at all?
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:12 pm

I have to put a shout out for form-factors such as the Alienware X51 or Asrock M8 (http://anandtech.com/show/7604/asrock-m8/7), or any of those slim-yet-powerful "steam boxes." Couple of points:

1. The slim profile increases the flexibility. I have my X51 sitting behind my Apple Cinema display.
2. Done right, these can be nearly silent. Side note: My X51 does NOT come silent out-of-the-box. I had to mod it heavily to make it so, starting with a replacement of the stock CPU HSF.
3. Idle power consumption can be less, due to smaller power supplies
4. Mobility - I often carry my X51 back-and-forth with me to the office in a backpack. Harder to do with a box-design. I have a MacBook for real mobile work, but still...

Also I recommend not settling for the integrated Intel graphics. Get a full-size GPU of at least GeForce 650-class. This is CRITICAL especially for high-DPI 4K screens, and as more and more traditional desktop apps need hardware acceleration.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:44 pm

I bought a Node 304 for my wife's new SFF computer and I have to say I dislike the case. It's just not up to the quality standards of other Fractal Design cases, such as the Arc Midi I have at work which is a fantastic case.

My two big complaints about the Node 304:

1. The holes are tapped incorrectly in at least half of the places. In some cases, they're not tapped straight. Really sloppy execution here. I've seen other complaints about this on various forums (after my purchase, unfortunately).

2. For whatever reason, the standoffs aren't the right height for the Asus VI Formula board. I ended up using some thin nylon washers to lift up the motherboard high enough so all of the I/O panel connectors could be used. I've not seen anyone else complain about this, so perhaps it's something specific with the Formula's I/O cluster. I disassembled and looked for any possible problems---the board is just too low.

I've never, ever found a case with those problems in my 20 years of PC building until the Node 304. It's just plain sloppy. I got mine on sale at Newegg for $59 with free shipping. Despite that, I'd STILL not have bought it, I dislike it that much.

(As a basis of comparison, my favorite cases have been the Corsair 650D, Antec P182, and Fractal Design Arc Midi.)
Home: 650D, X750, Sabertooth Z77, 3770k, H100, 16G, 840 EVO 500G, 830 256G, GTX 780ti, U3011, Linux, Windows 7
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:25 pm

For the CPU & potential GPU choices:
1. If your developers are actually doing heavy compile runs with these boxes then I recommend a hyperthreaded CPU (OC isn't that important though). I have a hyperthreaded 4770K and it does really help with parallelized compile jobs. If they aren't actually compiling with these boxes, then it isn't as important.

2. The IGPs will run any standard desktop software and development environment without a sweat. Obviously if your team is doing a 3D game or something graphically intensive, then it's time to get a full range of GPUs for testing anyway.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:52 pm

chuckula wrote:1. If your developers are actually doing heavy compile runs with these boxes then I recommend a hyperthreaded CPU (OC isn't that important though). I have a hyperthreaded 4770K and it does really help with parallelized compile jobs. If they aren't actually compiling with these boxes, then it isn't as important.

VS sucks at using multiple cores, though. They wrote a blog about it a few years back basically saying 'threading is hard so we aren't going to do it.' We did a build time test at my last job, my Clarkdale i5 smoked an i7 and a bunch of other contenders.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:04 am

NovusBogus wrote:
chuckula wrote:1. If your developers are actually doing heavy compile runs with these boxes then I recommend a hyperthreaded CPU (OC isn't that important though). I have a hyperthreaded 4770K and it does really help with parallelized compile jobs. If they aren't actually compiling with these boxes, then it isn't as important.

VS sucks at using multiple cores, though. They wrote a blog about it a few years back basically saying 'threading is hard so we aren't going to do it.' We did a build time test at my last job, my Clarkdale i5 smoked an i7 and a bunch of other contenders.

I will have to ask for more clarification on that assessment. What is the nature of your solution/projects? C#? C++? With a lot of dependencies? Lots of small files? Linking gigantic libs (some boost ones are huge)? Whether more threads will help or not really depends, especially when they are competing for I/O that reducing concurrency may result in better times.

How many years ago was that blog? Because msbuild can do parallel project builds (subject to dependencies) and the C++ compiler can compile files in parallel (subject to further rules).
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/msbuild/archive ... s2010.aspx
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:15 am

NovusBogus wrote:
chuckula wrote:1. If your developers are actually doing heavy compile runs with these boxes then I recommend a hyperthreaded CPU (OC isn't that important though). I have a hyperthreaded 4770K and it does really help with parallelized compile jobs. If they aren't actually compiling with these boxes, then it isn't as important.

VS sucks at using multiple cores, though. They wrote a blog about it a few years back basically saying 'threading is hard so we aren't going to do it.' We did a build time test at my last job, my Clarkdale i5 smoked an i7 and a bunch of other contenders.


Interesting.... I just use gcc so make -j8* keeps all the real+hyperthreaded cores running just fine. Didn't knowt that Visual Studio had those issues.

* Technically it's recommended to be -j9 but I usually run the compiler in the background so I like to keep a little extra responsiveness.
4770K @ 4.7 GHz; 32GB DDR3-2133; GTX-770; 512GB 840 Pro (2x); Fractal Define XL-R2; NZXT Kraken-X60
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:40 am

chuckula wrote:
NovusBogus wrote:
chuckula wrote:1. If your developers are actually doing heavy compile runs with these boxes then I recommend a hyperthreaded CPU (OC isn't that important though). I have a hyperthreaded 4770K and it does really help with parallelized compile jobs. If they aren't actually compiling with these boxes, then it isn't as important.

VS sucks at using multiple cores, though. They wrote a blog about it a few years back basically saying 'threading is hard so we aren't going to do it.' We did a build time test at my last job, my Clarkdale i5 smoked an i7 and a bunch of other contenders.


Interesting.... I just use gcc so make -j8* keeps all the real+hyperthreaded cores running just fine. Didn't knowt that Visual Studio had those issues.

* Technically it's recommended to be -j9 but I usually run the compiler in the background so I like to keep a little extra responsiveness.

I have not come across with such blog, but that may be pre-VS2008?
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:58 pm

http://anandtech.com/bench/CPU/503

That's the only benchmark for a recent visual studio I could find. It's hard to know whether the Firefox build has a lot of build dependencies that prevent parallel compilation or whether visual studio just doesn't scale with core count.
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Re: New SFF developer PC

Postposted on Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:37 am

How about this?

$220 Intel Core i5-4670 (3.4 GHz)
or $190 Intel Core i5-4570 (3.2 GHz)
$46 Scythe Big Shuriken 2.B
or $0 Stock Intel HSF
$146 ASRock Z87E-ITX (includes WiFi)
or $85 MSI B85I
and $26 Intel 7260HMW half mini-PCIe WiFi card
and $6 Internal WiFi to bulkhead connector cables
and $8 2ea WiFi antennae

$165 2x8 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial BLS2K8G3D1609ES2LX0 (DDR3-1600, CAS 9 (or DDR3-1866, CAS 10), 1.35 V, low-profile)
or $150 2x8 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial BLS2KIT8G3D1609DS1S00 (DDR3-1600, CAS 9, 1.5 V)
$310 0.5 TB Samsung 840 Evo MZ-7TE500BW
$87 Antec ISK300-150
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