Here's what's cooking in Damage Labs


— 5:00 PM on October 24, 2014

My two identical GPU test rigs—one for Radeons and another for GeForces—have served me well for several years. And they're purty!

But the Core i7-3820/X79 combo they're based on is now getting to be kind of dated. Once Haswell-E arrived, I figured it was time to build a pair of new test systems.

Emails were sent, phone calls were made, and the pieces for my new GPU test rigs have now arrived. Behold:

In the big box above is a Gigabyte X99-UD5 WiFi motherboard, which is very similar to the X99-UD4 that we recently reviewed. I chose this board as the foundation for my GPU test rigs because it has the right slot config for a GPU testbed: four nicely spaced PCIe x16 slots. All four slots can get up to eight lanes of connectivity simultaneously, should I get a bug to test three- or four-way mGPU configs.

I don't spend a lot of time with more than two GPUs installed, but I wanted the flexibility to make it happen. Also, Gigabyte's X79 boards powered our prior-gen GPU test rigs, and they served us well for quite a while. Gigabyte was kind enough to provide a pair of identical X99-UD5 WiFi boards to update our testbeds, so we were underway.

On the top right above is a Core i7-5960X processor, with eight Haswell cores at up to 3.5GHz and 40 lanes of PCIe Gen3 connectivity. I'm sure you're aware of the world's fastest desktop CPU. Intel generously provided a second 5960X, in addition to our initial review unit, for these new GPU rigs.

Finally, on the left is a Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 memory kit, with four DIMMs capable of running at up to 2666 MT/s. Corsair memory powers nearly all of the test systems in Damage Labs, and we rarely have problems with memory reliability or compatibility. Corsair is a long-time supporter of the site, too. When it came time to update to DDR4, I knew where to turn.

I figure I can carry over the 480GB Kingston SATA SSDs that we added to our old GPU test rigs a while back. However, I have my eye on the M.2 slot on the X99-UD5 WiFi. Once the right drive is available, with the proper mix of added capacity and performance, we may have to make an upgrade on the storage front, too.

Thanks to Gigabyte, Intel, and Corsair for the core components for our next-gen GPU testbeds. I can't wait to get 'em up and running.

 
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